Over the weekend we watched Call Me By Your Name. I found myself fondly looking ahead at a Hollywood version of my family: mother, father and only son spending idyllic summers in Italy amidst apricot orchards, swimming holes and the simplicity of privileged family life in the early 80s.
The movie painted a beautiful picture of family life with a son at the tender age of 17. I was imagining a moment and place where and when Mario would share similar interests to us, enjoy vacations the same way we do and be happy to spend time with us in a way we are not at all familiar with yet at this age and stage.
Time spent together lately is one part outer space slash automechanic: reading and talking about asteroid belts, comets, Jupiter and the dwarf planets while simultaneously propping his scooter and bike up on tables and chairs to 'fix' various issues. But also equal parts: zero cooperation, intrepid pants pooper and grumpy guy.
Correcting his behavior has become my most trying parental task. The past two weeks specifically have been full of mini meltdowns (his not mine) and really mean side eye from the little devil, to borrow a term from my friend Kanya and her little boy Dash. I love seeing her affectionately refer to him as the 'red devil'.
All that said, you can easily see now how imagining my family as the characters and in the setting of Call Me By Your Name was uplifting, inspiring and a two hour vacation in and of itself. Side note: the last talk that the father and son have together is so so so beautiful he is the parent we all wish we had and want to be.
In this current stage, I find myself wondering if these current 'parenting struggles' are just part of parenting a 'boy' or not.
In Palm Springs last October we were staying in an AirBnB with my best friend Emi. She got to experience first hand Mario's level of energy and general craziness. Considering my notes above Mario was a total champ on that vacay and we all had a great time and the craziness was just general goofiness and yes climbing on furniture and being adorably mischievous in my opinion. Yet, Emi looked to me deadpan and said 'I don't think I could handle a boy'.
Up until then I had never considered that Mario's attitude and "personality" were more nature than nurture. It has given me a lot to think about. I come back to this question especially these days when I when I tell him it is time to be done with a toy, leave the park or time is up on the iPad he looks at me with anger and resentment and says: "I am not happy about that". Yes, he is mimicking the same things I say to him when he doesn't listen, but why doesn't he just cooperate, you know..?
I find myself jumping ahead to the teenage years and picturing him with the same level of anger and resentment as a young man. I am scared that this anger is all nature and I can do no correcting of it. Will he end up scary, mean, aggressive and beyond my control? Will he end up hurting people with this perceived anger I see right now? Or, more realistically I hope, is this just part of being a three year old boy or girl and the inability to fully express yourself and understand boundaries.
A lot to think about... and then this article this week, the first in a six part series, from New York Magazine gives me even more to digest and think about. I told Mike it is required reading and we need to treat it like school work with a proper discussion afterwords.
Have you read it, what are you thinking? Please share any thoughts on nature vs nurture and three year old boys?