Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Special Child

I have always been unique. I think there's other words, such as precocious, interesting, creative and yes, even weird... but the word that described me always was unique. (And maybe weird)
My mom made a promise to herself that she was never going to say the words, "Shut up." to any of her children. She hated the way it sounded, and always wanted to be respectful and kind to the little people she loved.
Ok, that sounds nice.
I could have used a little "shut up," however.
I was never described in negative terms by my parent's and their friends... at least not where I could ever hear. My obnoxious attributes were always referred to in endearing terms. Super. Sounds good, right? Ideal parenting, I'm sure... the way we wish we all could act toward our children.
Now let me tell you the downside.
I had to wait until my peers were mature enough to let me know how weird and annoying I was. Which means I made it to 10 or 11 before having to start checking myself for weird and annoying habits and character traits. Guess what? You're mostly made by 10 or 11, after that you just ripen.
The high self esteem I built my whole childhood, being told how special and unique and interesting I was, came crashing down in middle school... right when self esteem is sort of an important thing. Right when the decisions that can be affected by self esteem start actually mattering. Decisions that include whether or not to smoke, drink, do drugs or have sex. The endless harassment and ridicule from peers to a child who never learned to regulate her own actions was too much to bear. I emotionally detached myself from myself, other than strong bouts of self loathing, I began to see myself as a social project I was working on. My peers were nothing but subjects of scientific study. If I could fit in, if I could be cool, if I could no longer be the weirdo who stood out and was picked on... then finally I might have some value. At this point it mattered not a whit what my parents and their stupid, fake friends thought about me. Shove interesting and unique in your ass. I want to be popular, well liked, and most of all cool. Because it was ok to be disliked by you if I was more bad ass than you.
I smoked cigarettes outside school grounds, I ditched school, I lied about all the drugs I did. (I didn't try drugs until mid- high school, but according to the way I talked myself up, I'd done everything... twice!)
I never actually blame my parents. The way they tried sounds like the ideal way to raise your children, with love and acceptance for who they are, no matter what. And they had the self control to accomplish that goal. I certainly don't.
A harsh word was never uttered in my house. I still remember going to my best friend's house, and when she was scolded for something, I got so terrified that I hid in her closet.
In my child's mind, such harsh things said had to be an admittance of hatred and extreme anger.
When I grew older and came to appreciate reality for what it was, I saw my parents as inhuman. Creatures completely devoid of actual intense feelings, of sincere praise even. I did, however see them as above regular humans, but never where I could relate, or even apply life lessons they could have given me. How could I be like that, I was, after all only human. A baser creature, ruled by my emotions.
My brother has turned out completely normal, edging toward just like my parents. Now that my mom and I see things more eye to eye, and I can see her as a person, she has said something curious to me, that I am suffering from "paralyzation due to analyzation" and holy smokes! Nothing has ever spoken to me so deeply as that phrase. I over-analyze everything! But, because of this unfortunate trait, I found myself crippled by the way I was treated as a child. Even though that treatment was always positive.
A lot of this I've moved past. I now am much better at self regulation, self correction and try my damndest to see myself and my actions accurately. I'm not perfect at it... god, not by a long shot. I'm still the weird one.
I think the key is not to hide your true emotions from your kids. If they are being annoying or weird or out of control, let them know. You don't have to be a jerk about it. If they make you mad or sad with things they do or say, don't hide it. You can self- regulate, you're an adult, but let them know how you feel. The way we act does affect those around us, and that's important to learn early on. And if a loved one gets angry at us, and god forbid, shows us by yelling or scolding or making a mean face... if we've seen it before, we know they still love us.
To this day, I still find myself offended by my husband's anger. Deep down I feel, if he's willing to get this mad at me, he must not love me.
Sometimes I find I say or do inappropriate things, a glitch in my self regulation. I work on it, but it's so ingrained.
But I'll always be the weird one.
Because I'm always that little girl that someone should have told to just, "Shut the hell up!"


At October 21, 2010 at 8:58 AM , Anonymous Emily said...

Your parents could have benefited from Parents Magazine or the internet. There are so many stories about over-praising your children for every little thing they do, and you're right, these children are in for a rude awakening once they start school.

Stay weird though, kids from grade school through HS always thought I was weird. To stand out from your peers can be a good thing. Given to me or not by my parents or just plain me, I had always had a high sense of self esteem and being called "Alien" or "Theatre Geek" or "Choir Geek" turned out to be more beneficial than just being ordinary.

At October 21, 2010 at 10:36 AM , Blogger legalmel said...

I agree with you on so many points there Bre. All except one... don't stop being weird, its one of the things I love about you.

At October 21, 2010 at 3:03 PM , Blogger Rhonda said...

I absolutely love this post. My story is different, but I WISH my parents would have been a little harsh to me. I WISH they raised their voices. I WISH they would have taken control. And "Shut Up"...Gasp...was forbidden!
The good thing is how it has shaped my life today as a mother and wife. A little truth is good for kids!
"You're mostly made by 10 or 11, after that you just ripen." - love that line!

At October 21, 2010 at 3:03 PM , Blogger JustMom420zaks said...

I realized that I needed to break up this post with some pictures or something. It's kinda a hard read, despite of how proud I am of how well it's written and how thoroughly I expressed myself.
Hey, Missy, you know my mom. Would she feel offended by this if I copy/pasted it to my censored blog?

At October 21, 2010 at 4:37 PM , Anonymous Teresa said...

I guess honesty really is the best policy no matter how old you are. Maybe it should be rationed out to some but given nonetheless. Every little bit helps. And, don't change who you are unless YOU want to.


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