So, I messed up. I couldn’t keep up with my intention of writing straight for 21 days. I couldn’t even keep up with my Yoga Journal challenge because on day 7, I broke my pinkie toe. And it’s funny how a little thing like a pinkie toe can really throw your whole week off. When I hurt my knees right after I started running again, I decided the best way to get through the pain was to power through. I took a few days off to recover, then got back on the treadmill, ran a few miles everyday, and low and behold, my knees were better. The day after I broke my toe, it was feeling better because I had elevated, iced it and took some Advil, so I thought, I’m going to walk today and see how it goes. I put on my running shoes, and had the feeling my toe was going to pop through my shoe, that’s how bad it hurt. I decided to take a break from the yoga and the running, even though it totally messes with my state of mind when I don’t have those endorphins pumping through my body. I also sat down a few times to write, but was beyond tired at the end of the day that I couldn’t even think straight. Not to mention, my daughter is the worst sleeper in the world, meaning, she doesn’t go to bed when she is supposed to, so as I was trying to get through my emails, tweets and Face Book posts, I had this little voice asking me a billion questions about who knows what. As a result, I could not fairly write something interesting, as I promised I would on Day 9.
I’ve been thinking all day about what I wanted to focus my writing on…Amy Chau’s controversial book? an expert from Snow Flower and the Secret Fan my girlfriend just sent me? my thoughts on what I would tell a mom to be who is expecting twins? Instead, I couldn’t help but think about all the random things that occurred or were said to me in the last 24 hours. So I thought I would put them in writing and see if there was any pattern, and maybe something would come from all this randomness.
The last two days I have spent organizing my photos. I have too many to even try and guess a number, but I just spent a ton of money on a professional photographer for the babies and I want to get my photos up. Since we are also living on one income, I am trying to be budget conscience and use what I already own to display them. My girlfriend and her husband had this cute little apartment in Venice Beach. I went to visit them a few years ago, and they had this amazing gallery wall with all these brightly painted picture frames of random 4×6 pictures. Loved it! She took me to IKEA where I bought about 25 frames for $10. I bought samples of paint from Restoration Hardware to match my house, and painted the frames. They have been sitting in my closet for four years. Not kidding. When I stopped working back in May, I took them out one day to start putting pictures in them. Then I organized them on the floor of my hall where they would go. Then I leaned them up against the wall to hold myself accountable to getting them done in a timely manner. Yup, they are still there. But today, I created three gallery walls in my stair well. I’m working my way to the other hall to finish up. Maybe after this weekend.
|My gallery wall…a work in progress|
|I also worked on this yesterday…I had been wanting one of these!|
I have zero patience when it comes to hanging up photos. Everything is done by “eyeballing it”. I have no time for balances, rulers, maps, etc. I just want to do it, and therefore, I have a thousand little holes all over my walls. I would much rather patch and paint then do it right the first time. My daughter was watching me hang the photos, and I said to her, “When you have a house of your own, don’t hang photos like this. There is a professional way to do it, and I’m just being lazy.” Without thinking twice she said, “So does that mean you are going to cheat on the game we are playing later?” I knew where she was going, but I wanted to hear it for myself. “Why would you ask that?” I said. “Because you said you were being lazy, so does that mean you are going to be lazy when you play the game, too?”
Today, my son came home from school without his homework. This happened after he brought his report card home yesterday and had all B’s and one A. The B’s were like 1 point away from an A, and the word “listening” was circled for what he needs improvement on. We had a full on conversation yesterday about how he could improve those B’s to A’s by just listening to the teacher and not making silly mistakes. So what does he do today? He forgets his homework. I was so livid. This is when I am the most challenged by my intention. I want to just yell and threaten, when it’s a perfect opportunity to use my language to create a universe of possibility for them. It’s crazy how different your own children can be in how you approach things with them, or how they handle different situations. Our morning didn’t start off so great either. His P.E. teacher wants him to learn how to tie his shoes. Attempting to teach him how to do this , and trying to find solutions together. Then I thought about the Amy Chau book and another article I read about how we are too easy on our children and they don’t know how to do anything for themselves, and how it is going to create this generation of people who are helpless and lost because their parents are always saving them. When I first read about Chau’s book and the other article I mentioned, I thought, “There is a ton of tough love happening in our family. Every man for themselves around here. I don’t have time to babysit, they have to figure it out on their own. They need to learn responsibility at a young age. I can’t go back for forgotten lunches…there’s been times my kids just don’t get lunch because they forgot theirs.” Then I realized how torn I was between getting them to do things on their own, and guilt because I have four kids and sometimes I feel like I don’t evenly distribute the attention to all four. Or I am using convenience
to my advantage, so I do things that are easy for me, but not necessarily good for them. For example, it was easier for me to buy my kids shoes with Velcro because they could get themselves dressed while I fed babies. But now my son has no fine motor skills and cannot button his shirt or tie his shoes. Do you know what else he can’t do? Ride a bike. He has two. He won’t get on either of them. He has a Razor scooter and Heeleys. He doesn’t want to ride a bike because one time he fell off his bike, and I did make him get back on, but he hasn’t got back on one since. And it’s because I was working, or there’s no where to ride it, or I was pregnant with twins, or I just had twins…blah, blah, blah…and he has yet to learn how to ride a bike.
Going back to the missing homework assignment…At first, I grounded him for not taking responsibility and making sure he had his homework. He said, “OK, for how long.” It didn’t sound to me like it was making an impact. So then I said, “You’re not spending the night at Nonnie’s tomorrow.” But the reality is that I need him to do that more than he does, so again, not working. My last resort was to have him read a book about responsibility and write a book report on it. This is what my dad made me do when I made choices that didn’t have great consequences. The book I had him read was about Ralph Bunche, (for length’s sake, click on the link if you are not sure who he is). It actually ended up being a pretty relevant story, as he was a black man who learned to be responsible at a young age and ended up chartering the United Nations. Seeing how we just celebrated Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, and it is almost Black History Month, it was a great story in regards to civil rights and dreaming big, working hard and how being responsible helped to make all that happened for him. I think it was a little lost on my son because he wrote his book report about being black and how he was treated unfairly but he still had big dreams and worked hard to do something good. Wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I was glad that he at least got that message.
Finally, after my daughter throwing her little “4 going on 16” attitude around, babies crying, and my son whining about having to do extra work, I said, “That’s It! I’m so sick of every man for himself around here. We all need to work together. It’s teamwork that helps us survive, be successful, learn and enjoy life. From now on, when one of you gets in trouble, the other gets the same punishment. You forget your homework, neither of you get to watch TV. So maybe instead of blaming the other, now you’ll work together to remind each other to make sure you have all of your homework. When one of you forgets their manners or talks back to mommy, it would be wise to remind each other that behavior like that means no play dates.” Immediately, they started helping each other out. Working together to get the table cleaned off, making sure all their homework was put in folders and backpacks ready for school, reminding each other to brush their teeth and they both got in bed quietly and read for a little bit.
I have not read Amy Chau’s book, so I cannot comment directly on her Western vs. Chinese mothering theory. Part of me strongly believes we need to hold our children to a higher expectation of life by not holding their hand and doing everything for them. They need to feel fear, disappointment, unsureness. They also need to know what’s it’s like to practice at something tirelessly until they are good at it so they can make their own decision on whether or not they want to continue to pursue it. But they also need security to feel confident to fail so they can learn, love so they know they can come back, and pride so they do it again and are not afraid to try. I am also a strong believer in the Village and team work. It teaches so much…empathy, respect, tolerance, and gives so much…confidence, love and pride. If we are all working together to achieve the same goal, imagine the possibilities we can create. Balance. The never ending meaning of life. My intention is to create possibility for my children by finding balance between teaching them as individuals to work together as a team. I am discovering the best place for them to learn how to do this is with their family…the first team they will ever be on.
stef, I love this post. you are an amazing writer and so inpsiring. The whole Amy Chua situation has me totally curious and I have to read the book. I will get a copy (hopefully it's out already?) and I will bring it next weekend. Sound good? it will be entertaining reading on the airplane and I have a few hours to get through!! XO. Robyn
The Twin Coach said:
I love this post for so many reasons (as I always say when I read your stuff)! I have a similar tug of war when it comes to my 4-year old twins. I want so much for them to feel that I "get them", that I am listening to them and that I respect them that I think I tend to have a very hard time sticking to my intention of holding a firm line when I set boundaries. My husband leans too far to the other side and does things like tell them to go their room when they are having a tantrum etc. It really is all about finding the balance. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of having them work together and be a team! Terrific advice.
BTW, I found a great chore chart finally (you had asked me on Twitter a hundred years ago). http://www.etsy.com/listing/62362544/childrens-chore-chart-black I love it because it has magnets with a picture & words of each chore (so kids who can't read still know what their chores are) and there is an extensive list of chores. Plus, they move the magnet from "to do" to "done" which my kids love. Seriously….my son leaps out of bed so excited to do his chores! I mention this because chores are a great way to be part of the family "team".
Wow. This is a long comment. LOL! Sorry! 🙂