Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pacifist Parenting.

Yesterday morning didn't start amazing.  Georgia came downstairs having done her hair herself…..again.  And it wasn't pretty.  And I had this internal debate, "Should I fight this battle?  Should I just let her go to school looking like Medusa?  I know how this is going to end if I do and I. Just. Don't. Have.The. Energy." 

But in the end I told her calmly that I needed to help her comb the knots out of her hair and I appreciated that she wanted to do a good job on her hair but most of the time five year old girls need help with their hair and it's okay to need help.  She cried, like I knew she would, but we got through it and I realized that this was not so much about doing her own hair as it was her not wanting to ask for help--because she wanted to be big.  A noble thing.  But the lesson I needed her to learn is that IT'S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP.  That's a life lesson that everyone needs repeated.  Forever.  And I'd rather have her learn it over hair than something bigger.  

I asked my mom later on in the day if I'd been wrong--if I shouldn't have fought that battle.  She told me, "No.  You did the right thing. Sure, Georgia can tell you she tried really hard--but I can try really hard to be brain surgeon--doesn't mean I can do it or that I'm good at it. Just because we might want to do something doesn't mean we can or should. There's other things that five year olds can well on their own--hair for school isn't one of them."  

I love my mom.  
***********************

"And so I just decided…..I'm not going to fight that battle." 
"Good for you….you're a smart mom." 

I can't tell you the number of times I've heard this exchange between moms at the park, moms at school, moms at church, moms at the grocery store, moms talking back and forth over their driveways, probably coming out of my own mouth….moms everywhere. 

It's become my generations new, "Say 'no' as little possible."  

It's sounds pretty myopic (sorry about that--my opinion got in the way) good in theory, right?  The follow up always being, 'Bottom line--I want my children to be kind, hard-working, honest, and productive so I'm not going to squabble with them over un-made beds, messy rooms, eating what's for dinner, or what they want to wear.' 

And I challenge you to find a mom who wouldn't say the end goal for her children wasn't kind, hard-working, honest, and productive in some capacity.  But somewhere along the way a lot of Parenting magazines, educators, therapists, mom bloggers, and friends have lost sight of how we get kids to be kind, hard-working, honest, and productive individuals.  

I think we've forgotten that most lessons kids need to learn come from little battles….little battles that we don't like fighting as moms…..because….uh…..they're so taxing, and to give in is so easy and in the moment doesn't seem like a big deal.  Our day goes on, the tears stop, and peace is restored, and we come to the conclusion that, "Hey.  That's just a battle not worth fighting. I mean…why do I care……really…... if they want to change their clothes seven times today?" 

Here's why I care:
1.  It's not necessary. 
2.  My three, four, five year old doesn't really have the ability to hang up, fold neatly, and place back in the closet or dresser all seven outfits that she's decided to race through in the course of a day and for me to expect her to is an unreasonable expectation for a three, four, or five year old.  
3.  Therefore, a lot of those clean clothes (that I washed and put away) end up in ball on the floor, stepped all over, and most likely shoved in the dirty clothes basket in my five year olds effort to clean up.  
4.  When I let her tear through her dresser and closet and change her clothes over and over without being able to properly clean everything up I'm teaching her that the time I've taken to do her laundry (even though I'm more than thrilled and obligated to do it) and put it away doesn't matter.  It's disposable.  She doesn't have to respect and be thankful for the time that someone has spent on her….and that it's actually okay to make more work for them.  That lesson will translate and compound….out of our home……in how she reacts to the time teachers have spent on her, friends, co-workers, and on and on.  

Learning how to be a kind and considerate person…..it starts with really small battles that are exhausting and seem trivial.  But I would rather have her learn how to respect someones time and energy over something small like changing her clothes too many times than something huge that has a lasting impact on someone and that could cost her an important relationship.  

Am I saying that we should fight every battle our kids present to us?  Of course not.  We'd all go crazy. But I am saying we should fight some.  Even some that seem trivial because it's hard to see the ultimate life lesson in them? Yes. 

All this pacifist parenting--where we pretend that we're only focusing on the big stuff….that really matters….and ignoring the little trivial picky things…..because we don't want to fight those battles?  It's not doing our kids any favors.  

Because big stuff…..that really matters……is often learned best….through little things that make us feel petty, obnoxious, and too controlling.  We need to stop believing that lie.  We're throwing away built in life lessons in those little things if we always decide it's just not worth the battle.  And that is such a waste. 
***********************
So G and I made an agreement.  Every Saturday--you can go bananas on your hair.  I won't say one word about it. Saturday is ballet day--you can style those hairs up like Lady Gaga all day long.  But the rest of the days--you're going to need some help for now.  And that's okay.  Getting help is a normal part of being alive.  

This morning?  She walked over to me, handed me her brush, and asked me for some help.  

If all battles could be won so easy right? 



Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's Friday…..I'm in Love {With Camo}

So, camo's like the new leopard print, but leopard print isn't going anywhere either….so bonus….we can play both sides of this game.  I love a lot of this stuff below…..true enough, the trucker hat is my fav. A close second would be the soft jeans by Land's End.  I kid you not.  Sometimes Land's End does it right.  



1….shoulder bag / 2…….skinny cargo pants / 3….trucker hat / 4…..surplus jacket / 5….pony hair belt / 6….New Balance kicks / 7…..pencil skirt / 8…..boyfriend cardi / 9…..skater slip-ons…or here / 10…..soft jeans

Last spring….


I'm wearing the Old Navy coat from above and I had to talk G into believing that camo isn't just for boys and it's totally fancy.  She was mildly convinced.  Coincidentally, her camo coat is her first sacrificial lamb to the lost and found at school.  She swears she'll find it.  I have my doubts. I knew I should have bedazzled that thing for her.

Happy weekending friends!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Pledge of Allegiance & Math vs. Home.

Earlier this week Georgia told me she had this kindergarten thing down.  I mean after all, mastering the Pledge of Allegiance was her barometer for success and she was way beyond that.

Yesterday she told me she'd been wrong.  While she could recite the pledge like no one else, now she had to do math--and kindergarten might be harder than she thought.  I exercised appropriate parental discretion and did not tell her that math would most likely ruin many days to come.  (First time I ever got in trouble at school was for cheating in first grade; on a subtraction test.  It's seared into my psyche.)

But overall--we're doing well with this school thing.  As I suspected the hardest part for Georgia is the realization that she has to go everyday.  Everyday is hard for her--not because she's tired, not because she doesn't like it, not because she isn't making new friends (Paizlee & Ainsley & Kate; I hear about them everyday), and not because school is too hard….but because she LOVES to be at home.  She told me yesterday that she feels confused because she likes school a lot, "It's terrific," but she likes to be home so much too.

I get this girl.


I genuinely liked school.  I chose to keep going to school for my career. I live and breathe school.  I think being in a school is amazing.  AMAZING.

But I love being at home.  Everything about home I love.  And it's always been that way.  We lived in a red house on Bishop street growing up and I can tell you everything about that house even though my parents moved out of it almost twenty years ago.  The way it smelled, the sea green floral wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom, the window seat in my bedroom, where my favorite sweater hung in my closet, the little peach and brown floral stencils around the top of my sisters room, the secret passage-way that connected my mom and dads closet (the best spot during hide and seek games), and the TV cart with the antennaed TV that my parents would roll into our rooms if we were sick.

One of the things I was the most sad about when it came to Georgia going to school is the amount of time she'd be away from me.  The idea that the memories that would become fore-front in her mind might not be about our family and our time together.  But then I started thinking about myself….and I realized that's not really true.  School can be great--and we can love school…..but if home is great too--and we love being there as well………..home will always win out--even when it might feel like the minority of our day.


I can name you countless memories from school when I really think about it.  But, without thinking, when I just recall life in general, it's family vacations, family dinners, TGIF, shopping with my mom, baking cookies with my dad, building elaborate block houses for our little ponies with my sister, and doing crafts on the back patio all summer long that are just there……filling in the biggest spots in my mind…..edging out even the best memories of school for the makeup of my life.

And that's what I'm banking on for Georgia too.  She'll love school--the pledge, art class, Spanish, journal writing, PE (even though she's cried during PE both times so far), and maybe even math…..but I'll never let it beat out being at home.  And I think….if us moms can help our kids love school…..and love being at home…..we're doing okay.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Necessary Losses {The First Day of School}

We had a delayed start to our school year.  Georgia came down with a pretty bad case of pink-eye (she's never had it before…so of course….yesterday made sense for it to visit us) and wasn't able to attend school on her very first day of kindergarten.  She was fairly ambivalent to the whole thing. I, of course, felt like I'd instantly become "that" parent in one fell swoop.  My husband assured me that in the grand scheme of life this was a '0' on the scale of tough stuff.  And in the end, it truly was.

Today, however, was the day. First day of school…..Take 2.


And I cried.  Like I knew I would.  But not until she was climbing the stairs to the bus.  She'd gotten quiet waiting in line with her friends to get on and I hugged her and could feel her little heart beating so hard.  But she smiled, and got on, and had a seat with a few of her other neighborhood friends, and waved to me, and I could just make out her little hair bow through the tinted windows and knew she was okay.

And they drove off.  With my world.
And it's 10:30 now and she's been in school for about two hours and I wonder what she's doing and how it's going and if she's laughing or taking inventory of everyone who isn't following the rules (let's be honest here) or, or, or.  And it's the strangest feeling I've had in five years.



My moms friend said that sending your kids to school (or really anywhere on their own) was one of life's necessary losses.  I like that.  It makes this school transition bearable for me.  Not enjoyable mind you--just bearable right now.  I'm sad that on my days off the house is empty; I don't have her to run errands with me, beg to go to Target, ask to make cupcakes or a made up recipe, brainstorm a craft with, watch a movie with, or just hear her playing upstairs talking to her dolls.  It definitely feels like a loss for me.  Walking back from the bus stop this morning another mom described it as "feeling like you lost an appendage." It's true.  It feels like a loss.  For me.

For her though…..she's gaining independence, growing her confidence, learning how to love education, honing her work ethic, relating to other people, making new friends, cultivating the fine art of give and take with other people, and realizing how capable she is without mom and dad always right there next to her because we've provided her so many tools with which to work.  She's gaining where I might feel like I'm losing.

But it's that necessary loss idea.  Without me feeling sad, and getting used to this years new normal she won't gain some of the incredible things I know come with a fantastic kindergarten environment.  My pastor always says…..we aren't raising kids….we're raising life-giving, productive adults…..and sometimes that hurts.

We'll be good, I'll be okay, and she'll be amazing.
Happy first day of school…..or, er…..second…..wherever this days finds you!



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

When the shoe is on the other foot.

Teachers.  I love you guys.  I was one for almost a decade, and I still work in education.  I mean--you're truly the best.  But some of you want to steal my five year old.  And it's making me hate my former self.  

Georgia's headed to kindergarten (all day, every day here in Michigan…..#ridiculous) in about a week and I just can't……..

even put into accurate words how that makes me feel.  I've cried in the middle of the grocery store this summer on a Tuesday morning while she asked me for another My Little Pony realizing that she won't be around to go to the grocery store with me on a weekday until  the first time I let her skip school  a school break.  I've panicked almost every night during August when I've checked on her one last time before I go to bed because I worry that we haven't sucked every last thing we could have out of this summer.  And my husband has had to tell me on more than occasion this summer to "get a grip."  


I will never be that mom who thinks the goobery dad in the Staples commercial gallivanting down the aisles singing "It's the most wonderful time of the year, " as he throws school supplies into his cart is right on.  I just won't.  I'll be the mom who is even more excited about a snow day from here on out--not really because it means I get to stay home from work--but because it means Georgia will be here too.  

My friend sent me an article about kids going to kindergarten a couple weeks ago that talked about how great it was when kids could walk confidently into their classrooms, introduce themselves to their teacher, and have a good time………it meant they were secure, self-assured, strong, and that they felt safe in what mom and dad were asking them to do because mom and dad had proven to them over and over already that they only cared about their child's best interest.  My friend, in her wisdom, knew Georgia would be that kid.  I, of course, spent the next week worrying about whether that would happen….and if it didn't what that said about me as a parent.  I'm truly neurotic.  


Tonight at kindergarten orientation when Georgia's teacher asked all the kids who were in her class to follow her to the classroom my one week old five year old walked right up to her teacher, introduced herself, turned around and gave me a smile and wave and disappeared around the corner.  When we rejoined her in her classroom 1/2 hour later she was great.  Happy to see us, but happy to be right where she was too.  

Sometimes I get a little tired of the 'rejoicing in the streets' memes, videos, and advertisements about back-to-school. Right now--I honestly can't relate and I don't think I need to. I love this girl more than I ever knew it was possible to love another human being.  I'll miss her like crazy, but I'm so proud of the person she's becoming.   

On the way to orientation….she has a dreadful cold and an ear infection.  She can rally like no one I know. 

So here's to our first  year of 'real' school.  
Here's to hoping I don't get a truancy letter in the mail by mid-October.  
Kidding.  
Sort of.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stuff I'm Loving…...

First….
THESE family pictures from my friend Lisa.  She's my Annie Leibowitz.  And she managed to capture some of Georgia's most of-the-moment expressions and I love freezing those in time.











Second….
We ran (walked--no one can really run with 11,000 people in a 5k) the Color Run this past Saturday and had a great time with friends.  Georgia was a little unsure at first; it's a lot of people, really loud music, a super ton of crazy, and being 44'' tall means you can't see much of what is going on at the start and you just have to trust mom and dad.  






Third…..
I introduced Georgia to Full House this morning.  My friend Lianne's girls have been watching it for a few months now so I thought I'd give it a whirl since G is getting more interested in 'real' shows.  However, there is a serious lack of good 'real' shows for five year olds--heck--thirty six year olds.  So back to the archives we went and hearing her laugh at Uncle Jesse and Kimmy Gibler from the other room was awesome.  The early episodes where the girls are way young are perfect!  I can capitalize on this forever, adding new shows as she gets older; Family Matters, Cosby Show, Growing Pains, Step by Step, eventually (a ways down the road) Boy Meets World and Wonder Years…..it's a gold mine!  That's right--NO ONE wants to watch Dog with a Blog.  I know……mind blowing.  


In related news….stuff I'm NOT loving….
Georgia starts kindergarten…all day…every day…in less than a month.  I may or may not cry actual tears about this when I go to bed some nights.

More on that later.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pure Michigan. {Lake Ann. Year 7 in the books.}

Seven years we've been heading up to Lake Ann as a family for vacation. And it's been great every year.  We've got our traditions down in stone; a day in historic Leland, a day at the dunes, a day at Good Harbor beach along Lake Michigan (the most amazing stretch of isolated beach I've ever seen), some downtown Traverse City, Moomers for ice-cream, and a whole lot of laughing in between.  I'm extremely thankful for parents who still make sure this happens every year, a sister who makes a point to get there from Pittsburgh each summer, and a family who loves each other.  

A little video of our week……..


Happy Monday!  
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