Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Not So Overhead Projecting

There are times, in my role as mother, when I'm not the wonderfully empathic, serene, understanding, personification of perfection I'd have you all believe. I know, right? Who could have seen that coming?

It's happening right now, actually. I'm trying to write a post (which usually takes about an hour these days, when you take into account remembering the html, picture finding, and actual writing, but has been known to take five or six hours in the past) within the next two hours so I can hit the time-stamp deadline. The kids are playing behind me, and so far I've asked them to "just f**k up", at which they asked if they got to be hypocrites too...

Ahh kids. Always so completely honest. And blunt. You don't get to be an arse in my house and expect to get away with it. They have dispersed from the lounge, however. They don't want to risk standing on my land mines and have me project my frustration into them a little more.

Had a quick yap with Mr. Me on facebook chat. (Yes he's in another room on another computer doing his own important work; no we can't swap, what are you, mad? I can't write a blog post on someone else's machine!) To which he promptly quoted me U2:

Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief
All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief

Well that's apt.

You see, I had decided to write about some projecting that was happening last night.

One of my kids has fears that are irrational. Big fears. I find it impossible to validate them, because I feel they're invalid (they are valid because they are unresolved from a time when validity wasn't in question). So it's basically my fault they're still happening now, and weren't resolved half a dozen years ago, when they would have been more understandable, but unfortunately I was less emotionally aware.

I try now to be more understanding, but I have to fight down my feelings of disgust. And that's a really cruel thing for a kid to deal with, even if he only knows in a subconscious "Mum's not being genuine in her concern" sorta way. So he doesn't come to me with his pain, he goes to Mr. Me, and that triggers me too, because then I feel not good enough.

It's all my own trash-bag of emotional garbage that I'm carrying around, and the projection part is me saying "here, I'm tired, you carry this for a while." It's completely unfair, but I want to do it anyway. We all do from time to time.

Here's an example:

Random small boy and his father are playing in the park. All is well and fun until the small boy falls from a swing and begins to cry. Father is immediately disgusted and ashamed because he was made to feel shame about crying when he was small. Father picks up small boy and tells him he's not a baby and to stop crying. Small boy now feels shame, and his father less so. The father has projected his shame into his son.

It's not the son's shame. It's most probably not even the father's, or his father's. It's hand-me-downs, inherited through generations, and now the small boy gets to carry it in his trash-bag of emotional garbage too.

So last night, it was all I could do to just not pass on my emotional baggage by going to bed early and talking to no one. It's pretty much all I could do before to ask politely to be left alone, even though I'm in a communal room and everyone else has important things they're using it for too. And I wonder how common an occurrence this is, when we feel like punishing our children for things completely outside their field for blame.

There are a lot of very public examples of projection that have been normalised.

I think Prime Minister John Key and his gay red top comment was a good example of projection, which needed to be addressed. Why else but because of his own discomfort would he be so publicly offensive? It's certain he's been well taught in the art of interview, speaking publicly and being politically correct, even if he doesn't think that way, as all politicians must have to reach as high an office as he has. It's all the more obvious because he's trying to rationalise it as well! Someone who makes a genuine mistake doesn't try to do that.

So, if we're going to raise healthy children, we need to get rid of this projection business. We don't have a right to pass on hate and bigotry, or in my case disgust at fear and slow-learning.

Children have enough emotional baggage of their own to carry without carrying ours too.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends :)

Image Source

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Dear Teacher: It's Not You and Me Against My Child

I've never been a really big fan of school. I was good at it. Very good (no false modesty here). But I didn't enjoy it, and I left as soon as it was legal to do so. I left with Dad's blessing on the understanding that if I was leaving school, then I'd need to still be doing "something" and I immediately enrolled in an adult learning course anyway.

It wasn't the learning that I needed to get away from.

When my teachers discovered my intent to leave, there was a little bit of a fuss made. Like I said, I was "good at school". That kid in the top stream class who could consistently get high marks without trying, who very rarely disrupted the others, who was polite, and who was coordinated and fit enough to generally be one of the first picked in sports.

They wanted me to stay.

They didn't tell me that, though. They had the opportunity; I needed to go around each of my teachers to return my text books and ask them to sign my leaving form. Not one of them said anything then. But apparently they did in the staff room, because that evening my chemistry teacher, speaking for all my other teachers, telephoned my father and proceeded to try to convince him to make me stay at school.

This was one of the moments Dad got really, really right. He said: "It's not me you should be discussing this with," and handed the phone over.

Because, even though Dad would have preferred I stay at school, he knew that it wasn't him and the teacher against me but that I was a person with my own autonomy and preferences, and that to force me into something would only breed resentment. It probably would have hurt my love of learning too.

Now it's my daughter's turn at highschool.

She's nearing the end of her second year, and already she's hanging out for age 16 when it's legal for her to leave. She already knows what she wants to do, the learning she wants to move directly into and the places she'll apply to. She gazes at their pages on the internet often.

Over the weekend, she brought up with Mr. Me and I that she was having a lot of trouble learning in class because of disruptions from other students. She's not in one of the higher streams, and a good many of the children are there under duress. So we asked her to speak to her teachers, get their email addresses, give them hers and ours and to ask for ideas of what she'll be tested on and perhaps some exam papers from previous years to practice with.

She did it.

And she has one teacher willing to help. Who sees her as a person in her own right. Who instead of getting in touch with us, has emailed our daughter with all the information she needs, and offered to answer any questions she may have, or clarifications she may need via email as well as in class. Our daughter spent the evening trawling through all this information with no encouragement from us. Independently learning.

Her other teachers just saw a kid who had non-regulation shoes on, and took the time to email us about that, but nothing to do with her learning. Apparently what's important is a united front between teachers and parents. Apparently that's how we keep 'em in line. A united front and conformity.

I'm told that the common response from one of these teachers whenever the kids remark that they're not learning anything is: You don't know how hard it is to be a teacher.

It may be hard, but I believe the ones that manage it best are the ones who stop seeing their class as cats to be herded, but as a group of individuals to be respected and helped to learn in the subject you yourself are passionate about.

I do remember the teacher who phoned to try to change the fact that I was leaving school. I saw him again, in the same lab-coat he always wore, and chatting to a professor, in the corridor of the university chemistry department when I was attending lab classes some twelve years later. I gave him a wink as I walked past. He didn't look overly surprised to see me, but it happened that I was doing the same courses as one of the other science teachers at my old high school, who was updating his skills, so perhaps there had been talk. (Or perhaps I'm a bit conceited.)

I appreciate that he did care enough to phone, and he did try to talk me out of it. It wasn't enough, but I really do appreciate the effort.

And if I could have a do-over, I wouldn't change a thing.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends :)

image source

Friday, 2 November 2012

The Shirt of Shame.

Image source: The Ellen DeGeneres Show facebook page
Sometimes it's really hard, when you come across a picture that's been shared more than 30,000 times on facebook. 30,000 times that other people were in on a joke I'm certain isn't funny. What we have here, is no better than spanking.

Now, I'm aware in its country of origin it's perfectly acceptable to smack/spank your kids, and if that's acceptable, then what's on this picture certainly won't have a lot of people stand up and explain how this form of punishment a)won't work long term, and b) will create long term problems. That those who do are asking to be ridiculed and scoffed at. Told they have no sense of humour, or worse, be informed that they'll be raising a pack of hellions unfit for society, because "that's what happens when we don't instil a fear of punishment into our kids."

Another quote that's doing the rounds though, in many different forms, is one that says:
Most People are Only Alive Because it's Illegal to Shoot Them.
And it's the one that came immediately to mind when I saw the photo of those two little children in the shirt of shame. Not because I thought their parents needed shooting (let's get that clear, because I assume a lot of people thought that was where I was going) but because one is as ridiculous as the other.

I can safely say that NO person is alive today solely because I thought I might get in trouble if I shot them. I also believe that the threat of jail time isn't going to stop a person who sincerely wants to shoot another. It could make them do it in private, however.

Now, these kids are clearly being punished for pissing off one or both of their parents. Not because they weren't getting along, but because their squabbles were annoying.

How do I know this?

Well, because when people we love aren't getting along, and we care about that, we try to mediate and resolve the issue, don't we? If our friends are having a dispute, do we talk things through with them, or do we just ensure they shut up until we're not around? And these friends, we assume, are people who have already learned about resolving their own disputes growing up. The only reason we'd tell them to shut up until we weren't around would be because we both didn't care about the outcome and felt discomfort with the dispute.

So doesn't it make sense, that if the parents both didn't care about the outcome, and also felt discomfort with the dispute, that they wouldn't try to help resolve an issue that these kids were having trouble resolving themselves, but just get them to shut up about it?

Is it any different to this?

image source
If your children were having trouble understanding something at school, would you prefer them to be given extra help, or to be stuck in a dunce cap (shirt, whatever) for not getting it right? Does this form of shaming make them smarter people, or just resentful of the enforcers? Does it build their confidence and interpersonal skills, or does it make them feel small and helpless and stupid and unlovable?

A lot of comments on the "We Will Get Along" picture were to the effect of: Look how unhappy the girl is - it must be working ahahahaha. Of course she's unhappy. She's just been humiliated by one of the people who she should be able to trust more than anyone else. Humiliated, shamed, laughed at by the world, and not helped with her conflict difficulties in the slightest little bit.

Poor kids.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends :)

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

5 Things I'm Ashamed to Have Done to My Kids (that I still see happening all the time)

There's never been a time when I considered myself a "bad" mother. Since I've been one for fourteen plus years now though, I'd be remiss if I hadn't done some learning along the way, and if there's a parent who has not changed their style at least a little bit in the course of raising an adult, I really don't want to know them.

So there's no judging going on here. OK there's a little bit of judging, but it's the internal sort, whereby you judge, and then think I used to do that until I found a better way so you stop being critical. Still, you feel sad that they haven't learnt, or have and then decided they were fine all along, and you feel guilty for judging and a little bit superior and smug.

Yeah, I over think things quite a lot.

1) Telling your kid not to snatch, then forcefully removing said object (snatching) from the child to return it to the snatchee
I see this all. the. time. Parents and teachers do it obliviously. They must do, because I never see the furtive, embarrassed glance-around afterwards that would occur if they realised the hypocrisy. Actually, one time I stayed at daycare with my youngest to settle him for the first half hour because he was becoming more and more unhappy being there. The carer did this twice while knowing I was there trying to figure out why he was unhappy. And then she...

2) ...said hey, can I have a look at that? and prised a toy from another kid's hands. He then tried to take it back, so she held it away from him, where he couldn't reach, and made him parrot "please can I have that toy?" after her.
She looked at me for approval after that. A look that smugly said: see how I teach them manners? We left then. And after two more times of my little one screaming and crying when he realised we were going (not when I was leaving; it's not a separation thing at all), we withdrew him from that place completely. But I've done it too. I can point at that daycare and say: "look, how horrible" but the truth is, for my eldest, that would have been situation normal.

3) Spanking, smacking, physical punishment, whatever the kids are calling it these days.
This is a hard one to admit, but there was a time when I even advocated for it. I decided myself and tried to convince others that it was the only way to reprimand a child who didn't have the vocabulary to understand your, what I considered must be, lectures. Until one day about 10 years ago, when my daughter was curled on the floor with her hands over her bottom and I realised I was angry at her, really furious at her, for trying to stop me from smacking her. And I recognised that for the atrocity that it was. It genuinely took another six or seven years for me to get to a point where I didn't feel like smacking - to change my brain chemistry to the point where I automatically thought "how can I help?" instead of "stop it you little...."

4) Sat with my kids at the table until they'd finished every last bite of their dinner.
At the time, I thought I was doing right; teaching them not to be wasteful and such. What I ended up with though, was one child, my poor first born who wore the worst of everything, who now finds it difficult to leave anything on the plate, even if she's so full she feels sick. I should have known better, I think. I myself am unable to eat when I have a blocked nose, because I'm unable to breathe. Breathing through my mouth is not an option for me whilst eating. Thankfully I didn't do this for very long. Just long enough to do damage, obviously, but now, at 14 years old, she's just beginning to figure out the food quantities that are right for her.

5) Told them if they didn't hurry up, I'd leave without them.
It seems fair on the face of it, but the bottom line is that I now have an 11 year old who panics when we say we'll wait for him in the car. It's not the relatively good sort of panic where you do things in double time, but the awful, paralysing kind where you can't think, let alone act, and everything just becomes too hard. Poor guy. We're working on it.

This isn't a full list, by any means; I'll probably write another post next week entitled, "5 MORE things..." and I could maybe even write a third post. But there are a lot of things I've done right, as well. And one of those things I've done right, is learning from all the things I've done wrong. Well... all the things I've come across anyway.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends :)

image credit

Monday, 29 October 2012

Love Letter to FlyLady

Image source. FlyLady's logo from her website. I hope she's OK with me putting it here! :)

It's no secret that I'm a big advocate for gentle parenting and conscious living. It hasn't always been the case, but what has always been the case is my love for personal growth and learning, and that's how I got there.

About six or seven years ago, in the course of discovery on the internet, several people on a forum I frequented raved about this FlyLady website that was, they said, all about how to keep your house clean. My house was pretty messy, not due to lack of ability, or lack of desire, and certainly I didn't feel as though I was a naturally messy person, but because of a niggly trait called perfectionism.

I lived under the shadow of "if you can't do it properly, don't do it at all" and so a lot of things were never done. Not because I was unable to do it well enough to suit me, but because everything became so huge! Sweeping the kitchen floor meant I needed to clean everything above the floor beforehand, because that's the order needed for cleaning - top to bottom. If I wanted to sweep the floor, I'd need a couple of hours to get it done.

I was far more than cynical when I went to check out her website, but I signed up and since, at that time, it was based in a Yahoo Group, I promptly forgot about it. Fast forward a few years and I decided to take another look. People were still raving about it and I hadn't given it much of a chance. And now she sends her emails to any address at all, so I could actually receive them. And read them...

Turns out FlyLady is out there gently re-parenting adults. Yes, she gives definite instructions to follow, which I wouldn't usually associate with gentle parenting, but there is no judgement or criticism involved and her ultimate goal is simply for you to Finally Love Yourself (FLY). There's nothing that takes the pressure off better than the line at the end of all of her emails:
You are not behind! I don't want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?
which gives you permission to be at whatever place you are.

She believes in baby-steps and helps you change your mindset from the inner critic that says you're not good enough, to the logical knowledge that a little bit is better than nothing, and lots of little bits really do add up.

Also, it's all free, so that's pretty cool too.

This is just a public thank you, because these ideas have helped with all sorts of manifestations of my perfectionism, not just housework. I would not have even started this blog yet because I'm still learning how to make things work as it is, and I couldn't have started under those conditions otherwise.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends :)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

I Love You, But I Don't Give A Rat's Bum!

I had come to the conclusion that being a mother often meant feigning an interest.

Not always. Sometimes your kids have really interesting topics of conversation, things to show and tell and questions to ask. And that's awesome. But how many people have you met that have all the same interests as you?

OK, now how many seven year old kids have you met that have all the same interests as you?

Yeah. S'what I thought. None.

But we love 'em, don't we? And we love that they're excited about things and learning, even if it is about Pokemon (who knows, he could be a future animator or game programmer!) but it never occurred to me, going into this parenting caper, that I'd have to listen to incessant chatter about things I am completely apathetic towards.

Then I realised how fake that was, and if I modelled that fakeness, I'd be teaching my kids that the correct response is to be dishonest. So where to go with it? Obviously we want some middle ground between "I don't care, please don't talk" and "Tell me all about your belly-button lint, I'm enthralled." I want them to know they can talk to me about anything at any time, but for them to also have the empathy to know that some people just aren't as interested in the same topics as they are, and if we want a captive audience, we need to appeal to them.

At any time is also a biggie for me. Yes, I'm available at any time, but I don't want to be woken up so that I can be shown a new colour of nail polish, or be asked through the toilet door if there are any chores they can do to earn money. Surely it's not that time sensitive that it can't wait five minutes?

Sometimes I find myself at a loss as to how to teach these things. And then realise that always, if there's a behaviour that's happening, good or bad, it's been modelled before.

Was it me?

There have been times, I'm certain, that I've callously interrupted what the kids were doing: pulled them away from a game so I can go out shopping or bill paying or visit a friend or relative or any number of things they have no interest in. Because I'm "bigger and more important" you see. This is the default setting of pretty much all new parents. And if it's not, we're weaned into it because little babies don't really have a lot of preferences in that way, and it becomes habitual just to say "let's go" and expect it to happen.

I also remember often interrupting a game just to "remind" them of things they should do, or to ask them if they'd tried on those new, blue shoes yet... something that may be completely uninteresting to them or not time sensitive, because I unconsciously considered myself bigger and more important.

The idea that I'm bigger, and therefore more important, created second class citizens of my children.

That's not just.

I don't want them growing up believing anyone is second class, not because of their age, or because of their skin colour, or religion, or because of any physical or mental capabilities they may or may not have.

It's true, there are things I must do that are very important. It's also true that my children are the responsibility of myself and my partner and so there will be times when they have to do things they'd prefer not - so to us all in life. But there should never be times when preferences aren't listened to and considered. Very rare are the times when negotiations can't be entered into: generally, yes I can wait fifteen minutes for you to finish your game of Monopoly, and I'm sorry I didn't discuss this with you earlier.

From experience, kids get much better at these negotiations with time and practice, or they can be born into it (which is so much easier, you wouldn't believe it!) but when there are slip ups, the only way to deal with it is without hypocrisy. To politely ask for your personal or psychological space back (in an age appropriate way) and remember you're probably the one who modelled it in the past - you or a teacher they had no choice but to spend six hours per day with, but that's a story for another day.

Ahh, what I love about this blog is that I start writing about a problem and then as I'm writing, I find the solution and write that down too. I think that's what I've done here, so thank you so much for listening! You give me a reason to regularly sit down and get inside my own head for a bit, and I appreciate it.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends :)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Overcoming The 5 Big Advantages of Being a Single Parent

In my News Feed yesterday, there was a blog post called The Five Big Advantages of Being a Single Parent. And as someone with a fair bit of experience of being a single parent, and an equal amount of experience team parenting, I can say, those five big advantages really are all they're cracked up to be.

I was damn happy as a single parent. I had the control, baby. If you think there's an adjustment period going from team parenting to single parenting, it ain't nuthin compared to the adjustment period going the other way. The adjustment period into singledom lasted.. ummm... oh about a month, while I got used to the idea that everything was on my shoulders. While the frustration of being stuck in one place while the kids slept eased, and a more forward-planning brain grew. And while I accepted that me-time had turned into we-time and there wasn't a lot I could do about it.

I went from being stark-raving bonkers at going it alone, to fairly proficient - kinda like when you first start out fitness training: something that half killed you at the beginning, is a walk in the park after a few weeks' practice.

I didn't bother dating. Possibly that was a mix of having no time for it and being a bit scared that I could be wasting my precious little free time on someone who may or may not be a jerk... OK, I think I'll just fess up and say I enjoyed my single parenthood and I didn't want to share. Nup. It was mine and I'm selfish. An introvert, and uncomfortable with change.

But sometimes, even when you're actively trying to avoid it, love comes along, grabs you by the ankle and proves itself impossible to shake off. That's what happened to me and I'm not sure I've forgiven him for it yet, but I love him just the same.

He's not a back-seat dad either, which would have made it easier for me to transition, and he won't do as he's told!

Neither will I. Head-butt much? Sure, I often want to stick his head up his . . . wait, no, we're both just as much entitled to our autonomy as the other.

So now, "1) Guess who makes all the decisions." Does not have the same answer as it did before, and was a bit of a hard pill to swallow. I genuinely prefer being the top cheese, and I wouldn't be being honest if I didn't mention that I struggle daily to not be completely unilateral. Ahh well, at least I still get to decide what's for dinner every night. Sigh... almost every night then.

"2) Guess how often I argue about money." Yup, that was another thing that I loved. It sorta ties in with number 1 too, because if I made all the decisions, I'd be making all the money decisions too, and we wouldn't be having this conversation. Alas, I must negotiate and compromise. I'd much rather have a kiddy tantrum and get my way, but fair's fair, and if Mr. Me did that I'd probably have a cry and feel very sorry for myself (rightly so!) and being a hypocrite isn't my favourite.

"3) Guess whose kid gets to learn more responsibility." Well, actually, no. When I was single, aside from the kids being younger and less capable, I honestly didn't have the time for them to have more responsibility. Asking them to do something or have responsibility over something was just ten times more work, first convincing them to do it to begin with, then getting it done to the standard you're accustomed? ... Let's just say, if it takes 15 minutes to do a load of dishes by yourself, it takes 45 minutes and 20 extra blood pressure units to do it with a seven year old and a ten year old. Now we can tag-team that sort of thing, and there's more energy to go around for helping kids keep their responsibilities instead of just doing it for them.

"4) Guess who gets all of dad’s (or mom’s) bonding time." That was a bit of a learning curve, especially for my eldest, who honestly thought she was the queen and I was her lady in waiting. She rightfully felt as though I was being stolen from her. I say rightfully because she'd just never had to share before and it was new and painful. Of course all the time wasn't stolen from her, it just felt that way, I'm sure. Eventually, both kids figured out that there was actually more bonding time to be had through doubling the parents.

"5) Guess who doesn’t have to deal with the drama." True. And possibly that was why I initially didn't want to be in a relationship at all. But when you give up the drama, you also give up the companionship. When you give up the give, you give up the take. When you're by yourself, there's only one person to blame, true, and so you just get on with it, but when you're by yourself there's no one whose knowing glance you can share when things are going your way either. No one to hold you up when you think you're about to fall. There's a synergy about playing for a team, so much greater than one plus one. And knowing that simply makes the drama much less of a drama.

I didn't get to write this blog post yesterday as I wanted to. You see, it was our anniversary and there was more good to be had celebrating that together. But it was good to think about and know what I would write; it gave me a lovely perspective on our relationship in a lovely timely manner.

Happy Anniversary, Babe. xx

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends :)

ring photo credit

Sunday, 14 October 2012

On Growing Up in the Dark

I have abandonment issues, to put it bluntly. I'm haunted every day by the ghosts of my past: people I love know they can't leave me without saying good bye. No nipping out to the dairy for milk while I sleep, because if I wake with them gone, it brings back all the feelings that I have no memories for.

Confusion, fear and anger are the strongest; the "jacket feelings" that protect the smaller, but more intense, vulnerable ones. These are the feelings you might see if you come across me like that, and if you're the one that caused it, be ready for a tongue-lashing! But we all know anger is a secondary emotion, caused by the other two. It's protective. Holds people at bay or stops them from attempting to go there again. It projects the confusion and fear you're feeling onto those that "caused" it and makes you feel better in the short term.

But it's not fair. They've done nothing wrong. They're just going about their business, not remembering your emotions run a little differently. Not at first, anyway. They learn pretty quickly after the first couple of times.

Injured, feral animal.

Hiding under the jacket feelings is pure primal misery. I have no way to describe these emotions, because I didn't have the language for them at the time, and if you let it loose, you can't think like an adult at the same time. All you can do is either be comforted, or cry it out - cry until your body tells you that crying is worthless, like a baby being sleep-trained. I can tell you which is better: being comforted. It's over sooner and you bounce back much quicker and next time it's not quite as bad. You've been heard. You're loved. Crying it out leaves you wrecked and exhausted, like you have a really shit hangover, complete with headache and dehydration and you can't function worth a damn if you don't sleep it off over several hours.

Most people who go through this don't explore under the jacket feelings. It's scary stuff. I didn't until I'd been in counselling over a year, some of which were intensive 5 hour sessions. (Yeah, I needed a fair bit of help for my inner fruit-loopery.) Tell ya what though, remembering what it's like to be a toddler with big feelings and not knowing what they are, and having no control over them really is an eye opener. Nothing but gentle parenting after that - whoa baby!

I wasn't actually abandoned as a child. Not really. Mum died of cancer when I was almost three years old. It was really quick from the time they found out and when it happened and I didn't really know what was going on. Perhaps I was being "protected", but the upshot is a little girl eventually knew her mummy was gone and wasn't coming back. She didn't know why, or if it was her fault. She didn't know how her mummy felt about leaving her. She'd always come back before - why not this time? This little girl only knew that the one to whom she was most strongly attached, the woman on which her little world depended, who fulfilled her every need and who she trusted completely, was gone. Would no longer be there with her, for her, think about her, take care of her... love her.

And though she knew there were other people who loved her, it could never be the same.

The only memory I have from that time, is going to visit at the hospital. I was standing beside a hospital bed. I remember the metal on the side of it, which was about level with my face. I didn't look at who was on the bed. A woman (I think, my grandmother, but not sure) urged me, "tell your mother you love her," and I did, because it was true, but I didn't know why I was being urged to say it. I'm not sure if she replied. I don't even know if I was heard. I don't remember.

I think that could have been the last time I saw her.

From then on, I knew that to have complete trust and reliance in another person was dangerous and could be earth shattering. At that age, I blocked out my desires for emotional reassurance and became someone who had to know everything. A very "strong", confident, self reliant person. So much so that I couldn't accept help as I saw in it a sign of weakness. Every. Single. School report I received growing up contained the words, "responsible", "mature", "capable", "conscientious". Mistakes were out of the question. I was (still am, though I work hard to repair it) a perfectionist. Adultified.

No, I wasn't abandoned really. But I have abandonment issues still, 30 years later.

I still yearn to know how mum thought. What she was feeling, knowing she was leaving me behind? What did her voice sound like? How did her face change when she smiled? What did she struggle with? Did she have any advice for me? What were her opinions on... anything?

All I have are some wedding photos, some hand-written recipes and her wedding dress.

I wish I had more.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and knowing what I do, this is my recommendation for anyone in the awful, awful position of leaving your children behind.

Write letters. Thousands, if you can. One for every occasion you can think of. Give advice and tell stories of when you were going through the same thing. Letters for birthdays and Christmases and graduations and weddings, and new children being born.

Video yourself reading stories and singing songs (for different age levels as they grow) until you get hoarse. Share your favourites and say why they are your favourite.

Plant a tree, or something else lasting, together, and document the time well, with video, picture and writing.

And share all your feelings. Because as adults, and even as children we can know intellectually that you never wanted to leave. But unless we hear it from your mouth, in your words, we'll always feel in the dark, just hoping.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends :)

lily image source

Friday, 12 October 2012

10 Times The Rainy Day Toddler Fun

Make Playdough!

playdough photo credit

It's completely easy to make. You do need to use boiling water, but kids can help with all the rest and they can help knead it all together when the dough has cooled enough to touch. Here's a recipe:

1 1/2 cups salt
3 cups flour
6 tbsp cream of tartar
3 cups boiling water
3 tbsp cooking oil
food colouring

Mix all ingredients together. Store in a plastic bag or airtight container. Makes approximately 1.5kg.

You can add glitter for sparkle, or even powdered cordial in place of the food colouring to create different colours and smells (though it's still going to taste disgusting if it gets in their mouth).

Play with the playdough you just made.

'Cause let's face it, everyone loves playing with the dough. For the littlest fingers, it's sensory fun, cause and effect and learning motor skills. Older kids, (and me) learn to think spatially, plan their creations, stretch their imagination and strengthen their concentration. Who could ask for more?

Well, since you do ask for more (because I assume you're a smart-a*se like me) they also learn through role-play (think pretending to be a baker), about shapes and which ones are stronger, physics - how to strengthen their structures, and about art.

Playdough is epic.

Build a fort

fort photo credit

A classic activity for all kiddos, but most of the time we forget, being the adults that we are! Forts are awesome fun to make up, and knock down and make up and knock down, pretending to make a house of cards out of the cushions and using them as gymnastics mats. And then when you have the fort perfect, it's time to clamber inside with a book and torch or some picnic food. Stories and eating are what people do every day, but they're made just that bit more special and memorable in a different place.

Feed the ducks and jump in puddles

duck photo credit

Really, there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes for the weather. Kit out in raincoat, umbrella and boots and find some ducks to feed. You'll probably be the only ones there, and ducks, funnily enough, think it's great weather!

While you're at it, jump in some puddles. Hunt for and count all the worms that have emerged onto the paths. Shake droplets out of tree-branches onto each other's umbrellas. Pick flowers. The outdoors in the rain is just as much opportunity as it is obstacle.

Take pictures!

take pictures photo credit

Get your digital camera or cellphone out and take photos together. Look at them and talk about them. Pull funny faces at the camera, dangle from the sofa, sing songs and let your little ones video you. Play it back for them. Play it again the next rainy day, and the next! Let them initiate how to take the pictures. Let them push the buttons. Keep the best pictures as a screen saver for your computer.

Chase raindrops

raindrops photo credit

Have raindrop races down window panes. It's not an activity that will keep kids occupied for hours, or even more than a minute or two, but it's something everyone should do and a memory every kid should have.

It's something they can look back on fondly during rainy days of their own, and repeat. A feeling of warmth that might hit them twenty years from now, stuck in traffic in the pouring rain. It's one of the little things in life.


dancing photo credit

Dance! Use up some of that wiggle that's driving you mad. If it's the middle of the year, then break out the Christmas tunes for something different and to jog everyone's memory back to awesome fun times. Play something bouncy and jiggly. Something that kids can remember and scream the words to. Join in! Try to dance just as crazy and sing just as loudly as they are. A favourite song at our place for this, is Snoopy's Christmas!

Blow bubbles inside.

bubbles photo credit

Blowing bubbles isn't just for sunny days. It's for days in the kitchen when you're going to mop the floor anyway! And you get to pop far more bubbles when the wind doesn't carry them away anyway. Probably best done after you've made and eaten your pizza!

Make pizza together, then eat it.

pizza photo credit

Pizza dough is almost as simple as playdough to make, and while it's rising you can be chopping up the toppings ready for everyone to create their own masterpieces.

Dough Recipe:
1 packet of the instant yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar, dissolved in 1 cup of warm water
Add it to 2.5 cups of plain flour and 2 tbls of your oil of preference.
Knead, cover and leave to rise.
When about double in size, shape into one big or several little pizzas and add toppings.
Bake in a medium oven for about 15 mins.

Easy peasy!

Let the kids decide and play along

Children need the opportunity to make decisions of their own. Maybe they have a favourite game they want to revisit, or perhaps they want to invent something completely new? Chances are they remember something they did while away from you that they might want to show you but don't yet have the words for. Allow them to direct their own play. They're the experts at it.

Play along. Enjoy the ride. It's OK for adults to be kids too, now and then.

When I was thinking these up, I remembered I haven't done some of them in a very long time, and it's time I stepped up and remembered how to be a kid again. They're the ones who know how to be free and unselfconscious. They get the job done.

Got any ideas you'd like to add? I want to hear them!

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends :)

So You Think Your Child Is A Nazi...

Nobody wins a war.

Yes there'll be one side who will be stronger eventually, and they can dominate, take over, enforce their will on the other side, but no one actually wins. There will be casualties on both sides.

The "winners" of a war will be the ones with the most training. Those who have been taught - had it beaten into them - how to look past the humanity of their opposition. How to ignore the suffering of their foes, or to pretend it doesn't exist at all.

In a war, you have to switch off your empathic function or you're no good. It's pointless being there if you can feel the affect you have on each and every participant you have interactions with. You could start caring that your opponent is so terrified from your last encounter that they just buckle and plead, follow your instruction and apologise for being who they were born to be. You could start caring, and then how could you finish them off? How could you win? No. In a war, you must turn off your empathic function.

In a war, you must follow orders. This is drilled into you by people with more power than you, before you even get near a battle. You learn from their example, and if you do not, you'll need more drilling until you do. There is no place on a battlefield for someone who thinks for themselves. You'll have been given your tactics for winning long ago, by those who were better at it than you, and you must know them so well that it's automatic. There will be no time to stop and think. You must turn off your creativity. You must fight your innate impulses until you have replaced them with the impulses of your superiors.

In a war, you must fight through pain. You will be damaged, that is guaranteed, so you must have the will of mind to ignore your own pain. If you take care of your own hurts, that's a weakness. A weakness in yourself and in your battalion. Your comrades require you for their own safety and you do them for yours, so if you fall back, you could be the weakest link in the chain and cause defeat. If you're fighting alone, to consider your own pain, to break, means certain death, assuming your opponent has also been well trained, and turned off their empathy.

So, to win a war, we must turn off our empathic mind, our rational and intuitive minds, our sensate function and our free will.

Once a person is trained in warfare, it's very hard to go back to being untrained. A lot of times it won't happen and the returned soldier will never regain the connection they had with loved ones. They'll spend their time yearning to be in their comfort zone - the place they were trained to be. They'll feel angry and betrayed by those they came home to, who are scared and confused by the soldier's lack of empathy and love and understanding. Their loved ones will do as the returned soldier wills, and call it respect, and convince themselves it's respect, but it will really be fear. Loved ones will understand the battles were fought on their behalf, whether they asked for or wanted it or not and will feel compelled into gratitude.

But in the end, fear, disguised as respect, and gratitude, aren't fertile soils in which to grow love. In the end, we're often left with a lonely soldier at the Veteran's Association, surrounding himself with the only people who can identify with how he thinks. A lonely soldier who goes to visit a different family member each Christmas - passed around like dishes duty.
I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
Nobody wins a war.

And when you see your home as a war zone, the same things happen.

When you fight battles with your partner or your children, you are turning off your empathic mind, your rational and intuitive mind, your sensate function and your free will. It must be done to win the battle.

Your children, buckled and pleading, follow your instruction out of fear and apologise for being who they were born to be. You call it respect, and so will they and they'll forever confuse the two. They'll love you through duty, and because they see the sacrifice you have made on their behalf whether they asked for or wanted it or not and will feel compelled into gratitude.
I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.
But they're not fertile soils in which to grow real love. They'll grow up and move away, half way across the world, and you'll lose regular contact. And they'll fight their own wars at home as they've been taught to do. They've been trained for years, and now they know how to win with their own innocent offspring and spouse. They'll know to turn off their empathy to win. They'll flip into irrational rages against your grandchildren and they won't know why. They'll blame the kids, for being who they were born to be. Maybe later they'll feel guilty. Maybe not.

If not, the cycle continues with their grandchildren... But maybe they want for their children the freedom for the full expression of their personalities. And that can never be achieved through violence, only love, genuine respect, peaceful resistance and teaching through role modeling.
Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
We are going to make mistakes. Our spouses are going to make mistakes. Our children are going to make mistakes. Our parents are going to make mistakes.

Imagine living in fear of making a mistake. Trying something new would be terrifying. You'd hide away so no one would know. You wouldn't be able to share your ideas or get excited about them for fear you would fail. Life would get procrastinated away as you dissociate away your anxiety and you'd live in Dr Seuss's "Waiting Place" where most people stay.

I am not at war with my family. Not any more. There have been times I thought I was. And there've been times, because of the way I have trained them, that I'm incited into battles and I feel like I must fight. Be violent. There are times when I've made mistakes, and though I resolve not to, maybe I'll make them again. I hope not. I hope I always have the strength to peacefully resist the battle-cries of others. I resolve to model peace, not violence, at all costs.

I never want to give up my capacity for empathy. I want to keep my intuition and my rationality. I want to remain self aware: to know how I got that bruise and to listen to what my body is trying to tell me when I have that headache or I can't sleep.

I will remain whole.
You must be the change you want to see in the world.

Please take the time to share this post with those you care about. The less people there are at war at home, the more whole, free, loving and happy people there will be in the world. Be the change.

Thank you.

The quotes are Mahatma Gandhi's

Image credit: Wikipedia
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...