I once had a fellow mom-to-an-Aspie comment to me that her kid (unintentionally) hurt her feelings all the time because, you know, Aspies aren’t so good with interpersonal relations, on the whole. “I know it’s not intentional,” she confided, “but sometimes it just really hurts.”
Funny; Monkey only very rarely hurts my feelings. I think it’s BECAUSE I know that the stray rude/hurtful comment is likely unintentional (or, conversely, totally intentional but generally spurred on by anger or frustration that has very little to do with me personally) that I’m able to let it just kind of roll off my back. Plus, Monkey is an extremely affectionate kid; very huggy and kissy and generous with the compliments. In fact, I’ve recently tried (unsuccessfully) to explain to him that really, I have no desire to be 29 again, and he should please stop insisting that I am. (One overheard quip, man, and that’s it….)
Chickadee, on the other hand, hurts my feelings constantly. I assume this is her birthright, and all, but it still sucks.
Look; I was nearly-13 once. I remember feeling like EVERYTHING was very DIRE and UNFAIR and CONFUSING and DRAMATIC, and I remember being angry at everyone and everything most of the time. Some of that is hormones, I guess? Some of it is probably personality. (Dear Everyone in My Life And Hers, I’m sorry. I just… I’m just sorry. For everything. Love, Mir.) I get that it’s a difficult time in a girl’s life.
And I think I understand my role at this point, too: Love and encourage, set and enforce boundaries, enjoy when possible, never let her see me sweat when it’s, you know, NOT enjoyable. That’s my job.
I kind of suck at my job.
See, Monkey’s preferred method of insult is the rare “You would understand that if you were PAYING ATTENTION” barb, which honestly is more likely to leave me choking back laughter than anything else. But Chickadee’s thing is complete and utter disdain.
She looks at me like she wonders how I manage to even respirate given the clearly addled state of my brain. She speaks to me with scorn dripping from every disrespectful word. She looks me right in the eye and flat-out lies with the genuine earnestness of one who believe you are simply too stupid to catch it, and too inconsequential to the world for it to matter even if you do.
So I love (rather more when she’s not acting this way, I’ll admit) and encourage, grimly set and reset and reinforce those boundaries, try to gently point out that I would rather enjoy our time than what is happening instead, and periodically, yes, just blurt out that I have no idea why she’s so mean to me all the time.
(I am not full of tiger blood. Kitten blood, maybe. If the kitten was easily traumatized.)
Everything is my fault. My every request is ridiculously unreasonable. My every action deplorable. My very existence her cross to bear.
And no, it’s not like this all the time. But lately it feels like it’s this way more often than not, and it’s all the more awesome when she gives me a dose of behavior that would’ve gotten me knocked halfway across the room, at her age, and then turns around and is sweet as pie to her father on the phone. (When I happened to point this out to him, his response was, “Great! Keep doing whatever you’re doing!” Awesome.)
A good friend was kind enough to point out to me—as I agonized over yet another Appropriate Consequence For Inappropriate Behavior—that I have to remember that she’s a good kid. She’s an angel at school. Her grades are excellent. She’s helpful to others. And when she’s not busy treating me like some dog poop she stepped in, she’s a funny, loving, absolute joy to be around. So it’s not like OMG I’M RAISING A HOODLUM! But I do worry about losing sight of the line between understanding and enabling.
At the same time, ow. OW. The constant nastiness and attitude just hurts. Age-appropriate or no, it’s no fun to be treated poorly (especially by someone I love so much and do so much for). Even when I know her brain is currently drowning in estrogen soup. Even when I know she doesn’t mean it. Even when she apologizes, later. We cycle over and over with her cutting me to the quick, realizing she’s overstepped, apologizing, a brief period of harmony, and then… once more.
I need to toughen up, I guess. In the meantime, she’s leaving on a school trip on Friday. Maybe it’s the big “WOOOOO PARTY THIS WEEKEND!” sign I just strung across the front of the house that’s got her miffed…?