Friday, September 16, 2011
Lessons From Survivor.
Watching mom of six Dawn have her first day meltdown on Survivor was like a slap in the face.
I knew exactly what she was going through.
Well, not exactly exactly. I have never been marooned on a South Pacific Island with a bunch of loons and a camera crew but in every other way, exactly.
As she tried, in vain, to convince everyone that shelter and food should be the first priorities, I saw her begin to unravel.
She spent the next day in tears, overwhelmed. She was clumsy and made mistakes. As a mom of six, she is usually very organized, busy 24/7, her life revolves around structure, routine and schedule. Faced with very little to do - she was lost.
I watched her confusion. Why didn't the group see the need for shelter? The need to have roles and assign tasks. Why was no-one listening to her? If I were watching this as a twenty something I probably would have just thought she was an inflexible, control freak who needed to return home asap. As a parent I saw how ingrained her believe in structure is. I could see myself in her. I could see many of the parents I know. The need to prepare for every eventuality. The need to be organized so that the kids have what they need, when they need it.
It's something I find trips me up. I stress about it. If you could see me agonizing over vacation choices you would see how unattractive this habit can be. What if the kids won't like the food? What if the bed arrangement won't work? Will we take our stroller/car seats/travel crib? What if the rental ones are no good/not comfy/not clean?
Should we take diapers or buy them there? What if they don't have our regular brand - will our kid wear them? Should I take 10 days worth of their favorite snacks (to make sure they eat something), their bedding (to make sure they sleep), their favorite toy (to make sure they are comforted) the lists, and thoughts, are endless.
I have watched the husband look at me wondering who kidnapped his wife and put this crazy women, who cannot shut off her brain, in his home.
I was not always this way. I was, once a throw some clothes in a bag and drive to the airport with not so much as a ticket, kind of girl. What happened? Well parenthood, obviously and sleep deprivation. That's where is starts.
Sleep deprivation will lead you to do anything that might buy you another 30 minutes prone. If bringing a blanket, a binkie, a stuffy, that book, the sippie cup, those pajamas *might* mean your child will sleep in a strange room, in a foreign place - you will gladly pay excess baggage.
Here's the thing, Dawn (remember her from the first paragraph) didn't have her kids with her. So what was her problem?
I'll tell you - conditioning. As parents we must run a very tight ship. It's not just the judgment of our peers - which can be vicious. It's society, it's the law. We need to plan out each day with military precision. You can't be late for school or it goes on your kids record. You can't be late for pick up because you get fined. You can't miss the doctor or dentist because you have to re-schedule and pay for it anyway. You can't be late for classes or you may not be admitted. You can't leave you kids alone for a second because if something happens, you can be arrested or even jailed. Someone notices if they are missing their lunch, the right gear, their safety helmet. Notes are made. It's no wonder we feel the need to be in absolute control of our kids at all times - big brother is watching and waiting to judge or worse.
What happened to autonomy? What happened to training in your regular clothes because your soccer strip is still in the wash?
What happened to understanding that traffic sometimes gets in the way of punctuality? Why can't our kids still ride their bikes at a friends, just this one time, because the helmet was forgotten. It's a bigger conversation but one that needs to happen. Letting parents make informed, good decisions for their family without fear of repercussions.
And you thought watching evening TV was to relax you......