Staples commercial circa 2009
It says it all really…I’m sorry, it just does.
Meanwhile, I sit in a my counseling office doing Gestalt therapy* on myself. The session goes something like this:
Q – Do I wish that a commercial highlighting the idea that summer is over and my four children have to return to brightly lit classrooms with assigned seating and designated computer use didn’t make me giddy with delight?
A – Yes. Yes, certainly I do.
Q – Have I always been this excited for my children to spend more time with peers and an adult who they might listen to, minus the constant
arguing begging bribing negotiation?
A – Well…no, I guess I haven’t. Not always. That sounds so…well, ungrateful somehow. There was a time when I looked at my perfect little cherubs and savored each and every minute of time I had with them.
I really believe that statement and I’m sticking to it.
Q – What changed for me?
A – Well…I guess it was when my eldest, now twenty (I was a child bride if you absolutely must know) was in 6th grade. Puberty has changed me. HERS, I mean. Well, theirs actually…all my girls. Her too, of course, but definitely me and my feelings toward children. Children and summer break, I mean, not just children.
Q – How has my daughter’s puberty changed me?
A – Well, I’m not as tolerant as I was when the girls were each younger. It’s like each time another hit that phase I began to feel like the priest in The Exorcist; you know, that time when a morning greeting turns into a power struggle somehow and a look, any look, gets a “What ARE YOU LOOKING AT?!” response? I seriously wonder if exorcism really works. I have friends who really subscr…
Q – If I might, let’s continue with exploring how I came to maliciously enjoy the Staples commercial…
A – Ok, well, “malicious” is your word, not mine. Write that down. I don’t want to be accused of being a sadist or something. I love my kids. Don’t get me wrong here.
Q – Yes, of course, I do. Now tell me, was it a gradual letting go process for me, or a one-and-done-type thing that triggered my
cruel sadistic anger toward the children I gave birth to?
A – I’d have to say it was a process by which I grew increasingly more frustrated at my daughters’ attitudes toward authority figures, er, me. I mean, heck, I’m ok with attitude. I have plenty of that myself, it was the omnipotence maybe. They act so high and mighty, like they don’t need…
Q – Go ahead…’like they don’t need’…need what?
A – me…Oh. My. Gawd. Me! My babies…they don’t need me…
♦♦The sacred Gestalt therapy space I’d just shared with myself has turned into a courtroom, Judge Jules presiding ♦♦
Q – Is it true then, that I want to reject them before they reject, or, in my own words, don’t need me? Is that a fair assessment?
A – *gulp* Maybe…
Q – I’m sorry, the court cannot hear me. Would I mind speaking up so I can hear myself?
– Um. I said Maybe. MAYBE. Can I hear me now?? Dammit! Maybe I do have feelings about my children growing up and leaving me and…
Q – And…? SAY IT!!!
A – NOT NEEDING ME! I scream at an empty chair.
Q – Case closed. Well done, counselor.
I walk away with my anger dissipated. It has been replaced by melancholy. My babies aren’t babies anymore. I take out my iPhone and scan through hundreds of pics from throughout our summer together. I finally reach my senior girl’s face but after I’d begun to lament the first day of her last year of high school. Soon she will join her eldest sister in college. She will be both feet out, maybe a toe or two in at best. I feel the
tearing pulling away like it was just yesterday that she’d been born and taken to the nursery to be checked out. Sigh…I look at my baby girl, now a young woman…
And then I remember how fond I am of that Staples commercial….
*Gestalt Therapy is an existential/experiential form of psychotherapy that emphasizes personal responsibility, and focuses upon the individuals’ experience in the present moment, the therapist-client relationship, the environmental and social contexts of a person’s life and the self-regulating adjustments people make as a result to their overall situation. An “empty chair” method can be enlisted so the patient can communicate freely, without bias or interruption, with that who the patient needs to work through issues. The chair symbolizes the other person in this interaction, who may not be able to join in treatment (death, legalities, proximity) or the therapist feels it may not be as beneficial to have the other person present either at that present time or ever.