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.

 

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.

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.

Are you cool or funny? What does it take to be likeable?

I asked my daughter if I was funny. She said yes. I asked how funny? She said “medium”. “Can you write a joke for me and put it into the lunchbox for me?” I asked if she wanted a medium funny joke. She said yes. Ten minutes later, she said she didn’t want it. I asked if she didn’t think I was funny any more. She said, “you’re still medium funny but I just don’t want a joke.”

She is 8 right now. So, she finds me amusing. I am sure by the time 13 hits, I will be a complete and utter embarrassment to her. Not funny, not cool and I think in her eyes my I.Q. will plummet. I am getting ready for it. Right now I just like to hear the answers.

I ask her a lot of questions and then say, “tell me more about that.” Trying to teach her a little bit about the Dale Carnegie system of how to be interesting by being Interested. She doesn’t really understand that right now.

I am trying to teach her about not having to compete with other people’s stories. This is called upping the ante. She doesn’t need to do that. We all want to do it because everyone’s favorite subject is about themselves. If you are the one asking the questions, you are the one in control of the conversation. No one likes a bragger. Well, maybe it’s just me. I don’t like a bragger but I understand it is out of that persons need for significance and connection so I play with it and acknowledge the need by giving it to them. Likeability is huge in the marketplace. If people don’t like you, you are going to have a tough time. People don’t want to deal with you unless they have to deal with you.

Keys to being likeable
don’t lie
don’t be the smelly kid
don’t brag
don’t be a conversation hog
limit your complaining

OK, that’s enough of what not to do
Here’s what to do
Be genuine
Be nice
Be a good listener
Ask people about themselves
Be generous
Be thankful

By the way, her dad is also medium funny, so we are in good company. I find him medium funny as well *but I think I am more funny than his medium funny.

Friends are like underwear

Coming home from a family vacation last year, my daughter was talking about her friend, Chloe. They had been in the same school for 6 years together and she was wondering about the likelihood of friendship for the length of time.
In my brilliance, I said to her, friends are like underwear, sometimes you grow out of them.
This led to a whole new list of how they correlated which after a while just plain annoyed her, but I will be happy to share how, indeed they are like underwear:
Some times they just come in the pack
Some you have for a long time because they are reliable
Some just don’t match
Some make you feel good
Some crawl up your butt
Some just make it out for special occasions
Sometimes you lose them
Some are cheap
Sometimes it’s easier to go without them
Some don’t fit
Some you like and don’t care what others think about them
Some keep up turning up
Some are holy
Some rub you the wrong way
Some are tight
Some are loose
Some make you feel uncomfortable
And, some are just your favorites.

The brilliance of this is you get to decide.