Not a Kid-Person

So, here’s a big self-disclosure…I’m not a “kid-person” *wince*. There, I said it. Now, now, now…before you start to judge let me explain. I love many things about children and what they represent. I love their innocence, their unbound curiosity, their zest, their wonder, their unmodulated excitement at the smallest of things, their capacity to ask really big questions in profoundly simple ways. I love kid giggles and wide beaming smiles. I love children’s unlimited potential and what it represents, the way they wield brutal honesty without any hesitation coupled with their simultaneous capacity to spin wild tales out of thin air. All of that is awe-inspiring, heart-warming, and truly life-affirming for me. Being around children, more than many other things in life, effortlessly deepens my belief in God. Because how else can we explain their complete and utter beauty and guilelessness?

I feel most grounded and optimistic when I hold my sweet big (but will always be my baby!) girl close for a hug filled with sincerity and love. I feel purposed and purposeful as her mother. Things I had never had before her or that manifest as blatantly as they do outside of raising her. I love how she continues to stop me in my tracks with her magnificent curiosity. She asks questions that have no simple answers, that scholars struggle with, and many adults fail to ever stop to consider much the same as she asks if her shoes are on the right foot. And how awesome is that? She asks questions about the inner workings of things around her, both material and intangible, in her efforts to orient herself to this world…and then she can in the blink of an eye make a fart joke.

Wait. Whaaa???

See this is, in part, my challenge with kids with a capital K. They are dizzingly mercurial by nature. And I can’t keep up! Here’s the thing. I get it. This is totally a “It’s me, not you” situation. It is. Kids of all kinds and ages are just doing their thing…it just so happens their thing is not my thing. I can’t switch topics, ideas, game rules, or activities that fast. One time Asha wanted us to be warrior genie princesses. WTH??? What is THAT??? How do I play that? What’s my back story? What’s my motivation? Who am I fighting? If I’m a princess, why am I fighting? If I’m a genie why am I doing anything of my own volition at all??? Soooo confusing! Aaaaand then as soon as that string of questions rolled through my head in my attempt to be all in and play…..she changed the game! “Ok, sister. Let’s sit for tea.” Hol’ up. Hold. UP! Are we sister warrior genie princesses??? No, we’re weren’t because then we were doing a costume change and headed to a different room where, apparently, the tea party was going to be held. But once we got to the tea party, there were all these rules I had to follow, of which I had no prior knowledge AND of which I kept violating. Nope. Uh-unh. I’m out. Done. This is a regular day in our household and any other household across the globe with a preschooler in it. I’ll remind you of my ode to children intro above. Intellectually, I love it! I marvel at her creativity and her developing brain. Often times she even cracks me up with genuine belly laughter with her earnestness. It’s just interpersonally and emotionally, I. CAN. NOT. It’s all so exhausting! Generally speaking, I’m not a real rule-governed person. I like things to be fairly loose so I can engage in my own discovery unprohibited, test boundaries in my own way, but when it comes to wildly uncontrolled people and situations, I’m all about structure! Looking for it in the day time with a flashlight because otherwise, my anxiety is off the charts.

Ultimately, this is why I’m not a Kid-Person. Most weeks around Friday afternoon, my anxiety starts to build because I’m wondering what am I going to do with my child for an evening and two whole days together. She gets plenty of screen time but she’s 5 ½. I want her to have some working cognitive skills by the time she starts Kindergarten in a few months. And besides, she’s a highly-energetic and sociable child so watching even her favorite shows only lasts so long. So, I seriously get anxious when she looks at me and asks, “Mommy, will you play with me?” Increased heart rate, scattered thoughts, slight ringing in the ears, a sense of panic. You know? The regular. I want desperately to be present with her, engage with her, learn with and from her, have fun with her. I do. I just want it around something structured, with a clean beginning, middle, and end point. I want it to last longer than 5 minutes before we’re moving on to the next thing. I want to settle in and focus on a task. That is NOT what she does and I don’t have the capacity to meet her where she is. Thus, my anxiety because making her happy often makes me cringe on the inside and that is not how I want to feel in relationship to her or experience for myself. So, there’s this inherent dissonance in parenting for me at this stage in her development. My most favorite things to do in life are mostly internal or still activities. I love to read (LOVE IT!), watch great television, or be stimulated intellectually via intense conversation, podcast, or film. I’m very much a homebody and could be perfectly content staying in pjs all weekend doing any of the activities listed above. You add wine, a good home-cooked meal, and a close friend/family member in the mix and I am golden! Children under the age of 10 do not, by-and-large, like to do any of these activities…and the alcohol would be highly problematic and illegal.

So, there’s this constant sense of internal angst when me and my child are together. I don’t like it. I’m working on it. I try to use my free time with her as an opportunity to practice my mindfulness and work to be grateful for that opportunity. I engage in a lot of positive self-talk about how this is what really matters to me and to her, about how her expectations of me are far less than those of myself, about how I prayed for her and she is my biggest blessing. And when none of those work…I just chant, “Just get to 10 years old. Just get to 10 years old.” over and over in my head. :)

I’m Psych Mommy. Thanks for reading and while you’re here take a moment to check out my other pieces about single parenting and living life with a strong-willed 5 year old. Please, leave comments! I’d love to hear from you!

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Dr. Nikki Knows

I’m a licensed psychologist with a diverse set of talents: therapist, DEI consultant and trainer, sexologist, writer, podcaster, public speaker.