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Thursday, December 8, 2011

living under interrogation

I'm not sure what is up with Ella lately but she has developed a new level of need to know. 

She questions me about EVERYTHING.

This is the way a typical car ride with her can sound:

"When are we going to get there?"
"Who else will be there?"
"Will they get their before us or after us?"
"Are there any other birthday parties this month?"
"What are we having for supper?"
"What are we doing next weekend?"
"Where are the people in front of us going?"
"Who were you talking to on your phone?  What did you mean when you said you would see her later?  Who?  Who are you going to see and when?"

Every question when we are putting her to bed is, "What are we doing tomorrow?"  When I pick her up from school, before she can tell me anything about her day, she asks, "What are we doing now?"

I feel like I'm living under CIA surveillence.  All my privacy is gone. I put a piece of gum in my mouth and in an instant hear, "What are you eating?" from the back seat.

I think we need a personal consult from Thich Nhat Hahn, the buddist monk who teaches about living in the moment.

Part of this is certainly my fault. I am a need to knower myself.  I like to know what is coming.  I like to know a timeline and a general plan.  I can't help myself. I formulate plans in my head constantly for the best way to undertake a day or a list of errands. 

Some would call it neurotic.  I call it efficient.

As much as I downplay the role of biology in who someone is, every now and then the understanding hits me with the subtly of a baseball bat to the head.

There are so many ways that Ella is like me. She gets stomach aches, has soft teeth prone to cavities, she gets car sick, has a penchant for chocolate, has a hard time with transition and cries easily when something comes to an end, she has a sweet tooth and is deeply sensitive about what other people do and say to her.  (The later three I've trained out of myself and I can only hope the same for her.) 

On the other hand, Maya has the physicality and inherent athleticism of Sandi. She has her fierce independent streak and her willful determination.  Maya likes to do every last thing "by her own" and will cry before she will ask anyone for help. She has Sandi's sensitive skin, her piercing blue eyes and her narrow hips. 

To even out the overload of genetics from one mom, Sandi and I choose donors for the girls' who were like their non-biological mom.  Ella's donor was a male version of Sandi and Maya's a male version of me.  Interestingly enough, the girls have the exact temperaments of their non-biological mom.  Ella is introverted and quiet like Sandi, feels things deeply and doesn't want any attention on her.  Maya is wildly extroverted, loves to be the center of attention and thrives in social situations.  Sound like anyone? 

Temperaments aside though, the inherent quirks of our girls still reflect the mom in whose belly they grew from the size of  lentil to a bona fide human being.

But back to Ella's future in counter intelligence.... if I can get past the intense irritation her questioning provokes in me, I might see that she is very anxious and is seeking some control.  I'm searching for ways to help her with this but I am not entirely sure what is helpful.

One of the things I strive to do as a parent is adopt a non-emotional, breezy attitude to their chaos so that I am not wrapped up in their emotional storms.  I am successful at this about 5% of the time.  When they yell at each other I would ideally not yell at them to stop yelling. When Ella asks what is for supper and is displeased with the answer, I would ignore her complaining rather than lecture her about the kids who don't have food. I would not feel pressure to have a plan for Ella every time she needs one and when she is unhappy with that I would shrug and let it go instead of telling her that my job is not to be her cruise director. 

Perhaps instead of aggravation she needs to hear:  "It seems as though you are nervous about this situation and want to know more about it.  I will tell you what I know.  Other than that I guess you will have to wait and see."

Easier said then done when that is followed by, "Why don't you know more?  Didn't you ask?"

1 comment:

Zoe K said...

Those people don't know what they're talking about! It's definitely efficiency! (I'm the very same, always planning ahead. How else will you KNOW what's going on?) :)

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