So we’ve made it through Christmas and are waiting on the New Year. We have vaccines being distributed out on a plan from the government as to who gets one when, but we have a reasonable belief that they will be available in the nearer rather than the farther future. I know it may not seem like much of a happy thought, but let’s remember back in the spring we didn’t expect to have a working vaccine until mid year 2021. So, I choose to look at that as a very big positive that we are set up as well as we are going into 2021.
We also have more economic support coming from the government and I hope it is in time to help those who are in the worst need. This should be viewed as a positive as well, helping the people who need it is a huge responsibility and I have to hope that we will be able to live up to it.
Now, while that is all true and I think it is important, I want to take this post on to another tack. Today is about my girls and what they have taught me this year. I can’t tell you how much I have learned from them in this time of COVID, not only about being a girl dad, but about the type of father I have been and the type I want to be.
I’ve talked about Thing 1 and her honesty previously, but this Christmas we had an incident where she found out about not being truthful. I hear her sister crying in the bath and go to check on what happened. Thing 2 blames Thing 1 for making her hit her head and at first I am a little dismissive of Thing 2’s story, mainly because she blames things on her sister that I have observed to be less than factual. Not that she’s lying, but her perspective is warped about fault. I asked the question of Thing 1, “Did you make her hit her head?” I knew what I expected the answer to be, but I was surprised by the micro-reactions she made. Now I was curious, I spent a very long time learning how to spot and interpret micro-facial reactions, but I didn’t need that too much for these. Three times I asked the question, telling her to look me in the eye and answer, each time she couldn’t do it without making a tell.
I asked her when I had my confirmation why she lied and her answer distrubed me a little, “I thought you would be mad”. That might not trouble most people because kids lie to not get in trouble, but I’m not raising her to be a normal kid, I’m raising her to be a good person and a good citizen the same as her sister. That means not looking the other way. However, why I was disturbed is that I know she has heard me talking to her sister and telling her that there is nothing she can tell me that will make me love her less, or that we can’t work through as long as she is honest. Thing 2 also knows very well now that the thing I get the most upset about and take most seriously is lying.
Thing 1 being the honest person she is, I could tell she was as upset about the lack of trust as she was about being caught in the lie. I decided to have a talk with her about the importance of being honest which went over well. I think she got the picture about why I considered the problem to be so grand, but I had to be introspective about why she was so afraid of getting in trouble.
Part of that will be her nature of being a rule follower and not liking to be caught out. The other in talking with Mrs. Rex is that Thing 1 is likely afraid of my temper. That was not so good for me in considering how I am doing my job as a father. It really got me thinking again about my last post of lessons learned and what Thing 1 had to grow up with. I struggle with my mental health and after she was born I was on a long term slide which I struggled to get by in the normal world.
A lot of this had to do with my career at that time and effects of what I experienced in that career. I was not dealing with it well and was likely on a slide that would have taken every part of me if I had not been able to get out. This is not an excuse but setting a stage for my journey back from that place.
I am still clawing my way back from the hole I fell into and will likely be a lifelong struggle. I work every day to be better than the day before and I am making some progress. That’s not just my opinion, but others who are close to me telling me what they see. I think the problem is not Thing 1 not seeing how I am changing, but her past experiences coloring her current perception.
So, what do I learn from this? I learned that I need to currently reinforce how much I love them and what is truly important in life. They are dear to me and I love them with all my heart. I won’t be perfect and neither will they, but we will try every day to be better than the day before. I will support them and love them no matter what, but that if they are not honest then we can never fix their problems. Last but not least, as a family we will be able to overcome anything life throws at us as long as we stick together. A trope you might say…maybe…but there is truth to it and that is what I learned recently. I also am making a daily habit of telling them how much I love them and recognizing when they do the little things right and praising those instead of focusing on negative behaviors. Again, what we show them sticks with them and I want them to look for people in their lives who will build them up, not bring them down either by their actions or emotions. I want to be an example of who they should seek out some day as a partner and I have a lot of ground to make up in helping them to see what they should look for, but again I work every day to be better and hopefully that will come through more than the down times.
P.S. I did apologize to Thing 2 for initially brushing her off, so as to make sure she understood that the rules and discipline are equal for everyone. We also had a talk as a family about truth, honesty and where the line is drawn between stretching the truth for a joke or humor or make believe and where we hit dis-honesty about things that are important. You should know by now that our family is not THAT up tight and straight laced. We have fun too. I hope your New Year is merrry and safe.