Most of the time I’m a rule follower. I like things like speed limits, recipes, handbooks and clear expectations. But lately I’ve been feeling cantankerous – rebellious even – and I’m pretty sure it’s the pandemic and my “depleted surge capacity” that’s taking its toll. So when I saw an article on “Zoom Etiquette” in my inbox at work, I clicked on it with a measured degree of snark in my heart and a bit of a smirk on my face. I was ready to break some rules.
The author explained how we should refrain from eating, texting, and wearing large earrings while on our video chats. Okeeeee dokey! This I can do. The next morning, with a full slate of Zooms on the agenda, I went straight to the jewelry box for my giant red lightning bolt earrings. I grabbed a bag of Skinny Pop and a couple of extra devices. I was heading to the derelict side of town, ready to defy the teachings of the Zoom Sheriff…
Do you feel like the pandemic is making you uncharacteristically rebellious?
You’d never lick a grocery cart or push the limits of anyone’s health, safety or well being, but it seems like we are living in an era of “can’t.” And I just can’t “can’t” anymore.
And if this kind of behavior is rising up in the hearts and minds of well-intentioned adults, perhaps you can understand why your kids are lashing out right about now. Elementary age kids might be throwing tantrums like toddlers and normally cheerful children are slamming doors and skulking about. Perhaps it’s just human nature to push back when we’re hemmed in. And boy, have we been hemmed in.
A prime example occurred the other day when my nine-year-old was getting ready for a tennis practice. “Don’t forget to put your hair in a ponytail,” I said casually as we were walking out the door. She had a ponytail holder on her wrist, but just looked at me with a rebellious glare in her eye. “I’ve decided I’m only wearing my hair down for tennis from now on,” she said. “It’s 100 degrees! You most definitely need a ponytail in this heat,” I countered. I just knew she was testing me, and that she’d come to her senses after five minutes on the court.
When I picked her up, the hair was still down. Matted, tangled, sweaty strings trailed down her back and the ponytail holder was still on her wrist. I had to laugh. She waited for me to say something about the hair as she climbed into the back seat, but I just asked her about her backhand, and if she had fun.
There are things I will absolutely not tolerate as a parent, but I’m learning that I might need to pick my battles and let a few more things slide right now. Just like my Zoom rebellion, I’m sure our kids are also feeling the squeeze of restrictions from masks to online school to reduced activity level and social interaction, and are looking for ways to bust loose and express themselves. They, like us, are looking for something – anything – they can control.
Hopefully I’ll be feeling more like myself soon, but who knows how long this is going to last. In the meantime, I’m trying to give my kids a bit of grace while navigating my own inner struggles.
So the next time your kid does something mildly irritating to push the envelope, consider picking your battles. They might just be screaming on the inside. Aren’t we all?
**Getting serious for a moment, if you or your child is struggling beyond just a mild sense of frustration, there are people who can help. A visit to your physician or your child’s pediatrician can be a good place to start to help you sort through the struggle. You are not alone.**