When I was a kid, I thrived on positive attention. I was always that annoying kid who got all the awards at the end of the year. I loved the attention that was showered on me for being smart and well-behaved. I definitely had (and still have) a desire to please other people.
But my daughter? Not so much. Don't get me wrong, she is a great kid - funny and smart and clever. However, she is also strong-willed and fiercely independent. As most of you know, Porgie has been in a ballet class since last September. At first, she really enjoyed the class. But as the class became more structured, Porgie became more defiant. Every week, I would watch as the teacher struggled to get Porgie to comply with her requests. At home I talked to her about following the teacher's directions, but she largely ignored me. For the last month or so, Porgie would pout and whine when I mentioned that we had to attend dance class. And maybe it was my imagination, but I started to sense that the teacher didn't like Porgie very much.
After ballet class yesterday, Porgie's teacher approached me in the lobby. She wanted to let me know that Porgie did a good job in class. She actually said, "Today is the first day Porgie has ever followed my directions." I was kind of dumb-founded. My daughter hasn't followed directions for 7 months? Gulp. I didn't know whether to apologize to the teacher or to demand a refund for all these expensive ass classes I have been paying for.
I think I understand what was happening. Instead of trying to please the teacher, Porgie was focused solely on having fun and playing with the other children. When the teacher reprimanded her for failing to comply with the rules, Porgie stopped caring about dance class. As a people pleaser, this disturbs me. Yet at the same time, I am kind of happy that she doesn't feel the constant urge to be helpful and good and obedient. Maybe she'll grow up to be a woman who won't have a fear of rejection. Maybe she won't suffer from the exhaustion of always trying to be perfect. Maybe, just maybe, she will grow up to be a confident and self-assured woman.