Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Accepting your kid versus parenting

Something big has been on my mind for a few weeks now and I can't fully come to a conclusion, so here I am, attempting to work through it in a public forum. Humor me.

One of G's biggest personality traits (for now? forever?) is her introversion and extreme shyness. She is so very shy with strangers, more than I believe is "normal" for her age. After she warms up to you, it's fine, but that can take quite a while.
She also doesn't like to do anything that she's not good at (or that she perceives she is no good at). She learns from watching, and is definitely not the kind of kid to jump into the fire. Ever since she was a baby, I knew she wouldn't be my physically adventurous kid. And to some degree, that's awesome not really having to worry about her poking an eye out or breaking a bone doing something crazy. Her brother, on the other hand, currently has a shiner at age 14 months and was climbing before he was walking. G sizes things up from a far and says, "nope, not doing that." or "hey, I think I can be good at that.' Once her mind is made up, it's all but impossible to change it. This is a good and bad thing.

These traits are all fine by me, because I do want her to be her own person....even if that's not how I am. Although. I wasn't always like that...I definitely had to develop into the woman I am today, and I think part of that had to do with my parents. I'm not saying that I was as painfully shy as she is, but my mom has said I wasn't very talkative with strangers. (which I look back and think I was, but she claims that was more my sister...which is weird to me) I also certainly wasn't athletic as a kid (I kept running off the soccer field--crying I think). I 100% consider myself an athlete now, though I'm no pro or anything. Athleticism and competition (primarily with myself) is a defining characteristic to me. Again, I don't think that was my natural instinct as a kid. So I believe it took my parents pushing me to keep trying, to become who I am today.

So here I sit. Trying to figure out the right balance of pushing / forcing G to do things she whines / cries / tantrums about, and letting her be herself ("I want to go home" "I want to stay home" "nooooooooo")

I know that there isn't one right answer, just like there isn't one right answer to sleep training your kid (see a million posts circa 2011). And I also know this is just one more drop in the bucket as far as parenting conundrums I will find myself facing.

Parenting properly is super challenging. It's even more challenging when you are trying to do it yourself without tossing her in day care or something to make some one else do it part of the time. There.is.no.break. I know I'm "doing" that to myself, by not putting her in preschool...and maybe I still will decide on a part time program, but for now, I'm still trying to be the parent I want to be.... which is the parent who makes the time to screw up her kid rather than let someone else try their hand at botching the life God entrusted to me. #cynicalmuch

So most of this is brought on by our recent experience with kindermusic.
Many people have told me how much G seems to enjoy music, and I totally agree with them. She loves singing, loves listening to music, and gets SO excited by certain songs. So I did the only thing I know how to do....researched music classes in the area. She's still pretty young for private instrument lessons, so I settled on a kindermusic program. I looked through all the options in our wealthy-over-achieving-county-with-a-million-extra-curriculars and made the appropriate arrangements.

The first week went pretty well, and was our free trial. I asked her if she wanted to keep going to music school and she jumped up and down, YES! So I paid for the next month and went on our way. The following week, as soon as I mentioned to G we were heading to music class (in the car en route), she FLIPPED S***. Seriously, you would have thought I told her I was going to leave her on the side of the road in a card board box. I finally get her calmed down enough to go inside, because in typical Kaylene fashion we were teetering on 'late' and didn't have time to spare sitting in the car debating.
Once inside, more tantrum behavior followed, and I did all the "right" things of not giving her a reaction, going into the class with J, ignoring etc... then it didn't work and she was making too much of a scene, so I tried to be direct / firm and her behavior was still piss poor so we went home and I pretty much threw her in her room and let her scream and cry it out until she realized I don't accept tantrums in public. It was a miserable afternoon and day, and yes I still showed her love and all.... but no one in my home acts like that in public...shouldn't ever act like that, but especially in public. She kept saying how she didn't like music and didn't want to go back.... well that sucks, because I already paid FIFTY BUCKS. wth. She was so on board and now she hates it? ugh.
So I dropped it completely. I didn't mention music class the whole next week. Then this morning I had my mom ask her if she was going to music class today.... G pretty much clammed up and went mopey. When it was time to leave our house, she started to get upset and I said..."hey, why don't you take Gloria (her waterbaby) to music class and show her what it's all about".... so that got us out the door and into the building. But I could never get her in the room. There was, thankfully, no tantrum or melt down....but it was obvious she wasn't going in the room unless I forceably picked her up and put her in the room. I didn't do that. Instead I let her know I was disappointed we came all that way and she wouldn't even try. Then she looked at me on the verge of tears and said her belly hurt. Now maybe that was a cop out (I wouldn't put it past her), but maybe she also had kid-anxiety. Maybe she is that dreadfully afraid of people she doesn't "know" (even though she has seen them 3 Wednesdays in a row now), that it gives her a stomach ache. I don't know...I know if she had a friend in the class, it'd be much easier.
When I drop her off for Moppets (The kid care at MOPS), her buddy is in there and she's totally fine with me leaving...if I drop her off and he's not there, she is a lot less willing to go inside.
Maybe I can have the teacher get me in contact with a mom of another kid in kindermusic and set up a play date so they can become friends and that'd help her....
But that still doesn't solve my dilemma about how hard to push her and how much to let her alone.
Ultimately I think I have to figure it our for myself, since I'm her mom and I know her better than anyone, but I also don't want my preconceived notions of how I want my kid to be to affect her... except I think that's been happening since the dawn of time, and God gives parents the job of raising their kids to the best of their ability, which would naturally include the parents own experiences and presumptions about how a person should be.
I will never forget a play date we had right when we moved back to Kansas, with one of my best friends who I never see. She commented on how funny it was that her daughter was super athletic and loved running/kicking/throwing but couldn't sit down to listen to one book...and my daughter loved to sit and listen to books forever. My friend was saying it's funny, because she "wanted' her daughter to be more like mine, because that's how my friend is.... whereas I "wanted" my daughter to be more like hers, because that's how I am. Now, I certainly love my daughter and don't want anyone else to have her!! I'm just sharing the anecdotal story because I think it reflects something all parents want...a kid who is more like them than not, because it makes it easier to get along and manage.

G is a lot like me in so many ways, but it's VERY obvious in the ways she is not...but she is a KID and kids don't have fully developed frontal lobes or the experience of adults. She doesn't know how to go into certain situations and flourish. She doesn't know her talents, and certainly doesn't know how to utilize them. It's my job as her mom to give her the tools necessary to find those two things out.

I'm just at a crossroads (Yet again) of figuring out my own parenting style. (I know I keep saying "my" instead of "our," despite how involved of a father my husband is...I'm just writing this on my personal blog, from my personal perspective, and generally speaking, my husband would defer to whatever I figure out, God Bless him)

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