I cannot figure out the relationship between my husband and my son.
I wonder if that’s part of the problem.
Jared’s interaction with Devin (and Devin’s with Jared) is startlingly different than my own. Startlingly is my word, I suppose, as I find that it bothers me more and more as Devin gets older and the tension between the two of them becomes more constant.
To put it bluntly – Jared pushes. Hard. As a vested observer I worry that nothing Devin does is ever good enough for his father. He wants him to be tougher. Braver. He wants him to try harder. Go faster. Be stronger. More, more, more. Always, always, always. Be more. Be better.
And yet he is the one who agrees to a Monopoly marathon that is guaranteed to last for several hours.
I find myself wanting to stand between the two of them. Like a lioness protecting her cub, I mentally move in front of Devin in an effort to shield him from Jared’s disapproval. With my back to my son, I steady my gaze and warn my husband that he’s coming too close. Back off, I say without speaking.
And yet I am the one most likely to ground him and make sure the punishment sticks.
It’s not right – this protective instinct I have. I know that. It’s not fair, I’m aware, to a man who loves his son. A man who is just as much Devin’s parent as I am.
And yet over and over again I find myself playing mediator. Or advocate.
Standing from my place as the protective mother who sees so much of herself in her boy, I see the rest of the world in Jared’s assessment of Devin. I see a society that will wonder why he doesn’t want to go to a football game instead of a science fair. I see relatives who tease him about girlfriends, oblivious to his cringing at the mere mention of girls and romance. I see the faces of children his own age and the puzzled looks on their faces as they wonder at him “what’s wrong with you? Why are you like that?”
I see, at once, all the ways that Devin doesn’t fit and all the ways that he is absolutely fucking extraordinary compared to the mediocre bullshit that is allowed to run amok in this world.
And I know, also, that none of that is fair.
Because as much as Jared pushes, Devin certainly pushes back. He questions his father’s every word, openly doubting both his motives and accuracy. He seldom responds to Jared on the first attempt and is acutely aware of his ability to argue… and win. As eager as Jared is to offer Devin a constant stream of critique, Devin is equally as unwilling to accept it. Any of it.
And yet this is the man he begs to spend all of his free time with.
I don’t understand it. This strange dynamic between the two of them that is based not on affection and approval and total acceptance, but on some bizarre dance around unspoken challenges.
I wonder if this is something I am destined not to comprehend.
I question if my interference might show them each a better way – or throw off kilter some delicate balance that I’m completely unaware of. I’m plagued with guilt that my own influence – arguably the strongest in our household – has mutilated what would otherwise have been an easier, more accepting existence between the two of them.
I worry what lies ahead for them.
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