Wednesday, February 04, 2009


She's in transition.

While I intend to post about some of this on OLM (for reasons I'll give there), I have a need for breaking it down a bit more here, first. Processing, don't you know.

One thing brought me to (yet another) pause, and now three other related's have finally brought me to a screeching halt.

One) Little Son has not liked pretty much anything I've said or done lately. At least that's how it feels to me.

Two) My talk with Little Son last night.

Three) My talk with my husband last night, and hearing him say "I don't feel like my parents ruined my life."

Four) Hearing Kelli say "I always hated that about my mother. Whenever any little thing became hard in my life she was always there telling me to quit, why bother?"

I'm with it enough to know that if there is a perceived problem on my end (which shows up in frustration, anger, resentment, sass, :) etc. from my child) then something has gone very wrong. And of course it's my job to figure out what, and to repair the relationship.
Because supposedly I'm older and wiser.

The first one is pretty easy, and what I'll write about on OLM. Trev feels controlled. Whenever he's talking with his daddy about something, and if I pop in to say that he can't (or we can't, or we shouldn't) do something he either shouts "stay out of this" or something about it being a private conversation, or something similar. Yikes. I'm trying to help, and I'm making him feel resentful. Big, big trouble there.

The night before last and yesterday I had lots of time for thinking on things (Trev and Eric were gone skiing), and I had time to consider while I was smudging and sweeping those yuckies literally out the door of my home. (Think of it as a house blessing.)
Task one: completed. Now how to keep them out?

Control. Trev feels controlled. Being controlled is a feeling that does not jive with me even a little bit. So it's something that's fairly easy for me to recognize, and something I am eager to fix.
So, next step: Talk.
I wanted to make it clear from the get-go that I was giving him absolute free reign over his days. (Don't shudder, we're not so far off the bend that anything really destructive will come of it. He doesn't have that much to rebel against.)
So the first thing I said to him was "I want you to know that you can watch cartoons and play cartoon network games on the computer all you want."
"Thanks, Mom."
Yes, he plays there a lot, and yes, he has more freedom with his time/days/life than almost all kids. But that isn't the point. The point is he's unhappy, and doesn't trust his Mama.

..."I want to talk about asking you if you'd like to do stuff, still."
"Mom, I don't want you to ask me if I want to do stuff. I just want to be free to watch tv and play games and I'll come to you when I want to do something else."
"Well, that doesn't work very well, Son, simply because there are things that you don't know about. What I mean is, say you had never been to the museum. (natural history museums are among our very favorites) You've never been, and you've never seen one. How would you know to ask to go to the museum? See? It's my job to come up with cool things, because I've lived longer, and know about a lot more stuff like that."
He thought about it. "I still want to come to you when I want to do something else."
I knew it was a matter of trust. He wanted to get to the bottom of this, too, and figured if it ended here, it was going to be the same old, same old of late.
"So I can't ask if you want to do experiments, or anything?"
"No, I'll come to you and say 'I want to do a dna experiment today.'".
I knew exactly where he was going.
"How about this, Son... how about if I still come up with ideas, like going to the Aviary, and you are completely free to say, 'No thanks, Mom, I just wanna stay home today and watch tv.'? and I'll say "Okay, Bud, we'll stay home, then.' Would that work for you? If you were free to say 'no, thanks' without any pressure or hurt feelings from me? If I just said 'Cool,' if you didn't want to do something?"
"Yeah, that would be okay."
"So which one would you prefer, me not asking at all, or me asking and leaving the choice completely up to you, and me being happy either way?"
"The second one."
"You sure?"
"Yeah. You ask me if I wanna go to the Aviary, and I'll say, 'Mmmm, not today, Mom', and you'll say 'Okay.'. Unless I want to go to the aviary, of course."
I smiled at that. He had to be very clear that he wasn't locking himself into tv and cartoon network games for the rest of his life.
"Okay, Son. Then we're cool."

* * *
(continued February 4, 5:54am)

I prepared myself.
While I know my son well enough to know that cartoons forever isn't his style -he has too many other interests for that- I fully had to accept that if this is what happened (as maybe he needed to test me to see if I meant it, or revel in Just Cartoons for a while) I needed to not only not say anything - I was going to have to work hard to keep my attitude one of total acceptance. Indeed, even joyfully embrace cartoons.
Resenting and worrying could not even enter the picture a little bit.
I know he'd pick up on it.

Part two was having a conversation about this with Eric. Before and after.
I let him know what I perceived to be going on, he expressed some of his own concerns, and we talked about unschooling "worries".
Brilliant me told him that these worries were not exclusive to unschoolers or homeschoolers, but to All Parents Everywhere. We went on to expand on that for a while. Eric felt better. :)
I told him of how important I thought it was to let Little Son vent his emotions (and he does vent, believe me!) freely and openly.... that I didn't want him to feel ashamed and overwhelmed as I did and do.
And that's when he said "I don't feel like my parents screwed me up."
I paused at that.
It's possible to get through childhood feeling stable, and parents can still make mistakes and not screw up their kids? My friend Julie says much the same thing.
Two things happened.
One, it gave me hope (which I've had since Julie mentioned it to me). And two... I realized that there are different perspectives.
What I mean is... just because something that happened to me as a kid is something I am still trying to work through or recover from (not traumatic huge things) doesn't mean that my children will have the same thoughts and troubles with the same issues.
That was a news flash to me.

And along those same lines, I read at Kelli's blog yesterday (Tuesday) morning about how she took her daughter to a swim meet, and sometimes her daughter before is nervous and upset, and she wants to say "We don't have to go if you don't want to," which is something I would and do say. Like when Trev is so upset with a game or something (he bangs and yells and screams "You stupid game!", and I tell him something like "If you're not enjoying yourself, then just walk away from it and choose something else."
Aaaaah. In other words, "If it's tough, quit."
Damn. Damn, damn, damn.
I was thinking Peaceful Solutions, and who the hell enjoys themselves in such a state? which is the reason I do not play video games. That, and they just don't appeal to me.
But guess what? Again!, announced for the Third Time, there's a different perspective.


So it's been a day now, and the transition has been smooth.
Granted, I was busy yesterday with things other than the children-- but not one explosion, no remarks that voiced resentment.
And was Trev attached to CN all day? No, he wasn't.

'Course, that may change. It may change today. I'm thinking library and Fly Me To The Moon today at the planetarium, and it's quite possible that Little Son will say, "No thanks, Mom. I just wanna stay home. And watch tv."
And I'm practicing my smiling acceptance of that right now.
I'll say, and Be, and think, "Cool."

This isn't a matter of over indulgence, and me being wimpy or terrified of making my children unhappy.
It's about giving them what they require. Be that scintillating activities or peace and quiet to think, process, or rest.
It's about not missing demonstrations of hurt feelings and a relationship going awry.
It's about all things under the sun having a time, and me lettings Be when they need to Be.

I can't always see what's to become of a particular period. Much to my discomfort.
But I can trust my heart, trust in our love and enthusiasm for life, and trust my child.

And act when there's a call for action.


Sarah said...

I'm glad you let us see you deconstruct this situation. It has clarified a few things swimming around in my mind.

Stephanie said...

I pray that clarification isna something like "Yup. Stephanie really is an Idiot."

Lynn said...

Just popped in and have three giddy girls around so no time to say more than thank you for this post!!xx

Heart Rockin Mama said...

This was a helpful post for me. I am seeing some disconnect at home...lots of fighting and tension. I think I will follow your example. Deconstruct. Look at it from other perspectives. Wish me luck!
I hope your days go smoothly!

mamak said...

"Yup. Stephanie really is an Idiot."- ROTFF!
Gosh, I so wished we lived closer. Oh the tea's we would drink and the thinks we would think.
I am glad you found your way in this. I still look everyday, but damn they change all the time. Your such a great mom.-K

ladybug-zen said...

j and i just finished working our way through an almost identical situation. well sort of identical. basically what it boils down to is him exploring his independence, stretching himself, growing in ways he hasn't before. him realizing "hey. i do have a voice, a say and she really does listen." he's been testing himself and me alot and i think we;ve done ok.

Aubrey said...

For some reason I thought I responded to this post, turns out it was just in my head, as usual.
Anywhoo...a change of perspective is marvelous is it not?
My line of thinking around this topic lately has been that while being a parent that exemplifies love, respect, and joy is of the greatest importance, my children (and indeed everyone) have the personal responsibility to choose the path of evolution that is best for them. We as parents need to give them the freedom and support to pursue the path of their choosing whether we agree or not. I totally applaud Eric's statement that his parents didn't screw him up. Parents don't screw us up, rather we like to blame our parents for our challenges instead of owning up to our thinking errors and doing the deep soul work that is necessary.
You are a wonderful, incredible mother, as are your children. Believe this.

Mon said...

Thanks for sharing this. Stuff like this really helps the rest of us. Whether we agree, disagree, or just find our own personal way, it helps when others share their experiences.

How old is Little Son?

Stephanie said...

I wish I had time to reply to this properly, but I don't.

But I strongly disagree. You know I love you, so I can say that. :)

I think if more people acted with love and more love we wouldn't have hardly any of the problems we have in our world.
And a world filled with love is one in which I want to live, and one I strive to bring forth.
I do not accept that the world has to be (or should be) the way it is, and that hardship and pain should be embraced.
In the grand scheme of things spiritually, perhaps it doesn't matter, but pain is still pain, and moving away from Love and Joy isn't something that appeals to me.

I have to go!! :) See you in a bit.

Stephanie said...

Mon - he's seven.

Aubrey said...

Oh gee, I see that I didn't explain very clearly.
We are saying similar things, just saying it in different ways.
I am all for love, love for everyone and totally agree that love breeds more.
The main thing I want to focus on
is that we don't fill our children with love, we can't possibly fill them up. We can be loving to them, it is their choice to feel love and joy, they fill themselves up.
When a child is surrounded by love it is certainly easier for them to make that choice, but it is still a choice.

Am I making sense? Good thing I get to see you today and I can explain further...

Stephanie said...

I see.
Then I say that I agree with you. :)