Musings from Home

Archive for January, 2013

Determination

When I was a little girl, there was a little boy my age who lived on my street, whom I could. not. stand. In second grade, his family moved next door to mine. It was the worst. Not only was he in my class at school, but he now lived right next door. One day, I realized that he was in a higher math group than I was. In my 7-year-old mind, this was completely wrong, because there was no way he was smarter than I was. Better at playground sports, sure. Everyone was better at playground sports, but not smarter. That, I just wouldn’t believe. So one morning, when our teacher called his math group, I went, too. The teacher told me this wasn’t my group and I replied, “I can do it.” That afternoon, she called my mother to talk about it and said that she was inclined to let me stay there and see how I did. I stayed there permanently.

I’m not sure if this is where my girls get their determination or not, but I sure do like seeing it. Sapphire has spent her entire life trying to keep up with her big sister. But given the age difference (5 1/2 years), there are some things that her sister can do that she is okay with not being able to do yet, like riding a 2-wheel bike. Late last fall, Sapphire started asking her dad and me to take the training wheels off her bike, so we brought out the next-size-up bike that used to be Emerald’s and which doesn’t training wheels. We think Sapphire is just about big enough for this one anyway. I would hold onto the seat in the back and Sapphire would pedal and steer. We’d do this for a few runs up and down the cul-de-sac, and then she’d go back to riding her bike with training wheels on her own. She seemed fine to take it slow.

Then, just after Christmas, a new family moved in across the street from us. They have an almost-6-year-old little girl, S, and a 7-year-old little boy. S can ride a 2-wheel bike without training wheels. Sapphire began to ask more to have the training wheels taken off. She didn’t want help with the other bike, she wanted the training wheels off this bike, so Jim took them off. The first day without them, Jim and I took turns holding onto the back of the seat to help her balance. The  second day, as I was starting to go with her, Sapphire said, “That’s okay, Mom. I can do it.” I asked her if she was sure she didn’t want help. She said she could put her feet down if she thought she was going to fall. I backed away and watched.

She used her feet to “walk” the bike around getting the feel for her balance. Then, she’d pedal, start to tip over, and put her feet back down. The weather soon turned too cold to play outside much, but every chance she got, she would ride her bike by herself. After just a few days of this, she started to be able to pedal continuously for a short stretch. Yesterday, she got it completely and she was so proud. I think she’s even more proud because she did it all by herself. We’re proud of her, too!

One of my favorite things about being a parent is seeing these little beings grow and develop their own big personalities, and seeing the joy on their faces when they accomplish a milestone all. by. themselves.

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A Nostalgic Look Back

Yesterday morning while driving to Emerald’s school to tutor, I heard the Maroon 5 song, “Pay Phone”.  I didn’t really listen to the song at all, as my mind wandered thinking of all the things that were plentiful, even cool, in my childhood, but that my girls have only seen in old TV shows and movies, if at all.

Photo credit: Yahoo Images

Photo credit: Yahoo Images

I started making a mental, and later, a written, list:

  • Pay phones
  • Turntables
  • Console TVs
  • Rotary dial telephones
  • Typewriters
  • Cassette players (8 track players were already on the way out when I started paying attention, but I could add those, too)
  • Film and film cameras
  • Reel-to-reel movies and projectors
  • Slides and slide projectors
  • Popcorn poppers

And then there are things like the TV movie of the week. Who needs to schedule their Friday or Sunday evening around a TV movie when you can DVR, rent, or purchase pretty much any movie ever made and watch it whenever you want?

What would you add to this list?

Lifetime Achievement Goals

My mind, probably like everyone’s, works in a continuous stream of consciousness. It bounces from one idea to another  so quickly sometimes that I have to backtrack carefully to figure out where the last idea came from. A few months ago, it went like this: I read about someone’s bucket list and was feeling sad that someone so young had or needed a bucket list. That thought shifted to realizing that the sadness comes from the word “bucket” and its connection to death. I then thought that if you remove the death connotation, the list takes on new meaning. Instead of being a list of things you must do quickly, it becomes an insightful look into your very personality. The things that make you you.

It then occurred to me that I would love to have in writing my girls aspirations at this very moment. I felt I already knew most of them, but having them in writing would not only cause us to pay attention to them and check them off as they happen, but it would allow all of us to look back at them in the future, to see which ones had been checked off and which ones were still on the list, and which ones they had decided they no longer wanted to do.

For instance, all my youth I planned to sky dive. It was one of those things that terrified my mom even more than my taking flying lessons in college. And because I’m a complete klutz, it was one that had me a little nervous as well, but it was always a goal. But when I was 26, I had tears in both of my retinas (a hereditary thing — my dad had a detached retina at the age of 40) and was told to avoid rapid falls, like sky diving. So off my list it went, really without any sadness. That onetime thrill was not worth my sight.

There are other things I always thought I wanted to do that as I got older slipped to the other side of the paper to the list of things I don’t want to do, ever.

So back to my stream of consciousness, I decided on New Year’s Day that instead of asking my girls for New Year’s Resolutions, I would ask them to write down for me things they want to do in their lifetime. I suggested that the lists could include things they wanted to do, places they wanted to visit, what they wanted to be when they grew up, and even things they wanted to buy (but I asked that the list not be just material things they desire), or anything else that was important to them.

I was amazed at how they took to the task. Each of them asked, “Why?” when I first mentioned it, which sent a cloud of dread through my stomach. I was sure the resistance had started, which could only mean a bad thing for the richness of the list. I was wrong. The question was apparently just curiosity because when Jim answered, “Because your mom asked you to,” and I answered, “We’ll talk about it later, but for now, please write down for me what you’d like to do in your lifetime,” they both headed straight to their rooms and excitedly began to write.

After a couple of minutes, each of them came out and shared the beginnings of her list. They wanted to know what we thought of the items and if we thought they would choose those.

Over the next few days, I caught each of them adding to her list. Emerald even ran through hers with me asking me if each thing would be on my list, now or when I was a kid.

Emerald and Sapphire have both given me permission to share their lists. Em’s includes:

  • Going to Australia
  • Riding a horse on a beach
  • Being a marine biologist
  • Running in a 5K with her mom
  • Riding in a hot air balloon
  • Riding in a helicopter (on the plan for Hawaii)
  • Have the children’s book she wrote for school published and in stores
  • Sky diving
  • Learning to surf (also a possibility in Hawaii, at least to start it)
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Backpack through Europe
  • Go to Germany, Paris, China
  • See the Rockettes
  • Twirl during halftime at football games
  • Be in a marching band (she plays flute)
  • Write a novel

Sapphire’s includes:

Things I want to do:

  • Sky dive
  • Ride in a balloon

Things I want to own:

  • Horse
  • Pool
  • Building

What I want to be when I grow up:

  • A baton coach

I want to travel to:

  • Cape Cod (again; we used to go every summer)
  • Paris
  • Africa
  • The North Pole
  • Europe
  • Texas
  • South Carolina
  • Mexico

This activity has achieved more already than I had imagined. It has opened up conversations. It has encouraged the girls to ponder their wildest dreams. It has focused their attention on far away locations. It has asked them to imagine.

[One word of caution, though. If you have a goal-oriented, introspective child, be aware that this could also cause some anxiety in the end as she realizes, “I don’t know what else I want to do.” In our case, this was after a page full of ideas had already found their place on the list. It wasn’t too bad, though and was short-lived when we assured her that she had her whole life to add to it.]

The plan is to type these up when the girls are finished (or scan them in to preserve the handwriting as well) so that I can find them in 10, 15, 20 . . . years. In addition to lifetime goals, what I have here is a lifetime of memories, beginning now.

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