Whenever I had a problem as a kid I would discover once again how annoying my parents were. As much as I wanted their compassion they would annoy me instead.
A Different Kind of Kid
I was a different kind of child growing up. If I were on Sesame Street they would have put me in the “one of these things is not like the other” segment.
Sure I would play outside with friends. I loved football and played soccer. I rode bikes and made makeshift rafts to float in the local creek. Full disclosure: my rafts did not float; they hovered in some middle ground like Schrödinger’s Cat where it both did and did not float simultaneously.
Of course, the fact that I explain it like that highlights my difference.
I loved logic and reason. Science and math made a ton of sense to me and other things – not so much.
Where most students loved essays because they could “BS their answer”, I liked multiple choice so I could deduce an answer if I didn’t know it. When I took chemistry in college other students were perplexed. “Biology is so easy!” “Sure,” I would reply, ”but Chemistry has math!”
I loved computers, and at thirteen my parents bought me one. I started writing my own word processor. This wasn’t mainstream stuff, which is why I often struggled to relate to people.
If only my annoying parents would have helped.
An Underwhelming Response
When I was younger and I would fight with my friends, I would run home and share my woes with my parents, who would instantly speak ill of those who wronged me.
Hahahahaha. Not my annoying parents.
When I was in school and people would pick on me, I would tell my mother what had happened so she would rush down to the school like Beverly Goildberg and make the principal set things straight.
LOL. Not my annoying parents.
When I had graduated and fought with a girlfriend, I would talk to my mom and she would call her up and clue her in.
ROFL. Not my annoying parents. My parents did something else entirely.
A Different Approach
My parents didn’t spend their time telling me how wrong the other people were. They didn’t run to my defense and tell me how horrible it was that I was being mistreated. They didn’t jump down the throats of the people who had hurt me and fix it all for me. There was no white knight to save me.
No. Not my annoying parents.
Instead they asked me questions. “Why do you think they acted that way?” “How would you have felt if that happened to you?” “Do you feel like that was the right way to respond?”
And then they would make me think about what I could do to make things better. ME! Not the horrible person who was in the wrong. (That was never me, by the way. I am a saint.)
My parents had this crazy notion that we can’t change other people; we can only change ourselves. So instead of fixing my problems, they spent their time getting me to understand how to fix myself. So annoying.
My Annoying Parents
I’m thankful for my parents. As annoying as it was to look for an ally in my anger and instead find adversity, I’m grateful. I looked for cohorts to champion my frustration. Instead I found professors to challenge my assumptions.
I wanted someone to justify my negative reactions. Instead I had people who would promote positive approaches. I looked for someone to advocate my demonizations. Instead I found people who made me look for the good in others. I had hoped for someone who would rubber stamp my ill-conceived plans for retaliation. Instead I was given people who showed me the value of forgiveness and understanding.
My parents weren’t perfect. In trying to turn the dials of parenting to find the right spot between letting someone vent to feel heard and leading them toward a better path, they didn’t always hit the mark. But if they had to be off a bit, I’m glad they were off in the right direction. It may have been annoying, but it gave me the tools to make future challenges easier to handle.
Thank God for my annoying parents.