When it comes to my kids, I am quite proud. I'm not just proud of them, I am proud of all the changes and growth that we have accomplished together. I am proud of our relationship and how close we've become. I am proud of the work that my husband and I have put into parenting, unlearning damaging patterns, and replacing them with respectful, loving ones.
I've also become somewhat presumptuous. I trust in the connection that I have with my children and trust that my intuition has helped me grow acutely aware of anomalous changes or troubles. I have become quite confident that I can face any parenting challenge, because you see, I have X-ray vision and can see under the surface of my children's behaviors (and many times other kids). I read my kids' actions like a mystery novel and often can have the culprit/source of the behavior uncovered within minutes. I look at the situation, try to understand the emotions that arise from the situation, step back then analyze the big picture so that I can start helping the kids implement solutions. Yes, there is just a teensy bit of Sherlock Holmes pride here, eensy weensy.
I have written about my daughter many times. She is a sensitive soul with a powerful imagination. Knowing exactly who she is and what she wants has always been her strength. When she is unhappy, annoyed, tired, sick, overwhelmed, together we usually can figure out why. But, especially in the last month or so, I've noticed my girl struggling with something big. I have honed in on those feelings and have been trying to understand them ever since. I think she is struggling with structure. I think she is struggling with conformity and rules. She is struggling with not being fed creatively, at least not in the way she hungers for anyway. She is struggling with realizing that the days of staying at home with mom, following her passions all day long without hindrance or interruption have disappeared, she is struggling with not being able to do what she wants when she wants, because she is now in a setting very different from the one she's had for several years before.
Most kids go through this I know. But do most kids begin to doubt themselves in the process? Do most kids began to see themselves as not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough? Do most kids go from confident and self-loving to distraught, moody and self-critical? Comparison and competition are unavoidable in a system where children are placed in a room together for 6 hours a day. I won't say that I didn't know this might happen, but the emotions and reactions that have grown out of my daughter from these experiences have hit me harder than I expected. And the boy? He has not had any of these issues, at all, confirming what I've known all along. The system is not made for everyone. Most of us don't question, we just follow instruction. We conform and accept because it is the norm, and because we can conform. But what about those that know intuitively that they can't, and truly don't want to, and struggle terribly because they try against their true nature? What about the kids that know themselves well enough to say "Mom, I didn't learn to read because of school, I learned to read because I was getting older"? What about the ones that begin to not like themselves because of the growing rift between who they know themselves to be and who they think society wants them to become?
I am still grappling with this one, I am. I see her struggling and my first instinct is to pull her out of school and homeschool again. I want to protect her self-esteem. I want to continue to nurture the light in her that causes her to rebel against the norm. I want to let her continue to live in her brilliantly, imaginative world of mythical creatures and stories than have to table them for math and learning how to read a clock. I want to put healing cream on all the little bumps and bruises that she gets from feeling like she is different from every one else, from peer troubles, from feelings of rejection, from having to do things that she earnestly doesn't want to do (and isn't sure why she has to do them at all). Most importantly, I want her to love herself, as much as I love the bright, sparkling being that she is. And if something is in the way of her doing that, whatever it is I want to pick it up and remove it, blow it up, disintegrate it.
And Reason? Reason says this is part of growing up. Reason says that at some point kids have to adapt. Reason says that this is how we all learn that the world does not revolve on what we want, that we have to learn to struggle in order to get stronger, to understand ourselves better, to problem-solve, to grow. My daughter will eventually have to learn to adjust. She will run into struggles because she will never be the eager beaver student that does what she is told when she is told, memorize what she is told to memorize, or thrive on praise or competition. She will be the girl that wears wings to school, looking for the next exit.
So there you have it, the tornado that I am spinning in. I have not found answers yet but I suspect they will come. I suspect the writing is on the wall and my xray vision needs adjusting. And when it is adjusted, you will be the first to know...
ps. I know some people might think that instinct is the way to go, but for me instinct and intuition are two different things. From experience my first initial reaction is not necessarily always the best choice. Instinct makes us mothers, but reason, experience and intuition make us great mothers.
As always, thanks for reading...