On Mermaid Tails and Handy Tools

He shut off the blender and yelled from the kitchen, “Mom, do you think it’d work to put some of those leftover brownie crumbs in my milkshake?”

“Sure. Try it. It’d be like a Blizzard.”

The blender starts whirring.

I look at Jenny and say, “Honey, I know that when we first talked about emailing your dad, we agreed that it wouldn’t make a difference. But it’s been a week now, and I know it’s still bugging you.  Have you changed your mind?  Do you want me to let him know how you are feeling?”

She looked up from the sewing machine and pushed the shimmery purply-blue fabric to the side to keep from sewing the end of the tail closed.  “I don’t think I wanna make it so I can walk in it. Mermaids don’t walk anyway.”

“It’s your project, hon, you get to decide how you want it.” I turned to my computer and figured she didn’t want to discuss her dad.

The blender quits whirring and he yells, “Mom, how many crumbs should I put in?”

“Bud, I dunno.  I don’t even like Blizzards.  You decide, k?”

She says, “Mom, why would an introvert ever buy a blender?  They’re so loud.”

“Yeah, they are, but they are a pretty handy tool.”

“I think you could send him an email.  He needs to know that he really hurt my feelings.  Not that it’ll make a difference or anything.”

“Okay.  I’ll send it right now.”

 

How to Know the Tools Work

 

Raising kids is like farming or playing blackjack.  There’s a certain amount of skill involved in all three, and a large measure of luck involved, too.  You might learn as much as you can about crops and weather patterns, put in the long hours and say prayers, but a lot comes down to luck.  You can develop strategies for remembering cards or work on your poker face, but you can’t account for the luck you may or may not be dealt.

The same holds true for raising kids.

We can equip them with tools, smother them with love, hold true to limits and model healthy behaviors, but we have no way of knowing – for sure – if what we do will create a well-adjusted, functioning, nurtured, happy human.

If you are paying attention, though, you might get a glimpse that you are on the right track.

 

__________

 

 

 

I sent a short email saying, “Your daughter’s feelings are hurt.  She wanted me to let you know.”

 

He yells over the blender, “Did he write back yet?”

She turns the tail right side out and pulls it over her jeans.

 

I hollered, “Bud, can you turn the blender off?  I gotta read you guys his email.”

 

She zipped up the back of the mermaid tail.   He turned the blender back on.  Neither commented on the email.

 

“Well, not to make this all about me, but I feel better for having sent the email.  I think I’ve been stewing because I didn’t stick up for you.  Does that make sense?”

“I s’pose.”

“How do you feel?”

“He didn’t even apologize.”

“He never does, honey.  But at least we put it out there that your feelings are hurt.  We can’t make him care about that.”

The blender stops.  “If you stick up for yourself next time, you might feel better.”

The blender starts up and I look at her and say, “I thought he couldn’t hear us over that damn blender.”

She says, “Do I have to show dad my mermaid tail?”

 

 

*The brownie crumbs got way too mushy.  I dunno how they make those Blizzards.

 

 

 

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11 comments

  1. I recently finished reading Goldie Hawn’s book 10 Mindful minutes. It is about empowering children. She recently did a master class where she shared a great quote about parenting, which reads, “Parents inform who we are. It’s why parenting is so vitally important because we don’t realize the impact, the incredibly important impact we are having on the lives and future of our children whom we are raising.” I guess you can never truly know at first glance if the tools you are providing are working. You have to trust that they do. I believe the tools you provide them are definitely softening the blow. The good thing is you are providing them. It is unfortunate that their father can’t mirror that. I think it would be much harder for them if you were not “you,” and “present.” I tend to think it is much more impactful for girls. All she wants is a genuine, loving relationship with her dad. She has that with you. I am sure she must wonder why her dad can’t choose to have that with her. Jenny will be hurt by her dad, and it must be unbearable to know you can’t shield her from that. You are, however, giving her the tools to stand up for herself, to speak her truth, even if it falls on deaf ears. This piece is imperative.

  2. Wow, Will must have super hearing LOL We have a similar problem in our family with the N never apologizing for hurting someone’s feelings. I don’t know that there’s ever really a way to make the one whose feelings got hurt feel better other than to point out to the N that the feelings were hurt in the first place. In the case of our family the N usually laughs over the idea of anything she said/didn’t say/didn’t do being responsible for someone being hurt. And it sucks. And we have to tell our kiddos that the N is just like that and they didn’t do anything wrong. So even though it sucks universally for all our kiddos, please let your kiddos know they are not alone.

    Hugs,
    Jenn

  3. Kira,

    I have a tendency to think it’s harder for girls, but that’s probably because I’m female. I don’t know. But our culture accepts sensitivity, tenderness and vulnerability more readily in girls. We can express those hurts. When boys get their feelings hurt, they are encouraged to hide those hurts.

    And as I type this, Will is dealing with his own hurts from a visit today. Yeah. It seems that when their dad is called on playing favorites, he has to even the score with hurtful words. In my house, however, I don’t tell Will to “buck up” and deal with it. We throw a few f-bombs around and stomp across the kitchen floor and one of us will make the other laugh.

    At this moment, Will is typing his own email to his dad. It’s good to see Will strengthening his own backbone.

    Kira, I can’t wait for you to have kids. You will be an amazing mom!

  4. Jenn,

    I read your comment to my kiddos tonight.

    You are right. There is great comfort in finding those who know exactly what you are going through.

    Thanks for being here, sharing your story, and reminding us that we aren’t alone in this mess.

  5. If only all the moms in the world were like you …

  6. I love that you both throw the F bomb on occasion. It is needed sometimes & damn does it feel good. Cathartic in its own right :). I think it’s great that Will was able to write the email to his dad. This definitely took courage on his part. He is using his backbone, which is awesome. Jenny is forming hers as well, getting stronger everyday.

    I can’t wait to have kids of my own. I must admit I often wonder if it’s in my future. I am hopeful. Thanks Jesse for your kind words.

    Continued love & light to you & “the troop.”

  7. Pat,

    If only all the kids in the world were loved the way they deserve to be loved.

    (Thank you.)

  8. Kira,

    As you know, life is unpredictable.

    I hadn’t planned on having kids. My circumstances changed and that changed my opinion of having kids.

    Will came along when I was 36. I had no idea I’d embrace parenting like this.

    Will and Jen gave me a purpose in this life.

  9. Life is unpredictable. You are incredibly accurate on that point. I don’t know exactly what this path I’m walking has in store for me. I question that everyday. I do believe the universe will provide me my hearts desire at the right time I’m ready to receive it. I still have a lot to learn and improve on. You are such a great mom Jesse. I truly hope you know this. Your children are incredibly lucky to have you. I have witnessed children, for no fault of their own, born to parents, who don’t love them. Maybe they don’t have the capacity for it. It’s sad and unfortunate, yet exist in far to great of numbers. Good parenting is scarce, so you have to give yourself credit for doing it well. I can only hope I’m just as good.

  10. Thank you, Kira.

    I do take parenting seriously. I am blessed to have Will and Jenny in my life. I believe I owe them the best possible chance at a well-adjusted, healthy future.

  11. You all are helping each other :)

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