Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Socked in the Gut

Parenting is hard. I'm serious - it's WAY harder than I expected it to be. You don't want your kids to be unhappy, but you can't let them do whatever they want, so you set rules to keep them safe. And while you want them safe and sound, you also want them to experience life. I'm going to go deep here and quote Finding Nemo.

There's a part where Marlin is talking to Dory about his son Nemo, and he says "I promised I'd never let anything happen to him."

Dory replies with, "Hmm. That's a funny thing to promise. You can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo."

So you want things to happen to your kids, but nothing bad. I like this part of Nemo because it shows that you have to give your kids some room to grow and make their own experiences. I believe that this is important. Through their experiences and decisions, both good and bad, they grow as people, and hopefully they learn from their mistakes.

I'm going somewhere with this, I promise... Stay with me.

I think of myself as an informed parent, meaning that I try to know a lot about what's going on in my kids' lives. I keep an open dialog with them, we talk about all sorts of things, and I like that they can come to me and talk about anything. I try to give my kids room to grow up, experience life, and have fun. They are, after all - kids - and when else is the best time to have fun? But I'm also the kind of parent who sets rules and does my best to enforce them.

But with rules, come rule breakers. Kids break the rules. Sometimes it's accidental, an oversight. ("Mom, I'm sorry I'm fifteen minutes late - Joey's mom didn't tell me when it was 6 o'clock!"). But sometimes it's blatant, and conniving, and deliberate.

Hollywood did something yesterday that falls into the latter category. She's broken rules in the past, behaved badly, and done a million things to make me mad. But this is the first time I was more sad and disappointed than mad. I got that 'socked in the gut' feeling when The Husband and I, casually conversing about how our days went, realized what she'd done. I know it won't be the last time she errs in judgement and the result is extreme disappointment. But I can honestly say that it's the first time I've felt personally offended (my feelings were hurt!) by her actions. Sure, she was contrite and apologetic when she got caught, but the fact that she so brazenly threw our rules out the window was really hard to see. She violated our trust and I don't know how long it will take for her to earn it back.

So back to the Nemo reference, I so, so, SO want to act like Marlin and lock her up to keep her safe, and to... hell, to keep her from growing up, I guess. But I can't stop her from growing up anymore than I can stop the wrinkles from appearing near my eyes. I can't stop these errors in judgement from happening, I can only hope that she learns from them and doesn't continue to break the rules. I have locked her up temporarily, though. She got two full weeks of 'ultra-grounding' which means no cell phone, no computer, no friends, nothing.

I guess we all need to follow Dory's advice and sing "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming" to ourselves. Because that's about all we can do.


grannj said...

You make me cry now on a regular basis. I think I felt the "sock in the gut" too. You guys, tho, are doing a wonderful job..I wouldn't entrust my beautiful firstborn granddaughter to anyone else in the world. Love you.

Andrea said...

Finding Nemo is one of my all-time favorite movies, and that particular quote hit me hard when I watched the movie for the first time.

I'm sorry you have to experience this "socked in the gut" feeling. :( I'm noticing that we as parents have to do a bit of growing up with every experience our children have.

Sometimes the Just Keep Swimming phrase is all that gets me through the day.

Jenster said...

You're so right. Parenting IS hard. The hardest thing I've ever done.

I've had that sock in the gut before and it's horrible. And from a good kid, too.

It's so obvious from your posts that you and your husband are such good parents. This, too, shall pass.

I love your use of Finding Nemo. So perfect.

Travis Erwin said...

Parenting is hard ...

But aren't the little turds worth it most of the time?

And I use the word turds in the most affectioante of terms. I have boys, not sure you can use that term for girls.

Monnik said...

girls can be turds too.

Prairie Chicken said...

It is said that good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. All kids need the space to exercise bad judgment, hopefully in small matters, so they can gain the experience they need to have good judgment. And all you can do at those points is love them through and keep on swimming. Your grandmother used to say that when your children are little, they will step on your toes, and when they are bigger, they will step on your heart. I believe that the greatest gift a parent can give a child—and I think only the parents can really give this gift whole, is the bedrock belief deep within a child that she is loved. Standing on that foundation, she can experiment, make mistakes, and gain experience. Everything else is secondary to that foundation, and naturally flows from that love. So keep on swimming, and love her through. She’s going to be almost as fantastic a human being as her mother by the time you get done with her—which, by the way, will be never.