Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Small decisions...& winging it
So this morning started just like any other school morning.
Get myself showered & ready, feed the bigger minions, sort out school uniforms, help Will dress & make sure Blake has put on weather appropriate clothes, superhero mask optional. Change & feed Clay, ensure everyone has brushed their teeth, have matching socks, that Ben, Rianan & Jack have packed their school bags - from their diaries to their lunchboxes.
Then it's out to the car. Please be quiet, our entire street does not need to hear us first thing in the morning while enjoying their coffee.
It's incredible how one voice does not carry far, but five voices all at once sound like a rock concert - but noise levels are another post, another day.
So far everything is right on track & normal. The weather is looking decidedly grey & potentially wet so I scrap the decision to walk - thankfully, as 1 minute into our 2 minute drive to school it begins to rain. This is what changes the morning. Instead of getting us all (read Blake, Will & Clay plus myself) out to walk Ben, Rianan & Jack to their classrooms & say good-bye there, I drop them off & say good-bye to them at the footpath at the front of school, staying a few moments to watch them walk into the school gates.
Half way up Rianan trips over, not a big stumble but she does fall down to her knees. This triggers her anxiety that has become a bigger part of her personality over the last month or so. She runs back to the car with tears in her eyes, her face crumbling & her thoughts visible for me to see, that she wants to come home & stay with me. In those couple seconds from when she's running back to the car, to when she is in front of me, I have to decide what to do.
This part of parenting, those split second decisions, where you don't have time to deliberate all the pros & cons, to really think through all the potential out comes the various decision options will have for your child, for you & any other siblings. I underestimated this part of parenting & rarely gave any forethought to it, until I was a few months into parenthood.
Giving in now versus staying strong & setting a better precedent for the next time. Opting for being gentle & shielding them from the **big bad scary situation versus knowing that this is something small & relatively inconsequential so a good time to stand firm & show them through their own experience that moving forwards was not as bad as they had worried.
(**even if it is not all that big, bad & scary compared to what we would really put into that category. Those terrifying scenerios that your mind runs away with when you think of all the horrible, gut wrenching, nausea inducing fears that you hope you & your family never have to experience)
Winging it is a big part of parenting. But is it really winging it when you have a good idea of what you would like you children to be as they grow & are grown? I don't mean their career choice here, I mean are they confident individuals, who make the best of a situation, are considerate of others around them while not sacrificing their own integrity, needs & dreams. Will they speak up for themselves or be vulnerable to the arrogant & selfish. Will they be the selfish ones, & expect others to clean up their mess as they carelessly go after what they want to the detriment of anyone else. Will they be 'good' people - kind, generous, confident without being disdainful, have a good work ethic & be a team player. Or a 'bad' person - stealing from others rather than work for what they want, bullies those they see as beneath them to make themselves fell 'better'. Is only there for themselves.
I (we, as this is a two person gig, with Doug & I) know 'who' we want our children to be, & I think it is all these 'little' decisions, these moments of winging it, that make up a large sum of what helps a child to form their sense of identity. Along with modelling the very same behaviour we 'expect' of our children ourselves. How can a child learn generosity if all they see at home & from the important people in their lives is selfish & arrogant behaviour?
So this morning, in that moment of crisis for Rianan, I made the decision to reassure her she was ok, her knee was not bleeding & she would be fine. To go in & tell her (fantastic) teacher what happened (so her teacher knew the reason why Rianan might be a bit more sensitive than usual through the morning. Miss P & I have spoken about the changes in Rianan recently & the anxiety that has cropped up, so knowing Rianan had a safe adult to confide in & that she wasn't alone to deal with her uncertainty was a big factor in feeling secure in the decision I made)
I did want to comfort her in a different way, to say "come on then, hop in the car & you can have a day at home with me". I have done that a few times, changed plans & allowed the easier & gentler option. We don't want to dismiss or belittle Rianan's anxiety & worries. She needs to be confident to express how she is feeling without worrying that it would be ignored or dismissed, then left to try & deal with it herself, without the tools to know how. She is only 7 (very nearly 8) not 27. But in amongst all the gentler days & reassurance that we will be her safe sanctuary, we won't be giving her any tools if every time she is allowed to back off from the scary situation & retreat, rather than have some comfort & reassurance that it is ok, & she is ok. She can go into school, tell her teacher she tripped over (& hasn't had the perfect start to her morning) then slowly become more certain & confident that the rest of her day will be fine.
It was hard, essentially turning her away from the warmth & comfort of my arms, to send her back onto her path for the day. Seeing her worried & tear filled eyes when she glanced back every now & again as she made the 30 meter walk into the school gates. It hurts my heart to see our children upset regardless the reason. Knowing that it is a small step in the right direction is the biggest consolation I can take, that it is so much more than just this small incident, but rather a small step to a bigger journey of helping her to grow. To gain confidence, to know days aren't perfect, but they often get better.
So this afternoon, when I get to see her again & pick them all up from school. I'll be certain to ask how the rest of her day went, that she had a good morning & enjoyed seeing all her friends after a 3 day break. Hearing that she (may have) jumped up from the final level in classroom readers to the next step with library lexiles. Hearing that she got all her clock times right in Maths, & loved the celery, carrot & cucumber that was packed for fruit time instead of a pear.
I'll reassure her that despite tripping over this morning, she had a great day. She will smile & giggle, giving me a big hug as she feels good about herself & realises that she can do it, even when the beginning was hard. This little incident will be filed away subconsciously, but I'm certain that she will draw strength from this step, & all the other small steps that have occurred & are yet to occur. Whether it is next week after another 3 day long weekend, or next month when she goes off for a sleep over, or next decade when she walks into her first job interview.
All these little moments that may seem inconsequential, the moments of winging it hoping your decision that didn't have time to be thought through at length & in depth, comes with a good outcome both consciously short term & subconsciously in the long term. These all lead into big contributors in shaping 'who' they are, & just what type of person they may become. When I look back at my childhood, i have memories of big events, but so many memories are filled with small moments that each have all left a big imprint on who I am & how I identify myself - as a friend, as a wife, as a mother, as me.