October 27, 2004

Mothering Woes

Some days I think I should accept the worst parent of the year award for my utter failure to alter for the better my children's behavior.

Yesterday my oldest daughter and I attended a protest (together with many of the children of her school) against the closure of Gaza settlements. There were buses to take whoever wished to go to the protest area, there were banners and flags passed out, hats and orange t-shirts that proclaimed our love for the Gush.

The general mood of the children was high-spirited and joyful. They sang on the bus, as all children do, the typical songs, albeit in Hebrew, that I sang on similar occasions as a child. They clapped hands and at the site gathered for an impromptu dance.

Well all the children except for one child, who, disconcertingly, happened to be mine. The Artist curled up against me and I needed to force her to dance. There wasn't an actual frown on her face, her expression almost blank though her eyes didn't have the dullness of boredom, Rather there emanated from her an overwhelming feeling of despair, a downward cast of her head, t as if I were sending her to face the wrath of lions and she had no choice but to engage in battle. All the girls in her class are sweet, friendly, and caring. They made various attempts to pull her into their dances, made certain that she received a flag, traded candy with her and what not.

The Artist remained withdrawn, encapsulated within herself.

I don't know what I should do; what course of action I should take. Many people tell me I should simply leave her be and that she will come around when she is ready to interact; that she is simply more introverted person and that one can't alter this basic fact. And I understand this because I also was a very introverted child and I am an introverted adult; in large social settings I was and still am uneasy and often too happy to leave the raucous noise and chaos behind me. Yet I understand the loneliness as well; the feeling that those around me know a secret that I can not decode, a different language then I never learned, that I am insignificant in the eyes of most; easily forgotten. I both wish and do not wish the contact; the two sides of myself fighting for supremacy. As a child the introvert won, almost every single time. Crawling back into my cave I would find comfort with books and television; the worlds that confronted my eyes easier to deal with the reality of humans.

At this point in life I've succeeded in masking my inner conflict and generally can defeat the uneasiness that accompanies me to ever large social event. I now can look forward to a large social event, though I'm never as comfortable, or at least believe I am less comfortable, than most people. I still feel there is a language I have never learned and that all around me people are in on a secret that I'll never know. But my countenance is no longer frowning and disagreeable. I can smile, laugh and dance and want more. Perhaps I never quite reach the state of bubbling effervescents; I never the center of attention, never find masses of people, all eyes upon me, as if my every word ribboned from my mouth. The sidelines, listening and responding to quiet conversations is sufficient for my needs.

I want my daughter's happiness; but I'm very concerned that the road she is taking will lead to loneliness. A community of friends who are behind one, come what may, who understand one's oddities and accept them, who feel safe and trusting in turn, this is what makes life beautiful and desirable. I do not want her to waste years in this effort to obtain what has only lately become mine.

There are small indications that despite my feelings of casting her to the lions my efforts are paying off. This morning she woke with her normal reluctance to face school, once again, especially after a major event. She dithered around the house, complaining of nausea and stomachaches and a generalized feeling of discomfort. The decision on whether she was to go to school or remain home we left up to her; and at first the decision was no.

Normally that no sticks; she has not been willing to go to school knowingly late.
But this morning, such a small triumph, she looked up at me from the couch and stated; I won't be on time.

But she left for school anyway; along with a note from me explaining her lateness, and my assistance in packing her knapsack and lunch, she headed to school.

Yesterday I felt like an utter failure; today as if she and I made a little bit of progress in her social development.

Such is the nature of parenting I suppose; I just wish it would come with a report card; so I could see if I were truly passing or failing whatever the current test.

Posted by Rachel Ann at October 27, 2004 08:03 AM

I just read a book that said that we as parents try to parent ourselves through our children...

Maybe part of your concern is coming from your own experiences of being shy in social events...

As long as your daughter knows she is Ok even if she doesn't participate I am sure she will be fine :) I'd just ask her how she feels about it. Is she scared or just shy. Perhaps she is a true introvert and just loves to engage herself by watching and observing. I know some introverts who are offended when they are told that they aren't participating - as they felt they were very engaged by watching and enjoying everyone else!

Just my two cents. Ultimately, in your heart you know what is best!


Posted by: annette at October 28, 2004 12:34 AM

I always enjoy your blog so much! I'm continually learning how to relate better to introverts (I'm definitely not one but I married one) and what you said about feeling lonely and not getting the language that others are speaking sounds just like him. Needless to say, I have a special place in my heart for introverts because God has brought some very special ones into my life :-)

Posted by: Andrea at October 28, 2004 09:52 PM

I have found with my daughter, who is also like this, that letting her be is the best way. If I force the issue she sometimes ends up feeling worse. She usually comes around after a little while and otherwise I am just there for her.

Posted by: Angie at October 29, 2004 03:43 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?