So it’s parent-teacher conference time. Both kids are doing fine but it’s a good reminder for me to never minimize their accomplishments. It’s something that I find challenging at times. It can be easier for me to point out what else they could have done than to praise what they have done.
By this point, it’s very obvious that while Cecilia and I share many traits, how we learn is vastly different. How someone with my genes can hate flash cards? I still have flash cards I made in college! (At some point, on some Saturday, Michelle will discover them in the basement and take them to the transfer station.) It’s not my job to change her or make her see it my way (unless it’s about Boston sports). It’s my job to be on team Ce, to root for her and encourage her. To make sure she understands that I’m proud of her regardless not because she is perfect or smart. That I’m most proud of her high marks in effort and how she has the confidence to keep trying new things.
Michelle and I had an ongoing discussion this week about the basement and how neat it should be. The basement is mostly the kid’s space. It’s filled with toys and crafts and glitter. So much glitter. It definitely gets messy and it certainly needs to be cleaned but…it’s also sort of the whole point of having that space for the kids. We can just shut the door and not get overprotective or precious about that space. Plenty of other rooms to vacuum on a daily basis.
I think a kid’s space, whether it’s a bedroom or a basement, should look like it’s played in. It should be messy! Should it be left in utter chaos? No. Do they need to learn how to care for and clean up their stuff? Yes. Does it need to always be returned to pristine condition? No. Messes will accumulate. You’ll find glitter in your socks. I’m taking it as a sign that I’m raising kids not cultivating rooms of stuff.
Warning: no cute kid pictures this week or half-hearted parenting philosophy. I will keep it brief. We are celebrating our anniversary this weekend with a quick trip up to Burlington for food, breweries, and…whatever else people do in Vermont. Hike and shop for flannel, I suppose.
It’s been 15 years if you are playing along at home and over 22 since BC’s poor technical support led a girl to knock on a dork’s door for networking and computer help. We’ve now been together longer than we were ever apart. There’s a new way to feel old.
This is the story of a sweatshirt. A sweatshirt that lived on the floor just inside the front door for more than two days. Another day and it was probably going to ask for the wi-fi password.
It would have been very easy for me to pick up the sweatshirt. It was actually really hard not to pick it up. It also would have been easy for me to make them do it. I can make like a prison guard if I have to but both of those options miss the point.
I want them to learn to look after themselves with some pride. Cleaning up isn’t just a task to get an allowance. It’s an illustration of who they are. The lesson from the sweatshirt that I want them to learn is how we do anything is how we do everything. Leaving it on the floor isn’t just lazy and messy—it shows that they are a mess.
One of my key parenting tenets: I’m not trying to raise successful kids. I’m trying to raise successful adults.
It’s a long term investment. Short term returns are huffing, mumbling, and occasional stomping.
A favorite quote from Bette Davis: “If you’ve never been hated by your child, you’ve never been a parent.”
We had a couple of incidents this week that had the kids mad at me. Nothing big. Nothing that wasn’t really forgotten the next day (attempts at smuggling candy, what constitutes actually washing your hands, how to properly fold a fitted sheet).
Here’s what I’ve come to believe after 10 years of parenting. If your kids are never mad at you, if they never whine about how unfair you are being, it’s probably means you’re not doing your job as a parent. You are only protecting them from the consequences of their actions. How is that going to work out in the long run when life gives them a firm kick in the pants? We can only engage with the world as it is, not as we wish it would be. Raising sheltered or unprepared kids is not the way to raise successful adults.
I need to crowdsource an answer. There is an ongoing disagreement about wages in our house. We have begun to pay Cecilia an allowance for doing things around the house. I’ll admit I’m a little…frugal. I see some valid points in Scrooge and Marley’s business practices.
Honestly, other than emptying the dishwasher and occasionally walking Dash, it’s mostly things she either was already doing or needed to do anyway, such as practice her instruments and do her homework. The crucial fine print: do it all without complaining. And to be fair, most days she has gotten down to business when she gets home. That has been a real welcome maturation. Now, I’m all about teaching them the value of a dollar, so how much would you pay a 10 year old for those services?
I had a business trip this week and someone left a Sports Illustrated in the seat pocket from the previous flight which included this amazing story of Keanon Lowe whose post-playing career appeared to be going nowhere. Turns out he was right where he was supposed to be.
It’s certainly not a direct comparison to Lowe, but I do often find myself lost and befuddled in the thicket of parenting. I thought it might get easier when they could talk or wipe their own butts or take a shower. Nope. Things only get harder, often in more subtle and insidious ways.
I feel stressed, overwhelmed, cranky and lost and that’s just trying to figure out the weekly meal schedule never mind navigating the social norms of fifth grade girls. My kids make me mad and make me melt thirty-six times a days but ultimately that is just being a parent. You gotta embrace both them and the moment no matter how challenging.
The two days of travel and the break from active parenting did offer some perspective. None of us really have any idea what life has in store for us even as it breaks our hearts or keeps kicking us when we are down. We gotta remember that we are not lost, we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Not by chance or providence but because by our actions and our choices we make it where we are supposed to be. Parent on, people!