Tuesday, October 14, 2008
To Best Guide My Children
"You better put that on your blog," Mayra insisted. Not this gorgeous picture of The Fantastic Four grandbabies that have so blessed us all, but the fact that my children did not melt down over chores yesterday.
Big Mama was wrong and Mayra wants folks to know that.
"When I'm wrong, I'll say I'm wrong," a platitude I often spout, and nearly as often have to own up to publicly if necessary.
I was totally wrong in my post this one time. They all helped me without fussing. CW'd swept his room before I even hit 'publish post,' we all plowed through the unfolded mountain of clean laundry...right before I washed ten more loads, dishes were done, rooms clean, and no one acted out. No one at all. Granted Monica was supervising down one hall and Yolie ended up washing dishes too...so not their jobs, and I was very effusive in my compliments.
Paloma visibly blanched when I again pointed out how well she was doing. Admitting to me that she found praise to be 'uncomfortable,' that she knew herself better in her usual self-imposed whirl of negativity.
"But Paloma, I can't not acknowledge when you're doing well or all you'll ever know is behavior correction. That's not right," I tried to explain, realizing I was gonna have to tone down the praise, knowing she deeply, inwardly feels as if she doesn't deserve it.
My former caseworker, Emily, has helped me to slowly comprehend how worthless a child might feel on the inside after losing a parent. To the child, who always illogically blames herself, she then thinks she must be worthless, or the parent would not have abandoned them, when in reality said parent either didn't follow through on CPS directives, failed to keep a child safe, abused, neglected or chose drugs, alcohol and partying with zero regard for the child's well-being. There was usually no thought, by the parent, about the child at all - the parent usually also a generational victim of severe family dysfunction - was self-obsessed, self-medicating, and a self-perceived victim of everything.
It falls on me to teach self-worth to a child and Paloma's older brother, Chuy, a very intelligent child is lately misidentifying himself with the wrong crowd at the moment and is acting out rudely when he knows he's a smart kid...but on some level I can't quite reach with him, that too is alarming in his psyche.
He apologized last night for his ill-mannered behavior of the other day and I tried to explain to him what I think I see going on. Chuy does watch my relationship with Daniel carefully, he sees we are still very close emotionally, and I know he values that, maybe even believe it is possible for him to achieve as well.
Daniel is everything Chuy aspires to be someday, plus their backgrounds are achingly similar. On the downside, Chuy didn't have the benefit of a loving older birth sister (Yolie in Daniel's case) to nurture him when there was not an available parent. Why trust me?
Chuy is a complicated, intense, closely guarded, walled-off very tough nut to crack.
Please forgive me when I don't respond to comments. My excuse? A lame one, but true. I read the emails and comments periodically through the day and then walk off thinking about each one, formulating a response in my head, and then I'm seemingly done with it. No kidding. My head is so full of stuff that I sometimes can't remember what I said versus what I thought. All day today I'll be thinking about Anne's comment over grocery costs that seem astronomical to our reality, or Lisa's response to chores. I ponder what people have told me and I think, think, think about what best to do each and every day in order to best guide my children through life.