Friday, October 30, 2009

The Power of Nostalgia

Hey troops -
I ran across this website this morning and spent way too much time laughing hysterically at the various poses. I think what thrilled me more than the actual pictures was the way in which I was transported to my own youth in looking at them.

In 3rd grade, I was utterly obsessed with Star Wars (for the record, I said I was a "Luke Skywalker girl" because all my friends said that we would look cute together, but I secretly yearned for the dark and mysterious Han Solo as evidenced by my 18" action figure I kept under my pillow). I used to bring my Darth Vadar mask/figurine carrying case over to Jimmy Murphy's house and we would spend hours in his backyard recreating Tatooine out of his mother's flowerbeds, which I'm sure she appreciated.

There was real magic in those action figures. I would save my allowance for weeks so that I could go to the store and pick out just the right new character to add to my collection. Would I go with the coveted Boba Fett with the rocketlauncher strapped to his back or would I round out my cantina collection with Greedo, Jaba the Hut's lackey who threatened my Han? The choice each month was excruciating.

I love thinking back on the girl that I was then. 8 years old, a mouth full of braces and not a care in the world. It wasn't long after that summer that those action figure days were over. I moved on to smurfs in an attempt to be more girlie and started chasing boys soon after that. So, it's small pleasures like stumbling upon this website that allows me to visit that girl, if even for just a moment.

I miss her. She was spunky and creative. She wasn't worried about mortgages and tonight's dinner plans. And then I catch glimpses of her in my own children when they don't know I'm watching and I realize something. That's the way it's supposed to be. Because I do take care of those adult issues that aren't nearly as fun as posing Luke and Leah in questionable poses (something I actually went to confession for after finding out they were brother and sister) - my own kids can be silly and carefree just a little longer. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Confessions of a Homework Hover-er

I know. I, of all people,should know better. Having more anxiety about my child's grades than she does isn't a good thing. But for some reason, as the stakes get higher for my daughter (who is now in the 7th grade), the nagging Nellie inside me wants to be heard more than ever.

Case in point. This weekend, Hal was out of town and the kids and I did the usual - football and cheerleading, chores around the house, know the drill. I noticed that Hannah wasn't doing any school work. That, my friends, is highly unusual.

I asked a couple of times if she needed to do homework and she replied, "There's nothing for me to do Mom." Flash forward to my phone conversation with Hal Sunday night. He asks, "So, is Hannah worried about her bookbag?" Wha????

"What do you mean?"

"Her bookbag. The one she left in my car and is now sitting in the ATL-Hartsfield parking lot. I'll be home Tuesday night, by the way."

My jaw dropped. I felt betrayed and more than a little anxious. I started to think about all the homework she had missed and all that she WOULD miss in TWO MORE DAYS without it. I began to grill Hal on the phone for details (including...I am embarrassed to admit...the exact location of the car in case I went to get the bag) and I started formulating my speech to Hannah about responsibility and getting older. Mid-rant on the phone, I felt a nudge by my side. It was Hannah.

She smiled and handed me a note. It read, "I have it all covered Mom. Don't worry."

After a brief lecture by my loving husband about the importance of staying calm (sometimes I really hate living with a therapist), I hung up the phone. I walked over to Hannah, note in hand.

She told me, "Mom. I was trying to be a grown up girl and take responsibility for my actions. I called my friends to get the assignments I could and I will take late grades for the ones I can't." Then she went back to reading her book.

It's not easy realizing that your 12 year old daughter just acted more maturely than you did.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Chinese Finger Trap

Do you remember these little gems? They probably are called something more PC these days, but they function the same, nevertheless. Put your index fingers in the two holes and voila', you are stuck. The most natural reaction is to pull your fingers apart from each other, but the harder you try to escape, the more restrictive the device becomes.

This happens in relationships too. Playing emotional tug of war with your friend, spouse, or even your child, is exhausting and unproductive. The best way out of those traps is the same way out of the old Chinese Finger Traps.

You do remember how to get out of these, don't you? You do the most counter-intuitive thing possible. You push your fingers together. Instead of pulling apart, you move towards. When you are butting heads with someone (probably pointing a finger or two...), stop pulling away. Instead, make a move towards them - towards understanding their position so that you can have an intelligent conversation rather than a headstrong battle.

Tip of the Day

Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short lived.

Abraham Lincoln

As parents, we must continually ask ourselves, “What do I want most for my children?”. Usually, the answer to that has something to do with them becoming happy, well adjusted, confident, kind, self sufficient adults. This of course is a tall order which necessitates a great relationship between the two of you.

And a great relationship cannot be based on the use of force. You might get compliance in the short term, but you will lose respect and trust in the long run. So, think long and hard before you resort to this kind of tactic with your children, because it comes across as desperate and your kids can smell that a mile away.

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