Do You See Yourself in Your Kids?

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"I think I know why she did it," she whispers into my ear.

"Huh?" I look at the clock. It's well after midnight. I'd been asleep.

My wife scoots a little closer to me, glad I'm awake. "I can't sleep. I think I know why she got back on the potty right before bath. She's like you: She's a routine person and she always goes potty before bath."

"Huh." I pretend I don't care. I need to go back to sleep. Thinking about it would hurt too much. And, besides, I don't have a good response.

'Maybe I'll blog about this tomorrow,' I tell myself as I drift off to sleep, leaving my wife to her thoughts.

***

Six hours earlier the older child had just finished going potty. She got off to get ready for the coming bath. I started the water and she ran back into the bathroom. Her sister was heading in and looked like she might need to go.

"I need to go potty," the older one said.

I eye her suspiciously. She has a history of claiming to need to go potty when she really is just trying to kill time or stall. On top of this, her sister is walking a little cross-legged, which isn't a good sign. But the older one is already back on the pot. Guess I'll wait and see.

And wait we do as the steam slowly fills the bathroom along with the chatter of two excited little girls.

I'm waiting. There's no way she's going to go again. My suspicious are confirmed:

"All my pee-pees are out!" she proudly announces.

I'm furious. We've been working with her on this. We've been trying to communicate that she needs to tell the truth, that this is unacceptable behavior. On top of that, her sister looked more than a little uncomfortable waiting for her to finish the business she didn't need to do.

***

I've heard it said that the things we hate the most in others are the very things we do. And if it's true that she got back on the potty because of our routine, then all my assumptions and frustrations were unfounded.

The possibility brings tears to my eyes. The possibility that she and I are too much alike and, because of that frustrating fact, I couldn't see what was happening. I couldn't help her and encourage her to become a little more open to change. I was too busy focusing on what I was sure was going on that I might have missed a glimpse into who she is.

It's a good thing I have a wife who can look at both of us and see the similarities.

Some days the wife and kids teach me more about myself than I could possibly offer them: I'm a pretty poor husband and surrogate father. How many more times do I need to climb onto the proverbial potty before I get that out of my system?

Homeschooling, it's not just for the kids. I've still got a lot to learn as well.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father

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