When we are at odds with out kids, we know what they need most is connection. When they whine, they misbehave, they push boundaries, if we as parents find a way to rise above the drama, feel mercy, feel empathy, show kindness, express honesty, then the connection is reestablished.
For a few days we struggled. Jackie had a personal development class online on Friday and listened in. The teacher was telling them about the art of listening and the proper body language.
They had literature too and as they were interpreting a text, Jackie asked me five minute later what a word meant. It was a regionalism for the key word of the text. The teacher and the class had been discussing it for five minutes. I scolded Jackie for not paying attention. She had been at her desk looking at the screen, playing with her pen. I sometimes fidget too but my ears still work.
After the zoom class as I was talking with her she fully turns her back to me. This after the art of listening, it’s like she tried to make a point of not listening on purpose. Disrespect irritates me. A few years ago lying was our main battle. We solved that one for now, but the disrespect is rampant. Though it’s only the testing ground for new behavior. As the day grows tense I try to take a step back and let Conrad step in with help. He has no tolerance for disrespect either. So things didn’t get better as I went to walk the dog and cool my jets.
It was a difficult weekend. And I shut down the more they push me. They need my help but they also try to step all over me or they just express their frustration with the growing demands of responsibility in their lives. It’s not easy to be 8. But mommy is not the dumping ground for all the unpleasantness. She can’t take it all forever.
At the end of the day, Saturday, I had said very few words to them. I felt teary and hopeless and powerless. Is this how our relationship devolves every thing we hit a roadblock? If I can’t manage it now, how will it be in 5 years?
When daddy corrected her she got angry. After a few minutes I saw her put her jacket on and shoes and say: “I’m sick of this. I’m leaving!” She has threatened to leave home before when Conrad raises his voice and doesn’t follow up with clarifications. Sometimes no means no and for good reason he doesn’t feel it’s necessary to justify it. And this type of concise abrupt communication she will have plenty to deal with in the big world.
At night time, as I go in to read a story and pray, we discuss at length about the threads to leave home, the boundaries, the respect, the love and commitment we have for them. We talk about honoring parents, and obeying God. I wish I had recorded our conversation. Ivy asked thoughtful questions. Jackie softened and heard and accepted the Truth and we were on the same page. I took heart in a peaceful evening of feeling present and connected. We looked into the future and expressed our gratitude for the gift of today. I cried hot tears, often while talking yet my voice was clear and piercing to the heart. The next morning Jackie had breakfast and did her scoliosis stretches without reminding or correcting. It was a fruit of the previous night. I wish this was once abs for all clarified, but these conversations that drain me as well as infuse me with hope and determination, will repeat in different forms in the future. I know it too well. May God grant me wisdom and the skills and the energy to connect. And may the truth never elude them.