Goodness gracious my life has a theme lately. What is privacy? Who deserves it? Under what circumstances? When are you allowed to keep secrets from people?
I fucked up. Or more appropriately, EC’s therapist fucked up and I was the recipient of the fuck up. We (me, Noah, and FMC’s therapist) have done a great job of teaching FMC that they don’t need to share a single word that is told in therapy if they don’t want to. Apparently we have not delivered that message with sufficient force to EC. I feel super bad. EC’s therapist asked me to check in at the end of the last appointment so we could discuss appointment regularity over the next few months.
She turned to EC a few times and said, “Is it ok for me to share with your mom what you said today?” barely paused for EC to say “Uhhhh I guess” then told me stuff EC had said. EC told me she felt like she had no choice but to say yes.
Fuck. That’s not ok. We fucked up. That’s a really big fail. Oh no.
I clarified on the way home, “So when you got silly and distracting… was that your way of trying to say no?” She said, “I do that when I’m trying to block out the conversation because I don’t like it and I don’t want to hear it.”
I said, “Baby… it would work better if you said “I’m very uncomfortable with this topic and don’t want you to talk about it. We would both stop.”
“Yes. We are there to support you and if what we are doing is a problem instead of support then we need to change what we are doing. You are allowed to say no or stop at any point and we have to respect it.”
“But she asked in a way that didn’t feel like I could say no.”
Oh we screwed up. The whole conversation home was about how EC is not my doll she’s my child. I don’t get to know all of her thoughts or feelings or experiences. I get to know what she chooses to share with me. I am not entitled to know more than she wants to share.
I immediately wrote her shrink an email when we got home and explained that we screwed up and we need to never do that to EC again. Next time when there is a check in about appointment regularity the conversation should go a lot more like, “EC is getting a lot out of therapy. She feels it is important to continue every two weeks.”
I don’t need to know the words she is sharing. That’s not my business.
I hope we haven’t damaged EC’s trust in her therapist with this fuck up.
I reminded both of my kids that therapists are legally obligated to break confidentiality for three reasons: sexual abuse, self harm, or harming others. Outside of that… it’s not my business if you want to spend all of your therapy talking about pickles or friends or me or books. You use your time to get support how you need support. I don’t need to know about it. It’s not my business.
I feel really bad. That’s such a big fail.
To be fair, the stuff the therapist repeated was softball stuff explaining problems I already knew existed but that doesn’t make it ok.
Then as we were coming home yesterday EC was reflecting on how some people like her more than others. She’s getting old enough that being in the same room as other kids doesn’t mean it will work out for play or feel like friendship. Sometimes she clicks with people and sometimes she doesn’t. She didn’t click yesterday and she was feeling bad about it. So on the ride home she was thinking about the people she has clicked with. Her face was crumbling in the back seat.
Me being me, I was all, “Hey wait. You are having feelings. You are thinking about something. I think you are thinking about a person… maybe more than one… and you are sad…. do you want to talk about it?”
She proceeded to tell me that I wouldn’t understand because I’ve never had to deal with losing someone who was important to me.
PEOPLE. I HAVE SUCCEEDED AT KEEPING MY WHINING OFF STAGE. THIS IS A FUCKING MIRACLE. I ALMOST FELL OUT OF MY SEAT LAUGHING.
I told her that in fact I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words about how much it hurts to lose people who are important to you so maybe I might understand a bit better than she thinks.
We talked for a while. When we got home she asked if we could cuddle on the couch and she could cry about the kids she won’t see again who liked her so much.
When she was feeling a bit better I said, “Hey. You know how you are scared that I’m going to have Lightning and never pay attention to you again? Did you notice how you can’t even have a sad facial expression for a few minutes without me pouncing on it to ask what is wrong? Do you really think I’m going to stop paying attention to you?”
She smiled in this blissed out way. She said, “I love how you love me” and she melted into me with perfect trust.
I may not own you. But I care about you. That isn’t going to stop.
I tell her that my goal is to earn a friendship with her when she’s a grown up. I don’t deserve it just by existing. She will get to decide if she enjoys my company and she wants to be my friend. She doesn’t have to take care of me, ever. She doesn’t owe me information she doesn’t want to share. She doesn’t have to tell me about herself.
It’s only if she wants to.
And I fail to earn it… that’s my problem.