Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Parenting Sucks

I just had the saddest conversation with Leila. I almost cried. She had a piano lesson this afternoon, and her behavior was so crazy, so out of character and so embarrassing to me, that my blood was boiling and I was finding it very hard not to scream at her right there, thus embarrassing myself and her, and making the piano teacher uncomfortable. The teacher even told her at one point, "I don't think you're going to have a very fun ride home..."

We got in the car, and she was nervously guessing all the ways in which she might be punished and embellishing on them ("I'm probably going to lose 1000 beads, right? You're going to take away the Wii forever, right?") but it was even worse because I froze her out; giving her the silent treatment until we were in the car and out of the parking lot. I was so pissed. I just kept thinking about the $46 per lesson I am paying.

So then, I let 'er rip about how shocked and angry and embarrassed I was at her behavior, and she started to cry and apologize repeatedly, which makes me more mad. One sorry is fine, but its more important that she not pull that shit again rather than be remorseful. We pulled into the driveway, and I asked her to tell me what was going through her mind when she was behaving that way, what she's feeling inside, and this is where it got sad:

She pointed to her head and said, sobbing, "My house is overflowing!" I was confused at first, but then I figured it out. To her, her house overflowing means that she feels out of control, and she can see herself misbehaving from outside herself, but she can't stop it. We also agreed that piano lessons make her very excited, nervous and frustrated, and that these feelings contribute to her overflowing house. She said her house overflows at school a lot, and that she keeps it in by holding her breath. That's when I almost cried.

Why does life have to be so hard? I watch these kids in second grade, and they seem carefree and happy-go-lucky, and yet inside they have overflowing houses that they're desperately trying to keep in check.

I felt so bad for her! We talked it all out, and we agreed that next time her house is overflowing and she is out of control at piano lessons: A) she will lose a red or yellow bead (worth one hour of Wii or one dollar, respectively) but not before B) I will ask her quietly if her "house is overflowing" and if she needs to step outside and takes some breaths and try to get grounded. I had to explain the alternate meaning of grounded; not the kind where you have to stay home for days as punishment. Then we hugged, and then we group hugged with the dog, and then we took the dog for a short walk so he could do some dog business, and now we're back to the base level. Its intense, this parenting thing. There is a lot of fun stuff, a lot of seeing the world through a kids eyes again rather than cynical adult eyes, but you also have to watch helplessly as these little kids, these little, tiny kids learn about managing feelings, and squashing their excitement and sitting still, and you can see them get crushed every time they fail to please you, but you wouldn't be doing your job if you weren't displeased some of the time. Its excruciating.

In the meantime, though, we had a nice big rain storm today, and you know how happy that makes me! I stayed inside and made cookie dough (didn't actually bake the cookies yet, I kind of lost interest) and got snuggly with the dog. Now I have to make dinner even though I had a large and late lunch and have no interest at all in food.

Tomorrow night, I'm hosting a party for the parents of Leila's class. I don't know how we're all going to wedge ourselves in here, but I'm sure it will be fine. I'll tell you how it goes...

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