Play with your kid, you may learn something

My daughter and I love volleyball.   She recently finished her club level competition team tournament.  She is also trying out for her middle school volleyball team.  I have never seen something ignite this kid the way volleyball does.  She is engaged and wants to get better.

When she was smaller, she would create videos for Littlest Pet shop characters.  She would use rolls of scotch tape to create desks and lockers out of things she found around the house.  She would not really want me to watch her or join in playing with these characters.

With volleyball, it is a different story.  Every time I ask her to come and hit the ball with me, she does.  This still surprises me every time.  She a lot of the time is silent at first.  She warms up.  She complains when I shank the ball, She gets comfortable and finally will tell me about her day and the people in it.

I had always asked about her day before but she is just like me and doesn’t want to relive it at the time.  She just says it was ok.  Well, what does that mean?  Nothing really happened?  It was ordinary?

We need to connect with our kids in their way. With technology, we are losing the art of communication.  It used to be I just kept the music off during drives places and the silence would cause her to want to open up.  With her cel phone, she can be quiet for a few hours.

I had to learn to communicate with her on her terms.  I needed to let her know I am there for her at all times any time she wants to talk, I will listen in a non-judgemental way.  I want to know what is going on with her life without snooping through all of her stuff.

We like volleyball, what does your child like and want you to participate?  Wanna play?

Balance of being enough for your child

I am far from being a perfect mother.  I have struggles every day feeding her and keeping her away from technology.  When the balance between doing enough versus doing too much for your kid is what tethers my soul every day.

When your child doesn’t receive a good grade, does she request the teacher to give her another chance at taking the test?  Does she convince the teacher to make an exception for the answer because she didn’t quite understand and here’s her take on the question?

I have seen this happen in my dental school class over 25 years ago.  There were some brassy students who convinced the teachers that the anatomy of a tooth was really a #24 and not a 25.  I believe the professor just agreed with this particular pre-doctoral candidates to get them  off of his back but he agreed.  The doctor hopeful wanted to become an orthodontist and needed the grade to be at the top of the class ALL The Time.  It was annoying, disrespectful of authority and very discouraging to the rest of us, but it worked for this student.

My daughter took a test and thought she could go back and finish it because she needed to leave early for a school sports event.  She didn’t ask the teacher before it happened and made an assumption.  To her dismay, she wasn’t able to complete her exam and received a low but passing grade.  She wasn’t allowed to retake the test because the teacher stated if allowed for her to be an exception, it would be for everyone.  Her father and I did not get involved.  We chose not to get in this teacher’s business and accept the circumstances due to a lack of clarity on her part.  Although this particular teacher did allow other students to retake tests and move their grade up because they requested it.  Although this wasn’t fair, I was not going to be that parent and my daughter was not going to be that student that cried unfair.

She did work hard to get her grade to an “A” status and recently wrote a note to her stating how her habits were exceptional and how she could be anything she could be in her chosen career.  As a parent, this makes me proud.

When parents threaten things in order to get their child better grades or a spot on the team they did not earn, is this fair?  Is this fair to the rest of the students who understood the boundaries of the testing or try out?   What is in persuasion that it is permissible for children to wiggle around the rules?   Where is their standard going to be?

My question is, when and what is enough for your kid versus too much?  No one wants to see their child struggle but they need to build muscle in order to carve their mark into this world.  They need to develop courage on their own.  If they didn’t earn it, they didn’t earn it – let it go.

I am not going to rob my daughter of an opportunity to get what she deserves.  I don’t need to threaten, cajole or persuade someone in authority to circumvent the rules because she didn’t earn her opportunity.

 

“Children are hardwired for struggle”

I had watched a TED talk with Brene Brown several years ago and it brought me to tears.  She is a “shame researcher” whose story is very powerful.  She did not expect to get the amount of views or attention it received.

She stated a few items that really dug deep into my heart regarding how we deal with others.  We hide our vulnerability because we are do not feel worthy of love and belonging.  We hide our authentic selves because we do not want to be rejected.

She stated that “children are hardwired for struggle”.  We want to take away all of their pain.   We are all imperfect but we are worthy for love and belonging.

No one wants to see our kids struggle or fight through anything but we want them to develop a fortitude of resilience and strength.  Where do they get that from if we don’t want to accept it is just something they have to get through.

We can all blame our parents for different things that caused our adult lives to be not quite as perfect as we wanted them to be.  Brene says that “blame is a way to discharge pain and discomfort”.  It doesn’t help to blame the way you are on anyone.  The fact is you lived through whatever you did and you came out of it with knowledge and a certain feeling gives us the sense of battle scars that were earned.

Raising my daughter, we have talks that she will have to work for whatever she gets.  Yesterday she told me she wanted a volleyball scholarship in order to avoid student loan debt.  How crazy is the world that she is already thinking about this?  I am unsure where she got the idea that she would have to pay for her college education or why we wouldn’t help her and everything is on her whether she goes to college or not but I sort of like it.

She is already taking on the possibility of engaging her future.  It is interesting how children change.  Last year she said she wanted to go to an art school because that is what she loved.  After speaking with some college graduates of the cost of art school and what sort of career she would have after the end of it plus the fact that it is now 40,000 per year to go, she is not thinking of art school any more.  The art school does not have a volleyball program.

We tell her she will need to first choose a career path in order to venture and then select the school.  Now she just wants a scholarship and she really doesn’t care where it is as long as it covers the cost of her student loan debt.

Of course we will help her with college but gave her a realization of coming out of it with a marketable, employable skill needed to happen.

She will have to work hard. She will have to be competitive.  She will also have to have some compassion with herself in case this does not happen.

She will not be alone, we will do everything in our power to make sure she feels worthy.

 

8 assets Volleyball Teams teach Tweens

My daughter recently started “club volleyball”.  This is for girls who want to compete at a higher level.

When your kids win, you are victorious with them.  It is easy to cheer them on. It is easy to encourage their team mates.  It is easy to tell them everything is going great.  Isn’t it great when they win?

When they lose, it is much harder.  It is such a teachable moment.  Winning doesn’t happen by yourself.  It happens in a team.  Volleyball is not a solo sport.

Things that being on the team sport are

  1.  Communication – everyone relies on it.  If it is silent, everyone gets in their heads. They have to know who has the ball and where it is going next.
  2. Trust – if you cannot trust your team mates when they tell you they have the ball, you can’t do your best.
  3. Encouragement – connection to let the last point go and focus on the here and now
  4. Dignity – there will always be a winner and loser – making sure you are good at both
  5. Covering for others’ weaknesses – no one can be great at anything, how can you help each other during the volley
  6. Shake off the bad mojo – there will always be another point, match, game and volley . you need to focus on what is coming next and let the last one go
  7. Progress – there is only getting better with the continual play
  8. Resilience – go dig that ball and get up for the next play

Living only happens in teams.  Who is on your team?  Do you like them and trust them?  Do you communicate or withold?  Everything is hard before it is easy.

Winning is great but losing teaches you everything.

Surprising things over holiday break with the tween

My daughter had a friend come over yesterday.  They usually spend the day laughing, eating, showing each other different things on apps and games they’ve played.  They especially like musically.  It’s a different time for these children.

They no longer have toys they play with.  Technology and other devices keep them entertained.

They had pizza for lunch.  My daughter is now very adept of turning on the over and baking a frozen pizza without burning the house down, leaving the oven on or creating a mess on the baking sheet because she has discovered aluminum foil.

A few hours later I hear plates clanging around in the kitchen.  I went to see what they could possibly doing because pizza plates really don’t require much noise.

They were unloading the dishwasher… the clean dishes… without being asked.  Without being asked?  What was this about?  They said there was no place to put the dirty dishes because there were clean ones in there.  Kudos to them.  I have never seen her initiate a job by herself like that.  I thanked her profusely.

Later, I realized that they didn’t know you should at least rinse a little bit of the food off the plates – mainly because they had cookies and cream ice cream cake that had dripped and hardened all over the inside of the machine.  Minor tweeks to a great initiative.

Loving little girls that are taking responsibility for the mess they create.  Way to go girls!

Christmas with the Tween

This Christmas was different for us.  My daughter declared last year she no longer believed in Santa Claus.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to keep up the charade forever, so it’s ok.  With youtube and different media, I really don’t know how long she played along until that point.

She wanted to do midnight mass so she could sleep in.

She no longer wants toys.

She wants sportswear and shoes.

Midnight mass started early and is not at midnight because there were 2 other masses for Christmas before this one started by 11:00.  There were Christmas carols for 30 minutes prior to the mass.  The sing along was fun with all of the verses we never know past the first one.  She thought this mass would contain no little kids or babies.  For some reason, she is really annoyed by the crying and even though there is a “cry room”, parents elect not to sit in there. We also did not want to sit in the overflow room.  Something about watching the mass on a large screen just doesn’t do it for us.

It is very interesting to watch her evolve in the ritual of the mass.  She used to complain a lot about going.  She complains about how boring it is and depending upon who is leading the choir – offkey, loud and a lot of wrong notes being played.   She very much participates in the responses, the up and down and kneeling, the holding of hands during the lords prayer.  The only thing that bothers her is really the shaking of hands.  She doesn’t care for telling other people “peace be with you”, she sometimes pretends to tie her shoe and doesn’t turn around to make eye contact with anyone.  She will shake the hand of someone in front of her only if they initiate first.

She complained about how crowded the church was because they were just there for Christmas.  We explained to her that before she came along, we only went to church for Christmas and Easter, too.  It only was when she was born that we felt the need to be involved in her growing spirituality.

We have a friend who is studying to be a deacon and he tells us that the mass is repetitive for a reason.  It is in the ritual that you can focus on prayer.

She was very excited this year at the mass because we didn’t actually have to go on Christmas day.  Even though this child wanted to sleep in for Christmas, she was still up at 6 am after going to sleep at 1:30.

She felt good about doing her obligation.  I am slowly realizing that she needs a whole lot of nudging to go the right way in the path and I love her for it.

Happy Holidays.

 

Math and Napkins

A while ago, I told my daughter to learn to like math.

Math is something you will use every day.  You will use it in shopping, cooking, dining, calculating what type of space you will have for your furniture placement. You need to know math for your data plan for your smart phone.  Math is definitely something that makes your mind work.

Math should come as second nature.  Multiplication tables should just be able to pop into your head.

I am sort of dyslexic so math is not easy for me and I definitely need to see a lot of numbers on a page so I may make sense of it but I still agree with the fact that Math is something that you need.

Of course with a smart phone, math is made so the pressure may not be so hard to calculate a tip for your server while you are out.

I was at lunch at the cafeteria with she and her best friend who had chocolate all over her face.  I told them both they would need math every day of their lives…. and napkins.  Not your sleeves, dears.  Napkins.

That is my philosophy = use math and napkins every day.

Volleyball with the Tween

I love volleyball.  Now, so does my daughter.  We love hitting and playing together.  We both need to work on her passing game.  We took her to a volleyball training facility and enrolled her in a program.  Actually, 4 programs is what she committed to.

When she said she was able to try out for the volleyball team the dunning sixth grader started becoming competitive.

I think team sports is good for a child.  They teach good communication.  The only way we can get anything worth accomplishing in life is by being a member of the team.  She has never really been on a team until the program did a mini tournament.  This was the first time she lost.

Sitting in the back seat, she was pouting.  I asked her if she was upset because she didn’t get a medal like the first and second finishers.  She said Yes.  I said, well, you didn’t deserve it.  She said “thanks a lot mom, that makes me feel great.”  I said, you didn’t win.  This is how the real world works.  You don’t join something and show up and you get a medal for it.  She broke down and cried. This made her want to work harder.

She hated doing drills.  She hated having to serve over and over.  She hated practicing with someone who couldn’t hit the ball back to her.  She thought it was dumb.  She only wanted to play in the games.

Conversation after conversation with her telling her if she doesn’t create the muscle memory with the drills, her body won’t know how to pass it if the ball is hit to her at an awkward angle.  Of course, moms who actually played volleyball still know nothing so yet again the struggle to get her to practice and get engaged.

She did have some natural talent to actually get on the B level team at school  This was quite an accomplishment.  She was excited.  She is still excited to be on the team.

Their team is now 3-0 for the season.  They are winning.  She is serving pretty well.  At this level of the game, if you have a good serve, the other team can’t hit it back.  The game will be more competitive the older she gets but at least she knew how to lose.

I was so impressed with the group of her friends parents and her friends.  They showed up last night for the game and cheered her name out.   They encouraged her and shouted her name like she was a rock star.  Having good groups of families and friends who support and love your child means more to me than she will ever know.

Volleyball has given her a small level of confidence.  Volleyball has increased her fitness level.  Volleyball has connected our family and friends.  She still may not love practice but everyone loves winning.

 

 

Days of Faith with a Tween

We are raising our daughter Catholic.  She has been going with us to mass since she was born, short of a year or so where it was just so difficult to manage the “catholic calisthenics” with a 2 year old in your arms.

She went to Faith Formation (catechism) and had her first Communion and reconciliation. She will have her time for confirmation.  This is a time where most of her friends are getting baptized.  The Catholics believe in “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”

She is now a middle schooler entering the middle school program at the church designed called “the Edge”.

Her questions to me are when can she choose not to be a catholic.  She thought that her Sunday school was so boring because of the fact that she went to a Christian school whose verses and stories were all a big repeat on Sunday.  I told her until she knew enough to actually “teach” the class, she still had to go.

I want my daughter to have faith.  Faith will get her through the times of trouble.  Faith in a God who loves you and accepts you no matter what will get her through the times that she feels like she has no one on her side.  Although she knows I will love her no matter what she does, I want something deeper for her.

We visit other churches around our area and listen to podcasts of other churches to snoop on the other churches that we may want to visit.  We love the music and the messages.

I love speaking with the Deacons and Priests of the church as well.  They say that the ritual of mass is supposed to be repetitious in order so you will have more prayer time to be closer to God.  I had never thought that I would love the silent meditation time as much as I do.

It is amazing how 10 minutes of a Catholic priests sermon can feel like an hour and listening to other of the evangelistic ministers 35-50 minutes can breeze right by.  I really don’t care if my daughter thinks the sermon is boring or not.  She’ll have her time to choose where she wants to go but it is not right now.

I listened to Joyce Meyers stating how if “the devil is going to start a fight he is going to do it right before church.”  I have found that to be quite true.

My daughter especially dislikes the shaking of the hands and stating “peace be with you” part of the mass.  She would like to go to mass and sit as far away from everyone as possible so she doesn’t have to shake anyone’s hand or acknowledge that they are breathing.

I guess she didn’t get the part that if more than 2 people came together in the name of the lord that he will be present.

I want her to find her own path and find a group of people whom bring her joy in the storm of puberty.  I want her to be loved and accepted for who she is.  I want her to have a beautiful heart and spirit.  I want her to be grateful for every second she walks on the earth.  I don’t want her to feel like she has to please her friends in order to be accepted.  She has the right to follow her own path.

I asked God for a baby girl one Easter day in the Catholic mass because I was ready for her.  We had been trying for months.  One day, she was there.

Structure and worship as a family is not always easy.  It’s not easy for her being one of the few followers of the Catholic faith in her school.

I listened to one dying boy’s story and he speaks about fear in the face of death.  He said he was not afraid.  He saw himself as a part of God’s library.  His parents checked him out and lived his life and when it was his time, he returned to God’s library.  God owns us.  We are lent out to love and return back to him.

I thought this was profound.

 

 

The first week of sixth grade

“Mom, sixth grade is so hard.”

My always snappy reply to anything that my daughter states is hard is “Honey, everything is hard before it is easy.”  In this case, I didn’t say that because I get it.  Sixth grade IS hard.

What is hard about it for you?

“They give us so much work and there are so many books that are so heavy.  That boy that annoyed me is in every single one of my classes and he won’t leave me alone”.  And, the real kicker, there is a girl in my class with the same name!  Why do they have to put us in the same class?  I was the only one with that name in the whole school, now she is in my classes.  When we went for seconds at lunch the girls there threw off our cups and plates on the floor.”

I have to take one of these issues at a time.  I told her that her name might have gotten popular and thus going to her real first name or hyphenated first and middle name.  In the south, most people go by their middle names so this is not unheard of.

As far as the bullying girls, there is always going to be a pack of girls vying for who could be the biggest “b—-“.  My daughter is lucky that she has some very good long term friends that will stick together through all of this b.s.

That boy that bothers her, well, she will have to deal with him only when he is next to her.

As far as the school work, yep – suck it up.  It has been a piece of cake for the past 6 years at the school, now time and attention have to come into place.  When schoolwork comes easily, you can slide through without putting too much effort into things.  When there is a lot of it, you have to hanker down, get in there and focus.

Hormones, you-tube videos, musically, and all of the other distractions of social media dissolving brains will cause her to do anything other than study.

The good news for now is she has a physical outlet of having physical education every day and since she has made it onto the volleyball team, she has to focus there as well.  Physicality is good for kids.  Exercise makes the blood flow and makes them think about the task at hand.   A change in the environment is always good.

Encouragement of yes, I have been there too as far as everything she is going through.  Listening to her talking, I go through the same things she does even now.

Yes, honey, I wanted the prize and that woman wanted it too.  I didn’t stand up for myself and she took it right out from underneath of me.  (this happened 2 weeks ago to me).  I realized it didn’t really matter and I didn’t need another flower vase anyway.

Sometimes I just go and sit in her room with her.  I figure eventually she will want to talk.  I do have to encourage her to be nice to her dad.  She became uncontrollably upset when he thought the sandwich he had gotten her was still warm when it wasn’t and no sauce which caused her to throw the sandwich against the wall.  I had to let her know that we are there for her no matter what but nobody is going to be in her corner more than her dad at this point.

Raging hormones, changes in classes and changes in environment.  We still have a long road ahead but I know just being there through the storms of her changing will help us grow together.