This kinda stings.
I have always been very loving towards my boys. I tell them I love them, I hug them, I laugh a lot with them... give them positive feedback... and yes... I am probably a little too soft on them. I can't help it. I'm just an affectionate person who always tries to see the best in people - including my children.
Zachary, my 14-year-old, has been ignoring homework. He's a super-bright kid, but thinks homework (and turning it in) is pointless. So Paul and I really got on his case. He is grounded from friends and his cell phone until the grades go up again.
The other day after I came home from work, Paul pulled me aside.
Paul: You'll have to ask Zach what happened at school today.
Me: Bad or good?
Paul: Good. Really good.
Me: Wow! What happened?!
Paul: I think he'll want to tell you.
So I changed out of my work clothes and found Zach watching television in the family room.
Me: So - tell me what happened at school! I hear you have some great news!
Zach: What news?
Me: Dad said you had some news from school.
Zach: Do we have to talk about it now?
Me: Oh. Okay. That's fine.
I waited... and waited... and waited... no news. Now I was feeling hurt. After about two hours, I finally said to Paul...
Me: Please just tell me the great news. I just want to know.
Paul: He hasn't told you? Okay - so he got the highest grade on the science test today - and his teacher was so impressed, she called him up to the front of the class to brag about him. She said it was clear he was the only one who studied.
Me: Wow. That's awesome! Did Zach seem proud?
Me: Well - it obviously doesn't take too much work for him to do well in school.
So, the night went on and I waited patiently for him to tell me the news himself. My mother came over for a glass of wine... and while I was out of the room, Zach told HER what happened. I found that out later in the evening as we were all sitting together talking.
Now I was really hurt.
Me: Why are you telling everyone about your great news but not me?
Zach: Dad told you. Why do I need to?
Me: Dad told me after I waited two hours for you to tell me... and now you told Nana. Bt not me?
Zach: You already know about it. I got a good grade.
Obviously this wasn't going anywhere. I couldn't figure out why he didn't tell me, or want to tell me... so I dropped it.
Today it came up again.
Me: So what do you think of the new living room look? (We are redoing the living room).
Zach: Why do you always ask my opinion on stuff?
Me: Do you not want me to ask your opinion?
Zach: No! I just want to know why?
Me: Well! Why do you think?!
Zach: I think I know - I just want you to say it!
Me: Because I value your opinion - that's why.
He can't hide his big smile.
Me: Zach. I want to talk to you about something that really bothered me the other day. I felt hurt that you told my mom and your dad about your science test accomplishment but you didn't tell me yourself. Why didn't you tell me?
Zach: Because I have your approval.
Zach: I know you are proud of me. You are always proud of me. But Dad... it's hard to get his approval. REALLY hard.
Me: So... because you know I am proud of you, you don't need my approval.
Zach: Kinda... I guess.
I didn't know what to say. I still don't know what to say. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it. Kinda sad that he doesn't feel the need to earn my approval... and kinda happy that he doesn't feel the need to earn my approval.
Maybe I am too soft.