Sphere: This was a SPHERE day for our daughter. She and her apartment-mate joined a small number of fellow SPHERE members on a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Normally on a Tuesday she would be at her DSO program but she chose to go on the field trip. I had no idea what part of the museum they would view but received a call from her on the way back home. She loves to call in transit. What else is there to do? Oh yeah, drive, well not for her. “Hi, how are you?” “Hi my love, are you at the museum?” “No, we are going back to Connecticut.” “What did you see?” ” The Egyptian mummies, and jewelry and some sculptures.” “Great.” “We didn’t see the whole museum.” “Nope, no one does.”
I guess they did the Egyptian wing. It was a special tour arranged by a “friend” of the SPHERE board. Our daughter is a veteran of the museum stroll and this museum especially but despite the frequency of her visits there, I could tell she was thrilled by what she saw today. I will follow up with her tomorrow for more details. It is difficult at times for me to understand each of her words on the cell phone, so I keep saying “What?” and she gets frustrated. Probably a combination of my hearing sagging, an imprecision in her articulation, and who knows where her mouth is, against the phone or on the other side of the room. You never know.
PJ’s: Later this afternoon I received another call (we didn’t talk at all yesterday) to inform me that she had holes in her PJ’s and had to throw them out. O.K. Then she said she had holes in another pair, and had to throw them. Then she said she had holes in a pair of jeans, and had to throw those out too. “Hey, is there something happening in the clothes washer or were these all old clothes? Old. Pause: “Mom, what are you doing tomorrow? Can you take me to Kohl’s so I can get some new PJ’s? Are you free?” “Yep, I can take you.”
The Snag: I was snagged. I do have time tomorrow but was looking forward to cleaning up my desk, now that my taxes are off to the accountant, clearing out a couple of other wasps nests of my life, like the linen closet, and starting my billing for September, until I had to work later in the day. Oh well. She snagged me. I almost never can say no to that girl simply because I had plans to meet some of my needs. I don’t postpone. I knee jerk yes. This has always been a parenting weakness of mind, and frankly an overall personal weakness. A gratifier first, without a pause, just a plunge. Sure.
Alas, She Perished On An Escalator, Poor Gal: But actually tomorrow the new furniture is being delivered and though staff can receive it, I will need to put my mark of approval on it, especially as this store is notorious for sending defective items. And she needs her monthly spending money from her parents. We pay for all social activities outside of Ability Beyond Disability programming. I will do the proverbial slaughter of several birds of responsibility with one big stone. It all works out and I know that come the weekend I am away for two days so I can’t offer to take her shopping then. But I do get snagged, perpetually. Whether it is to buy a DVD at Barnes & Noble while shopping for a cousin’s gift or agree to a shopping excursion at an inconvenient time, I cave. And yet, when I do say I cannot do something, because thank goodness I work and have other imposed boundaries on me, she is fine with it. Years ago my weakness and her meltdowns led me on a perpetual merry-go-round of trips to malls, pet stores and wherever, whenever she demanded. If I didn’t have to make a living, or had another child, best of all, I probably would have perished long ago on some escalator on the way up or the way down from sheer exhaustion. (By the way, my survival tool was always to sneak in a need-gratifying experience under these conditions, whether it be stopping for a Starbucks, checking out the latest baubles at the jewelry counter, or sliding into a conversation with an acquaintance, schmoozing companionably while our children looked off into space. Our daughter bore up mightily under my indulgences as well.)
Daughter Teaches, Mom Needs Practice: As I tell my patients, I learned this phrase from my daughter (whose years of social skills training benefitted the mother as much as the daughter) before you knee jerk an answer, pause and say: “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” Hey mom, practice what your daughter teaches. Who’s the child here? Well, actually no one anymore.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011