Monthly Archives: Aug 2016

Parenting
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Doing His Own Dance

The grumpiest, gloomiest face I’d ever seen greeted me at the end of the school day.

I hadn’t recognized the teacher who’d walked his group out. Another new one. Someone he didn’t know. And it was the one after school activity we’d both been nervous about, although for different reasons.

“So? How was it?”

In the middle of the parking lot, he hung his head and refused to talk to me.

As we walked to the car, I chattered, desperately searching for some topic that would pique his interest and get him to open up. I looked down. Tears were streaming down his grubby face.

“What’s wrong, Sean?”

“I hated dance club! It wasn’t fun at all!” His tone was accusatory, as though I’d twisted his arm and forced him to go.

I’ve learned over the past few years that the more I respond, the less he says. I squeezed in hand, a quiet condolence.

“She’s a kindergarten teacher! I had to follow kindergarten rules.”

His voice was thick with the injustice of a first-grader lowering himself to behave like a “little” kid.

“What kind of rules?”

Sniffle. Snuffle. “I had to sit criss-cross applesauce! My teacher doesn’t make me do that. Only babies have to sit that way!” he wailed.

“I’m…sorry.” Sometimes, you just don’t know the right words. “Did anything else happen?”

This is the part I should have been prepared for. I knew, better than he did, what he’d signed up for by joining the dance “club” at school. Sure, they were all between the ages of five and seven, but there were expectations. Apparently, big ones.

“Yes!” He spat the word out, the disgust emanating from his tall, thin body. “It was mostly girls.” I’d warned him that would happen. He hadn’t believed me.

I squeezed his hand again. It was all the encouragement he needed. “And I couldn’t do my own dance. I had to do the stupid dance everyone else was doing.”

There was the real injustice. My free-spirit child (who keeps it all tightly locked away) had hoped, beyond hope, for a moment to do his own thing, to let the music move him, to be as different and unique as he felt like being.

He had no opportunity to be silly and crazy or make everyone laugh. Nope, he had to color in the lines, follow the rules, and be like everyone else. He hates that.

I wish I could make him understand that being one of two boys in a group of girls in order to dance automatically means he’s coloring outside the lines. All he knows is that he’s facing criss-cross applesauce, a gaggle of girls, and being “just like everyone else” in the group for the rest of the school year. It was the worst day ever.

 

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Random Musings
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Puzzles

“Well, you’re a little bit OCD, a little bit manic, a little depressed, and you have a little anxiety.”

Translation: You, my dear, are a confusing hot damn mess.

He’s a professional, so of course he wouldn’t say that – out loud.

The next week, after a few minutes – “You are SO repressed.”

Yep, I know. As long as I don’t think about the things that make me anxious, I don’t feel as anxious. So let’s just not think about that. But could he please explain my out-sized reactions to every little thing that goes wrong?

Oh, that’s right, I’m repressed.

“We’ve got work to do.” A less professional therapist would have been rubbing his hands together with unrepressed glee (see what I did there?).

Not sure if I should be relieved or a little concerned that he seems so excited.

I think I’m a puzzle.

I don’t really mind being a puzzle. What I hate was not being able to solve my puzzle – which is why I called him. For the first time in my life, I’m too close to the “problem” to pick it apart, think about it, and figure it out.

Not being a clear-cut case for him to diagnose didn’t really surprise me much, either. I never have been like other people.

You can’t grow boobs at age eight (yes, really), get zits by 10, and then stop growing by 13 so that everyone else develops all around you and think you’re like anyone else.

Differences at those ages can be devastating (ask me how I know). Differences as an adult either have to be hidden or celebrated. Or you can be like me and just never talk about them.

I keep reading about how you stop giving fuck about stuff when you hit age 40. I’m almost 37, and I can’t decide if I care or not (I always was an early developer – see above. Why wait until I’m the big 4-0 to stop caring what other people think?).

On one hand, I’m me and people will either accept that or not.

On the other hand, the idea of rejection dries my mouth and makes me nauseous.

On one hand, I care desperately about myself. The past several months have been a journey in mental health, physical well-being, and food intolerances that have come out of nowhere. I want to be healthy, damn it.

On the other hand, think I’m ugly or think I’m “pretty” – it doesn’t matter to me. Am I fat or am I curvy or am I work in progress? Damn if I know.

See? I’m a puzzle.

Scratch beneath the surface a little. You’re a puzzle, too.

We’re all puzzles. The real question is do we want to solve it?

Maybe I’m not ready for the big 4-0 yet because yes, I still care enough to figure out this new, seemingly unsolvable puzzle.

 

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Random Musings
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Fine: A Conversation With Myself

You consider yourself honest, right?

Of course I do. I think being truthful is an important quality. It’s part of having integrity.

So why do you lie?

I don’t lie!!

When someone asks, “How are you doing?” you always say “Fine.”

Of course I do, we all do that.

But you’re not always fine, are you?

Of course not. No one is.

So why don’t you tell the “truth?”

Because most people don’t want to hear the real answer. Or they’d think I was strange or crazy or oversharing. I know I don’t love it when a stranger answers that question with their life story.

Now I know that’s a lie. You love it.

Oh sure, because I’m nosy/curious, and I love getting a glimpse into people’s psyche.

Okay, so why don’t you do that for other people?

Trust issues.

With your family and friends?! Try another one.

Well that’s different. I don’t want them to worry about me. And I don’t want to talk about stuff I don’t have answers to yet.

I can buy that, but isn’t a lie of omission still a lie?

Maybe, but not every truth needs to be spoken at every moment.

Aren’t you justifying your actions a little?

Maybe, but some things really can be kept private. And in the course of social interaction, it’s much better to give a quick “Fine” or when someone asks, “What’s new?” to say “Not much.” It’s not a harmful lie. It doesn’t hurt anyone, and not telling doesn’t put me or anyone else in danger. They won’t feel foolish if (when) they find out later, and I’m not using untruths to manipulate a situation. So yes, white lies and lies of omissions are okay, and I’m still an honest person who uses them.

Hmmm. I see your point. So how do you feel about this whole “conversation” with yourself.

Fine.

Yes, this was a real conversation I had with myself (in my head) while driving down the road.

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