Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Back Story

I have to say, it's damn hard being a parent. I know from experience it's also damn hard being an adolescent.I try not to forget that when I'm dealing with the antics of my eldest girls.
I know what it is to feel so angry all the time and not have a clue why, to question your place in the world, to want the people you love to hear what you have to say and value it.
I've always said I want my girls to feel safe enough to vent. To be able to cry and rant and say terrible things they don't mean and know that I will love them no matter what.
But in reality, I'm just a woman. A parent, learning my way, stumbling, fumbling, trying to make everyone happy and often failing everyone. I'm weak, and flawed and sometimes too exhausted to care.
After a weekend of Maddie kicking off about seemingly everything I'd had enough. I stormed into her room and packed up her computer and desk and took it to the one place I knew would bother her more that anything...her younger sisters room.
Now Maddie loves her computer, this I knew, it's busy hum fills her room from first thing in the morning to late at night. She uses it to write and communicate and express herself. Like me she finds the virtual world easier to navigate, and her computer is the key to that world.
I took that key. In the heat of my anger, worn down by constant button pushing I pushed back, the one button I knew would hit home.
Almost instantly I was in turmoil. I felt like I should be that parent who says what they mean, who stands behind their punishment and 'teaches that lesson'. But also, I realized that we had both acted badly, and in retaliating, in lashing out and punishing, I had gone back on that promise to be that safe place to fall. I had said, in effect, 'Don't lay this crap on me, I don't want to deal with you and if you make me I'll make you regret it.'
Sure Maddie had acted badly, but do two wrongs make a right? Was I not the adult here? Should I not have acted differently, at least waited till I was thinking rationally and could approach the situation with calm.
But should I back down? What message would that send? What about respect and consequences and tough love?
So I guess 'Bring Madison's Computer Back' was born of Madison's need to get her beloved computer back, and my need to not back down entirely. A compromise. A way of forgiving each other and moving forward.


Laura/CenterDownHome said...

Hey, Lovey, I know it's hard. :) Plus, Maddie is a amazing, exceptional person. She's THERE to challenge you. That's her job! (Remember your Buddhist stuff.)

I know that you'll get comments from parents who do punish to teach a lesson, who will probably tell you that you did the Right Thing and not to back down, etc. I'm guessing that you already know that I wouldn't say that. ;) I think that you had a growing experience, and you and Maddie are so close that you can laugh and talk about it. Also, because people who always have the Answer annoy the crap out of me, I need to tell you that I had a rough couple of days last week, and stomped and pouted around the house, trying to emotionally blackmail J and O into -- oh, I don't even remember -- doing what I wanted them to do. Looking back, I'm happy to say that they are immune to my stomping and pouting and will not be controlled and manipulated that way.

You and your girl are awesome. Brilliant, funny, close. You'll clash like any two close people will from time to time, but I have great trust that you will both always come out of it closer and wiser. <3

Gina said...

Not sure I can write anything after what Laura said. You and she just have a way of saying it all.

I always say to myself, when I have one of those turns (and we all lose the plot occasionally) that it is actually a good thing for my boys to see that I am fallible and that I get it wrong from time to time and that I can recognise when I have. We always talk about it afterwards and they are fine, shrug it off after the initial drama has passed but I feel bad for absolutely ages afterwards. But that's probably a product of my own upbringing - all that guilt etc.

You are a fab mother, Hay. And your girls are wonderful.

debra said...

So much of parenting is on the job training, isnt' it. We all do the best we can at any given time, with the tools we have at that time. We can't do more than that.
As Laura says, you'll hear from some parents who will laud you for "teaching Maddie a lesson", and others who will decry you for the very same thing. But in the end of the end, you did the best you could, and that's ok. And you came up with a creative solution to the problem you shared.
Good for both of you. ☮

rickypawl said...

Yeah, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I applaud and agree with your philosophy and ideas on child rearing and I know how easy it is to second guess one's self, but I think your instincts were correct in a kind of knee jerk way. Of course you want them to have the freedom to vent and everything else you said so perfectly, but it is also important to make sure kids know the difference between freedom of expressing feelings and being abusive toward others and I think that some parents, in an effort to be their kid's best friend, lose sight of the fact that the parent child relationship is not one of equality. You as the parent have a role, a job to do and there has to be limits and boundaries and you have to enforce them. It is a huge responsibility. Any parent knows how kids will test those limits and push the boundaries. Their feelings are important, your feelings are important, and along with everything else, they need to learn to be respectful of other people as they want people to respect them. I've seen, we've all seen, the parents who can't seem to say No and their kid/s are utter snots, real brats who are already abusive and will be very surprised and ill prepared when they get out into the "real" world of higher education and employment. Sure it's an age, a phase, she's going through, but it's also an opportunity to address behaving appropriately even when one doesn't necessarily feel like it. You're an awesome mum and as I've said many times, I want to come back as your son... or daughter... or dog, whatever.

Hay said...

Thanks everyone. Maddie and I are so grateful to call you all friends, we got the pick of the bunch. Hugs.

Karen said...

Oh honey--thank you so much for sharing this. It makes me feel less like a horrible parent, because I, too, do this EXACT SAME THING! Lately, my little guy has been having a real rough time--and sometimes I can pull up the understanding and compassion...and some days I can't. And then I find myself in an escalating battle of anger and absurdity. And I, too, get caught up in that "must stand my ground" and "can't possibly show weakness."
But I can. And mostly do.
We get to make mistakes, too. We get to be crazy, too. But we can show the human-ness of it all by admitting that we over-reacted. By admitting that we were wrong. And then asking for a do-over.
To me, that's a big part of family love--the endless supplies of do-overs.

You are a fabulous mom, Hay--don't let anyone (including you) tell you otherwise.

The Word Party

Loving words clutch crimson roses,
Rude words sniff and pick their noses,
Sly words come dressed as foxes,
Short words stand on cardboard boxes,
Common words tell jokes and gabble,
Complicated words play Scrabble,
Swear words stamp around and shout,
Hard words stare eachother out,
Foreign words look lost and shrug,
Careless words trip on the rug,
Long words slouch with stooping shoulders,
Code words carry secret folders,
Silly words flick rubber bands,
Hyphenated words hold hands,
Strong words show off, bending metal,
Sweet words call each other 'petal',
Small words yawn and suck their thumbs,
Till at last the morning comes,
Kind words give out farewell posies....
Snap! The dictionary closes.