I guess you can all see where this is going...at 8 I got on my call. The Girl was still in bed. I heard her moving around upstairs at a little past 8, and at 8:10 or so she came into the office with her sad face and asked me for a ride. I pointed to the phone, and told her I couldn't (I had to mute). She slammed the door and stormed off. Then she came back again and tried the same thing to no avail. After a couple of minutes she gave up and walked down to daycare. I was able to actively participate on my call without muting (mostly) and I felt strong because of it.
My point in sharing this story is not to embarrass my daughter. It came to me a few days ago - with the help of T showing me that I needed to get this, that we don't have firm enough boundaries with our kids - or maybe just I don't have firm enough boundaries with them. This hasn't always been the case, but it has been recently. I read a few books in the past year that I think set me on a path where I thought we didn't need boundaries and consequences (though to be fair this was absolutely not in either of the books). I'd been devoting a lot of my time and energy towards helping both of my kids in letting themselves feel their emotions when they happen rather than stuff them and hide them and fear them as I learned to do as a child. I know that this has been important work, and it is by no means done, but in addition to that work my kids need to know that I have boundaries. Both kids to some degree have been testing boundaries lately, nothing disastrous really, but in hindsight I can see that my kids were pushing back to see where the actual boundary was. I've had scenes like the one with The Girl this morning many times before, and I have still driven her when she comes down with a sad face, and then muted myself on the call. So why would she respect my time limit for getting a ride to daycare? She didn't think it was a real boundary, and she knew she could negotiate with me and get her ride.
I still don't love the incident this morning, the nurturing mom in me wanted to drive her. I knew that the indulgence of me driving her today wasn't going to do her any good tomorrow though. Ultimately it wouldn't do her any good as she becomes an adult either. I hope that she is able to be strong enough to set boundaries for herself, and stick to them. There are so many times in life when we are asked to trample our own boundaries, and that is where problems arise. The only way she will become an adult who can set and stick to her own boundaries is by having parents who model that skill for her as she is growing up.
|Another Brown quote to learn from|
The same idea holds true for my son. Just yesterday he confided in me that some kids at school took his pencil, a pen, and a highlighter from his pencil case under the guise of "being funny." It wasn't funny though, and he was too shy, and too afraid to speak up for himself. Instead he went the rest of the day with no pencil because he only had one with him at school that day. I think in his case the issue is trickier than needing firm boundaries, but it is certainly an aspect of what happened. A year ago I would have talked to his teacher about it on his behalf, but he doesn't want his Mom involved now that he is in middle school. He and I will talk about it more. I think he understands that those kids stole from him, and the fact that he doesn't want to say anything to them or a teacher about it because he is afraid one of them will beat him up - well that is bullying. As much as I want to swoop in and rescue him, I can see that what he really needs is for his Mom to be there to coach him through it - and to listen to how he feels about it. He may not decide to stand up for himself in this particular case, but hopefully over time he will realize that he has that power inside himself. I want him to know that he is he worthy of boundaries.
The hardest thing about parenting seems to be that we can't give our kids anything we don't already have for ourselves. If I don't respect my own boundaries my kids won't be able to do that for themselves either - unless they find themselves a good deal of therapy as adults that is. As much as I want my kids to be able to learn from what I say, they will only learn by watching what I do. Recognizing that power - that obligation - forces us to grow up.