Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Get Ready for It   Leave a comment

What is the most important skill you will need as a parent?

If you have read books, blogs and articles, or attended classes, I’m sure you’ve been told many things about what it takes to be a parent and how you need to handle various situations with your children.

I submit that what you need most is forgiveness.

Why?

Because you will not be a great parent.

I know.  If you haven’t already had children you think you will be.  You’ve looked around you, seen it done wrong, had it done wrong to you, and you know what to do.

And it isn’t really that difficult; people have been doing it for generations.

And you know that you will do parenting just as well as you’ve done everything else–school, work, competitions, hobbies.

 

But if you think this, you will be wrong.

 

You will make the same mistakes with your children, over and over.

You will be impatient and lose your temper at least once, or perhaps many times.

You will handle situations in the same way that your parents did, even though you know in advance that you do not plan to handle situations the same way your parents did.

You will be unable to implement all of the skills you learn in the parenting class.

You will not teach your child some of the things he needs to know because you will be unaware of what they are or that he needs to be taught them.

 

You will damage your children.

So, their forgiveness will need to be asked.

 

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Posted August 30, 2017 by swanatbagend in motherhood, parenting

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Shared   Leave a comment

I was thinking about spending time with my kids recently.  Of course we’re together a lot since we homeschool.  But as far as down time, hanging out, what we like to talk about–that made me realize that I enjoy interests in common with each one of my three children.

I mean, maybe the deal is you learn to love what your kids share with you, right? at least some of the time, you can’t help it, because of their enthusiasm and because you hear about it all the time.  That’s what happened to me with amphibians.  I was not into frogs in any way as a child.  But because of my kids I have learned to love them and I enjoy catching glimpses of them outside and yes, I enjoy catching them.

I’ve learned to appreciate Transformers, movies I wouldn’t have noticed without the kids telling me, archery, and maybe Nerf guns.   Maybe.

And of course there are the interests the kids have that I still don’t have, though I hope I listen well.

But aside from all these, I have interests in common with each one of them that I had before they were ever conceived and I love that.

Insects.  Drawing.  Writing.  Art.  Star Trek.  Astronomy.  Dave Barry.  Star Wars.

We’d be in the same tribe, even if we weren’t.

 

Kids, I Promise   Leave a comment

I really am attending to your statements that I need to not hover so much.

Just like Princess Atta in A Bug’s Life, I have a tendency to overdo and overanalyze and over advise my children.  So when they literally say, “I can’t count when ya hover like that!” I know what they want.

I really truly honestly I promise am learning to honor their need to do it themselves.

I promise I am listening.  I often think of something I could say–but I don’t.  I could have done something for you that you didn’t need help with–but I didn’t.  I stop to evaluate whether my instantaneous reaction to a problem is really the best thing to do–and I hold back.

Thanks for telling me.  I am getting better.

Posted March 30, 2017 by swanatbagend in parenting

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What would life look like if you–GASP!–dropped an activity?   2 comments

I’m writing this blog entry to myself, mainly, but maybe it can set you free-er too.

And I am also writing this in the knowledge that I could be extremely wrong in the lecture I’m about to give myself.

It is good for your children to participate in clubs, such as scouting, and sports, such as soccer.  It’s definitely great for your child to take music lessons.  I’d vote for piano lessons as the starter as I think they provide many benefits–learning to read music, confidence, not to mention all the benefits to the brain and fine motor skills.  And I like piano because you can get pretty pleasing results after very few lessons–if the piano is in tune, of course.

As your child grows older, he may want to partake in activities friends of his enjoy.  There is no shortage of sports she can play; there are dance lessons of all types.  There’s fencing.  There are clubs centered around gaming.  There are clubs centered around computer programming and robotics.  There is a wonderful plethora of options for kids to benefit from.

Then in high school there’s homework, time to socialize, sports, after school clubs, work, and of course volunteer hours.

All good: no complaint there.  Volunteering is for sure one thing I did almost none of as a teen but should have.

But.

Yes, I’m asking the question.

Where did the down time, the free time, the daydreaming time go?

How can someone develop fully as a human being if she is constantly on the go and nothing, but nothing, ever shuts off?

Is it truly necessary for your child to be fully immersed in several activities at most times of the year in order for her to get into college and have a future?  I don’t know.  Maybe it is.  Maybe things have gotten so competitive because there are so many people on the planet that my ideas are just naive.  Maybe my daughter will be omitting a key that would have gotten her into the door of a better college that would then have opened a further door, and someday I’ll be sorry.

And maybe you and your kids love your lives the way they are.  If you love what you’re doing, don’t stop doing it.

But if you don’t, just imagine what you could do with the time you free up if your family drops one activity.  It might be interesting to drop them all for a month or two in summer.

Perhaps that is an impossible dream.  But, what if you could back off?  What would life look like outside of a minivan?

Imagine.

An art form you dropped years ago.

Volunteering for a cause you care about.

Time to spend building connections with other people.

No longer being too busy and too tired at the end of the week to get together with friends.

Wouldn’t that be great?

Posted July 29, 2016 by swanatbagend in learning, parenting

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Bittersweet   Leave a comment

My twenty year old son called me last week to tell me he needed to change our plans for the date he would need to be picked up from college.  It wasn’t that his final schedule had changed and he could leave earlier.  It actually was that something else had come up, and he needed to stay longer in his university town.

Honestly, when he calls these days, if I don’t get to the phone, I don’t always recognize the voice coming out of the answering machine, especially if it’s at a distance and I’m doing something in the kitchen.

All I know at first is that a man is leaving a voice message.

I call back.  “What’s up?”

“I need to change the day you come pick me up.  Dr. Cassetti just told me about a kids’ entomology camp they have here each summer.  The training is Thursday.”

Our plan had been for Wednesday, which is when the dorm closes anyway.  (That is, it was our second plan, the original had been to leave right after his last final on Tuesday, but we ditched that as too crazy.)  So, he says he wants to find somewhere to stay, move his dorm stuff out, and get to this training.

“How about I come get you after the training on Thursday?”

“Well, that would mean we’d be traveling during dinner time, and that always makes you grumpy.”

I laugh.  “True, but as long as I can stop for a hamburger, I’ll be all right.–But is there some other reason you’d rather I not come on Thursday?”

“There are some things I haven’t been able to get to that I need to wrap up at the lab.”

He’s working with a professor there who is doing termite research.  End of semester is always very busy, and he was taking organic chemistry this semester, on top of other commitments, so I’m not surprised there are loose ends.

What does surprise me is the sweet: he has so much going on that’s good that he needs to stay there longer

and the bitter: he’ll be home later than I expected.

He is going back this summer to continue his work with the termite research.  I think he has already accumulated maybe six credit hours working with the termites?  He has a sublet apartment, and a part-time paid job.  Now, he’s adding in the summer camp for kids.  You should see him telling children about the wonders of insects.  He lights up.  Like a firefly, if I may be pardoned the expression.

It felt odd that his reason to stay longer wasn’t really because he was concerned about my not getting dinner Thursday evening (although that was certainly a concern), but that it was because he had further work he needed to do.

I don’t actually know who moved him out of the dorm.  Or if the camp is paid work.  If he got some of my last emails, or, really a dozen other factoids about what he’s doing right this minute.

This plan, this life, this summer internship, is a good thing.  A really, really good thing.

But at the same time, I know that he travels on in his life toward his future–where by definition I cannot follow.

Posted May 21, 2016 by swanatbagend in motherhood, parenting

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Love   Leave a comment

I thought that Love meant always liking the beloved.

Yes, falling in love, adoring our children, or laughing with good friends–all of these things are glorious.  All of these states of being bring pleasure and joy and take us out of ourselves to where we are more–we are part of something bigger than ourselves.  But the sensations of pleasure that these wonderful times bring us are fleeting.  By definition they and we are finite.

However, these times of intimacy and joy are so delightful that we wish to remain in them permanently.  Our culture teaches us that love or being in love is the only reality to seek for; we demand that we stay in that frame of mind and body permanently.

What happens when the beloved is no longer pleasing?  What if his needs are downright demanding?

Before I had children, my parents had done such a dedicated job of raising me that it never even crossed my mind there may have been times they did not want to take care of me when I had a problem.  So I was unprepared for the mental dissonance caused by my lack of desire to take care of my baby when it was inconvenient for me.

All lights out, except the night-light in the hall.  No noise except an occasional random bark from the dog, and the far-off roar of the interstate highway.  There is the peaceful snore of the husband, but the most pressing sound is the wail of an infant.

Imagine my shock when I found I did not experience an overwhelming rush of happiness that caused me to leap joyfully out of bed to care for him.

Before I was actually in the situation, I really thought I would want to.

And I didn’t.  I had absolutely no interest in getting up at two o’clock in the morning and fixing the wet or hungry problem of my child.  I just wanted to get back to sleep.

I thought that Love meant always liking the beloved.

I learned then I did not have it in me to like the beloved at two o’clock in the morning.

But I also learned that is not what Love is.

 

 

 

Posted December 17, 2015 by swanatbagend in parenting, reflections

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Ways of Removing a Loose Tooth   2 comments

You’ve seen the videos of children with floss or string tied around their loose teeth, squinting and grimacing at the camera and lisping out some variant of “Daddy, is this really gonna work?”  There are other ways to remove a loose tooth, however, which you probably have not seen.

I have a method to recommend that is pretty much foolproof.

Take the children with you to the grocery store.

Preferably do this at the end of a long day when everyone is already tired and hungry.

Put the two and a half-year old in the cart.  Obviously the seven-year old can’t go in the cart; he’ll have to walk.

Take the kids up and down every aisle to be sure you haven’t missed anything.

Look for them to start poking each other every time you stop at the cereal, baking supplies, produce, meats, etcetera.  They’ll be bored enough they’ll have to find something to do, since you are traversing every aisle.

By the time you get to the check out lane and all lanes are of course quite full, you’ll have to wait a few more minutes, so that will get them really warmed up.

When you have made it to the conveyor belt and unloaded everything, and the clerk is ringing up your order, just watch.

Your seven-year old will be dancing around in front of the cart, and trying to poke the two-year old in her adorable belly.  She will have had enough of his nonsense at this point, and drawing back her small, firm, powerful fist–she will punch him right in the mouth.

His tooth will pop out and go skittering across the floor, to the great amusement of you and the clerk.

You can’t go wrong.

 

 

Posted September 20, 2015 by swanatbagend in humor, parenting

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