Friday, September 15, 2017

The Most Important Task

First let me say, before I get started, this post may (most definitely will) contain profanity. I do not wish to offend anyone, so there is my warning. Continue at your own risk.

I had an epiphany the other day. As parents we are constantly aware of the awesome and daunting responsibility that is given to us to raise another human being. It is our job to keep them safe, educate them, feed them, bathe them ( a least a few times a week). Then something dawned on me. As the girls were running around like a bunch of banshees antagonizing each other about the stupidest possible things. I realized our biggest responsibility is to make sure  that our kids don't grow up to be assholes. I mean really and I am sorry for this but I can think of no better word to describe kids behavior (even the really good ones) at least some of the time.  I've come to the conclusion that it is just something that comes natural to kids and it is our job to correct it before we set them free into the world.

It was like the curtain was lifted and the Wizard was revealed to me. I look back on so so so many examples of what can only be described as asshole behavior demonstrated for no other reason other than to royally piss someone else off and then get a kick out of it.

Just a few examples and my guess is these are pretty common.  One of the favorites in our house, when one of them announces they are going to play with a toy. Upon hearing that desire a child closer to the toy grabs it and runs saying " I'm playing with it, I had it first"! Yep assholeitis at its finest. When they are coloring and one takes the crayon the other announced they were just looking for. Asshole. When getting ready to sit down at the table. One will say "I'm sitting next to mommy". Only to be hip checked or plowed over by someone who was in a completely different room but heard the declaration and decided it was their God given duty to thwart it. Asshole. When playing outside and someone announces I'm going to swing now, the kid on the slide moves faster then the speed of light and hops on the swing. Asshole.

The examples are endless and mind boggling. I don't know why they do it. They only do it to each other, so on some level they completely and totally understand that the behavior is wrong. Other than them not listening this is the most frustrating role as a parent, to constantly correct the asshole behavior. It's not like you can just say "hey kid you are being a real asshole and I'm going to need you to knock it off pronto". No that would be waaaay to easy. This is where our most important task comes in. It is a constant discussion of, why did you do that? How would you feel if someone did that to you? Was the the right thing to do, and tell me why not? It is making them understand the consequences of their actions and how their behavior makes someone else feel.

If we do this the right way, right now. We have a chance of raising kids who will NOT grow up to do things like: see someone put their turn signal on and speed up just so the person can't merge. Who will not cut in line. Who will not sneak in and take the parking space from someone who is already waiting. Who will not talk on their cell phones in the loudest possible voice in doctor's offices, trains or in public in general. Who will stop and hold doors for people. Who will say please and thank you to everyone. Who will let someone go ahead of them or stop to let someone out in traffic.

So I will take my duty of eradicating the world of assholes to heart and do the very best I can do.  I know you will too, May the Force Be With You. Lord knows we need all the help we can get.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Put Your Own Mask On First

 I have been extremely thoughtful on how I choose to boost the girls self confidence. This is something Kevin and I have been mindful since the girls started to understand language.
When you have girl children the compliments around them tend to lean toward the "Wow, you have beautiful girls", or "aren't they cute, sweet, pretty." You get the picture. At home I like to throw in a different kind of positive reinforcement .  When they struggle with something, whether it be school or sports.  I remind them persistence pays off. I let them know we are not looking for perfection, but rather for them to do the best they can do.  When their feelings are hurt on the playground, we talk about the meaning of what true friendship is. Would a true friend stand by while other friends say mean things? I ask them to ask themselves, "what would you do?" I console them as they come to terms with the fact that not everyone is nice, that not everyone wants to be our friend, and the hardest idea, not everyone will like us. Once that sinks in, we talk about why that makes our true friends something we should truly appreciate and treasure.

They tend to talk amongst themselves a lot about what they want to be when they grow up. Sometimes it's a doctor, other times it's an astronaut, artist, teacher, president. Over and over and over again, I tell them they can grow up to be whatever it is they want.  Elizabeth once told Abbie it would be really hard to be President, and Abbie just replied, "Yeah I know, but I can do it". She didn't miss a beat, she acknowledged it would be hard, yet it didn't scare her off and there was definitely no confidence lost in her response. That exchange really hit home for me and it also made me think about how I  view myself.

I have made it my life's mission to make sure these kids know they are smart, strong, creative, funny, can achieve anything they put their minds to and are worthy of respect.
Listening to Abbie I wondered when did I stop believing all that was possible for myself? I don't think I'm alone in this position. I have so many friends that bend over backward for their children. They give them the best of everything. I'm not talking about material goods. I am speaking about doing the work that really and truly shapes a child. To let them know day in and day out they are loved, to sit at the table and work together on homework and school projects. To race home from work and get them to soccer, baseball or ballet. Make their favorite dinner. Praise them when the note is sent home to let us know, just how good they were in school today. To stop whatever it is we are doing and give them those moments they need to feel important to us. To listen, to encourage, to provide constructive criticism.

We are so very good at doing these things for our children, but so many of us have stopped doing them for ourselves. How many times have we diminished ourselves instead of giving ourselves the pep talk we needed? Are we listening to each other? Are we encouraging each other? Are we praising each other? I don't think there is an age where that stops being important and yet it is no longer a priority for us or our peers. How many times have we had the thoughts, " I can't do it,  "I'm not strong enough", "I'm too old now", "I'm too tired" "I'm too fat" and on and on. Do we stand up to the "playground bullies" or are we politically correct? Do we value ourselves enough to let go of friendships that add more chaos and less love?

Can we really and truly set a good example for our kids, if we are not taking care of ourselves? We all know children pick up on everything they see and hear. It affects the way they think, behave and view the world.

I think it's time we remember we need to put on our own oxygen masks first. How can we affectively help our kids if we are not first helping ourselves.  We need to remind ourselves, our spouses and best friends,  that " Hey, I think you are strong, smart, funny, can do anything you put your mind to."

It's never too late.