This week Bumble and I had a rare chance to get dressed up and help with ‘Front of House’ for a local Musical Theatre Group’s production of “Annie”. Bumble has been involved with this group for some years now (only small parts but he will always be my Patrick Swayze), in fact on one occasion Beeswax joined his dad ‘on stage’ (but, that is a whole other blog post which I may write sometime). Each year since the boys moved in with us, at least one of them has come to see their dad in the shows he has been in – except for last year! I really don’t think Social services would have been too impressed if I took two impressionable boys to see ‘The Full Monty”, (saying that Buzzbee could have helped the cast get over their inhibitions about swearing in public).
Disclaimer: Unlike seven members of the cast, Bumble stayed fully clothed throughout the show, much to the disappointment of my Nan.
Obviously ‘Annie’ has a strong ‘Care’ and ‘Adoption’ story line, but as Bumble is not in the show, we have avoided the boys asking to go, but we have been asked several times in the run up to the show whether they were coming to see it. Most who asked understood why we felt it best not to bring them to the show, but for some I found myself explaining that we felt the show would stir up too many difficult emotions for them and that they would be unable to cope or regulate themselves in such an enclosed social environment.
Having to explain myself is nothing new to me. I am regularly accused of being too over-protective of my boys when it comes to exposing them to the content of films, TV, books or even stage shows, that I feel will send them into an emotional spiral.
Maybe sometimes they are right at times, but generally if I put the ‘brakes on’ them seeing/reading something I am doing it because it is in their best interests.
Or, am I? Is there part of me that wants to ‘protect them’ in order to ‘protect myself’?
Now, maybe it is just the constant questioning from people about this decision and many others, but it’s started my ‘dizzy’ little brain thinking about my motives for saying ‘No’.
Have I been shielding them both for the wrong reasons? Am I actually trying to protect myself from the fallout of their reactions to the emotional triggers?
Just to be clear! I am not saying that I shelter them from difficult topics because I am ashamed of how they might react in public or how people might judge my parenting. That ship sailed a long time ago and I am the ‘Queen Bee’ of public meltdowns. If there was a university degree course for it, I would have graduated with a First and be working on my PhD.
To the ‘normal’ world I have the ‘patience of a saint’ (inside? Well I am sure most of you can guess what that is like). But, if I was to look beyond the thick public rhinoceros hide, and be honest with myself, I cannot deny that there may be some truth on a subconscious level, about what drives my thinking. I am a human being after all, and in the past, Beeswax especially, has responded to stressful situations in such a way that I have been hurt, objects have been damaged or he has put himself and others in harm’s way because he is in an amplified state of ‘Fight, Flight or Freeze’. Can I honestly say that this doesn’t affect my decisions? No!
Is it right? Maybe not! But I don’t really think there is a correct answer. All I can do is think about what I am trying to achieve and how best to achieve it. I am not a mind-reader (although Bumble and the boys think I am). I sometimes underestimate what they can cope with and I sometimes do get it wrong. But, for better or worse, I have to rely on my judgement and instincts because, in the end, it is Bumble, the boys and I who have to live with the consequences of my decisions.