Friday, April 20, 2012

I need a pinch-hitter.

Wednesday night I sat on a park bench and watched Hannah take a tearful swipe at a little boy who was not, at that moment, doing anything visibly wrong.  I called her over to me, and she trudged over, climbed into my lap and started crying.  She said the other kids were being mean to her all night, especially one new friend, who kept telling her that it wasn't her turn at whatever they were doing.  Hannah was upset, because she was keeping track of the order, and she KNEW she when it was supposed to be her turn.  That's just not fair.  Then she fell down, and actually got hurt, but the little boy didn't ask if she was okay. That's just not nice.  He may have also made a joke, which was why she took a very wide swipe at him, which had no chance of connecting, but graphically expressed her deep frustration.  That's just heartbreaking.

My daughter, as an only child, doesn't really have to compete for anything at home.  She can have undivided attention, uninterrupted time at playing with her toys, unlimited turns swinging on the rope in the backyard, all without having to negotiate with other kids.  When there are other kids around, she is usually gracious, and wants to share.  She doesn't understand why other kids don't use the same manners that she does, why they would be mean, hit, or laugh at her.

When things like this happen, I just want to take her home, bundle into our little mom-dad-Hannah cocoon and never let anyone else in.  I want to hold her and rock her and tell her how much I love her, and that she never has to see those rotten kids again if she doesn't want to.

But I don't want to make her emotionally crippled.  I don't really want her living with me when she's 40.  I know the rest of the world is a lot harsher, ruder, and louder than her dad and I are.  And I want her to be able to live on earth like a normal person.

So what I do is reason with her about how important it is to be first, as opposed to second in line, if everyone still gets a turn.  I tell her that boys fall down all the time, and they might not stop to ask one another if they're okay, and maybe that's why this boy didn't ask her.  I tell her that everyone has bad days, and maybe the other kids don't realize they're being mean.  I remind her to tell other people to "Buzz off!" in her "mean voice" when they bother her repeatedly.  I remind her that she doesn't have to give other people the toys she's using when they ask, but it's okay to do so if she wants.  And I let her know that everyone won't be her friend, but she can still be kind to everyone. 

I don't really know how to raise a child to be both assertive and kind.   I'm not always sure how to do those two things at the same time as an adult.  Sometimes I want to backhand other people's children for being a jerk to mine; but I don't want to intervene too quickly, for fear that I'll teach my child that I don't think she can handle her own problems.  It's painful to watch her struggle and sometimes fail, although I know that's the correct way to build self-esteem, because it's the quickest way to break my heart.  Some days I'd like to stay on the bench and let someone else handle the heavy hitting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boundaries? What boundaries?

I pulled into the parking lot at work this morning to see a grown woman, easily sixty years old, sitting on the side of a raised planting bed, shirt pulled up, scrutinizing her navel.  I mean her chin was on her chest, and she was prodding at her abdomen for some reason, although I wasn't close enough to see exactly what the reason may have been.  I couldn't be more pleased about my nearsightedness.

When she heard my car, she covered herself, but as I was parking she went right back to what she was doing. I know this because when I got out of the car, I saw she had her shirt hiked up again for another look.  I felt like I'd stumbled upon a man peeing in an alley.  This woman was sitting in front of my building, as though she were doing nothing more intimate than making a phone call.  Why am I the one who feels embarrassed?

Later, coming out of the common rest room in center of our office plaza, I happened upon a man's actual ass.  There is a gentleman who leases an office near ours who commonly sits on a bench in the breezeway to smoke a cigar and mess around on his smart phone.  Today, for some reason, he was sitting on another of these stupid raised planting beds, leaning over to peer into his phone. This left a rather impressive and compulsory view of his butt to anyone coming from west of the shrubbery.  That end of the plaza, incidentally, includes a psychiatrist's office.  No risk for lasting damage there.

Don't tell me, gentlemen, that you are unaware of the exposure of your buttocks to the air in the case of the proverbial plumber's crack.  That guy had to know he was a little too-well ventilated.  And what, short of a stab wound, would be worthy of public examination of one's bare midsection.  Why is it that people don't feel the need to keep their private business private?  Am I the only one disturbed by this?  I'm not that dainty.  I talk about sex, drugs, and body parts with people every day, for legitimate, clinical reasons.  But I don't need to see it in the courtyard, people.

Friday, April 6, 2012

It's a good thing I have other people to do my thinking for me some days.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm weary.  I've been doing everything that requires 2 hands for over a month now, and I have started forgetting stuff.  Not important stuff, I think.  Everyone's been bathed and fed at least three times this week, so I think I'm doing pretty well.

My aunt called me today and asked what we're doing for Easter.
Um. Going to church?  Eating chocolate bunnies?  What else is there?
Oh!  Dinner!  I forgot.  Maybe I should go buy a ham. Or a ham sandwich.  Or Valium.

She suggested that we go out for brunch.  I love the idea of brunch.  Brunch always sounds like there will be sunshine and mimosas.  And maybe hats.  It sounds crisp and fresh and like there should be whipped cream on most of the things that aren't prime rib.  It's a festive word.  And usually comes with a festive price tag, so I don't bother with it myself.

Except this year.  Because, dang it, I'm not cooking Easter dinner and then cleaning the whole thing up after I'm done.  And because I can't get anyone else to eat asparagus, so I'd have to make two vegetables.  Boo to that.

It never, ever occurred to me to go out to eat on Easter.  I called for reservations just this evening.  Which is why we'll be enjoying the buffet at 5:30 instead of 11:30.  But what I'll really be enjoying is the clean kitchen.  And the not-washing dishes.  And the view.  Dig it.

Why didn't I think of this?

I've gotten myself into the mindset that I can, and must, do everything.  We must have home-cooked meals together every night.  The laundry must be done and bathroom cleaned twice a week. The kitchen must be cleaned daily. The floors must be vacuumed constantly.  Alright, that one's true, or the carpets would be made out of dog hair.  It's this perfect woman thing that we inadvertently buy into.  I am well-acquainted with the concept of good enough.  I fairly shower my clients in it all day long.  I rail against the folly of the "Should" thinking error, and can pick it out of any (anyone else's) rant in record time.  It is my actual business to help other people lighten up and be less hard on themselves.  But I routinely forget to do it myself.  

Sigh.  Anyone know of a good therapist?