Last night we had some friends over for dinner. They have 2 boys roughly the ages of H and S. Our plan was to plop the kids in front of a movie while we hid in the kitchen and drank wine. It was semi-successful, but we all ended up watching the movie- which then had to be part one-d as it was getting late and small people were falling apart from exhaustion.
Towards the end of the night, a box of music makers was brought out (not by an adult, I'll tell you that) and the brothers were on the verge of a major squabble over who would play the squeeze box. H ran to the box of noise makers and riffled through it until she found a pair of maracas, and ran back over to give these to the younger brother so the older brother could play the squeeze box and no one would be upset. And no one was upset.
I was kind of amazed- and realized this is what we do all day. If H wants something from S, I tell her to get her something else for S to play with. After I got done being impressed at my daughters conflict resolution skills, and impressed that she was the only one in the room of 4 parents who thought on her feet and saved us from a major melt down, I had a moment of major parenting doubt.
I had flashes of moments in my life where I'd done a similar thing. This is what I'm passing on? An example: When we were kids, convincing my sister to be the one to ask to stop at McDonalds so I wouldn't have to be the one to ask. Really believing I could will a cheeseburger and fries to happen. Obviously it wasn't my will that made it happen, it was my sisters asking. That I arranged behind the scenes.
What are H and S learning from this tactic? Is this the beginning of not asking for what you need/want? I know that I am often indirect in saying what I want, which has led to me often not knowing what I want. I'm the first to call someone out having a fear of confrontation, but it is becoming more and more evident that I have my own fear of confrontation. Just keep everyone happy. Appease the masses. Give them another toy. Should I be encouraging more aggressive less passive behavior?
Then again, neither of the girls seems to have a problem asking for what they want- repeatedly and not taking no for an answer. Earlier today, when J and I said no to buying 2 boxes of band aids (we need one for upstairs and one for down stairs! Thats what we ALLWAYYYS DO!!!) we were appointed by H "the meanest mommy and daddy in all the meanest TOWN!" No passivity. Pure aggression.
When H was born, I would look at her so tiny so pure and cry that I was going to screw her up. Then I did the same thing when S was born. Only that time I cried longer since I had already started screwing her sister up and knew it was inevitable that she too be tainted.
I am slowly learning that I don't have the power to single handedly screw anyone up. Although I also believe that every parent screws up their child. See what I mean? I don't know what I believe. I believe it all.
(Ok, interlude for something I really don't believe at all- while I have been glued to this computer, H ate a whole bag of soybeans.)
Maybe, at least, I can control H and S from thinking they can control everyone's outcome. That they don't always have to keep the peace. That they can continue to ask, which doesn't mean they'll get. That they'll believe in the power of nice. That they'll know the difference between being nice and avoiding confrontation.