This past couple of weeks I have decided that I really want to break away from a cycle of dependence and frustration with my kids (mostly my daughter). I have been taking to heart posts and lessons such as this one:
Thinking about this unhappy feedback loop I have going, where I take care of all the details and push and nag the kids, and how I want my kids to grow up as independent beings able to manage their own time, I have decided to take some baby steps in the direction of being a little more hands-off. I want to spend less time harping on them to do things, and less time feeling like I’m having to do everything for everyone. I also want them to learn some more independence for their own sake.
Last week I announced that, since I needed to feed and walk the dog and myself in the morning, the other people in the house would from now on be getting their own breakfasts. This announcement was met with such a look of horror and shock from my daughter, that I couldn’t believe something as simple as food in the morning could invoke such a teary, emotional, response. My son, however, after freaking out about how he was going to actually know how much milk to put in his cereal, took it in stride, and even suggested that he might be able to do lunch as well at some point.
This is made all the more ridiculous because I know that both of them can cook… some things at least… and have even made whole meals before. I had to promise to sometimes still make French Toast (“Does this mean we will never have French Toast again!?”) and show the girl how to make an egg over-easy (again, tears, “I can’t do it right!”).
You see what I’m up against?
I took it an unimaginable step further this week by handing my daughter a weekly list of work and telling her, that not only is she responsible for getting it done, but that I would be doing my level best not to nag or remind her about any of it.
I did this with love and reassurances that I believe in her.
I thought that this was, for sure, going to be hard on her. I thought, for sure, she was going to get to the end of the week having done nothing and loose privileges as a result (there have to be consequences). That is very likely still going to happen. What I didn’t realize, however, was just how hard this was going to be for ME!
It’s only Wednesday, and yet, I can’t tell you how hard the last day two days have been. After presenting my daughter with her list, she proceeded to spend her free time re-reading The Lord of the Rings for the third time, writing in pen all over her shoes, drawing, managing her stuff online on Howrse, and Skyping with her friend. Granted, our Mondays and Tuesdays are not heavy on the free time, but I know that she has assignments due and a big competition coming up she is not ready for... not to mention an audition that means a lot to her, and she needs to memorize that monologue!
I don't want her to fail at any of this. I want to see her do her best, but isn't it better to let her fail now than later when it really matters? Learning to manage her time is something that will be key to success whatever she choses to do in life.
HOWEVER… keeping my mouth shut while watching her do this is SO HARD. It’s like watching a slow-motion train wreck and doing nothing about it.
My job has always been to make sure the kids succeed. I always make sure they have their work done on time. I’ve been at this job for a while… this activities director, managing job. It’s become ingrained. Old habits die hard.
Also, I’m running around getting things done FOR HER and she is JUST SITTING THERE! I can’t stand it!
Somebody please give me strength. I can do this. Can’t I?