Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

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Sunrise & Chill

September 17, 2014

Sunrise914

As much as I am loath to getting up early on mornings, I have been enjoying sitting on the porch and watching T1 walk to the bus stop (right below that burst of light) and sitting with T2 for a few minutes before she walks around the corner to meet a friend to walk to their bus stop out of sight.

It seems like just this past week, the sun is rising later and there is a chill in the air first thing in the morning. I personally am enjoying not getting woke up by the crack of dawn (but it is harder to roll out of bed while it is still gray out) and the chill weather means improved E.o.t.T. running. I just can’t run well in temps over 75 degrees. I’m miserable. I’ve had some good runs in the past week and it is a good thing because my 5k race is in 4 weeks and I hadn’t run over 2 miles straight until last Friday.

So T2 did not sit with me this morning. She is mad at me. She walked away early, barely mumbling “I love you” in response. Well, imagine how much madder she’d be if I had made her get out of bed at midnight last night and clean her room like I had asked her to after school instead of just waking her up and laying down the law for the upcoming week if she ever wants to do anything fun ever again. (Extra points for emphasis.)

T1 had to inform me of all the dramatics this morning. “She said you told her she couldn’t even read today at school. She’s being just like I was, isn’t she?”

“First of all, I said no TV and no computer and no made-up language [she spent all day creating] but I said nothing about reading at home or at school. But she has to clean her room [first]. Second, yes, just like you and your hormonal drama and black-and-white fatalism. Good bye, have a nice day!”

Thankfully, T1 is showing me there is a light at the end of the tunnel even though she’s not out of it yet. I just wish T2 could have taken a detour around the tunnel and skipped this phase altogether.

The Chief says there are spelling and grammar errors… but I’m not seeing them. So if you find any other than the one I did fix, let me know.

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She Did It!

May 15, 2014
T1 Accepts!

T1 Accepts!

After months of applying, testing, writing, creating a stand-out project on “Fewtering”, interviewing in garb and with Crookshanks in tow, the long-awaited letter arrived last Saturday. Ear-splitting squeals of delight rang out.

T1 has been accepted to an alternative, fast-paced, duel-enrollment academically challenging high school program. Words can’t even begin to describe how proud we are.

As a family, because the Chief got home on Mother’s Day, we discussed this honor and achievement and all the pros and cons of accepting enrollment into the program.

The Chief was never sold on the program. We’ve heard so many different things and the only thing we know is that there is no middle ground–either your child thrives under the pressure or they end up dropping out with ulcers; either your child can handle both the academic rigors and can have extra curricular activities or they struggle under hours of homework and give up all semblance of a social life.

What kind of student would T1 be? Academically grade-wise she is the Chief, a future engineer in the making. But let’s be honest, who are we kidding? She is my emotional clone. Does she have the skills to get herself organized and not crack? I had those skills because we learned to write at earlier ages (it has taken her 7th and 8th grade English teachers to get her to a competency I’m please with and the rest were useless!) and we knew how to multitask because we took 7 classes a day … block scheduling gives more instruction time and less homework so children today have no idea how to handle homework and multiple projects.

If she survives the program she could begin college as a sophomore. But would she have time to participate in an amazing engineering internship at a nearby facility … real-world experience cannot be taught in the classroom and can be priceless for her future career… ?

So the Chief asked her, “Who chose to apply?” And her answer was, “Me.” We didn’t push her, and in fact even then we were hesitant but we said, “You can’t get in if you don’t apply. We’ll make the decision when the time comes.”

I forgot my tunes for my training run on Monday, so I spent the time in prayer. I had a lot to think about. I had announced her letter to the world and so the grandparents all called. I talked a long time to my mother about our concerns. And she agreed with me.

On Monday I thought about that. I thought about living in fear. My mother is a very fearful person. And let’s just say that when my mother told me she was afraid of big dogs I said, “Well then, I’m going to go out and find the biggest German shepherd I can.” (And that’s how we got Chewbacca the Mutt.) I am concerned for T1, afraid she will fail and have ulcers. Heck I’m afraid she’s going to never leave home and become a hoarder too.

Am I becoming my mother and trying to tell T1 what to do based on my fears?

As I ran (and I hate running) I thought, “If she never tries then she’s failed already. And if I don’t trust God, then I’ve failed her. Because even if she does struggle and maybe even fail, I still need to trust that God has a purpose for even that struggle or failure … and she needs to find the purpose God has planned for her. For her life.”

I need to show her my trust, not my fear.

The Chief spoke with her and they made a deal: there is nothing to say she couldn’t try it for a year and if the struggle is too much, no harm no foul if she drops back into the advance course program at her base school. But she has to give the whole year a shot, no dropping out early.

We asked her to think long and hard, and to pray for guidance, and to tell us on Wednesday her decision.

Today I dropped off her acceptance for enrollment letter. Hey, I have trust issues and well, I don’t trust snail mail to get it in my the deadline of the 16th.

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Parenting: Conflicts and Avoidance, Part 3

March 29, 2014

Part 3: So what am I teaching my children?

This has definitely been on my mind as the week has gone on. I wrote a letter to these two friends just so that I could process my thoughts. I ended with:

Don’t ever regret telling me. Regret that so much of this could have been avoided if I had only been told sooner. In the name of “letting them work it out” you have only taught them that avoidance is okay and they are learning nothing and T1 is learning exactly what I believe—that no one is trustworthy, no one gives opportunities for personal accountability and improvement, and that walking away is preferable to working things out.

I’ve read this letter to T1, both in its original form and when I edited it to include my self-reflection on if I was just as guilty of not letting the other parents know of their child’s behavior. T1 and I have discussed this entire situation at length. We’ve gone through the whole gamut of emotions.

But have I shown her the correct way of dealing with this? It occurred to me that while I feel justified in my reaction as a parent, it may also stem from my trauma thus making it an extreme reaction. And one that these parents just don’t get.

My initial trauma came from choices of others not protecting me–as my 14-year-old self says, “Not putting me first.” I can be rational and understand that choices were made with the best of their ability and that their hands were tied. I get that. But it has always driven me to demand my due. Even with the Chief. My biggest struggles with my MIL were about her making demands on the Chief and not expecting him to put me and the girls first, or at least give us the common courtesy of checking with us first. (See my posts about the Pineapples.) It really wasn’t until about both girls were born and we had moved south that the Chief and I finally got through to her. And I love her dearly. Just so we’re clear, the Chief isn’t a Momma’s Boy and the situation perplexed him too.

The trauma in recent years, both occasions, were because I was once again not considered and not protected by those that should have stepped up to consider and defend me. Trust me, I am not self-centered enough (despite some accusations) to believe I should be the center of anyone’s world or the first thought before they act. Nonetheless, the damage was done and it could have been avoided.

Was no one going to step up for T1? While the accusations were true she was not alone nor were the other children innocent. The question I keep asking is why is my child the only one who crosses the line with the teasing and nasty comments? Everyone gives as good as they get but it always ends with my child saying the last thing before the others run off to their parents, crying about how mean my child is. And what is that line she keeps crossing?

And why didn’t my friends let me step up to help her learn what that line was? I will always step up for my child–that includes defending her innocence and correcting her when she is in error. Who else is going to do that? Certainly not these other parents.

These thoughts took my breath away. They hurt.

I’ve had friends and acquaintances just up and walk away rather than work things out. Learning later some of those situations could have been fixed if I had only been told is where my outrage comes from. Others maybe I was too young to know how to handle. I wasn’t taught to deal with things head on. Hmmm… much like these girls (and parents)? I expressed as much to T1.

But these other emotions? They come from a deeper hurt.

T1’s emotions this week have also roller coastered. She’s sought out both girls; she’s apologized. The one who has frozen her out has not responded but an actually conversation has not taken place. I’ve seen her get angry, just like me, about the pots calling the kettle black… and coming to me with a myriad of examples.

I’ve had to caution her about doing that. “Don’t give in to that anger. If it’s never bothered you, you can’t bring it up, but yes, those are good examples of how you all treat each other.” But I hope she knows I feel her pain and her outrage, her confusion, and her sorrow.

I did take her aside later this week to express my concern over what I was teaching her. “My emotions, my struggle, are coming from a place of hurt. From damage. I’m not sure it is healthy or that I’m being the best example.”

I’ve never talked to my children about my initial trauma. I don’t intend to if I don’t have to. T1 knows about the circumstances of the last two. “I wasn’t put first. I wasn’t protected. No one stood up for me. That is my damage. But I will promise you this, I will always stand by you. I will always defend you. And teaching you for years to come is my job.”

In regards to my PTSD, writing my response helped me avoid some of the downward spiraling and obsessive behaviors a situation like this could cause. I’m not one to harm myself but man, what would I give to have another friends say to these women, “Did you know I had to talk her off a ledge last night thanks to you two?” I want a knight in shining armor to sweep in and defend me and my child. It is this reaction that got me thinking about where all this was coming from.

I told T1 that I haven’t decided what I will do with my response letter. I don’t know if it is a moot point and they just won’t change or if I should give them the opportunity they never gave me. I did ask T1 her thoughts and I think she very maturely said, “Send it to them.”

Part 4: What to do…

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Parenting: Conflict and Avoidance, Part 2

March 27, 2014

So where was I leading with all of this? Why was I letting you, dear reader, know about my personal values and standards?

Perhaps because there are some in my life who don’t realize that I hold these things very dear. I can be insulted in so many ways but if I’m never given the chance to give an accounting for my actions and the past is dragged up, that cuts me. Really cuts me. And I’ve had a few days to think about all of this and why.

Recently I had two friends do just this very thing. Only it involved my child. The first overheard a conversation incorrectly. When I went to talk to her I even began with, “You may have heard us talking, etc., etc.” Then I was confronted with, “Yes, I did hear you talking and you should know that your child has criticized and bullied [the other woman’s] child and that is why my child no longer invites her over.”

Some important details:

1. She incorrectly overheard us talking about a different child with the same name as the other woman’s child who was in fact bullied and a bully herself to my child.

2. The incident she is referring to took place 18 MONTHS AGO.

3. My child and the other woman’s child have a history of picking on each other but apparently my child is the only one who crosses the line.

4. She insists her child has spoken to mine, and perhaps even said she talked to my child (I was seeing so much red it wasn’t funny) and basically told me that she is choosing not to change.

5. Given her child’s history of not owning up to her mistakes and not talking to another child who was bullying my child because of a lie told her, around the same time frame, I highly doubt her child spoke up to mine. But this parent insists she was talked to, knows that her child talked to her, and that she is suffering the consequences of her actions.

Next enters the other woman. In my outrage that it took 18 months to tell me something about this incident I put this other woman on the defense and she blurts out “Did you know your child slapped mine at the mall the other night?”

“Uh, no–because YOU DIDN’T TELL ME! When were you going to tell me?”

“Never. They will work it out.”

Over the course of two hours the reasons for not telling me made me angrier and angrier. I am not mad about what they said my child did–I can fully accept the truth of the accusations. I am mad that they didn’t give me the chance to make her accountable, didn’t give me the chance to be her parent. I was told things like “She was talked to. She’s choosing not to change.” “They need to work it out. You interfere too much. Are you going to fight all her battles?” “Why does this have to be a teaching moment? You’ve been teaching her all along and she’ll make her own choices no matter what you say to her.” (This one really bothered me because they kept comparing her to their almost delinquent children, siblings of the girls involved.) “You’re reacting exactly the way we thought you’d react.” (Hey, try to tell me when it happens and you will be pleasantly surprised at my lack of anger towards the two of you.) “You don’t give your child enough credit for being good.” “Don’t go home and read her the riot act.”

Oh, and the kickers: “We don’t want this to change our friendship” and “We don’t want your child taking this out on our children because you give her hell for this.” But it is okay for your child to walk away, freeze my child out when she may not even realize? (Oh wait, according to them “she should already know.”) Is this the correct way of teaching them how to deal with problems? I guess those relationship and conflict management experts will have job security for generations to come.

I have gone through every emotion possible. Outrage and pissed off are the strongest two. I have sat down with my child and delivered the news to her that her friends have deliberately frozen her out over something 18 months ago. I have told her in no uncertain terms the laying of hands on another person is totally unacceptable. I held her while she cried.

And we have talked about what I’m really disappointed in–friends who chose not to tell me about my child, who made parenting decisions for me, did not give me the chance to stand-up for (and punish) my own child, called my parenting into question, dragged up the past and opened the door for the examination of their children’s behavior and actions.

I have looked at my own actions–have I ever withheld anything from them? Not directly and there was communication involved. My own shame in a certain incident kept me from speaking about it but the public apology was my way of saying, “If you want to address this with me, now is the time.” So no, I’ve never chosen not to let a parent know about their child’s behavior.

But how do I address this with them now? How can they possibly think our relationship hasn’t changed? Do I let it go and remind myself that I can never bring it up again? Or do I give them a chance to address my complaints–I don’t want to be a hypocrit? In our initial conversation neither of them regrets withholding, only the telling me. I say, “do not regret telling me, regret holding it back and look at the mess you created.” So will saying anything further to them make any difference?

Part 3: What I am teaching my child…

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