My husband had business to attend to so I took the opportunity for Jazmine and I to take a trip with my Anderson (my maiden name) family to see my grandmother. It was a 2-2 1/2 hour car ride. At six, I expect Jazmine to do well on car trips and she did.
During our visit, although very pleasant, there were two incidences that I intervened in that at previous times, I would have shrunk back from. Up until today, I would usually defer to those I grew up with if there was something Jazmine was doing or had done that needed to be corrected. If one of my Anderson family stepped in and over rode me in how I was disciplining, I would generally differ to them since I was new at this parenting thing.
That stopped today.
While on our visit, we had a family dinner. Jazmine has a favorite Aunt she prefers to sit next to. Next to. Not just at the same table, not on the same side, not across from, but next too. She has learned from watching us, her parents, and in her other social interactions, the accepted custom that you place your belongings wherever you are going to sit. She did that. She placed her belonging on a chair right next to where her favorite Aunt was going to sit. When we returned to the table, her belongings were moved. I was puzzled and so was she. I let her sit where she originally picked out her spot. Other family members returned and moved Jazmine to sit across from her favorite Aunt. That did not go over well with Ms. Jazmine (I didn’t expect it to) and it did not go over well with me either.
After it was explained to me, I understood the reason. Another family member had moved so, logistically speaking, there would be more room at the table if Jazmine and her favorite Aunt sat across from each other instead of next too one another. The six-year-old, my daughter, did not process that well. I explained it to her but then told her she was right. She placed her belongings where she wanted them and she had every right to expect them to be where she placed them when she returned. I also comforted her and told her that she was still sitting near her favorite Aunt and that she, Jazmine, would be okay.
I then walked to my seat and politely but firmly, told said family member that moved Jazmine’s seat, not to move her seat anymore. Those things, though understood by all the adults (Jazmine was the only child on the trip), was hard to process from someone else especially when it went against what she has been taught from her father and I. (Hindsight says that Jazmine’s belongings could have been moved by said family member but the emotional reaction Jazmine had should have been differed to her mother, me, who was right there, so I could handle it.) The adults seemed to chalk it up as me, Xara, being too lenient on my daughter but we went on with our meal and everyone had a nice time.
The return trip home as a bit different. Every adult was tired. Two adults, including myself, were pregnant and it was pretty clear that everyone in the car, except for me, was expecting a quiet trip home. I think I was the only one acutely aware that there was a six-year old in the car.
Six year olds are going to do what they are supposed to do…be six. Quiet to a six-year old is just an opportunity to have a solo performance of whatever they want to say, sing, or make funny/odd sounds. I expected it but I have said six-year old with me all the time. All the adults in the car have had experience with six-year olds but they don’t live with one. One adult was telling Jazmine to keep it down. I intervened. Could Jazmine keep it down? Yes. Yes, she could. Could that other adult to speak to Jazmine with authority? Yes. Yes, that adult could. So, what was the problem? I was there. I, the six-year olds mother, was there. I heard the noise. I let it happen. The other adult, dare I say adults, did not care for it as much. My child was confused. I could tell. I know her. She knows to listen and respect adults, and this was her family, but her mother was right there and not addressing her in the same tone. She was still making her sounds but was a bit hesitant, not knowing whom to obey. That is when I intervened. Six can’t process like an adult can and adults can not expect them too. I pointed out how much noise the grown children in the car made at that age but it fell on deaf ears.
I understand that as well. When Jazmine was four years old, I realized, I no longer had the patience to deal with two-year olds. My child was out of that stage so I no longer had to live in it. The adults in the car are out of childhood stage and raising children of that age. They don’t have long-term patience for that especially, when a child really starts to act their age.
What I learned from those to incidences today, was that I have to be an advocate for my child regardless of whom I am around. I can not waiver from who she knows me to be when it’s just me and her or me, her, and my husband. I can not turn into someone she is not familiar with when I am around other family. I can not turn into someone other than her mother when I am around my Anderson family. I can not take a backseat when other trusted adults are around. Jazmine looks to me as the final say. I can’t all of a sudden turn wishy-washy. That does not build confidence in our mother and daughter relationship. I can not back down from what her father and I have instilled in her just because it is not the Anderson way. I am a Lee now. Jazmine is a Lee. I greatly appreciate the upbringing and home training I received as an Anderson however Jazmine has not been brought up the exact same way. Many similarities but uniquely Lee. I can not turn back into an Anderson when I am around my Anderson family when it comes to raising my Lee child. I must have her back at all times when the Anderson home-training and Lee-fundamentals clash. No one is wrong. Growing up, the Anderson way was my rule book but, like I said, I am a Lee now. My husband cleaves to me and we are a unified Lee family. We Lee’s may do it differently and I, Xara Lee will not allow Jazmine Lee to feel unsure about whom to follow.