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Does “Self-respecting” Describe the Parent and Self-parent You Are?

My daughter is just starting elementary school now in Pre-K. I am again besieged by notifications and permission slips galore just like back when Eamon was in Kindergarten and there was “homework”. See my recent repost of my piece Kindergarten Homework here. All sorts of good intentions being bantered back and forth between educator and parent about how to best raise/educate our kids.

Within a hunk of papers distributed by the school this week, a subscription newsletter from a parents-institute, I read this headline:

“Parents Must Encourage their Children to Develop Self-respect”

Does “Self-respecting” Describe the Parent and Self-parent You Are? on Shalavee.com

( I immediately thought, Well yes, and what about those parents who already see educators as bossy jackasses thinking, “you can’t tell me what I must do with my kids because I’m not going to be bossed by smartass educational type people”. Shut that down.)

Of course I knew it was well-meant and read further. Essentially, children who are disrespectful don’t have any self-respect. Sometimes that’s what hides behind lack of respect for authorities. If we don’t value ourselves, we’re certainly not valuing others. And eventually the justice system needs to show us our worth. This is what the article said self-respect came down to being composed of.

Self-respect comes from:

Competence – Being good at things makes your kid feel good. Children need lots of opportunities to master skills and feel good about themselves while they do. New skills from sports to art to chores can give them a chance to like themselves while they master those skills. And no one standing over them telling what a bad job they did either.

Accomplishments – They need their progress seen and noted.By everyone but mostly by parents. See above.

Confidence – This can be about pointing out how all the work paid off and acceptance that sometimes we falter to succeed. Mistakes can be learned from and we need to know we can rely on ourselves to make things happen.

Freedom – Allow kids to be independent and make their own age-appropriate choices. Let them chose when things can be done and how sometimes. Showing them you trust them makes them trust them.

Support – Accept your children for who and what they are. Let them belong to the family instead of having to fit into your vision of what they should be. Ask them about their day. Listen and witness their answers and help solve their problems if they ask for it.

Imitation – Be the person you want them to model themselves after. They will do as you do. So if you have low self-esteem and anxiety issues, they will too. Be kind to yourself and stand firm for them with their demands as well so that they may see what standing firm looks like.

Does “Self-respecting” Describe the Parent and Self-parent You Are? on Shalavee.com

Invisible sword fighting

If you paid attention to even most of these, you’d have a pretty great kid. Personally, I got lost between the family cracks and did not have most of these attentions paid me but yes, I’m paying them to my kids. And then I thought, what kind of parents are we to ourselves? I feel like I can tend to be on the side of almost abusive self-parenting if I allow me to continue to berate and judge myself for the myriad of things I seem to do “wrong”.

What if we took these steps above and applied them to ourselves, which is truly necessary if we are actually parents because our kids do as we do, not as we say. What kind of parents do we want to be to ourselves? Compassionate and kind or judgemental and punitive?  Just like these children, we go out into the society and make our own contributions based on our self-worth and respect so shouldn’t we give ourselves these gifts as well to give us an edge up on our lives? I could use with a little more self-respect in my world, couldn’t you?

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Kindergarten Homework

With our enthusiastic “Go get’em” faces on, we waved our son onto the number 14 bus bound for Kindergarten. Maybe September allergies made my husband’s eyes water or maybe it was his relief that our child survived being stuck at home with me for the past 5 years. I contained my giddiness as I snapped that fateful picture of him waving back from the bus steps. We were each about to learn what going to school and developing new systems meant to us.Kindergarten Homework

The little guy loved school. Early in the year, I paid a visit to him and his 17 pint-sized classmates in their new classroom. I wanted to meet his teacher and to gather context for my son’s random, and sometimes jarring, disclosures of daily happenings. I’d been told she ran her classroom as smoothly as a Barney episode and I agreed after seeing her in action. She was generous with her praise and commendably judicious with a spastic group of five-year-olds. I felt my heart burst for all their sweetness and hardships. I wanted to wipe the pizza sauce off their faces and tie all their dirty untied shoelaces. And then I had to leave. Better her than me.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

Why was I surprised when the ridiculous quantity of paper began to flood our house? We got monthly activity schedules and cafeteria menus earnestly printed on green and pink papers followed by the “homework” sheets for the math and reading “clubs”. After a twenty-year hiatus, I had “homework” because it would take a herculean effort for my five-year-old son to list ten books we read in any given month plus their authors. Instead, he drew pictures for two books he liked. His reward was tattoos and bookmarks. I was rewarded with the return of these same drawings caught up in the paper river flowing from his “Dolphin” folder.

I absolutely loved my son’s drawings of primitive smiling suns and the stick people who suddenly had on pants because one of his bossy girlfriends proclaimed them necessary, although his stick figures soon returned to their original nakedness. And, of course, I liked the pictures where I was a part of the action. Sadly, only five percent of the rest of the book bag busyness consisted of these. Instead, I got glued, cut, colored, and constructed things of all sorts randomly based on holidays or nursery rhymes. Paper dolls tenuously perched on Popsicle sticks, sticker books, cereal cemented to construction paper, and drawings from his classmates. These barged into our home and tumbled out of his green backpack onto the kitchen table, sofa, and floor. And each and every loving one of these papers was suddenly and forever my responsibility.  

If I had kept every one of these suckers, in twenty years I’d have ended up on one of those hoarding shows, walking between mountains of papers and being buried alive under them. And, left up to my son, each little scrap of paper he’d ever put pen, crayon, scissors, or marker to was precious enough to keep forever. So, I smiled and nodded as I placed everything in the basket on top of the refrigerator, the paper avalanche repository. I had a secret stealth plan called The Purge, the goal of which was to land all the papers worth keeping into an out-of-sight place in an orderly fashion because the opposite of an overwhelming landslide is doable chunks.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

The three-step Purge system started with the placement of the papers in the basket atop the fridge. I then stealthily moved them to a drawer upstairs and, after being sorted essential from non, they would go into a portfolio in a closet. My theory was that if you were to mark the start and end of the monthly paper ocean with a ribbon marker in the basket, after a week I feel pretty sure the child would have forgotten about that hunk of stuff between the markers. There’s an official month of paper stuff to sort then. But out of sight means out of mind; I couldn’t let the child become an obstacle to The Purge.

Only when I was alone in the house, did I attempt to ruthlessly sort and cull this mess for the essence of my child. Parental wisdom must fight that guilty voice. One drawing of trees and kitties and a page of E’s are great but twenty of them are not. Into a paper recycle bag went the extras plus that which does not at all show the talents and charms of my child. I felt guilt-free when I pitched the gigantic paper penny, nothing against my man Abraham. And while I may have been kind and offered my in-laws the opportunity to take from the bag any art they may have liked, then Hi Ho Hi Ho off to the grey recycling container it went.

The final step was to create the holder for everything I’d culled. For his daycare artwork, I’d made a giant cardboard pita pocket portfolio and taped up the edges. It worked out nicely. Poster-board would work with packing tape seams. Certain well-known crafty people have made these attractive with fabric covered foam core and ribbon ties. I saved the pretty for later after I’ve mastered the simple de-clutter. This was the trench-work for the kindergarten homework clutter attack and it was all about biting off only as much as I could chew.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

I visited his classroom again that year. His lovely teacher and I spoke about educational mandates. All the busy work is still proof to the parents and legislators that the children are learning. And conversely, the clubs’ homework proves the parents are working with and reading to their children. She said if she had her way, there would be two recesses for her kindergartners (and 7 years later she would finally get that when she taught my daughter in Pre-K). Maybe there are too many cooks in the educational kitchen substantiating the price of their ingredients, but they’ll never pay this magnificent teacher enough. In fact, she’d been saving his “special” work from his year in a scrapbook she gave us parents at the end of the year. Why was I doing any of this when she’d had it covered? 

None the wiser for his mother’s devious deeds, my busy-brained boy continued to be overly stimulated as he dumped out his paper laden book bag. One day in March, he came home excitedly talking about Rosa Parks and Harriet “Tubb-s-man”. Apparently, he’d learned a lot about civil unrest and the Underground Railroad for black history month. They sang freedom songs, made paper buses, and discussed the mistreatment of the slaves. I was a little thrown by the sudden candidness of the subject and I commenced with a serious “discussion” about the ramifications of slavery and the inherent rights of all human beings to their freedom. After a long thoughtful silence, he said “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s play slaves!” Nothing new there.

(This piece of creative non-fiction was one of the very first as I began to write on-line and Published on Divine Caroline, a writing site that gave me reason to write. I then began this blog a year later but never republished it here. This Kindergarten Homework’s grand edited revival.)

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

 

Be Willing To Let Life Teach Them

As parents, we have a lot of damage control to manage. We expect that our children will be teased so we try to give them un-teasable names. We imagine they’ll be injured by the coffee table so we choose to have a round coffee table. We see the food struggle coming and so we make their meal choices simple so they’ll eat. But for all our parental controlling, do we consider the benefits of seeing the disasters and circumstances through to their not so perfect endings? Because there’s a lot to be learned by this practice occasionally.Be Willing to Let Life Teach Them on Shalavee.com

I remember reading in one of my parenting help books that if you have a problem with a kid who whines for the candy at the check out line in the grocery store, you need to set up a sting operation. Knowing they’ll behave this way, you say to them ahead of time as your headed to the store in need of pretend items, “we will leave if you pull this behavior stunt”. Then you go into the store grabbing this pretended needed item and when they act like they were told not to, you ask the cashier to please put the item back and you leave immediately and calmly. You are hedging bets for your future reliability. You are letting that child know he/she is not in charge. This is a very good example of how to reestablish your authority but sometimes you need to go all out the other way and let it go.

I spoke with a woman who was fretting about her son’s dental hygiene. She said he refused to take care of his teeth. And someone said, just wait until he wants to have a girlfriend. He’ll change that tune really quickly because no one wants to kiss someone with a skanky funk mouth. He was probably suffering a little from “if you tell me to do it then I don’t wanna”but there’s a point when, as a mother, you have to let lessons be learned. There’s always the free dental services at the Dental School when he has future dental health problems. Sadly, the only person he’s punking out against is himself.Be Willing to Let Life Teach Them on Shalavee.com

l took my daughter into the bathroom last night and she refused to go to the potty when I asked her. The old “I don’t have to” but “I really don’t want to be told what to do” trick. And sure enough, there was a wet bed four hours later. I knew what the circumstances were going to be but we have been pull-up free for a week and I know she has to go all the way out and feel the discomfort to learn. Sometimes we have to see our way through to the real worse case scenario, the “what if” so that the lesson can be learned the “hard way”. Because life is a better teacher than we can ever be.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

 

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My First World Kid

He’s grown up in a small town, a petri dish we carefully planned and chose to spawn him in. Because it wasn’t the big city we were raised in complete with all those big city dangers. He had a stay at home Mom, a chance to play in Little League and be in a parade, and a box at the post office for letters to Santa. And we also bequeathed him our anxieties, such as they were when we had him. He’s gotten all his quirks honestly and he’s a first world kid.

I was proud of him when he asked to see a talking doctor when he was feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of entering middle school. He was discombobulated and was asking for help so of course! And as we sat there at the intake appointment and the nice therapist had to ask him all the hardcore questions about sexual abuse, violence in his home, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental illnesses, it was so very clear that he truly has no street savvy. She asks, did he ever cut himself? He said, you mean intentionally? This is the kid who scolds me when I curse.My First World Kid on Shalavee.com

We are in this woman’s office because he asked for support! That is to be commended. And after all these questions that remind me that there are so many horrendous situations happening to children all over the world, my first thought was, we have no problems. Or we have such first world problems. These aren’t even private school stresses but public school ones. As of my 12th birthday, I had entered into a private school for girls and got to know a whole new level of stress hell as well as gained my savvy on the streets of the city.

But not my kid. His innocence is so dear that I sit back and relax. When the questionnaire has been filled out, I’ll get to let this woman take the helm and aid him as only a third-party neutral can be trusted to do. She’ll give him what he needs and I’ll have given her to him as is my job. I have kept him safe and naïve and happy up until this point. And I’m OK passing some of the buck.My First World Kid on Shalavee.com

I know that bubble is about to pop, as it must. And I am glad and proud of the job I’ve done so far. He’s amazing and I hope he’ll know just how amazing the bigger he gets. We’re living the sheltered American Dream in the meanwhile. We’re the first world Subway sub eating, Netflix kid movie watching, piano lesson paying, one boy and one girl family of four. And I am grateful beyond words for all of this.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter orPinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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The Gift of Empowerment

The sound of my whining children is like a mosquito circling my head. But instead of swatting the bug/child, I realize that they always think that they are never going to get their way, get their needs met, or be able to negotiate for themselves. Just as you have to tell them that all movies are make-believe and any movie I allow them to see will always end well, you have to tell them they are allowed to ask for their needs to be met. They don’t know they’re entitled yet to positively ask for what they need. They don’t know their entitlement to empowerment. I have to stop and say,”If you don’t think you want to do that chore now or you’d prefer juice over milk, how about if you say, ‘Hey Mom , can I do that after dinner? or Mom I’d like juice with my dinner instead of milk, is that OK?’ ” And I have them repeat it back to me in that mental voice. Fiona on Shalavee.com

Somehow I am running a dictatorship that I didn’t realize I was running. And I’d rather have them try to reason for what they want than bully me or whine at me yet they just don’t know that’s allowed. Hard to believe that our liberal egalitarian selves have yet to raise insta-empowered children but there you have it.They need to be taught their entitlement to choices and boundaries.

There are no givens in life and it certainly ain’t fair but there is plenty of reasoning if we allow for it. I’d rather raise a child who would stand up for themselves in a reasonable fashion I could respect then a back-talker who’s resentful all the time. It’s just seems I’m on an upward hill to climb to show them empowerment without whining or sass. But the one guarantee I can make is that I will model this behavior of standing up by not allowing them to be disrespectful to me. Lead by that example as I’d wished I’d learned sooner.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter orPinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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