I spent a lovely weekend in Rochester with some girlfriends of mine. We found out that fun can still be had...even in snowy MN in February!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
When I was in junior high or so and had been babysitting for some years, I remember thinking to myself that I wouldn't be one of those parents who let their kids drag around naked dolls. I like clean, nicely dressed baby dolls. I still do. But now I understand that children seem to live for the very act of stripping the baby doll naked. And once the dolly is naked, they can happily drag the dolly everywhere.
And, for a while, I thought I knew how to have children who were perfectly behaved in public and who were charming and brilliant and gracious all-in-one. I thought I could reduce parenting to some kind of formula. If I do A, B, and C, then my children with be X, Y, and Z.
Then I had my first child. And I learned very quickly that A, B, and C do not equal X, Y, and Z because this fails to account for personality traits O, P, and Q, and life circumstances F, G, and H, and allergies T, U, and V. Yes, that's a lot of letters. And the combinations are endless.
I say this today because I've encountered some eye rolling and backhanded comments with regard to mine (and others) parenting, and I feel like it's time to make it clear what I believe and what I don't believe.
I can tell you the things I won't do as a parent: I won't hit or in others ways harm my child's body or invade her personal space. I won't call names, yell, guilt or demean. I don't want to make her behave well at the expense of her learning that her body is not hers or learning to hate herself. I don't want her to be externally motivated by fear of punishment. How will she behave when she's on her own if she's only motivated by fear of me and what I might do or say to her? How will she know how to make good decisions for herself if I've always "made" her "be good?"
My goal is behavior that comes from within because my children have learned what the right things are and how to do them. My goal is to love them in such a way that they know how to love and respect others. My goal is for my children to show kindness and compassion out of the overflow of kindness and compassion that has been shown to them.
I believe that children who are forced to do and be act in certain ways do not learn to make their own decisions. In fact, they may not really even have any idea who they are or what they want because they've always been told what to do and how to be. Of course, children who are not forced to act in particular ways will, certainly, make mistakes. Mistakes are an opportunity, though. They are an opportunity for us to teach our children forgiveness and reconciliation and grace. A child who is always punished and shamed for mistakes will only learn to punish and shame others when they make mistakes. A child, who has experienced forgiveness and learned how to make things right, will forgive others and extend the grace that allows others to make things right. I want to lead a life of grace so that I may leave a legacy of grace.
Monday, February 07, 2011
We rode the city bus to Lifetime Fitness to go swimming. Mane and I chatted and ate snacks (yes, I know we're not supposed to eat on the city bus). Then we hopped off the bus when we got to our stop. No sooner had the bus driven away than Mane said, "Where's my purse?!!!" and burst out crying. It's a really cute purse. She got it from Vespera for her birthday. It contained her hairbrush, a spray bottle of water, and the sweetest little printed napkins that she received from her friend for Hanukkah.
We sat down on the couches inside the fitness center, and I put in a call to the bus garage. I learned that if the purse contained ID, they would actually STOP the bus and help us find the fastest way to catch up with it in order to get the purse back. However, since it didn't contain anything...um...important, they couldn't hold up the bus. I didn't know they'd ever hold up the bus for anything. So, that we new information! In any case, the bus garage operator helped us figure out when the same bus would be passing our way in the opposite direction. Then we could board the bus and check for the purse.
We had to wait an hour. Mane was beside herself. So, I took her out for ice cream. (Yes, we live in MN and it's freezing outside, but this was an emergency.) The ice cream made her feel better for a while. She told me her mouth was happy, in any case. But as the time drew nearer for the bus to arrive, she started getting anxious, imagining someone else carrying her purse off the bus and taking it home to their own little girl. I didn't want to promise her that it would be there. So, we just waited and hoped, talking about all the possible scenarios.
At 12:04pm we boarded the bus. I said to the bus driver, "We were on this same bus about an hour ago, and my daughter left a little blue purse with stars on it. Did someone turn it in?"
All the other passengers in the first few rows, who could hear my question, leaned forward in their seats. I kid you not, the bus grew quiet in these few tense seconds of anticipation.
Mane stood anxiously.
The bus driver reached beside his seat and pulled out the purse!
Mane laughed and we thanked him profusely.
Then we turned to face the rest of the bus. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear, old men and young, mothers and grandmothers, and a few whom I sure did not even speak English. The whole story played out on our faces and in our gestures, and it wasn't too hard to figure out what happened. I almost felt the bus break into silent applause.
I thought about how this feeling is one we can all relate to, one we long for...to find and be found.
I once was lost, but now I'm found. Amazing Grace.