Now, I don’t like to brag (kind of lying to you, right out of the gate here ??♀️), but I’m almost positive that last summer I was a too-cool, quasi-popular, bubbly and perky fourteen-year-old with poor curling iron skills, hanging with my friends, sporting heavy electric-blue mascara, crop tops, mini skirts and my amazing white Tretorn canvas tennies (true story).
So, really not entirely sure how this summer I find myself staring into the rapidly falling face a forty-something-year-old bedraggled, unkept mini-van-driving mum with (at best) smeared eyeliner (typically applied hastily to one eye), living in a Costco-special skort, Walmart flip flops and food stained tee shirts that passed “the smell test,” driving to yet another soccer game while asking my twelve-year-old in the backseat to please stop shoving Cheddar Penguins up his nose, no matter how close he is to “the record” while simultaneously pleading with Jesus to “take the wheel” because this just cannot be real life (second true story).
Also, pretty sure that I did not see this situation on the horizon last summer, when I was still young, impossibly cool and had never even heard of Cheddar Penguins (or at least I’m pretty sure that this time existed).
I don’t mind admitting to you that all of this is really causing me to call into question the basis for my belief in my innate “coolness” in a whole new and frightening way. I believe that I may have crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed (truest story of them all).
Now, I gotta run. The umpire is about to blow the whistle or shoot the pistol or whatever it is that happens at soccer games to let the kids know that it’s time to score some baskets, drive some balls or steal a base. Never a dull moment here and see? If nothing else, I am finally figuring out soccer-speak. ??♀️
P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
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As much as we want to blame the internet, the kids, the teachers, the schools, the media, none of those things are the problem. This is not a fun message to send or receive. The problem with kids these days is us. Children watch the adults around them (and their parents more specifically) and what they observe shapes the foundation for their views on the world. These observations help to develop how they, themselves react and behave towards others over the course of their day. And let’s face it, the majority of their day is spent at school.
Many parents and adults are polite, considerate, lovely people. They are not the problem (clearly). Many other parents and adults are loud, rude, angry, confrontational and reactive. They are the problem (clearly).
Today, the common thought by professionals in the education and helping professions is that children need to learn how to “self-regulate” and that being a successful “self-regulator” will resolve much of the behaviour and acting out that many schools are forced to deal with everyday, all day, with a greater number of students than ever (at least so it appears based on anecdotal evidence). Behaviours that are often serving as a barrier to accessing a solid education by all students, not merely the ones acting out.
Self-regulation is an excellent idea. It is a great theory. It fails in practice. Why? Because until the PARENTS are able to self-regulate and behave in polite and civilized ways, children do not stand a chance. Until the PARENTS begin to support educators and the importance of being educated, their children will continue to act out.
Children’s behaviour is NOT a school board’s responsibility. Children’s behaviour is the parents’ responsibility and if the parents need support, then THAT is where to school board can provide assistance. Educators and school staff are not there to RAISE children. Schools exist to educate and support children and help to guide them toward successful and productive citizenship. Schools are NOT daycares, babysitters or nannies.
This goal of educating and guiding children cannot be met when parents abdicate their parental responsibilities once their child(ren) pass through the doors of their first school. I have had parents say to me ” meh, it’s their [the school’s] problem to deal with, he’s with them all day. He’s perfectly fine at home. What do they expect ME to do about it if he’s not listening to them (replace ‘listening’ with any of these: hitting, acting out, swearing, fighting, refusing to work, spitting, running away, bullying, etc)?”
My opinions on raising children, school, and parenting are not popular and I accept that. I did not become a mother in order to have a bunch of new friends, or create my own clique, or to be popular with tiny people. I became a mother to raise good humans and pass down some of the skills and knowledge that I had gathered in my lifetime (turns out some those skills were somewhat less developed than I thought!) and sometimes that means that I am about the most unpopular person in the house, possibly the planet (just ask my kids!). I am the primary caregiver in our family, and as such it is one of my jobs to set and enforce the majority of the routines, rules and consequences. I do not make excuses for my children’s behaviour when they make poor choices. They must take responsibility for their choices and they are held to a higher standard than “I don’t know” or “well, everyone else…” I do not let things that are wrong slide. We talk it out and problem solve what they could do differently next time. They do not get away with blaming others for their choices. Because they always have more than one choice. We all do.
I am not writing this from a place of infallible, perfect parenting. I am not the perfect parent. My kids are not perfect. One thing that I am though, is constantly aware, constantly watching, listening and seeking better ways of doing things, handling situations, and guiding my children (and the children with whom I work) toward making conscious choices rather than following the crowd, acting on impulse or simply being reactive.
And you know what? Sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, great, when it doesn’t, we try again.
One thing that every parent needs to know (in my unpopular opinion), is that it is the PARENT’S job to parent, that as a parent that you, and you alone are your child’s first and most important teacher. With that responsibility comes the requirement to work WITH educators and other helping professionals to ensure that your child is giving and receiving all of the effort and cooperation possible to ensure a successful result. When parents are combative to or confrontational toward the very people they are depending on to raise their children, it only serves to escalate the problems the child, and therefore the school and the rest of the children, must deal with.
This quick post has grown slightly longer than I expected. In the end, here is my wish list for all of us:
Demonstrate the behaviour we want our kids to copy;
Instill a love of learning and a sincere belief in the importance of being educated in all areas of life (i.e. history is not pointless and French is not dumb);
Bring back social etiquette and manners – across the board;
Place the responsibility of parenting back on the parents and provide support where needed and when necessary;
Allow children to be children and to make mistakes without rushing in to ‘rescue’ them from all natural consequences of their choices;
Learn, teach and share problem solving and dispute resolution skills with children from a young age (but it’s never too late to start);
Spend less time on ‘devices’ and more time interacting, in REAL LIFE with our families – no more technological babysitters and distractions;
Realize that not everything is personal or requires your response. If I say that I don’t like the colour blue, and your shirt is blue, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like you, it means that I don’t like blue. Period.
Stop jumping to conclusions or attributing the worst possible meaning to everything. Give people the benefit of the doubt first.
If you’re talking, you’re not listening. If you’re not listening, you’re not learning. If you’re not learning, you are standing still (and possibly moving backwards). Talk less, listen more.
And that, my friends, is my (consistently) unpopular two-cents on the subject.
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In keeping with my modus operandi the first monthly wrap up is a week late. Yay, me! Points for being absolutely and completely consistent and predictable. ????
But, on the unshitty side of that, I did actually learn a few things in January that I can now make note of so that I may be able to avoid having to learn them again. This month, I learned (remembered/was told/came to understand) that:
No matter how old we get, we need our parents to be parents and no matter how old our children get, we still need to parent them. The parent-child relationship is not an eighteen year commitment. It is a LIFETIME commitment. The relationship changes over time, the requirements on both side ebb and flow, as do the needs to be met, but the obligation, the instinct, the need to parent and have parents is eternal. My 21 year-old needs me just as much as my 11, 9, 7 or 5-year-old do, the only difference is that we now have to negotiate an adult-child-parent relationship. My baby he may always be, but a baby he is not. And when the shit hits the fan or I’m feeling completely lost and alone, I turn to my parents to help me, because who has cared for me and loved me for as long as they have? I have a husband who loves me, I have children who love me, and I am grateful and blessed to have both. But I still need my parents (I think that this realization means that I will be required to officially turn in my ‘spoiled adolescent card’).
Neither the length or colour of my hair, the shape of my body, the fit of my clothes nor the wrinkles on my face are allowed to determine how good I look, how good I am, or how good I feel. And I am SO done with holding myself back because I need to wait until something fits, looks better, is smaller, smoother or brighter. In January, I wore, wait for it, Jean Jeggings for the first time in my life. They were a Christmas gift from Mr. K.B. I’m not sure if he really believed that I would ever wear them, but yes, with my fluffy body and my thick, too short legs, I ditched my beloved, tried and true track pants and walked around wearing Jeggings. And I didn’t wear a hoodie or knee-length sweater to cover it all up. I wore a regular length shirt. And you know what? The world did not implode. In fact, my husband LOVED it. And I felt good to try something new, to step outside my comfort zone, to be aware of the fact that this is the body that I have and I need to appreciate it for what it is NOW, not hate it for what it is not or resent it for what it should/could be. It’s healthy, it’s functional, it provides comfort and cuddles, hell, it has created and sustained LIFE. More than once. So, no more hating on it. Every scar, every pound, every line, wrinkle and stretch mark have been hard-won and I’m done hating on them, for they represent much of what my life has been about – my family.
It takes not one kilowatt of energy less* to be growly, frowny and grumpy than it does to be smiling, positive and encouraging. It really doesn’t. In the schools right now, the buzz word is ‘self-regulation’ and they are really pushing just how important it is that children learn how to self-regulate at as early an age as possible. I discounted this as something that I learned how to do long ago, so didn’t give it much thought for myself. But, as it turns out, not so much. I still have a lot of work to do to achieve true self-regulation of my emotions. And food. And emotions. And chocolate. Shit. You get the picture. But that’s okay, because I am aware of it now. And I am working on improving. So I don’t have to flagellate myself relentlessly when I screw something up or handle something like a three-year-old two hours past nap time. I can do it better next time. See? No more self-inflicted emotional bruises. Because, learning.
Well, this pretty much exhausts January 2016 for me. I learned a lot. I cried a lot. I thought a lot and I made lots and lots of lists. Because lists are my happy place. Even when I don’t cross everything off, I still love me a good list. Now, onward and upward into February. We have a whole extra day this month. I’m still trying to decide how I want to use it. Probably doing laundry. Because I’m fancy like that. ????????
*Edited to change out the word ‘less’ for ‘more’ in the third lesson learned because who the hell wants to expend MORE energy being a growly grump than a positive ray of sunshine?
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