Being a parent has taught me a lot over the last eleven years. Mostly, it's taught me that I can go from sad, to mad, to proud, to disappointed, to love, back to mad, then love again in about thirty six seconds.
Unfortunately, my daughter has inherited a good bit from me. Including a curved spine. It was this summer that I checked her for scoliosis and was pretty sure I could feel a bit of a curve in her spine. I know this well, mine was so curved that by middle school I was in a brace, then in the ninth grade I had to have corrective surgery. I remember the doctors checking my dad and noticing that he had a small curve, and telling me that I probably inherited it from him. So I checked, mentioned something to Laney's mom, who mentioned something to her doctor, and the poor kid has been fitted for a back brace at 11 years old.
I took her to the fitting, and then back to the doctor once the brace came in. It was just short of heartbreaking watching her put that brace on. I wanted so much for her not to have to go through that, I know how uncomfortable it is, and just like when she is sick, I wish that I could take that pain away. I even wish it was me having to put that brace back on, as if I had to wear it again just so she wouldn't have to. I worry about kids teasing her. I worry how she is going to be able to sleep at night. I worry about how it's going to affect her self image.
It just sucks and I want nothing more than for her not to have to go through it.
A few days after I took her to get her brace, I checked online and saw where she failed a math test. I didn't feel so sorry for her anymore. I was working and was able to stop by her volleyball game that night. I talked with her mom and then her about the math test, and told her that she needed to ask her teacher the next morning about getting some extra help. I told her that I was going to check up with her the next afternoon and reiterated how important I felt it was that she talked with her teacher.
Fast forward to the next day and I called her that afternoon. "Hey, did you ask your teacher about getting some extra help?"
"Well, one day, I don't remember if it was this morning or yesterday, the bus didn't show up and mommy had to take me to school so I was late."
Well, that got me mad. She remembered which day the bus didn't come, she was searching for an excuse because she forgot. And that, unfortunately set me off. I told her how disappointed I was with her, and how important it was for her to be honest. I basically gave her one of those lectures I got when I was a kid, and then swore to myself that I would never give my own kids.
She was pretty upset on the phone.
When I went to pick her up a few days later, her mom pulled me aside and told me that she felt I was too hard on her. She explained how upset Laney was by our conversation, which of course made me defensive, and poor Laney is in the next room listening to her parents argue.
Afterward, Laney and I were in the car, and I look over at my beautiful daughter who is now sitting up ram-rod straight because of the awful back-brace, and she is crying because her mom and I were fighting over her.
I don't know if I did things right or not, but I told her we were starting over. She wasn't going to be punished for not asking her teacher about extra math help, and there were a few rules that she had to learn.
1. No matter what Dad will always love her.
2. No matter what Dad will always be proud of her.
3. Dad may get disappointed in her actions if she messes up, but that doesn't change the first two rules.
4. If she messes up, she needs to take ownership and be honest.
5. No matter what Dad will always think she is beautiful.
We went over these rules for the next two days several times. Then, (thanks to Christina) Laney and I had a long talk about how it's actually a good thing that she has two parents that love her so much that they argue about what is best for her. And, I've vowed that in the future if Rebecca and I have a disagreement Laney won't be able to hear it.
It's hard because on one hand I want nothing but an easy life for her, but it's my responsibility to raise her to be able to function on her own. I'm thankful for my parents, and the example they've set for me. I never knew how hard this whole damn parenting thing was going to be. There seems to be a bit more involved than making dinner and getting them up for school. And nobody ever tells you how much it sucks when they are hurting. I'm afraid of being too hard, or too easy. I worry about being too stern, or being lazy when it comes to parenting. It's a hard line to walk at times.
I guess the only thing I can do is keep walking it.
And mom and dad, if you're reading this, thanks for all you did as parents, and sorry for all I did as a kid. Love y'all.