Tag Archives: Mommyhood

Parenting Dilemma

Sometimes parenting decisions are real rocks in hard places. You want to give your kid a chance. You want to give them some freedoms and some rewards. But you also want, nay need, to hold the line on your principles and standards. In the midst, you want to be reasonable and flexible.

And sometimes all of that is a bunch of hooey because you still have to make a decision.

Hope was invited to prom by a friend. She doesn’t have many friends, very, very few. I also know that this friendship teeters on more than friendship.

So here’s the deal: I have long had this lovely fantasy of my daughter going to a formal. She went to one in 8th grade and it was so much fun helping her get ready. My daughter is not girly; I manage to wrangle her into a dress once or twice a year. So, the selfish stage mom wannabe in me is like:

hellyeah

The more realistic part of me is like um, she’s in 10th grade, I know she’s feeling this kid, I said no dating until she’s 16 and she ain’t 16 yet, and she doesn’t even LIKE the girly rituals involved in prom.

Then I think about how hard it seems for Hope to make friends, how many Friday and Saturdays she just sits around watching K-dramas because there were no invitations to go anyway or do anything. I think about my hopes and dreams for her to be socially integrated and to be happy.

And I soften and try to imagine the scenarios that would allow me to still say yes. Get all the schoolwork done. Stick to the chore list. Stretch and go to the weekly Korean language meetups I found for her.

I start to wonder if she can legit do the things I ask. She doesn’t do them on a regular basis on a good day, so am I knowingly setting her up to fail? Her failure would make my life easier, but make her feel horrible.

So…I’m back to just saying no when I’m fighting so hard to say yes. Prom is a special occasion. It is meant for seniors; juniors get to go because they raise money to host the event. It is a rite of passage that marks the end of high school. Going with an upperclassman is a privilege, it’s not a right. Hope’s time will come, but that time is not now.

So, I need to put my fantasies about dress and shoe shopping and hair and makeup back in my emotional shoebox and put it back up in the closet. It is too early to allow those thoughts to bloom.

And even with a decision, my heart hurts. I know this will hurt; that it will enrage Hope and then I’ll have to deal with that. I know the rage will underscore the fact that she isn’t ready for such an event.

I’ll try to find something interesting for us to do that day; something fun and something distracting.

Sometimes parenting really sucks.


Things I Have Learned During the K-Pop Phase

We are heading into roughly the sixth month of Hope’s K-pop phase. This phase was preceded by the EDM phase. I thought that phase was challenging. It was electronic music all the time.

That phase didn’t feel that much removed from my interests though. I am a house music fan, so there was some overlap in our musical tastes. We occasionally shared songs; we rocked out at a EDM music festival.

I learned just how music affected Hope. I learned that she heard notes that I just couldn’t hear. I learned how she could thread beat influences through artists and songs like a seamstress. I really did marvel at how she interpreted the songs and how she put her playlists together.

In retrospect, the EDM phase was a good phase.

And then 10th grade started and kicked off the K-pop phase.

Hope fell hard for the boy bands. She didn’t particularly care for the girl groups.

I wasn’t as attuned to ADHD behaviors during the EDM phase, but now I see how easily she can go down a rabbit hole chasing new songs, information about the groups, e-stalking the group members. Some of this is typical teen behavior, but with Hope and the ADHD it’s always on overdrive. And because the K-pop scene has a whole culture thing to it—the group members live together, work together, get storylines on soap operas, spin off into solo careers—Hope’s propensity to get caught up in the minutia of it all is incredibly powerful.

Hope knows that I found this K-pop phase interesting for the first month. I was intrigued by the obvious American and Afro-Caribbean influences in the music. I thought her desire to learn Koren was really cool. Ok, we’re going to watch a K-drama? Cool.

The K-drama has 16 episodes and I just realized 10 minutes into the first episode that this is a Korean interpretation of Cyrano?

Record scratch—I’m out.

February is 7th month of this phase for Hope and I am trying to be supportive, but I was over this phase about 5 months ago. But this phase has shown me some things about myself.

I’ve learned that I have a reservoir of patience that I didn’t use to have.  I knew that I was more patient because: parenting. But I really had no idea how patient I have become. After 7 months the only good things I can say here is that Hope is learning a new language on her own and thinks that a career as an interpreter could be on the horizon—in Korea.  For a kid that thought she had limited options 3 years ago, I’m down with this line of thinking.  I loathe K-pop, K-dramas.

I’ve learned that living by the adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” is one way of coasting through conversations about ish I can’t stand.  93% of our conversations are about K-something. It really is just about all she can talk about. When the conversation starts, I take a deep breath, a slow blink and just keep my mouth shut. You want to know why?

Because I don’t want to do anything to make her stop talking to me.

I might loathe K-pop, but I love Hope, so I just keep quiet, let her talk. I typically zone out a bit and drop back into the conversation every 30 seconds or so. She will regale me with the entire synopsis of a K-drama; she knows I hate it, but she wants to talk to me and she knows I’ll listen (kinda).

I’ve learned that Hope still has a lot to learn about money and responsibility. It’s February 6th and all the Christmas money is gone. She’s $20 in the hole to me and she hasn’t paid her phone bill which means she’s really $40 in the hole to me. Why? Because she had to buy K-stuff. This is also normal behavior for a kid her age, but something she definitely needs more time to learn about.

I’ve learned that K-pop may have made her more isolated. Hope can spend hours watching music videos and soap operas online. HOURS. She has access to the Chromebook to do homework and then after homework is done she can spend an hour or two as she likes. She has dove into this world, and while she has a couple of friends who also enjoy it, her obsession has actually resulted in less external communication than more. I believe that she dives into these phases initially allying herself with the people in her real life, but she just takes it so far that they get left behind. I blocked her online access for two days this weekend and made her emerge from the depths. I’m going to have to do this more often.

I’ve learned that as much as I can stretch and learn new things, I’m getting to the stage in life where I want my own box. I’m good and grown. I know who I am. I’ve accomplished some stuff, done some stuff, been some stuff. Hope has brought something amazing to my life: new stuff. I like a lot of the new stuff, but if I’m honest and keeping it all the way real, I like my stuff better. I just want my stuff. I want to curl up on my couch with my stuff and just be. Like if I could get one cable channel that just played Law and Order episodes (from all of the different kinds of L&O) all day, life would be 15 steps closer to my version of perfect. That’s my kind of stuff.  K-pop is not my kind of stuff. All that dancing and bopping around and reading subtitles on a soap opera? Not my stuff.  I mean if it was a Korean movie where I was making a 90-minute commitment, I’m in but a 16 episode show at this time in my life is just the most. I am a middle-aged woman and the cement around being set in my ways is quickly hardening. In short: I don’t wanna do new teenagy stuff; I need her to get some friends so I can get back to my Law and Order with my blankie and my dog.

I’ve learned that I’m super curious what Hope was like as a little girl. Seeing her now, as she develops these hopes and dreams about her future, I find myself pondering what did she dream about when she was little. Were the dreams temporally focused? Did she dream about life changing for her and her family right then? Did she dream about a future and what did that look like? I see how different things are from just three years ago; I wonder if there was ever a kernel of big dreams like being an interpreter in there long ago. There’s so much that I don’t know. I haven’t yet mustered the courage to ask Hope what she dreamed about when she was little; I don’t know what such a question might trigger.

I’m trying to see the stages as opportunities to learn about myself. Why do I react the way that I do? How do my reactions change from phase to phase? I’m hopeful that my stamina and patience continues to grow. Despite the annoyances, I am hopeful that it’s helping me be a better mom.

 


Needed: An Origami Coach

Image

This dreadful jet lag had me up at 4:30 local time this morning.  I’m starting to wonder if this great coffee city has enough java to keep me powered during this visit. Despite the fact that I know I’ll pay for it later, I’m relishing in the quiet solitude of the morning.  I adore the kid that’s sleeping in the next room, but good Lord I am tired.

Hope is a chatterbox.  Now this is the point where some of my friends and family who follow my blog run off to get tissues to dab their eyes because the belly laughs they are enjoying have become just too much for them.  Yeah, the irony is not lost on this wordy girl that Hope is chattier than I ever have been in my life, and that’s saying something.  My God, I can’t even know how many people I must’ve exhausted in this lifetime.

I love her voice and am amused by her conversations, but I am admitting on this here blog, that I did not fight to go back to sleep this morning because the solitude was so enticing.   I’ve read enough Facebook statuses to know I should not feel guilty about being up before dawn, just soaking in the quiet.

Ok, I’m also trying to upload the last batch of dissertation interviews for transcription on this slow arse internet at this hotel.  I got the first batch back, and my dissertation director is reading an early draft of my quantitative analysis this weekend.  The dissertation grind just doesn’t let up.

Anyhoo, yesterday Hope and I did a few tourist trap outings and a little shopping.  We ran across this little Japanese store at the mall that had all kinds of interesting goodies.  Hope loves origami.  I suck at origami.  I bought us a bunch of paper and a few books.  The beginner book makes me feel so very lame; my ego is suffering something terrible here.  I did manage to make a cute frog who does hop; it was my greatest origami achievement yesterday.  All the while I was grunting over pretty paper, Hope made a fortune teller, some cool pinwheel thing, and a bunch of other cool little contraptions.

I learned more about my daughter yesterday.  She’s at the age when a cute boy crossing the street results in a moment of complete and utter distraction, much like when a hunting dog sees a much sought-after squirrel.  Never take her into one of those brain teaser stores if you want to spend the next hour doing something else, because it is not going to be a short walk through.  She ignores you when she doesn’t want to do something.  She hates waste, not because she’s a conservationist at heart but because she’s had so little that she had to save what she had and ration it.  She admits to being a bit disruptive in school; where do folks learn all this “You have to respect me before I respect you” foolishness.  No little girl, get in your lane.  I sense having more than one conversation at a school conference on this subject in my future.   She has a strong need to be right [family and friends just hush!].  She is surprisingly honest about her life and what she thinks about things up until this point.  I’ve learned about things that were never in her profile but seem pretty stinking important in my quest to be a good, thoughtful and sensitive parent.

Over dinner last night at one of the special places she requested, she had a moment.  She sighed and said, “I call you ABM, but I feel like I want to call you something else.”

Hmmm, ok, I’m thinking this conversation just got serious, as I nosh on this tasteless Spaghetti Factory pasta without benefit of a red wine accoutrement.  I was so proud when she announced at the end of the meal that she was not impressed; the girl likes good food and this wasn’t really good at all.   I know; I digress.

“Ok, so what do you think you want to call me?”

“I don’t know…” She wrinkled her face up and said, “Mom?  But maybe not, because that sounds so weird… I don’t know.  I’ve never called anyone that before.”

Wait, is she mulling over calling me Mom?   Holy bat-poop!  That’s pretty awesome!  OMG…ABM, think fast, think fast and whatever you do, don’t cry.   I really could’ve used a glass of cabernet right then.

“Well, Hope you can keep calling me ABM until you figure out what you’d like to call me.  Mom sounds nice, but you’ll know if and when that’s what you want to call me when you’re ready.  I figure one day you’ll just call me something and it will stick and we’ll both be ok with it.  And it will be cool, ok?”

“Ok.”

Hey where’d that come from?  I think I did ok.  Earlier in the day we discussed a nickname for her.  The beginnings of our names are similar, and her nickname is actually a sweet name my granny used to call me.  Interestingly, it was not really chosen by us, but more confirmed.  Someone earlier in her life also called her by this pet name and it brought back pleasant memories; she was delighted that I shared the pet name, so it seemed like a great fit.  No doubt my mom, Grammy, will put this down as more proof that Hope is supposed to be my kid.

Ok, so here are my highlight lessons of the day!

  • I really suck at origami, I mean really suck.  I’ve mis-folded countless pieces of pretty paper in the last day.
  • Never buy an umbrella at a tourist trap.   Twenty-five dollars for an umbrella…I know better, but ugh, the rain was so heavy.
  • My cute new trench coat makes me look like a small tan whale.  Will be counting calories and making time to get my fanny to the gym on the regular when I get back to town.  I miss my pre-grad school curves.  I can’t even say this is baby weight, unless I just name my dissertation and call it another kid.  The PhD-15.
  • The parenting 5-countdown thing really does work.  I had to use it several times yesterday.  By the third time I had it down pat, and she was more compliant with the desired behavior.  Good times.
  • Hope has a potty mouth, that I’m sure is reserved for school and not the grownups who surround her.   She does enough “kiddie cursing” (heck, dang, etc) for me to know that the unfiltered version is probably like a Lil’ Wayne song in the school halls.  I know, because I like bad words (thank you George Carlin), but we’ll be tapping down on all of that and boosting more appropriate vocabulary as time drags on.
  • I’m super blessed in more ways than I ever understood.  I’m grateful for parents who were able to provide me with such great upbringing and foundational life experiences.  I adored them before, but now I know that parenting and doing your best on that journey is truly a life’s work.

Now, I’m going to snooze a bit.  We’re Skyping Grammy and Gramps in a couple of hours,  and I want to savor this morning a little longer.


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