Growing up I had a number of people I didn’t want to be like. I sometimes think I spent so much time trying so hard not to become them, that in some ways, I have become their shadows. Inevitably becoming the very people I didn’t want to be.
Talking wasn’t something that was highly encouraged. Especially if your opinion didn’t meet popular beliefs. As long as you smiled and played the part – then nothing else really matter. I was always the one throwing the wrench in things. Refusing to play the part. Believe it or not, I was a pretty quiet kid. The rebellious quiet one. In order to carry on a conversation, the abilities to manipulate and lie were needed. I wasn’t good at math, and lying wasn’t my strong suit either. I spent a lot of time being in trouble.
I always worry that the kids will get the same thing from me. I don’t seek out the opportunities to talk to them. Don’t schedule weekly meetings. Don’t question them. And worry that maybe they don’t feel comfortable enough telling me things. Ive been told that if I don’t talk to them, that they wont feel “Connected” and will turn to other things to satisfy their needs/wants. And perhaps wont be comfortable enough telling me things before they become issues. The predictions made against them are frightening at best. And horrifying.
But its not that I havent tried.
Tried to talk to them, tried to engage in conversations. But it doesn’t work like that. Getting information from Dylan is almost like pulling teeth – hes just not big on talking. And that’s ok. Or so I thought. Even though I have been told that this, this “Lack of instigating conversation” can lead to a future serial killer, drug abuser, and more. Bet you didn’t know I had THAT living in the house! The thing is he does talk, just in smaller bits, giving less information that most people want, and you have to know how to read between the lines.
Madison and I used to have talks every so often. Random times when we were alone in the car, and she would confide in me with something that I knew nothing about. We havent talked for a while. A long while. I sort of assumed that she was past the age where being seen in public with me was no longer “Cool” and the talks were saved for friends who actually understood her chatter.
And Josh? Well hes all about body language that I am still trying to understand.
We suck. At communicating in this house. Atleast, that’s what people say.
I should interact more with them. Engage in conversations. Start topics. Have a topic night. Eat at the table (this is a tried and true way to prevent drugs, didn’t you know?). Maybe take them each out once a week alone. Make them feel special. The ideas are limitless – but the skinny is, it just doesn’t work for us. Dinner is usually rushed, and sitting at the table hardly ever happens. I don’t like sitting at the table – having been forced to sit through many “Family meals” as a kid, “Table talk” always meant something more than the advertisements were. And if I took them all out on a different day – that’s three times a week, three days a week. And Im not into making them feel special, Im into treating them as who they are. They ARE special, and I shouldn’t have to MAKE them feel like they are, implying that they arent…but I am just trying to help them along.
Not a lot of people agree with me. And I try to be polite when someone suggests more “Talks” with the kids. And bringing up hot button topics. Things like “Personal Space” and “The birds and the bees” seem to be in lately. And while Im all for it – while one kid might be ready to hear this, another might not be. Im not going to push it on them.
But then I worry – about the not feeling comfortable enough around me to tell me if something happened that they don’t feel was right. Would they tell me? Would they know? Would I be the last to find out because they fear telling me because they will get in trouble? Do they have to do complicated mathematical issues to figure out how to approach me? If they tell me something that they did, that was perhaps, less than desirable…I try…so hard…to make my first reaction not that of a negative one. Most times – they know they screwed up, and I don’t want them thinking that when they tell me, when they confide in me, that I will bite their heads off.
That isn’t to say I want them thinking they can get away with anything and everything either.
All this is to say this weekend – I took Madison out shopping. Before we started we hit up a restaurant, no sooner had I slid into the booth, with her on the other side – did she start talking. Picking up where we had left off last time it was just her and I. Its been too long since its been just her and I. Too often things get in the way. Life happens. Simply living sometimes gets in the way.
I heard a quote the other day that sort of…hit home. “I don’t have time, is just a fancy way of saying your not important enough.” If you really want to do something you WILL make time for it. And I regret to say that I have not made time for the girl in my life.
As I watched her, and listened to her, I was taken back in time…when she was just a spunky 10 year old. Rainbow nails, and ripped overalls. Bright pink being the color of choice. Hair taped into place. There she sat. Across the table from me. I was no longer looking at a child. But a girl, who, has turned into something else. Shes no longer a little girl, shes grown up, right in front of me, and I have been too busy to notice. Too busy to pay attention to the needs and wants. TOO BUSY. For the very thing I live and work for.
Life. It gets in the way. Its complex. Confusing. Frustrating. Hard. I complain far too much, and enjoy far to little.
I complain, about the very thing I am enjoying. And before I know it – its gone.
And Im left wondering…
Did I do it right? Did I do enough? Did I do too much? Will she know that I loved her, and do love her? Even though I don’t say it all the time? Will she know? That I do care? And I do want the best for her? Will she know that she can talk to me? Will she understand? Will she look back with hate and resentment? I know I could have done better, but I didn’t. I have become the very person I didn’t want to be, and have started to realize – that maybe…just maybe, they were doing all they knew how to do too.