Thursday, March 18, 2010

Over-analyzing behavior

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.


amanda said...

this is brilliant friend. truly - your ability to flip something like this. i wish i could do that better. just this week after our very stubborn day, i got an email reminding me how in fact that is a good trait for later in life.

she is so lucky to have you as a mama :)

Just Jiff said...

Very very awesome post!


children that are challenging to raise and parent often make very well rounded independent adults.

Jeninacide said...

I was always HORRIFIED to do wrong when I was a child, and therefore obediently went to dance class 8X a week for 10 years and everything was perfectly fine.

My sister came along a few years later and so my mom thought DANCE CLASS would be so good for her as well. WRONG-O. My sister was a defiant, energy-filled little bugger and at the end of the dance year the teacher came over to my mom and gently suggested that she put my sis in something a "little more active." Turns out she was a star soccer player.

Clare said...

such a great attitude! i am totally a people pleaser, and worry about people liking me. i wish i had more of an 'i don't care' attitude at times. bradley i think falls into my category, very much a rule follower. but now i am finding that also equals a tattle tale...we can never win with these guys!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

It's a fine line... And I think you have a great attitude about the defiance. I struggle with that daily. Is it a girl thing?

antropologa said...

I like this. Interesting.

It's hard, because Nora tries TOO hard to follow EXACTLY what the teacher at her class says, and ends up frozen with uncertainty sometimes. She still has lots of fun though.