on the one hand…

The Bee’s counselor called landisdad today to talk about her progress. The Bee has only had two negative interactions in class since the school year started, and the counselor feels like she is managing her mistake-handling fairly well. She suggested that we sit down and have a conversation with her about how she thinks she’s going to do on her report card, to see if she has unrealistic expectations of perfection, and try to defuse that in advance. (Not that we expect a bad report card, just a less-than-perfect one.) The counselor also said that she would be spending less time with the Bee after this marking period, because there are other kids who need her help much more.

On the other hand…

last week the counselor and the Bee made worry beads. Today, they strung the beads, and the Bee was supposed to name them after 12 things that made her happy or relaxed. She could only come up with 9 things. (I was a little surprised to see that her brother made the list, but her dad and I did not.) The counselor said that, overall, the Bee has not really opened up to her. I’m happy to be able to have another adult’s perspective on her emotional state, but it’s disconcerting to think that she’s not just a happy-go-lucky kid when we’re not around. I guess I have this fantasy that she’s just acting miserable at home, and then going off to school and being happy there.

I think that landisdad and I don’t do a particularly good job of talking about things that make us happy, and that’s rubbed off on her. We have a lot of conversations that involve indignation (righteous or otherwise), and I know that the Bee could tell me 12 things that make her mad in a heartbeat.

During dinner tonight, I asked everyone what made them happy today. The only person at the table who couldn’t—or wouldn’t—come up with something was the Bee. I didn’t press her on it, because I don’t think that would be particularly helpful. But I do think we’ll be starting our dinner conversations with some similar topic from here on out.

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October 17, 2007. thoughtful parenting.

8 Comments

  1. Kimberly replied:

    I was asked by someone today “Are you happy?” I was at a loss as to how to answer. The best I could finally come up with was “I’m not UNhappy.” I think maybe our kids pick up on that. On the fact that happiness is, in some ways, an unfamiliar and frowned upon concept. Afterall, while we’re supposed to answer “fine” to “how are you?” everyone knows that between crowing about your happiness and bitching about your woes, which one is the socially acceptable choice.

    Diva Girl IS a happy-go-lucky kid at school, as opposed to the moody, angry ball of blazing emotion she is at home. It’s equally disconcerting, actually. I know we’re supposed to believe that it’s flattering, safe place, trust, blah blah blah….but really, what’s wrong with me that she can’t be happy HERE?

  2. elise replied:

    You know that my youngest, Sarah, is also one of those sensitive, worrywart types so you definitely have my sympathy. I’m also about three years ahead of you (she’ll be 11 on December 9th). So, I can say that we do make baby steps towards a more balanced child. I often wonder how much I can influence her. I try to stay away from the blame game (blaming myself) and try to just focus on the positive effects that I’ve had on her. Sarah can be incredibly negative saying things like “My life is horrible”. I’ve tried to make her realize that she has a pretty great life but I think to some degree that she needs to whine and complain. She once told me that when she goes off by herself and she rants and raves it makes her feel better. She doesn’t know why but it just does. So I’ve tried to make her understand that’s okay as long as deep down inside she understands that nothings really that bad for her. I’ve found that more and more I can accept her for who she is but its been hard because most people see her as an overly sensitive drama queen when she acts like that. Other times when she’s not acting that way, they think she is wonderful. I actually admire her for any steps she takes in learning to deal with these extreme feelings she has. It must be a big challenge. I am sure of two things. She will never fit into what everyone deems as “normal” but also, I am sure she will find a way to fit into the “normal” world and still be herself. Of course that means she will have change her behavior and outlook to some degree. I like you have thought about all of this A LOT:) You got me on a good day….other days I throw up my hands and think what a horrible mother I am! LOL!

  3. MetroDad replied:

    The Bee reminds me of a childhood friend that I had. When it came to her studies or extracurricular activities, my friend was a perfectionist. The pressure never came from her parents. For the most part, it was self-imposed. When she didn’t achieve perfection, she imploded and shut herself down.

    Interestingly, my friend eventually learned to deal with it herself (though not until her high school years.) While she never fully became a “happy-go-lucky” kid, she learned that her driven personality was both a blessing and a curse.

    I think the Bee (like my friend) is an extremely intelligent young girl. I also think maybe her frustrations at not being “perfect” are a manifestation of that intelligence. I’m not sure how you’ll figure it out but I have no doubt that you will, LM. You’re one of the most intelligent and thoughtful parents around. I wish you luck in dealing with the Bee and am confident that, in time, everything will work out for the best.

    As always, I continue to be amazed at just how complicated this whole parenting thing can get.

  4. fidget replied:

    Mira is similar. Even when she has something that makes her happy, she has to discuss the not good part about it too.. she gets it from me! I do my best to try and be more positive now but Ive always been somewhat of an Eeyore and I think she inherited that from my genetic code. My parents indulged it though as I rarely heard them speak of positive things. I’m trying to do better and that is really all you can do.

  5. penguinunearthed replied:

    We do that every night at the table – “what was the best thing today?”. Hungry boy gets upset if we don’t, and I’ve found its encouraged me to be more positive about my day than I would otherwise be. I’m often the one struggling most for something to say.

    We occasionally do the “what was the worst thing?” too, so they see that we all have hard days, but not everyday.

    Sounds tough. I’m just starting to realise that I don’t really know Chatterboy’s innerlife (he’s 6), and it’s quite a startling realisation.

  6. Jennifer replied:

    I’ve noticed my son internalizing our complaints. I mean, he has started complaining about all the construction in this town & the fact that Bend is so crowded now. Obviously HE doesn’t know ‘how it used to be’ so he’s getting all this from us.

    Of course he & my daughter are also both prone to exclaiming, “Ah! This is the life!” which they get from us.

    So…. I think we do have an influence.

    My daughter is showing obsessive-compulsive tendencies (hubs has ’em too) so I’m taking notes on all your efforts. Thanks for posting.

  7. Narya replied:

    Back when we were all together, my soon-to-be-ex-husband, stepson, and I would do “good thing/bad thing that happened today” at the dinner table. It was a way to have conversations about our lives, and it helped stepson take an interest in other people (he actually liked it a lot). It’s one of the things I miss, though we’ll occasionally break into it when we get together for dinner.

  8. Jody replied:

    Gemma is an extremely worry-prone child, and we’ve been lucky (to a degree) that so far, the accompanying anger only shows up at home. But I’ve certainly found myself longing, in the last so many months, for the relatively simple challenges of toddler- and preschool-age children, because man oh man, figuring out what to do with school-age children is TOUGH.

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