The edges of this whole lockdown situation have started to fray, showing up in the louder voices of arguing neighbors, the nightly craving for one glass of wine too many, and the weariness of the kids still relegated to learning via Zoom, which is a complete waste of time. Everyday it’s the same routine: the date, day of the week, month, weather, a news article, a stupid dance video where none of the kids participate, and a game where the teacher puts a headband on her head with a picture at the top that only the kids can see. She asks them questions to try and figure out what’s on her forehead. Now, that’s some real quality education. And these are high school students. Yes, they’re special education students, but really? They surpassed these simple topics long ago.
Anyway, I have a college student who returned home when the campus closed, who is also now relegated to distance learning. It’s been tough on her. She was jerked back from her first steps into independence and replanted in the family household where she has to play her part, an unexpected hindrance that sometimes gives rise to outbursts fueled by a bitter and resentful frustration. Her disappointment and sense of unfairness has overwhelmed our dynamic, and my impatient temperament hasn’t made things any better.
So, my student is a night person. I’m a morning person. Guess when she wants to talk about things? Yes … at 11 p.m. when I’m brain dead and half asleep. Last night she wanted to talk about how she has a different point of view than I on a particular topic. I asked her again what her point of view is. I usually like to know what we’re talking about if we’re going to talk about it. And as usual, the whole thing fell apart. Even a question is taken as an attack. A completely innocuous answer is perceived as sarcastic. I mean really, it’s like some weird scene in a psychological thriller.
This morning on the patio where God exhales and sends a breeze through my mind, I suddenly saw why this is happening.
I’m a controlling person.
The pandemic is not controllable.
And it’s really cramping my style.
So, in response, I’ve become more controlling.
It comes out in the tone of my voice (I kind of sound like my father), the quickness of my frequent criticisms (hmm … that’s like my father too), and my need to be right … about everything (Oh my gosh! I AM MY FATHER!).
The next thing I know, my daughter is saying goodbye from inside the house, off to work for the day. I called her to come outside. She said she didn’t want to talk because it would only lead to an argument. I promised to listen.
She actually made a lot of sense. And I told her so.
And after she left, I felt strangely vulnerable.
It’s not easy to surrender your ways to God’s ways … especially when you don’t realize that you’re the problem.
So, if you’re not quite yourself, and worse yet, becoming like the worst version of one of your parents, find a place to stop, listen, and take a breath. You might see things differently.