Your words hurt
I remember when Claire was just a baby and she wasn’t sleeping…ever…and I kept thinking, in my sleep deprived state, it can’t get any worse than this, right?
But then something crazy happens. Kids grow up, and with growing comes a new set of obstacles involving emotions, and stress, and teaching them how to be a caring, responsible, honorable little person. Suddenly, I’d give anything for those sleepless nights where I knew how to fix it. Where I was absolutely certain that I could solve the problem.
I have four kids, and each one (well, Audrey is still TBD) has their own personality that is completely different from the next. Claire is smart, almost too smart. Caring, almost too caring. A feeler, but feels too much.
Luca is quiet. Likes to build. Doesn’t like attention. Doesn’t like to play with Maelie when Claire is around.
Mae is me. She is loud, and conversational and adventurous and a little annoying because of all of that. She tries to play with Luca every day and gets pushed away, but she doesn’t let it get her down. She’s persistent for sure.
Audrey is the quintessential baby. She loves her mom. Her mom wishes she didn’t love her so much all the time. But I digress.
Claire is the first child, so of course with first children comes a certain set of obstacles. We as parents screw up a lot. We give them complexes. We have no idea what we’re doing, but we don’t like others to know we have no clue what we’re doing.
95% of the time, Claire is an awesome kid. I’m not just saying that because she’s my kid, rather, because it’s the truth. She, however, has her own set of demons, and it’s in the form of the spotlight and anxiety.
Claire gets the spotlight a lot, be it because of me, or because of her, she’s in it a lot. Animal Rescue stuff aside, she’s smart. She was tested into accelerated reading, which lifted her spirits a little bit. She is pulled aside in class to do advanced math, which brings her up a little higher. She may be tested for gifted at the end of the school year, which is, again, making her walk pretty tall. The problem is, at school, she’s perfectly humble. She doesn’t talk down to a friend or fellow student. She doesn’t say anything to make the other kids feel badly that they aren’t where she is. I’m very proud of this.
However, when she gets home, she sort of lets loose a little bit, and she comes undone somewhat. Without going into too much personal detail, because I respect Claire’s privacy, all this comes at a price for a kid like her. She feels, too much. Far too much, and it comes at the price of anxiety and panic attacks. She knows, as well as a seven year old can, that she’s different. She cries and says the work is too hard for her, but she coasts through it, while claiming her friends don’t have to do this hard of work. I tell her, if she really wants to, she can ask her teacher to give her easier work, to which she replies, “But that would be boring.” She’s proud of the fact that she gets special work, and can do more than her friends, but she also is envious of her friends’ homework at the same time. It has to be a weird place to be in.
And it’s not so much what she says, rather how she says it. I can see her walking tall, which is every mother’s dream for a daughter. A daughter with self confidence and pride. But at what point do you have to knock them down a few pegs for being too proud?
Last night Claire tested for her blue belt in taekwondo. For those who have no idea what that means, the color belts for taewkondo go: white, orange, yellow, camo, green, purple, blue, brown, red, red-black, black. In between every color are midterms, so there are multiple testings to get to where she’s at now. I believe this was her 12th testing. She worked very hard, and I was very proud that she got her blue belt. Mostly, because last Saturday, she made mistakes in her form, and didn’t get permission to test. Determined, she practiced extra and on Wednesday she pretested again and earned her permission to test.
Today Luca is testing for his yellow belt midterm. (It’s the test between belts. Next testing he’ll go for camo belt.) Today is Luca’s day to shine. Claire, proud of her blue belt still, wore it around the house all morning, and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her wear it to Luca’s testing. I explained to her that she needs to go and be proud of the tiny tiger students today. That she can be proud, but she needs to also be excited for other people. It’s Luca’s turn.
Luca, being the quiet one, listens really well, and heard Claire when she said, “But he didn’t work as hard as I did.”
I’m pretty sure my brain exploded when she said that. While, yes, Luca didn’t do as much work as Claire did. That, during testing, he does his form with an instructor, and Claire does hers alone. That when I say, “Guys, please practice your TKD,” she does and he doesn’t. That we tell Luca that if he goes through his form x amount of times, Matt will play Legos with him for 20 minutes. I get that. And in a seven year old’s brain, it’s not fair. I have to explain to her that, Luca isn’t seven. That he isn’t her. That Luca doesn’t like being watched like she does. That he would rather be in a quiet room building Legos than in a room with 100 pairs of eyes on him doing a form.
It’s always been a bit of a dance with Luca and taekwondo. He even went as far as going on hiatus for 6 months. We let him. We let him tell us when he was ready to come back, and when he did, he picked up where he left off. We are very proud of him for that, but then Claire makes these side comments like, “If you didn’t take a break, Luca, you’d have your camo belt by now.”
He hears that, Claire. And your words hurt.
So I guess that’s where I’m at. I’m sitting here, thinking about the good days where she couldn’t talk, couldn’t crawl, couldn’t over think, couldn’t freak out over little things, couldn’t brag. When her words didn’t hurt.
95% of the time, Claire is an awesome kid. But sometimes she isn’t. And I’m at that place in life where I don’t even know if I’m doing anything right.
I’m also sure that my words hurt, too.
And that, in a nutshell, is parenting, is it not?