That’s What I Like About You

My blog friend G Sandwich wrote a great post the other day about writing.  Sometimes as a journalist she (and every other journalist in the known world) would need to file copy, so they would “milk” an already written article – basically rewrite the story using mainly the same facts.  The other option is to write a “follow-up”.  This is where the majority of the new story is actually new, but just brings up different viewpoints or more info.  Here’s hoping that todays post is a follow-up and not a milk.

Last week I wrote about saying I Love you unconditionally.   My blogging friend Deep As Thought commented that sometimes she would like important people in her life to say, not necessarily I love you (though I think everyone wants that) but “I like you because ….”  That got me thinking.

Growing up, my Mother was very critical.  In 3rd grade, I remember getting a 95 on a test.  I was proud of myself.  I went home and told my Mom.  her response: “Well, if you’d studied harder you would have had a 100.” ( No- my Mother was not nominated for parent of the year that year, or any year since.)  These words from my Mother never got less harsh as time passed, but guess what, my grades got worse.  I stopped studying and doing homework.  How I managed to escape High School with an average somewhere in the B range is a testament to being somehow smart enough to get through a test. What I lacked in actual book knowledge I made up for in an uncanny ability to figure out multiple choice questions.  In my teenage mind, my Mother was not going to appreciate anything I did, so why should I try? No- I hadn’t yet learned the art of doing things for myself.  Again, my Mom was so controlling, I didn’t think having my own thoughts and actions was possible. She did not like who I was. Thanks Mom.

My Mothers words and actions continued to dominate my thoughts and actions.  This lasted for way too long.  I had a long line of mistakes and missteps that can be directly attributed to my weird relationship with her.  Because at the root of everything, my Mother did not like me.  She did not like what I did.  She had comments about my weight, choice in friends, what I wore, what I read, how I spent my free time.  There was little in my life she did not criticize.  As a child and a teenager and young adult, even as a real adult, it did not feel great to think that my Mother didn’t like me.  It sort of zaps your confidence.  Well, not sort of.  It  totally zaps your confidence.  And if you don’t feel confident, then you really can’t succeed at anything,  you really can’t ever be happy.  You walk around with a feeling of not being worthy of anything.  This is not a great path to be on.  It is a dizzying downward spiral.  It is a spiral that is hard to recover from.

All because my Mother never said “I like….”

We all want to be liked, especially by our parents.  Shouldn’t the assumption be that a parent likes their child?  As a Mother, I know I want my daughter to feel loved, liked and appreciated every day.  I make sure I praise her about the things she does well at, give constructive criticism if the situation warrants it, thank her when she does something nice, and tell her I love her.  (Don’t worry- I screw up a lot too- I’m sure one day she will write a blog and tell you all the horrible things I did…)  But I really try.

So here’s your homework assignment.  Really think about why you like all the people in your life.  Think about their positive attributes that draw you to them.  Tell them.  Tell the people in your life why you like them.

Here’s my list:

  1. I like it when my husband takes out dog out for the 10pm walk, because if I’m home I like to be in my pajamas by then.  He knows this is important to me, which is why he does it.
  2. I like it that my daughter comes home and takes care of school work right away.  This makes my life so easy.  I have never had the dreaded homework fight.
  3. I like my best friend S because she is a vault.  I can tell her anything and she will not even share it with her husband.  Everyone needs a friend like that.
  4. I like my friend G because she will always tell you the truth.  Sometimes I need the reality.
  5. I like my friend M because she is completely realistic.  She knows that sometimes life has to be ugly, and she will guide me through the cold hard facts.
  6. I like my friend A because she is truly the funniest, most sarcastic person I;ve ever met.  No matter what the situation, she finds the humor, no matter how dark.  I need this type of person in my life.
  7. I like my friend SF because he is willing to argue with me.  We differ on certain subjects, and he’s never afraid to engage, even though he’s always wrong.
  8. I like my friend M2 because she loves culture.  I need a friend I can go to a museum, concert or whatever with because those experiences are fun to share

I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea.

Tell someone you like them.  It really means a lot.  They will like it.

 

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Lost and Found

My daughter lost her wallet yesterday.  She got on the city bus in front of our building, so she knew she had her wallet then, because she used her Metrocard (what we use in NYC to board public transportation) to get on the bus.  When she got to school, she went to get her ID, and realized the wallet was missing.  To belabor the point, she lost between getting on bus and getting to school.

When she realized she lost her wallet, she called me.  I could hear agony in her voice, it was low and as soon as she started to talk, she began to cry.  She didn’t understand how she could lose it.  When you’re an ultra responsible kid who has never lost anything other than a water bottle (which she does lose a lot for some reason) this was devastating.

And while I tried to console her, I knew that practicality had to come out.  “What was in your wallet?”  I knew she had a credit card and a debit card. I snapped my fingers to get my Husbands attention.  “Daughter lost her wallet.  Cancel the Visa, I’ll do the debit card.”  I got off the phone with my daughter, telling her she had to go to the main office and tell them she lost her school id.  Why I needed to explain to a reasonably smart person that someone could use her ID to enter the school fraudulently is beyond me.  She didn’t want to do this- she kept saying that someone would surely find her wallet.  I said it would be great if they did, but everything had to be canceled and places had to be notified that her ID might be compromised.  This went on by text way too long, till I told her it had to be done.

So my daughter was embarrassed to have lost her id.  I get that, but I also know that people are human and mistakes are made.  I also told her she could have been pickpocketed.  I wanted to race up the 52 blocks to her school and hug her, but a Mom can’t always be right there to physically comfort a child.  Sometimes the kid has to learn how to self sooth.

I then received a whole bunch of texts asking me to contact the MTA at 11 when the lost and found opened.  She was positive that her wallet would be found and turned in, all contents still inside.  She gave me the bus route, the time she got it- I’m surprised she didn’t have the driver and bus id.  Her optimism was impressive.  My pessimism was equally impressive.  I explained to her that the wallet was small, and would probably not be found.  Also, the Metropolitan Transport Association is not really known for its blazingly good customer service.  Just ask anyone who has been stuck on a train for 45 minutes.

At 11 I called.  After 25 minutes of trying to find the right department, it turned out I had to fill out an online form to document the loss.  Which I did.  Oh, the detail and general backasswardness of this report.   They asked for brand of wallet- they had no choice for piece of shit wallet she bought at TJ Maxx for 3.99. You have to list every item that was in the wallet.  Credit card.  Debit card. NYC Parks tennis pass.  School id.  Brandi Melville gift card.  American Eagle gift card.  Regular metrocard.  School issue metrocard.  Sticker from Brandi Melville.  (to tell you the truth- I was really impressed that she knew exactly what was in her wallet- not really surprised, but impressed none the less)  All this, when she wasn’t getting her wallet back.

Now of course, because I had spent 45 minutes of my life that I would never get back filling out a lost property claim, her wallet was found.  Husband got a call.  Wallet was  dropped off at a branch of the bank which issued the credit card inside.  Great.

Texted daughter.  Everyone is happy.

Here’s the thing.  My daughter just assumed the wallet would be found and turned in.  This girl has grown up a few blocks from a methadone clinic, and has seen people at the bottom of their luck, trying to quell an addiction that has destroyed their life.  She has seen people lying on the streets, passed out from drink.  She was seen people sleeping in the vestibule of the bank, homeless people showering in the sprinkler at the playground.  She knew a girl who died trying to jump from one building to another.  She knew a girl in her 7th grade class that got pregnant.  She has had friends who knew kids who committed suicide.  She has seen on a daily and routine basis how crappy life can be for others.  Yet- she has hope.

Why?  How?

Well, she has spent the past 3 years as a volunteer tennis coach at a program for inner city youth.  Shas spent the past 3 years as a tutor at a program for kids with no resources for extra help.  She tries to make life a little better for others.  One Saturday morning a month she gets up at 630 on a Saturday, and chops vegetables and sets out cutlery at a soup kitchen.  When she exits the church basement after prep is done,   I know it still shocks her how many people are lined up for that one meal.  She has sat next to children who are wearing coats and gloves and hats, and carrying backpacks that me, and other parents have given the school to distribute to families that need just a little help.  This is what gives her a little bit of optimism- she sees people trying to do the right thing.  She tries to do the right thing.

Will she always think that the good nature of people will prevail?  I hope so.  But it’s hard- because as stated, sometimes life sucks.

Now, my daughter is happy that wallet was turned in, most things still there.  Someone did swipe her two metrocards, and she was annoyed that the equivalent of 20$ was lost/stolen.  She wants to recreate how she actually lost her wallet, to the point she asked me how she could access the security cameras on the streets.  Seriously.

I told her that between her 40 pound backpack, purse, and big tote bag she had to lug around yesterday, it’s easy to get distracted.  She tries to fit a thousand things into a little tiny purse, and I explained that when you have so much stuff it’s real easy for something to fall out while retrieving something else. She has this delusion that she is perfect and completely aware of everything at all times.  Maybe this will teach her a lesson that she is indeed fallible.

So what’s the moral of this story?  People are generally good.  There is a cause for some optimism.  But we must always be pragmatic.

How’s that?

 

 

Sweet Sixteen

Today is my daughters 16th birthday.  I can tell you exactly where I was 16 years ago today- in a hospital bed, recovering from 12 hours of labor followed by an emergency c section at 1 in the morning because I spiked a 104 degree fever.  I’m still convinced she was holding out for the 13th because that was her actual due date.  She’s that kind of person- always right on time.  Childbirth.  Good times.  But anyway.

There is so much I could say about my daughter.  It amazes me that she is actually my child.  She is intelligent, funny, hard working, confidant and resilient. She does not always succeed in what she sets out to do, but she always tries and always bounces back.  We often joke that we are not sure whose child we have actually brought home from the hospital, because she has traits that neither my Husband nor I possess.  We figure that there is some high achieving couple out there with our slacker kid.

Now, I personally know 3 other people who have the same birthday as my daughter- just think back 9 months…..Valentines Day.  Just saying.

But back to my amazing child.

She really is a good kid.  Her birthday always falls within a week of first marking period report cards and parent teacher conferences.  Now, for many kids, this might be a bad thing.  For my kid, well, it means we will probably be extra generous.  You see, my kid has literally never gotten a bad review from a teacher.  I’ll even say, that if teachers were to have favorites, my kid is the favorite over 90% of the time.  Am I bragging?  Yeah, a little.  My kid has made many things very easy for me.  I walked in PT conferences the other day- in my 3 minutes per teacher allotted time, I heard mainly “Well, I’d like it if she participated a little more, because I think her input would help the class, but I know she is fully engaged, so I’m not too worried.”  The two words that were most often used to describe my daughter are intense and focused.

But remember, with intense and focused come other issues.  I have to make sure she is handling stress properly.  I need to make sure she gets some sleep.

What I’m saying is- all parents have issues with their kids.  The issues may be different.

Why am I saying this?  Because frankly, I’m tired of being told that I have a “perfect” kid.  Because first of all, there is no such thing.  And secondly, I still have things to watch.  Just because my kid does well in school, and is responsible doesn’t mean I have no worries.  I have worries.  Every parent does.

But, I am also tired of hearing that I am “lucky” because my kid was just “born this way.”  First of all, what does that even mean?  Does that mean that she was just born responsible and hard working and resilient?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Maybe it’s a little of both.  Maybe there is something inside my daughter that gives her drive.  But maybe I have also seen that in her, and thought about how to bring it out.  Maybe I have helped her find her strengths and play up to them, and work around her weaknesses.  Maybe I have had good moments of parenting.

Maybe it’s nature and nurture combined.

People are always talking about nature and nurture- which one is better, which one works.  I’m suggesting that you need both.  You need to have raw material, and you need to figure out how to coax it into the best possible shape.  Take a box of Legos.  Figure out the best configuration with what you have in front of you.  Take what nature gave you and nurture it.

If you see your kid has a gift, or a talent, help that kid explore what it can do.  My friend saw that his daughter had a great eye when she used his phone to take pictures.  This was at 4 years old.  He let her play with his camera, and at 8 she is becoming an exceptional photographer.  He saw what she had, and figured out how to enhance it.  And she loves being behind the camera.  She struggles a bit in actual school, but her confidence is being built up because she found something she loves and is good at.  Will this continue?  Who knows.  But right now, she feels good about herself.  A child that feels good about themselves is a beautiful thing.  That feeling is what will get them through the tough stuff.  And life has a lot of tough stuff.  So figure out what your kid is good at, what they’re passionate about, and help them explore it.

So on my daughters birthday, I have rambled quite a bit.  I guess, because I didn’t really want this to be an ode to my kid.  I think you all know that I love my daughter more than anything in the world, just like those of you with kids love yours more than anything in the world.  That’s being a parent.  We love our kids.  We love them no matter what they do or don’t do, no matter how well they do at school, or at activities or at sports.  We just love them because they are our kids.

to sum up:

Love your kids for all their imperfections.

Tell them you love them.

Help them find their passion.

Make sure you know there weaknesses so you can figure out how to deal with them.

Nurture their nature.

And Happy Birthday to my favorite girl!!!

 

 

Maybe I Was Too Judgmental…..

Yesterday I wrote about a person I had seen sitting in front of me at a show.  I saw that he was rigid and stone faced throughout the performance and I concluded that he was being cranky because he didn’t like the content/theme of the show.  Many people thought that perhaps this man had had a bad day and shouldn’t be judged.  Fair and correct point- I made an assumption based on what I viewed, but had no actual knowledge of the situation.  I know I have acted in inappropriate ways sometimes- I think every parent has.  I’ve been to the*%^$#& happiest place on earth, and have seen many parents lose their cool even though they are all at place where it should be fun, fun, fun.  Parents are allowed to have feelings other that absolute joy, and parents are allowed to show these feelings.  Your kids need to learn that everything is not always happy and pleasant.  And no one should judge what any other parent is going through at any particular time.  So I realize I made a snap judgement, and you should never judge another parent.

But….

FYI- I’m thinking of changing my name to But….. because I find that I use that word a lot….

I saw a middle school age girl almost jump out of her seat with excitement when John Green took the stage.  I saw her look at her Father.  I saw her smile drop.

I’m sorry- but I can’t help but feel for that little girl.

Middle school is hard for many kids.  There bodies are changing- that’s so much fun when all of a sudden things start popping out….And the emotions!  Oh- the emotions!  My kid was in this stage not so long ago, and to some degree she still has mood swings, but not like a few years ago.  They are confused and angry and they don’t know their place in the world.  Part of them longs to be an adult, but part of them still wants to be a child.  Their brain is developing, and they don’t quite know how to handle it.  One minute they’re crying, then they’re yelling, then they’re laughing.  The emotions of tweens is about as confusing as this paragraph.

So I felt for this girl.

I don’t know- but I think sometimes as parents we have to be better.  We’re the adults.  Maybe a parent needs to suck it up sometimes, and no matter how cranky they are, or how bad a day, they need to maybe smile- even if it’s just for the 10 seconds that your kid is looking at you for confirmation that everything is ok.   Yeah- I think sometimes a parent needs to be selfless.  I know it’s hard- remember- I wrote a whole blog entitled parenting sucks……By job description- parenting is not easy.

But this little girl- looking up at her father….and the mother was sitting on the other side of the father- if he was in a bad mood, why didn’t he take the aisle seat and have his wife between him and the kid?

See- because I can’t help but think about this girl…..

Now- lets switch this up a little. What if I said the parent was on their cell phone the whole time?  What would we think about a parent that was at a show but not paying attention?

I’d say the level of disengagement was exactly the same.  The parent was physically present, but emotionally withdrawn.

Let’s switch it up again.  What if the father was pissed at his wife, and that was the reason for the scowl?  Should you let marital problems interfere with your kids?

So, I’m torn- because I don’t want to judge anyone or their situation.  But, I also want kids to enjoy certain moments in their life, because I know that life sucks a lot of the time.

Underappreciated

Sometimes, things don’t go to plan.  You all know by now that I am a somewhat organized person, who writes lists, and schedules things.  But even with my over attentive habits things fall through the cracks, people get cranky, things happen.

On Friday night, I was at the Botanic Garden with the husband.  My friend with whom I had Sunday plans FINALLY texted me back- you know- while I was out.  Even though we had known we were going to hang out that day, my friend is a little more laid back than me, so we didn’t know what we were going to do.  You can imagine I was getting a little antsy about not knowing what I was doing- and I had sent her a list of suggestions….all which would require tickets, because in NYC, just about everything requires advance tickets and planning.  So while I’m wandering around the gardens, I’m furiously texting S, trying to cement plans…..

When I got home Friday night, I bought the tickets for our planned activity.  When my daughter got home, I helped her get ready for Saturday.  She was playing in a tennis tournament and had to leave early because not only did the tourney start early, it was is the far reaches of Queens, which is a decent trip from Manhattan.  On Friday night, she was as ready as possible for Saturday.

At 6am Saturday morning- she didn’t feel so prepared.  After a week of tennis and homework- her sleep to awake ratio was pretty low- she was tired.  Tired=cranky.  I made her coffee, I made her a hot breakfast.  I packed her a healthy snack.  I refilled her water bottles.  She was snippy towards me- complained that her breakfast was boring- couldn’t I have made her something different?

Let’s just say I was fixated on the words “hot breakfast”, cause I probably said it 20 times.  Lets just say that there were a lot of not so nice words said about 20 times. We argued about metro cards- she wanted mine, I asked her why she didn’t refill hers…..stupid, stupid things…..I told her she was ungrateful cause I didn’t need to help her out….she said I needed to do these things cause I’m her Mom…..

And she stormed off.

We went to the movies together Saturday night- we repaired things for the most part- but I was still a little annoyed because I was feeling underappreciated.  Yes- please get out your teeny tiny violin and play me a melancholy tune…..the underappreciated Mom……

But this brings us to Sunday morning.  Normally, I have things organized and ready to go- gym clothes out, outfit planned, blog pre written, tickets printed for whatever I’m doing…..but this Sunday, yesterday, I didn’t have any of those things done.

Why?

Because on Saturday, in the time I’d allotted to prepping, I was reading the new Dan Brown book.  Yes- I was reading in unplanned reading time…….

I know.

I’m a horrible person.

Shame on me.

So Sunday morning I was behind, because along with not having anything prepared, I also woke up late……

But then, my ungrateful daughter stepped in.  She walked the dog.  She printed out my tickets for me (of course, when you’re running late is the morning that it takes 40 minutes to print out 1 ticket, and remember I bought 2 tickets…..).  She helped me organize my clothes and toiletries because I was changing at the gym.  She filled my water bottle and got me an apple.   And she realized that I would not be allowed to bring my gym bag into the theater because of security checks, so she arranged to get my gym bag before I went off on my outing, as well as bringing me the freshly printed tickets.  Right, the ungrateful daughter.

So what did I learn?

  1. I do not do well if I’m unprepared
  2. Always print out tickets as soon as you buy them
  3. Dan Brown books are really engrossing even if I don’t understand them 80% of the time
  4. We all need a little help sometimes
  5. I need to bug my friend S2 about plans a lot sooner (the funny thing is, I have another good friend S1 and she is just like me- I’m seeing her Friday night, and we already know when and where and have confirmed with our other friends)
  6. Even ungrateful daughters can be a life saver
  7. I need to take deep, relaxing , meditative breaths…….

Peace and love to all!!

 

The Queen Can’t Win

Once upon a time, the Princess asked the Queen to read her homework essay.  The Queen read all three pages and pronounced it royally sufficient.

“Just sufficient?”  the Princess asked.

“No.  It was good.” the queen responded.

“Good or very good?”

“Very good. You answered the questions given.  Your thesis was strong.  Your choice of evidence was excellent.  Maybe there were one of two sentences that could be tighter, but over all- a very good essay.”

“Which sentences?”

The Queen scrolls down the essay and locates the slightly wordy sentences.  The Princess quickly readjusts them.

“Now is it good?”  the princess asks.

“It was good before.  Now it’s better.”

“I thought you said it was great?”

“It’s great.  It’s outstanding.  It’s the best paper ever on this question.  Your teacher will be extolling the virtues of this paper for years to come.”

“You’re just saying that because you’re my Mom.”

The next day we find the Queen at the not so regally located tennis courts where the Princess and her teammates play their home matches.  The Princess and her doubles partner have just lost a really tough match, 10-8.  The princess approaches the Queen.

“Nice match” the Queen says.

“We lost.” the Princess responds.

“I know.  But it was close.”

“What could we have done better?”

“You made some bonehead moves.”  the Queen says.

“Like…..?”

“No man’s land.  You guys sort of moved in.” (for those who do not know/play tennis- no man’s land is the area between the service line and the base line- you really don’t want to be stuck there as the opponent is returning the ball- almost impossible to recover a shot when you are there)

“We weren’t there that much.”

“Ok.  Whatever.”

“My God – you could be nice to me.  All you ever do is criticize me.  You’re my mom.  You’re supposed to tell me I’m great.”

The Queen walked away shaking her head.  She would never understand teenagers.  Scratch that.  She didn’t want to understand teenagers.  And she walked off to the not so regal subway to go home to prepare the royal banquet.

They still lived happily ever after…..

 

 

 

 

The Tale of the School Portraits

In the hallway of the royal palace stood pictures of the young Princess.  A wall filled with 8×10 portraits from school, soccer and softball.  Any visitor to the Palace would be greeted with smiling images, ranging from age 4 to age 14.  The team colors changed, the hairstyles changed, but the face remained constant.

Then the first week of Junior year, the Princess walked into the royal apartment and stated….”Do we really need to have this shrine of me when you walk in the front door? It’s embarrassing.  Why do we even have these pictures up on the wall?”

This was a rather frugal Queen, who had spent good money on all these portraits, so she felt it was well within her rights to display them.  But she also understood that this blatant display of parental pride could be a little daunting to people, and yes, embarrassing to the Princess.  So the Queen took out the royal planner and scheduled time to order a photo album, take down the pictures, unframe them, place them in an album, repaint the wall and hang up different artwork on the wall.  It was rather a long process, but worth it for the happiness of the Princess.

So about 10 days later, the Queen was able to accomplish the first half of the tasks.  Pictures down and organized, frames donated, wall painted.

Princess came home from a long day of school and tennis practice.

“Wherenare my pictures?”  she exclaimed.

“You said they were embarrassing.  I understand why you would feel that way and I rearranged things.”  Queen replied.

“But, but….it’s your house.  You didn’t have to do that.  You’re allowed to hang up anything you want.” the Princess continued.

“I understand why you wanted them down.  So that’s what I did.  It wasn’t a big deal.” (Well, the thought behind taking them down wasn’t a big deal, but you know, the process…..)

“Can you put them back up?”  the Princess asked.

“What?” the Queen exclaimed, trying to remember that she is going to try to be calm in all situations and take a moment. (FYI- this was not working out so well at this moment) “I spent the whole day doing this.  The pictures are already in an album.  I am NOT undoing it.”

“But it’s like all my memories are down and boxed up.  My life was on the wall, in chronological order, and now…it’s blank.”

The Queen went and gave the Princess a hug, kissed the top of her baseball cap.  “your memories are not gone.  They’re in your head, and in my heart.  And they’re now in a photo album on the bottom shelf of the coffee table.”

“So this is Ok?” the Princess said.

“Of course.  Life changes.  We change and grow.  Things can’t always remain static.  And look around, there are still plenty of reminders of you in the apartment.  Your artwork is on the walls, and some projects are on the shelves, and there are still pictures of you, of our family all around.  It’s just a little different.  Change is OK.  Change is necessary.”

And all was right in the royal household.  For a little while anyway.  Remember, the Princess is still a teenager.

 

A Fine Line

I read something the other day.  A Mom said she rarely tells her daughter that she is beautiful.  She doesn’t want the daughter to be overly focused on appearances.  I get this.  I don’t like that people are often judged by how they look.  I don’t like that other qualities are often over looked.

But….

You knew there would be a but…..

Can we be harming our children just as much by never commenting on appearance?

I’m going to take you back to my childhood.  As the dinosaur passes by my window, you can see my Mother lecturing me.  Now my Mother was/is obsessed by physical appearance.  She never left the house without make-up, and if she did she wore large dark sunglasses, even at night.  She invented eating disorders.  She sold cosmetics as a living.  For the record- these behaviors are bad.  These behaviors led me to a whole bunch of self-esteem issues, that I have fought my entire life, and continue to fight.  And while my Mother was at the extreme end of the spectrum, the underlying message was the same.

My Mother never said I was pretty.

So why is this important?

A child has to feel that their parent thinks they are wonderful.

What’s the catch?

A parent must make sure that the child feels they are wonderful and conquer the world, because if your parent doesn’t think you are wonderful, who will?

Conversely, a parent must make sure that the child does not develop an ego or become arrogant.  A parent must let the child know that there will probably be others that will be better than them.

What?  you say.  Do I still have a head cold? you ask.  How can a parent do two completely opposite things?

That’s the great mystery of parenting- to make their child feel like they can conquer the world, but know, at the exact same time, that they might not succeed.  How do parents do it?  I don’t know, but you guys will be the first ones I tell when I figure it out.

Now back to looks.  I know from personal experience, not thinking you are pretty leads you to make a lot of really poor decisions about men.  See, no matter what lessons we teach, everyone wants to be attractive- they want others to find them attractive.  Seriously- do you own a mirror?  Do you look in the mirror?  Is it really “just for you”?  Or do you care about how the world views you?  So when a really crappy guy says you’re pretty, and you’ve never been told that you were pretty……you forget about all the bad things this particular guy is, and focus on the word “pretty”.  Then, there are the crappy guys who never tell you that you’re pretty.  Guess what?  You go to them to, because in your adolescent mind, your mom doesn’t think you’re pretty, or she tells you you’re not good enough, and you begin to think that that is what love is- love is a person that highlights all your faults.

So- here’s my advice.  Compliment your children on all aspects of their personality and appearance.  Encourage them to be clean (I know there are people that will disagree with me on this, but I don’t care- I think you need an occasional bath)  Encourage them to eat healthy and exercise.  These are just good habits that will keep you healthy.

Tell them that they are attractive and smart and organized and talented and funny and hard working and all the other things that they are. Let then know you love all aspects of their personality, as well as them. Kids need to hear these things from their parents.  It’s a cruel world, and things are not going to go right the majority of the time, so let them know there is always a soft spot for them to land in, at home.  You need to be their rock.

Can I Ask Your Opinion….?

Let me set the scene.  Daughter is away at college- about her first week.  The following is a skype call.

Daughter– Mom- What’s your opinion on Sorority’s?

Mom– I don’t like them.  They’re degrading.  They force you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do.  Have you heard the stories about rush?  Why would anyone want to be in a sorority.  You auditioned for a dance group.  Those will be your friends, the other people in the dance group.  Why would you need any other friends? There is no reason to join a sorority- it’s just a big party circle. And they’re not really popular at your school.  If I were you I wouldn’t join a sorority.  But, it’s your choice.  Do whatever you want.

Now, I realize the kid asked for an opinion.  But….is this an opinion, or is this a diatribe?

What’s the nature of an opinion?  I think of an opinion as a particular take on any given subject.  I have been know to overtly state my opinion on just about everything, even though no one has asked me for my opinion.  (note to self- why is no one asking me for my opinion on anything?)  So, I’m making a distinction that some people write from a particular viewpoint, and they don’t care what anybody thinks….they just articulate.

But…..

What if someone asks you your opinion?

How do you answer?

Do you present your side in a logical format, with as little personal bias as possible?  Or is personal experience/reflection crucial to an opinion?

If you do not like the idea of something, how vehemently would you state your distaste?  Would you say something like Why in the world do you want to do that?  Is making someone feel ignorant part of voicing an opinion?

At what point does an “opinion” become manipulative?  We all know the power of words, but should an opinion persuade someone in one direction or another?

And then there is the person giving the opinion.  If you are asking the person you trust most in the world, does this opinion carry so much weight that you will do exactly what this person “suggested”?  Should you get multiple opinions before making a decision?  Do some people ask opinions of those that are of like mind, so they’re going to get the opinion they are leaning towards anyway?

Back in the real world, I think my friend is so opposed to even the idea of a sorority that she is manipulating her child into not trying.  Which is her right, but is it fair?  Is it really acting in her daughter’s best interest?

Of course, I told my friend that I thought she was being a little over dramatic.  Ok- my talking to her could be described as over-dramatic.  I won’t repeat here what I actually said to my friend (but really could explain why no one asks for my opinion) But, the short version is, I told her that a “better” answer might be “I don’t like the idea of a sorority because I have heard some horrible stories about rush, and I don’t like the idea of you being in a situation that you may not know how to handle.”  And I don’t know if mine is better, but I don’t think her version was the right way to go.

So….

What’s your opinion?  What is an opinion?

 

Take a Minute

Once upon a time, there lived a Queen who tended to react quickly.  A subject would say something, and the Queen would just start incoherently rambling- and these statements were not always Queenlike…….See, the Queen was not good at thinking before she spoke.  What she excelled at was over-reacting.   This got the Queen into a lot of trouble, because we all know words often hurt more than anything, and words said in the course of over-reacting……Oh- they could be ugly.

As the Queen got older, she realized that she should really try to control her tongue.  Yelling at people and saying long, rambling mean statements was probably not in her best interest.  So she began a quest to tame her quick responses- she would try to hold her tongue for 5 minutes before she said anything.  Now, she realized that this might mean cutting her tongue out- but if that was the price she had to pay to be a better person, so be it.  And think of all the good customer service experience she might get if she was just a tad less quick to judge the level of their competence…….

The Queen was taking baby steps.  She tried really, really hard at not spewing venom.  Luckily, nothing had broken in the royal apartment, so she had little interaction with service representatives.  She still freaked out at her Mother- but if you heard the ridiculous things her Mother said, even someone taking a vow of silence would not be able to hold back.

One day, the royal family was eating dinner.  The Queen and the Princess got into a rather heated debate about PSAT preparation and books.  No- they did not argue about studying in general- the Princess is extremely studious.  The argument centered around the quality of the review books- Princess felt the review book in hand was inferior, and the Queen said to just finish the present book and then they would buy another.

What happens when two strong willed women argue?

The Princess used some not very Princess -like language at the Queen.

The Queen was not amused- but she took a deep breath.  She got up and began clearing plates.  (this was a sign- the Queen did not call to the servants to take away the debris from dinner- she did it herself)  The Queen then started cleaning up the kitchen.  She did not utter a word.

After about 3 minutes, the Princess went and hugged the Queen.  She apologized.  A true, honest apology.

So what did the Queen realize?

  1. The Queen would have made the situation a lot worse by yelling or saying mean things
  2. The Princess does not normally act in this manner- this was an anomaly
  3. The Princess is stressed about standardized tests- if saying a not so nice word is her way of blowing off steam, the Queen is OK with it, because there are far more destructive ways to blow off steam
  4. The argument was about PSAT books
  5. The Queen/Princess dynamic is a tough one- the boundaries are always being tested

The Queen begrudgingly admits she’s not perfect…..and knows she will never be perfect.  She just wants to be a slightly better person.