Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Promise to Laney

God, the internet is just full of parents publishing their promises to their kids.  It's so tiresome, right?  Feel free to agree vis a vis the tiresomeness; it won't stop me from being tiresome.  I have good reasons to be tiresome. I am very insecure.  93% of all tiresomeness is born out of insecurity (I just made that up). I share thoughts and tips among parenty peers as a secondary bloggy pursuit.  Primary is reassuring myself via peer assessment that I don't totally suck at the whole thing.  Parenting is some seriously humiliating work, y'all.  And sometimes I blog about it and people suggest that I am amazeballs at the whole thing, which is an excellent counterpoint to how I feel entirely unequal to the task almost all the time.

Laney's been super sick with some kind of GI bug the past few days.  It's been a rough few days and I've spent a lot of time worried about how my girl is.  And laundry.  I've spent a lot of time worried about how my girl is and doing laundry.

Everyone knows what happens when you have a stomach bug.  We are all aware of the various ways the body expels cooties.  It is not, in a word, pleasant.  And during this particular round I turned into  the worst stereotype of a mother.  I was like a sitcom mother of an adult character on a Chuck Lorre sitcom.  I pried and asked dozens of inappropriate questions.  Laney would go to the bathroom and I (I swear I did this) would hover outside the door, urgently inquiring "Is everything OK in there?"  And then when she'd emerge, I'd ask "Are you OK?  What happened? Did you pee?  Was it diarrhea?"

Poor Laney.  I mean, not only does she have to suffer with a stomach flu, she's got to deal with me prying into the intimate details of her bathroom habits, which I do, of course, because that's what parents do.

Laney told me I was embarrassing her.  And, of course, I was embarrassing her.  I was being totally embarrassing.  I am her mother and still think nothing of licking my fingers and wiping dirt off her face.  I have grabbed boogers off her nose in public places.  I am AWFUL.

But there's a distant part of me that remembers what it was like to be embarrassed as a kid.  Do you remember how awful it was?  It's like how you enjoy eating spinach now.  But it legit tasted terrible when you were a kid.  And just because you you've been buying tampons like a boss for 30 years now, that bloodstain on your pants in 7th grade was still cripplingly embarrassing.

Let's face it: grown-ups don't have the same capacity for embarrassment that kids do.  Would that they did!  I bet that whole Iraq debacle wouldn't have happened if Dick Cheney and George Will were capable of shame.  But it is an excellent exercise to recall your own childhood capacity for embarrassment and afford your own child the respect of accepting that their feelings are real.

And so I have come to realize that is not funny to embarrass your kids.  And I will not do it (unless Laney really super duper has it coming).

Upon realizing that my bathroom questions were making Laney suffer even more, I made this deal with her: I told her that if she promised to tell me when she was sick, if she promised to be honest with me about things her body was doing that she didn't understand or that made her uncomfortable, that I wouldn't ask her embarrassing questions.

We'll fail at this.   Laney will not be able to stand telling me about some things without me leading her there.  And I won't be able pry myself away from the bathroom door the day after she gets IV fluids in the E.R.  But we'll try.  And it's the effort that'll give it meaning.

I won't Facebook Laney's stuff.  And I won't blog it.

This doesn't count, right?