I had some fairly enlightening discussions with my middle daughter yesterday.
First of all, I asked her if she wanted to take over the aux jack in my car, so we could listen to her choice of music. She tends to feel very private about what she likes and doesn’t view music as a social thing. So I was surprised when she actually did it because I think that’s a sign that she’s learning to trust me.
I told her that Dylan always takes over the aux jack in my car too, as part of my reassurance that I was fine with hearing stuff that isn’t always my taste. And sometimes I even find new stuff that I like through exposure.
I do have to say that so far, her music tastes don’t seem to match up well with mine. She mostly listens to Japanese city pop or disco, 70s soul, and some acid jazz. But it was fine listening to it.
Then I asked her if she felt weird at all about the fact that I’m so close with Dyl. She said no because it didn’t seem to hinder my efforts to be close to other people (like her.) But then she also said some really interesting things.
Like she guessed that it was more natural for me to be close to Dyl because of how much he’s like J. That’s very true. And then she also pointed out that some of Dylan’s bad traits are ones that she could picture my husband as having been like when he was younger (particularly being arrogant and not being willing to apologize.)
She said that she remembered my husband exhibiting more of those traits earlier, even in her own lifetime. She said that he’s really worked to not be like that as much anymore but that she sees those same traits in Dyl sometimes and they drive her crazy. She also acknowledged what I must have gone through for so many years (which nobody ever really does.)
Honestly, she totally hit the nail on the head with all of that. It was actually kinda eerie. But she’s always been like that, just sitting back and observing way more than she lets on.
Then, we had another very interesting discussion. She said that she thinks that the way we raised her is indeed part of why she has been so slow to take on the responsibilities of adulthood.
But she remembers things a certain way, which is that she thinks my husband would have been much tougher on her than I was, especially because he was raised that way. She sees it that my influence mellowed him out and kept him from acting on some of the ways he was raised.
She doesn’t think my husband would have ever been abusive like his stepdad was but does think he would have expected her to do a lot more work if not for my influence.
I pointed out that Amy always helped him with a lot of that work. But she overall said that was a negative thing and implied that Amy thought so, too. If so, I think she’s made some kind of peace with that, especially because a lot of the things she learned were about how to fix things (which she still does.)
So then I asked Chloe if she thought we should have been harder on her to encourage her finding her path to adulthood sooner and she said no. She said, “I might have been more independent sooner but I also probably would’ve also hated you guys.”
I’m not really sure what to think about all this now. I mean, she now seems more motivated to get a job and that’s good.
And she also acknowledged that a lot of that was just her and she doesn’t think we could have done much differently to achieve a better outcome.
She’s always been kinda slow to grow up, very private and secretive, and just does things on her own timetable. Any effort on my or my husband’s part to get her to change or go faster usually doesn’t work anyway. She has always been my hardest child to motivate.
But really, it just reveals how different all three of my kids are from one another. Amy is totally independent now and I’m really happy with how she’s doing overall. Like me, she found a good relationship and he does a lot to help her.
Dylan has been pretty self-motivated since 9th grade, when he realized that he had potential but it wouldn’t be realized unless he put in action, too. He’s the most conventionally successful of all my kids so far. And I can’t point to anything I’ve done or that J has done that has made him that way. I just try to help him fulfill his dreams as best as I can and was very clear with him about mistakes we made, so he could try to learn from them.
Still, it’s interesting that Chloe thinks we were too easy on her and that it might have held her back. But she also acknowledged that if we weren’t as nice, the outcome likely would have been worse. She sees us both as being really nice people, sometimes doing things for others to a fault.
She’s still planning (at least at this point in her life) to stick around and help me with the bills. We’ll have to see if that pans out in the end; it may not. But I think that for the most part, we did the best that we could, and I’m glad that we took the compassionate route with her.