I am happy to announce that Ainsley made it through a full day of school. I must admit, after the success she experienced the day before, I was skeptical. Although it is quite clear that she did not fool her parents, I was not sure whether she would try to "remilk" her teachers for everything that they were worth.
I don't know whether she tried and failed or whether she was smart enough not to try at all but I did not hear even the slightest of whispers from either the nurse or her teachers.
That is good news.
I think that Lynley and I are starting to enter a whole new era of parenting. They have mastered the skill of wearing us down. In fact, by the end of the day, we both seem to be running on autopilot. Running on stand by power we no longer have the capacity of thought. We just act. We are old, worn out and our brains our tired. We no longer understand even the simplest of concepts. We don't interpret. We simply respond according to the few rules that we can remember and that we know we must enforce.
There is no better example of this type of parenting than when we are at the dinner table. Again, at this point, we have been worn down by a continuous litany of questions like "Can I have a snack?" or "Can I have candy?" over and over again. In fact, I don't think I get through an evening without hearing these questions at least 30 times. At some point you just stop listening and just start responding - "No, dinner is almost ready", "No", "No", "No", "No", 'No", and so on. At some point you become numb.
Even though we do our best, we sometimes find ourselves spouting rules like our parents did - ones that make no sense because they have no thought behind them. Last night, Lynley fell victim to this.
After being asked no less than 10 times by Ainsley if she could have dessert after dinner Lynley spouted, "Ainsley, you may not have your dessert until you finish all of your french fries." You see, Ainsley had eaten all of her main course and chomped down on all of her vegetables. The only thing left on her plate has french fries. The rule is that you can't have dessert until you have cleaned your plate. However, any rational person certainly would not force their children to gulp down some fattening greasy fries so that they can have dessert. I can understand "eat all of your carrots" or "eat all of your green beans." But, "eat all of your french fries?" This is a perfect example of autopilot parenting.
When she said it Lynley and I both looked at each other. At that moment we knew we had crossed the line.
We have become our parents. We no longer make sense.
Oh, and DeeDee, MiMi and Papa, don't take offense. You give us hope. At some point you regained your brain cells and your will. We have just entered this stage of parenting. Hopefully, someday, we will regain ours as well.
Purpose give me strength.