Hindsight Parenting: The Strength of Children
Have Faith in Your Children Strength
I was a big ol’ chicken this week. I mean a shakin-in-my-boots-anxiety-ridden-big-ol’-BAWK-BAWK-chicken. Last column and the column before that, I had hinted that there were things going on at my daughter Ila’s current daycare/preschool that weren’t all that wonderful. Between the mean girl attitude, and the teachers’ lack of motivation to implement the suggestions given to them by Ila’s physical and occupational therapists, coupled with the unwelcoming disposition of the lead teacher who neither greeted nor even looked up when a parent walked into a room, we came to the rather terrifying decision that we’d have to change Ila’s school. I will tell you that just last week if I had to pen that previous line, I would get a panicky feeling right in my solar plexus.
We had already made the decision that she was not returning the following year. We picked out another preschool/daycare that had a reputation for academics and a child centered approach. Both the OT and the PT had encouraged us to check this school out as they both had experience being there to do therapy for other students. But we were determined to keep her in the school she had been in at least for the rest of the year. Moving Ila seemed to be cruel especially given the background she has had on loss and leaving. We thought it would be ‘best’ for her to keep her in the place that she was ‘used to’ and not uproot her and pull another set of people out from under her. I was sure, absolutely sure that her “fragile” self couldn’t handle it. But the more problems we experienced the harder it was to stick to the decision of keeping her there. And while I won’t go into the final straw, there was one…a big honkin’ straw, and it was completely and utterly apparent to us that we’d have to get her out of that toxic place as fast as we could.
From the moment I made that decision, I had massive anxiety. Hindsight kept reminding me that the feelings I was experiencing were paramount to those same feelings that I had when I wanted to spare my boys any discomfort and therefore would move heaven and earth to make sure they didn’t feel it. Hindsight also kept reminding me what the end result of that was; two children who find it absolutely excruciating when life doesn’t go exactly the way they want it to go. “When does life always follow the path you want it to?” Hindsight whispered. “Give her a chance to adapt to discomfort,” it urged. I knew. I always know that the whispers and elbows to my ribs that Hindsight gives are always the voice of reason. I knew I should listen, and so with shaky hands and that persistent anxiety ache in my solar plexus I pushed forward trying to find a new place for Ila to attend.
Luckily, the consummate preschool that we had decided on for the following year found room for our daughter and after a couple of visitations with mommy and daughter together, this past Monday, the day of doom, (at least in my head) came; the day that we’d have to drop Ila off “at that strange and new place with no one she knows.” Saturday and Sunday leading up to that day, I didn’t sleep. I tossed. I turned. I felt nauseous and turned to friends and my husband to soothe me. The anxiety took me over and I was convinced that I couldn’t possibly bear the moment in which I left Ila all alone at that new place. So I enlisted Ila’s daddy to be the culprit; the bad guy so to speak. HE could drop her off. HE could watch her whimper. He could peel her off his leg and run out of the classroom while she screamed for him not to leave her. I just simply couldn’t do it. And Hindsight chided, “Chicken. Coward. Don’t you have any faith in the strength of your daughter?” He had a point, but I pushed that thought aside and continued to wallow in anxiety until the fateful Monday arrived.
And so while I worked away in my classroom getting ready for the week ahead, my palms sweat and I waited for the fateful call that would inevitably come; that call that would have my husband’s voice on the other end shaky and sad that Ila was so distraught at being left at a new school. So when the phone rang, my gut did a giant roller coaster dip, but I put the phone to my ear and squeaked out, “How was she?” and braced for the horror story.
The line that was uttered by my husband could have very well been uttered by Hindsight itself. He said, “Logan, I think we need to have more faith in Ila and how strong she is. She was absolutely fine. She walked into the classroom, kissed me goodbye and walked off to play with the girls that were already in the class.” I was instantly relieved and ashamed. Hindsight was right…again. I needed to have faith and confidence in the strength that we have helped to foster in our daughter. I needed to listen to him when he reminded me that parenting with a sense of wisdom will then become the wisdom of the child, and here again was a perfect example of that.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that wanting to spare our children discomfort and trauma is an innate part of being a parent. However, I am finding out that the images of what may take place, of how they may feel, or of how they may react can be completely erroneous. Therefore, if we give in to that feeling of being the hero and saving them from the deep down dark of life, not only are we not equipping them for the ultimate continuing deep down darks of life, we miss out on some pretty amazing moments where we get to see our children being strong; stronger than we may think they are, and each time they are strong it will help us to let go a bit to the savior complex we have as parents and instead let our children build the muscles that they need to be strong humans for the rest of their lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.
[Photo credit: (ccl) Brian Hart]
It was also a great move to have Ila’s father drop her off because she would not be able to pick up anxiety vibes from him and she might have reacted to her Mom’s anxiety. Our children also are experts at body language and can have less anxiety when the adults with them are calm and confident