My childhood was filled with very unemotional experiences. I was fed, housed and taken care of. My dad had an anger problem (broken dishes) and my mother was very depressed (day sleeper). I, honestly, never felt "loved" when they said "I love you" randomly and rarely. It always sounded sarcastic.
I could have had a very bad childhood. I could have been orphaned, abandoned, beaten, abused or worse. I didn't. It is just filled with memories of anxiety and ignorance. I remember almost not graduating because I skipped so many days due to nerves. It wasn't hard work. I loved school work. Staying home wasn't hard work either. I'd just say I had a stomach ache and mom would call me in. It was almost as if they didn't worry about it.
Starting in high school, I didn't participate in group sports. I'd skip school on days projects were due, so I didn't have to stand up in front of class. On days, when I had no choice, I'd almost vomit after presentations. I didn't have friends over. I didn't know how to act with other people. It was all very confusing to me. And no one seemed to want to help since I didn't know how to ask. I should've been medicated.
It probably was a problem and often still is as an adult. The anxiety can get so bad I don't want to go to work or leave the house to go to one of the boy's activities at school. I don't like having play dates for them because I'm forced into an uncomfortable event (yes, it becomes an event in my head).
Mr. Pre-teen is my personality clone. Sometimes, the words get jumbled in our brains and never come out of our mouths. Often, it is easier to keep quiet. Even when someone is yelling at us. We just shut down.
Social graces are non existent for us. Chit chit makes me feel like a moron. He doesn't know how to handle an easy phone call. I can't explain to him that a simple, "Hi!", doesn't sound like an
idiotic conversation starter. Because it makes me feel weird, too.
As parents, we strive to help him with all the knowledge we have. We push. We give. We explain.
We sign him up for school activities, sometimes for his own good. We don't know if he will like them or sometimes if he likes the activities he's been in for awhile. He doesn't talk that much about Student Council or his after school program. He doesn't bring kid's phone numbers home. He doesn't use his cellphone. The only times I know life is too much is when he bursts into tears and takes a nap in the middle of the day.
I still feel resentment towards my parents when I remember them making me socialize in situations that made me have a panic attack. I do not know if it is because I was too full of anxiety to explain or that they didn't care or that they wanted to push me.
Are we pushing him too much? Are we not asking him his opinion enough?
Is he enjoying his childhood?
All we can do is try. But it's hard to not have regrets. Will he hate me when he's older? He's 12. His childhood seems almost over. Hopefully, since I enjoyed (most of) his childhood, he is.
We strive to succeed as parents and the best answer is: if we doubt ourselves, then we ARE doing a good job with what we have. We have to keep pushing forward, one caution light at a time. And if there is a warning sign on the side of the road, we hit that speed bump at 45 mph and hope the air bags engage.