January 27, 2012
Debbie was not a warm and fuzzy teacher.
She didn’t smile, but she didn’t frown.
She focused on the children, was firm, kind and direct.
I never saw anything like it.
One three-year old was having a fit. This child didn’t want to put on her shoes to go outside and it was a rule.
She wiggled on the ground squirming this way and that, she screamed loudly and pounded her fists.
Debbie ignored her. When she did stop, the teacher asked calmly, “Are you done?”
The child stared at her blankly.
“I’m here if you want help with your shoes… or are you going to do that kicking thing a bit more? Now that was interesting.”
The child stared at her, then said, “But I don’t want to put my shoes on!”
Debbie replies, “Oh, so you have a problem. I wonder how you are going to solve it.”
Sometimes I hear Debbie whispering into my ear, “It looks like you have a problem, Kim, I wonder how you are going to solve it…”. Then I stop kicking, regroup and figure out what I’m going to do.
I think she taught me more than my daughter.
January 22, 2011
I’ve become one of “those” moms. You know, the ones who can’t wait for their child to go off to school or childcare. I was NEVER one of those moms. I was the Queen of attachment parenting. I nursed longer than I care to share via the internet. Although I spent a decade working in Child Care Centers, my children have never seen the inside of one. I hand make Halloween costumes and birthday cakes and crowns and invitations.
This is how I have defined who I am.
I feel the changes. Time and place have made me less judgmental, more easygoing.
My life has changed. I have a very, very busy four-year old. People tell us that maybe we should feed her some junk food and sit her in front of a TV for a while. She bothers her older sister who has constant sleep overs (at thirteen) so I try to keep them separated and busy and happy. Twenty-four seven. I don’t live near family. I don’t have a babysitter. (Her 15 year old sister is on an adventure.) I am closer to 50 years than 40 years old, but just barely. I am passionate about my new business that I have no time for in between pleasing everyone.
November 9, 2010
Here is a true story: If you have a child or want to have a child or will be around anyone who will ever consider parenting, read them this story. I heard it in a parenting class.
There was a family. A typical family, two parents two children.
They planned a trip to Disneyland. They were very excited. They packed the car.
They got snacks.
They got cosy.
They were ready for their seven hour drive.
Before the ignition was turned on, the mother stopped and spoke to the children.
“We all want a lovely trip to Disneyland.
It is a long drive.
We will not tolerate any whining.
“If there is whining, complaining or arguing,
we will turn this car around
and drive back home.
(more nodding heads..)
Before they left the city limit,
a child whined.
the other complained.
The car silently turned around
and drove straight home.
The shocked children complained loudly when their parents started to unpack the car.
The parents said, “Stop.
No more complaining and maybe we can reschedule the trip to next weekend.”.
The stunned children brought their bags back into their rooms.
The parents smiled to each other.
The reservations for Disney Land were made for the next weekend already. They always had been.
The following weekend the family had seven hours of heaven in the car together without whining, complaining or arguing.
October 17, 2010
When I was young, I was convinced that differences in gender were the result of social conditioning.
I knew it.
Of course this theory was part of an ongoing rant and search for equity. I was not afraid of the word feminist, I looked it up and it did not mandate I stop shaving, grab a rainbow VW van and have a lesbian fling.
My first year at University, I took a class called “The psychology of the female personality”. This was just the class I needed to prove my theory right. Then, the professor told us this story….
She had a son. She gave him a doll. This was the 70′s and she was very proud of herself. He loved that doll the first day and she smiled. She thought “I can change the world”.
The next day, she looked out her window at her son playing in the back yard. Then she looked again. He was making a big mud puddle. that’s nice she thought. She watched him go back and forth to and from the outside tap. She looked closely, what was he using for the bucket – it had hair?
HE WAS USING THE DOLLS HEAD AS A BUCKET.
I have three girls. I raise them in a gender neutral sort of way. They have trucks. They play ball. They love mud. They all three have very different personalities. One is incredibly impatient and has violent tendencies. One’s favorite color at four-years was orange, the next one’s color was black and the last one’s favorite color is pinkandpurple (yes, one word). One has aspergers, which is considered to be a “male” brain. Despite all of this, none of my daughters have ever considered taking off a dolls head to use it for something practical. Read the rest of this entry »
October 14, 2010
Your hallway will become a fortress.
There will be glitter in the carpet and in her hair. Sand will now be fairy dust.
Any reason will be a reason to paint. And to use real scissors.
Sometimes she will “disappear”, only to be replaced by a kitty, who will meow for days.
And there will be lots of stories, long stories. With a very, very long beginning and never a middle or an end. And they will be captivating.
She will change her clothes four times a day. At least.
Her name may change and so will her imaginary friends’.
Luckily for me, I’ve raised two other four-year old girls. I know that eventually, the glitter disappears, the hallway clears and the stickers stay on paper.
So, treasure the four-year old moments.
October 12, 2010
This person here, makes my life far easier than I care to admit. She is amazingly conscientious and helpful. She offers to take bags, and open doors. She is fiercely independent and rarely needs help, but always offers it. When she was very little, I used to tell her to relax. I would remind her that she had a responsible mother. That she could actually BE four years old. I had it covered.
I don’t think she ever believed me. She’s always wanted to be bigger than she was at that moment. She embraces what is ahead. When her half birthday rolls around, she seizes the opportunity to introduce herself as almost the next age. So, now she is “almost 16″. ”How old are you?” “Almost 16.” “So you are 15.” “NO, almost 16.” she’ll say with a smile.
I had a birthday last week. An old friend from high school sent me a note on Facebook and reminded me about a John Cougar Melencamp song that use to make me cry, Jack and Diane…”Hold on to 16 as long as you can, change will come around soon and make us women and men.”. Oh how I feared getting older. Oh how I feared what might await me.
I cried on my 17th birthday. I thought I was old. I thought everything would be downhill from 16. I then cried on my 18th for the same reason. 19 too. Somewhere along the line, I came around. On my 40th birthday (five years ago), the tears I cried watching the sun come up on a beach that morning were of pure gratitude and anticipation. And such a surprise! No one sings about sweet 45. No movies are made about how great it is to age. I think it’s a shame, I am far happier at 45 than 15,25 or 35.
I was thinking about this, about why our society idolizes youth, and middle age is drudgery, and all I could think of is this… that people aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing. They might have jobs they don’t like or stopped being creative. They have bought into the idea of doing “what they are supposed to do” verses “what makes their heart sing”.
So, what do I tell my daughters? Be your best self at any age. And the older you are, the more power you have over your own circumstances! It is you who co-creates your reality, that you alone are charge of how you feel and react in a given moment. And it is wonderful! I might tell this to my 12-year-old and my 4-year-old, but the truth is I don’t need to tell this almost 16-year-old, she was born far more fearless than I.
September 27, 2010
I first heard about the five to one ratio while working in child care, then later with regards to couples. The theory is credited to the studies by Dr. John Gottman. This is what he discovered; a healthy relationship has the ratio of five positive interactions to every one negative interaction. Any less than that and the relationship struggles. (ALL relationships teacher/child, parent/child, mother in law, lover, etc.)
If you have less than a 5 positives to 1 negative in couples, divorce rates are very high. If it is less than 5:1 in relationships with children, they are unhappy. They will not function optimally.
You would think it would be 50/50 or a little more. You would think that if you we always a bit more positive than negative all would be well, but no, 5:1 is the magic number.
And it is never too late to start… so, thank you for reading, you have great taste in blogs, (or fabulous instincts while searching), your children are beautiful and I really like your shoes.
Now pass it on to the ones you love. The world will be a much more pleasant place when we all activate this ratio.
Have a lovely day.
September 22, 2010
Before I had children, I had a degree in Education. I also had a fancy big job managing corporate child care. I was in charge of lots of little ones and their teachers. I taught parents about parenting. I love writing that… I taught parenting. Back then parents were incompetent. Really. The children threw shoes at them. (They put them on for me.) They had to bribe their children to do anything. (I just asked once.) I tried not to be smug, but it’s hard when you do, in fact, know everything.
This condition remedied itself when I decided to do the world a favor and have children. Faced with the cutest toddler who made boys twice her size tremble behind their mothers, and who was almost banned from playgroup for biting, I stopped mentioning my past life as an expert and became quiet. I wondered if people might come by and grab back the degree. I wish I could apologize to those parents for my young condescending behavior, but, well, I’ve moved. (If you were a parent of a young child in Palo Alto California between the years 1988 and 1998, I am so, so sorry…)
My children teach me now how little I know every day. Now that I have teenagers, I know even less about parenting. I was trying to comfort one daughter the other day and the older one looked at me sympathetically, ¨You really aren’t good at this, are you mom?¨ It wasn’t spoken with a snotty tone or mal intent, she was just noticing the obvious.
You would think that I would have learned my lesson with regards to acting like a know it all. But no. Now I have decided that I know everything about life regarding complainers.
I am full of advice for them, ” behind every complaint is a request” I tell them happily. I joyfully give advice on creating your own reality by embracing personal responsibility. I am sooo smart about this I spend my time and energy teaching people (who don’t want to be “taught”) how to cheer up. But in the end it just sounds like complaining. I complain about complainers. Sometimes I am simply trying to explain to people how other people are such complainers, and they just stare at me blankly. Humm..
I wonder if I’ll ever learn the value of silence and have the self-control and grace not to preach about it.
September 19, 2010
My girlfriend just turned 49 yesterday. That got my friends and I talking about seven-year cycles. Most people give Rudolf Steiner full credit for this theory, but I believe developmental theorists Erickson and Piaget also had similar theories and when there are universal truths, eventually most people come to the same conclusions. I sent her this article to explain her next cycle. Reading it brought insights into my own my life, my teenagers’ life, and even my parents’ journeys.
When I was a new mom, I was aware of the first cycle of 7 and felt a shift with both of them neared their seventh birthdays. Before seven, they felt like an extra limb, or a permanent fixture on my hip. If they hurt their finger, I swear I felt it. But after seven, they became fully formed kids. I saw them as separate from myself. (Or they made that their declaration).
One of my teens has made it successfully past 14 and the other is nearing it. This passage explains a lot of what is happening at our home ¨At the age of fourteen comes the second series of defiances. Once again a total change of the system occurs. It is a creation of a private space and the physical preparation for adulthood.¨ I am happy that the house where we just moved to has plenty of space for them both. They are spending time alone and I’ve intuited that this is necessary for their journey. (Although I really want them always hanging out talking with me, they are finding their friends or their alone time, way more appealing. They are creating another level of separation.)
I was surprised to read about the shift around the 35th year. “The thirty-fifth year is the cutting of the emotional umbilical cord and true emotional adulthood arrives. Here one stands alone, able to withstand being influenced by the emotional attitudes of others.” I moved from the US to New Zealand when I was 36. (It took me a year to plan.)
I’m sure that everyone has their own pace and journey, and there are so many other factors that go into the lives we lead (like temperament) but I find this research helpful. I am particularly looking forward to 56 when many venture off into something new…a global sailing trip perhaps?