Meltdown Monday Pt. 2

Welcome to Volcanology 101, folks.

Today we pick up where we left off last week…talking about our little volcanoes. We learned last time that when the reservoir fills to a certain point with eruptable magma then there is nothing that can be done. That volcano is going to blow. The question was…in our kids what is this reservoir and what is ‘eruptable magma’?

The answer is two fold…

  1. Demands…spoken, unspoken and self-imposed
  2. Sensory Overload

Let’s begin with that first one and see just how far we get…

It should be obvious from the name…Pathological Demand Avoidance…that demands and specifically avoiding them is at the very root of this ‘whatever’. (I won’t say disease, syndrome or any of those words because they imply that something is ‘wrong’ with my child…when for me, it is a matter of DIFFERENT. Not wrong, not worse, not sick…just different.)

So what? I mean we all have demands placed upon us. And we cope. We learn to handle them. We suck it up and just get on with things. That is how life is.

That may be how some people feel and why this is seen as a ‘disease.’ But let me challenge you…

Do we? Do we really?

Alcoholism. Depression. Anxiety. Divorce. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Anger. And even racism/isolationism/fanaticism. Aren’t they all signs and symptoms that a large majority of the rest of us are NOT managing the stress and demands of the world in which we live?

Perhaps our kids are merely expressing their displeasure at unrealistic societal expectations is a less socially acceptable manner than getting sh!t-faced drunk on Friday and Saturday night? Or popping prescription drugs to make them ‘happy’? Or hating everyone who is not exactly like them and blaming it on their god?

And while I am challenging your paradigms, your perceptions and belief-systems, here’s another one…

What do kids have to be stressed about? They don’t have a job or bills or any of the responsibilities of adulthood. This is the best time of their lives.

Really? Let’s look at that…

Don’t have a job? What do you call school then? They are expected to sit quietly at a desk for several hours each day. Produce busy work even if they already ‘get it’. Do exactly what ‘the teacher/boss’ says…when they say…without question…even if it does not make sense. They are expected to get along with everyone. And if that is not enough…they are then sent home to do more work. And they don’t even get paid for all that work.

How would you like to not get paid while be expected to take work home with you? And at the end, what can they expect from all this? More of the same in the form of a ‘job.’

Now let’s look at a couple of more of our expectations…

Sharing…we expect our children to share their toys…all of them…often with virtual strangers. I can’t count the times that I have seen parents in the park telling their child, “Go ahead. Let them see your ball. Sharing is a good thing.” But try going up to that parent and asking to borrow their mobile phone…or their tablet/laptop. See how quick things change then.

And tantrums? Not meltdowns here…even just normal every day ‘normal’ childish temper tantrums. Think about it for a moment. If your best friend calls crying or screaming about a partner or work, would you dare to tell her ‘shut up, I don’t want to hear your whining’? How about this one… ‘I’ll give you something to cry about?’ No, we show more care, understanding and compassion to our friends, co-workers and even strangers than we do the little people with whom we have been entrusted.

Yes, maybe once upon a time…in another time and place…or in other cultures even…childhood was this idyllic experience of learning, nurturing and growth within the safe watchful eye of the village.

But that is NOT the world that our children live it. They are assessed, evaluated, compared and measured against one another and our idealized view of what a ‘good boy/girl’ should be. And those pressures are immense on such little shoulders. None of our kids escape childhood unscathed. They all bear scars upon their psyches.

We all enter adulthood with burdens, fears and the makings of mental health issues of one form or another. Some of us become the bullies, hide behind our masks and pretend that everything is all right. And those are considered the successes. The rest of us…well…we fail.

No…from the moment we enter this world…and likely before…the words we hear most is…

NO! Don’t do that. You can’t be that. You’re no good at that.

Is it really any wonder that our PDA kids call us on our bullshit? And that is what they are doing. In my paradigm…my belief system…our children are the next step in human evolution…a gift…a blessing sent to clear away all those ridiculous ‘rules’ that are no longer serving our society. And my role as parent then becomes guide/mentor/advocate to sign post the ones that PanKwake truly does need to know. But that is getting off track for this one…

My point is for us to pause and think for a moment about those spoken…unspoken…and self-imposed demands…

Uh-oh though…I think that will have to wait for next week. But I do hope you will take a moment or two this week to ask yourself…

Do we (adults, society, this world) have it so right? Is my life with all its pressures, expectations and demands really what I want for my child? Or perhaps…could there be a better way? Maybe…just maybe…our kids get it more right than we want to admit? And maybe it is about bending…compromising…and creating a better world for us all?

(And yes…we will make it to sensory overload too…at some point.)


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