Tag Archives: parenting

Teach Them Well

9 Aug

I’ve been trying to come to terms with the unsettling fact that I cannot shield my children from the wrongs of the world – nor can I keep them from contributing to them. I’m worrying I’m not doing enough to make sure they make the right decision or react the best way when mom and dad aren’t around or watching.

Recently, two things happened to Nate that hurt his heart. Other kids caused the pain. One involved a group of kids surrounding him while repeatedly calling him a word that should not have a negative feeling/meaning attached to it but obviously they’ve been guided to think that way. We do not think that way and Nate and Nia both know that. Nate was overwhelmed and didn’t know how to respond. The other situation was because he likes a little girl who one child said wasn’t Nate’s “type.” The child said that to Nate because the girl has darker skin than Nate. Apparently, the child’s parents made him write sentences for liking a girl who wasn’t his “type.” (!) This made Nate sad. (Heck yeah it should!) He didn’t understand. I told him we don’t think that way. “Is your girl friend nice to you?” I asked him. “That’s what matters to mommy and daddy. Not what a person looks like. You like the person you want to like. Don’t worry what others say. We do not judge whether we are going to like someone because of skin color or hair color or size or teeth or …” He told me he knew and then went on to be happy about this little girlie who makes him feel special.

These are 7-year-olds. They are taught this. I can only hope our teachings speak louder to Nia and Nate than what others are taught (or not taught for that matter).

I want them to remember to be kind, caring and considerate. Protect those who need it. Consider how their words or actions affect others. Have a helping heart. To instinctively know how to react when they witness – or are the target of – a hurtful act. Don’t turn to anger first as a solution. Think through their thoughts and be smarter than the pain and hate. Apologize with an excuse. Forgive without conditions attached.

Among the kindness, I want them to be strong and stand their ground when they know it’s the right thing to do. Fight back when absolutely necessary. Make mistakes and work to fix them or do better next time. Don’t let a fear of failing – or not being 100% at something – keep them from trying. Make the best/most of things. Find the bright spot through the darkness. Don’t be bored. Savor the still moments among the adventures and appreciate the challenges and tough times because they are blessings too. Be grateful.

I think through all those hopes for them and then realize – that stuff is hard for me to do as an adult and I want my kids to remember do it? I can hardly control my own responses to things. How can I control theirs? They are going to mess up. I know I’ve had many selfish and road rage moments of regret. All I can do is teach them well and hope they hear the guidance over all the wrongs.

I will try to remember too.

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Parenting: Contents Under Pressure

21 May

“I am so happy when I just think about kid stuff!” The comment seem to dance around the living room by a little girl struggling lately with a range of different thoughts and emotions making her feel confused and worried.

WarningIt’s been an interesting (read challenging and stressful) few days for us. I couldn’t agree more with her exclamation. However, I sadly understand and pointed out to her that the other (less fun) stuff is indeed still “kid” stuff as well. Just growing up kid stuff.

From what I remember about puberty, it was different from all this business I’m hearing about from our oldest baby. Maybe because I blocked out the awkward? Maybe because I don’t remember such specific thoughts? Maybe because I wasn’t a parent on the other side?

I know one thing for sure – I certainly did not tell my parents everything Nia tells us. I’m sure I will miss her openness when she stops sharing her thoughts with me. I just think it would be better for all of us if she didn’t share quite so much. Some thoughts should stay private. I don’t even want people to know everything I think. I could be in big trouble if I told someone my thoughts when I thought them. I told her that so she knows she’s not the only one who thinks things she doesn’t want to or understand. I told her the thoughts are normal. It’s ok to have them. It’s the choosing not to act on them that matters. I stress to her that she’s a kind, caring little girl. She worries she has a “bad” part. Don’t we all?

It’s just tough to teach a child who wants so much to do the right thing that she doesn’t need to tattle on herself for every little hiccup of growing up. We’ve talked about it and talked about it (and talked about it some more) and I’m hoping we can find a way for her to best manage her feelings without feeling like she needs to confess or seek reassurance for all things. It’s a tricky thing to balance because I tell her I’m always here to talk about her concerns but then I say – we just don’t need to talk about all things. I’ve tried to tell her she’ll soon be able to distinguish between the harmless (although maybe a bit uneasy) thoughts that she’s a-ok to keep private and the thoughts/experiences she feels that could hurt her or others. Those are shareable.

Because I don’t want to mess this whole parenting thing up, I’m planning to get guidance on how I can best handle my responses and direct her feelings the safest way. I guess that’s what Nia does when she shares with me. From one confessing, worried soul to another, this situation is fragile.

Made With Love … by Daddy

24 Feb

It seemed like a simple enough wish to help bring to life for Nia. “I want to make a Princess Leia sock doll and an Anakin doll for Nate.” Sure. Why not? After all, I just helped her a few months ago when she wanted to make a sock doll of Baby Peach (from the Mario Bros. game). However, (and it’s ok to laugh) here’s the doll I helped create:

Princess Peach Doll - made by Nia and Mom

Princess Peach Doll – made by Nia and Mom

Yes, those are yarn arms and an old Barbie dress. If I can do that, surely I can help with the new dolls. Besides, Nia loves her Peach. Even if she can’t cuddle with her because one of the crumbled papers that serve as hair may detach. (Have I ever told you I’m not the craftiest and I don’t know how to sew? I’m sure it’s obvious now!)

We got to Michaels craft store and started brainstorming the pieces we would need to create. Nia knew she wanted buttons for eyes and yarn for hair. Then, my suggestions started flying.

“How about a Styrofoam ball for a head?”
“Pipe cleaner for a mouth?”
“Felt for clothes.”
“We can just use some cotton balls for stuffing.”

Nia seemed pleased with these ideas. We loaded our basket as Andrew and Nate decided on a Star Wars model spaceship to build. At some point during our shopping, Andrew grabbed a bag of stuffing for dolls. It was almost like he knew he would have a bigger part in this project. In fact, he’s the reason the dolls came to life as wonderfully as they did.

My contribution? I stuffed a Styrofoam ball in one of the socks. That ball didn’t make the final cut though. It was replaced (rightly so) with cuddly stuffing.

Sewing Machine Daddy

Sewing Machine Daddy

I went to the grocery store and when I came home an excited Nia greeted me at the door holding a stuffed sock with sewn on arms and legs. It was a real sock doll. I came upstairs and saw Andrew sitting at the table focused on the sewing machine (with a beer beside it). “Shut up!” I said to him in shock and praise. He laughed. I was amazed.

He worked on the Leia and Anakin sock dolls for several hours over two days. The kids stuffed the dolls and gave guidance on how they wanted the hair and clothes. Nia also helped by making Leia’s belt. I helped by shouting compliments and joyful words like, “Unbelievable!” “Wow!” and “Those are the best sock dolls ever!”

Toward the end, sewing machine daddy scoffed at me when I asked if he was going to use a pipe cleaner for a mouth. “I’m going to sew it.” Know what else he sewed? The dolls’ yarn hair and the scar near Anakin’s eye. Incredible.

Made with love … by daddy. Something the kids will treasure for always.

The Creation of Andrew's Leia and Anakin Sock Dolls

The Creation of Andrew’s Leia and Anakin Sock Dolls

Loves her Princess Leia

Loves her Princess Leia

Loves his Anakin

Loves his Anakin

Room to Grow

14 Dec

A few weeks ago, I started writing an unfinished blog about how it’s been tough for me to give my kids room to grow. I’ve been worried that I’m suffocating their free spirits by not letting them play outside by themselves more – or stay over more friends’ houses – or let them walk the block to the bus stop without supervision. I see children playing outside in our neighborhood with other kids, no adult in sight. It looks as though they run this place. Confident and carefree, growing into their own. My kids, meanwhile, are sheltered.

It’s not that I don’t trust my children. I don’t trust others and situations outside of my watch. It’s been like that even for sleepovers at friends’ houses. Nia just had her first “alone” sleepover at a friend’s this year and I was worried the whole time. I woke up in the middle of the night. I checked my phone. She was fine and I felt like a mess. What’s my problem? I played outside until the street lights came on or until I heard the yell from home base. I had sleepovers and adventures sans adults. It’s just so tough for me to let them walk barefoot in the grass because I feel like when I do, they get stung by a bee.

What I need to remember is that the bee is really out of my control. I didn’t see it there as I sat and read my book. The kids didn’t see it there as they giggled and chased each other. Moments of bliss, interrupted with pain and tears. Mom and dad are there to make it better though. Scoop them up with hugs and kisses – medicine and a bandage. Don’t forget the ice cream. Still, we are able to be the protectors. Always the protectors. But what happens when you can’t be there to protect or comfort?

The heartbreaking tragedy that happened in Connecticut today captures that fear for me. Each day, we send our children on their merry – or cranky (depending on their mood that morning) – way to school and we head off to work or to whatever routine we have on the schedule. “Love you! Have a great day!” Words of caring we exchange to each other as they walk toward the bus or building. “See you later.” Because that’s what’s supposed to happen. See you later.

Sometimes, the hurt that happens when they are away from us isn’t permanent like the violence of today. Hurt feelings or worry in their hearts because of bullies, a fight with a friend or boys saying rude and inappropriate things. (That last one happened to Nia today.) For the most part, that hurt can be healed with an end of the day hug and talk with mom and dad. They feel better. They have some options on how to handle things if it happens again. They know teachers will be there to help because mom and dad talked with them. But still, I couldn’t keep them protected at the moment of their pain and I need to absorb that I never will be able to do that. They are not hurt-proof. None of us are. Mere mortals. Breakable. Perishable. Fragile.

Thinking about what happened in Connecticut today, my heart hurts for all those facing “What now?” and it hoards fear about “What if?” I am telling myself to allow my children to savor more barefoot in the grass and sleepover moments – especially for all those innocent little ones who now cannot.

Bye-bye Barbie Bike, Hello Tiptoe Tall Ride

18 Mar

Of course, the time was going to come. Signs were all around me every day (and continue to be).

The questions they ask. The things they know. The inches they grow, marked with higher and higher marks on the wall. The ability to wash their hands at the kitchen sink or brush their teeth at the bathroom sink without a stool. Child car seats with only seat belts and not five-point harnesses. Bigger bicycles.

For some sentimental reason, that last one recently did me in. As I watched them push and ride their first two-wheel bikes to trade them in for bigger ones at the store, I couldn’t hold back the tears.

Bye-bye, First Bikes

Nia’s first bike was a rad Barbie one that had a place for Barbie to ride her bike, too.

Bean's First Bike - 2008

Nate’s was Spiderman all the way.

Nate's First Bike - 2009

As we steered the two pieces of childhood memories to customer service, I started to doubt our decision. “We could keep them and the new ones.” I tried to reason with Andrew. “That way, smaller cousins and friends will have bikes to ride when they visit.” We don’t have the physical space for a shopping aisle of bikes in our garage. The decision stood.

Aside from being sad about saying goodbye to that time of growing up, I think I just didn’t like the thought of their childhood memories being recycled in a heap of scrap metal, instead of recycled and cherished by another child.

The kids didn’t think twice about it the exchange though. They parked their old rides and immediately turned their backs and bee-lined for the new spokes.

Their smiles helped me shake off the sadness. Especially when we got home and I watched as Nia worked with her daddy to build her bigger bike and then looked so not-little while she pedaled around the cul-de-sac.

Growing up is good. Sniff.

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Daddy’s Got a Gun

11 Feb

And he knows how to use it.

Ok, ok, ok. Before I begin, I must make a few things clear.

  • I do not consider myself a perfect parent. I make mistakes. A lot. I also will be the first to admit I don’t know what I’m doing. Who in the world really “knows” how to be a parent anyway?
  • I am not anti-gun. If you want to own a gun, you own that gun. I may or may not own a gun. That’s for me and a would-be burglar or the end of the world zombie to find out. Whether I know how to use it or not, well, I may or may not have a gun.

Back to the dad and his gun. If you don’t know what I’m talking about I promise I won’t laugh at you for being out of the social media loop this past week. (I actually might be jealous of you because you haven’t been exposed to the excitement around the video. And now, I will ruin that for you.)

Basically, a teenage daughter vents on facebook about her parents and the chores she has to do using bad words and typical teen angst. She apparently has been punished for this before so the dad, understandably, has had it. He reads her facebook vent to the camera and then shoots her laptop eight times so that she will now have to earn back her privileges. To see the whole thing for yourself:


I am fine with the fact that he is upset and wants to punish her. I just feel like I’m in the minority of those who may not support the way he went about it – or their “way to go/great parenting” spirit. Again, I’m not targeting the gun – for me, it’s more about the destruction and the possible public embarrassment to his daughter that he created. Sure, he may have felt upset and embarrassed by her vent but he is the adult. How is what he did better than what she did? What example did he set? Have a problem? Destroy it. I’ve seen people comment that he should have donated the laptop. I agree. That shows respect and consideration of others. Seems like a good teaching lesson.

My other issue is it must be challenging to parent in today’s social media world. I am so grateful I didn’t have facebook when I was teen. The things I wrote in my diary were awful. I vented a lot. And now I have a wonderful relationship with my parents. If they acted like this father did should they happen to read my vents, I don’t think I would regret my writings, but resent my parents for crushing me like that. I was a teen. TEEN. Not an adult. There’s supposed to be a difference there, right?

My last concern with this whole thing is my conspiracy theory mind can’t help but think this dad is doing this all for publicity for his book and his company. (His facebook page is quite a popular place and it was really easy for me to find his book on Amazon.)

Yeah, I said it was my conspiracy theory mind.

I suppose I just needed to vent myself. Some of you may agree but I have a feeling many more of you will not – I just hope any of you who disagree keep my laptop out of your sights.

Thankful for Lady Gaga

24 Jan

She is nice to him and he bashfully describes her as pretty. She stole his heart on a day near Halloween when she walked in his class dressed up as a Kindergarten (G-rated) Lady Gaga.

Nate was so enamored with Little Gaga that he announced to the class during a Thanksgiving lesson that he is most thankful for her. (His teacher emailed me about the sweetness.)

Turns out, the feeling is mutual. Her mom tells me that she “just loves Nate” and that she recently put him as no. 89 in her “Favorite 100 Things” book because there are 89 different reasons she likes him. She also saves every drawing Nate gives her and has them hanging in her room. This one was the first:

image

Nate will reassure us that they are not boyfriend and girlfriend. “I’m too young for that,” he maturely states and then turns his head down to the side to hide his grin.

I smile too, remembering a note to her that said, “I love you because you are nice to me.” So pure. So important. Such a beautiful reason to love someone. I hope he always thinks about that when it comes to his future “real” girlfriends. Loving the inside as much as the Lady Gaga.

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