The girls made a cake this week. On one hand…no glitter. On the other…so, so many questions. I had to work really hard (and wasn’t always successful) to not shut them down or freak out that they didn’t know to take out the butter and eggs hours earlier. Room temperature doesn’t happen by accident, kids! I took a deep breath, suppressed a shudder when they almost used salted butter in the recipe, and let them ask.
This is what I wanted as a parent. Not only do I want to teach them there are no stupid questions, but to go further, and understand you only become smarter by asking questions. Asking questions should be a lifelong process. Too many adults stop asking questions. Curiosity doesn’t kill us. It shouldn’t embarrass us. It should makes us better. All learning starts with admitting your ignorance.
So, I swallowed down the abhorrence at the thought of using unsifted flour in a baked good and was thankful I was raising ‘why’ childs.
We received another email survey about school re-opening from the superintendent this week. I dutifully opened it, read it, and then just as quickly closed it. My brain just shut down. Michelle and I have been debating our answers for the last four days. There’s no simple, easy, or right answer to the school question.
It was a stark reminder that being a parent is the hardest job. No training. No pay. Responsibilities that are never easily defined and always changing. So what do you do? I have no idea and that’s also parenting. The best you can do is be adaptable. Be ready to respond to a an unending, ever-changing flow of complicated circumstances. And keep the wine fridge stocked.
One thing that I really had to work on during homeschooling this spring and now, into the summer, is making sure I didn’t completely slip into a habit of constant negative feedback for the girls. We are around each other so much that if I stopped and recorded our ‘conversations’ they would mostly consist of me saying things like: Stop doing that. Don’t touch this. Turn off Netflix. Vacuum up the unicorn sprinkles. No. No. No.
The negativity comes from a good and well-meaning place (here is where Ce would roll her eyes). I want to keep them safe. I want to show them how to be better. I really want a clean floor.
But I realize the constant barrage can eventually flood their feedback systems and come out not as encouragement but nitpicking criticism. For all my good intentions, that is not the way to have a healthy relationship with kids.
So this Saturday, with Michelle away most of the day, I challenged myself to be more positive. Let the little things go. Find some Jedi ways to say “Yes” even when I really mean “No.” I needed to engage with the slime rather than try to hold it at arm’s length.
I still insisted on sweeping the floor. If you give glitter one inch….
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.
This year we are not using any after-school care for Cecilia. She’s coming home on the bus each day. I usually still have calls or work to be done for a few hours once she is back. We are trying to treat this as an opportunity to further build her trustworthiness and make good on her word. In the morning, we talk about what she needs to get done each day.
I remember coming home by myself or with my sister. I believe if kids don’t feel trusted, they’ll have a tough time becoming independent and respecting themselves. I want her to have that independence. I really need her to have it. I can’t go through middle school again.
If she all does that? More freedom and responsibility. If not? More conversation, sorry, opportunities, to learn. I actually have more sympathy for some of these types of struggles versus learning vocab or geometry. I work with plenty of adults each day that completely lack time management.
On to Saturday where my own time management was put to the test…
One unlikely pitfall of working from home most days is the unexplainable urge to constantly vacuum. I can only chalk it up to how ineffective I find most work meetings or just how strong my need to procrastinate is that I’ll clean before sitting down at my desk.
This week, I was straightening up (in preparation for the addictive vacuuming) and came across a Sharpie cap in the living room. Just the cap. Is there a scarier thing to find as a parent? I immediately checked the walls, carpet, and fur around Dash’s mouth. No joy.
So far the other half of the marker remains missing…
Allison had her first field trip this week. They went to the zoo. There were multiple email reminders about sunscreen. That meant multiple reminders to me that it’s okay not to love being a parent all the time. Some parts just suck. Like dealing with sunscreen at 7:30 in the morning. It’s the black licorice of summer.