As a parent, I really think it’s my job to be a parent, NOT a friend. That said, it’s not always fun to have to be the parent.
A recent issue at our house. We have an almost 6th grader, with ADHD, who is ready for a little more independence. And I agree with them – that’s something they can start to experience in age-appropriate ways. The problem is that we keep giving them age-appropriate scenarios in which they can show us that they are ready for the responsibility…and they’re not passing with flying colors.
Today is an example. 6th grader asked if they could go play with a friend who lives around the corner and down the street. They like to meet up and then attend to whatever their plan is for the afternoon. Before leaving, they have to tell us they’re leaving, and if they’re going to the friend’s house, they’re supposed to call when they get there (the house is VERY close by). Today was a slight variation. I was told they were going to meet the friend on the street around the corner, and then they were coming right back. This should have taken about two minutes.
A few minutes later I go out to see where the kids are. They are nowhere in sight. I call the friend’s house – friend’s mother says “oh they’re not here” and I have a heart attack and then she says “they went to the park”. I asked her if she could please call the them and send our bee back to the hive. Immediately. And thank you.
Well…ten minutes later, here comes the bee, buzzing with all the irritation of pre-teenhood.
“What, what is it, why did I have to come home?!” the angry bee asks.
I told them that they hadn’t told me they were going to the park, that they can’t just change the plan without telling us because it isn’t safe.
“I DID TELL YOU.”
Nope. See, the thing is, I’m not comfortable with that plan at all. If there was any mention of the park, I would have remembered the heck outta that.
“YES I DID.”
Nope. I may have ADHD, but parenting taps into my neurotic side. If I’d heard the word park, it would have been branded into my brain alongside every horrific kidnapping tale ever reported in the evening news.
I told the bee they basically gave me a heart attack because I didn’t know if they were safe and the bee replied “well, YOU gave ME a heart attack because I thought you told me to come home because of something IMPORTANT”.
Ohhhhhh no you didn’t. Yes…yes you did.
I said that it was important.
That was followed with “So can I go back to Alex’s house now?”
Nope. No you cannot. In fact, you already weren’t going anywhere, but that comment just ensured that there’s no way in hell you’re going anywhere (I stopped at a simple no…but you’re getting my mind’s soundtrack mixed in here). You will be here for the rest of the day. And I will lob this over to your biological parents for consideration.
This all tapped into my basic ADHD parenting paranoia that my own limited working memory is going to get in the way. I would feel awful if I figured out that I had screwed up and forgotten something and then insisted that a child bear the consequences. I’m pretty confident that I didn’t do that, in this situation (thank you, anxiety) but…argh. Juggling our own insecurities along with the plain old nuts and bolts of parenting can be exhausting.
This queen bee is ready for a nap.