Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Discipline Vs. Control–Part 2

Welcome back! Hope your Super Bowl pick won. If it was the Falcons, I truly feel for you and them. Most. Amazing. Comeback. Ever. And what a catch by #11 Julian Edelman–I mean, how was that catch even possible???

Belief.  Drive. Determination. Motivation. Grit. (A miracle or two doesn’t hurt either…)

That’s what won Super Bowl LI for the New England Patriots.

And those same qualities are what parent(s) need to apply to “the journey.”

person-red-sport-game-football

www.pexels.com

Anyway, this should have run last week, but I somehow messed up scheduling the post. Hope you’ve had some time to digest last post’s discussion and are ready to delve in a little further!

Disclaimer: Please remember, these are my thoughts on these concepts, based on my parenting experiences. I do not equate myself with the title “expert.” I do, however, hope to be of service to others sharing this journey, by relating my experiences and what I’ve gleaned from them to date. (Not sure we’ll ever be out of the trenches, and that’s okay too! 🙂 )

I ended last time with this thought: Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in the process of discipline.

Back to Dictionary.com: Respect has multiple definitions, but I chose those that apply to this essay.

As a noun, respect is (1) esteem for, or a sense of, the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability; (2) deference to a right, privilege, privileged position.

As a verb: (1) to hold in esteem or honor; (2) to show regard, or consideration for (i.e., someone’s rights); (3) to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with (i.e., a person’s privacy).

I won’t declare I’ve always practiced respect in all my parenting decisions. I can’t aver that I inherently understood what it means to show regard for my children’s needs. I am, however, blessed by having internalized early on that a little person (and/or an older child) does have feelings that need to be considered.

This notion hit me very clearly one day, when my older son was about eight months old. We were on some multi-errand run and probably on, at the very least, our sixth stop. This means the little guy had already been dragged in and out of his car seat eleven times. Now mind you, my mini-man had always been fine with being in the swing or bouncer or stroller for as long as I needed him to be or was willing to go.  As I strapped him in for time number twelve, he started crying.

Chances are, I was initially irritated with his reaction, but luckily, compassion clicked in and it hit me: This boy is tired. He’s had enough and shouldn’t be subjected to dealing with his mother’s inability to slow down.

I’ve read parenting books—God knows, they abound—and then beat myself up over not being a ‘good mom’ because I couldn’t make the ideals depicted in those books happen. Luckily for me, a close friend (and mom) often reminded me that if there were ONE way that worked, there’d be a lot less books on the topic. (My favorite: Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate, by Elizabeth Pantley. I also remember browsing a bit through George M. Kapalka’s Parenting Your Out-of-Control Child: An Effective, Easy-to-Use Program for Teaching Self-Control. Thought I might gain some wisdom for dealing with my younger, somewhat anxious, reactive and much-more-of-a-challenge son. BTW, if anyone is interested, he’s often available through Lent. I’ve been known to give that one up every now and again. 😉 )

fullsizerender-1

Back to my point:

I learned, by reading those parenting books, that discipline is a form of teaching, as well as a form of living.

My job is not to make my kids do what I say (controlling), but to guide them to make the best choice available at any given moment (discipline).

Hopefully, they’ll exercise good judgment up front. If not, one could hope they take advantage of the ‘opportunity to learn,’ assuming the consequences of their action(s) aren’t overly devastating or life threatening in any way. (Elizabeth Pantley deals with how to use natural consequences—or create logical ones—very nicely in her book.)

This segues me to the old adage, Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

When I fight for my way, or for that instant response to what I tell my kids to do–for no other reason beyond I want my way (Gasp! Controlling again!)– I’m not teaching them to fish. By guiding them to make wise choices today, I can only hope to be laying a foundation to make even wiser choices as they get older, especially when they’re in a position to make (big) decisions without someone more experienced at their side.

We’ll pick up next time with the fruits of discipline.

Any thoughts on all this so far? What have you learned on your journey relative to authority and kids? No, you don’t have to be a parent to join the discussion. All kinds of interactions count (i.e., those of teachers, psychologists, baby sitters, etc), so don’t be shy!

With you on the journey,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, 2017, content and images (unless otherwise specified).

 

 

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

Discipline Vs. Control–Part 1

Welcome! A much-belated happy new year to all! Not one post in on the parenting series, and I’m already behind schedule!

Let’s go straight to some definitions.

According to Dictionary.com, discipline has several definitions; among those training, punishment and instruction to a disciple (i.e., student).  

Control, on the other hand, is to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command. (This one can give me the heebie-jeebies when I see it in action, or how its negative effects can manifest themselves.

Aside: Two quick thoughts: EVERYONE wants to be in control and NO ONE wants to be controlled by someone else. Just bear with me on this, parents. I’m not giving free rein to any child–no matter the age–just yet! 😉

Real-life story illustration (from 2012; Older Son was 16 years old): On the Saturday before Christmas we’d just gotten home around 8:30 PM from a family get together. Within the hour, I’m hearing kids’ voices outside calling out to Older Son. I figured they were coming from another friend’s, who lives three doors down from me. They came in for a minute then headed back out.

One of the girls in the group often complained about her parents being strict, especially her father. After the kids left, Hubby asked if that particular dad knew his daughter was out walking around at that hour. I had no clue.

Didn’t think much about it until the next day, when Older Son’s girlfriend dropped in, along with her mom. She was among those  who’d stopped by the night before. I mentioned Hubby’s comment about the other girl walking around at night. Older Son’s girlfriend’s mom went off a bit on her daughter, after she realized her daughter and the other friends wandering around the night before had essentially been stranded at a neighborhood restaurant (which amounts to a 25-30-minute walk from my house). Sounds like a disagreement between the kids at the restaurant resulted in their ride being cancelled by the boy whose dad was supposed to provide it.

My immediate thought was: my kids would never have thought twice about calling me to pick them up. The girl with the strict dad might have been afraid to call. My son’s girlfriend stated, “We didn’t want to bother you,” and the other boy who was with them rarely asks for a ride from his parents. (His stepdad watched his toddler brother while his mother worked on Saturday nights. His father lived about a half-hour away.)

The situation made me feel really good about my relationship with my kids to that point. When they were really young, I found it very tough and often terribly frustrating to manage (a.k.a. control)  busy boy behaviors. Seems like back then it was all about them getting to do what I wanted or expected, and I often felt resentful during those times they did not. (Sometimes I still feel that way, lol.)

Too many times, I grappled with whether I was being permissive or letting them make choices out of respect for them as people, especially after I’d set a boundary then found myself discussing/negotiating it. (That’s a supposed no-no in the way of effective parenting, or so I’ve been told here and there 😉 ).  Maybe what appeared to be negotiating then was my way of thinking aloud and making sense of the process as I lived it. (I still do that and my poor kids have to listen to it, lol. Good thing that older one is patient!)

Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in this process. We’ll talk more about this in the subsequent post. In the meantime, please go ahead and add your thoughts and experiences on this subject. Not an easy one, but one that is manageable with a shift in mindset.

One more request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter and/or any of the share buttons below? (Feel free to post share links at any site not represented here you feel might benefit from the content as well.) Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

This article certainly appeared shareworthy. Check it out!

Have a wonderful day!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, 2017, content and images.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Parenting Series on the Way!

Welcome, parents, guardians and/or providers of childcare! (Educators, you’re included too!)

Many thanks for taking a chance with my thoughts on parenting your children. I am humbled and honored and hope you find ideas that will work for you in the following series.

I too, want—and strive daily—to be the best parent I can be. I’m past twenty years experience, and my learning curve continues to grow.

I have, however, gained some hindsight. As goes the (paraphrased) saying, looking back is supposedly through 20-20 lenses. By no means do I promise to be certain of that, but maybe some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way will be of service to you. I certainly hope so.

I began writing the upcoming series in February, 2012; Older Son was fifteen at that time; Younger Dude, thirteen. These articles have been gathered into a booklet (not yet published) and developed into a workshop,  Lay the Groundwork: Thoughts and Tips for Building a Powerful, Peaceful and Lasting Connection with Your Kids. 

When my boys were younger, I often asked myself, Am I raising them right?” From the day they were born, my biggest struggle has always been finding a balance between disciplining them vs. being controlling.  At the time I wrote these articles, I was just beginning to get a glimmer of hope; that the fruits of all the years of (frequently) agonizing over which one I was (or am) in any given situation that calls for me—or hubby—to step in and exercise parental authority were beginning to pay off. (BTW the “boys” are  20 (today and 18; I still often wrestle with maintaining this balance.)

One more VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: It is really hard to see the payoff as you go. This is a process: a long one that often hints at success, but one that only time and perspective (a.k.a. hindsight) will allow you to see. Patience will be your biggest roadway to peace. (Special note to those of you inclined to pray: Someone gave me a wise piece of advice when my boys were very young. Don’t pray for patience; you will find yourself tested. Pray for peace instead.)

I plan post to one article weekly.*  Please feel free to comment, pose questions, contact me privately. Although each of our situations is unique, there are often common factors and/or denominators that many of us can relate to. Also note this: if you contact me I pledge to maintain confidentiality and anonymity.

Have a great day!

Joanne

*Unfortunately, I must allow myself the flexibility to roll with what life doles out, so kindly be patient if my posting schedule winds up being less regular than I like. In the event, consistency goes off, I promise to get back on track ASAP! And thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. 🙂

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in making time, recipes, Uncategorized

Quick-n-Easy Meal–Healthy Too!

Hello everyone! So glad to be back! I am so sorry to have been missing for so long, but we’re just starting to get back into a normal routine: Younger Son had a B.A.D. leg injury during the last football game of his JV season (2015). That resulted in 11 (and counting) trips to Manhattan’s phenomenal Hospital for Special Surgery—so grateful it wasn’t worse and that we live within a very reasonable driving distance; if it weren’t for the danged traffic on the FDR…)

Anyway, after two separate. dual procedures (one in February and one in June), Younger Son is hopefully on the mend for the long haul. The 2015-16 school year is behind us–it all but did me in; the 2016-17 school year is in full swing. And here I am, hoping and praying to scare out time to spend some here with all of you on a regular basis again! Somehow there is never enough of this ridiculously precious commodity!!

That brings me back to importance of getting an appealing, healthy, tasty meal on the table in record time. Weekdays or weekends, we tend to be very busy people: the day job, kids’ and/or parents’sports or other activities; homework, keeping the house in some sort of living order…

This also ties in perfectly with my last post, about how important meal time is to families in general—or so says MHO.

What you’ll need:

-(Pre-cooked) Rotisserie chicken (Costco’s is awesome, ~$5 for a 3-lb. bird—feeds 3-5-people)

costco chicken

-Broccoli and/or cauliflower florets (I buy a container of pre-cut ones at my produce market—about $2.50—see photo below)

-Potatoes (baked)

-Cooking spray (or oil)

-seasonings of choice

-Gravy (optional–you can make your own with drippings from bird, use a jarred brand, make your with an “instant”–i.e., add water and cook on stove–gravy packet or go to Boston Market and buy some as a “side dish.” 🙂 )

-Aluminum foil

Potatoes:

-Scrub potatoes and poke holes with fork.

-Line microwave-safe plate with paper towel; place potatoes on plate and microwave on high (about 5 minutes/potato*).

-wrap potatoes in foil; finish cooking them in conventional (or counter top) oven, along with veggies.

-butter, sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt—amazing stand-in for sour cream); salt, pepper, chives, etc).

Veggies:

-Preheat oven to 425˚F/~220˚C

-Rinse broccoli and/or cauliflower florets; drain.

-Spray a glass or metal roasting pan with (olive oil) spray. (Lining it with foil makes clean-up that much easier.)

-Arrange veggies in pan; spray to coat veggies with oil–or you can toss them with a little olive oil prior to placing in pan. Season the way you like. (I love garlic  salt and freshly ground black pepper.)

-Roast veggies to desired tenderness (about 20 minutes at my house)**.

IMG_2150

Chicken: 

Cut up.

I’m a fan of putting everything on the table, family style, and letting everyone serve him or herself. You can easily add to the meal by throwing together a simple salad, adding bread—you get the idea. Help the little ones unwrap the potatoes–no steam burns, please! Cut in half; season with butter, salt–however you like!

*If you don’t like microwaving, you can clean, poke, wrap and put potatoes directly in oven; you’ll need about an hour to bake them.

**No fans of broccoli and/or cauliflower at your house? No problem! Any of the following can be seasoned and roasted the same way: asparagus, peppers/onions, baby carrots, brussel sprouts, green or yellow squash.

That’s it! Dinner is done, delicious and pretty darned healthy too. Leaves a parent time to do something fun with the kids or have some quality time to him or herself! Enjoy!

What are some of your get-dinner-on-the-table-in-a-hurry tips and/or tricks? Please share them in the comments! I’m always looking for new ideas, especially those that involve home-style cooked foods.

Be well!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 3)

Hello, everyone. Let’s pick up where we left off last time. Also, if you need to catch up, here is the link to Part 1.

celebrate life plaque

Everyone is busy. Let’s own that.

Let’s also consider some fairly easy ways to work together-time into one’s busy day.

Sometimes, it’s a mindset. If whatever you’re doing is a necessity (i.e., making dinner), find a way to involve your kids. (And yes, sometimes it IS far easier–and faster–to get the job done yourself.)

Meals: Kids can tear lettuce for salad, count out baby carrots for snacks, fold napkins, set the table.

Laundry: Let kids fold laundry or match socks. (A direct, life-skill application of some of the skills kids learn in pre-k, or through pre-k aged activities—more on that in a future post.)

“Table Time”:  Have kids do their homework nearby (i.e., while you’re preparing dinner). Simple crafts a child can complete without a parent’s help are ideal at this time too.  (That’s a great way to work in fine motor skills too! Examples: Make a macaroni necklace, paint a page from a paint-with-water book, etc.) Allow a younger child to read to you while you’re engaged in something else.

Schedule a DOABLE amount of time for something you and/or they enjoy (i.e., snuggle time to read a book, play a game, etc). Even 15 minutes works, and sometimes, two quarter-hour slots are easier to find (or make) than that one 30-minute period.

When they were too small to walk, I’d hold them while I sang and twirled to show tunes I’d play on CDs. (It’s even easier to find songs with YouTube.)

When weather allowed, I’d take them to the school yard, walk behind them while they rode their bikes, dragged them to the tennis court. (Older Son still plays with me every now and again. BTW, this blog-post talks about working in fitness time. Use your creativity to make it work for you and your kids together!)

As my kids got older (i.e., middle school age), just sitting at the dinner table longer with them and their friends—vs. jumping up to get everything tidied up—often resulted in some of the liveliest, bond-building chats we’ve had. We still have them every now and again.

And this segues me right into a biggie: HAVE DINNER (or one meal*) TOGETHER AT THE TABLE, per day, if possible.

I understand parents’ work and kids’ school, homework and/or activity schedules don’t always jive. Even a meal together once or twice a week will suffice—and what’s currently happening at my house these days. (Older Son works until 7:30 PM at least three evenings/week. His commute is 30+ minutes, depending on traffic, and he goes to school all-day Saturday.)

For those of you with older kids involved in extracurricular activities, work, etc, hold the meal until later, assuming you can. Or, set the table and eat as a family with whoever is present. (Lately, Hubby and I are home alone. Most times, we’ll still sit at the counter and eat together, rather than plop in front of the couch while we eat.)

*MAKE FAMILY MEAL TIME A DEVICE-FREE TIME. Parents too! No TVs on, phones or tablets at the table, etc—except, of course, when the US Open Tennis Championships are rescheduled to Monday b/c of rain. Then this Mom is allowed to tune the iPad to the match and have it on nearby while we eat. Being flexible is important! 😉 .

Relative to social skills and the autistic student whose family studies during meals. (I mentioned him in Part 2.) Family meal-time isn’t necessarily magical, but opportunities for sharing with potential resultant bonding, closeness and—yes, life-skill-learning—abound. And for some children, particularly those with special needs, that social piece might wind up being more key than the academics. Just MHO. (Perhaps I’ll talk about that in a future post.)

I hope you found some ideas here. And please keep this reminder: Don’t allow this write-up to make you feel guilty, that you’re not doing enough, etc. (Society will imply that from all angles. Reality is far different.)

So what are some ways you spend (or have spent) time with your children? Don’t be shy! Someone might be inspired!

Until next time,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 2)

Good day! Last time I opened up a discussion on spending time with our kids.

By no means am I trying to provoke guilt. Life tends to be very busy for everyone and everyone has his/her unique situation to deal in and find a way through.

These are the general purposes behind this post:

  1. To generate awareness of how you spend your time relative to your children. (Awareness is generally the first step of  change—and an important seed for “laying the groundwork” for future relationships with your kids.)
  1. To offer from-the-trenches-suggestions to help busy parent(s) work things out in a way that works for his/her/their unique family styles/lives.

Because, folks, when it’s all said and done and those “little ones” have morphed into “big ones,” what (IMHO) will have mattered most is the effort and intention behind all you have done as a parent. Not that it’s easy, especially in today’s work-driven, achievement-oriented society.

mom -n-baby boys
My li’l boys–can’t believe it went as fast as it did! Who knew?

Quick story and then I’m done (for today):

A special-ed teacher/friend mentioned a conversation she had with the parent of one of her autistic students. (Let’s remember that, among other things, autism is a developmental delay of social skills.)

The teacher discussed  using dinner time as a means of practicing and building social skills with“Mom.”

“Mom”—whose two older, non-classified children are honor students who attend an elite, enter-by-testing-only public school in the area—wasted no time answering the teacher. “We don’t have dinner together. Everyone eats while they study.”

I’ll pick up from here next time.

Seize the day!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 1)

Welcome back, all. If you’re a fan, I hope your pick won the Super Bowl–mine got eliminated by the Cardinals, but I suppose Cam Newton provides enough entertainment to make up for it. 🙂

A while back I was cleaning in my kids’ room. (“Is it ever clean enough for you?” a friend asked recently. It’s not so much the “clean,” it’s the constant fending off clutter that collects in small spaces. These clusters of stuff catch dirt and dust, and then you notice them when you’re doing something else…and you have to clean that spot…and the next…)

Inhale.

Exhale.

Back to topic.

In my boys’ room, I have a crate with some of their childhood books I can’t seem to part with. (My “boys” recently turned 19 and 17.)

book crate
Yes, there is a Dick-and-Jane reader in there. Pretty sure it belonged to my middle stepson–he turned 27 last week.  🙂

As I moved things around for a more thorough cleaning than the weekly surface-get-the-house-back-to-baseline regimen, I came across this book:

Bruno the Tailor
Remember when I found the “mother’s day coupons”? I found the blue fabric too. More about that below.)

My father was born and raised in Italy and apprenticed to a tailor. That’s the work he did here, as a naturalized US citizen, until health issues forced him to retire. He died not long after I met my husband, and never had a chance to meet or know his grandchildren.

That of course, goes both ways; his grandchildren never knew him either. So, when I happened on this book (at Barnes and Noble, most likely), picking it up was a no-brainer. It gave me a way to connect my kids to their nonno, and also provided a pattern for making the apron that “Bruno” made in the book.

Older Son and I cut that out together. We never made the time to sew it, but I when I happened across it in the basket at the bottom of the stairs (where I discovered the mother’s day coupons), I didn’t have the heart to throw it out. So, it is still saved upstairs—one more thing I can’t let go of—as a reminder of time spent together when he was younger. The scarf pictured above belonged to his Cub Scout uniform—every grade the scarf changed. I believe this was the last one, before he would have crossed over to Boy Scouts in 6th grade. (And I wonder why I have clutter.)

I know folks are busy these days. I suppose I was too, as that unfinished sewing project suggests.

So…in the interest of brevity, I’ll list more thoughts in the next post, and some ideas following that.

All thoughts on this topic welcome! (For the comment-shy crowd, please feel free to send me an email via my contact page.)

Have a wonderful day,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Exercise and fitness, mind and body, School-related, Uncategorized

Recess—The “New” Law (?!)

Welcome to 2016, everyone. Wishing all of you a peaceful, healthy and happy upcoming year. Thank you for your patience and support these past, erratic weeks. I’m working on getting back into some kind of routine.

I heard a recent news snippet that NJ law makers are looking to sign into law a bill that mandates recess for school-aged children. Preferably, one that is held outdoors.

Well…duh.

Back in my 6th grade days—yes, the dark ages 😉 —I remember being in 6th grade and having a 15-minute, outdoor recess daily (in addition to lunch recess). In fact, I recall days when it was so windy and cold, a few of my classmates and I tucked ourselves behind a wall outside one of the entrances, creating a shield between us and the wind.

Through high school, I still recall being allowed air. My public high school’s building was a new construction, and included a fully-enclosed courtyard. Kids got to go OUTSIDE during lunch, study hall, etc, but had no way to leave the grounds.

Fast-forward to my kids and 5th grade, when, for the first time in the history of their school lives, the kids got only 10 minutes outdoors after lunch, weather permitting, and those rules far stricter than in my day (i.e., stay off the grass, no ball play, etc) Since my district’s 5th graders attend a 5th-grade only separate building, the kids are appropriately disappointed to find there is no longer a 20-minute lunch recess (after they eat).

Nat state forest 1

By middle school, and through high school, there is NO outdoor time (barring gym; and again, weather-permitting). Movement breaks for the kids are considered “built into” the changing of classes. Like the high school I attended, my current district’s high school has a large, enclosed courtyard, but I’ve never seen it put to use. Nor has either of my kids ever reported spending any time at all there.

I remember reading an article—at least 10 years ago—that stated the diagnosis of ADHD appeared to have risen significantly once recess went out of school.

Ya think?

Sorry for my attitude of disdain, but I can’t help thinking that lawmakers might be priding themselves on having re-invented the wheel. Does it really take a college degree to figure out that kids need to move? Heck, we all do, as the popularity (and big industry) of Fitbits and related technology bears testament.

Present-day curriculums are academics-driven. That’s all fine and appropriate, but not if a child—no matter the age—is so saturated with information, artificial light and re-circulated air that learning is compromised. When did addressing one’s basic human needs go out the window? (Oh, yes, many of the classrooms don’t have those either. Not that every teacher opens them, and some keep the shades down and classrooms dark. Note: I do realize there are areas where it could be more dangerous to leave them open. What a world we seem to be living in.)

Everyone needs to move. We all need fresh air. Babies. Kids. Adults. Seniors. Passing four years of high school Phys Ed is a graduation requirement in my state.  NFL Play60 campaign posters are all around. (Honestly, far more than that is much more favorable, but unless a student trains with a school team, who has time when bogged down with academics and homework?) Spending time outdoors, moving, exploring, learning–no technology can replace what a child absorbs from simply being outside and running around, climbing, etc.

Nicholas daredevil KMS

The bottom line is this. Introducing recess into the school day is no novel notion. Taking it out was, IMHO, a bad idea in the name of more time for academics. Guess some ‘old school’ ideas are classic and bear re-installment.

Where do you stand? Should recess be re-installed? Or should direct instruction time not be sacrificed? Should outdoor time be left to before and after school, and maybe lunch—or maybe extending a school day to include that? Should middle and high school students be allowed to step outdoors for air during the day?

Enjoy the upcoming (extended) weekend

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

 

 

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, New driver, Parenting, Uncategorized

Don’t Assume They’ll Stop

Good day, everyone. Not sure how the end of the calendar year has crept up on once again. Thanksgiving and hectic–I mean holiday 😉 –season around the corner. Wow.

This is geared toward the parents of teens, in particular, those with driving permits or brand-new licenses.

Yes, we do hand kids the keys to a lethal weapon, don’t we now? But in the interest of letting go, this is a B-I-G piece of the package. Sooner or later, most children in our society benefit tremendously from that monster shift in independence. (Under the correct circumstances, parents do too. Trust me. They LOVE running errands when that DL is shiny-new.)

That, to me, is the parents’ role: prepare them to function independently in their worlds.

BUT:

Any parent who’s made the lateral move from his/her vehicle’s command-post to the passenger side of the front seat knows the nail-biting experiences to which I refer. Being a second-son veteran of this coaching process, I can assure you it (usually) improves as the child’s experience improves.

Having said that, the most important defensive seed I can plant in my child’s mind is this: DON’T ASSUME THE OTHER DRIVER WILL STOP.

Forget who has the right of way. I can’t speak for other areas, but in my suburban neighborhood and surrounding towns (an urban and suburban mix) the STOP sign seems to have gone invisible.

I remember being taught to stop about five feet before the corner, and then slowly and carefully inch out into the intersection before making my move.

Around here, on a good day, a driver will approach the stop sign at full-speed and maybe come to a complete stop a good three-quarter of its length past the corner. Others just go through, especially when they’re turning right. (That left or straight through is even scarier. Just yesterday, Hubby was almost hit, when someone blew off the sign at a very busy 2-way-stop intersection a few blocks from our home.)

Oxymoron--yes?
Oxymoron–yes?  (Image courtesy of Flickr–by Daniel Ramirez)

Another biggie I’ve come across with Younger Son: What does a yellow light mean?

I emailed this link to my current driver-in-the-making after one of those we’re-turning-the-car-around-right-this-second moments. He sped up at least 10 feet from the yellow light then hesitated before making a left turn against the red!!! (We went straight home from there. It took a few days, but my stubborn one finally acquiesced to: “Maybe I ran it.”) A little humor helps to illustrate the point, especially when dealing with know-it-all-teens—part of their developmental stage. (I wasn’t humbled out of my own-who-knows-more-than-moi-about-kids until I gave birth to this one in particular, after enduring 13 months of constant crying, but that’s a story for another day.)

Which brings me to the most important point: DON’T BE AFRAID TO IMPOSE LIMITS, especially relative to driving.

Hopefully, doing so has been part of the parenting process all along. There are no guarantees, but if children have been raised with the consistency of parent(s) setting and enforcing boundaries when the kiddies are little, the better the chances that older children will respect your say-so when they’re way too big for me to drag to their rooms, lol. And it’s not like I can jump from passenger to driver side either.

Have you started driving with your teens? What is the most important thing you want them to remember when you’re not there to guide them? What is scarier–driving with them, or them taking that monster machine on their own? Do you have any fingernails left?

Wishing all of you the best,

Joanne

Posted in Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Yes, I Have to Let Go Too

Hello friends and followers,

No, I haven’t gone totally missing. It’s been quite the challenge getting back into a routine is after a shift from the norm. (Summer ended how long ago??) Although somewhat dynamic, my new school schedule has fallen into some kind of place. I’m also getting a handle on the paperwork, which has been a bit more on overload than in previous years at this time.

With all that, I still get to be a parent too. Since I want this site to be a place where folks can relate, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some universal emotions. Regardless that it’s a normal part of the parenting journey, these feelings are still new to me. Just like anyone else, I need to feel and deal, along with finding a way to embrace this stage.

Guess the beach was a place for letting go themes this past summer. Thanks to young-adult author Stacey Wilk for the inspiration to this post. It started out as a comment/response to a recent write-up at her blog and started growing, lol.

My family spent a few days at the shore during the summer. Older Son’s girlfriend had to leave after the second day, to attend an orientation at her new school. (Yep. The 2015  “class couple” are officially out of high school and on to the next phases of their lives. I keep wondering when they “grewed up”.)

So that his girl didn’t have to do the near-3-hour trek alone, Older Son opted to drive back with her the night before Hubby, myself and Younger Son were scheduled to leave. Younger Son (who is a few months shy of 17) got it in his head that he wanted to go with his brother.

Though we weren’t thrilled with the idea, Hubby and I gave the okay.

I was already working on coming to terms with the notion that one kid was old enough to take off. Watching them both go? All I’ll share is I stayed up on the balcony while they packed their stuff and themselves into Older Son’s car. Neither kid needed to see his mamma blubbering during the send-off. (Hey. That parkway can be a scary place. And I can always blame the hormones.)

I can’t tell you how strange it felt to know they were on their way ‘here’ (i.e., home), while we were ‘there.’ Hubby was emotion-choked too, though a bit more together than I. Immediately though, he offered to collect our things and head out behind them.

I held out. I knew once I got word they were home, I’d feel better. (I did.) It wasn’t so much them not being there as much as it was internalizing that “the next phase” has arrived. (You know, that tear-my-heart-up, Erma Bombeck, “No More Oatmeal Kisses” kind of next phase). I enjoy the freedom it brings, but I am dealing with the feelings of finality that our kids are grown. That vast space I couldn’t see at the end of when they were small and keeping me feeling overwhelmed has been bridged, and the bridge knocked out. There is no going back.

I know this is the way things should be. Generally speaking, kids grow. They put feelers out and look forward more often than they look back. As Stacey said her in her post, “…they get to the other end of the beach and I’m nothing more than a glance over their tanned shoulders.”

Morning came. Hubby and I enjoyed coffee on our balcony, renting and riding bikes on the boardwalk. We took our time checking out of our hotel, then drove back to serenity-ville (a.k.a., the gorgeous gardens of the Hereford Lighthouse and the seawall walkway, down at the North Wildwood end. (A very short, well-worth-the-ride trip.) From there we geared up for our trip home, back to our boys (er, young men).

Hereford lighthouse front (1)

Maybe we all “grewed up” a little on this particular trip.

In keeping with the theme, Younger Son is scheduled to get the DL come the end of November. He’s been searching the web and local streets for months; as of several days ago, his new/used Mazda is in the driveway, patiently waiting. It is what it is, and all part of letting go.

Kevins Mazda

Where are you on this roller-coaster ride of parenting? Just starting out? Keeping your eye on the younger school-aged crowd or venturing into that tween-early-teen world of cell phones, texting and just starting to let them go to the closest convenience store within walking distance? Do you have any drivers yet? And how are you handling any/all of the above?

Until next time,

Joanne