Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stress'n out

There are plenty of traits I have passed on to Jackson that I am proud of. He loves to read. He has my smile. He has a touch of drama for which I will claim. But he also seems to have adopted my inability to handle stress well. We both tend to get stressed out easily, and often. And honestly, I have been this way since I was young. As a child I worried incessantly about being late to school (I never was), forgetting my homework (I never did), making friends (I tended to make friends easily), and "fitting in" (not sure if I did or didn't). But mostly I worried about school, my teachers, my grades, my assignments being perfect. There was never a single time, elementary through college, that I did not complete an assignment given to me. Never. I couldn't imagine not turning in a paper or a project and receiving a failing grade. Gasp! That was beyond me. And I made it a point to not just be on time for school, I was often very early. Especially when I was walking to school and in control of when I left my house. Even when I took the bus I arrived at the bus stop a good 10-20 minutes ahead of schedule. I carried this on to adulthood, always on time for work or dates or appointments, but my stress level over it was never so high as it was in my youth.

And now I see Jackson taking this on as well. If I mention we are running behind for school I can see his eyes panic and his butt go into overdrive mode getting to the car. Then he will ask me several times on the way to school if he is late. I hate that I may have given this trait to him. No 4 year old needs to stress so much. Sure I'm glad he has a sense of his own responsibilities, but he has no control over my driving. Today it brought me to tears to see him have a mini-freak-out over not remembering his show-and-share assignment. And it was completely my fault. Every Wednesday he is to bring a picture that starts with the letter of the week for their Zoophonics. This week they are on "L" and I just plumb forgot it was Wednesday. When we got to school (5 minutes early mind you!), I noticed the other children with their show-and-shares in hand. By this point it was too late to find something. But I knew that if I ignored it he would have a breakdown at Show-And-Share time about not having something. So I told him we forgot and just as I expected, panic filled his eyes, his body went rigid and his voice creaked. "Go back and get it Mommy!" he cried. It was too late. I tried to calm him, redirect him, and tell him his picture of leaves from Monday's school project was still in his backpack (because he had hidden it in a pocket I never check), and that he could use that. This seemed to appease him, but he gave me 3 more hugs before I left the classroom. He still looked worried when I was walking away. Before I left I pulled Ms. Char aside and told her we'd forgotten his assignment and it was stressing him out a little. She knows him well enough to know that is a normal response for him, and assured me she'd keep him in check.

When I got to the car I had a mini-breakdown. Silly I know. It was just a simple little thing. But I knew from my own experiences that for him it was NOT just a little thing. It was a big thing. And I knew that I would have reacted the same exact way. And I feel like I let him down. It is my job as the mommy to a 4 year old to help him with his "homework" - that being his weekly Show-And-Share, and I had failed him. And I had brought stress to him that was unnecessary.

I know that I have to find a way to help him cope with this trait of his (ours). As a child I don't recall getting vocally as upset about things that stressed me out, as I see Jackson doing. I tended to hold it all inside, and I was (am) a crier, so I let it out that way. Jackson is more of a yeller and a tantrum-haver, and that is how he copes. Which I think is why it is even more important for me to help him learn to control his body and his voice when he is faced with this type of situation.

He can be reformed and let loose a little bit on the little stuff. I have been. I am late to playgroup almost every single week. I have spaced on paying bills altogether. I even occasionally don't make our bed, and that only stresses me out a tiny bit. I hope I can help Jackson with this as well. For now though, the kid does make his bed just about every single day. That's my boy.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

Poor thing! I can so relate to the stressing out over being late. Ed thinks I'm a nut. It does cause some near knock down drag outs from time to time but....I don't like to be late nor do I want to be the first one there. Good luck!