Creepy trees from fruit snack commercial
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m fruit snack commercial. "C'mon, Mom. I wanna go to Burgerama." "Okay, mija. You go to Burgerama. I go home." This, of course, leads to a moment of tension as I explain, "Mom, Burgerama is a restaurant, and they have food, and Burgerama is for people. Burgerama is _tasty._ Burgerama is where I want to go." She starts crying. (Her crying in front of me is _the_ defining thing about her, I think. _Never has she shed a tear when she wasn't trying to be dramatic_.) "Mom, Burgerama's where you _eat._ When you go there, _you eat!_ And you have to eat food with other people. That's fun. I want to go to Burgerama. Will you take me?" This, of course, causes a whole new round of tears and an impassioned lecture that goes something like this: "Okay, mija, you don't get to decide where I go. I don't go places with you. You know that. You think you can choose where I am. I choose you. We do what is best for the _family._ " "You think Burgerama is all about fun and games?" "You have a problem with that?"
Anyway, Burgerama was where I wanted to go, though I didn't quite know why. The family's Burgerama visits became one of our favorite, if not _our_ favorite, moments in time. But not for reasons you might imagine. As I think back on that phase of my life, I see it less as a moment of bonding with my mother and more as one of experiencing being a parent.
I have a feeling we do similar things with our kids. We do all the fun stuff with them and then bring them home and do the things we've been avoiding. When they're younger we're less like Mom and more like Dad. I find that in my work, where I do a lot of therapy with young people, many of them say that they see Mom or Dad when they think of their parents. So I suspect that happens in families as well. Maybe it's just because I have a little girl—and, let's face it, she's still a bit hard to manage—that I'm having that experience with her. I don't think we ever really stop wanting our kids to feel loved and cared for. We all just have different ways of expressing that. Sometimes we let them choose, and sometimes we do it for them. The difference is, we tell them. That's where the discipline comes in. We try to figure out where our discipline meets compassion.
I know that's not the ideal. The ideal is that we love our kids so much that we put them first and that they feel secure and loved at the center of everything we do. But, you know, I'm not the poster child for that ideal. I know I haven't always managed to put them first, and I haven't always told them how I feel. I'm not perfect and I know there are people who are. That's a different path, and they manage it. But I'm not even close to perfect.
So, for now, I'm not going to worry about my failings. What I've just written out doesn't even come close to describing my actual parenting skills. It's impossible to do justice to the moments that take your breath away. What I'm trying to do with this is bring some of that awareness to my kids. I don't want them to have to learn about all the things I've missed. It's time they knew.
**What I'm learning now is that what works with one child doesn't work with another.** I've just begun to figure that out, and that's the scary part of it.
## **CHAPTER 3**
## **The Perfectionism**
### **The Big Picture**
I see this in my clinic in so many different ways.
The moms who are in the middle of a divorce. That can be really hard for any child.
Mommy has to work really hard to be the best at everything and to be a good mom to her kids while she is dealing with this big, complicated matter.
Mommy needs some time to mourn.
Mommy feels like she's living every day with a huge secret.
If she's a working mom, she's putting her career first.
If she's a mom on disability, she's making sure her kids eat, so they can eat, so they can go to school, so they can be happy.
I also see it in how my clients talk to their kids.
I heard this from a mom named Mary and she told me about how when she was a child, she felt so bad when she said something wrong or made a mistake, or when she forgot something, her father always told her she was stupid. _You are stupid, stupid, stupid._ Those words, and the look on his face, made her feel really bad. She felt bad about being stupid, so she started to feel like she wasn't smart. Her father made her feel this way, but it was how her own mom made her feel. When Mary's mother was pregnant with Mary, her mom had a hard time getting pregnant, and she felt like she was failing her family. Mary didn't get to go to school. She had to stay home and help her mom with the chores. She felt so bad about not being able to go to school, and when her father told her she was stupid, it reinforced how bad she felt.
Now, when Mary's father says those things to her and puts that look on his face, she feels like it's time to leave the room. "She feels bad enough already," she told me. "I don't need to feel bad, too."
And in the way her parents treated her, Mary picked up that she wasn't smart. If her dad makes her feel bad enough about herself, then she'll also feel bad enough about herself to not try. "I'm not going to do this any more," she thinks to herself. But the part that makes it so hard is that it's hard to see when we pick up other people's negativity. We can see that we're feeling bad about something, but it's really hard to pick up that someone else is feeling bad about us. That's because we can't actually see what they're feeling, and our minds don't pick it up. It just feels bad, like we need to leave the room.
It's also hard to see how we've been picked up and passed on to someone else, like the mom who