One of the best parts of being a parent is seeing your child's personality emerge. In the beginning, you get little glimpses of who they are going to be, but as they get older, you see more and more their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, the quirks and characteristics that make them unique. It is such a joy to watch for the most part--until, of course, you recognize something in your child that you've struggled with your entire life.
Whereas my little man used to be fearless, recently Aiden has started withdrawing from trying out new things. When we ask him why he doesn't want to try something, he replies with great angst, "Because I don't know HOW!" I watch my little boy twist himself into knots over a fear of appearing imperfect, over a fear of failing, and it breaks my heart. Brad and I are quick to encourage him to just try. "It's OK that you don't know how to do it. None of us know how to do everything. The only way to learn is to try." Sometimes, this will be enough to prod him to give it a shot, but all too often, as soon as he realizes that he's not doing something perfectly or as well as someone else, he shuts down and cries in fear or shame.
Aiden is a born over-achiever. He wants to win and be the best at everything he does. He turns every activity into a competition. Brad and I both recognized this in Aiden pretty early on, since both of us are cut from the same cloth. It is so hard to watch him struggle with the same insecurities and fears that we both did--the fear of appearing less than perfect or of being second best. We want better for our son--and so we try to do everything we can to temper that competitive spirit a little.
Not that we want to drive this out of him altogether--the competitive spirit will serve him will, as will the desire to achieve. But we also want him to feel free to try new things and we want him to know that it's OK if he isn't the best at everything. We want to make sure that we aren't casting him into the role of "superstar" of the family. And we want him to feel free to just be a kid, to play and have fun and just be himself.
It is so amazing to see his personality emerge, but it is so disheartening to know that somewhere along the way, whether by genetics or through our parenting or maybe by just watching us, we've passed along some of the insecurities and challenges that we've struggled with. So, my dear boy, let me help you tote that baggage that I've passed along.