Thursday, March 27, 2014

Acorns In My Dryer: Show and Tell: Becoming a Parent My Kids Can Actua...

Acorns In My Dryer: Show and Tell: Becoming a Parent My Kids Can Actua...: Remember the time in elementary school when you got to bring an item in for "show and tell"?  It would've been really awkward...

Show and Tell: Becoming a Parent My Kids Can Actually Follow

Remember the time in elementary school when you got to bring an item in for "show and tell"?  It would've been really awkward to just stand there holding up the item you brought in without ever telling the class why the item merited being shown in the first place, and if you just told about the item without ever getting it out of your backpack to show it to the class...well, that'd be equally awkward and just plain weird.  It takes both showing and telling to get the importance revealed.

Parenting is a lot like "show and tell."  If you only show your kids how to live by leading them everywhere, always walking in front of them leading the way, then your children will have a leader only.  If you only tell your kids how to live by walking with them every step of the way reminding them and telling them which choices to make, then your children will have a counselor only.  Parenting takes both showing and telling...both leadership and guidance.

Here's the thing...I think I might have messed this parenting thing up a bit.  My natural instinct has been to parent with guidance only, walking alongside my children and talking them through the way they live life.  Every move they make, I'm there watching them just like a Police song.  I'm always there around every turn, usually hovering in case they start to fall.  There's a big problem with this childen actually never do get to fall, and they also rarely fail.  I'm rearing kids who'll never move on or outgrow me...they'll always need me and be dependent on my approval and that really what I want for them?  

What outcomes would I like my children to have when they leave my perfect little nest which is actually an illusion that I perpetuate as long as I never step out in front of my kids and actually lead them.  My nest isn't perfect, and it's not really about my goals and outcomes anyway.  What am I so afraid of?  Honestly, I fear that they actually won't want to follow me, so I hide my vulnerability from everyone as I keep walking right by their side...always guiding, never leading.

Well, there's only one solution...I'm going to have to be a parent of leadership instead of only guidance.  Instead of walking my kids through every trial, I need to walk ahead of them SHOWING them the way instead of just telling them about the way as we walk it together.  Then, when I look back and check, I can pick them up when they fall flat on their face instead of always being there to make sure they never fall in the first place.

Kids are going to make mistakes, and if we always walk alongside of them...we'll take their mistakes personally, like their mistakes are a reflection of us because we've made it to be that way.  I cannot really help my kids in this life if I'm so personally attached to their blunders and think that they reflect on me.  If I parent this way, my own reputation becomes the focus, and that leads to making their mistakes into my failure.  What I need to do is get my own life!  And, when I do, I will be able to lead my kids and lay guidance on the side of the path sometimes.

In the end when my job is balanced with showing and telling, I'll be able to rest in my empty nest that's not perfect.  And, I want my kids to be brave enough to take the path they choose which is not necessarily the path a parent would choose as the "most acceptable."  I desire that my kids use their gifts and talents and passions, and my greatest advice to them would be "Don't Waste It" meaning that they have been blessed with a life to live and they need to live it well.  

I don't have every insight into my children's souls, and as much as I hate to admit it, my kids know themselves better than I will ever know them.  What I have to do now is to be brave enough to walk ahead of least a few that they can learn to make good choices independent of me but also so not too far ahead of them so that they will see an example of someone they can follow...someone who loves them, someone who makes mistakes, falls, but gets back up.  

Lead your children to a life instead of living theirs with them.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

My bad stuff...the end...because now I might have a completely different list. :)

Almost 2 years ago, I started this blog, and truthfully...I am not as faithful to write as I should be.  I do write a lot actually, just in a journal instead of on the computer.  This is me...I'm "old school" still...can't seem to help it that I want to hold my words in my hands and read them in my own handwriting.  But, I need to grow and adapt myself to the world around me...growing pains...ugg!

So, today, I'm committed to finish my procrastination of my "bad stuff" list from April 2012 and get this list off of my conscience once and for all!  3 of the 4 things I'll enlighten you about are still true, and 1 is only semi-true two years after I confessed goes:

I USUALLY GIVE A BAD FIRST IMPRESSION...several of you who know and love me have experienced a first impression problem with me.  I don't have any excuses that really matter, but here's my excuse anyway...I prefer to be a wallflower and fade into the woodwork, and if I feel on the spot or scrutinized, I often withdraw and hide.  I will still say "hello" and portray pseudo friendliness toward people I meet, but I definitely hide the "real me" from new people.  One great example of this is when I met one of my best friends "Emily."  We taught at the same elementary school and soon after the beginning of the year teachers' meetings, Emily and I found ourselves chatting about our personal lives a little.  My daughter's name is Belle, and because of the uniqueness of her name, I often get comments about it.  Emily is a pretty bold person, not shy at all which is a personality type that intimidates me anyway, and when she said, "is she named after the Disney princess?," I immediately went into shut down mode because I didn't know her well enough to perceive her comment as genuine curiosity or a stab at humor at my expense.  I answered her matter of factly, "Yes, she is actually named after the Disney princess."  I turned away and went back to my work.  Emily and I laugh at this first impression now, but the truth is that Emily thought I was not a warm person and somewhat standoffish, maybe even stuck up.  Now that she knows me well, Emily says that she got me completely wrong by our first impression.  Others say similar things about me.  I don't open up at first, it's like a protection mechanism of myself, but I guarantee that after I know'll see the real me is not too bad. 

I DO TOO MUCH FOR MY KIDS, I ENABLE THEM...finding the balance of rearing my kids to be competent, independent young people is always a struggle for me and my protective, serving nature.  I want the people I love to have it all, and I usually sacrifice myself to ensure that this is possible.  My self sacrificing nature is not always the best at preparing my kids to take on the world.  I fear that I hold them back, my intentions are sincere and honest...but, I enable them to stay in a rut sometimes.  I am conscious of this trait of mine and do a lot to overcome it, like just this past weekend, my oldest daughter was in Chicago with me and our 2 international students...and she needed to go into a suburb to visit a herself!  The whole thing was set up with the friend picking her up at the Metra train station, and my daughter had everything under control as she went up to the counter to purchase her ticket.  It took all I have within me not to go up to the counter to "oversee" the situation and make sure she was saying and doing all the right things.  I even commented to one of our international kiddos that it was hard for me not to intervene.  I realized at that moment that 75% of my daughter's inability to perform things successfully was on her, but 25% of it was on my shoulders because I don't really allow my kids to fail.  I hover and swoop in and "fix" things.  That's not really my job anymore with my oldest who'll turn 18 this year...I'm running out of time!  I'm not going to just let her have a free for all, but within boundaries, I need to let her make decisions and go up to train ticket booths without me.  My middle daughter is not going to need as much intervening as my oldest because she is strong-willed and independent already, and my youngest is not ready for me to stop my hovering yet.  Each kid is different, but I need to make sure that they are more of their own self and less of me guiding their every single step as time moves on.  I need to make them able to do things on their own instead of enabling them to need to depend on me every second for the rest of their lives.

I THINK I'M GOOD AT SEVERAL THINGS, PRIDE OR CONFIDENCE?  This is the one I wouldn't put on my list anymore if I wrote a list today.  I have come to realize that I'm not good at balance.  I am like a jack of all trades in my life without a clear thing that standing out that I have any expertise in.  I'm okay or pretty good at a lot of things, but not really, really good at anything.  This is okay with me now, and I'm not sure it's a bad thing.  I'm confident that I can get a job done, almost anything someone asks of me I will do to the best of my ability...and usually my best is good enough for them.  I take pride in accomplishments, but I'm not really proud of myself.  So, this one is tricky to write about because it doesn't really apply anymore...

I OFTEN HIDE CHOCOLATE SO THAT I DON'T HAVE TO SHARE...this is true.  I often give out chocolate too though.  I grew up with a mom who hid a bag of peanut M&M's on the top shelf of our pantry, so I come by it honestly.  I know if I buy a bag of mini Hershey bars that within a couple hours at my house with 7 will be gone.  I love Hershey bars dipped in peanut butter, and I know it sounds strange...a Reese's just isn't the same.  Sometimes, I just like to have something for myself.  Chocolate bars can now be replaced with my preferred flavor for Kehrig coffee maker which I have resorted to writing my name on the box so that the little people who love drinking coffee will stay out of the "good stuff."  I do this and feel bad sometimes because I'm generally not a selfish person at all, but I don't really think I'll devote much energy to change this "bad thing" about me much...or maybe I will...and, I have much better hiding places than my mom did!  

Thank goodness I am done with my confessions that I started almost 2 years ago.  Now, it might be about time to make a new list which I'll refrain from doing on the blog next time...but the important thing I wanted to impart to you is...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hugging Strangers

As of today, I am officially an advocate of hugging strangers. I'm not an expert about hugging or about strangers, but if you are in a public, well lit place, and are an adult... Just say "no" to irrational fears concerning stranger danger.

The first time I can remember venturing into the unchartered waters of hugging strangers, was a little less than a year ago after having coffee with some friends at Panera. We were saying our goodbyes just outside of the front door when a woman walked by us and said, "hey, I want a hug." My friends and I paused our hugs for a millisecond, and I took two steps over to the hug deprived woman and gave her what she needed...a hug. She giggled a little, I smiled, and my friends were trying to figure out what just happened and if I needed to be committed. Truthfully, I felt energized, elated, and I was high on life from a hug. I made a mental note to try it again sometime soon, but I didn't get my chance until today. 

See, the thing about hugging strangers is that you really need an invitation. I don't recommend hugging random strangers, just the strangers who are actually seeking today in Chicago's Union Station. 

I put two of my kiddos into the line to ride the Amtrak to Kansas City from Chicago, and when the line progressed for them to leave, I gave them hugs and said "goodbye." As I turned to leave, a nice guy behind them who had been talking to us for a while said, "where's my hug?"  I smiled at him and took him completely by surprise and gave him a goodbye hug too. Why not? I knew he was halfway teasing, but what if he really did NEED a hug?  After all, Humans need at least 8 positive physical touches each day to be a thriving person.  I left the most recent "stranger hug" in Chicago's Union Station with a smile on my face and Grace told me that the man told her, "that sure was nice of her to give me a hug" after I left. 

So, here's my challenge to you: hug a stranger sometime this year. If we all do this...the world WILL be a better place. So many more smiles and genuine surprise in each other's humanity.

I'm addicted to hugging strangers after just two shots of caring for people I will never know personally or even see again, and I reaped a great benefit as well because I don't always get my 8 positive physical touches each day either.