Friday, February 7, 2014

A Chance to Smooth Out My Rough Spots

I have been blessed with a beautiful daughter, Julia. I love her so much. But I am realizing each day how different we are. Children come to this earth with a personality. The essence of who they are, who we are, never changes. I know this to be true. I was who I am before I was born, and so was Julia. And she has a strong personality. She is a darling girl, but she can be very stubborn and manipulative; the ultimate master of passive aggressive manipulation.

I had debated all week whether it would be worth it to send her to a dance camp at the local high school. She had expressed interest in going to "ballerina school". And I really wanted to support her in her interests. I have never been in the dance world, not even a little bit. But I figured it was only one day, it was for a fundraiser, and she would probably just love it. Hence, at the last minute I decided to take her to the camp.

It was great when we got there. She found her friend Sophie and they were having a great time flipping upside down on the dance bar.  This lasted for about ten minutes and then in an instant, all of a sudden Julia couldn't do it. She was begging and whining for me to help her. She did not have the ability to put her foot on the wall in order to flip upside down. She said her foot was too slippery. Then they started dividing up the little dancers into groups based on age.  I took her over to her group and she wouldn't let go of my leg or leave my side. She wouldn't even try to do anything they were doing. There were about 100 other little girls trying their best to do the warm-ups; everyone, except for my darling little daughter.

I started to get upset with her. I tried my best not to lose my cool, but I couldn't keep it in check. Then she mentioned that she was hungry. Okay, I thought. Maybe she just needed some food in her stomach and then she would be willing to do this whole dancing thing. We left the high school and I took her to 7-11. I let her pick out a donut and some chocolate milk. After consuming this delicious snack, we went back to find her group. The frown persisted. She wouldn't try. She said she didn't know how. She didn't know how to do a sassy walk or a jumping split. The nice teachers tried their best to engage her and get her to have fun and do it.


Julia just continued to frown and absolutely refused to do anything.

I took her home.

But my stomach started broiling. I literally had an ulcer attack. I had to lay on the couch for about an hour, eat an entire bag of Combos, and chase it down with a handful of tums.  I was so stumped. It just really bothered me that my daughter would not even try.  I may stink at a lot of things (dancing would be at the very top of the list), but I would never NOT try.

She does this a lot. One minute she has climbed to the top of the pantry to reach a treat on the very back of the uppermost shelf and the next second she can't possibly hang up her coat on the bottom hook of her box in the laundry room. One minute she is jumping down 8 steps of the staircase to the landing below and the next second she can't walk up the stairs to put her doll away. It is just too hard.

I get so infuriated over it, and I really don't know why. She is just so different from me. I don't want our relationship to be a future cinematic feature. You know how it is. All of those relationship movies are usually about a mother and daughter, never about a father and son.  I don't want that kind of relationship with her. I have to figure out a way to relate to her, to understand her, and to parent her in a way that will help her grow. Getting mad or upset with her is only my form of manipulation, just like the frown and helpless act is hers.

At times she just baffles me.

I didn't mention the whole dancing thing to her to make her feel bad today. And in comparison to how I would have handled this ten years ago, I did pretty good. I have grown in outward appearances. But honestly, on the inside I am pretty much the same. The rotten thing about that is that she can probably sense that from me. That is never good.

Something really turned her entire attitude when we were at the camp.  Was it hunger? Was it the massive amounts of little girls? Maybe she is not good with crowds and chaos? Maybe she needs to be in a smaller group setting? Maybe dancing just isn't going to really be her thing?

I know I am not going to figure this out in one day. But I recognize that it is something I need to figure out.  I desire to have a rich and meaningful long-term relationship with her. I think that in order for me to accomplish that, a lot of the change is going to have to come from me. There is some rough part of me that needs to be polished. The good news is that she is only four.

I have time.


Lindsay said...

If it makes you feel any better, my 4-year-old does the same sort of thing. Drives me crazy, but I have no answers. Maybe (hopefully?) it's just a phase they'll outgrow.

NormaKimokeo said...

What a great entry! We love our kids, but sometimes we do not like them. Grrrrrr.... But I love your thought process.

Hang in there -- as a parent of 5 (now) adult children, I can totally relate and then tell you that somehow it all works out. Maintaining the relationship definitely pays off in the long run.

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