Why is That So…..

I often wonder why I am so screwed up about so many things.  Then I spend some time with my family, and I wonder how I ended up so normal.  You see, I think that your childhood experiences often come back and bite you on the ass.

The past few days I talked about seeing the reactions of a young girl seated in front of me.  After commenting with Chrissy, I realized that I was so fixated with this girl, because I clearly remember being a middle school girl.  And I remember my parents.  So I couldn’t help but become that middle school girl again.

My parents.  Where do I start?  Now- realistically, I had a basically OK childhood.  I realize people had much worse hardships than  I had, but at the end of the day, what others are experiencing really doesn’t matter, because you have to live with yourself (if you are of a certain age, you might remember your parents telling you to eat all your food because there were kids that didn’t have food- and you might have said, Ok great- ship this off to them)

Back to the parents.  My Father was cold and distant- he was physically around but not present.  My Mother- a narcissist, fixated on outer appearances and neurotic to the Nth degree.  So when you add up all these things, you end up with a kid with low self esteem, who never feels that what they are doing is worthwhile and who thinks that love is when someone constantly tells you all the things that are wrong with you..  Now- was my Mother constantly harping on me?  Probably not- but that is how I perceived it, so it was my reality.

And when I was in middle school- oh- the torture about my appearance.  My Mother was constantly telling me I needed to lose weight.  Oh- her obsession with weight.  My Mother had an anorexic mind set, and she proceeded to endow me with all sorts of bad views about eating (I was never anorexic or bulimic, but I still don’t have a healthy relationship with food)  I clearly remember my Mother taking me to a make-up counter and I started crying, because I didn’t want to wear make up.  I was in 7th grade, and all I kept hearing from her was that “After 10 years of age, all girls need to wear make up.”  Yeah- good times- Do you know how long it took me to realize that appearance wasn’t the most important thing?

She criticized so much of what I did- including my choice of books.  Now- I was a shy, awkward kid.  I didn’t make friends easily, and my Mother was not real helpful here, because she didn’t have many friends, and didn’t understand why you needed them.  So, when this is your reality, and you’re alone much of the time, you become a reader.  I would have been the kid to read John Green books.  Because he talks about kids who don’t quite fit in.  And I was that kid.  My Mother would have questioned these choices- she would have made me feel bad about books like this.  I know this, because she did make me feel bad about the books I read that weren’t “classics”.  (point of fact- I love classic literature, but sometimes you need to read something just because you can relate to it- there are many ways that you can improve your mind)  She didn’t understand why I would want to read something so “cheap”.

And I could go on and on about how my parents made me feel.  I can give you more examples of why this girls expression made me feel like the scared 12 year old that I once was.  But at the end of the day, I empathized with the kid- because it feels like crap when your parents don’t get you.

I know people say that kids are resilient.  But if they’re so resilient, why do we have so many screwed up adults?

Peace and love to all!!

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Maybe I Was Too Judgmental…..

Yesterday I wrote about a person I had seen sitting in front of me at a show.  I saw that he was rigid and stone faced throughout the performance and I concluded that he was being cranky because he didn’t like the content/theme of the show.  Many people thought that perhaps this man had had a bad day and shouldn’t be judged.  Fair and correct point- I made an assumption based on what I viewed, but had no actual knowledge of the situation.  I know I have acted in inappropriate ways sometimes- I think every parent has.  I’ve been to the*%^$#& happiest place on earth, and have seen many parents lose their cool even though they are all at place where it should be fun, fun, fun.  Parents are allowed to have feelings other that absolute joy, and parents are allowed to show these feelings.  Your kids need to learn that everything is not always happy and pleasant.  And no one should judge what any other parent is going through at any particular time.  So I realize I made a snap judgement, and you should never judge another parent.

But….

FYI- I’m thinking of changing my name to But….. because I find that I use that word a lot….

I saw a middle school age girl almost jump out of her seat with excitement when John Green took the stage.  I saw her look at her Father.  I saw her smile drop.

I’m sorry- but I can’t help but feel for that little girl.

Middle school is hard for many kids.  There bodies are changing- that’s so much fun when all of a sudden things start popping out….And the emotions!  Oh- the emotions!  My kid was in this stage not so long ago, and to some degree she still has mood swings, but not like a few years ago.  They are confused and angry and they don’t know their place in the world.  Part of them longs to be an adult, but part of them still wants to be a child.  Their brain is developing, and they don’t quite know how to handle it.  One minute they’re crying, then they’re yelling, then they’re laughing.  The emotions of tweens is about as confusing as this paragraph.

So I felt for this girl.

I don’t know- but I think sometimes as parents we have to be better.  We’re the adults.  Maybe a parent needs to suck it up sometimes, and no matter how cranky they are, or how bad a day, they need to maybe smile- even if it’s just for the 10 seconds that your kid is looking at you for confirmation that everything is ok.   Yeah- I think sometimes a parent needs to be selfless.  I know it’s hard- remember- I wrote a whole blog entitled parenting sucks……By job description- parenting is not easy.

But this little girl- looking up at her father….and the mother was sitting on the other side of the father- if he was in a bad mood, why didn’t he take the aisle seat and have his wife between him and the kid?

See- because I can’t help but think about this girl…..

Now- lets switch this up a little. What if I said the parent was on their cell phone the whole time?  What would we think about a parent that was at a show but not paying attention?

I’d say the level of disengagement was exactly the same.  The parent was physically present, but emotionally withdrawn.

Let’s switch it up again.  What if the father was pissed at his wife, and that was the reason for the scowl?  Should you let marital problems interfere with your kids?

So, I’m torn- because I don’t want to judge anyone or their situation.  But, I also want kids to enjoy certain moments in their life, because I know that life sucks a lot of the time.

A Letter to the Father Sitting in front of me at An Evening with John and Hank Green

Dear Father Figure,

Hi.  It’s me, the Mother Figure in the seat behind you at Town Hall last night.  Remember me?  I was with my daughter.  You were with your kids, I’m guessing a 12 year old daughter and 14 year old son.  Yeah- you remember me now- the one giving you pitying looks…..Why was I giving you pitying looks?  Well, let me tell you….

First off.  John Green.  This is the go to author for much of Generation Z.  He writes about characters that they can relate to.  He writes characters that come alive and jump off the page.  His prose is prosaic, his words are quotable….he embodies  the angst and heartbreak they often feel.  He gets your children to read.

Let me repeat that.  He is getting your tween age kids to read.  To love reading.  To look forward to reading.

That’s a problem, right?

Your kids.

Reading.

Well- it must be, judging by the pissed off expression you wore last night.  Because you sat there- scowling.  Yes.  Scowling.  Your shoulders were tense, your body was rigid.  For a moment I thought that you were an angry statue.  You didn’t clap.  You didn’t move your arms.  You didn’t crack a smile.  You didn’t even smile when you looked over at your kids, who were obviously loving and enjoying the evening.  How does a parent not look at their kids and smile when their kids are quite clearly having a great time and a great experience?

Are we a tad selfish and self absorbed?  Does your obligation end at buying the tickets and accompanying them?  Do you think your daughter didn’t notice that you were not miserable, but angry?  Cause let me tell you- she noticed.  She glanced at you worryingly.  And this is just conjecture- but I’m guessing she was wondering what she did wrong.  Because that’s how kids are- they see their parents mad and they think it’s their fault.  Remember that- kids think that things are their fault.  So they think that when you are an ass, it’s their fault.  Well- they think that.  I know you are an ass because you are only worried about yourself.

Are you embaressed that your kids like these books?  That your kids watch Utube videos about literature and science? (cause that’s what these guys do- they make learning fun)  Would your rather your kids were watching sports?  Do you think if your kids read these books, listen to the podcasts,  they will be uncool?  Are these not the kids you wanted?  Do your kids not meet your expectations?

Well- get over it.  Get over yourself and your pre-conceived notions.

Cause what I see are two kids that like something that is good.  I see two kids that probably want to be better people, want to feel empathy.  They want to be part of the group that respects others and their choices.  Because that’s part of what the Green Brothers are about.  They sing about science.  They write books.  They talk about respect and they show empathy.

Respect and empathy.

The world would be a much better place if all kids learned respect and empathy.

Fyi- you- the parental unit- the  first teacher your kids had- you’re not displaying either of those things right now.

Even if you are bored, pretend to like it.  If you weren’t so irritated, you would realize that it’s a pretty good show.  These guys are funny- really funny.  And they are brilliant- that is blatantly obvious.  And oh yeah, your kids are into it.

Are you upset that he talks about depression and anxiety and mental illness?  Do you think if your kids never hear those terms they will never suffer from those things?

Wrong.  You are so wrong.  Issues like these have no boundaries.  Kids don’t hear about things like OCD and say, that sounds like fun, let me try that this week.  But maybe they will recognize something in themselves, and they realize that they are not alone.  They affect so many people.  Isn’t is better to be aware?  Isn’t awareness what helps fix things?

Well- you wouldn’t know that because you are least self aware person ever.  Yes- I’m judging you on outward appearance- sorry- you’re throwing off that vibe.  And if I think that- well, what do your kids think?

So here’s the thing:

Your kids like to read.  They are reading books that have some great messages.  They are spending their Tuesday evening with you, as a family, at a lecture/show.  Pay attention to them.  Try to understand where they are at.  You don’t get many chances like this.  They grow up and away really fast.  Embrace these moments.  Don’t be such a giant ass.

xoxo

The Mom sitting behind you

 

Underappreciated

Sometimes, things don’t go to plan.  You all know by now that I am a somewhat organized person, who writes lists, and schedules things.  But even with my over attentive habits things fall through the cracks, people get cranky, things happen.

On Friday night, I was at the Botanic Garden with the husband.  My friend with whom I had Sunday plans FINALLY texted me back- you know- while I was out.  Even though we had known we were going to hang out that day, my friend is a little more laid back than me, so we didn’t know what we were going to do.  You can imagine I was getting a little antsy about not knowing what I was doing- and I had sent her a list of suggestions….all which would require tickets, because in NYC, just about everything requires advance tickets and planning.  So while I’m wandering around the gardens, I’m furiously texting S, trying to cement plans…..

When I got home Friday night, I bought the tickets for our planned activity.  When my daughter got home, I helped her get ready for Saturday.  She was playing in a tennis tournament and had to leave early because not only did the tourney start early, it was is the far reaches of Queens, which is a decent trip from Manhattan.  On Friday night, she was as ready as possible for Saturday.

At 6am Saturday morning- she didn’t feel so prepared.  After a week of tennis and homework- her sleep to awake ratio was pretty low- she was tired.  Tired=cranky.  I made her coffee, I made her a hot breakfast.  I packed her a healthy snack.  I refilled her water bottles.  She was snippy towards me- complained that her breakfast was boring- couldn’t I have made her something different?

Let’s just say I was fixated on the words “hot breakfast”, cause I probably said it 20 times.  Lets just say that there were a lot of not so nice words said about 20 times. We argued about metro cards- she wanted mine, I asked her why she didn’t refill hers…..stupid, stupid things…..I told her she was ungrateful cause I didn’t need to help her out….she said I needed to do these things cause I’m her Mom…..

And she stormed off.

We went to the movies together Saturday night- we repaired things for the most part- but I was still a little annoyed because I was feeling underappreciated.  Yes- please get out your teeny tiny violin and play me a melancholy tune…..the underappreciated Mom……

But this brings us to Sunday morning.  Normally, I have things organized and ready to go- gym clothes out, outfit planned, blog pre written, tickets printed for whatever I’m doing…..but this Sunday, yesterday, I didn’t have any of those things done.

Why?

Because on Saturday, in the time I’d allotted to prepping, I was reading the new Dan Brown book.  Yes- I was reading in unplanned reading time…….

I know.

I’m a horrible person.

Shame on me.

So Sunday morning I was behind, because along with not having anything prepared, I also woke up late……

But then, my ungrateful daughter stepped in.  She walked the dog.  She printed out my tickets for me (of course, when you’re running late is the morning that it takes 40 minutes to print out 1 ticket, and remember I bought 2 tickets…..).  She helped me organize my clothes and toiletries because I was changing at the gym.  She filled my water bottle and got me an apple.   And she realized that I would not be allowed to bring my gym bag into the theater because of security checks, so she arranged to get my gym bag before I went off on my outing, as well as bringing me the freshly printed tickets.  Right, the ungrateful daughter.

So what did I learn?

  1. I do not do well if I’m unprepared
  2. Always print out tickets as soon as you buy them
  3. Dan Brown books are really engrossing even if I don’t understand them 80% of the time
  4. We all need a little help sometimes
  5. I need to bug my friend S2 about plans a lot sooner (the funny thing is, I have another good friend S1 and she is just like me- I’m seeing her Friday night, and we already know when and where and have confirmed with our other friends)
  6. Even ungrateful daughters can be a life saver
  7. I need to take deep, relaxing , meditative breaths…….

Peace and love to all!!

 

The Queen Can’t Win

Once upon a time, the Princess asked the Queen to read her homework essay.  The Queen read all three pages and pronounced it royally sufficient.

“Just sufficient?”  the Princess asked.

“No.  It was good.” the queen responded.

“Good or very good?”

“Very good. You answered the questions given.  Your thesis was strong.  Your choice of evidence was excellent.  Maybe there were one of two sentences that could be tighter, but over all- a very good essay.”

“Which sentences?”

The Queen scrolls down the essay and locates the slightly wordy sentences.  The Princess quickly readjusts them.

“Now is it good?”  the princess asks.

“It was good before.  Now it’s better.”

“I thought you said it was great?”

“It’s great.  It’s outstanding.  It’s the best paper ever on this question.  Your teacher will be extolling the virtues of this paper for years to come.”

“You’re just saying that because you’re my Mom.”

The next day we find the Queen at the not so regally located tennis courts where the Princess and her teammates play their home matches.  The Princess and her doubles partner have just lost a really tough match, 10-8.  The princess approaches the Queen.

“Nice match” the Queen says.

“We lost.” the Princess responds.

“I know.  But it was close.”

“What could we have done better?”

“You made some bonehead moves.”  the Queen says.

“Like…..?”

“No man’s land.  You guys sort of moved in.” (for those who do not know/play tennis- no man’s land is the area between the service line and the base line- you really don’t want to be stuck there as the opponent is returning the ball- almost impossible to recover a shot when you are there)

“We weren’t there that much.”

“Ok.  Whatever.”

“My God – you could be nice to me.  All you ever do is criticize me.  You’re my mom.  You’re supposed to tell me I’m great.”

The Queen walked away shaking her head.  She would never understand teenagers.  Scratch that.  She didn’t want to understand teenagers.  And she walked off to the not so regal subway to go home to prepare the royal banquet.

They still lived happily ever after…..

 

 

 

 

The Tale of the School Portraits

In the hallway of the royal palace stood pictures of the young Princess.  A wall filled with 8×10 portraits from school, soccer and softball.  Any visitor to the Palace would be greeted with smiling images, ranging from age 4 to age 14.  The team colors changed, the hairstyles changed, but the face remained constant.

Then the first week of Junior year, the Princess walked into the royal apartment and stated….”Do we really need to have this shrine of me when you walk in the front door? It’s embarrassing.  Why do we even have these pictures up on the wall?”

This was a rather frugal Queen, who had spent good money on all these portraits, so she felt it was well within her rights to display them.  But she also understood that this blatant display of parental pride could be a little daunting to people, and yes, embarrassing to the Princess.  So the Queen took out the royal planner and scheduled time to order a photo album, take down the pictures, unframe them, place them in an album, repaint the wall and hang up different artwork on the wall.  It was rather a long process, but worth it for the happiness of the Princess.

So about 10 days later, the Queen was able to accomplish the first half of the tasks.  Pictures down and organized, frames donated, wall painted.

Princess came home from a long day of school and tennis practice.

“Wherenare my pictures?”  she exclaimed.

“You said they were embarrassing.  I understand why you would feel that way and I rearranged things.”  Queen replied.

“But, but….it’s your house.  You didn’t have to do that.  You’re allowed to hang up anything you want.” the Princess continued.

“I understand why you wanted them down.  So that’s what I did.  It wasn’t a big deal.” (Well, the thought behind taking them down wasn’t a big deal, but you know, the process…..)

“Can you put them back up?”  the Princess asked.

“What?” the Queen exclaimed, trying to remember that she is going to try to be calm in all situations and take a moment. (FYI- this was not working out so well at this moment) “I spent the whole day doing this.  The pictures are already in an album.  I am NOT undoing it.”

“But it’s like all my memories are down and boxed up.  My life was on the wall, in chronological order, and now…it’s blank.”

The Queen went and gave the Princess a hug, kissed the top of her baseball cap.  “your memories are not gone.  They’re in your head, and in my heart.  And they’re now in a photo album on the bottom shelf of the coffee table.”

“So this is Ok?” the Princess said.

“Of course.  Life changes.  We change and grow.  Things can’t always remain static.  And look around, there are still plenty of reminders of you in the apartment.  Your artwork is on the walls, and some projects are on the shelves, and there are still pictures of you, of our family all around.  It’s just a little different.  Change is OK.  Change is necessary.”

And all was right in the royal household.  For a little while anyway.  Remember, the Princess is still a teenager.

 

Can I Ask Your Opinion….?

Let me set the scene.  Daughter is away at college- about her first week.  The following is a skype call.

Daughter– Mom- What’s your opinion on Sorority’s?

Mom– I don’t like them.  They’re degrading.  They force you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do.  Have you heard the stories about rush?  Why would anyone want to be in a sorority.  You auditioned for a dance group.  Those will be your friends, the other people in the dance group.  Why would you need any other friends? There is no reason to join a sorority- it’s just a big party circle. And they’re not really popular at your school.  If I were you I wouldn’t join a sorority.  But, it’s your choice.  Do whatever you want.

Now, I realize the kid asked for an opinion.  But….is this an opinion, or is this a diatribe?

What’s the nature of an opinion?  I think of an opinion as a particular take on any given subject.  I have been know to overtly state my opinion on just about everything, even though no one has asked me for my opinion.  (note to self- why is no one asking me for my opinion on anything?)  So, I’m making a distinction that some people write from a particular viewpoint, and they don’t care what anybody thinks….they just articulate.

But…..

What if someone asks you your opinion?

How do you answer?

Do you present your side in a logical format, with as little personal bias as possible?  Or is personal experience/reflection crucial to an opinion?

If you do not like the idea of something, how vehemently would you state your distaste?  Would you say something like Why in the world do you want to do that?  Is making someone feel ignorant part of voicing an opinion?

At what point does an “opinion” become manipulative?  We all know the power of words, but should an opinion persuade someone in one direction or another?

And then there is the person giving the opinion.  If you are asking the person you trust most in the world, does this opinion carry so much weight that you will do exactly what this person “suggested”?  Should you get multiple opinions before making a decision?  Do some people ask opinions of those that are of like mind, so they’re going to get the opinion they are leaning towards anyway?

Back in the real world, I think my friend is so opposed to even the idea of a sorority that she is manipulating her child into not trying.  Which is her right, but is it fair?  Is it really acting in her daughter’s best interest?

Of course, I told my friend that I thought she was being a little over dramatic.  Ok- my talking to her could be described as over-dramatic.  I won’t repeat here what I actually said to my friend (but really could explain why no one asks for my opinion) But, the short version is, I told her that a “better” answer might be “I don’t like the idea of a sorority because I have heard some horrible stories about rush, and I don’t like the idea of you being in a situation that you may not know how to handle.”  And I don’t know if mine is better, but I don’t think her version was the right way to go.

So….

What’s your opinion?  What is an opinion?

 

Parenting Sucks

Do I have you attention?

Back to school brings out many thoughts for school age children.   It also brings out many thoughts for Parents of school age children.  Bad thoughts.  Negative thoughts.

Do you know how many times in the past two weeks I told a parent to cut themselves some slack?  Told them parenting sucks?  Let’s just say- enough times to know I needed to blog about this.

Who told you that parenting would be easy?  I want names.  Because these people should not be allowed to speak if they are going around spreading the lie that parenting is easy.  The last easy moment you had was before you held a child in your arms, or held their hand- before you gave birth or signed adoption papers.  After that- all bets are off.

I know there are billions of parenting books, articles, websites.  I’m pretty sure I have read them all.  But guess what?  There is no parenting book for YOUR SPECIFIC CHILD.  Because every child is unique- they have their own personality traits- a whole bunch of them.  One book may have 1 thing that works for your kid- 1.  Thousands of tips, only one which applies to your child.  A book might not have any tip that helps your child.  None.  You got that?  A book that works for everyone else might NOT work for you.  This does not make you a bad parent.  This does not make your kid a bad kid.  You just need to figure out a different solution.  There is nothing wrong with doing something a different way than everyone else if it works for you and your child.  Got that?  If it works for you and your child it is fine.

You will make mistakes as a parent.

Yes- you will.  No kidding.  No matter what you do, you will make a wrong decision.  And I know this is not intentional.  No one brings a child home and whispers over their bed “I’m going to do everything possible to screw up your life.”  No one.

Own your mistakes.  If you realize you did make a choice that is not working, figure out how to fix it.  I always like the “reverse engineering” approach- look at the desired outcome and figure out what steps you need to get there.  What if you don’t know what to do?  Talk it out with people you trust (not the people who told you parenting was easy- seriously- don’t drink that kool aid).  Seek professional help if you think the situation warrants it.  But don’t sweep it under the rug- bad things have a tendency to snowball.

Communication is probably the most important parenting tip I can share- this one pretty much applies to everyone.  LISTEN to your child.  Comprehend what they are and are not saying.  Talk WITH them, not AT them.  If you feel uncomfortable (yes- lots of people are uncomfortable having deep conversations with their children) talk to them in a setting when you are not facing one another.  Fishing, walking, driving- sometimes when your eyes are focused on something external you might be able to have a more frank discussion. If possible, talk to your child before they go to bed- when people are tired they tend to let their guard down.  Also, your kid might just keep talking because they  don’t want to go to sleep….

Judgement should be found in the court system, maybe at a gymnastics meet, but never at a PTA meeting.  Don’t spend time worrying what other parents think about you.  I’m going to repeat that:  Don’t spend time worrying about what other parents think of you. If you are not going to listen to me on this, I would like a 200 word essay on why you think it’s OK for other parents to judge you- on why you think it’s OK for anyone to judge you.  Because I can’t think of even one reason why it’s good to be judged, so I’m trying to expand my knowledge base.

Trust your instincts.  Some of parenting is instinctual- you just “know” when something is good or bad.  I know when my daughter is getting sick because she begins drinking more water.  I know this does not really qualify as instinct, but it is noticing when routine is off.  You know what is “normal” for your kid, and what is not.

So parents- please cut yourself some slack.  Parenting is hard.  Don’t constantly question yourself and the way you parent.  If you are constantly stressed, don’t you think your kids are going to feel your stress?  And then what do you think will happen?  Remember- if you don’t have a good answer, I will be forced to blog about it…..

On the Days Before School, my Daughter Said to Me…..

Halleluiah.  The first day of school has arrived.  Daughter has always been OK about school- she doesn’t love it, but she doesn’t really dread it.  But this is the ugly year- she is officially a Junior.  And for a college bound kid…..it’s akin to torture.

But before we even get to the actual school stuff, we went through the outfit- what should my daughter wear on the first day of school.  Per daughter- “The outfit you wear on the first day of school determines your path- it sends a message.  My outfit has to convey leadership, intelligence and just the right amount of cool.  Like it or not, you are judged on how you look.”  Let’s just say that planning this outfit involved more steps than D-Day.  Which dress?  Which shoes?  Earrings?  Necklace?  Hair?  Lipstick?  Polish?  Pictures were exchanged amongst friends.  Bracelets were displayed next to the dress- FYI- the decision was no bracelet.  And yes- daughter devotes this much time, effort and thought into everything she does.

Then Monday night- the official torture began.  While some were enjoying Labor Day picnics, the college counselor at her school was busy at work.  On Monday Eve we received the college readiness calendar- a list of dates that are suddenly the most important thing in her world- the grade 11 flashing next to more required lines than we cared to see.  Friday morning- the Junior breakfast- guest starring the college counselor herself.

Tuesday- the arrival of the schedule.  This added a new dimension of fun, and if you ask my daughter, the arrival of “Mean Mommy”.  See, daughter got every class that she asked for.  Every class.  She got the physics teacher that she wanted.  She has a lunch period with about half of her friends.  She got exactly what she wanted, yet…..she was complaining.   Cue the teeny tiny violin. She decided that she didn’t want guitar anymore- but changing guitar would mean upending her schedule and screwing up all the other things.  I told her to just leave it and deal with guitar.  She pouted.  Told me I wasn’t being very nurturing.  I believe I said “suck it up , Buttercup” or some equally pithy expression.  And I got a 20 minute lecture on how I was the meanest Mother in the world.  (I believe I said something about being glad that I was the best at something in her eyes)

We reached détente yesterday morning when I filled her water bottle and handed her a granola bar before she went off to her obscenely early tennis practice.  By the time she returned home from tennis, she was a little calmer.  Thank you physical exercise and humid weather.

But you know that Wednesday would have it’s own special stressers.  Sharpening pencils, new batteries in the calculator, loading the pencil case, packing the backpack.  I think it was the backpack that sent her into full panic mode.  She asked me to walk with her to the hair salon.  I asked her if she was looking forward to special dinner with husband/dad.

“Ahhh- But I still have so much to do!  I didn’t print out the Lang essay.  I have to pack my tennis bag.  I forgot to put post it’s in the bag.  I don’t think my book notes are good.  What if Eisenhower wasn’t the right answer to the APUSH question.  We didn’t try on the dress with all the accessories.”

And I looked at her.  School hasn’t even begun and she is already stressed.  And what as a parent can I do?  Every parent has challenges that they must face when they are raising their children.  Mine may be different than others, but they are still daunting when you are facing them.  My challenge is keeping her balanced, trying to make sure she handles her stress in a positive way.  I know that she is the type of kid that thrives on pressure, on pushing herself.  But still…. what do I say?

“Are you ok with Guitar?”

“Yes.  I just freaked out a little.”

I diverted, because I wanted to take my time.  This wasn’t the time for snappy comebacks.  This was time for a speech.  Thoughtful and inspiring.  Knute Rockne.  Win one for the Gipper.  I didn’t have it yet.

The night wore on.   I brought two cups of chamomile to her room.  And I said, “Did you choose between the earrings?  (she was between hoops and little dangly discs)  We looked over the ensemble, she tried on two different hair accessories.  I helped her pack her tennis bag.  Tennis was on- Federer was not having a good night.  Was this the time to give a talk?  I decided no- not so much because of Fed (after all- the women’s semi’s  exceeded her expectations) but because I didn’t know what to say.  Mark this down- I didn’t know what to say.

I woke up this morning and went to the gym. I try not to think when I’m exercising, but my mind was in overdrive.  And I realized she doesn’t need a speech- she needs me.

She ate her breakfast (egg and cheese on a roll from the corner bodega – this is a NYC thing, and her traditional breakfast on auspicious days such as this).  I sat across from her.

Me-  Remember in nursery school, you wanted princess underwear like your friend, and I said you could get it when you went on the potty all the time?  What did you do?

Daughter- I know.  I went on the potty- from that moment on.  But this is different than princess underwear.  This is college.

Me-  The point is- you just do what needs to be done.  You have a goal, and you just go for it.  You don’t always succeed, but you try.  You don’t always win, or get what you want- but that really doesn’t matter- because you are always in the game.  I’d like to take credit for this drive, this determination that you have, but I can’t.  It’s all you.  I have nothing to say to you, because you know what you need and want to do.  But remember, I’m here for you.  I am your soft place to fall.  But- you know how you call bullshit when I do/say something stupid?  I reserve the right to do the same to you when you get ridiculous.

Daughter- Like when?

Me- When you complain because you got every class you wanted…..

Daughter- smiles

Me- So just have a great year.  It really will all be fine.

 

 

Parentingnado 5

A few weeks ago I made some snide comments about Sharknado 5.  Someone commented- “How can they be up to 5?  How does that happen?”  Well- I’ll tell you how it happens, because I managed to do it with my blogs. You do the first blog, and you think- “Ok- this is good.  Maybe I should do another on the same topic.  And you keep getting feedback, and before you know it, you’ve written your 5th parenting blog in a row.  OK- not exactly a row- I did my usual weekend stuff- but- you know- it’s just a lot of parenting- even for me.  So let’s see if I can squeeze out any fresh ideas, or if I jumped the shark…..

My Daughter faced my parenting blogs with wry amusement.  I believe “You’re so full of it” was the exact wording.  So here are a few things my kid said, and I’ll give you my explanations.

You’re gullible to peer pressure.  You’ll read a fashion magazine and say to me, “Ooh- velvet is in.  Should you get something in velvet for the season?”

I admit, I like looking at fashion mags.  I like to see what is in style.  My daughter and I enjoy shopping and coordinating outfits.  Is buying something on trend submitting to peer pressure?  I don’t think it is.  I think it’s fun.  Now- if you say you HAVE to have something because everyone else has it, or you wear something you don’t really like, or something that is not flattering- I think you’ve submitted to peer pressure.  FYI- the little velvet dress she bought last winter got her through 5 outings.

You bought me expensive “name” boots.

Yes I did.  Because they were practical for the cold weather.  Because they are truly high quality and well made.  I had once bought the generic version of these boots and they barely lasted a season.  Hers have lasted 4 years and are still going strong.  And I just didn’t go out and buy them.  She put them on her holiday list, and I bought them as a gift.  I think it’s OK to be a little extravagant on gifts as long as you stick to your overall budget.

Your talks on expectations, hopes and rules contradict one another.

Expectations are traits that can be taught and modeled.  They are behaviors that you are not born with, but are learned behaviors.  These are the things that make someone a functioning member of society.  I include respect and empathy as examples.  Expectations should not change- these are lifelong behavior patterns.

Hopes are things that you hope your child finds valuable, because learning the hard way can be, you know, hard.  One example is that I hope my daughter surrounds herself with good people, I can explain why, but I can’t expect her to listen or do this.  Sometimes a child needs to learn the hard way which people to trust.

Rules are the guidelines you establish for the benefit of your family.  As a parent you are allowed to set rules about curfews, video game usage- really anything that you have a strong feeling about.  These are things that are important to you individually (and by this I mean parents or guardians- I’m not sure best way to phrase this- but lets also say that ALL parents must be on the same page as far as these rules go- Mom saying one thing and Dad saying another is dysfunction at its finest)  Rules are also things that can be reevaluated every year.  My daughters curfew is later now than it was 2 years ago.  She didn’t wheedle the rule change out of me- as she matures I feel she is allowed a bit more freedom.  But every family has their own rules. You can’t change other peoples minds- but you can talk about them on your blog…….

Sometimes you bend the rules

Guilty.  I sometimes bend the rules.  I have a no electronics at the dinner table rule.  When her best friends boyfriend broke up with her, I let my kid keep the phone on the table.  Her friend needed her.  I don’t regret that decision.  But for the most part- I am really consistent.

What about the whole curfew conundrum?

At the beginning of sophomore year, I gave my daughter a curfew that I thought was reasonable.  The first night she was out, I realized that everyone had a curfew later than my daughter.  My daughter did not ask for a later curfew- she accepted what I had said.  But here is the problem:  living in the city, the kids take mass transit, or walk home.  If my kid left before everyone else, she would be making the entire trip home solo.  I extended her curfew, because I didn’t want her traveling completely alone.  It had nothing to do with peer pressure.

So you can decide if I am full of it or not.