Recently, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend anytime we’re about to get ready to do something really fun that I’ve planned for our family. Zoe has been balking just before each activity, saying “I don’t want to do this. I am NOT doing this!” and then kicking up quite a fuss when I tell her we have tickets, we’ve made these plans, this is something you will LOVE once we get there. She insists that she doesn’t want to and it often ends in tears on her part and bad feelings on both sides.
Often I feel like crying at these moments too – I find myself pleading “I planned this for you because I love you! I know you will have fun and enjoy yourself and the activity!” My heart hurts right now because I feel horrible about “forcing” her to do things she says she doesn’t want to do, and because I feel guilty about misjudging and misunderstanding what she might like to do, and because these are all things that I really wanted to do with her and wanted HER to want to do them, too.
But you know what… it’s time I start listening. This has happened too many times recently for me to pass it off as a phase or stage. I respect her too much to keep planning fun things and dragging her along hoping that she’ll change her mind and enjoy it in the moment. She always does – but that’s beside the point. If she doesn’t want to do these activities in the first place, then I need to honor that.
- Before we headed to the Disney character breakfast while vacationing in FL, she balked and threw a fit. “I hate Disney!” she said… and my Disney-loving mama’s heart sank. But if this is true, then maybe I’ve been planning Disney outings for me and not actually for her? I feel terrible if this is the case. I know she always loves them once we’re there, but maybe she’s right. I certainly won’t plan anything more Disney related until SHE asks for it. My Disney-hating hubby is dancing a jig right about now.
- This weekend when we were getting ready for our mother/daughter tea (which we both really enjoyed in the spring!), she resisted again and told me she doesn’t want to go. And this was one we had planned to attend with one of her best friends, which I thought would make it even more fun and exciting for her! And she did end up having an absolute blast once there – but getting ready she kept saying she didn’t want to go. So I will not be planning any more events like these until such time as Z asks me to. This makes me sad – I love these activities soooo much! But maybe she is outgrowing them already. Or maybe they were always more my cup of tea (see what I did there) than hers.
- Dancing with the Nutcracker, one of my absolute favorite events of the year, is yet another activity she tried to get out of at the last minute. I got her this gorgeous ballerina outfit to wear but she still balked and threw a fit, saying she didn’t want to go. I showed her videos of her having a fun time there last year, and she relented – but ultimately said it was never something she chose to do. Once again, am I planning these activities for Z or for me? I need to really stop and think about this. I just wanted her to have a good time, enjoy herself and have fun, full, rich experiences – but it seems she’d rather stay home and color or go outside and play.
I have to remember that Z is her own person. She loves art, being hands-on with crafts, or spending time with nature and the outdoors. She does love to dress up – but not necessarily for an event or activity. She’s truly not into “crafted” or structured or overly orchestrated activities – she’s more free-wheeling than that. I need to respect and trust the person she is rather than trying to construct and manufacture the dream childhood I think she should have. If that means more nature walks and staying home and leaving our weekends open, then so be it. We’ll certainly get more use out of our COSI, Columbus Zoo and Franklin Park Conservatory memberships if we leave more wide open spaces in our free time.
And maybe Z will ultimately relent and decide she’d like to do some fun outings together that I can pre-plan and orchestrate for us. Or maybe she won’t – maybe she’ll like it much better this way. I know that her dad will be happy, because he hates over-planned weekends and vacations. Maybe she takes after him in this area? Maybe I *have* been planning too much for us. Who knows, maybe we all will prefer our lives better with fewer plans (although right now a small, secret part of me is grieving over all the fun things I won’t be able to get us tickets for and figure out outfits for and get all dolled up together to go out and do!).
I feel like it shouldn’t have taken me this long to figure out this huge difference between me and my daughter. I am struggling with a wee bit of mom guilt over this – but I guess the bright side is that she’s only 4.5 and at least I’ve figured it out finally and can get it right.
What do you think – do you prefer your weekend and vacation activities pre-planned like me or free-wheeling like Zoe? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on Facebook.