We are in Southern California for a week right now visiting Chris’s family and getting a much needed change of scenery (perhaps I need the change of scenery the most). The drive down was the best we have had yet. We had the Elmo marathon playing in the car, which the kids watch about 1/2 hour of and then they lose interest. We keep the movie on anyways because it provides some sort of comfort background noise for them during the trip. We stopped halfway through the road trip at a rest stop and had our picnic and the kids got to run around amongst the rest stop crowd, an interesting bunch, and stretch their legs. We made it to Westlake Village by 2pm. Nobody slept in the car but the kids were ready to party! Our nieces Briana and Sophia are visiting from Connecticut and the kids adore them. They are 10 and 12 and I just may kidnap them and take them home with me to help me with all these little kids. I told Chris’s brother Ron (Briana and Sophia’s dad) my proposition to kidnap them and take them home with me to live and he just laughed. I guess he didn’t take me seriously or he did not like my idea too much. I think Briana and Sophia would be game for it though.
I decided that is what I need in my world – an older child. Ava is far too young and high maintenance to provide me much help to these three two-year olds and so I really need a kid who is 8 or older to come live with us. Nanny help is wonderful of course, but very limited and so there are all the rest of the hours that we don’t have any help which, according to my calculations, is 153 hours a week on our own. Ava starts 1st grade in 552 hours and then I will be down to a mere three toddlers to take care of and entertain all day. It is an improvement at least. I will say that they are very good toddlers, so I do have that going for me, which is nice.
It has been a very interesting summer of parenting for Ava. Chris and I have learned in the weeks that she has been off school that sometimes you need to take all the parenting instincts that you have and the parenting techniques that you believe in and throw them out the window and try something fresh and something that may feel unnatural. Ava has been challenging us and behaving very temperamentally this summer off school. Ava inherently needs to be stimulated and have fun things to do throughout each day. “Down time” is literally Ava’s worst phrase in life. We usually implement extreme discipline measures to combat bad behavior, but this has been causing us even more craziness and chaos in our household. One day it clicked with both Chris and I that we needed to try something totally different from what we have been doing and see how this affects our five-year old, our sanity and our household. Instead of disciplining and yelling at Ava for all the things she does throughout the day that we are unhappy with, we tried just showing her lots of love and patience and letting 80 percent of her “stuff” roll off our backs. This technique seems to be working so well with Ava and creating more positive behavior in her than the constant negative behavior and negative attention she was creating before. This is not to say that we have completely thrown discipline out the window. Instead we are just trying to stay calm and positive with Ava all day and let her more easily create calm and positive choices for herself.
Having four kids all with different temperaments and personalities has really taught me valuable lessons. One is that each child needs and requires different attentions from their parents. Secondly, I have learned not to judge other people’s parenting styles because for the most part, everybody I see and know is doing the best they can for their kids. Also, and most importantly, each child requires different styles of parenting that may not be the same as what works for my kids. Like everything, there are always exceptions to this rule, like the kid who is being beaten in Wal-Mart (I’ve never been in Wal-Mart but we have all heard these stories right?), or the child who pees on the play equipment for on the playground even though they should know better, and the mom neither cleans up the mess so other kids don’t touch it, nor reprimands the child so they don’t do it again (a true story as told to me by my friend Kari). Gross.
An excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet book “On Children”:
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
“Speak to us of Children”.
And he said:
Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but are not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and
He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So he loves also the bow that is stable.
I would like to recommend the movie “Gasland” for everyone to see. It is amazing what goes on around us and we may have the perception that it is good because we were told it is by the powers to be, but it is quite the opposite. I watched it on HBO. It may be out on video now. Check it out. http://gaslandthemovie.com/
Until next time, the mothership is signing off.