When your children want to know the gory details…

(Original Post July 2015)

 

So I found myself caught between a rock and a hard place (sorry for the cliché) the other night.

My daughter wanted to know if I was a rebel when I was younger.

Maybe it was the deer in the headlights expression that gave it away, but she knew immediately that I was not always the straight-laced, button-down, Christian woman that I am today.

Don’t get me wrong, I was always the one who everyone’s parents trusted, including my own. And for good reason.  For the most part, I stayed out of trouble, rarely broke the rules (I was usually too scared) or at least was smart enough not to get caught. But my daughter wanted the dirt, the gory details.

At first I told her that if she could guess something that I had done, that I would fess up. She couldn’t really come up with anything, to my relief, but she was relentless.

So what’s a parent to do? Make up something? No, that’s not my style. I’m too honest for that. I mean, really…honesty has always been my enemy.

This was a dilemma. If I told her a rebellious story she may use it against me further down the line. You know, throw my words back at me…”But YOU did it!” That would be bad. Or she could go the other way…”Just because YOU never did it doesn’t mean that I can’t do it!”

There really was no way to get out of the messy situation. It was a teachable moment…for both of us. So I thought of something forgivable, and told her a brief story from my rebellious youth. It was entertaining and not something she could really duplicate, so I was safe there. No one in the story got hurt. I told her how I learned a lesson and why it wasn’t a good idea to begin with.

Discernment…that’s what I learned. I learned that it isn’t so bad to tell my kids the gory details of my past mistakes, as long as I keep them in my past, and as long as my kids can learn a lesson from them. I think I’ll be ready for the next time one of them asks about my history, and I’ll keep the gore to a minimum. I’d like to keep my straight-laced, button-down reputation intact.

I’m just glad I got to live my teenage years BEFORE the internet.

Do you tell your kids about your gory details?

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Confession – I’m Guilty of Enabling My Kids

“I’ll just do it myself.” Even if I don’t say it out loud, I often think it. Not out of martyrdom, not out of self-pity, but just because I can do it faster, and get it done when I want it done, whatever the “What” may be.

Am I alone on this?

I wouldn’t say my kids are spoiled, not in the traditional sense. They don’t have the latest iphone, they don’t get showered with unnecessary gifts, I don’t buy them brand name clothes. They aren’t spoiled in that sense. But when I step back and look at what I do around the house in comparison to what they do around the house, I realize that I am an “enabler.”

It started because I was a stay-at-home-mom, and my only job was to take care of the kids and the house. But the kids got older (12 and 16) and yet I still do almost everything.

I do their laundry, I make their lunches for school (except the 16 year old makes her sandwich), I make dinner AND wash the dishes AND put them away when they’re dry. Our dishwasher is broken, so I hand-wash everything. I dust, I vacuum, I clean the bathrooms, I empty the trash and take the bags to the garbage…I do way too much.

And it isn’t helping them AT ALL.

These are vital survival skills they need. But rather than engage in yet another argument, I just do it myself.

But ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

With my back being injured this past couple of weeks (it’s getting better), it’s become very apparent to me how I’ve cheated my kids out of figuring things out on their own.

Please don’t misunderstand, they are good kids. Put to the test, I’m sure they would survive. But I’ve made it really easy for them to sit back and not have to take responsibility.

But this week, due to necessity, I’ve been forcing myself (and them) to take on some more responsibility. Doing the dishes without pushing back has been the biggest change. And when they argue about whose turn it is, I’ve stepped back and let them figure it out for themselves.

Tonight was a big step forward for me and the kids. We decorated the Christmas tree (we have an artificial tree and it’s our tradition to set it up the day after Thanksgiving). And for those of you who “re-decorate” after the kids have had their shot at the tree (you know who you are), you know this is a big one.

I didn’t hang a single ornament…not a single one! I couldn’t. The mere act of getting up and down off the floor and bending and stretching hurt my back. I even passed the torch of arranging the lights on the tree to my oldest and she did a fabulous job. It was my job to take the ornaments out of the box and hand them to the kids (and my hubby) to hang.

Somewhere along the way, I lost track of time, and forgot that they weren’t babies anymore. I forgot where my responsibilities ended and theirs began. I forgot when “helping” became “enabling.”

My hope is that I can keep it going and not slip back into my old enabling ways when my back is better. Maybe everything really does happen for a reason.

Can you relate to this? I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one.

Meet Our New Tarantula!

I know, I know…that’s not a picture of a Tarantula, but it was supposed to be.

Here’s how it started.

My daughter started asking for a Tarantula last year. But my husband is afraid of spiders and it was not something that he was willing to consider. She begged and pleaded, but to no avail. She continued to do her research, trying to find breeders, and what Tarantula would be a good “starter” spider, all in the hopes that he would change his mind.

When she pulled off a really good GPA at the end of the year, he couldn’t say “no” anymore. He new he had to give in.

A little side note: the reason we don’t have a cat or a dog is because I am completely allergic. Runny nose, puffy, itchy eyes, big red welts, the whole enchilada. I love animals, they just don’t love me, and allergy shots are not an option for me. Anyways…

We went to the pet store a few weeks ago to price out all the supplies she would need for the Tarantula. My husband tried distracting her with the fish, I looked at the adoptable cats in the clinic (behind glass) with longing, wishing things were different. But she stayed focused on the spider, until she happened past the Guinea Pig cages.

There were two: one hiding is his cave with the typical black, brown and white coloring, the other one was brown and looked as though he had a “flat top haircut” and he came right up to visit us. My daughter immediately fell in love! He looked like a hairy potato (her description).

And you better bet my husband saw his opportunity! LOL

We told her that we didn’t know anything about Guinea Pigs and that she needed to do some research before we said ‘yes’. She went home and did some quick research and came back within a couple of hours and bought the cute cavy. His name is “Jameson Fawkes” AKA JunkRat (Gamers might recognize the name).

And the best part? NO ONE is allergic to him!

So, we finally have a pet. And even better…he doesn’t have to be walked in the rain or the snow.

Sometimes parenting decisions are made for us. Sometimes dilemmas work themselves out. Guinea Pig triumphs over Tarantula!

By the way, my son is already saving his money for his own Guinea Pig.

We are all “Gifted”

 

I love this video. (From YouCubed)

I live in a competitive school district. Everyone is “measured” in one way or another. Every child seems to have a stamp across their forehead and an image to live up to. A Label. What is it with this generation’s need to label everything? As if we need to compartmentalize everyone into a category to see where they fit.

Our school district has several “Advanced Learning” schools and school programs, mostly in math and science (STEM). There is one Public High School in our district so coveted that parents start training their kids to pass the admissions test when they are in elementary school. That’s crazy! Talk about pressure. When we first moved here, I asked a group of parents what the long term advantages were of that high school. For instance, was it guaranteed admission to the college of your choice? Apparently, it does look stunning on your transcript, but you still have to do the work. So, I pushed further and asked if they had ever done a survey of the kids once they got into college or even beyond college graduation. Were they far superior in some way to the kids who took the Community College route then transferred to a four year college? I looked around at the blank stares. No one seemed to know.
So, all the pressure, all the prestige was a launching pad. Okay, I get that.

But what about the creatives? What about the artists, the writers, the kids who work with their hands? Aren’t they “gifted” too? Don’t they qualify?

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to put down people for wanting their kids to have the best education possible (especially if you are lucky enough to afford it). I’m sure you’re just as proud of your kid as I am of mine. But not everyone is “gifted” in STEM. Not every child’s brain works that way.

But I think that being micro-focused on having a “traditionally gifted” child can be stressful and very limiting.
Of course, this is from a mom who is raising “average” kids  (at least according to all the tests), and I’m darn proud of it. My kids are gifted in other ways.

It really boils down to how they use their gifts, how we all use our gifts, that makes this world a well-rounded and better place.

I hope you enjoyed the video. Have a great day!

Parenting Teens – Unshakable Love

Parenting Teens

My oldest child is 16. Sixteen! How did that happen?!

It’s been an emotional roller coaster this last year. Lots of tears, lots of hurt feelings and misunderstandings, and lots of times when her father (who had no sisters) had no idea what he was in for.

I think we’re at a good point at the moment. I can’t say how long it will last, since emotions run high, and things seem to turn at the drop of a hat or the slam of a door.

I think parenting teens is so hard because we remember what we did as teens, and how much we didn’t tell our parents. We know what they’re probably doing when we aren’t around, or, thanks to technology, even when we’re in the next room.

I have a new slogan for my kids that I keep repeating:

“It isn’t what you do that makes me love you, it’s who you are. I will always fight for you…ALWAYS, even when we disagree.”

It’s sort of a mantra for both me and them. I want them to know there is nothing they can do to lose my love…NOTHING. There is also nothing they can do to EARN my love. I love them because they are my children. That’s it. It’s just that simple.

Let’s face it, there are going to be times when we will disappoint one another, but that disappointment will never make me turn away for them.

There will be times when we make each other really mad, maybe too mad to even speak. But they can’t shake my love.

The best toy for any age

There is a simple that has survived the technological age.

You can’t program it, it doesn’t get viruses, it won’t go out when the power goes out, it doesn’t even cause dissention between parents and kids.

What is it? The Ball.

I prefer the simple plastic ball that you can find in the grocery store, the toy store, the dollar store, sometimes even the convenience store for under $2.00.

My son is 12, and, given the option, would stay on the computer 24/7. Of course, I would NEVER let him do that.

But the last couple of weeks, our grocery store has started stocking toys for summer. Things like the Pool Noodle, squirt guns (the cheap ones, not the battery-operated turbo ones), and the time honored plastic ball.

As I walked by the giant basket of balls the past two weeks, I filed it in the back of my head. But my husband scoffed at me and said that my son wouldn’t be interested.

Today, the $1.39 ball was 20% off, making it all of $1.11. Yeah, I can fit that into the grocery budget. So, I brought home: a lime green one.

My kids unload the groceries as part of their chores. They also scoffed when they saw the ball: “You bought a ball?” (Say that with as much teenage sarcasm as you can muster to get the full effect).

But within 5 minutes, my son was bouncing the ball around the house and off his sister (she wasn’t as annoyed as she pretended to be). He did go back to playing on his computer but chose to keep the ball on the floor by his side, even resting his feet on it. And he keeps picking it up and bouncing it. I have a feeling that it will be a great weapon to use on his friends and his sister, and of course, his father. And no one will get hurt.

(I would bet that by the end of the week, my pessimistic husband will be playing with it too.)

My advice? Don’t forget the simple toys as the kids get older. Especially the cheap toys.

I recommend the rubber or plastic ball, bubbles, water balloons, a stick (it should increase in size as they get bigger), the pool noodle (also can be used out of the pool as a weapon that doesn’t cause pain), and silly putty (not the fancy expensive kind – the good old fashioned Silly Putty doesn’t dry out like the expensive varieties).

Feel free to add to the list in the comments below. Keep it cheap and friendly.

(By the way, I know some people are opposed to children playing with sticks no matter what their age, and that’s their prerogative. I, however, am not and think it gives kids a chance to learn how to play with something responsibly.)

Take your kids to church when they are young

This post comes with a disclaimer: It is directed at my fellow Christians, though I suppose it could apply to those of other faiths as well. It is not intended as a criticism or judgement call. It’s just my experience that I’d like to pass along. And if you aren’t a “religious” person, then please don’t feel obligated to read any further on this post.

My kids were raised in church. My husband and I started going to church together before they were even born. I sang with the worship team, the choir at Christmas, my husband was a youth leader and even held a position on the Elder board for a time. My kids heard worship music while they were still in my belly. As soon as they were old enough, they participated in the Christmas musicals, Vacation Bible School, and were members of AWANA. Church was a big part of our life.

When I sang in the worship team, it was my husband’s responsibility to get the kids dressed and ready for church since I had to be there an hour early for sound checks. I can’t tell you the number of times my daughter (when she was still an infant) came to church with her dress on backwards because my husband didn’t realize the buttons went up the back of the dress and not the front. But he did it. And so did I.

And for those of you with little ones, I’m not going to lie to you. It was hard. There were mornings when the little ones didn’t want to get dressed or when getting them into the car seat was an exhausting fight or when we had been up all night with a teething baby. And, sure, we missed sometimes here and there. But, in hindsight, now that they are teens, getting them to church back then was so much easier than it is now that they’re older.

When they were little, their belief was our belief. Their religion was our religion. They went with us, partly because they had fun, and church was a time of crafts and play with their friends, but mostly because they didn’t have a choice. They went where we went. They weren’t old enough to stay at home alone.

Now that they are teens, getting to church on a regular basis is much harder.

Now that they’re older, church isn’t all fun and games. Their friends show up sporadically, so there are days when there may be absolutely no one they know in their Sunday school class. Let’s be honest: they would much rather be home on the computer or sleeping in, than having to get up early and shower and get cleaned up just to go and sit and listen to a message that they may feel does or does not apply to them. It can be really boring at times.

Add to that their friends, who may not be believers, and their influence on them. At this age, they need to own their faith. We can model for them as much as we want, but it’s up to them to choose their faith. Sure, you can make them go to church, telling them that it’s for their own good, and believe me, there are days that we do that. But doing that can turn into a fight, and who knows if anything is getting through to them?

So, my advice to you if you have littles and you’re a church-goer, it’s worth the fight to get there. It’s worth showing up to church with your toddler’s clothes on backwards, or with your hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, or with baby food smeared across your dress. Your fellow moms will understand.

Plant as many seeds as you can when they’re young, and hopefully, as they get older, even if they wander in the wilderness for a while, those seeds will have taken root and will always pull at them as they make their own choices in life (even the bad choices).

Parenting is hard, whether your kids are younger or older. Your going to need a lot of love and a lot of patience. Get started early.

That’s just my two cents.