I'm a rejecter. Seriously. I do my very best to make a habit of rejecting all kinds of truisms, inevitabilities and givens.
Like the 'terrible twos' for instance. OB has just finished the twos, and parts of last year were hard work to be honest. And the threes have started off in pretty much the same vein - many good things, some hard things. But I'm not blaming it on the 'terrible twos' or the 'terrible threes' for that matter. To do so feels like a cop out.
Yes, two-year-olds often tantrum and display challenging behaviours. Does that mean I can just shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh, he's two!" whenever it happens? After all, everyone knows about the 'terrible twos' - it's inevitable isn't it?
I feel similarly about 'teenage rebellion' - the 'Kevin' syndrome - which is also, apparently, bound to happen, practically unavoidable and just something to grit your teeth over until you can get to the other side.
Except it isn't unavoidable is it? I know teenagers who, in the main, speak respectfully to their parents, discuss the things that are troubling them, ask for help with things and do things together as a family. I'm not saying they are perfect and never do anything a bit naughty, just that they aren't quite in line with the awful caricature.
For me, once we accept something undesirable as inevitable, then it is far more likely to be so. Low expectations lead to low outcomes. Putting my son's wilder moments down to 'terrible twos' allows me to stop focusing on my child, to stop trying to work out what's actually happening, to stop training and helping and boundary setting. It allows me to shrug my shoulders and effectively do nothing. Putting any future teenage difficulties down to 'teenage rebellion' will have a similar effect of letting us both off the hook. And don't get me started on 'boys will be boys'!
It's not that I think that by challenging these things, they won't happen at all. I'm not such an optimist! And I've been around an awful lot of children. I know better. I just have an instinctive desire to push away all those so-called inevitabilities that seemed to have my son's life mapped out from beginning to end, and especially those associated with having been in care, and being adopted. None of these things are immutable laws of physics (and we know ye cannae change those!). So I reject them and instead decide that we'll work together towards something different. And if we meet tantrums, rebellions, or adoption-related issues along the way, we'll do our best to see them for what they are, find a way through and get the support we need.
Terrible twos? Rejected. Teenage rebellion? Rejected. Because he's adopted he's bound to have x/y/z? Rejected! Rejected! Rejected!
Written for this week's #WASO, on the theme of 'Rejection'.