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.

 

Advertisements

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.

A Letter to the Father Sitting in front of me at An Evening with John and Hank Green

Dear Father Figure,

Hi.  It’s me, the Mother Figure in the seat behind you at Town Hall last night.  Remember me?  I was with my daughter.  You were with your kids, I’m guessing a 12 year old daughter and 14 year old son.  Yeah- you remember me now- the one giving you pitying looks…..Why was I giving you pitying looks?  Well, let me tell you….

First off.  John Green.  This is the go to author for much of Generation Z.  He writes about characters that they can relate to.  He writes characters that come alive and jump off the page.  His prose is prosaic, his words are quotable….he embodies  the angst and heartbreak they often feel.  He gets your children to read.

Let me repeat that.  He is getting your tween age kids to read.  To love reading.  To look forward to reading.

That’s a problem, right?

Your kids.

Reading.

Well- it must be, judging by the pissed off expression you wore last night.  Because you sat there- scowling.  Yes.  Scowling.  Your shoulders were tense, your body was rigid.  For a moment I thought that you were an angry statue.  You didn’t clap.  You didn’t move your arms.  You didn’t crack a smile.  You didn’t even smile when you looked over at your kids, who were obviously loving and enjoying the evening.  How does a parent not look at their kids and smile when their kids are quite clearly having a great time and a great experience?

Are we a tad selfish and self absorbed?  Does your obligation end at buying the tickets and accompanying them?  Do you think your daughter didn’t notice that you were not miserable, but angry?  Cause let me tell you- she noticed.  She glanced at you worryingly.  And this is just conjecture- but I’m guessing she was wondering what she did wrong.  Because that’s how kids are- they see their parents mad and they think it’s their fault.  Remember that- kids think that things are their fault.  So they think that when you are an ass, it’s their fault.  Well- they think that.  I know you are an ass because you are only worried about yourself.

Are you embaressed that your kids like these books?  That your kids watch Utube videos about literature and science? (cause that’s what these guys do- they make learning fun)  Would your rather your kids were watching sports?  Do you think if your kids read these books, listen to the podcasts,  they will be uncool?  Are these not the kids you wanted?  Do your kids not meet your expectations?

Well- get over it.  Get over yourself and your pre-conceived notions.

Cause what I see are two kids that like something that is good.  I see two kids that probably want to be better people, want to feel empathy.  They want to be part of the group that respects others and their choices.  Because that’s part of what the Green Brothers are about.  They sing about science.  They write books.  They talk about respect and they show empathy.

Respect and empathy.

The world would be a much better place if all kids learned respect and empathy.

Fyi- you- the parental unit- the  first teacher your kids had- you’re not displaying either of those things right now.

Even if you are bored, pretend to like it.  If you weren’t so irritated, you would realize that it’s a pretty good show.  These guys are funny- really funny.  And they are brilliant- that is blatantly obvious.  And oh yeah, your kids are into it.

Are you upset that he talks about depression and anxiety and mental illness?  Do you think if your kids never hear those terms they will never suffer from those things?

Wrong.  You are so wrong.  Issues like these have no boundaries.  Kids don’t hear about things like OCD and say, that sounds like fun, let me try that this week.  But maybe they will recognize something in themselves, and they realize that they are not alone.  They affect so many people.  Isn’t is better to be aware?  Isn’t awareness what helps fix things?

Well- you wouldn’t know that because you are least self aware person ever.  Yes- I’m judging you on outward appearance- sorry- you’re throwing off that vibe.  And if I think that- well, what do your kids think?

So here’s the thing:

Your kids like to read.  They are reading books that have some great messages.  They are spending their Tuesday evening with you, as a family, at a lecture/show.  Pay attention to them.  Try to understand where they are at.  You don’t get many chances like this.  They grow up and away really fast.  Embrace these moments.  Don’t be such a giant ass.

xoxo

The Mom sitting behind you

 

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.

 

Parenting Sucks

Do I have you attention?

Back to school brings out many thoughts for school age children.   It also brings out many thoughts for Parents of school age children.  Bad thoughts.  Negative thoughts.

Do you know how many times in the past two weeks I told a parent to cut themselves some slack?  Told them parenting sucks?  Let’s just say- enough times to know I needed to blog about this.

Who told you that parenting would be easy?  I want names.  Because these people should not be allowed to speak if they are going around spreading the lie that parenting is easy.  The last easy moment you had was before you held a child in your arms, or held their hand- before you gave birth or signed adoption papers.  After that- all bets are off.

I know there are billions of parenting books, articles, websites.  I’m pretty sure I have read them all.  But guess what?  There is no parenting book for YOUR SPECIFIC CHILD.  Because every child is unique- they have their own personality traits- a whole bunch of them.  One book may have 1 thing that works for your kid- 1.  Thousands of tips, only one which applies to your child.  A book might not have any tip that helps your child.  None.  You got that?  A book that works for everyone else might NOT work for you.  This does not make you a bad parent.  This does not make your kid a bad kid.  You just need to figure out a different solution.  There is nothing wrong with doing something a different way than everyone else if it works for you and your child.  Got that?  If it works for you and your child it is fine.

You will make mistakes as a parent.

Yes- you will.  No kidding.  No matter what you do, you will make a wrong decision.  And I know this is not intentional.  No one brings a child home and whispers over their bed “I’m going to do everything possible to screw up your life.”  No one.

Own your mistakes.  If you realize you did make a choice that is not working, figure out how to fix it.  I always like the “reverse engineering” approach- look at the desired outcome and figure out what steps you need to get there.  What if you don’t know what to do?  Talk it out with people you trust (not the people who told you parenting was easy- seriously- don’t drink that kool aid).  Seek professional help if you think the situation warrants it.  But don’t sweep it under the rug- bad things have a tendency to snowball.

Communication is probably the most important parenting tip I can share- this one pretty much applies to everyone.  LISTEN to your child.  Comprehend what they are and are not saying.  Talk WITH them, not AT them.  If you feel uncomfortable (yes- lots of people are uncomfortable having deep conversations with their children) talk to them in a setting when you are not facing one another.  Fishing, walking, driving- sometimes when your eyes are focused on something external you might be able to have a more frank discussion. If possible, talk to your child before they go to bed- when people are tired they tend to let their guard down.  Also, your kid might just keep talking because they  don’t want to go to sleep….

Judgement should be found in the court system, maybe at a gymnastics meet, but never at a PTA meeting.  Don’t spend time worrying what other parents think about you.  I’m going to repeat that:  Don’t spend time worrying about what other parents think of you. If you are not going to listen to me on this, I would like a 200 word essay on why you think it’s OK for other parents to judge you- on why you think it’s OK for anyone to judge you.  Because I can’t think of even one reason why it’s good to be judged, so I’m trying to expand my knowledge base.

Trust your instincts.  Some of parenting is instinctual- you just “know” when something is good or bad.  I know when my daughter is getting sick because she begins drinking more water.  I know this does not really qualify as instinct, but it is noticing when routine is off.  You know what is “normal” for your kid, and what is not.

So parents- please cut yourself some slack.  Parenting is hard.  Don’t constantly question yourself and the way you parent.  If you are constantly stressed, don’t you think your kids are going to feel your stress?  And then what do you think will happen?  Remember- if you don’t have a good answer, I will be forced to blog about it…..

Blogging PSA- Follow-up

It’s a vicious cycle.  I write a blog.  You comment.  I think of something to say based on comments.  So the following is all your fault.

First off, I learned a lot about trolls.  I am floored by the comments that others have made to bloggers.  To be fair, the majority of our little community is good, and seeks to inspire, not to criticize.  But you know, one bad apple….Someone was criticized for being too happy…..can you imagine?  “I’m sorry, happiness isn’t allowed here- it might give people the idea that happiness and positivity is an option- wouldn’t want that to happen.”  I don’t know about you, but, even though I don’t always get there, happiness is pretty high on my to do list…..

We know that I love a good spirited debate.  I have no problem with people who disagree with me, and vice versa, as long as it’s done logically and with respect, and no one tells the other, “Nah nah, I’m right and you’re wrong…”   I once had a conversation with a guy- we had opposite opinions of a subject.  I laid out my reasonable, rational argument, countering his points with my own.  After about 10 minutes, he began to see the rationale of my point of view, and actually changed his mind to my way of thinking.  Now, we were in bed at the time, but I really don’t think that influenced his decision at all……

But what do we think about when people give you instructions on how to do things?

I’ve given parenting advice.  My intention is not to shame anyone, or say “I’m right and you’re wrong” (though, who are we kidding, I’m always right), but it is to share the knowledge that I have learned in the past 50 years.  Some of it I have learned the hard way.  Some of it I have learned by doing almost the exact opposite of what my Mother had done.  I’m just sharing pieces of my life, in hope that you can see how I screwed up, so maybe you won’t have to feel the pain I did.

But what about the people that give advice, or make comments that are really just thinly disguised criticism?

You’ve seen them. The type that leaps to my mind are the Mommy Shamers.   They post pictures of perfect homemade treats, while they are wearing pressed white linen, their toddlers sitting quietly reading the works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  They say things like, “Oh- we’re so glad you had the time to run to the store to bring in that bag of Oreos for the bake sale.  We always forget about the children who don’t have advanced palates.”

There are also the lip pursers.  When you are discussing your wedding plans, the friend across from you looks like they are sucking on a lemon.  They say things like, “Sure, you could wear an off white dress, and carry flowers. I know you’re not really the creative type.  You need to play to your strengths, which is bland.”

And these are often people we call our friends.

So what do we do?

Yes- I’m about to give advice…..

  1. Not everyone has to be a close friend.
  2. Be selective about what you share.  Not everyone needs to know everything
  3. Be thankful if you have 1 close friend-  a true close friend is a rare and beautiful thing
  4. It’s ok to have activity specific friends.  I have a movie buddy.  The only thing we do together is see movies.  It works.
  5. Limit the amount of time you spend with people that only bring negativity, or make you feel bad about yourself (this includes family)- feel free to unfriend them
  6. Don’t take the shamers seriously, or pay them heed- they don’t deserve your time or consideration
  7. My advice is the only advice worth listening to- I am perfect……

 

 

Parentingnado 5

A few weeks ago I made some snide comments about Sharknado 5.  Someone commented- “How can they be up to 5?  How does that happen?”  Well- I’ll tell you how it happens, because I managed to do it with my blogs. You do the first blog, and you think- “Ok- this is good.  Maybe I should do another on the same topic.  And you keep getting feedback, and before you know it, you’ve written your 5th parenting blog in a row.  OK- not exactly a row- I did my usual weekend stuff- but- you know- it’s just a lot of parenting- even for me.  So let’s see if I can squeeze out any fresh ideas, or if I jumped the shark…..

My Daughter faced my parenting blogs with wry amusement.  I believe “You’re so full of it” was the exact wording.  So here are a few things my kid said, and I’ll give you my explanations.

You’re gullible to peer pressure.  You’ll read a fashion magazine and say to me, “Ooh- velvet is in.  Should you get something in velvet for the season?”

I admit, I like looking at fashion mags.  I like to see what is in style.  My daughter and I enjoy shopping and coordinating outfits.  Is buying something on trend submitting to peer pressure?  I don’t think it is.  I think it’s fun.  Now- if you say you HAVE to have something because everyone else has it, or you wear something you don’t really like, or something that is not flattering- I think you’ve submitted to peer pressure.  FYI- the little velvet dress she bought last winter got her through 5 outings.

You bought me expensive “name” boots.

Yes I did.  Because they were practical for the cold weather.  Because they are truly high quality and well made.  I had once bought the generic version of these boots and they barely lasted a season.  Hers have lasted 4 years and are still going strong.  And I just didn’t go out and buy them.  She put them on her holiday list, and I bought them as a gift.  I think it’s OK to be a little extravagant on gifts as long as you stick to your overall budget.

Your talks on expectations, hopes and rules contradict one another.

Expectations are traits that can be taught and modeled.  They are behaviors that you are not born with, but are learned behaviors.  These are the things that make someone a functioning member of society.  I include respect and empathy as examples.  Expectations should not change- these are lifelong behavior patterns.

Hopes are things that you hope your child finds valuable, because learning the hard way can be, you know, hard.  One example is that I hope my daughter surrounds herself with good people, I can explain why, but I can’t expect her to listen or do this.  Sometimes a child needs to learn the hard way which people to trust.

Rules are the guidelines you establish for the benefit of your family.  As a parent you are allowed to set rules about curfews, video game usage- really anything that you have a strong feeling about.  These are things that are important to you individually (and by this I mean parents or guardians- I’m not sure best way to phrase this- but lets also say that ALL parents must be on the same page as far as these rules go- Mom saying one thing and Dad saying another is dysfunction at its finest)  Rules are also things that can be reevaluated every year.  My daughters curfew is later now than it was 2 years ago.  She didn’t wheedle the rule change out of me- as she matures I feel she is allowed a bit more freedom.  But every family has their own rules. You can’t change other peoples minds- but you can talk about them on your blog…….

Sometimes you bend the rules

Guilty.  I sometimes bend the rules.  I have a no electronics at the dinner table rule.  When her best friends boyfriend broke up with her, I let my kid keep the phone on the table.  Her friend needed her.  I don’t regret that decision.  But for the most part- I am really consistent.

What about the whole curfew conundrum?

At the beginning of sophomore year, I gave my daughter a curfew that I thought was reasonable.  The first night she was out, I realized that everyone had a curfew later than my daughter.  My daughter did not ask for a later curfew- she accepted what I had said.  But here is the problem:  living in the city, the kids take mass transit, or walk home.  If my kid left before everyone else, she would be making the entire trip home solo.  I extended her curfew, because I didn’t want her traveling completely alone.  It had nothing to do with peer pressure.

So you can decide if I am full of it or not.