I hate when I realize that I’ve asked my kids to do something that I’m not sure I could do myself. We’ve been writing a lot lately, and we are making some signs of improvement. However, we can’t seem to dig deeper and share a story that’s meaningful. I’ve asked them to answer: What makes me, me?
It sounds simple enough I thought. I’ve given them plenty of Kelly G. type writing opportunities and we’ve generated tons of ideas. I’ve left the last couple days not sure why they can’t stretch what they’ve done up to this point to start quality narratives.
I swore I’d never make them do anything that I wouldn’t be willing to join them on: reading 30 books, blogging (I need to step it up here), and any writing assignment. So, as I sat tonight wondering how to alter my surefire plans to get them to do narratives (the ones I planned on Sunday that I was sure would do the trick), I realized I didn’t even know how to do this assignment. I’m going to be ***cough, cough 30 something (today, actually), and I don’t even know something important to me. Sure, I modeled tons of options that I could choose from in front of them. However, I felt like a phony as I did it. I knew I didn’t really care about any of those writing ideas. Or, at least none of them were really things that defined me or made me who I am.
As I laid in bed tonight, I started thinking back to my childhood (where we generally develop into who we become, but also a great place I usually start so kids can relate to things I experienced when I was their age). My first thoughts immediately went to parent arguments, me trying to keep the peace and tip toe around them, and my love of sports and basketball. It’s far from perfect, but I think I finally have a draft (or a start) that means something to me. I hope this will help them tomorrow.
What makes me, me?
I remember wanting most to make the fighting stop. I thought I could abate the arguments if I did things that would make them happy. So, my perfectionism started. I wanted the “perfect” grades and tried to exhibit the “perfect” behavior. I thought if I made them proud, there would be less to fight about.
I walked around on pins and needles trying to be this perfect doll that calculated every move to try to not let down her parents. Things only intensified though as I got older and got to choose. This gave my parents a whole new set of arguments.
“It’s up to you who you want to spend your weekend with,” my mom said with a _______(need a word here) tone.
Yeah, right I thought to myself. Torn between making my mom mad and my dad feel left out, I always seemed to get the short end of the stick; there didn’t seem to be a good choice.
Since I only spent every other weekend with my dad, this became fun time. I longed for this time, which I’m sure only made my mom even angrier.
“I can’t believe you take her to all those basketball games,” my mom said condescendingly to my dad.
Looking back I’m sure my dad had no idea what to do to entertain a little girl. So, he just brought me along like I was one of the guys. He took me to every home Billikens basketball game. It became our weekly “date.”
I’m not sure if I loved it at first as much as he did, but I know I loved spending time with him. I loved that the game seemed like it was ours. He would talk to me about the play by play and gently explain the rules. I wanted to be nowhere other than in the stands with my dad.
I remember looking up at the time clock and calculating in my head just how long was left to play. In addition to the time projected, I figured how much longer the game would likely last, factoring in timeouts. I wanted to freeze time and forever be at the game.
Maybe it’s because it was time with my dad, or maybe because I started to love the game.
What started out as a way to please my dad or find a way to spend time with him became a true obsession. As soon as fall rolls around (once football starts really), I can’t wait for basketball to begin.
(It’s far from perfect. I need a way to connect perfectionism and extend the ending.)