No matter how great a job you think you are doing as a parent, there comes a moment every now and then that just breaks your heart … a moment when your failings as a parent are not only highlighted, and brought to your attention, but are thrown back at you and smack you right in the face. Maybe even chipping a tooth or two. I had one of those moments this morning.
Brayden, who I love more than the drops of water in the ocean and the grains of sand on the beach ….. drives me absolutely batshit crazy sometimes. She and I are SO much alike that it’s no wonder we know all the buttons to push to drive one another right over the edge.
She has this really annoying (in my opinion) habit of suddenly developing whatever illness or ailment that anyone else in the family might have. A few weeks ago Kellen was having trouble getting a loose tooth out and having some pain … suddenly Brayden had a sore tooth as well. If Kendrie needs tylenol for any reason, suddenly Brayden has a headache and needs tylenol as well. If anyone falls down and scrapes a knee, she'll suddenly remember an old (healing quite nicely, thank you) injury that absolutely MUST have a bandaid right now. Quite frankly, it makes me nuts.
This morning, Blaine was saying that his throat is sore (from allergies, we think) and wouldn’t you know it, not two seconds later Brayden was talking with a raspy chain-smoker voice and holding her hand dramatically over her throat and complaining about how much it hurt.
She was mad at me this morning because what she wanted to wear wasn’t clean. Then, she wouldn’t get her jacket when it was time to go. Then, as we were walking to school, her jacket was too hot. And her backpack was too heavy. She started dragging her feet and when I told her to stop (because is there any sound in the world more annoying than kids shuffling their shoes along the pavement?) she told me it wasn’t her fault that her new shoes were too big. I reminded her that we need to start her book report tonight and she informed me that it is my fault she hasn’t finished the book because I haven’t read it with her. Then when I reminded her to come to the car quickly after school today because we have piano lessons, she told me it wasn’t her fault that sometimes the teacher keeps her late. And she asked me to go buy her new colored pencils and when I told her she could make do for the last three weeks of the school year with the pencils she has, she told me it wasn’t her fault they were getting worn out.
Every comment I made, she had a rebuke. Every question I asked, she had a snotty retort. Every request that she made was made with arrogance and the assumption that I was clearly put on this earth to do her bidding, but heaven forbid I ask her to take responsibility for anything. Ever.
About this time, I reached my limit and I said in a loud, exasperated voice, making the appropriate arm and hand gestures to indicate my full level of annoyance “Yes, Brayden, I know, NOTHING is ever your fault!” Which of course made her mad, so that when we arrived at school she stomped off to her classroom without even telling me goodbye.
Gosh, I love the pre-teen years.
Ok, now, some background information:
Twice a year (I think) the kids’ new school has a special assembly program where students are “Knighted”. Each elementary teacher can select two (I think) students from her class to receive this honor. Friday morning during assembly, a real-live knight from some real-live knight organization or association or whatever comes to the school. He talks about honor and respect and personal responsibility, and what it takes to earn “knight-dom” and the honor that comes with it. Then, he calls the selected students up in front of the entire school to “knight” them ceremoniously. The kids get a medal and a certificate and there are dozens and dozens of parents there with cameras and video recorders. And the kids who have been knighted in years past are encouraged to bring their medals, also.
It’s actually a pretty big deal at this school, and most of the teachers don’t tell the students ahead of time who has been chosen, so the suspense and excitement of that morning reaches a really high peak during the ceremony, with lots of clapping and cheering. I saw the last knight ceremony and the guy was fabulous – completely playing up the honor and importance of it, and making the kids who receive it feel fantastic.
So, back to this morning. I had received an e-mail from Kellen’s teacher last week that he was selected to be knighted on Friday. I was a little surprised, considering he’s only been at this school four months, but pleased nonetheless. He has no idea that it’s coming (so please, if you read this, don’t let it slip to him) but I think he’ll be pretty excited about it.
This morning, when I walked Kendrie to her room, her teacher pulled me to the side and whispered the good news that Kendrie is also being knighted this Friday.
And as thrilled as I am for Kellen and Kendrie, a not-so-little part of my heart hurts for Brayden.
She doesn’t deserve to be knighted; I’m under no delusions that she’s being ripped off or anything. Although she LOVES her new school, she struggles more with grades and attitude than the other two. She talks a lot in class, she’s easily frustrated, she changes friends (I hate you! I love you! You’re my BFF! Don’t ever talk to me again!) like any normal eleven year old girl. And, there was that pesky suspension that I’m still not telling the internet about. So I understand why she’s not being chosen for the same honor as the other two.
But all I could think of were the hurtful, frustrated words I said to her this morning, and how on Friday morning both her siblings will receive an award that she will never receive. Once you go to middle school, there are no more knightings. So the younger two are receiving this honor in record time, and she’ll never receive it at all.
And it struck me how my job as a parent is to bolster their self-esteem, and remind them of the very unique, individual gifts that make each of them special. To help them find constructive ways to work through their problems; to help them grow with respect and admiration and self-confidence, and to let them know how very much we love them no matter the awards they do, or do NOT, receive. And how this morning all I did was take my frustration out on an eleven year old girl ….
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think it’s my job to shelter them from all of life’s disappointments. Sometimes they need to learn through the consequence of their actions, blah blah. But still, I *know* how left out she’s going to feel on Friday morning and instead of using this morning as a caring, loving, nurturing opportunity, to let her know how much I love her even when she’s having a bad morning, I snapped and was snarky and rolled my eyes at her.
God, I suck.