Miss Misunderstood- an unpublished new story

The day had seemed long when Gabby opened the back door to the kitchen. It wasn’t that she felt sad, more like empty. Unsure of why she felt this way, she knew she felt like she needed a hug, a tight one, one that said, “You are all right the way you are.” Mom was already busy in the kitchen. Apparently she had school work because the computer was surrounded by a ton of books. Mom was attending college and that kept her very busy. There was something in the oven, and something on the stove, and Mom was racing around like she was in a big hurry to get somewhere. Obviously she had no time for Gabby tonight.

Mom turned her head when she heard the door close and called out, “Thank goodness you are home. I have a study group at the college tonight at 5:30 so I have to leave in an hour. I need you to finish getting dinner ready, set the table, and make some iced tea for your father.”

Gabby just stood there. So much for that hug she was thinking about. No time for Gabby at all.

“What’s that face for? I just asked for a little help and I get attitude from you?” Mom asked more as a statement of anger than a question.

“I don’t have an attitude.” Gabby replied.

“Yes, I think you do. I can see it on your face. You used to be so sweet and helpful and now all I get is attitude”, was Mom’s reply.

Gabby thought to herself, “Yeah. And you met me at the door with a smile and asked about my day and dinner was ready. You start college and it is me that changed.” But she kept silent.

The look on Mom’s face hurt Gabby to the core. She hadn’t doubted how her mother felt about her before, but she did now. She really felt alone.

“Gabby, why are you still standing there. Get started on the iced tea!” Mom yelled.

“I am,” she replied. Sometimes this type of conversation made Gabby very angry and she wanted to yell back, but this afternoon, she knew she was about to cry. In fact she could feel the tear coming down her face. She quickly wiped it away and got out the pitcher. She checked the oven and saw a lasagna from the supermarket had been recently put in. String beans were on the stove awaiting the stove to be turned on.

Gabby finished the iced tea and set the table for 3 since Mom wouldn’t be joining them, and took her backpack up to her room. She didn’t have the energy for homework right now and turned on some music, and put on her earphones. It was her way of blocking out all that noise she heard in her head. Sometimes she was angry. Sometimes she told her mother off in her head. Sometimes she told herself what she was sure everyone else was thinking. It was never good.

The door slammed open and Gabby jumped. Mom was standing there with her REALLY disgusted face on.

“That is why you didn’t hear me! Take those things out of your ears. Gabby you know I have to get out of here and get to school. Why did you leave me? I don’t have time chasing around after you”, said Mom, frustrated.

“I thought you were finished with me. I set the table and made the tea. The lasagna won’t be ready for 20 minutes. I needed some me time.” Gabby replied.

Mom looked like she was going to blow, but she took a deep breath, and then another. She came over and sat next to Gabby on the bed.

“You needed to get away from me, didn’t you?” Mom asked.

Gabby just shrugged her shoulders. “Mom, I am not trying to make anything harder for you. I am trying to do the chores you ask me to do. I know college is hard work for you. But I still need my mom sometimes and today was one of those days. I just needed a hug or a smile. That is all. Growing up is hard, too.”

Mom put her arms around Gabby. “My Loving Self was really far away. I was so wrapped up in my All About Me Self that I took it out on you. I know you are trying and should have been more appreciative.”

“That took a lot of love to express yourself so clearly and calmly. You are growing up and I am missing it. I am sorry, Gabby Gootz, I will do better at being a college student and a mom. I wasn’t thinking about how you were feeling. Here I thought you were being selfish and didn’t want to help. It was me that was being selfish. I will try to understand your feelings and not jump to conclusions. I know growing up is hard. I really don’t want to make it harder for you”, said Mom.

Mom hugged Gabby tighter and kissed her on the forehead. “I love you sweetheart”, she said with a smile.

Gabby smiled back as Mom got up and headed off to school. She sat for a few moments before heading down to check on the lasagna. Did Mom really think she was making annoyed faces at her?

She didn’t like being misunderstood. She wasn’t comfortable when her feelings didn’t seem important to anyone else. Mom was right. That did take courage to tell her the truth calmly. Gabby smiled to herself and then realized she was grateful that Mom listened. Gabby also realized that sometimes it was difficult explaining herself clearly because she didn’t always understand how she felt. The one thing she did know was that she wanted to feel good about herself, and pleasing others sometimes made that difficult.

Gabby continued down to the kitchen and remembered something Gram had told her.

“When nothing seems to be going right, take an account of all you have to be grateful for. Make a list. If you can’t think of anything, write down all your complaints then write BUT after them. Go back and read each sentence once more with the “but” there and fill in the blank. Once you have vented, you will have an easier time finding something good to complete the sentence,” Gram had said.

“I guess I can give that a try,” Gabby said out loud and went to find a pen and paper.

Understanding One Another

images0ET2QGJ4I recently wrote a story entitled “Miss Misunderstood” to address the pre-teen dilemma of feeling “no one gets me”. With this on my mind, many things that I observed fit into the same category making it clear, that it isn’t an issue limited to preteens and teens. Perhaps they react more vocally than other age groups, or perhaps for the first time they are feeling a disconnect with a parent. But  they definitely are having a hard time with something.

I had a conversation with a mother concerned about her child’s success in school. nosiyHis kindergarten teacher told her that he was one of the best and brightest students in her class. But he had just finished an optional summer school program and that teacher’s report was that he can’t stay focused, is easily distracted and doesn’t complete tasks. Obviously she was concerned that the two reports were so far apart. Before I could form a thought, the six year joined the conversation and very calmly told us that he couldn’t concentrate because it was too noisy. He was more interested in what the boys were doing and saying that was funny, than the paper in front of him. Without an understanding of the setting in the classroom, the description creates a judgment of the child that is if not inaccurate, certainly incomplete. He understood that what his mother was being told was different than his truth.

This happens all the time, doesn’t it? Judgments are made and voiced based on limited perspective. The teacher in this case had a class that was less structured and if that is her norm, doesn’t see that as anything unusual, where for the child, it may have been his first experience in that setting. When we make judgments in everyday life, and we do it all the time, the same thing happens. We are judging one another from our own perspective with a disregard for the situation of the other. Sometimes adults are strong enough in their own self-worth to stop us in our tracks and tell us that that was an unfair assessment, but too often, they leave hurt and holding a grudge or just plain angry.

Pre-teens and teens see the unfairness immediately. If you the parent are the culprit, they can’t avoid the situation and either let it all out or run away. Parents see tween behavior in black and white. I asked you to do this. You didn’t. You chose to disrespect me. The truth is they may have forgotten, and not out of disrespect.imagesIUHK70WV There is so much going on in their heads as they begin to mature. They can’t always prioritize and remember. Something fun and entertaining, or on the other side something devastating comes up and regardless of their intention to follow through with what they began, it doesn’t happen. Isn’t that why adults make lists? For the most part what is on an adult list can be put off until tomorrow and yet children aren’t afforded the same flexibility. And they are blamed for choosing to ignore their responsibilities. They feel misunderstood.

As a school administrator, I met with many parents, teachers and children. Often the discussion evolved around understanding perspective. Everyone has their own perspective and for them that is their truth. In any relationship, understanding comes from being willing and able to see things from the other’s perspective. 10519659_10152640477383628_8988237184025393490_nAll children from birth on, need this understanding to grow, and to learn to do the same with others. Seeing things from their perspective and explaining your perspective to them is valuable at any age. “Because I said so!” didn’t work when your parents said it to you and it doesn’t work now. Aha Parenting.com has a section for all age groups including school age, tween and early teens with many worthwhile articles on this and many other topics written to aid parents in navigating the route to successful, happy, secure children.

About the Author

11115609_10204369689187957_9074883143868021693_oC. Beth Hoffman has a master’s degree in education, and after more than thirty years as a teacher and administrator in New Jersey public schools, she is now retired, giving her time to pursue interests in angels, energy healing and living from the heart. She has studied Reiki, IET (integrated energy therapy), angel therapy, and Magnified Healing. She and her husband reside in the Lake Wallenpaupack area of the Poconos in Pennsylvania where they are blessed to spend time with their grandchildren, one of the inspirations for this book.

Fearlessly Free to Be You and Me

In the 90s as a middle school teacher, I assisted a bit in the production, free to beas much as my talents allowed, of the play version of Marlo Thomas and friends’, “Free to Be You and Me “. I remember that the kids really enjoyed it as did I. Listening to sound bites of the songs brought up thoughts of changes facing children today.

Still in the same school in 2001, but as a supervisor, we were faced with the terrorism that day that the plane flew into the World Trade Center. Not far from New York City, we had a number of parents working there and for several hours, spent time locating them for terrified children. Where outcomes were devastating all around us, all of our parents were located alive and well by the end of the day. For one reason or another, they had not made it into the city that morning. For our students, a day of miracles. But I think that was the beginning of fear based living that has quietly permeated some of our society. Certainly it has drawn other negative fearful incidences to everyday life and removed that freedom to be, that was gaining strength.

Be wary! Be careful! Isn’t that dangerous? Is that safe? The vocabulary of fear is here. Don’t run, you’ll fall! Be careful! Watch out! I don’t remember this as a child. We rode bikes along the road for miles and miles. We played outside without supervision for hours. I remember one scary episode around age 10 at the Jersey shore. I was playing in the surf by myself with a small blow up inner tube. Don’t remember what I was trying to do, but I got the tube stuck behind my head and back with my arms and shoulders trapped inside the hole just when a wave hit and knocked me down. I was powerless to help myself, face down in the water without arms. I couldn’t roll over because the tube blocked me. As terror began to fill me, I was yanked up to a standing position and the tube ripped off. There was my mother who had been watching me all the time. I learned many lessons that day, many of which I probably am consciously unaware. The lessons were mine to learn, and although it is not a pleasant memory, I believe it made me a better mother, teaching me to let them experience life while watching from a short distance unencumbered by the vocabulary of fear.

That lesson is especially important today as there is so much more negativity and fear than ever before. Remove those words of fear, let them explore within the boundaries that may be necessary. Keeping watch, ever mindful that the greatest parent and His winged staff are ever present awaiting your awareness. Fear or love? That is the choice- love of God, faith in His protection, belief that you and your children are always in His hands, and gratitude- so much gratitude for the safety that surrounds them.  Or you can choose fear.

The world is full of experiences- joyful, exhilarating opportunities to do and to be and so much is missed because of fear. Fear of injury or judgment prevents living life to its fullest. Isn’t it time to remove the vocabulary of fear, and once again teach children we are all “Free To Be You and Me”?

 

About the Author

11115609_10204369689187957_9074883143868021693_oBeth Hoffman has a master’s degree in education, and after more than thirty years as a teacher and administrator in New Jersey public schools, she is now retired, giving her time to pursue interests in angels, energy healing and living from the heart. She has studied Reiki, IET (integrated energy therapy), angel therapy, and Magnified Healing. She and her husband reside in the Lake Wallenpaupack area of the Poconos in Pennsylvania where they are blessed to spend time with their grandchildren, one of the inspirations for this book.

I Didn’t Know What To Do!

Facilitating learning of many aspects of life is in a parent’s hands whether they choose for it to be or not. Some know exactly how they want their kids to be and others feel ill equipped for the responsibility. With the many influences available for children, preparing them, and not overprotecting them can be daunting. Having practice in a myriad of possibilities helps them and you, be more comfortable and less fearful of what they may encounter. Most of those situations with which you want them to be able to deal, you hope they will never encounter. Preparing them becomes a dilemma.

reading tween dadEach story in My Loving Self and Me, has a problem and a solution that works for the book’s characters with supportive parents and grandparents with strong spiritual background. It provides other children the opportunity to see that issues they have are shared by others. However the solutions in fiction aren’t always what works in reality, so after each story, there are open ended questions or activities for the reader to try out. This is best done with a parent or other responsible adult or in a family setting. Where solutions and possibilities work in my mind, they may not in someone else’s life. As a parent, you know best what the outcome might be in your community and school and guide them in ways that are more personal for your child. During the discussions you also have the opportunity to listen to situations that have arisen in the social life of your child, affording you insight into their private world outside of your home.   Issues may come up that are not included in My Loving Self and Me that you may never have known about had the discussions not been taking place with your child. Follow your heart in guiding and assuring them.

reading familyMy greatest joy as a new writer is for My Loving Self and Me to be a family book for facing difficult issues head on, the go to book for adults and older school age children to enjoy quite time while they read together, a source of inspiration for the pre-teens who are feeling alone, and a how to for parents of young children not yet ready for the stories. As one mother told me, my child is too young for the stories, but not too young to begin learning that he has a loving self. She added that she is already asking him what his loving self would do.

Books and e books can be purchased here on this website from Balboa Press, Amazon.com, or Barnes and noble. I would love to hear from my readers concerning difficult issues their children have faced that should be written about. Who knows? They may be the inspiration for another book.