The Battery Recharger

I have the distinct pleasure  challenge of being an introverted, internal processor mom with an extroverted, external processor teenage daughter. I don’t think even for a minute that this is unusual. If you happen to be that one parent who had children with your exact same personality, please raise your hand so we can throw fruit.

Now, I hang on as long as I can, listening and trying to stay engaged, but at some point I can feel this yucky thing rising up in me that cries, “Stop talking! You have already told me these things a hundred times. Leave me alone!” So, my job is to persevere until I feel the first twinges of that thing, and then calmly excuse myself. Even better, I need to choose a good time to bring up that story about recharging batteries I made up when the girls were little . . .

We have 2 daughters, and by the time they were toddlers, we started to notice the patterns that preceded a total core meltdown. For one, a long day full of errands, a play date and kids church would be so overstimulating she would lose any sense of coping skill. A simple “No sweetie, you can’t have another cookie” would send her into a tailspin. However, our other daughter seemed to thrive on those days. It was the long, quiet day at home without guests or reason to leave the house that would leave her grouchy and withdrawn. I needed a way to explain this so that they could understand and, hopefully, internalize for taking care of themselves someday.

I picked up the remote control and opened the battery compartment. (We have rechargeable batteries in our Wii System.) They understood this process, because when the remote stopped responding quickly, they learned to pull the batteries out, and put them into the charger plugged into the wall.  I talked to them about how each of them have a battery inside, not a metal one, but a special place God made inside them where their energy comes from.  When their battery gets too low, they start to feel tired, frustrated, and unhappy. So, when mommy or daddy noticed this, we were going to help them RECHARGE THE BATTERY. Because God made each of them unique and special, they each had their own charger, and they worked differently. One daughter recharged her battery by going upstairs in her room for 30-45 minutes of quiet time, either reading or drawing or tinkering with her belongings. The other recharged her battery by interacting with people, either by playing outside with the neighbor kids for an hour, or running an errand with me where we could talk and work on something together. Both would emerge refreshed and with a much better disposition.

This turned out to be far more helpful than we ever imagined at the time. This was the beginning of self-care, and learning how to steward their bodies, minds and emotions. Fast forward to today, and I  am now aware that I need to share with my teen how I recharge MY battery. I need to politely excuse myself, and mention that my battery needs recharging. After a crossword puzzle or reading  a few chapters, I should be ready to re-enter the chatter. And she’ll be waiting.

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