Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I got a question!

Picture me doing my happy Snoopy dance.  Ahem.

I'm afraid that I don't know how to talk to people. I'm too blunt.

Do you prefer that other people interact with you in this way? Directly, I mean; sometimes that comes off as blunt. Personally, I find it easier than guessing most of the time, but I weigh that against the discomfort of saying/asking right out. What do you think?

The honest answer is I want people to be blunt with weird verbal ticks where they remind me that they are being blunt so I shouldn't over react emotionally.  What I mean is, when Noah is about to hand me my ass he says: "I don't have a good way to say this.  So I'm going to use a bad one and I hope you can understand what I am getting at."  That's my cue that he is about to say something that sounds like an attack but he honest-to-goodness doesn't mean it as an attack so please don't freakin yell at him.  At least that is what I hear.  When he says that I cock my head over to one side and listen intently and I can be rational no matter how much I am freaking out.  It's handy.

But yes, of course I want people to be blunt.  I like it when people randomly announce what they are thinking, because most of the time I am honestly curious.  I wish like hell I could sit inside someone else's brain for a day and listen to the random things that go around.  It's great when people tell me.

If people have expectations of me, you'd better tell me what they are in blunt ways or I will miss it.  I have all the subtlety of a falling anvil.  So yes, I would say.  Blunt is generally always better than it's opposite, which I consider to be misdirection.  Don't be vague or passive agressive.  Tell me what you want.  Then I can decide if I want to give it to you or not.  I like yes or no questions.

And I'll tell you, as much as I felt pissy in the moment... I'm glad Sarah greeted me with, "The last few days has been over my threshold for alone time with the kids right now and I need to have help with them for a while."  Because now I know for absolute certain she is monitoring her ability to be safe with the kids and now I know what the wall looks like.  I can work with a wall.  If I'm honest I know that if Sarah had been kind of twitchy but hadn't said anything... I probably would have ignored her twitching.  I'm a jerk too.  I have to treat my needs like they are important enough to push for.  No one is volunteering the stuff that fills my needs.  I need to push for more space.  Knowing how far I can push is really important.  I don't want to be a chicken shit and short change myself because I'm afraid that I will ask too much and she won't tell me and start to resent me.  I don't want to live with that fear.  I want to push her to her boundaries so that I can have allllllllllll the space available to me.  Damnit.  She said she is ok with that.  I have to trust her.

Have I mentioned how hard trust is?  I have been struggling like mad since I had kids because I am no longer reliable.  It makes my stomach clench with frustration.  If my kids start melting down as I am trying to put them into the car when I am off to do something social I freak out.  I get into these cycles where I'm convinced that I am going to go to the event and the kids will be assholes and I will feel social pressure from all my anti-kid friends to deal with my little brats and I will then be angry with my kids because they are kids.

My kids are not assholes.  My kids are not brats.  They do push limits because they are trying to find out where they are.  When Shanna feels the wrath of God she backs off of a limit.  But oh boy she likes to find that limit.  Given that the wrath of God mostly involves me breathing hard because I am really angry and trying not to speak and I point to her room... she goes.  But it takes until I am ready to punch her in the face before she backs off.

I'm torn between consternation and delight.  That's MY girl!  I honestly don't want her to stop.  Even though it drives me insane.  I want her to be that person.  I want her to have the courage to push people.  What I mean by the wrath of God is that I want her to go through life rarely having to deal with my minor displeasures.  Mostly I do a lot of disclaimers about how awesome she is and I'm not upset with her I'm upset because blah grown up thing is happening and I'm sorry if I'm short tempered.  I try to buffer my irritation levels as much as possible.  Sometimes she crosses the line and I really don't care that it upsets her when I am fucking pissed off.

Lately she has decided that an awesome game is to hit me in the face with sharp objects, basically as hard as she can.  One can understand why I might object.  After the last time she did it I picked her up ubruptly and moved her off of me while roaring in pain.  It scared the shit out of her.  She started wailing about how I hit her.  I did a lot of rolling my eyes.  I'm sorry kiddo, but picking you up and moving you far enough away that you cannot injure me again while otherwise not touching you and getting my hands off of you as fast as possible is not the same thing as hitting.  I told her that I had not intended to scare her when I yelled but I wasn't going to apologize.  Hitting me in the face isn't ok and I am very upset about it.  Don't do it again.

Then I stomped off.  To me, that's a Wrath of God moment.  It made a huge impression on her.  And I'm glad.  I think parents are allowed to just be human beings.  When someone hits me in the face I get to yell at them to stop it and I don't have to apologize for hurting their feelings.  I did not sign a fucking piece of paper giving up this right just because I had crotch droppings.  I get the feeling from the AP and Gentle Parenting folk that it is bad that I did this.  Yelling Is Violence, they say.

I have to say that I think they can bite me.  I do my utmost to not make yelling a regular habit because it's a really annoying thing to have to live with.  I think that having to live with someone who yells a lot sucks.  It's unpleasant.  I try very hard to keep my volume at a reasonable level.  Yelling when you are in pain is not the same thing.  It's allowed.  It's allowed.  It's allowed.

My dad used to make me be quiet.  I got in trouble if I made noise or moved while he was hurting me.  He would play painful games and the goal was for me to sit as still as a stone while he did it.  That wasn't part of the sexual abuse.  That was casually sitting around in the living room when he visited.

I never have to be silent and take it when someone hurts me again.  I don't.  It doesn't matter that they are kids.  I get to defend my body.

That said, Shanna got lots of cuddles afterwards.  Obviously I am still feeling defensive.  You see, my actions square with my values.  I think that was a reasonable natural consequence of hitting someone in the face.  But I can find people on the internet who would tell me that I am an abusive monster for doing that.  Let me tell you, whenever people accuse me of being an abusive monster I chuckle.  I know what that actually looks like and the pompous windbag who is talking to me doesn't.  I'm afraid of being like them, but I do rationally know that I'm not.  My kids will not have anything like the abuse I received.  Defending yourself when someone hurts you is not abusing them.  It's letting them know that they crossed a big boundary in a way that is a serious problem.  Shanna hasn't done it since.  We kiss and cuddle lots and I'm pretty sure she's confident in my regard for her.

So anyway.  Shanna likes to test boundaries occasionally.  It's pretty clear that she is doing it in a scientific way and there is no malice in her heart.  She is, however, a wild little savage and her scientific experiments frequently suck for me.  When we are out in public reams of people turn and stare.  I feel completely self conscious and judged.  I have no idea what they are thinking.  If people volunteered helpful little thoughts like, "Dear God you have the patience of Job" then I know that people aren't judging me because it does bother me.  I do get nasty little comments about how if I can't control my brats I shouldn't take them out.  Uhh... do you really think I should have complete control over my children?  How do you think that will go for them in life?  I want autonomous little people, thank you ver much, and that means that they have to figure out how to interact with the world.  That means hitting some brick walls of social taboos.  She will need to find out What happens when I whack someone in the face?  That's how she will know not to do it later.  And then she went off to school and on her first day a boy kicked her in the face.

I have to tell you... I wasn't very upset.  I told her, "These things happen.  So, what did you say to him when this happened?"  People hurting your body in ways you don't like just happens.  You have to learn to navigate it.  This seems to be something that my child-free friends were never taught or have forgotten.  When a careening child falls out of orbit they act as if they have been assaulted with acid.  Get over yourself, people.  No, she is not yet a masterful member of the social sphere.  She's fucking three, give her a break.

All that to say, yeah blunt is good.  And maybe I'm ready to go to a kid friendly dance event.  I'll have to find one that is within an hours driving range.  Hm.

1 comment:

  1. Cool. Good to know.

    (Me, I start to panic at "We need to talk." Or, as my mother used to put it, "I have a bone to pick with you." Because in that case, it sure as hell felt like an attack. Even "I have to ask you something" was fraught with tension after a while -- 20 years -- around her. It usually preceded a biting commentary on my life choices. And yet I hear myself doing it when that is not MY intention, but I feel like I have to signal, "This is going to be awkward, and I do not like it either." Maybe that's what she thinks, too.)