Friday, June 1, 2012

You Can't Have It Both Ways

This afternoon I had a lesson in "You-Can't-Have-It-Both-Ways" when I picked Abby up from school. Even though I usually pick Abby up on Fridays I was just too beat today, and contemplated running out of the school building at three and zooming home to grab a quick half hour snooze before the bus dropped Abby off. As I was overseeing the planner signing and backpack packing of my students I happened to look at my phone and see a couple of messages from Abby's teacher. It seems Abby's gotten off the "Independence Train" and suddenly needs prompting to do things that should be routine by now. I decided that the rest would have to wait so I could go talk to Abby's teacher.

We had a nice little chat while Abby played with pom poms and hugged my leg like it was a great tree and she was a happy monkey. Finally, we decided Abby's behavior was triggered by combination of things that have crept up lately. At this point Abby had gotten bored of hanging on Mom and had worked her way down to the school office. Abby's teacher and I continued talking as we followed her, but I came up short when I saw Abby, oh-so-casually, sitting at a table in the office while one of the other teachers in the building ended a long Friday by chatting with the school secretary. Yep, my kid had just plopped herself down like she she belonged there.

Now, there have been many times when I have lauded Abby's courage and self-assurance. I remember when we had Abby's very first cognitive evaluation, where basically the therapists watched how she played and interacted with her surroundings. I will never forget the first words out of the examiner's mouth as she gathered us for the results. She smiled at us and said, "Well, she certainly has confidence." Yep, that about sums it up, I don't believe there is a timid bone in that kid's body. Generally, this pleases me. I want her to have an overabundance of confidence in herself. I know enough about the world to understand that there are those who will immediately look and Abby and judge her as "less than" or "not good enough." Therefore, we have always been very deliberate about bombarding her with love, affection, and acceptance - which, truth be told, isn't hard to do. But, as I watched her grab tissues off the secretary's desk (and fake sneeze), then try to take off with a box of crayons, only to run into the principal's office and slam the door behind her, I started to wish the kid wasn't quite so confident.

Luckily the staff at Abby's school is wonderful, and she has gotten to know them enough for her to worm her way into their hearts. So when she slipped in behind the secretary, picked up her phone and a pen, and began "taking a message" no one was bothered a bit - in fact, they enjoyed her antics immensely. All good things must come to an end though, and knowing how anxious those who work at a school are to "get out of Dodge" on a Friday afternoon (especially in June), I started working on getting the kid to follow me to the car. Not wanting a big battle on my hands, I didn't go for the "grab-and-go", but I went the "Mom's leaving" route. The only problem was Abby was having a good time, in a place she's familiar with, and with people who enjoy her - this was not going to be easy.

Finally, finally I was able to get her out of the building and heading in the right direction. That's when she zoomed ahead of me - and turned a corner. She went one way, and I went the other. Once I realized that she had no idea I wasn't behind her, I let out a yell of, "I'm leaving Abby." Ah-ha! It worked and she did a 180 and began running towards me with her own yell of, "Wait! Don't leave me!" So, I slowed down and waited for her to catch up.....and then run right on past me. Panic set in as I saw she was running toward the road and that I wouldn't be able to get to her quick enough to stop her. I did see that no cars were coming, but my voice certainly got the "I'm-not-messing-around" tone as I yelled at her to stop. What did Little Miss Confidence do then? She laughed as she turned the corner on the sidewalk and started walking back to the school. That's when God intervened. Somehow the mini "Happy Birthday" balloon that she'd conned the secretary out of came off the end of the stick it was on. This gave her enough pause for me to catch up with her. I grabbed the balloon, fixed it, grabbed her, and then gave the balloon back to her. Now that I had a grip I wasn't letting go, so I marched her to the car and prayed that the school staff hadn't been watching our antics.

So you see, the boldness that I so often praise in her can be a bit of a double-edged sword. It is a tricky thing to teach a child to turn that assertiveness on and off. The fact that she knows her own mind and has a will of iron will help her in so many ways as she gets older, but sometimes I wish that mind and will more closely agreed with my mind and my will. I'm not giving up though, and we will be working hard this summer on listening skills (Abby) and patience (Mom), because I have a feeling that, "Abby, that's two!" won't work as long as I hope it will.

Yum! Popsicle!

No comments:

Post a Comment