My fifth grader wants to skip a grade. She also wants to go to a private boarding school for high school. I don’t think the two are congruent.
We had a disagreement tonight. She was talking about skipping a grade for social reasons, and I was talking educational. When I said to forget her friends and think about being in the best college and being the most successful her, she burst into tears and said I was being mean and she’d never forget her friends. This wasn’t what in meant at all. We backtracked and I had us both restate and mirror the others words. Things cleared up quickly, but she’s a sensitive girl and the tears were still flowing. It was tense and hard. I asked her to imagine herself in the first few weeks of seventh grade in the fall, with all her classmates around her having attended sixth grade except for her. She got it. Then we discussed the need to be alone following this discussion, and she finished her dinner as I finished laundry downstairs.
I felt angry and wanted to know what that was all about. I was triggered, but clear headed enough to know that it wasn’t really anger that I felt. What was behind it? I was hurt. She’d called me mean. I never meant to be mean. I never intend to be mean. But I’ve been called mean by my parents all my life. They raised me to believe that I am mean, when that’s not who I am. It’s who they need me to be. The role I play in their lives, through their filters. I believed it and played along for a long time. Until I woke up and realized that I’m only mean with them. They expect me to be mean and I walk right into it. It’s a survival skill that I’ve shed. I have many close, loving, kind friends and none of them see me as mean. I don’t see me as mean because I’m not.
So when my daughter called me mean, it triggered me, and I felt anger to mask the hurt.
I’m glad I have the tool to walk away calmly and examine my triggers. I know I am looking out for my daughter’s best interest. A skipped grade would be a horrendous mistake for her education. We had a misunderstanding and worked it out. And by the end, we agreed that yes, socially it’s hard to be in her grade, but educationally it’s the right thing for her.
And I got to work on my trigger and grow within myself.
Tonight, my parents told me they hated me as a person. I knew this. They told me they think I’m a loser, a slut, and a drug addict. They said my tattoos are disgusting. They told me that my wonderful children are that way because of who they are as people, the luck of the draw, and that I did nothing to contribute that. They disrespect me as a parent and as a person.
I told them I don’t need their approval, that I think they are mean, judgmental, and terrible parents. They take no responsibility for their nasty and immature behavior. Somehow, they think they were ideal parents when I was a child, and that they are above reproach now.
Their very behavior this evening proves that wrong.
While what they said of course hurts, it actually feels good to have it out in the open. I know who I am, and I’m sorry they can’t see that. No one in my life treats me the way they do. I have a wonderful relationship with my children. I have an amazing community of close friends. My love life is complicated right now because my partner died recently, but I am not a slut. Even if I were, my sexuality is not a bad thing if it isn’t hurting anyone else. They just want to shame me. I’ve never done anything to hurt them, but I suppose different and having different values from them is enough. I value my uniqueness. I thrive when I march to the beat of my own drums.
This happens often with them. They have done this before. I’m so fed up with it and I don’t want to do it anymore. I won’t do it anymore. I told them tonight I’m not coming back to their vacation home. They were surprised. Why would they be surprised? Would they really expect me to walk into their web again? At the end of the conversation, I told them I just needed two things from them. The first is to let me be my children’s parent and to not compete or act like they are. The other is to not talk about me behind my back, especially in front of my children. My kids have agreed to hold them to this.
While my parents have walked around angry for two days, I’ve gone about my life like nothing has happened. I’ve smiled and enjoyed myself. Why should I let the poison they swallowed kill me?
I spent the rest of the evening laughing and hugging my girls. We had a great night together. They told me they disagree with everything my parents say about me. I told them I’d love them unconditionally no matter what life choices they make.
That’s what matters.