You Have Problems

My daughter had a friend over last week. They were playing in her room when I heard the friend say, “You have problems.” My daughter responded with an amused, “No, I don’t.” and continued to play. The friend repeated it a few more times. “You have problems.”

“No, I don’t have problems.”

“Yes you do have problems. My mom told me you have problems.”

I was sitting in the living room listening to this exchange with my gut slowly shriveling up inside me with hurt and dread and guilt. What do you say in that kind of situation? I called the friend into the living room and politely asked her to stop saying that to my daughter and that if she continued to say it, I would send her home. The friend meekly complied. For about 2 minutes. Then I heard some furious whispering and my daughter burst out of her room crying, ran down the hall and out the door. I ran after her, worried and upset for her. She told me she didn’t want to play with her friend anymore because she was being mean. I wasn’t sure what to say to her, so I thought about what I would do if someone was being mean to me in my own house.

“If your friend continues to be mean and you don’t want to play with her anymore, you can ask her to go home. You don’t have to play with friends who are mean to you.” I wasn’t sure if she’d do it. My daughter’s self-esteem is low and she is so social and loving that she puts up with a lot from other kids for the chance to play with them.

I sat back down in the living room. Playing commenced. About 2 minutes went by when the friend whispered something else and my daughter said, in a clear and loud voice, “You’re being mean and I want you to go home.”

The friend left the house crying and I called her mom to let her know she was walking home (a few houses down) and why she was crying. I can describe the conversation with one word: awkward. When I hung up with the mom, I was still upset. Not at the friend, or even at the mom who told her daughter that my kid had problems, but just generally upset that this was probably just the tip of the iceberg to come. Being hurt by your friends sucks. Watching your child get hurt by her friends sucks about a thousand times more.

That night while I was making dinner, my daughter sat down at the table and asked me if she had problems.

“Do you think you have problems?” I countered.

“No.”

“Then you don’t have any problems.” And I meant it. Because, who doesn’t have problems? If you feel good about yourself and you are functioning well in society, you’re doing just fine. And if anyone tells you otherwise, just tell them to go home.

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On Being Strong

The newest trend I’ve noticed on Facebook is the gratitude challenge. A friend challenges you to name three things you are grateful for for seven days. I haven’t been challenged yet, but I was thinking about it when I was driving home from a friend’s house the other day.

I’m grateful for my strength. Not just my emotional strength which I’ve discovered I have in spades, but my physical strength as well. I’ve never really appreciated that fact before because it made me feel unfeminine. Tall and stocky with the broad shoulders, I’ve always felt a little manly. (Thank God for breasts!)

Lately, I’m happy that I’m strong. It’s freeing, in a way, to know that I don’t need to rely on anyone but myself to get things done. I’m completely independent. I don’t need to wait around until I can ask someone to do something. I can get things done and spend the rest of the time just enjoying being with my friends and loved ones.

This thought came upon me after driving by a hutch on the side of a really backwoods road with a big “Free” sign on it. It was a really nice piece of furniture, solid wood, and I thought, “That would look really great in a garden shed as a potting surface and storage unit.” I pulled into the bottom of the long dirt driveway, lowered half of the backseat while my son was asking me why we were stopping. In the pouring rain (did I mention it was raining?) I pushed and pulled and lifted that sucker up and into the back of my small SUV. I didn’t have any bungee cord or rope, and since the end of the hutch was sticking out of the hatch, I pulled the auxillary cord for my iPod out of my glovebox and used that to tie my hatch door down. We were back on the road less than five minutes later.

Just give me a chambray shirt and a bandana and I'll show you how to move some furniture, baby!

Just give me a chambray shirt and a bandana and I’ll show you how to move some furniture, baby!

When I pulled into my garage, (and after I got over feeling weird for taking something off the road) I was pretty darn proud of myself. I saw something I wanted and I was able to get it all by myself. As I gloated, I unloaded it, moved it to a safe place, untied the auxillary cord completely and I pulled the hatch closed….

BAM! I smashed the corner of the door into my skull. As I staggered back against the garage wall and clutched my head, I thought, “Well damn, I guess that’s what I get for being so smug.” I would have laughed if the pain in my head wasn’t so horrible. I spent the next half hour on the couch with an ice pack on my head while my son danced around the living room begging me to make chocolate chip cookies.

The moral of this story? I’m grateful for my strength, for people who give away nice furniture and the fact that I didn’t give myself brain damage while being distracted by my own awesomeness.

Is there anything about yourself that you’re grateful for?