Home > Daughter #1, Merciful Mondays > Merciful Monday: Perspective

Merciful Monday: Perspective

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s another Monday and it’s time for me to once again say, “Have Mercy!” in this third installment of Merciful Monday!

To Stink Bugs: Have Mercy! So I’ve seen a lot of you around these parts this summer, but apparently, it’s going to get worse. Much worse. A few weeks ago, I found a strange-looking bug and squashed it with a paper towel. My wife asks, “Are you sure that wasn’t a stink bug?” So I *sniff* and YUP. Stink bug. And apparently, the scent you release acts like some smelly feet scented SOS signal, attracting more and more stink bugs. In the Washington Post article, Mike Raupp, a University of Maryland entomologist and extension specialist said, “I think this is going to be biblical this year.” Biblical? Have mercy stink bugs! I’ll let your people go! Just don’t invade my home!

To D1: Have Mercy! You are my firstborn and you’ll always hold a special place in my heart. As I wrote before, mommy and I had some difficulty conceiving you, but through that experience, every time I look at you, I see my very great reward. You brought so much joy and laughter into our lives. At times, parenting was really difficult and sometimes, I wish you came with a return policy or at least an instruction manual, but through it all, I grew more and more in love with you.

The last few weeks, however, I’ve lost perspective. You see, you are a remarkable child – and while every parent thinks that of their kids, you really are (again, most parents will say that). By age 1 you were talking. We bought a baby signing DVD but we didn’t need it because you could communicate everything you wanted. Shortly thereafter, you knew most people’s names at church and could say their name when we pointed to them. By 14 months, you would record voice messages singing happy birthday to people from church. You were speaking full sentences by 18 months and knew cause & effect shortly thereafter, e.g., you would say, “Appa. It’s raining, so we need an umbrella.” You memorized many, many songs, impressing anyone who heard. You fooled many into thinking that you could read because you had all of your books memorized. Many would marvel at how well you spoke and most called you genius baby. You figured out how to unlock my iPhone–unremarkable in this day and age–and could put in and play your own CDs and tapes. And most would attribute how fast your brain was developing to the fact that both of your parents were engineering majors.

Yet, this remarkable gift you have is a blessing and a curse. Because you are so advanced mentally, I find I tend to expect a lot of you and that often leaves me frustrated. Prior to D2 being born, I spoke with you regularly and you seemed to understand what was going to happen. You seemed genuinely excited about having a baby sister, even memorizing several books about welcoming a new baby. So when you reacted to D2 the way you did, I was surprised–yes, it was stupid of me to expect so much emotionally of such a young child. Lately, when we are driving in the car and D2 makes a sound, you shout very loudly at her, which causes her to cry and then you to shout louder. This would be perfectly acceptable for most 2.5 year olds, but once again, because of your advanced mental capabilities, I expected more and this left me flustered and frustrated with you.

When you began going up to our children’s church, we thought you’d have few issues. We were wrong. Your grandmother watches you, so we made efforts to take you to public places and on play dates so that you’d begin to learn social norms. While the other kids your age were relatively happy playing amongst themselves, you tried to play with the older kids, and as expected, you were often left out. Frankly, it made me sad when the other kids would plot against you saying, “Oh NO! D1 is coming! Let’s run away,” or “Let’s hide this so that D1 can’t play with it too,” but I didn’t want to step in at every conflict. Lately, you’re fighting back. You’ve perfected the snatch-and-run and I often find the older kids telling on you, complaining that you’re not sharing and such. I think because I’m an Asian parent who wants a well-behaved child and I don’t want to be that parent that sits idly by while their child misbehaves, I would take you aside and discipline you for inappropriate behavior every time something like this occurred. The other kids usually got off scot-free, not because their parents didn’t care, but because older kids are better at hiding potential misdeeds. Trust me – I got away with a lot of stuff while your aunt used to get punished.

And the last few weeks, you’ve been really whiny and difficult to deal with. Compound this with the fact that we’ve been tired, our schedules hectic, and your mother and I rarely have time to sit down and reflect, and you’ve got a lot of crying and a lot of disciplining. Rather than being patient with you and understanding how difficult it has been for you to adapt to no longer being the center of attention at home and adjusting to social norms among older kids who often don’t want to play with you, I’ve made life harder on you. I’ve lost perspective.

Rather than seeing you as a gift from God that I am charged with caring for, loving, and molding for the early part of your life, I became frustrated. Rather than praising you for your unique abilities, I harped on what you lacked. Rather than being an understanding parent, I ruled with a judgmental, iron fist. I’ve lost perspective.

But the nice thing about perspective is that you can get it back if you want. So last night, as your mother and I were in bed discussing your behavior as of late and finally taking time to reflect, we realized we have been in the wrong. We so wanted you to be perfect, all along failing to see that you are a perfect gift from God. Both your mother and I are firstborns in Korean homes and a lot was expected of us and we unwittingly put that same pressure on you. And as if on cue, it began to rain. A lot. As I wrote before, rain reminds me that Jesus’ blood washes away all my sins. I lost perspective but I’ve gotten it back.

You’ll probably never read this but this is a reminder to me to never lose perspective on the wonderful gift you are. I love you.

  1. September 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Crazy snow, ridiculous heat, earthquake and now bugs. Our days our numbered.

  2. September 27, 2010 at 10:50 am

    How fantastically written, Pop! Really our children does teach us so much even when sometimes we did lost our perspective. In the midst of my marriage falling apart and divorce is no longer deniable, I sometimes lost it and would snapped at my son when he misbehaved and it crushed me to think that I could be so mean when I really love him. I apologized to him many many times during these last few months and pray that God would forgive me too and shape me to be a stronger mother for him.

    • Pop
      September 27, 2010 at 12:20 pm

      I’ve learned so much from my failures as a dad. While I don’t always make the right decisions, my love for my kids never wanes, and somehow, D1 is able to see that. Despite all the yelling I’ve done the last few weeks, she always says I love you. Kids really are a gift from God.

      Praying for you and your family.

  3. September 27, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Choking up over here. I expect a lot from my kids. A lot. This is a great reminder to let them be little, you know?
    As for the stink bugs? Thank you. I hope they all come your way, and leave my neck of the woods.

    • Pop
      September 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm

      Definitely. I’m not sure why I feel so much pressure to raise her to be this perfectly behaving child. I see these whack parents sometimes at Target whose kids are out of control and they couldn’t care less. I need to be like that. Well, not the terrible parenting part; the not caring so much part.

  4. September 27, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I’ve been trying to regain some of that same perspective lately. I think I need to accept the fact that my oldest might not ever have that one particular strength that I crave for him to have and wish for over and over, and fly off the handle every time I’m disappointed. He’s to young for me to come down on him so hard, and I need to remember that as his mother, I should be his biggest fan, not his biggest critic.

    Great post today, Pop!

    • Pop
      September 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm

      Biggest fan, not the biggest critic. I need to keep that in mind. Thanks, Bethany!

  5. September 27, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I hope the kids that were taking the toy from your daughter get a couple of stink bugs in their britches. There is nothing more painful than standing back and watching your kid being left out or teased, but you do want them to learn to work it out themselves.

    I love how this ends. Great post.

    • Pop
      September 28, 2010 at 8:49 am

      Agreed. I used to step in but decided it’s better for her to figure it out for herself.

  6. September 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    It is so easy to lose perspective as a parent. It’s wonderful that your view has changed for the better. Your daughter is lucky to have you as a father.

    • Pop
      September 28, 2010 at 8:49 am

      Thank you, Mrs. Mayhem. I lose perspective far too often, but thankfully, it’s easy to find. Most times.

  7. KLZ
    September 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    This sounds like typical father of a first born type behavior. I say that with affection. As a first born, so much of this sounds just like what my dad said to me. I’d say “Dad, I got 89% on the pre-test and no one else got higher than 52% We haven’t even started the material yet!!” And he’d say “I don’t care what they did, I care what you did. Why didn’t you get 100%?”

    But at least I never squished a stink bug.

    • Pop
      September 28, 2010 at 8:52 am

      Yeah, I like to employ the sniff-and-check method. Not the best way to test for things but much better than the lick-and-check.

  8. September 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    UGH! Just after I had a pretty bad weekend with our 1st born. Behavior that is unlike him and that I don’t understand! But, I love him and he IS a perfect gift from God. Thanks for the reminder and very well put! We have to remember that we ourselves are not perfect parents as well.

    Thanks for the info about stink bugs as well!!!

    • Pop
      September 28, 2010 at 8:53 am

      D1’s recent behavior was so unlike her, which was why my wife and I were so flustered and frustrated. Hopefully, it’s just a phase and with some good ol fashioned TLC, she’ll get through it.

  9. September 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I too was a first born and much was expected from me. Even worst, first born, female and part of an Asian family. Strike me out already!
    Parenting is difficult regardless of the birth order and culture. I’m still trying to figure it out myself.

    • Pop
      September 28, 2010 at 8:56 am

      I didn’t think birth order would affect the way I parent, but it definitely does.

  10. September 27, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Just out of curiosity is D2 communicate as well as D1 did at her age? I ask because my niece sounds jus tlike D1…talking like crazy at 12-months, and fully communicating with EVERYONE by 18-months. However her little sister is 19m and has words, but chooses squeeling and yelling over verbal communication! Little sister has picked up the signing, but is less talkative…interesting dynamics between sibilings and first & second born!!

    Great writing as usual!

    • Pop
      September 28, 2010 at 8:56 am

      We’ll have to see. D1 was actually babbling the first month or two; D2’s begun babbling and she’s about 3 months.

  11. liz
    September 27, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    when i was in college, there was this grouping of trees that put off what we called “stinky berries.” it wasa NAS-TY!

    • Pop
      September 28, 2010 at 9:01 am

      stinky berries? Reminds me of these blossom trees near my old high school. They looked beautiful but smelled like fish.

  12. September 28, 2010 at 6:05 am

    This spoke to me! Ugh, as a first-born and a female I tend to hover. Seriously. I did it with my siblings and I’m afraid I’d do the same to my daughter. Your post made me so emotional and I hope to be reminded of your wise words when things get a little crazy around here.

    Your daughters are very blessed to have you as a dad. :)

    • Pop
      September 28, 2010 at 9:02 am

      Thanks, Cyrene. I’m sure you’ll be a blessing to your daughter. And don’t worry, things do get crazy but not -that- crazy.

  13. September 28, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I hope someday they read it and know that you had such special things to share about them.

    • Pop
      September 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm

      Thank you. I hope they read this one day on whatever newfangled device is all the rage when they do.

  14. September 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    We had an early talker, too, and you DO expect too much of them sometimes. We forget how little they are, because they’re rattling off entire paragraphs.

    I really enjoyed this. It’s so easy to lose perspective when you’re in the trenches. This post is bookmark-able, because it’s a reminder to us. A reminder to be thankful for the gifts we are given, the gift of parenting amazing people.

    • Pop
      September 30, 2010 at 1:12 pm

      Being in the trenches is exactly right, but it really is a gift.

  15. TK
    September 29, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    You hit the nail on the head. My son is the oldest and he was late to the talking game. But my daughter did everything early. So I find I expect more out of her than any parent should expect from a five year old. I’m struggling to find that balance between pushing them to do more and letting them be little. It’s tough and I definitely fail more than I succeed.

    • Pop
      September 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm

      “I’m struggling to find that balance between pushing them to do more and letting them be little. It’s tough and I definitely fail more than I succeed.”

      I feel the same way. But when I see the pics of how happy your kids are, I can’t completely trust that last statement.

  16. September 30, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Kids really sense how much we expect from us and they are as disappointed as us when they don’t meet our expectations. They can be well developed intellectually but not emotionally (look at autistic children for an obvious example), so it’s a learning curve for everyone. It’s hard to not be an only child anymore but it’s also fun to gain a sibling.

    Check out this book I’ve just discovered with my kids. I really think your daughter will identify with Sophie and get a good laugh at it! “Sophie Peterman tells the truth” by Sarah Wells. In my opinion, one of the best and funniest books written on siblings for little kids. Let me know what D1 thinks of it.

    • Pop
      September 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      I’ll have to check that out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  1. January 26, 2012 at 10:07 am
  2. May 31, 2012 at 9:27 am

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