Thursday, April 28, 2011

The big picture

Ask anyone you know who has a child and they will tell you that time flies. One minute, your daughter is a little cutie with chubby legs and the next minute she's starting kindergarten. In the blink of an eye, it seems your child grows up. So doesn't it make sense that they will very quickly become an adult? Think about it. What do you want your child to be five years, 10 years, 20 years from now? Do you want a kind, responsible person of character? Sure you do. Do you want a spoiled, uncaring, selfish person? Of course not. You may not think it, but what you are doing now is creating that adult. Do you think nasty people just got that way overnight? Do you think they were happy kids in a loving environment who just decided "Nah, I'm not gonna be happy and loving like my parents were. I'm gonna be a jerk." Most people don't think in terms of the big picture when it comes to their kids. You may invest money for their college education, but are you investing time and effort in raising them to become a person of character? Are you raising your child to be honest when you cheat on your taxes or don't return the wallet you found on the ground at the gas station? Are you raising your child to be independent when you let him sit on the couch watching Elmo while you clean up his toys and crayons? Are you raising your child to be fair and loyal when you let her little sister get away with everything and take her side in the sibling rivalry? Are you raising your child to be a good friend when you gossip about yours on the phone? Remember, your children are always watching you. You might not think they get it, but they might. They hear you and see you and they will do what you do. And remember, that you are building a foundation. You will never have a strong house if you build it out of straw. If you don't give your child the tools they need to thrive, you are doing them a disservice. Yes, you are doing your job by giving them the basics they need to survive, but don't you want them to thrive? Don't you want a child who will go out into the world and be a good worker, a good spouse, a good humanitarian, a good parent? Equip them with the tools. Give them your all. Set the bar high. Let your child know that you have high expectations and that you believe they can reach them. If you never expect anything great of your kids, they won't expect anything of themselves. They might not always be the best at everything (or anything) but if they are putting forth a good effort, that's what matters. It's hard work - you can't raise the bar for your kids unless you live up to the model. You can't expect your kids to be responsible with their allowance if you bounce checks left and right. You can't expect them to think about good nutrition if you're serving chicken nuggets, hot dogs and mac & cheese for dinner every night. And as much as you might not think that every moment is important, there are so many things that happen on a daily basis that are teachable moments that will shape the person your child becomes. So, I'm challenging you, my friends. I expect the best of you as parents and I believe in you. I know you can be even better today than you were yesterday!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The right time

How do you know when it's the right time to talk to your kids about serious things? This year has been a difficult one at our school. We have had some major mountains to tackle and, most recently, the untimely death of a lovely young teacher. My kids are 9 and 5 1/2. In our home, death is something that we can talk about openly. But, beyond their great-grandfather, they have never had a close relative or friend die, so it might not seem very real to them. When an animal dies, we say he died - not that he went to sleep. In our family, we know that Heaven isn't a place you go to just because you were a good person. We know that accepting Jesus as your savior is the only way to get there and, once you're there, it is a glorious place. But, talking to them about a tragedy got me to thinking about how and when I will talk to them about other things in life. We live in an age where children hear about sex and drugs and alcohol and promiscuity WAY too early in life. You can't turn on a radio station without hearing someone talk about drinking or smoking weed or smacking someone's a$$. It's filth. It's scary that there are people who find this type of talk acceptable. But, there are. And there are parents who don't care that their children listen to it. So those children know these lewd words and expressions and you can be sure they share them with other kids. The school bus or playground is not the place I want my kids learning about sex or drugs. I can't remember having those talks with my parents. I know I certainly didn't ask about stuff like that. I was probably one of those kids that got a lot of information from my friends. That's dangerous. And, worse yet, it's hard to undo. But how old should a child be before you talk about drugs or sex? I had a Girl Scout once that mentioned sex during a meeting and I said yes, sex is what we call male or female. Smart, right? Answer the question with a fact and divert the other girls' attention. The girl says "no, not that kind of sex, the other kind." Of course, I nipped that in the bud right away. My kids have been taught that babies are made by married people, but they're old enough to see that there are a lot of unmarried couples that have babies. How come Justin Bieber's parents weren't married? Avoid question - talk about his hair. Here's my worry - should I introduce these things? Should I talk about things that my kids might not even have heard about yet. I mean, they have signs in school that say it's a drug-free school. Do they even know what drugs are? Heck, I had a mom get upset with my daughter last year for telling a classmate that Santa isn't real. So in third grade, there are still kids believing in Santa and I'm worried about talking about beer and marijuana and the birds and the bees. I wish I could just stop time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No school

This is the time of year when kids start hating school. It's been a long time since they've had a break and they need one. And for many of them, May means state tests so they've been spending a lot of time getting ready for them. They need relief from coloring in ovals. For us, this week is spring break and so far my kids are not digging it. Why? Because the stupid weather has been extremely uncooperative. This is the third day of rain. Yuck. We want to go outside. We want to go to the park. We want our soccer games and baseball games to not be cancelled. We want to have a day without mud. Granted, I'm sure I'll be missing this cool weather come August but right now it's just annoying. There's only so many things you can do to entertain your kids all day long. They are used to having a teacher who has a plan. I guess I could make a plan. I guess I could stop thinking about what we can't do and think about what we can do. It's a bit of a challenge since I have two children with very different personalities who don't enjoy the same things. I suggested a movie - nope. We were supposed to have a field trip today but it was cancelled since there are thunderstorms in the forecast. My kids are so bummed. They're being okay about it right now but I know in a few hours they are going to be nuts - it'll be like wrestlemania in here. Who cares about the rain? We're going out.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Olden days

One of my children asked me if I had Lincoln Logs back in the olden days. Yes, my darling daughter, my own flesh and blood, thinks I was alive in the olden days. I personally don't know the exact calendar dates of the olden days but I'm pretty sure I wasn't alive then. I don't even think my parents were alive then and they grew up before color TV and knew what it was like to use an outhouse or live in a cold-water flat. So if my parents aren't olden, I sure ain't olden. But the point is that olden can be golden. There is something really valuable about playing with toys as simple as blocks or Lincoln Logs. There is something to be said about being able to play without electronic assistance. I was talking to a kid once and told him he was being so well-behaved while he waited for his sister to finish her activity. He said he was cool because he had his mom's iPod. What in the world did we do without iPods? Do you remember watching shows like Little House on the Prairie. Life was so different, so simple. They didn't need much. Even as the world advanced, things were still pretty simple. A pinball machine. Simple, fun. Atari - very simple, fun. That was probably when it all started. Atari - games like that which catered to kids love of moving images. I guess they had to come up with something to entertain us since we only had four television channels. There's a commercial on right now where one kid is desperate in the back seat of his parents' car because they are singing. His buddy is in the car next to him and he's happy because he has headphones on and is watching a movie in the car. (Personally, I think portable DVD players are awesome for long trips, but if you're putting them on for a 10-minute drive, it's kind of ridiculous). I just wonder if we're hooking kids up to technology and doing them a disservice by not giving them the power to create fun and use their imaginations. Really, is it such a bad thing to be bored once in a while? I guess if we don't give the kids the iPods or the DSi or whatever else they can play with, they will find a way to entertain themselves. At the soccer field the other day, a bunch of kids were following a bottle cap down a stream. They were thinking of ways to get it to go faster and get it to turn and watching the progress. It was so cool to see them spending their time that way - doing a really simple thing. No one was fighting. No one was trying to see who could get to a higher level faster than their friend. They were just having fun - kind of like we did in the olden days.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Yesterday, I saw a friend giving away some clothes. There she was with the bag full of items - showing them to another lady. Of course, they weren't adult clothes. They were little baby girl clothes. See, once your baby has grown out of something and you know for sure that there will never be another baby coming to grow into that something - well, it's time to give it away. When I walked by, I said "awwwww" like any mother would. Looking at those clothes instantly brings back images of your own child as an infant. I wish it could be so easy now. I wish I could just pull a onesie out of the drawer and we'd be done for the day. I have been having the most difficult time lately finding clothes for my kids. Here's a dilemma. There's Medium, which is size 7 to 8 and then there's Large, which is size 10 to 12. Is it just me or is someone forgetting a number. Guess what, clothing manufacturers, there is a whole entire year between the age of 8 and the age of 10. My daughter is 9. Should I tell her to walk around in her undies because no one could think to make clothes that would fit a 9 year old? How'd we just skip an age? Oh, maybe we're counting by twos and I just missed the memo. I miss hand-me-downs. I miss the clothing that my children wore when they were infants and toddlers. I miss getting dressed without a fuss. And apparently, I'm missing the boat when it comes to clothing sizes. I will never get it right - one shirt is too tight. The next is too long, the third isn't long enough. So, someone, somewhere - hear my cries for help - come up with a new size - one between 7-8 and 10-12. Hmm, I dn't know, maybe you could call it size 9?????? And don't even get me started on shoes. Size 13 ro Size 1? Whomever decided that we needed to skip all the numbers and chose the number 13 to be the ending point of child's shoe sizes. Who said Okay, this is as far as this will go. Let's start all over at 1. Hmmm?

Friday, April 1, 2011


Here's a wonderful piece of advice and something I learned the hard way... If you have a Build-A-Bear or anything other animal that makes sound when you touch it, don't let your child leave it in your bed. Because you might roll over on it and the song will start playing and you'll think it's the clock radio and you'll get out of bed at 4 in the morning and think it's time to start your day. Yeah, not fun.

Mind your manners

How many times did you hear that as a child? Mind your manners. And it didn't just come from your parents. It came from teachers and people at church and even ladies in the grocery store. We used to live in a world where it was acceptable for people to tell your children to mind their manners. These days, you would probably open up a can of something strong if you heard a stranger talking to your kid that way. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it's become acceptable to have no manners. To be rude and to say "What?" when someone calls your name instead of "Yes, mom." Yeah, not even Yes ma'am. God forbid any child said ma'am and sir above the Mason Dixon line anymore! But here's the thing - what do you say to your child when they are confront with an adult who doesn't have manners. It's one thing when your child has friends who are impolite, but what do you do when it's a grown-up displaying that negative behavior. Last week, a woman told my daughter that something she was doing was "annoying". Of course, if you know me, you know my first instinct was to give that woman a piece of my mind. But I didn't. But, I also didn't want my daughter to think that I wasn't sticking up for her and that, by ignoring the comment, I was making it okay. So, I had to take my 9-year-old aside and explain to her that sometimes even adults say rude things but that it would be showing bad manners to point out her bad manners. Now, I don't mean to get all Emily Post about it, but I am trying to use the teachable moment to show my girls that everyone in life isn't always polite. One day, we were at an arcade and there were three women watching a girl playing a video game. When the girl moved away, my daughter started toward the game, but the women circled around it and put money in. I said "Oh". Seriously, I swear that's all I said and do you know one of those ladies (and I use the term very loosely) turned and said "Yeah, we were waiting just as long as anyone else." That's fine. That's okay. It's not a big deal. You were waiting and you, as an adult, deserve the right to play a video game in an arcade while there are children waiting for you. But then "ladies" did you need to each play two games so that the kids on line basically had to wait six turns for you to finish? You can imagine what I wanted to say to those trolls. One turned around and say "Oh, honey, thanks for being so patient." Really? Don't talk to my kid. Don't make my life as a parent harder. Hmm. So it's okay to be a nasty person as long as I smile about it and give you some phony words of sympathy? Ick. I hope you felt good about yourself when you won 10 tickets out of the machine and were able to get yourself a stale tootsie roll from the prize box. But, as much as I wanted to tell those women to shove their game tokens where the sun doesn't shine, I had to remember that my daughter was watching me. And what I do is what she will probably do in a similar situation. Kids are always watching. So, mind your manners.