Thursday, September 29, 2016

Reexperiencing Failure in Advance

I would change this quote just a little bit, by omitting the last sentence.

On the evening before first grade, Jordan was so worked up that she cried. We talked about how even Grandma Weeze had trouble sleeping sometimes, and many kids (and even teachers) worry the night before the first day of school. She looked over at Kayla who was sound asleep and said “Kayla doesn't look nervous.” No she didn't. And she was starting kindergarten. So very different.

Jordan enjoyed her first day, and I had to laugh when she told me she was excited because the work seemed like "it would be harder." One time I was reading to her and I accidentally said the word “certainly” instead of “curiously” and she corrected me. She was in first grade. I doubted the academic curriculum was going to challenge her, but that was fine with me. The reading, math, and rule following, those came naturally to her. But she was faced with her own, different types of challenges.

She would watch her cousins play video games instead of playing with them. She would stand on the curb while the kids at the bus stop played catch. And none of the kids ever caught the ball. She would rather observe kids playing soccer, than join in. One day I decided to ask her about her reluctance. Knowing she probably wouldn't be forthright, I gave her three choices for a possible answer. They were:

1. She doesn't like her friends.
2. She thinks the games are dumb.
3. She is afraid to mess up.

Bingo. Failure in advance.

She chose choice 3. She would rather watch other kids, than "do it the wrong way". It killed me to see her so hard on herself. I didn't want her to watch the world go by, while she stood on the sidelines. Yes, this sounds dramatic, but I knew her. She was smart, focused, strong, fast, coordinated, and had such potential. She appeared to excel at most everything she attempted, after getting past the initial uncertainty.

So why all the insecurity and self doubt? I had no idea back then, but I curiously... I mean I certainly, know why today. Anxiety.

Thank you.

Us Too

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Pathways of Worry

Let me reiterate... Jordan was not even seven, and she decided to stop drinking and eating. And you'll never guess what I did... Yes, I began to worry. My thoughts meandered towards the same ineffective pathways they had many times before. I think I'll call them my pathways of worry. Creative, I know.

It's as if there was a not-so-welcome crystal ball inside my head. It revealed to me glimpses into Jordan's (albeit imagined) future. The problem was, these scenarios were based solely on my fears and anxieties. Unfortunately this led me to focus on the what-ifs of Jordan's future.

The newest addition to the ever-developing list of what-ifs was:
What if a future coach or mentor told Jordan she needed to lose a few pounds?

She had this intense level of self control and will power, and she would implement it with the hope of avoiding an uncomfortable situation. Potty training, riding her scooter, swimming, asking a bus driver to stop, and now avoiding bugs and using the bathroom.

So I asked myself: How is it that children blossom into independent functioning adults? That's easy. By experiencing life, and learning from new situations. And since everything is basically new to a young child, the whole blossoming-into-an-adult idea, it makes perfect sense. We live, and we learn.

But according to Jordan new meant uncomfortable. And uncomfortable meant she needed to gain control. Control over everything. How would that work?

Hence, my brain-filled pathways of worry. I don't feel the need, or desire, to list the reasons behind my trepidation. (I hope I'm using this word correctly). If you can envision any/all possible battles and risks involved with being a teenager, that's basically the futile place where my brain took me.

But Jordan is now eighteen, so I guess you could say my fears (thankfully) never came to fruition. I couldn't be more proud of her hard work and the manner in which she faces her life, with perseverance and positivity. But it certainly wasn't always easy. We were all forced to learn how to listen, coax, have each other's backs, shut our mouths, control our tempers, breathe, and admit that we needed to get help.

I'm so glad we did. :)

Thank you.

Us Too

Sure... now I see this.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Trusting While Letting Go

Jordan's next camp adventure was probably a little more common than not taking a sip of water, because of a possible spider encounter. I noticed along with her full water bottle, she also came home with most of her lunch  Her peanut butter and jelly sandwich, daily piece of fruit, and a snack, basically transformed Jordan into a human bee-magnet.

Once she noticed the bees, she zipped up her princess lunchbox, and lunchtime was over. Was this shocking, or an unreasonable course of action? Of course not. But I did feel the need to explain to her that as kids are six or seven they should be trusted to eat, drink, and use the bathroom on their own. If they can't, they probably shouldn't be going to camp.

This conversation... I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Did what I tell her even make sense? Back in the day, when I was a psych major, I vaguely remember learning about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. According to Wikipedia, the physiological needs at the bottom of the pyramid are the:
"physical requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body cannot function properly and will ultimately fail. Physiological needs are thought to be the most important; they should be met first." See?

But Jordan wasn't even seven years old. And I certainly didn't go to camp for a week when I was six years old. Makes you think, doesn't it?

In spite of everything, believe it or not, Jordan really did enjoy camp. Although it appeared that she struggled on a daily, even hourly basis, she told me that she "loved it." And we did try to compromise, so I would have some peace of mind. Like for our bathroom dilemma: She decided she would use the bathroom at home, right before leaving for camp, and then again when I picked her up, before the drive home. Of course, we walked to the inside, bug-free bathrooms. She also assured me that she would drink and eat, especially on the very hot days.

I had to show her that I believed in her. So I trusted her.

Camp definitely pushed Jordan out of her comfort zone, while also giving her some much needed autonomy from Kayla, Kevin and Me. She gained an immeasurable amount of confidence, and I'm sure that she learned things about herself that she never knew existed. That being said, I honestly believe that the knowledge I gained about her and her tendencies, was just as profound.

Completely and utterly as meaningful today, as it was twelve years ago. ;)

Thank you.

Us Too

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Another Sneak Peak Into Our Future?

The common (IL) logic behind fears.

After the canoeing situation was resolved, the Becks found ourselves with another camp predicament. Some of the other girls told Jordan there were spiders crawling on the inside walls of the porta-potties. Once she heard this, there was no way Jordan would even think about entering one. Even if she needed to. In her mind, at that moment, the spider-filled bathrooms were permanently closed.

All day.

Even though she hadn't mentioned anything about the spiders to me, it became crystal clear that she hadn't 'gone' all day. Because the second she came home from camp. she bolted into our bathroom. That's when I heard the piercing cry. I went running over, not sure what I would be walking into. And then I knew.

"We need a clean up in half-bath one."

But no worries. Jordan had a solution to the whole spider dilemma. Any second grader who knows anything about the human body, realizes that the less you drink, the less you have to pee. So the following day she decided to stop drinking. Problem solved, right?

Um... sure. Except for the fact that it was a humid, 95 degree day. When she came home, I noticed that her water bottle was still full.

Am I wrong in thinking that this was extreme behavior? She was trying to control her physical, autonomic, bodily functions, in order to avoid something she feared; to the point where she caused herself physical discomfort. I didn't panic or get freaked out, and we discussed the importance of staying hydrated and healthy... but I think this gave me, yet another glimpse, into what we could possibly be faced with, as Jordan matured. My thought process was: One day something similar to this may come back and bite us in the butts.

Because we all know that teenagers have the tendency to be more... well... they tend to be more everything.

And I haven't even written about the bees yet.  

Thank you.

Us Too


Friday, September 9, 2016

When Your Fears Come Spewing Out Your Mouth

The h sometimes got me. Also the n... And maybe the k.

When Jordan was six and a half, she went to day camp at the YMCA, for a week. One day the kids went canoeing. She told me she really enjoyed it, but that it was confusing. That night she couldn't sleep. She was worried she would be required to participate in a canoeing contest the next day. We talked about it (and when I say we talked, I really mean that I talked, and she screamed and cried) and I gave her a few suggestions: “Maybe you could talk to your camp counselor about it.” “No!” “How about trying again, to see if it becomes less confusing.” “No!.” “Watch the other kids for a while?” “No.” “How about you just don't go to camp!” Cringe. “NO!”.

As you can see by my last suggestion, I was frustrated and angry. To me, it seemed as if she didn't want to do anything to help herself. If she would have agreed to not go back to camp, I would have been angry, and insisted that she go anyway. Chalk this one up to me speaking, before thinking about the consequences of my words.

Here's what was going through my mind: She's going to quit again. Whenever things get confusing, challenging, or push her out of her comfort zone, she wants to opt out. I'm not with her at camp, so she needs to speak up for herself. What will happen to her if she doesn't? And what about years from now, when she's out on her own? How will she survive as an adult, if she can't be a self advocate as a child?

Yes, this was how my brain worked. All of these worries and fears instantly bombarded my brain, and came spewing out my mouth as frustration and anger, especially when she was not receptive to any of my suggestions.

Believe me, I understood why she was nervous to row a canoe. First of all, it was a skill that she had not yet mastered. That in itself was enough for a child like Jordan, to throw in the towel. The fear of tipping over, and being submerged into water that had a mysteriously dark bottom, was another show stopper. These fears, I understood.

What I didn't understand, was why she wouldn't speak to her camp counselor. It would have been a short conversation with a young teenage girl, who probably couldn't care less whether Jordan participated or not.

Like usual, after we both had time to calm down and process the situation, we compromised. The next day, she and I both approached the counselor. I did most of the talking, but at least I modeled what the behavior could look like. Not surprisingly, Jordan was told that she didn't have to do anything she didn't want to do.

It's no wonder I was such a mess before, and after, Jordan left for college, especially after the bus incident this summer. It was as if my over-the-top fears began to come to fruition. And I was scared for her.

But so far, so good. Jordan recently told me that she's "killing it at college." :)


Thank You.

Us Too

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Out Go the Tantrums, In Comes the Attitude

Now that Jordan was almost six she no longer threw tantrums when leaving a friend's house. She also didn't lose it when a friend had to go home. Yay!

As you can imagine, I was quite relieved. But... Why is there always that inevitable but?

BUT...  she developed another pleasant habit. In front of her friends, or worse yet, their parents, the instant I walked into the room, she would say things like “Not fun, Mommy”, or “Very boring Mommy.” Translation: "Mommy, you're ruining everything."  All I did was walk into the room!

Not exactly the welcome I was hoping for, or expecting. She would put her hands on her hips and kind of roll her eyes. I would think to myself, “Oh, I'll show you what very boring is. Very boring is not seeing friends, or going on any more play dates until you straighten up that attitude."

I'm sure in my own style, on the ride home, I verbally laid into her. I was shocked at how rude she could be one second, and how sweet she could be another. Since she could read on her own now, the whole thumbs-up/thumbs-down, take books away plan, didn't work. So we threatened to take away at-home weekend movies, before bedtime. Fortunately, this seemed to be effective.

Nothing was ever easy.
Although, after seeing this:  

I am reminded that hands on the hips, eye rolling, and attitude are small potatoes compared to the seriousness and the realness of those teen years. That being said, it still didn't fly with me back then.

Thank you.

Us Too

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sick Days and Twilight Zone Moments

When Jordan was five and a half we went to her pediatrician for another assumed ear infection. She used to get them often. She asked a bunch of questions about infections and bacteria, and her doctor said she was "going to be quite a kid, because her thought patterns are very advanced for her age." What parent wouldn't like to hear something like this? 

But during another appointment, she blatantly refused to let a nurse perform the strep test. She told her straight out, "No, you can't." Lovely. It took both of us to hold her down, before she reluctantly "opened" her mouth for the swab. It wasn't easy.

Good times. 

Jordan also informed me that she was afraid to cough. And when Jordan was afraid to do something, she didn't do it. There's that self control again. She would hold in her cough for as long as she could, until she couldn't anymore. By then she was so congested, and her throat would get all clogged up. Now she (and I)  had a valid reason to be scared. She would panic and cry, while gagging and gasping for air, 

Once her temperature went up to 102.8. I always hated when my kids got sick, and I still do. But this particular time led me to have another one of those crazy-mama flash backs, and also a strange fast-forward moment.  In the same night.  Doo-doo-DOO-doo. 

As I was lying in bed with her after she took Motrin, I remembered a time in the middle of the night when she got sick as a baby. She was so warm that I decided to give her a bath.  After the fever broke she began to tremble and shake, which frightened me, so I woke Adam up. That was the flash back.

As I lay next to her when she was a big five and a half year old, remembering back when she was a baby, she seemed like a mini teenager. We giggled and laughed because of how squished we were, laying together in her bed. It astounded me that she had actually come from inside of me. She was a real person, and I couldn't help but be amazed at how things had changed.

And get this...back then, thirteen years ago, when she had her 102.8 temperature, I tried to picture what it would be like if she were to get sick when she was sixteen. Would I still be welcome and comfortable enough to cuddle up next to her?  I imagined that if I still was, we would really be squished in her bed. That's the fast-forward moment. 

Please tell me I am not the only one who has been plagued with these deep-mama moments. 

I feel very fortunate that every once in a while, before Jordan left for college, I was welcome and comfortable enough to lie next to her when she wasn't feeling well, whether physically or emotionally.  And I was right- it really was much more squishy. 

Thank you,

Us Too