Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Once Upon A Time

My daughter, at the ripe old age of almost nine-years-old, has hit the eye-rolling stage. This is about two years earlier than either of her older brothers hit the same stage, but, she potty-trained earlier than they did, so I guess there are some trade-offs.

She is very much like I was at the same age: she does not care to "share" a lot of information regarding her daily life, and she believes that when something "unfair" happens to her that the whole world is going to end. DRAMA!

During one of her very rare moments of sharing a story about a disagreement between her and her school friends, I attempted to use my own similar story from my third-grade days. About one-fourth of the way into my story, I realized her eyes had glazed over and she was not paying attention to a word I was saying. After all, that was, like, a hundred years ago and I have no idea of how unjustly she was being treated. So, in a brief moment of inspiration, I switched gears completely. I began with....

"Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Beth. She lived in a nice house with her parents and her little brothers and sisters. When Beth was small, she sometimes got frustrated with her family, and would run into her bedroom and slam the door REALLY HARD. Other times, she would be upset that all her clothes 'felt funny", and would throw them all around the room and kick her stuffed animals. As Beth got older, she did those things less and less because she was learning that, usually, things got better if you gave them some time: brothers stopped bothering you if you ignored them, clothes started to feel more comfortable once you wore them a few times.
Beth went to a really nice school and she had lots of friends. One of her favorite things to do was to organize games at recess. She loved to play Red Rover, Red Rover and kickball with her friends and classmates and they usually had a great time. But, some days people did not get along with each other so well, and arguments would get louder and louder. People would stomp away angry, saying, 'I'm not playing with you, Beth!'. This hurt Beth's feelings.... a LOT. She never let them see her cry, though. She preferred to yell something equally hurtful right back at those mean people. But, it never made her feel better.
What DID make her feel better were the days when she figured out a way for everybody to play the game they wanted to play, and to make jokes about the little things that were upsetting people. Actually, those days seemed better to everybody else, too.
So, Beth grew older and older and pretty soon, she went to middle school. It was a new school with new friends and she was nervous and excited about meeting new kids and teachers. What Beth could not have known, and what no middle-schooler ever knows, is that every single kid in middle school is a nervous wreck who is worried about being embarrassed all the time. Unfortunately, this makes some kids behave in strange and hurtful ways. These kids think that if they embarrass other kids, then no one will notice the embarrassing mistakes these kids are making themselves! Wow! Beth was not one of these kids, but she met a lot of them in middle school and some days were very difficult for her. When you are hurting, it it sometimes hard to see that a lot of people around you are hurting, as well, and Beth spent a lot of time hurting, stuck in her own head.
Luckily, most kids start to grow out of these nervous behaviors by the time high school begins, and Beth had a very enjoyable four years of high school! Instead of organizing games, she was now organizing dances and parties and group outings with all of her friends. Sometimes, people would still disagree, but, by now, a very interesting thing had happened: a phenomenon called maturity. People could usually resolve their differences by talking with each other and coming up with solutions that worked for everybody. It was not always easy, but it was so much better than it had been in grade school and middle school.
By the time Beth was ready to graduate from high school and go off to college, another wonderful thing had happened to her: she had met the boy who she would someday marry and, with whom she would have children! They spent a few years getting to know each other and learning really interesting things at college, then they got married!
During all of those years from the time Beth was born until she had her first baby, she did SO many interesting and cool things: travel, act in plays, learn to cook and bake, vote for presidents, learn more and more about God, drive a car, wear makeup, grocery shop for herself, have lots of fun jobs, and much more!
If you had asked 8-year-old Beth if she thought she would have done all those things by the time she was a grown-up, she would have giggled at your silliness and said, 'I don't know! I'm only 8!'. But, there it was. Those were the facts. Beth had been a real kid with real feelings and real problems and real adventures all before she became a mom.
The secret that Beth-the-Mom liked to think about was this: her kids had no idea that she had been Beth the Kid, Beth the Teenager, Beth the Worker, Beth the Girlfriend, and Beth the Wife all BEFORE they had ever been born! It made Beth the Mom smile to herself sometimes."

At this point, my very aware daughter asked, "Mom, is this story about you? Are you 'Beth'?"

I could not resist, I had to give her a dose of her own medicine and just shrug my shoulders and say, "I don't know.". But, my story had piqued her interest and she said, "Well, I'm asking Dad when he comes home!".

Beth the Mom just smiled to herself.....


  1. I only wish I could claim to have some wisdom! Thank you for the compliment, though!