Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Raising a Fighter

Hollie’s a picky eater. She’s got the foods she likes and she sticks with them. She’s an only child. She likes her alone time. She’s also an independent child. She doesn’t like being bossed around by me and Charlie.

More than once on vacation we found ourselves in a standoff with Hollie.

Over going to play golf. She didn’t want to. We did.
Photo by KDW not for use without permission

Over leaving the wave pool at the water park. She didn’t want to. We did.

Over going out for dinner. She didn’t want to. We did.

Over eating what she’d ordered. She refused.

Over leaving the Hilton Resort Orlando after checkout on Thursday. We had to.

We fight over brushing her hair.

We fight over brushing her teeth.

These days it seems like we fight about pretty much everything. Which is a good thing. It means she trusts us enough to state her desires with some confidence they’ll be met.

It means she has specific desires and is learning how to rationally explain those desires. 

I ask questions to get her to elaborate on her logic. I sometimes let her win.

Being willing to fight means she’s assertive enough to get what she wants. It means she won't be bullied, go along with the crowd, or believe her wants don’t matter.

Then, last week, I read this blog post about letting a little girl say “no.” And I did what I think the blogger wanted me to do, I really thought about it.

I thought about the writer’s point that coaxing a child to do things she doesn’t want to do teaches the child that the people she trusts know better than her instincts. And that such a lesson may lead to the child following other people she trusts – like boyfriends – into behaviors she’s not comfortable with.

I thought about all the times we’ve begged Hollie to just try something to eat. And how, when she didn’t like it, we took it away and gave her something else. But that if she didn’t even try it, she didn’t get anything else.

I wondered if pressuring her to try the ravioli at Maggiano’s was going to turn her into the girl that rides home with a drunk friend because the friend tells her it’ll be okay.
Caught fighting with mom. Photo by KDW

I wondered if encouraging her to ride the water slide – the really tall one where I held her in front of me -- even though she seemed wary about it would turn her into the teen-aged girl that gives blow jobs because a boyfriend says it’ll show him how much she loves him.

I read that blogger’s assertion that “No means no” and decided she’s missed the mark.

Little kids refuse to try stuff because they’re afraid. They don’t know what the outcome will be and they’re fearful of what they don’t know.

It’s our job to teach them to be brave.

Teach them that the consequences for things like merry-go-rounds and vegetables are low. Then help them understand the risk they took and the payoff.

As they get older, teach them to ask and understand what the consequences will be. Teach them to recognize actual risk. Teach them to understand payoff.

That is emotional education. Not crappy mantras and crossed fingers that a one-liner will teach your daughter self-respect.

We don’t beg Hollie to do things that “make her heart feel bad”. But we don’t let her win every fight either.

We encourage. We insist. We fight. Then we hug her and we all apologize and we say we won’t fight again.

But we do. Because we think it's worth the fight to get her to try new things and she thinks it’s worth the fight to get what she wants.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Charlie turned 40 this Summer

By the time I met him, Charlie had the confidence that comes from knowing you’re somebody worth knowing. He says I was a diamond in the rough but maybe I just hadn’t acquired that confidence yet. 

He was 22 to my 19 and he was not my usual post-grunge artist-type boyfriend. He was always a clean cut, tattoo-free, Southern boy who said “ma’am” and “sir” and knew which color orange was the right color orange.

After taking our private jet flight with DTC
On his 30th birthday, I threw Charlie a surprise party. Many of the people who read this will remember it, they were there.

He had taken a job with Discount Tire and was a full nine months in and dedicated to the company and the work. It was a Saturday afternoon and I’d asked his boss to let him leave early. But Charlie sent his senior home instead, said the man had kids to get to and all he had was a bar full of drunks.

We laid a long piece of butcher paper on a table and wrote, “In my next 30 years,” across it. Everyone signed with the predictions about what those next 30 years would bring.

It’s been ten years since then. 

We’re a third of the way toward those goals we had when Charlie turned 30.

Some of them, our home, our daughter, his career with Discount Tire, have come true. Others, my PhD, my self-employment, our country club membership, were unnamed, unimagined 10 years ago.

So much has happened and so much has remained the same. 

Charlie with the Bretts at Wicker's wedding
He’s still my best friend. The one I want to share everything with the minute it happens.

We still have very different hobbies. He’s dedicated to TigerNet and all things Clemson. I like to read novels and write short stories.

He likes to watch TV, any stories they broadcast are good enough for him, especially if it’s the military, history, or National Geographic channels.

I like to run. Three miles, five, seven when I can. I like spin class and swimming.

He likes naps. He’s been known to pull a hat trick (three naps in one day).

We have things we like to do together, too.
With Hollie at the Orange & White game 2014

We sneak mini bottles of wine into the movie theater to see blockbusters like Spiderman and Oscar nods like American Hustle.

We play golf on Sundays, teeing off before the faithful can read the epistle and three beers in before the congregation says the last Amen.

We like a really good meal with a bottle of wine, appetizers, expensive entrees, and dessert.

We debate the uselessness of congress and the idiocy of legislating morality.

We love our friends and cherish our families. We cherish one another.

This summer we’ve been separated more than we’d like.

There was an eight week stretch where I was gone every other week. 

And we knew, before it happened, that it would be tough. 

But we did what we always do: we talked through it. 

Every minute of it.

What works. What doesn’t. What we can live with. What must change.

Hawaii 2013 Mood-Improved

He’s forty now and he’s the manager of a store where people depend on him. At home we depend on him. And he’s dependable.

He’s forty now and he’s father to a daughter with an independent spirit and husband to a Lean In career woman. And he’s good at giving us a base for jumping off. 

He’s also a soft place to land.

He’s forty now and we’ve grown up together, Charlie and me. When I chose this partner for my life I wasn’t sure what that life would look like. But I’m grateful he’s there to witness it, to influence it, to shape it and be part of it.

Happy birthday, Chuck. On your 60th birthday we’ll roll out butcher paper and write, “Remember When…”

Remember when 30 seemed so old?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mom to one, just one, my one

I’m a pretty good mom but I’m not good with other people’s kids.

I don’t know those children as well as I know mine, haven’t grown used to their voices, their questions, or their habits. Perhaps I might. Were I around them a lot, I might.

Our friend Torie, Hollie’s preschool teacher, Torie’s good at other people’s children.

But me, I kinda suck at them. Here are a few reasons why (cuz bloggers love lists):

1. I don’t take their injuries seriously enough.

My friend Kevin brought his kids to the park for a playdate with us and while he’d taken the eldest to the bathroom, the middle fell and busted his face on a step.

Bless his heart, that kid wailed.

“Oh my,” I said, “let’s go get your dad.”

I didn’t know how to hug him or help him or comfort him or even staunch the bleeding cuz, wow, that sure does look awful.