Remember when the days were long and rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world, with mommy and daddy standing by
But “happily ever after” fails and we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
Recently Beth said something to me in regards to how I spoke to the girls last weekend. She said, “Y’know if you want them to talk to you about things, you’ll need to listen first and then not over react.”
Our oldest, Hope, has always told us things about the goings on of school. She’d come home and spill it all, never leaving out the details, except maybe the names of kids. She tells about this clique of girls in her class, “the Ugg girls” she calls them, because they apparently wear Ugg boots all of the time and they think that they are very popular. I don’t know, maybe it’s the boots. Anyway those girls like to stir up trouble about who likes who that kind of crap; Hope was telling us about her best friend who was always stirring up some drama.
I jumped all over it like white on rice trying to make her see how her friend and the Ugg’s were very similar. My tone and demeanor, however, was not engendering any dialogue and Hope looked at me and the at Beth and said, “whatever.” That’s a whole different story….
That’s when Beth came to me later and expressed her concern over my parenting selection (This is the nice way of putting it.) and forced me to think about why was I reacting to Hope in that way. I think that I’ve finally hit upon the reason–slowly but surely Hope is losing her innocence!
Case in point, earlier this year she told us how she wrote an anonymous note to a boy asking who he might be interested in. This revelation occurred over dinner and she told us how her best friend told her it was the best way to find out. Gotta love the best friend. Anyway, since she didn’t sign her name he never responded and never really told any of his friends about the note, but Hope was nervous the entire weekend after the incident worrying about how we would respond–
At Easter, we were discussing what the Easter bunny would be bringing us; later Hope looked at me like, “really, the easter bunny.” I asked her about it and she played coy. I think she wanted me to believe that she still believed in such things. Then she admitted that she knew I was the Easter bunny AND….wait for it…..Santa Claus! The cat was surely out of the bag! She said she played along so that her sister wouldn’t suspect and it was fun to pretend.
As a teacher of high school students I see a lot of pretending. Students acting as if nothing’s going on in their lives portraying a happy exterior so that no one will ask or so that no one will tell them what to do. There are many kids at school are dealing with violent relationships, pregnancies, suicide and drug use. When asked they say they’re doing fine, but once in a while one will crack and share about their pain in hopes that someone will simply listen. I realized that today as I listened to the hardships of one of my seniors. I listened; she continued to talk. When I asked her why she was telling me, she said that I was easy to talk to she knew that I would listen. And as I drove home thinking about our conversation, my wife’s words jumped right into my head. What if it were Hope or Leah talking to me, would I have been able to listen to them?
I’m not sure.
Because I feel that part of that angry response to situations involving pre-teens and teens alike is the almost imperceptible feeling of rage about the loss of the child’s innocence and failure in not protecting/guiding them properly.
Today, however, on my long drive home I’ve decided that if I want to know what’s going on in my daughters’ lives I need to always give that listens first.