Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Just Wanna Know You Better

Camp Papa and LJ
Yesterday my tennis coach said to me, "Becky, all I'm gonna say is, enjoy your kids while they're young." She had been regaling me with stories of how her college-age children were driving her crazy. They actually sound like delightful people, but her family is adjusting to their new life stages.

This morning, Laura wanted to get to school early for a science review session, so we pulled up in the drop-off lane at 7:45, right after we got Hank to school. Kids aren't allowed in the building before 8, so we sat together in our heated seats while Taylor Swift sang on the radio. Laura was tired and not animated. She'd been home late from swimming and then had studying to do. In the mornings--some mornings--I bear the brunt of all of Laura's annoyance with the universe. The angle of the sun, the air temperature, the sogginess of a cheerio, these things are probably my fault. It's okay, I am maddeningly unfazed by her moods. Some days she saves all her charm and her stories, all her sparkly cheer, for her daddy, which I get. I totally get it.

She sat there and woke up a bit and then kids started to pop out of cars and go into the building. A male teacher I didn't recognize walked by the car and smiled in at us through the window. I said, "Who is that?" Laura opened the door and slid down from the seat. As she did, she turned back and said, "He's one of the vice principals. He's in charge of discipline."

She said "discipline" so archly! How does she know to do that? And she raised an eyebrow and half smiled. In that moment it was like she was twenty years old. I felt like I was looking at myself. Her whole expression just nailed this humorous, like, skepticism about the whole enterprise of, I don't know, discipline? The institution of school? It made me laugh, and she walked away, and her long blond hair was behind her like a flag.

For some reason, out of a whole day, that was a moment I wanted to tell you about.

(Because I also napped, had lunch with Matt, and played tennis, we could talk about those but the shadows grow long.)

I hope you had a moment you liked.


Camp Papa said...

When Laura was two years old I told you that you that you might need a blue ribbon panel to rear her. It turns out that you've done pretty well on your own.

Camp Papa said...

The extra "that you" is for emphasis.

Star said...

super post. The marvelous woman-to-be peeking out. thank you for sharing.

jo said...

Sounds familiar to me, my oldest daughter is now 25 and at home she was grumpy, moody & petulant. While she was out she was the perfect human being..funny, kind, engaging. Now she is far far away in London & misses & appreciates me & tells me so. I did a good job apparently! It takes some time but it all comes back to you in the end.

Beth said...

I'm wondering about this moodiness thing. You are wonderfully patient, Becky, and I'm often not. We worry about how much we should tolerate from the 10 year old, and how much we need to teach him that just because you are crabby, you can't treat people nastily? Do you have any insight? It's my husband in particular who worries that if we don't reprimand all the rudeness that we are somehow condoning it. I don't know. We worry all the time.

Becky said...

Beth, yes, I see what you're saying. We draw a big distinction between moodiness and rudeness. Our kids can be in any mood they want, but they have to be civil. We absolutely reprimand rudeness--I think you're right to do that. And you have to do it less over time, thankfully.

Zero tolerance on child rudeness.

But crabbiness? Grousing? We ignore or use humor. One of my oft-use lines when the kids complain unecessarily about something is, "I'm sorry your life is like this." And that usually shuts them up because the see how ridiculous they sound.

Beth said...

Becky, that is a great distinction. I think we have some work to do on that front, because when the 10 year old is moody, he usually takes it out on everyone else, snapping at people and being short with them. I think perhaps I haven't been modeling this very well. :-)

Lisa Lilienthal said...

I love that you are "maddeningly unfazed" - it really is the best strategy, but sometimes so hard to achieve!

Elizabeth said...

Perfection. Isn't it grand to be a mother?