“I like to call that a skipper,” said one of my children sheepishly looking my way, realizing that she was busted mid-action. I’ll let you figure out to what she was giggly-referring.
“Did you seriously just do that … with me standing here?” I ask, thinking to myself that I would NEVER have done anything like that in front of my mother – at least knowingly.
“Yeah, Mom … It’s because I love you.”
“What?!” I respond in disgust. “… What kind of love is that?!”
“It’s good love, Mom,” her sister who is standing nearby sincerely adds. “In fact, it’s a compliment.”
“Oh,” I reply and let it sink in. Then I relish the fact that my kids love me enough to just be themselves in front of me.
With two of my kids now looking me eye to eye, okay one of them towering over me, I’m convinced more often than not, that they are ready for so much more responsibility than they get and that I need to proactively lean into, even encourage, the friendship side of our relationship.
Yesterday, one of my older ones happened to be watching a movie that fell into the slightly questionable category. When her siblings bounded into the room, she was quick to tell them to leave. Her father, hearing commotion, zipped the situation and scolded her for making a bad choice. Embarrassed in front of her siblings and our guest with whom she was watching, the kid obliged and apologized. But underneath, she was devastated.
Later that night, she rode with me to the grocery store (trip number 4 (!) of the day.) Making the most of our time, we stole some extra moments to leisurely cruise the streets and enjoy Christmas lights. She opened up to me about the movie and how bad the incident left her feeling. She said that she genuinely didn’t think it was inappropriate. All of her friends had seen it years ago. And the subject content had gone over her head. Plus her age fell well within the parental guideline category.
“I really didn’t know it was bad,” she explained. “I just loved the music and wasn’t thinking about the fact that the mom had slept with so many men she didn’t know who the father of her daughter was…”
I watched it sink in.
“Oh…” she continued. “I get why you don’t want me to see that. … But I still enjoyed how nice everyone was and how they loved each other.” She thought some more. “I just wish Dad could have talked to me. It would have been nice to not have been treated like I was a baby.”
And I got it, too.
Rather than treat her like a young adult, she had been zipped like a child. Later, as Jon & I talked about the situation, we both realized that involving her rather than talking at her would go so much further in equipping her to make wise decisions in the future. Something we know … but have trouble, in the moment, implementing.
It was easy for me in the car to help her understand why we care. That we want to save the freshness of her mind and her untarnished approach. It was also easy to apologize and to understand where she’s coming from.
I’ve decided that some of our best conversations happen in the car. Is it due to the fact that most of our time together is in the car? Maybe. Is it the sequestered nature of car conversations? … or lack of eye contact? I don’t know. But I sure do enjoy them… and will miss them in but a few short years when my number of riders begins to shrink. (eek!)
One thing I know for sure, in the car – when we talk – the kids are allowed to be themselves. And I guess, like the little kitchen incident, they don’t try to hide, cover up or be something they aren’t.
I hope they always feel safe to be themselves.And, here’s hoping I provide the opportunities and avenues for them to do just that.
Thanks for walking the road with me.