They don’t listen. They make bad choices. They don’t give their best efforts.
Your kids can drive you nuts.
After all, isn’t mimicry pretty aggravating?
“I love him very dearly I guess because of his faults which are my faults,” the novelist John Steinbeck would write of his son. “I know where his pains and his panics come from.” And of course these flaws really came from Steinbeck himself. Our kids have our vices and virtues… that’s what makes this only thing so hard. It’s also what makes parenting such a wonderful opportunity.
Steinbeck, for instance, would note as he wrote East of Eden that his son Tom was at a particularly critical juncture (one Steinbeck had been at himself). “He can be ruined or made strong in this exact little time,” he wrote in his journal. “And now is the time when I must help him—not by bolstering him up but by forcing here and making him learn balance there.”
This is what we’re here for. To help them—to become like in the good ways and to prevent them from becoming too much like us in the bad ways. This is our chance, our time. To help them. To bolster them. To seize this second chance—to give what we didn’t get. To help them overcome flaws that maybe we never quite got over ourselves. It’s a chance to understand.
To be an ancestor and not a ghost. To love. To appreciate. And, most of all, to be patient with them.