Wednesday, February 3, 2010
A Little More Conversation, A Little Less Action, Please
Last night Clare uttered the dreaded phrase, "You just don't understand!" Not so much uttered as sobbed the words, actually, quickly followed by, "You just don't understand anything I say!" Several hours later, I'm still horrified that we got to this point so early in her life. Did I expect to hear this in her pre-teen and/or teen years? Yes. At age six? Not really.
Consequently, I've been thinking long and hard about why we got to this point, and if our relationship is doomed to a downward spiral. (Okay, so her penchant for dramatic conclusions might be hereditary.) It was obvious to me, even before she fell to pieces, that Clare was very, very tired last night. This is not unusual on a Tuesday night, given that she has Irish dance class on Tuesday afternoons, preceded by gymnastics on Monday evenings. On top of this, yesterday she went over to the Kings' to read for her Mustard Seed project after Irish dance. With such a schedule, anyone would be tired. And I know Clare is not alone in the fact that when she is tired, she is grouchy or overly sensitive, or both. (Imagine if you will, then, her reaction when Danny responded to her outburst by later saying, "Clare, that was really weird when you cried.")
For the record, I quietly but firmly informed Clare that she was being very disrespectful and that I would be willing to discuss her issues with her once she calmed down. (I also informed her that she would be going to bed soon. It was 6:45 - and she didn't protest.). My sweet girl was clearly mortified by her response, and later very sincerely apologized to me and explained that she was tired. As I continue to think about this, I wonder if I owe her an apology, too. I want her to experience a variety of activities, but isn't it disrespectful of me to get her scheduled to the point of agonizing outbursts?
I realize, of course, that exhaustion, conniptions and general emotional anxiety are part and parcel of any child-parent relationship, no matter how healthy. But I think I might be falling down on the job a bit when it comes to doing what I can to minimize them. After all, I want to understand what Clare is saying, but I often find myself too busy to stop and really listen. I guess I should go sit and read the book Allyson just loaned me, Crazy Busy. As soon as I finish this, and the listings for the magazine, and the solicitations for the auction... Hmmm. Should I look at my own schedule first?