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.