It’s been a rough few weeks, no question. The big flood didn’t help anything, but even before that, we have all sorts of things going on in our little family unit, including us deciding to pull A-, my 11th grader, out of the private school she’s been attending since kindergarten. We’ve switched her to an online high school, Laurel Springs, with the hope that she can focus on academics and really jump head first into preparing for college and her adult life. I am optimistic.
Life happens, so at some level none of this has been too overwhelming, though I can’t really believe I’m saying that because at certain moments it’s been almost intolerably difficult and overwhelming. Gasping for breath, tightness in the chest, tears welling sort of overwhelming. “What the &()&)(& did I do to deserve this” overwhelming. But that really is how life goes. We all have good and bad things happening and we get to decide what to dwell on.
Me? I’ve learned over the years to focus on the good, on the positive. Makes life way more pleasant.
And holy cow, that’s been difficult at times. I own it, I grew up cynical. In my 2os, for example, I hung out with a bunch of other nerdy single guys and we were all just jerks, to put it mildly. We’d fill the void by being critical of everyone around us, never a kind word, never a compliment. “he’s stupid looking. she’s fat, they’re a loser couple, what a crappy car.” Over and over, night after night.
I can’t express how happy I am to have that far in my past because it’s clear to me now that when you see everyone else as a loser, the real loser is looking you in the mirror, and he’s not very happy about it. Been there, done that. Glad I don’t still have the damn t-shirt.
Anyway, so things have been choppy in our little inlet, and bedtimes have always been where difficulties emerge at full strength. In fact, I’m so used to bedtimes being difficult that I am taken aback by one where everyone goes to sleep easily and the house slows down and becomes quiet without any arguments, debates or tears.
As I wrote about a week or so ago, I even had to resort to an older technique to help my 9yo remember how to just go to sleep when she went to bed rather than cry hysterically about how she missed her Mom (and at her house, she’d cry about how she missed me. Can you say “no win”?). The infamous “stuffie stars”. You can read about it here: Solving bedtime problems with stuffie stars.
I have to say, it’s worked astonishingly well, and now that my son G- is scheming for a sleepover Friday night at his buddy’s house, it’s easy to remind him that “the only chance you have of that working is if every bedtime is a total breeze”.
And tonight was.. amazingly easy.
And thank goodness. Because I was starting to give up hope. 🙂
I’m fascinated by your description of your older (mid-20s) self. I hung with a similar group in high school … later on I dubbed them “losers” but I didn’t see it that way at the time. They were my pals. How did you break that cycle and, more importantly, how did you get the clarity to see things as they are?
For me, leaving my hometown and meeting new people with a fresh/healthy mindset made all the difference.
Thanks for your note, Christian. Yeah, I think it’s a common 20-something male experience, actually, a sort of cynical eye at the scary beast called “the rest of your life”. 🙂
I have to give my ex Linda much credit here: It was really hanging around with her friends that helped me see that “nice” was actually cool and for me to slowly realize that being around negative people was a drag. A sort of enlightenment phase, I guess, but I look back at the guy I was back then and am amazed I had any social life at all. But que sera, sera.
Interestingly, I see the same critical viewpoint with my 13yo son too, in a way that my 16yo daughter has never exhibited, a super judging view of the world. It particularly comes out with homeless people and his (and his peer groups) reaction, but at 13 there’s no question that his knee-jerk reaction is “different = bad”.
We are curious creatures, we humans.