When Your “Great” Parenting Idea Flops.
After all the big beautiful bravery going on around here last week, Wednesday night found our little warrior weeping.
She didn’t like theater camp.
She went, she tried, she was brave and faced down bullies with her sweet self, but the camp itself? She didn’t like it.
Through choking sobs that wracked her whole body, Abby admitted to us that she didn’t want to tell us how she felt because she was afraid to disappoint us and was worried about the money we had paid. Ouch.
Ouch. It hurt SO BAD to hear that. Especially the part about not wanting to disappoint us. Hello Mommy’s issues in my six year old. (The money part was easily remedied with some explanation.)
I received several kind comments about my parenting after last week’s posts and I was already uncomfortable with those comments. Every day, I wonder if I am “getting it right.” Every day, I wonder if I am screwing up my kids. Every.single.day. I wanted to tell people not to say that, but I have also learned that always deflecting compliments is not healthy either.
Then, this happened. Deep sigh.
(I sigh deep sighs a lot. I don’t know what that means, but Jesus did it, too, so I feel ok about it. See Mark 8:12)
So, we practiced a different kind of courage. The courage to walk away.
Now, my husband said at first that this is not courage. But I disagreed and after much thought, I stand by my opinion.
Courage was going to theater camp. Courage was facing the bullies (for three long days, I might add). Courage was being Abby in the face of criticism.
Here’s the thing. If Abby wants to hide in bed rather than go to school and face a grumpy teacher, it’s Sorry no dice Sweetcakes. (I don’t actually call her Sweetcakes, but whatever). No fever, no vomiting, no staying home.
We persevere in our education. We persevere in our faith. We persevere after health and good manners. We persevere in our relationships, even if it means saying we’re sorry or doing something uncomfortable like confrontation.
But our hobbies? No.
And the hobbies our Mommy thought we would love? No. I never want to be the parent who forces her child through something because it’s really about me looking good more than it is about the child finding something they love.
The thing is: We like what we like.
Sometimes we wished we liked other things, and sometimes we need to try new things. But if the new thing doesn’t work, it’s ok to say, I tried it, but no.
I wish I liked opera, so that I could sound so cultured. (I do like PBS, but that’s not quite the same. Because I usually turn the channel if PBS is showing opera.)
I like what I like. And Abby likes what she likes. She tried, she really tried to like it–for me, for Tim, for the money we paid, but… it wasn’t working.
What I want for Abby is to be willing to try things. If we don’t try, we’ll never know what floats our boat, what lights our fire. And if I force her through things that don’t work for her, she will eventually become unwilling to try new things, for fear of the pressure to succeed.
Sometimes winning is trying and sometimes it is being brave enough to tell someone you love the truth, even when you know it might disappoint them. I want Abby to tell me the truth more than I want her to love everything she tries.
At the end of it all, when the whole truth was out and the tears finally, finally subsided into sniffles, Abby revealed her deepest desire: to stay home, read books, and paint pictures with me.
I want nothing more. And the best thing to do when your “great” parenting flops?
Dust yourself off, get back up, and try again the next day.