Last night, watching an animated video that Lily had made online, I laughed till I cried. The website provides the characters—she created the dialogue, which was peppered with vulgarity and twice described sex acts. Shouldn’t a kid should be grounded for such an obscene accomplishment?
Not only is she not grounded, she gets homeschooling credit—from me. Because she made this video during homeschooling hours.
And the beauty of her nasty animation creation is, for me, that she has taken one of her childhood characters—her alter ego, who would emerge from the shower in the evenings instead of Lily, as the star of a kids tv show that took place in our bathroom every night until Lily was about 12. In the video, she has grown up to look suspiciously like Lady Gaga, and is being interviewed on David Letterman. In this interview, our fearless hero of expression veers so far over the edge of propriety that if it were real, they’d have cut to a commercial and yanked her off. And that might be funny or not funny for you. For me, knowing that this profanity-spouting character is the grown up version of my innocent 8-year-old daughter is hysterical. I rarely laugh till I cry, but I did, all three times I watched Miss Minny surprise David Letterman with way too much information.
So why shouldn’t I be grounding her? She just made an R-rated movie. Aren’t I worried? Isn’t she on her way to much worse? Shouldn't I be shaping her behavior? Isn’t she moving hazardously toward breaking a law or two?
Actually, I think she’s on her way away from it. On her way away from needing to be protected by laws that don’t actually protect us, but create a repressed society because no one learns an internal level of discernment of their own—and I trust Lily’s level of discernment. Our level of communication needs to be really high, in order for me to trust that. And it is pretty high—or she wouldn’t have been able to show me the video. If I make rules that impose an external control over her, rather than letting her find her own internal discernment for right or wrong, there will always be a repressed desire to push the rules--I know her. (Though worse, for me, would be if she never even felt a desire to push the rules, if she succumbed to a feeling of "what’s the use, why even try?")
These days, external control in general being re-set. We as a species are evolving from externally programmed and externally punished beings, to internally, heart-driven beings. Not everyone sees this yet. I see evidence all around me. We no longer need the old paradigm of power coming from outside us. Human HEART is bursting through. But it is not an easy shift! Certainly not on the governmental level, but even less so on the parenting level. It would be so much easier just to power through it like my parents, just really shut her down as much as possible so that she won’t embarrass, offend, or insult me…all of which are possibilites on a moment to moment basis. She is constantly checking to see where we stand with each other, pushing my edges. Sometimes, disarmed, or tired or hungry or otherwise not fully present, I will cave. I will forget all about being conscious and just bring out the big guns. I can be offensive and insulting too; I have loads of experience. So, it’s happened. The vocal threats.
The sad thing is, it doesn’t even work on this kid. I tried it today—well, it’s not that I tried it, it’s what instantly came out of my mouth after she had made an insulting gesture. And I bet she is worried that everyone reading this thinks she gave me the finger, and how handy that she is worried because isn’t that social pressure ever so helpful in shaping behavior? (Sometimes. “Lily, do you want to be known as the only seventh grader who’s never had a sleepover?” I asked her in seventh grade. “That’s your issue, mom, not mine,” she said, with zero charge or judgment.)
Today, after the insulting gesture, she ran upstairs, pursued by my voice telling her not to bother coming back down because I wasn’t going to talk to her nor was I going to take her to her friend’s house later, where she was deeply invested in going.
As I paused to take a breath and consider whether I was going to keep my hasty, angry promise, she came back downstairs. She had barely made it up the stairs! What a huge sign of disrespect! I was ready to hold firm to the punishment, just because she had come back downstairs so soon…before I even had time to get my act together.
“Mom? I talked to my angels, and they told me to come back down here.”
At this point she broke into hysterics and I didn’t know if she was lying, mocking me, or just couldn’t believe her own ears, but the giggles rattled me and I fought back by walking away…if I had stayed, I might have giggled, too, and ruined the whole thing, lost every ounce of power I still had. But she emerged from her fit and said, "No really even though I’m laughing I did go up there and ask my angels what to do and they said to come back downstairs but they didn't say what to do after that."
And then I caved, totally, disarmed by her lack of artifice, and just went with the flow.
“Is there any part of this that you would like us to talk about?” And there was. And we did. I was satisfied that she understood what can happen in her and how it contributes to disharmony. And she too felt heard.
I honor my daughter for coming back down the stairs. I honor her for stopping and asking for internal guidance before she even got to the top of the stairs. I honor her for not prolonging the fight, for not holding a grudge, for being willing to let go and pursue a more peaceful path—which she does regularly, with far more ease and grace than I've ever had. So how can I not honor her for her creation of a parody, a cartoonishly enhanced, hilariously edgy video of how obnoxious--and staggeringly inappropriate--my darling daughter can be?