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.

 

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.

 

 

Leveling

My daughter asks me why people say mean things about her. She asks if it is sometimes because they are jealous. She asks this pretty routinely because girls can be mean. Boys just fight it out. If my nephews have a disagreement with each other, they duke it out. It goes underground with girls

I tell her there is something called leveling. A lot of people are dealing with their own insecurity issues. This could be the appearance, or their general perception of themselves feeling unloved or ignored at home. In their heat of the insecurity, they try to bring them down to their level by saying something nasty to get the other person to feel bad about themselves, too. Misery loves company.

I have watched a part of a reality show because I really can’t get myself to sit and watch the whole thing. I have actually met the woman on this show and couldn’t believe how mean she was to her husband in front of a large group of people. I assumed she felt insecure, afraid and insignificant in front of a group of dentists but another word was in my mind describing her. She is actually doing the same thing in front of an even larger audience now. It makes me cringe how she has no regard for other people. It’s the need for significance, I know. It’s blatantly obvious. If you are competing for significance, your life will always be empty because you are always competing. There is always going to be somebody better, prettier, smarter, more famous. It is a very empty existence.

People have always been mean. The quicker you can ignore these people the easier your life will get. I know it doesn’t seem like they are insecure or jealous of what you have. These people do this for one thing only – to make themselves feel better and bring you down to their miserable existence.

My assistant has the perfect quote for people like this, “What’s wrong with them that they don’t like me?” I love it. She is putting the responsibility on the other person instead internalizing the question, “what’s wrong with me that I am so unlovable and undeserving that they aren’t nice to me?”

Trying to get yourself and your kids to feel good about themselves is a challenge. You tell them you love them No Matter What you do. They don’t need to prove anything to you in order to get your love and admiration.

I think our kids are the first people we really love no matter what. A lot of us love people until something happens and then they bail out.