Just the Facts

4 Apr

trees“It’s sad that you’re my mom and I know more facts than you,” Miss E says to me the other morning.

Which facts, exactly, does she mean? And how did she leap to the conclusion that she knows more … facts … than me?

I pause. A long time. A really, really long time. It’s not the first time she’s alluded to this belief, but it’s the first time she has expressed it so clearly.

I realize I am one of those parents who’s honest with my kid about what I don’t know, hoping this will help her later in life to not worry she must always be right or always know. So far, though, it doesn’t sit with her very well. It may have backfired. Rather than inoculating her from perfectionism, it may – instead – have made her feel insecure.

Sometimes, I think security is a ruse anyway.

Who really feels secure? We’re all scrambling to make people believe we’re on solid ground – maybe some of us struggling more than others to lay solid ground under our kids – but who really feels secure in their lives, in their families, in themselves? I suppose I’m tipping my hand more than is socially acceptable when I say that I honestly can’t imagine how real security would feel. It’s like Big Foot, Fairies, or the Loch Ness Monster – mythic, revered, but unseen. Security. And if I don’t know how it tastes, how can I feed it to my kid?

So maybe Miss E is right. Or partly right. About me. Maybe she does have a better handle on facts than I do. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe my way of seeing the world as a mystery … scares her.

But this goes far beyond my honesty with her about things I do not know, and far beyond the boundaries of the conversation we had on our way to school.

“Everybody knows something worth knowing,” I finally say. “They just don’t always know the same things as you.”

“That reminds me of something!” she shouts. Something sparks. Her voice catches. We are around the corner from school. “Be yourself,” she quotes. “Everybody else is taken.” She’s referring to a poster at school.

“Yes!” I agree, letting her out of the car. She blows me a kiss, tells me she loves me. I tell her to have a good day.

And there is nothing sad about any of this, despite how our conversation began. There was a connection, a spark – however faint, however elusive.

You never know what will stick.

And I see again what I have seen so many times before: We are all just doing the best we can.

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8 Responses to “Just the Facts”

  1. Shannon April 4, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    I find I know less and less as my kids get older (or so they tell me).

  2. traceybecker April 4, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    I am totally with you on not wanting to appear all-knowing or perfect to my children. I am pretty certain they know the truth about me. 😉

    • RoiAnn April 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

      Wait – what?! Not sure I know the truth! Aren’t you the all-knowing, ever-wise Tracey Becker who I adore??? C’mon! You have kids older than mine and I take your word as… well, non-sectarian GOSPEL.

  3. verilp April 4, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    An acquaintance of mine has the following quote at the bottom of his email messages:
    “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” -Shakespeare Thanks for sharing your foolishness, RoiAnn — by which I mean of course, your wisdom.

    • RoiAnn April 7, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

      Mmmmm. Sometimes wisdom. Sometimes folly. Human nature, I guess. Love you, Dad 😉

  4. debweeks April 7, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    We don’t pretend to know anything either. Why pretend? That will only teach them dishonesty, right?

    This does remind me of a story that my husband likes to tell.

    When our middle son was about 14 yrs old, he was on the porch roof with my husband helping him hang Christmas lights. None of us remember the details of what was being discussed, but our son was certainly “all knowing” and the conversation was making his dad increasingly frustrated. Eventually hubby had enough, stopped his worked and looked at our son and asked, “How is it at 34 years of age I have learned absolutely nothing and at 14 years old, you know everything?” Our son just looked at his dad and answered seriously, “I don’t know dad.”

    In those moments when our children are attempting to find their place in this big wide world, they seem to go thru phases where they feel this level of superiority that they need to exercise in some way. I think most of us have gone thru that and eventually we realize that we have no superiority and realize that we have some insecurities. Providing our children with the appropriate tools necessary to handle their insecurities in life is part of the parenting challenge.

    • RoiAnn April 7, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

      Love, love, love this story. And thank you for reminding me that adults all over the globe are getting some variation on the eye-roll from their tweens and teens – always have, always will – but they eventually come around. In the meantime, yes, I suppose we have ALL needed to exercise our superiority now and again to get through the day. *sigh* Good to e-see you here, Deb.

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