Tuesday, January 31, 2006

like father, like son

photo  f-s

here's something funny: i don't want my son to be like me.

in an ongoing, rolling epiphany, i'm realizing that i may be a lousy parent. and my lousy parenting skills are adversely affecting my son.

part of my job, i've told myself, is to protect my children. so when my son tries to perform some dangerous stunt (skiing a steep-but-short slope after his very first ski lesson) my reaction: "get down from there!" his reaction: "i can do this!"

me: no! walk down here, now.

him: [inarticulate rage]

this brings to mind a years-ago confrontation with my father. we had just set up a bench press in our basement, and i immediately loaded every weight on it. his reaction: "what are you doing, that's too heavy for you!" my reaction: "i can do this!"

him: you're going to hurt yourself. take some of that weight off, now.

me: [inarticulate rage]

the difference, i tell myself, is that i had been working out with heavier weights at school, and my father was ignorant of this fact.

but really, there's no difference. whether we were being protective or just controlling, we engendered contempt from our sons. and we returned rage for rage.

in both cases, these examples are tips of the iceberg. my dad and i never really liked each other. often, my son and i don't like each other. this is funny, because i promised myself that he and i would not have the kind of relationship my dad and i had (have). i was going to be hyperconscious of the mistakes i thought my father had made, and never repeat them.

funny. hysterical. i'm really thrilled the way things have turned out.

i'd love to break this cycle. because all too easily i can see him one day imparting these same "parenting" skills to his children. because he's just like me, in so many ways. and not in the ways i'd like him to be, usually.

i don't accept that it's inevitable that we repeat our parents' mistakes. but damn if i don't seem to be doing exactly that.

like father, like son.