Monday, May 18, 2009

Misery loves company

Last week my daughter was telling me about how one girl told her that another girl didn't like her because she is too bossy. She was mad at this girl for talking badly about her. I found myself sounding like my mother (not sure if that is bad or good...) as I tried to comfort her. I explained to her that she should try not to worry about it, forgive the girl (realizing that junior high is a difficult age and often filled with this exact type of drama) and maybe use the information to evaluate her own actions and determine if the other girl's complaint was warranted. Has she ever done anything that this girl would perceive as bossiness without realizing it? And besides, is telling me this stuff about the other girl any better than said girl talking about my daughter in the first place? I reminded her to think about WWJD (What would Jesus do?) when she reacts to things like this. Then I started to sing, "I'm trying to be like Jesus" (because I have a habit of breaking into song when anything reminds me of a song.)

I really thought that my words were kind. I tried to empathize with her, sharing similar frustrating experiences from my own 7th grade year, and then adding some advice for how to make it more bearable.

Right after I started to sing, I heard my daughter make a weird growl and literally stomp her feet. Then she preceded to tell me (or yell at me, rather) about how she hates it when I try to make her feel better, especially when doing so causes me to burst into song. (She will be a teenager in less than a month, after all. It is at this age that my dad always said he would prefer that the child act their shoe size as opposed to their age. :)

Anyway. I stopped singing and stopped saying anything. We were walking together to pick up the youngest child from daycare, and we continued the last stretch in silence.

During the silence, I thought about what she had said. She didn't want me to try to make her feel better; she wanted me to be mad at this other girl with her.

Then I realized that I frequently do that on my blog. I often use it to vent about something that has upset me, and it always makes me feel better when the comments tell me I reacted the right way or that I had a right to be angry.

But when someone tries to put things in perspective for me, tries to help me feel better by analyzing what I could have done/could do differently to make life easier for everyone involved, I clam up and disable comments on my blog, because I don't want to read the comforting advice.

At times like this I must be chaneling some inner teenage Sarah that has never grown up. Why else would I so enjoy living high school over and over and over as a teacher? :)

Hm, thoughts to ponder.

Anyway, I guess a quote from my brother's wife's father (a navy man) is appropriate for me (and my daughter) sometimes . . . "A bitchin' Sailor is a happy Sailor." The problem is, no one else enjoys being around such a Sailor.

You know how parents sometimes say, "I hope you get a child just like you so that someday you will understand what you put me through." I think maybe I am beginning to understand. My poor parents. Poor Scott. Poor Hidden. (At least Hidden is not afraid to tell me when I need to shape up.)



Grant Haws said...

Although I understand your concern, I think sometimes we just want to feel not so alone in our feelings. And I think that is okay. One of the talents of a good friend of mine is she validates my feelings, allowing me to feel understood, but somehow transforms the conversation into one that motivates me take the experience and make it better.

Sarah said...

I know what you mean, Grant. That is what I was trying to do with my daughter and it backfired, ... or did it?

I still like to have people understand my feelings, but I also think that I need to learn to be less sensitive. Just one of those things to observe and use to be continually improving myself.

Hidden said...

Grade those papers! :P

Alan said...

I've learned the same lesson through sometimes difficult experience. Especially with women, no matter what age. The venting and talking and emoting is not about finding a solution. It's an emotional purgative, therapeutic in and of itself. What's wanted is not a fix to the situation, but simply reassurance that somebody hears and understands and sympathizes. I still forget this a lot, but I am doing better at remembering. And actually sometimes it's true for guys too.

Trevor said...

Hi Sarah! I've never commented on here before, and I'm sure you have no idea who I am, but your blog is one of my favorites to read and I always keep current on it. Anyway, this post reminded me of a good book I read that I learned a lot from. Its called "I don't have to make everything all better" by Gary and Joy Lundberg. It pretty much deals with what Grant and Alan touched on about how sometimes people don't want a solution, they just want to feel validated. Its a good book that I thought you might find interesting, so I just thought I would share. Take care!

Sarah said...

Hidden, the tests are finally graded. Are you proud of me?

Alan, thanks for the comment. Does that mean that I need to do better at being just a listener for my daughter, and that it is okay to expect people to do that for me on my blog?

Trevor, welcome to my blog! Thanks for the book recommendation. I will add it to my ever-growing list for the summer. :)

Anonymous said...

Misery doesn't want company...

Misery wants Miserable company...

HappyOrganist said...

Hi Sarah,
I like what Alan said and what Anonymous said.
And I would say "It's your blog, so you can do what you want." That's cool though that that's why you sometimes disallow comments. Wonderful. 'course that doesn't stop some of us. ;-)
Yes, I was going to say it sounds like a female thing - wanting to be listened to but not really helped (by being counseled). It's a very female thing (in my understanding) to want someone to hear, and acknowledge that one has been heard, and sometimes commiserate.. I could explain this further. But I think it's interesting to note that I learned about this topic in a linguistics course I took! We actually looked at this from a language point of view (how men and women communicate, exactly what words they use and what they mean. When a guy says "yeah" (in this context of listening to someone complain/whine/etc) it usually means "Yes, I agree." But in the same context, when a female says "yeah" it doesn't necessarily mean she agrees - it is more of an "I accept you. I want you to feel included" kind of message. Teacher said something about women having a role (culturally or something like that) to try to help everyone in a group feel included.) Anyway, that's not the point really. The point is - you have a healthy (I guess) teenage daughter. Just enjoy it. (
And good luck! (I'd spout off advice, maybe. But I have no teens yet, so I'll keep my mouth shut). ;-)