‘You don’t understand me. Nobody does.’ Ah, echoes….I hear echoes.
No one can know the origin of that phrase. I would imagine that cave teens had a way to express the same feelings. ‘No one understands me. You aren’t listening.’
I’m sure that my first use of those words came when I was quite young. I was always trying my parents for one reason or another. Most of the time, I was probably trying to get their attention. My daughter started with attitude in middle school. The butting of heads, the slamming of doors, words that at another time you will wish had never been said. My son was a senior in high school when he began his rebellious dialogue. It seemed to happen overnight.
It’s a hard thing we do, this growing up, leaving home. The realization that we can make up our own minds and actually have opinions to express doesn’t always make for good communication with those we love. Children want to be heard and recognized. Parents find it hard to let go and to control. Soon no one is listening to anyone. As my son has said, “It made it easier to leave home.”
Sydney is 10 and already beginning rebellion has begun to bud. Feelings worn on her sleeve are easily brought to life by a younger sister. A younger sister feels the age difference as her older sister picks on her. A positive grandma is just fuel for the fire.
I want to yell, “You’ll be sorry. I’ll be dead some day.” Probably not the best approach. “I love you, but right now I don’t like you” doesn’t work when inviting reconciliation. So what does work?
Last night Syd was watching The Nanny. I caught a bit of it when the nanny told the mother, “Only say it once and expect results.”
This morning I woke up to a girl with attitude. I tried the soft voice and understanding. I tried the firm approach pointing out that treating someone the way you want to be treated might be a nice change. Finally, I decided that there really wasn’t anything I could say to pull this 10-year-old out of her 18-year-old rebellion. So I ignored the attitude and started to look at old pictures. I passed fun photos back to the girls on the sofa. Soon Syd was on the floor looking at pictures, the attitude remained on the sofa.
Sometimes I want to rebel. I want to say, “I don’t like my life. No one listens. No one understands me.” But over the years I have learned that I am in charge of how I view my life and how I respond to it. How do I teach my grandchildren to embrace life instead of fight it?
Lead by example. Learn with love. That’s really the bottom line, isn’t it.