Sunday, February 27, 2011

OneWord Weekend

The rules are simple (and paraphrased from the website.)

Take the one word seen at the top of the next screen. Take 60 seconds to write about it. Don't think. Just write. 

I may adjust the time, but still insisting a limit. 10 minutes? That may be good.

Let's go...

word: Strong

(1 minute)
My daughter’s strength amazes me. At 8 years old, not a care in the world for how she’s perceived by others. Meaning her peers. She’s much more concerned, and always has been, about playing what she wants, rather than with whom she’s playing.

(9 more minutes) 
When her kindergarten teacher pointed this out to us, I was concerned, to say the least. "Sweetie doesn't have any friends? No one plays with her? She's an outcast?!"

Quite the contrary, as Hubby later pointed out to me. It's not that no one plays with Sweetie. It's that she doesn't, necessarily, play with anyone. On her own terms. She isn't interested in following the crowd. Not interested in being part of a clique. She simply wants to do what she wants to do. That's all.

And, in fact, Hubby is right. If we ask Sweetie who she usually plays with at recess, she has no "usual" answer to offer. Sometimes this kid, sometimes that. A lot of the time on her own. She's all about wanting to play what she wants to play. If little Johnny or Jenny want to join in, well sure! The more the merrier! But if they don't, that's no skin of Sweetie's nose. She'll play just fine on her own.

We sometimes tease Sweetie at home about being "weird." Not that I could give you a concrete example right now. But those are words we've said to her before. At the same time, letting her know she shouldn't let kids or anyone call her weird. It's just not a nice thing to say. (And she knows we're kidding when we call her weird ourselves.)

"I don't mind. It's okay to be weird. It just means you're different and interesting."

See?! What a kid! Absolutely amazing. She is strong and proud to be who she is, say what she wants, show her smarts, proclaims her interests, and be the person she is. Everyone else be damned.

And anyway, she's certainly not at a loss for friends. Classmates come to her at school functions, eagerly taking her hand to see this cool thing, or come over here to do that awesome activity. No. Sweetie is not wont for admirers, that's for sure.

And I'm among the top of the list.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Never Was a Good Accounting Student

"She believed she could, so she did." - Anonymous

I recently happened upon this quote, and it struck me profoundly. She believed she could, so she did. I can point you to several instances in my life where this very idea greatly applies. Most notably among them, going through a pregnancy and delivering my beautiful Sweetie into this world.

But there are so many other ideas floating around in my head. Grand plans, visions of a life well purposed, and little seedlings of childhood dreams bursting at their seams to grow and flourish into something great. But yet, there they stay, idly laying low. My mind swims with the greatness I see for myself, for my Sweetie, for our family. But far too often I allow these dreams to continue swimming in aimless, lazy moonlit circles in my head, when what they need is roaring encouragement to make that push toward the finish line.

This is all compounded by that "thing" that parenthood does to you... Parenthood makes you want to be a better person. The very act of raising a child to be the best she can be opens your own eyes, making you aware of all the little (and sometimes big) ways in which the way you lead your life could improve. After all, leading by example is often the best way to teach our kids how to do anything, not least of which is how to lead a purposeful, accountable life. And if we're not practicing that for ourselves, how can we expect our children to appreciate the importance of striving toward a life well lived?

An accountable life. A friend of mine opened my eyes to this phrase a few weeks back. Knowing what you want and taking the actions to get to that end. Not waiting for life to happen to you... making your life happen!

And I realized how often I sit around waiting...

I went to see a psychic (as hokey as you may or may not think they are) back in high school who told me that she sees me publishing two books in my lifetime: 1 more of a non-fiction/biographic publication, 1 in the world of fiction.

During my college days I had an English professor praise my written work, noting that he was sure to see my name on the store bookshelves one day.

And so I sit... confidently waiting for that day when I will be discovered. Obviously it's coming. I've been told as much by reliable people! I just have to wait for it...

I mean, to actively go after this goal is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was told I was going to do something, so I made plans for said thing to happen. Pshaw. Anyone can make that happen.

Or, hmmm.... my blog here is probably what that psychic was referring to anyway, seeing as I met with her in the days way before blogs existed. My blog is non-fiction/biographical. Or, you know... I've had a few articles published online and in print. There you go. Check! Vision realized. Moving on...

But... none of this takes into account that I have loved writing for as long as I can remember. That I genuinely have a biographical slant of interest to a certain percentage of the world's population. That I have told people - family, friends, job interviewers, etc... - that I want to write a book one day.

Yeah. Wanting to is one thing, getting it done is quite another.

Or should I say getting it started is the issue at hand?

I need to take accountability for my own life.

I want a cup of tea at night and I ask Hubby to fix it. If he does, great! If not - eh. I don't really want it that badly.

I get home after work in the later evening some nights. If there's leftover food from Sweetie and Hubby's dinner that is easy enough to heat up (preferably by Hubby), I'll be happy to have some. Otherwise - eh. I'm not that hungry anyway.

I agree with Hubby about the merits of having a clutter free, clean home. To have that would be wonderful! Clutter out, abundance in, after all. But... eh. I've just done the dishes, taken care of the laundry, and vacuumed. That's enough for today! Time to see what's happening on Facebook or watch this afternoon's episode of Oprah.

I enjoy counted cross stitch and got some new patterns for Christmas. I tell myself every day that to have some time to cross stitch would be awesome! And then... eh. Getting the dishes cleaned or laundry folded or simply cuddling with Sweetie presents itself as being much more "important" than silly cross stitching most of the time.

I have some items of clothes that are decades old. Seriously. And several pairs of pants that just don't fit me well at all. I could really use a good shopping spree where I could pick up some basic new pieces to fill out my wardrobe. But... eh. We're barely making ends meet as is, so we definitely have no money for that sort of thing. Especially when Valentine's Day is here and Sweetie needs a cute little gift. And the task of filling an Easter Basket is right around the corner. I'll use the little bit of money that we have for that no problem.

See? Laziness + putting others ahead of myself = the death of dreams and goals.

It's time to take accountability. It's time to take the necessary actions to get what I want out of life, for myself and my family. It's time to get up and do, not sit around and wait.

It's time to show Sweetie that if you believe you can, you can. And you do.

"He is able who thinks he is able." - Buddha

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Perspective is Everything

Are our personalities set in childhood? Or do they adapt and change over time?

Little Susie is the youngest in our family, and so she's forever having to speak up to be heard. 

Jimmy is our oldest, so he's used to being the boss and getting his way.

Mary's the middle child, so of course she's forever acting up and bossing others around - in order to get our attention, I guess.

Well, Billy's father and I are divorced and now there are other step children in the family. I think Billy acts the way he does to make sure his step-siblings know when they're crossing into "his" territory.

Sweetie is an only child, so she tends to have a hard time cooperating with her peers and accepting that she's not always going to get her way.


Funny. Seems like no matter what the situation, a parent can always explain away their child's less than pleasing behavior. Or - on the contrary - proudly proclaim how it is that their child is the confident, outspoken little smarty (cough-pants-cough) you see before you.

Interesting. It just seems to me that children will turn out the way they're going to turn out based a whole lot more on how the adults in their life treat them - regardless of birth order - and what's expected of these kids, as well as straight-up biological makeup. Yep - I say there's something to be said for the innate personality a person adopts just from good old genetics. After all, studies have shown that one's personality is pretty much set by 1st grade.

(That being said, it does drive me just a wee bit crazy when Grand Mama, Uncle Fred, or Great Aunt Betsy twice removed says something like, "Did you just see that smart alec expression on Billy's face?! Oh, he gets that attitude from wise-cracking Grandpa Al, no doubt about it!" It's especially crazy when Grandpa Al lives in Wyoming and young Billy has never had the pleasure of meeting the old coot.)

Yep. A kid's personality is going to be what it is based on nature and nurture. Not necessarily, I think, because said kid is born first, in the middle, or the last of 20. Which, okay, birth order could have a thing or two to do with how they relate to others. But there's a whole lot more to it than that. considering a kid born into any of these situations could end up being bossy, outspoken, confident, troubled, shy, dramatic, etc., etc., etc...

And why am I thinking about this issue these days, you may ask? Well, I'd have to refer you back to D.I., I'm afraid. As I stood last weekend with the other parents from Sweetie's team, all watching the group struggle through their challenges, I overheard some of them explaining their child's - uh... gumption!... to each other by describing where the kid falls in the family and what he or she has to do to get the coveted parental or sibling attention. Each different scenario - surprise! - coming out with the same result.

And there I stood, not offering Sweetie's family placement, but noting to myself how her (non)sibling situation "produced" in her a surprising similar outcome to the others with larger families.


SO.... that's what I have to say about that. 

On a related note... It seems to me that how adults interact with each other and, in fact, their needfulness for each other, is highly relevant to what's going on in each of their lives at the time. Were estranged friends, for example, to reunite and reconnect several years after a fallout, it very well could turn out that their new relationship is both strained and tentative because of what happened in the past (as well as what life's like currently for each of them.)

Not all together a bad thing, really. And of course, that makes sense. It's just now a different, careful progression into a new way to relate to each other. Okay.

Is the way each individual behaves within a new/renewed relationship truly how they are and have always been? But perhaps because each of the 2 friends "needed" each other in such a different way years ago than they presently do, their "true" personalities either didn't matter before or (more likely) the little quirks were "allowed" before as just that - silly little quirks.

It's all about time, really. And perspective. People grow up. Time moves on. Various life happenings affect you and, consciously or unconsciously, you change. Maybe a little, or maybe a lot. So that who you were before - the "before" person that the other remembers and is currently playing to - is simply not there anymore. At least not quite. As much as you feel you are presenting your current true self - admittedly changed from who you were before - you're just not sure the other person "gets" that and is smoothly adapting to you and the current state of affairs.

Or  maybe it's you who isn't adapting well to the current truth of an old friend, given the way things used to be. Hmmmm....

Like I said. People change. And new relationships, even with "old" friends from before, change too. They need to, in fact, if they're going to thrive, progress and evolve further. Just like friendships that start in one's youth and continue on to present day without interruption - they too change and evolve with time. Your friends need you in different ways throughout a friendship, just as you need them differently. That's life.

Relationships are hard. Establishing renewed friendships with old friends can be even harder. Will you get the friendship you imagined you'd get, with the same fun, awesome person with whom you used to be so close? Or do you find instead that said person just is no longer "there"? And neither are you. Not quite, anyway. Both fine, just... different.

Hopefully, in the end, you'll wind up with a renewed friendship combining the best of old and new. A new way in which you currently "need" each other. A fresh way to view, accept and appreciate each other. Always moving forward...

Ugh. It was so much easier when our parents arranged play dates, introduced us to our new best friends in the form of their friends' kids, and our sometimes quirky behaviors could be easily explained away with fixed home-life statistics like birth order or passed on genetics from wise-cracking Grandpa Al.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Not Bossy, Not Grumpy, Not Fighting. Adapting.

Newsflash: Sweetie is involved in an extra curricular activity that simultaneously frustrates her and thrills her. An activity that she mistakenly thought Hubby and I were going to take her out of and - to that - she emphatically pleaded with us to not do.


More specifically, there are certain members of her extra curricular team (okay - D.I. ) with whom she butts heads. Fine - 1 kid in particular out of the 4 others on her team with whom she is struggling to get along. I've seen their agitated communications on a few occasions now and it honestly pains me to see their on-going verbal tug of war. Sweetie will suggest a plan for how to solve a problem, and this other child will - more often than not - undermine Sweetie's ideas with a biting remark.

Or, said other child will take over the "organization" of a particular activity after it's been presented to the group as a challenge to solve, and - basically - however this kid interpreted the instructions, goes. Right or wrong. Without anyone in the group realizing they can look back at the written instructions to confirm what they're to do and not do. And yet, I've seen Sweetie try to correct this teammate's understanding of the rules, trying to make her and the others remember that, no, that's not what we were told to do. But it doesn't seem to matter. As I said - however this particular kid understands the rules is how the group as a whole will proceed more often than not. End of story.

Like Sweetie explained to me yesterday on our way home from a team workshop, this other team member always has to do what she wants, no matter what the rest of the team wants or thinks. Sweetie's example to me was this: say we were supposed to write a book. The rest of the team might decide and agree upon writing a story about aliens visiting earth, but this other member wants to write about animals. So the book would end up being all about the aliens' visit except for 1 page in the middle that would be about turtles. She always has to get her way, in some way or another.

Everyone else on the team can get along well enough and come to agreements (more or less, as far as I've witnessed. Let's just say teamwork in general is a huge issue with them all.) But this one kid just will not cooperate.

Now, I'm sure the other team members see what's going on here with this other kid. I'm sure they're all just as frustrated as any other team member that one of them is always taking over and deciding how they're all going to proceed. But Sweetie just happens to be the other outspoken one. The other most strong-willed member. So she's always the one to question this teammate, and yet it never results in any change in the process. The only result is the palpable agitated stress felt between Sweetie and this kid. And it breaks my heart.

But then again... isn't this my little girl who used to pout, whine and freak right the heck out if the "rules" she was expecting in any given situation turned out not to fly as she expected? Isn't this my daughter who, in kindergarten, I had to drop off every morning at school reminding her of the "mantra" I created for her: "no bossy, no grumpy, no fighting, adapt."? Isn't this my Sweetie, who I've written about time and time again right here in exasperation over Sweetie's stubborn overdramatic reaction to a multitude of situations? (can anyone say "dance recital"? Anyone? Bueller?)

Yes, that's her. My Sweetie, the one and the same. Currently getting her butt routinely kicked by this overbearing kid and these tricky, time-sensitive, rule-based, teamwork-oriented challenges. Challenges where she and her teammates are forced to work things out completely on their own - no adult input allowed.

My daughter... handling herself very well in the face of opposing forces and hard to understand concepts. Sticking up for herself as best she can, opening her mouth and voicing her opinions and ideas whether or not they're likely to be shot down by her peers. Trying again and again. Completely holding her own as the youngest member of this still struggling first year team.

Sweetie - telling me she hopes there's a D.I. meeting tonight (rather than being cancelled due to snow - again!) because she still has to give one of her teammates the thank you card she wrote her for coming to her birthday party back in December and for the nice gifts she gave Sweetie.

A card that's going to - you guessed it - that bossy little kid.

You hold no grudges, Sweetie. You're trying and struggling and thinking and creating. You're voicing your opinions, but not being bossy. And you're adapting to the way things turn out - whether on your terms or not.

Just another example of how you make me oh so proud to be your Mama.


(I just had to break the news to Sweetie that D.I. is, in fact, cancelled tonight. Third week in a row. "I miss D.I." she said sadly. I know, Sweetie. I know...)