Well, here I am, at work. Finally I have some time to write. I haven't had much lately. I keep trying to find a way to squeeze a few minutes in here or there but in the end I always feel like I am taking something away from someone else. It's an ongoing struggle of mine. If I don't write, I feel like I have nothing for myself and I start to panic.
Like today. We took the kids to the Museum of Science. We wanted to do something fun and educational with them. We even bought a Museum of Science membership. To make it even more fun we invited a friend of Allison's and her mother. Her friend's name is Ashley and her mom is Christine. Christine is a kindegarten teacher. She is very upbeat, positive and friendly. She is a generous soul and very full of information. I enjoy her.
The problem? The fact that I am a narcissist. My daughter is beginning to venture into that age where she wants nothing to do with mom unless it involves money for food, transportation to fun events, and being a touchstone to reassure herself that all is well. That is my job. That is my role. I feel shut out. I want to have this very close relationship with Allison where she confides in me and shares all her joys and fears with me. But that is not the job. And I'm not sure I am qualified for the job I have to do. I want to be her buddy. Her pal. Her friend. But I recognize that is not what I am needed for, and that hurts. Deep. I've been replaced. By another 9 year old. Hurrah. Meh.
I tried on several occassions today to hook up with Allison and discuss what she was seeing at the museum. At every pass she avoided me and ran off to be with her chum. Which is what a 9 year old girl is supposed to do I guess. We went to see an exhibit they had on display about mythical creatures - you know, mermaids, dragons, the kraken, unicorns...all things a 9 year old girl is fascinated with. We walked through the exhibit. We read the materials presented. I spoke with Christine, the schoolteacher, about the significance of the dragon in the Chinese New Year. But I couldn't tell you if my daughter enjoyed herself. Not even a little bit. I felt so dreadfully out of touch with her. I feel like I should be able to tell whether or not she enjoyed the exhibit, but I really can't say.
I couldn't find much solace in my boys either. They wouldn't keep still long enough to find out what they enjoyed. They seemed mostly focused on hitting each other and running away from Steve and I. Christopher will often pull away from me violently when I try to get him to calm down and focus.
At least I know what Daniel did not like. We bought tickets to the Dinosaurs Alive show. The boys love dinosaurs. But Daniel was terrified of this show. He ended up needing to be carried out he was so scared. He spent the rest of the day informing us that he preferred the dinosaurs that did not move. He wanted to spend all day in the dinosaur exhibit area looking at the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the other dinosaur models and fossils. When we went into the 3-d theatre later to watch the show about sharks, Daniel wouldn't even look for the first 10 minutes because he had thought we brought him back into the dinosaur show. Eventually the boys were taken at least a little by the shark show. They spent some time watching and naming the sharks - they often read books about sharks with me, so they know the names of various sharks. They pointed out the whale shark, the scalloped hammerhead and the great white shark. I was impressed that they remembered these.
We also spent a fair amount of time in the area where you can design your own fish. Once they designed and named the fish, they could also release it into the collective virtual ocean. My children spent a fair amount of time trying to control the behaviors of the various fish (you can do that via the various consoles available in the area), upset if their fish got eaten of course. My boys, true to their mischievous natures, went all out to see to it that the girls' fish were eaten. The little punks (secretly I am glad they have this mischievous streak).
Another big no for the boys - the Van De Graff generator. You know the really loud noisy machine that generates bolts of lightening? I have been in that show several times in the last nine years and never once been able to see it. I've heard it's a great show. I'd love to hear about it since I have never been able to actually see it, so if you've seen the show please, feel free to tell me all about it. You won't spoil any surprises since I can't see it anyway.
That seems to be another of my roles...remover from all things scary and loud. I don't get to actually enjoy the shows we go to, I am there to be sure that my children are enjoying, and if they are not, to remove the obstacles to enjoyment. If that is not possible then my job seems to be to remove them. To avoid nightmares you know.
So please, help me develop something outside of my children. I love them. I want to be with them. But I am coming to realize that I am a conduit with them. I am not there to be sharing their experience with them. I am there to be sure that they can have the experience at all and to take from it what they can. My involvement and/or enjoyment is secondary. So I must develop enjoyable experiences outside of my relationship with them. Not that I don't enjoy them. Don't misunderstand. I do. It's just different. I enjoy the fact that I am able to assist them in their adventures in the world, even if I can't share those adventures with them in the way I once thought I would.
Here are five things I am grateful for before I sign off:
1.) I am grateful that my children are curious about the world around them
2.) I am grateful that my children have distinct personalities
3.) I am grateful that my children are capable of developing friendships
4.) I am grateful that I can write about my experiences as a parent
5.) I am grateful that I live in an area that provides opportunities for my children to learn about the world around them in an interactive way.