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?

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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.

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.

 

 

Learning self love through listening

My daughter was uncontrollably crying the other night. It was a bad day for her. She had a day of a few falls on the playground and off of the balance beam. This was followed by an extra hard workout at gymnastics with her team mates who were willing to put in more practice time and work harder and longer at developing skills.
She said her coaches made her feel worthless because they were telling her to tighten up. I know they do not want her to get physically hurt while she is performing new skills, thus it is imperative that she listens.

It is mentally hard to feel like you are not measuring up to your peers. It is frustrating trying to do things over again, thinking you have it, just to be shot down. Competition is tough and so is developing discipline to listen.

Hearing is automatic. There are so many noises and constant chatter in our brain so it is easy to tune things out.

Listening is a gift we give to others.
Listening is doing so without the force to have to fix or change something.
Listening is putting our own needs aside and dulling the brain chatter.
Listening is sometimes just asking the other person to tell you more.
Listening is accepting yourself enough in order to be there for another person.

We all feel like we do not measure up compared to others. In this feeling of not being enough, we won’t be loved or accepted. In this space, we will die. We need others acceptance in order to feel alive.

I had to put my own desire to fix things for her aside. I had to face the “yeah, me too, I don’t feel good enough either” state of vulnerability. I had to have enough self love in order to just be there for her because it is easy to say to her, just listen to your coaches and you will get the results. This wasn’t about results of her physical actions.

Conversations with Cadance

Bullying can be a broad subject from somebody saying something that you don’t like that hurts your feelings to fistfights.

Who do you want to win?

There will always be bullies.  There will always be someone prettier than the bully that they want to take down.  Like a pack of lionesses, sometimes one cat cannot take down the elephant.  She recruits those who may be slower and more docile however the numbers work to subdue and sink its prey.

Bullies can either thicken your skin or destroy you.

Having the conversation with my daughter, I asked this question, “Do you think Jesus had critics?”  Her answer was yes.  I then proceeded to ask her, “Why?”  She said because the people were afraid of him and afraid of the changes that he would incite.  I asked,  “Do you think they tried to trick him?”  She said yes.  I asked “Do you think he cared what they said it did?”  She said no.  I said “Exactly.”

I told her he was sent by God. He was perfect and if a perfect man had to deal with the cretins of society with grace, then so would we.

I had her practice this phrase to her bully, “Your opinion means nothing.”

I never want my daughter to hurt or be angry or sad when it comes to other people.  I cannot fight her battles for her.  I teach her kindness and compassion are the only ways to work in the world.  Some parents neglect their children and their anger gets expressed in bullying.

My beautiful daughter gets called ugly by some cretin girl and it caused her to cry and wither.  I know this girl is jealous of her but in the midst of the sadness, it is so hard to have her see that.

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.