A good relationship

I always remember how smooth my adolescence was. My brother was gone to college, and I had my groove. The happiest years of my life. School stressed me big time bit one I figured out the system and the teachers, I studied hard by it didn’t occupy my entire mind all the time. I had a rhythm of rest and calm and church community.

I didn’t rebel. But there was plenty friction in my pre adolescence. As a kid I irritated my parents a lot. And it is so good to remember this as my kids irritate me now. I took the swallow it and push forward approach and it chocked me. Dealing with the idiosyncrasy now I truly believe it will help us have smoother cruising later on. Of course, no season is completely peaceful and worry free.

We can easily ignore issue when they are small, when they don’t rub us the wrong way too much. Just a little. But I feel that we deal with everything now. And it is exhausting. I realized we need to lower our tolerance for disrespect. It didn’t bother me, it didn’t trigger me when Jackie would walk away while I as still talking to her, but it triggered conrad. The catch 22 is that when I ignore it I give her permission to go up a notch with the disrespect. The moment the kids make the silent blah-blah sign with their hand when a parent is talking, that has gone too far.

We have come to Jesus talks often. And we end them feeling more connected, with a better understanding of each other’s thought process and feelings. I used to get discouraged that the same or similar talks would have to repeat, but this is how kids learn, through repetition.

Building a foundation is hard work. Values, respect, trust, kindness, self-awareness … you can’t just set an example, walk the talk, you have to guide the kids to walk a certain way at this age.

I have an inkling that all the work we do now is not in vain. Such a good inkling. Because it is usually doom and gloom with the youth and the unknown ahead.

Last night we had a long talk about inclusion. A handful of kids in Jackie’s class are cool and smart and close friends. They wear the right clothes and hang out after class. Both my husband and I grew up as introverts and I didn’t truly feel the pain of exclusion. I find myself in all kind of popular girls-circles now and I feel overwhelmed.

I told Jackie: “I’m sorry I don’t fully understand how it is to feel underdressed at school. In my time we were all frumpy and poor by today’s standard.” And I’m sorry for the pain she might feel of being excluded. I was an introvert as a kid a I focused on being smart. I liked competing with the boys in science and math more that worrying about my clothes with the girls. At some point or another we will be on the other side of exclusion. And that’s a fact. Maybe we’ll even ignore or exclude someone by mistake. There are always kids less privileged than you and focusing on including them rather than waiting to be included into an imaginary circle might be a better use of our time and energy.

Age 9 is a perfect time to undertake the work of finding our identity in the places that matter. Not in our friends or clothes or accessories. As I speak to Jackie ivy listens and sometimes contributes but age 6 is the mist confident age, so the little one doesn’t even fully grasps the ache.

As we chat for hours starting from tearful opening up I see jackie’s heart swell with courage and renewed hope. I’m as honest as I can be. we will be excluded. we will be hurt at some point. we will long for a friend. learning to be a good friend is the best place to start. finding one or two people you have stuff in common with, kids who are kind and helpful and trustworthy. we don’t need to be popular to be happy. and know that we belong and we are loved and appreciated.

So this is the struggle, bouts of frustration paired with the discomfort of navigating the social dilemmas. and on top of it all reminding our kids that we love them wholeheartedly even when they are annoying is a safety net of mental rest for them. the journey continues. may we have the strength to keep it up.