Growing up is hard to do, for both mom and kids

24 May

Since my blog focuses on family, finance and fun and I’ve been spending alot of time on finance lately, I need to switch hats back to my “mom hat” for a day or two. I’m having a bit of a dilema with my son and not sure where to go.

My son is 8 years old and he has been invited to summer camp by 2 of his friends. The minute they asked me if he’d like to go, my heart started racing. Not with excitement, but because I knew exactly what his reaction was going to be. NO.

And sure enough, it was. He immediately withdrew and got upset and said he didn’t want to go and how he would hate it and how he would be scared. My heart was aching for him. But not because of all those reasons previously listed. My son is the type who doesn’t like to try new things at all. I mean, not at all. This kid will only eat specific brands of syrup, waffles, ketchup and milk. He’s a creature of habit and he likes his routines. You gotta fight with him to try anything new, sometimes he ends up liking it and others, he won’t even give a chance. So when he immediately said no, I was sad for him becauseFTP me that felt like he doesn’t have the courage and the confidence to try new things.

My son can be somewhat of a loner at times. He enjoys his quiet time and is content to play legos or Wii or computer for hours on end. Most times that doesn’t bother me. He stays out of trouble, is quiet and is great to have around. Im just starting to worry that he may be getting too comfortable being alone. I’m worried one day he will realize that he’s missed out on so much because he was too busy playing alone. Watching him dig his heels in and not showing any willingness to budge, I was immediately upset. Not at him directly, just upset because I didn’t know where to go from here. He was closing the door without ever giving it a real chance.

When i was a kid, I loved to go to camp. I went every summer with some cousins and I had a great time. I wasn’t so keen on meeting new people, but I usually found one other camper who was a little shy like me and we would click and be friends for the week. So then i got to thinking, do I want him to go to camp because I would like it, or do I want him to go to camp because HE would like it? Its so hard sometimes when you are a parent to remember that they don’t automatically want the same things you do, aren’t excited by the same things you are, and don’t enjoy everything you did. At the same time, it’s also hard not to project all our insecurities and hang ups onto them. We introduce them to all the things we liked as a child assuming they will like it too. In contrast, we shy them away from, or keep them away from all the things all together, because we hated it as children as well.

After talking to a good friend who knows my son well and was not at all suprised by his reaction, she suggested I just tell him I’ve signed him up and tell him he won’t be the only one who is scared and that he’s gonna have a great time. Dont let him think there is a way out and see how he deals with that.

So, I went ahead and pulled up the website for the camp and we looked through all the activities there is at the camp to take part in. He seemed genuinely interested and excited about some of them. I really do believe he will have lots of fun while there, but I also really do believe he is scared. So for the past week, I’ve been telling everyone that he is going to camp this summer and he’ll be doing XYZ activities and he’s going to have so much fun with friends A and B. At first he would just shoot me icy glares, but then tonite something changed in him. He told his grandparents he wasnt excited about the horseback riding as usual, but then he said he actually was looking forward to the rock climbing. I didn’t know what to say. So, I just ran with it. We continued to tell them about all the other activities there was going to be at camp and we also talked about what he will do if there is no food there that he likes (my point of earlier) and a few other scary details for him too. Being the typical first child, I have to be careful not to mistake fake enthusiasm with real enthusiasm. But tonite he seemed genuinely interested in the experience.

I haven’t officially signed him up yet, and to be honest, I don’t know if I truly will or not. If he decides in the end that he thinks he can handle it, then I probably will. If the date gets closer and he is still a quivering mess, then I certainly won’t force the issue this year. I want to find the right balance between pushing him out of his comfort zone and encouraging him to try new things but yet, not pushing him too far that he’s left in a situation where he feels scared and abandoned. I really feel these types of situations can be good opportunities build independence and self confidence while he has the safety of us to fall back on. Trusting in himself and his choices will only benefit him in the long run. And sometimes they can’t do that when we are hovering over them and only giving them choices we ourselves are comfortable with.

In the end, the decision will be his and im not going to force him into anything he’s not ready for. I will accept that no matter what, even if it’s not the choice I would have made. That’s part of letting him grow up too.


8 Responses to “Growing up is hard to do, for both mom and kids”

  1. See Debt Run (@seedebtrun) May 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    I wasn’t ready for camp when I was in 6th grade! I wouldn’t consider myself a mama’s girl, but I definitely cried for my mom while at camp! Shh…don’t tell the other campers who I told I just had allergies. 😉
    Is there a deadline for when you can sign him up still? Poor guy…that’s tough. My younger son likes his quiet time, too. He’s signed up for 2 different week-long day camps this summer, but nothing overnight. I think he’ll be fine. If he gets tired, he can just go to bed earlier, right? HAHAHAHAHA….like that EVER happens! Good luck to you and your son!

    • myjampackedlife May 26, 2012 at 9:04 am #

      i know its young right? its really not about if he goes or not, its more about just taking the time to think about it and giving things a chance, i think. I won’t sign him up till i have to or at least make sure i can withdraw within a week and still get my money back. Otherwise we will just wait till next year and try again.. thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. John @ Married (with Debt) May 25, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    This is a tough one. As the parent of a 7 year old girl, I wish I had some advice for you. It sounds like you are handling it the right way, though. It’s tough when they get to that age where we have to disappoint our kids, but I think it’s necessary. Everything is an opportunity to learn, and I think both of you will learn something from this.

    • myjampackedlife May 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      thanks for the comment. I’ll post when/if he makes a decision. Like i said, whatever is fine with me for now. But at some point in his life, he will need to step out on his own and i just want him to be prepared and confident. I guess he is only 8 so we do have a few years to prepare him yet.

  3. fromshoppingtosaving May 25, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    I think it’s so hard when dealing with kids, because your heart aches for them yet you want to push them towards being social and experiencing fun activities that you don’t want them to miss out on. That said, he is only 8 so he seems pretty young still. As the first child, I was also quiet when I was younger but I was somewhat “forced” to partake in activities I wasn’t necessarily into such as piano and ballet. My mother let me quit within 5 years and I wished I had continued! I also pretty much raised my little brother and sister since we have a 9 and 13 year age gap. I totally understand where you are coming from. Children have different personalities and most of the time they change as they get into their pre-teens/teenage years. I am sure your son will come out of his shell sooner or later.

    As for camp, I think it’s a wonderful idea for him to get out and experience new things. As you said though, if he is still a mess, I wouldn’t want him to go just yet. 8 seems so young to me! I would say 12 would be a nice age for him to experience being away from home with friends. My sister is 12 and plays in a traveling club volleyball team. I went with the team once and saw that she was outcasted because she was “the new girl.” I wanted to go there and help, and my heart ached for her when she was being the loner. After a few more tournaments and trips together, the girls get along fine now – they each have their close friends, but you can’t really force them to do anything… I guess that’s just how it works. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel once I have my own children, since I’m already so affected now!

    • myjampackedlife May 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

      Your comment about quitting and how you regret that is exactly my point. Sometimes the things they hate now, will pay off in the long run. Its just so hard to know what those things are! He’ll figure it out and like i said, he’s only 8 so he’s got lots of time to get out on his own. Thanks for commenting. Its nice to hear from others who are closer to their youth than I am, as I can sometimes forget what it feels like after so long.

      • fromshoppingtosaving May 29, 2012 at 9:02 am #

        No problem! I’d like to think I’m closer to their age but with my bro and sis, I feel light years older. I am starting to sound like my mom and I hate that.. haha. I wish I was more neutral, but I tend to take the motherly role/viewpoint more often than the older sister stance.

  4. Modest Money May 24, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    That’s great that you are ultimately making it his choice. Many parents would just force it on their child and have him resent it. For him to really get out there he needs to make some of the moves himself. I was the same way with being a bit of a loner during some phases as a kid. I think one of the things that changed that a lot was being involved in team sports. Since I think you mentioned in your last post that he plays hockey, perhaps you could try to get him into soccer or softball during the summer. My mom also went out of her way to make our house more of a fun hangout for other kids.

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