I scratch my daughter’s back every night.
I read to her.
I lay on her floor until she falls asleep, and then I tip-toe over to the door and quietly try to turn her doorknob, so it doesn’t create that sqeeeeeeeak sound when I make my exit.
If she hears me, if the doorknob decides to clink despite my efforts, she yanks herself up and out of sleep and PANICS.
Where are you going? I can’t sleep? Why aren’t I asleep? Don’t leave!
I’m hoping this is a phase. I tell myself it’s temporary, but she has developed sleep-stress and it’s exhausting for me, for my husband, and most importantly for her.
Because she thinks, if I’m tired, I won’t feel good tomorrow.
If I’m tired, I won’t perform well in school.
If I’m tired, the teachers will get mad at me for losing focus in class.
If I’m tired, I won’t have the energy to play with my friends.
She’s 7 and already the weight of the world and all its expectations are on her.
And, the part that worries me, her workload only goes up from here. Soon, there will be book reports and group projects and quizzes and standardized tests and “read these 60 pages from your book by tomorrow.”
She’s only 7 and she’s already feeling pressured to play an instrument, join a sports team, and learn a second language.
She’s only 7 and she’s trying to navigate complicated peer relationships and adapt to different audience expectations.
She’s only 7 and her body is telling her it’s too much.
My husband and I talked late into the night last night wondering how to help our child manage all the stuff that keeps piling on her plate?
How do we raise a kid in the 21st century and protect her from some of these 21st-century expectations?
While neither of us are experts in handling childhood stress, at around 11 PM, we put a plan together, and that is WE ARE DONE.
We are done forcing her to spend an hour on homework after spending the previous 7 hours in a classroom. We refuse to let a state-mandated standardized test stress her out. In fact, we will gladly let her skip school that day if necessary. And she does not have to participate in a single after school activity if she doesn’t want to.
We are done.
We are done trying to force her to do more than she is capable of. Her mental health comes first. Her happiness comes first. She comes first.
ALL of our children, yours and mine, come first.
At some point, as parents, we need to say enough is enough. Enough homework, enough testing, enough pressure to be perfect, enough forcing them to have the achievements of adults when they are, in fact, still children.
There is no achievement in the world that is worth sacrificing our kids’ health.