Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mom moment

(Rambly - beware!)

Sometimes I have days like today where I sat here with a nice little baby in my lap but could not tell you what cute things he did, because I could not stop thinking about my middle one.

This past weekend, the 14 year old invited three friends over for a non-birthday sleepover. She is currently on the "outs" with her usual clique (which, frankly, is fine....snots, all of them...) so invited only nice, parent-approved kids over. If it was a real birthday party, she'd have felt obligated to invite all of them. Her idea, and I love it!

Sadly, because of the bad weather, only one girl came, and gave her a little gift bag for the "non-birthday" filled with all manner of girly things AND a movie . "The Craft." A movie about a group of Catholic HS girls who are witches/wiccans/into the occult. I did not want to cause any more trauma than the low attendance already had, but suggested they watch something else - "Amazing Grace" - they did, they liked it, and they were both out cold by midnight.

The next day, after the lone other girl went home, I started the quiet discussion about why I did not think this was such a great movie for them to watch. However, because I am determined to NOT do the "NO because I say so"/raise my VonTrapps in a bubble thing (which, IMO, drives the kids right at wrong choices at this age), AND because my kid has a fairly mature and reasonable head on her shoulders, we agreed to watch it together, with the condition that I would shut it off if it got too out of hand. I gave running commentary throughout on why I did not like the subject matter, howit might appeal to more lost and malleable types than she and send them down perilous paths. She agreed(!), and we laughed at some of the more "emo" aspects. This was actually a positive experience, she was able to look critically at the issues and decided she disapproved....and just then, the beloved came in toward the end of the movie, lip curled, snorts of derision blazing....which started some dad-daughter sniping, which sniping I then tried to quell.

The 10 year old shut us all up. She'd listened to some of the pre-movie debate and elected to go play in her room, but came down when she heard the ruckus. She looked at her sister and said "Sissy, you should listen to Mom and Dad. Movies like that are bad for your soul, and they offend the Lord." Back up to her room without another word.

Whoa! Stopped us all in our tracks.

This is our Little Professor (academically brilliant, but has mild Asperger's Syndrome and struggles with peer interactions), whom we also call our "Little Therese" (from her favorite churchy movie). We did have a 3-4 month run of Fatima apparitions from her when she was in 1st grade...on the 16th, she would stand in the doorway in a blue veil and say "Pray the Rosary. See you in a month." and take off. (Hee!) She is beautiful inside and out, but also very breakable. She can tell you anything you want to know about anything from Catechism to cicadas, adults adore her, but she has few friends - always far away and/or above her age group in many ways. I worry about her ability to cope with the world, especially the junior high world, which she enters next year. Girls are so brutal - and given what I've seen with my 8th grader at the quasi-Catholic jr. high, I am torn up wondering what to do. Send her there? Keep her in public school for a broader base of potential friends? Take a full-time professor gig and homeschool her to keep her away from it all until she's of an age where kids are more tolerant (college, maybe?!)? This is my dilemma. I want this pure, innocent, kind little soul to stay that way. (She occasionally talks more than in passing about becoming a nun when she's older...I invariably say "That would be lovely!" and inwardly hope and pray that she finds that she does have a true vocation) I love the law, but I love this kid exponentially more and would put practice on hold for as long as she needs me.

The older one is going to do well in life. Well-adjusted, turns her back on trouble, tells me EVERYTHING, adores her sister and brother, and would rather go to the mall with me than her gang of annoying 14 year old friends (not a stupid kid, knows where the shopping money is...). She has expressed some concern to me about how her sister will fare, based on what she's seen and experienced with girls and cliques at this school. What for her (and most of us) is a rite of passage could seriously wound the younger one.

Much to ponder and pray about.


Ma Beck said...

Sounds like ALL of your kids are great.

When I got confirmed, our parents had to each write a letter to us.
My dad's letter mentioned how he couldn't believe the maturity with which I presented arguments with regard to theology. I still have the letters (of course!) and treasure them. They were so heartfelt and sweet. It's good for teens to hear good things about themselves from their parents on occasion.

He wrote something to the effect:

"We were discussing a movie the other day, and the intelligent, well-spoken points you presented made me so proud." Yada yada.

I still remember exactly what that was. They were discussing the movie "Oh, God!"
My parents were saying that the title alone was sacrilege, my older sibs were saying "Oh, it is not. It's just a play on words."

Apparently, I presented the point that "Thou shall not take the Lord's name in vain" did not make exception for plays on words, and that ended the discussion.

Your story brought that memory back.

What an interesting household you must have.


Adrienne said...

Your kids sound delightful - just like their Mum!

ArchAngel's Advocate said...

I'm glad you have an interactive relationship with your kids. My parents used the Charlton Heston/10 Commandments methodologu, " said so, and that's the way it will be". Don't hesitate to discuss your concerns about their life choices/plans with them. It will teach them how to reason things out, and they'll appreciate you later on in life when they're the ones among their contemporaries who can think for themselves! (A reasoning Catholic is far more effective than one who blindly "follows the rules").

gemoftheocean said...

I think it's great that you decided to watch the movie with your daughter. I am in agreement that if you have an intelligent youngster, it's best watch it together. "No" to something like that will virtually guarantee that she would be tempted to watch it behind your back wtih no guidance!

As for you almost Jr. High. H'mmm...toughie, but I vote, that if you can, take your cue from big sister.

I was not a picked on kid, but if I DID have any "troubles" it was right at that age. Girls can be exceptionally bitchy to each other at that age especially. They go through all that unattractive peer pressure thing and catiness. It where women learn to sharpen their claws and get the skills to do nasty infighting with the men in their later lives. Leave 'em bleedin' stuff.

Somewhere around 14-15 it straightens out and 10th graders have a little more sense.

If your older daughter hadn't have reported a general bitchiness I would have said "play it by ear and take a chance on one semester and see how it goes, else yank." And you may still want to do that to see if it's really that bad. (Eventually you do need to learn to cope with those sorts of people.) But if you middle child is very sensitive and does have that mild aspergers, that may throw the balance towards home schooling - for a year or two at least. If you go that route, try and see that she's got "other kid" interaction with a peer group. Children's theatre? Sports? Girl scouts? That sort of thing. Something where she doesn't have to be with them all day, like at school, but enough times not to feel isolated.

For those years, if a kid has a good friend or two or three that's all you really need to get you through! [Until everyone ELSE matures, anyway!]


KitBrookside said...

Thanks, everyone. It's hard to know what to do when your values and the culture are at cross-purposes. The older one gets a lot of grief from her peers for NOT having an iPhone, not being online with them at 2 am on a myspace account, that sort of thing. I restrict and monitor as best I can without the NO factor - but at some point you have to let them see the evil so they recognize it and turn away from it.

As for the younger one, I have a parent-teacher conference tomorrow. It will be glowing, right up to the point where I ask how she's doing on the playground. I know what I will hear. She hangs with two other "outsider" types, which is not all bad, but then again, she has not been invited to a single party this year. And she knows it. So she is not making strides on the social front as we'd hoped, yet she is not being bullied since we moved her to the current school, either.

Next month I will go into battle with her special education program people. They want to cut off services (pragmatic speech - deals with social and contextual issues as opposed to physical impediments) because she's not Aspie-enough, excels at academics, and is her teacher's favorite (I know this because she is my paralegal's aunt!). They tend to give me my way (knowing what I do, they don't mess with me like they do other parents - another story there), but I've been forewarned by her splendid classroom teacher that I will have a fight on my hands.

Tough weeks ahead. I appreciate all of your kind words and encouragement...and PRAYERS for the girl whose middle name is Catherine (of Sweden). :)

KitBrookside said...

PS Ma - LOVE the story about "Oh God" and your parents. Awesome. You're going to be a rockin' mom to your teenager. Little Mary is so lucky!

the mother of this lot said...

Ooh, tough one. Don't know what I'd do except pray!

Bet you'd be great at homeschooling though!

Anonymous said...

I have had similar situations with my children over films and video games. By giving them the respect of discussing it with them I usually find they work out for themselves what is good, bad or ugly-with guidance of course.
It can be a fine balancing act-especially with my 16yr old son who loves video games, but he is pretty good at knowing what I'll bend to and what I wont and WHY.

I will pray for your Catherine of Sweden.
I pulled my dd out of a girls school. Girl's can be incredibly nasty. Her friend (who is quite Aspby) is finding the place very difficult and has no friends there.
I wish you God's blessing, discernment and guidance as you decide what to do.
It is such a difficult decision.