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.
We had a plumber stop by recently to fix an outdoor faucet (assuming it ever gets warm enough plant the garden) and he made an offhand comment about “back when we were kids.” I looked around to see who else he was lumping into this inclusive pronoun. Clearly this man was at least 15 years older than me. Or, so I thought.
I’m already very comfortable falling asleep in front of the television by nine o’clock. I regularly need to do ear hair maintenance. It’s been a solid decade since I could even think about sitting cross-legged. You all know I play more dominoes than actually going out to bars. I’m going to chalk up not being able to tell whether a person is 35 or 55 as another sign of aging.
Turns out if you can’t spot the middle aged person in the room….
If you live up here long enough you end up with a story or a connection to the marathon. A little over ten years ago, we were nearing Michelle’s due date and had one last wellness appointment with the doctor. As we were checking out, a nurse handed me a photocopied sheet of paper with hieroglyphics on it. It might have generously been called a map. It was mostly boxes, arrows and a few squiggles.
“They close the roads.”
“If you need to get to hospital during the marathon you’ll have to use the fire road.”
Thankfully, Cecilia missed the marathon by a couple days. Her birth was stressful enough without adding an off-road adventure. The map wasn’t needed but every time marathon monday approaches I think of all the parents nervously sweating out the start time for reasons that have nothing to do with running.