Part of Cecilia’s weekly chores contract is the list of jobs, of course, but it also includes a rider: all done without complaints. Complaints covers eye rolls, heavy sighs, feet stomps and other tomfoolery. This is often the hardest part for her and we’ve recently been talking a lot about perspective.
Often life can be a lot like a chore chart. We can look at it one way and be annoyed or angry or worried. We can look at it another and find an exciting challenge. We can choose to see something as an obstacle or an opportunity.
Which is the right choice? That’s sort of a trick question, isn’t it? Life certainly has some difficult obstacles. For me, the right perspective is often the one that that allows me to move forward, to reduce stress, and to find humility, or even humor (ok, sometimes sarcasm). Each situation has two handles—one that will bear weight and one that won’t. I’m trying to teach the girls to to choose carefully. With a minimum of eye rolls.
Another week, another milestone. The girls became latch key kids last week. I had work meetings in the city and there was going to be a gap in time where the girls would be home alone after school for an hour.
Ce was excited. Ally was more apprehensive. I think she was more concerned with what the unfettered power of big sister might unleash than the prospect of being without parental supervision.
She also expressed a less founded apprehension that a random thunderstorm would hit while they were by themselves. We went over the weather reports very thoroughly. I’m not sure she was convinced.
In the end, a little freedom was a good thing. I came home and the house was intact. They had made a snack (even making one for me), started their homework, and not spilled too much glitter. I’ll consider that a successful experiment in independence and free range parenting.
I know pretty soon the girls will expect to be left alone and will only try to find me if the WiFi isn’t working and that’s okay. Gotta let ‘em grow up. Slowly, if possible.
So Chelle-bration week has wrapped up. Cake has been eaten. Presents opened. Friends have stopped by. It wasn’t the original planned karaoke blowout, and while I did re-learn all the lyrics to ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire,’ I’m not complaining! Food, friends, and dominoes worked out just fine.
It might be all the champagne this week but we’ve both turned a bit reflective now that we are in the 40 club.
What exactly have we learned? A couple things, I hope. This is for the girls. Maybe they’ll read it one day. Or maybe Alexa will project it directly onto their brain. Too bad flash cards don’t work like that, huh, Ce!
At least I know how it’s going to go. I’ll be frustrated and angry. I’ll stay away from the news and the Internet. In three or four days, I’ll start to feel a little better. Sadly, this Groundhog Day of roiling emotions from mass shooting is now all too familiar. I just can’t accept that not giving a damn is the price of freedom. I don’t want to argue about the causes. I don’t know the exact solution. I would just like to feel as if we are moving toward one. But we’re not. That’s what I find more frustrating.
With AIDS, cancer, opioids, it felt as if everyone knew someone affected and we agreed that it was a crises that needed action. I fear that every member of Congress will need to be affected closely and personally in the same way to get anything accomplished on a national scale. It feels like we’re going to have to wait two generations for the children that survive these shootings to get elected to make some change.
In the meantime, I’ll watch over my kids as best I can and hope that I never hear my child’s school on a breaking news alert nor have to wrestle with those personal consequences…on to Saturday….
Saturday was the first dominoes night of 2018 and we were hosting, so we spent most of the day just straightening and prepping and making sure there was no undergarments lingering in odd places and that all the dried food scraps were scraped off the couch. It took most of the day. Exciting pictures ahead!
Having people over whether for pizza or dominoes always makes me remember how under-appreciated and overlooked these relationships often are in our lives, especially for someone around my age. Children and family are vital and joyous, but they take a lot of physical and mental energy.
As parents, you are their sole caretakers and the world quickly shrinks down to the boundaries of your offspring. You spend most of your time together: in the car, in the bathroom(!), in the kitchen. It would be weird if that close-knit warmth didn’t sometimes start to border on maddening. The happy turns to harried, the harried to the routine.
That is why it’s worth the effort of folding the two week old laundry pile, sweeping the floor, and shoving all the miscellaneous junk into drawers before your friends visit. It’s a sanity check. It’s opening up your world a little bit beyond the edges of your kid’s lunch box. They will commiserate, they will sympathize, they will console, they will make sure you’re not drinking alone. In short, they will make sure you don’t go crazy. A few household chores seems a small price to pay.
We are currently in one of those valleys where piano has gotten more difficult and practices have gotten more laborious and more contentious. It’s ratcheted up the stress level in the household to the point where Michelle and I have to tag in and out during practice to keep our own sanity. You can’t fight frustration with frustration.
I worry sometimes that the girls’ days are so packed that they don’t have enough time to fail before it’s on to the next thing. There’s literally no time for the ‘hard’ thing. There’s no struggle because there is always a new activity.
So I am trying really hard to see these piano battles as an opportunity. It’s not easy. Seeing your child get frustrated, struggle and fail is tough, but I don’t know any other way to teach the girls about the importance of effort, deliberate practice and failure. Perseverance is very much a skill they are going to need.
Maybe piano won’t be her passion. It’s not really fair to expect an eight year old to know their passion, right?. Maybe she gives up on it, but right now, I don’t think a low point should be the end point.
She will learn this minuet if it kills us all.
We woke up to silence yesterday. The nice, tranquil kind of silence where you lie in bed and find meaning in the bird songs outside the window.
Not the kind of silence where you wonder if your kids are setting fire to the couch.
The kids were actually away overnight at the grandparents which meant that we could wake up, drink coffee and have a companionable conversation. We did not have to have breakfast with Bob Saget and his family.
I could get used to mornings without slapstick and a laugh track.
Here is how the rest of the day went….