Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Parental Responsibility


Last week I decided that each weekday, I would take a little time aside to write something here. I want to make it a habit to make space for writing in my life, so I thought I would quietly go about it on this blog. Then yesterday happened, and I forgot all about it. It's my fault, really, because I made a judgment call that ended badly, and I had to pay the price. But first I had to figure out that it was my judgment call that was the problem.

Allow me to explain.

My E is a sensitive soul. Those who know her might not think so, because she comes across as confident and strong and maybe a bit of a bull in a china shop, but beneath the tough exterior is a very tender heart. She keeps it under wraps until she can't, and then it does not come out as one might expect. She comes out swinging. I think this is what confuses people - but the fight that's in her is one of self protection, not of malice.

Because of her sensitivities, I've had to be very careful about what I allow E to watch. Even if things work out in the end of a story, if a lot of things have gone wrong, this troubles her. We went to see Ferdinand at the cinema over Christmas, and it was a disaster. She can't handle A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. And much of the time, she can't handle Anne with an E - but sometimes she can. If I say yes to turning it on, I know that I am taking a risk.

Yesterday, I took a risk with Anne with an E. I asked her if she felt okay about watching it, and during the show I asked her if she was still okay. She said yes and yes. But here's the thing: she wasn't, and she isn't good at judging these things. She really wants to watch it, and she really wants to be okay. She will not say no to either of the questions I asked because she does not want to miss out on the show. It's my job to make the call, and I made the wrong one.

What transpired after I said yes was a very difficult evening, and it took me far too long to realize this and apologize to her. I asked her to handle herself when she couldn't. She is six years old. I am still in charge of making sure that she can handle the experiences that she wants to have. If I'd really thought about it, I would've factored in that we are out of our usual routine and that she hasn't been able to fall asleep on her own most nights. I would've noted that she seemed worried during the first five minutes. But I didn't. And so the fault was mine, and the behaviors that came after were my fault also.

Someday she will be able to figure out what she can handle watching and what she can't. Someday she will be able to handle the feelings that come afterward when she makes the wrong choice about something. But for now, she still needs help. It is my responsibility.

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