That was a total buzzy title, wasn’t it? No, I’m not advocating badly behaved children, here. Sorry if you were hoping to get justification of your kid’s temper tantrums in the grocery store. You’re not going to get it here!
No, what you’re going to get here is a note about letting your kid be who they want to be. This is one area I like to think I excel at, with some slight limitations, of course. Let me introduce you to my girls…
My oldest, Peanut, is 9 this year. When she was younger, she wanted to be just like my sister. So much so that my sister nicknamed her, “Prissy.” Naturally, my sister became “Aunt Prissy” because if Peanut was being Prissy and acting just like her, then… um… yeah. She loved pink stuff, loved wearing clothes that were frilly and ruffly, enjoyed glamming up everything! She hit about 4 and that started changing. Her teacher spent a month talking about dinosaurs and my little prissy girl was gone, forever! In her place was this confident, excited, little girl who loved everything about dinosaurs! Then she started watching Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles on TV and that was awesome, too! She’s loved dragons her whole life, but suddenly, they weren’t just beautiful things in stories! How to Train Your Dragon made them so much more! Since then, she’s been into Transformers, Legos, and, most recently, Minecraft! She loves building things and got her first set of building blocks at the ripe old age of 18 months! There’s been no turning back, my friends! When she turned 7 and could get “big girl Legos,” HOLY COW! Now she’s 9 and there’s not a single block she’s too young to own! She wants all of the Minecraft kits! I was picked on this weekend for not having Legos of my own and HAZED by my own 9 year old for cackling like a kid because the dragon’s tail was articulated and could move! I’m not even joking! She rolled her eyes at me and told me I was being silly! (Then I didn’t let her play with my dragon because she was picking on me! HA! Take that!) For Halloween, this year, she wanted to be Bumblebee from the Transformers!
Now, let me stop right there for a second. You see, my poor baby girl tells people she should’ve been born a boy because she likes all of that stuff. Her self-esteem is in the toilet, because, as a girl, kids don’t “get” her. She likes all the stuff that the boys like, so conversations with girls who are excited about things like lip gloss and American Girl dolls is just difficult, to say the least. Talking to boys isn’t easy, either, because they can’t understand why a girl would be interested in these things. It breaks my heart and I have fought this with the kids in her class for years, talking about how awesome Star Wars is and arguing about which superhero movie came out first. I want them to see that a grown woman can have this conversation, so why is it strange that a girl their own age can, too. Why does my 9 year old have to feel out of place because she doesn’t fit society’s mold of what’s acceptable for a girl? Why does she have to feel like an outcast because not only is she interested in really complex things, but she’s also gifted in the engineering department and can explain how those things work! She can argue about the structure of things like no one I’ve ever met, my husband included! Sometimes even he, a contracted air craft engineer, has to acknowledge that she’s right and he’s wrong! SHE’S 9! Why is this BAD?! Who the hell decided that it was BAD?! Why can’t I punch them? I have made it my life’s work making sure that beautiful girl understands that she can be smart, interested in building and physics, dragons and dinosaurs, and IT’S NOT WEIRD for her to do so! And when I find the person who’s made her life this difficult so young, I will make you pay for every tear she’s shed about this!
Why? BECAUSE I BOUGHT THAT GIRL A BUMBLEBEE COSTUME and she FREAKIN’ ROCKED IT for Halloween! And she was happy about it, too!
Then, let me introduce you to my youngest, Tadpole, who is 5 this year. This is my princess. Every convention you hear associated with girls, this one lives and breathes! She loves mani-pedi day, refuses to wear a skirt that isn’t “foofy,” would wear a tiara and high heels every day if I let her, plays with dolls, and collects what she calls “mama stuff” for her baby. If it sparkles, she loves it! She is drawn to makeup and “smelly stuff,” and wants me to share mine every morning before school. Her favorite color is pink! She loves Monster High, Ever After High, and My Little Pony. She’s only interested in Legos because they’ve started making Monster High kits! She sings, plays her bright pink guitar like a rock star, and even named her guinea pig, “Princess.” What did she want to be for Halloween? The Queen of Hearts! That skirt was so thick in tulle she took up about 3 feet of space when she stood up!
Now, time to stop here. After that last diatribe about my oldest daughter, you’re expecting me to rant about her “girlishness.” You’re not going to find that, I’m afraid. You see, that’s who she is. She is all about everything that is “fantastic” and I refuse to make her feel bad for that, any more than I make her sister feel bad for her dinosaur addiction! No one will ever pick on her for not being girly enough. No one will ever shake their head at her for not being what they expect and she’ll never have that “I don’t fit in” moment like her sister. My little general will tell you exactly what’s wrong with that idea, anyway. Everyone accepts Tadpole, everyone adores Tadpole. I’m glad for that, in a big way, though a small part of me knows that, some day, she’s going to find the people that don’t accept her or don’t like her and it’s going to hurt her very deeply. Like her mother, she feels every negative thing soul-deep. You fuss at her for ANYTHING, even something small like not putting her plate in the sink, and she’ll squish up her face and cry. She’s not trying to manipulate you, either. She’s genuinely upset that you’re angry with her! I fear for her heart in the years to come, I do.
AND IT’S FINE!
Do you know why it’s fine? Because I firmly believe in letting my girls be whatever monster they want to be! I make sure the oldest one is wearing underwear and that the youngest has something on her legs when it’s cold, but otherwise, they are their own people. Just as they should be! It’s my job as their mother to help make them comfortable in their own skin, to accept themselves for the person they chose to become, to not be influenced by what people think they “should” be doing, but by what they’re comfortable with doing. I’m not here to be their friend and I make sure they are adhering to common decency expectations (“please,” “thank you,” “yes, ma’am,” “no, sir,”… that’s the least of it!). I’m teaching them to be hard working, to not expect things to be given to them, and to be sympathetic to the needs of others. I’m (trying) to teach them organization and clean spaces (hahaha… trying to teach myself, too!). What I refuse to teach them, however, is that society’s version of what is acceptable is correct. Why? Because it’s not. Not even close. What is acceptable? Acceptance, itself.
For those of you who know my girls, please take this to heart. They do not conform to society’s ideals. I’m making sure they don’t even know what those are. But, if their manners are lacking, please point it out! I need them to hear that it’s not acceptable from someone else, too, so they know I’m not just making it up. If their behavior is not in keeping with the fundamental idea of treating people with kindness, I want to know!
I am a very nice person. I avoid confrontation ALL THE TIME! However, if you try to tell Peanut she’s not normal, I will be all over you. If you try to tell Tadpole that she’s too girly, I will make you wish you’d kept your opinions to yourself. I am ruthless when it comes to my girls. Let there be no mistake. They, and you, are completely free to…
Until next time,
This week’s Question is:
When and where were you born? Describe your home, your neighborhood, and the town you grew up in.
I’m not exactly going to tell you where I was born, but I will totally tell you about the first place I remember every single detail about… Base Housing in New Orleans. We moved there when I was 4 and moved away when I was 8, so there are some really good memories in there.
First, the building we lived in was one of three apartment style buildings that made up one of the many horseshoes around a circular road. Inside the center of all of those horseshoes was a HUGE playground, the likes of which I wish my kids had access to these days. The buildings had condo-styled apartments, with common spaces downstairs and bedrooms upstairs, and smaller apartments that were just on top or bottom. Ours was a 3 bedroom, 2 and a half bath condo. My sister and I shared a big room on the back side of the building, my brother was in the room next to us, then the Master was on the front side of the building. There was a full bathroom in the hallway outside my parents’ room, and they had a bathroom, too (it might’ve just been a half bath, I honestly don’t remember!). There was another half bath downstairs. We had both a dining room and a breakfast nook, a living room, and foyer on the first floor. There was also a storage shed outside and to the right of the front door, AND, I believe, we were allowed two parking spaces out front (one covered and one not).
In the center of our little horseshoe was a big grassy space that was surrounded by more parking spaces. It was kind of shaped like a mushroom, so that’s what we called it. I spent more time in that grass than I did anywhere else. My best friend lived across the mushroom in the building opposite ours and another friend lived on the end of that same building. We would go out and play every day, school or no, and be outside until Thundercats came on. Then one of our parents would open the door and yell that it was time for our show and we’d all pile into that house for 30 minutes. I don’t know if it was arranged or planned, whose house we were hanging out in that day, but the other parents never had to wonder where we were at that time. We’d be out again when it was done.
The sidewalk fronted all three buildings and connected each horseshoe together, too. One side had steps that adjusted for the height of the buildings from the main street, the other side had a handicapped ramp.
During the year, the Charles Chips truck would come through the neighborhood and deliver the shipments of potato chips and cookies we looked forward to every month. My mom went to Home Interior parties and I vividly remember the stacks of petit fours I would devour while all the kids were packed into a bedroom to play or watch TV during the parties. On base, there was a bowling alley and a movie theater, both of which we frequented. My parents were in a bowling league and we used to go see movies for 50 cents during the summer, too. I saw Return of the Jedi in that that theater; The Last Unicorn, too. We’d go to the BX, which shared the parking lot with the bowling alley and movie theater, stock up on junk food, and go have a picnic in front of the front row where we could stretch out and munch food.
There was a creek across the street that we used to go craw dad fishing in, and we’d feed the craw dads to the fish in the huge tank my dad had in the living room. They were oscars as long as your forearm and they’d scare the crap out of anyone but my dad. Watching big burly guys scream and flinch when those fish came to take food out of your hand was entertaining!
So many memories I have of New Orleans and most of them surrounding that apartment. I hope yours are as happy!
Until next time,
This has been a difficult week for my family. On Tuesday, we lost the patriarch of the Glover clan, my Granddaddy. He was nearly 95 years old and has lived a long and vivid life. Losing him was still a rather hard blow to us, though. His health had deteriorated over the last few months. He was undergoing treatment at a rehabilitation facility, as a matter of fact, when he passed away. In a horrible part of my head, I was preparing myself for this and had been for years. I told my friend that I didn’t trust Granddaddy getting better. He was getting better because he’d made peace with leaving. I was hoping he’d do the usual thing and show me how wrong I was, because he was certainly stubborn enough to do that. He didn’t, though.
Granddaddy isn’t someone I talk about very often, never really has been. In the past few days, I’ve been trying to pull on memories of him, anecdotes I could share with my kids, and I realized that I’m woefully short on them. Not because I wasn’t around him, though, honestly, I wasn’t around him overmuch. Moving to Savannah didn’t help that, either. I realized, though, through some soul searching and racking my heart for what I DID feel for the man, that the reason I couldn’t come up with but a few stories to tell was because… he was just there. He was my granddaddy. He was always tall and reserved, but never withdrawn. His love for his family was never in question, you never doubted for a second that he loved you and was pretty sure you were responsible for hanging some of those stars in the heavens (not the moon, though. That was all Grandmama.). The memories I have of him are of him telling stories about the people he grew up with, fought with in the war, or the trouble his kids got into growing up. My Dad was particularly good at that last one, so those stories always made me laugh and his war stories always proved that Dad got that gene honestly!
He was proud of his Irish and Native American heritage. It was a pride he instilled in his kids, his oldest, particularly. It has always been a source of pride for us and we owe that to him. He never focused on any negative issues surrounding his heritage and, instead, made every one of them into some amusing anecdote that made you smile with pride, too. Stubbornness? Temper? Iron-lined stomach? Mile-high alcohol tolerance? Charisma? The man had all of that in spades! No one, except his wife, ever complained about how long Granddaddy could talk, and that was yet another gift his bloodline carried on from generation to generation.
I could talk about his time in World War II. I could talk about his many years of working with the printers in Smyrna. I could talk about a thousand things that made him the man he was, but that’s not the man I grew up loving. The man I grew up loving was a giant of a man, well over six feet tall and broad shouldered enough to make you think he was taking over for Atlas some day. He had a dark complexion and jet black hair, with these brown eyes that I never saw hold anything but love in them. His favorite phrase was “and the like,” and he could charm his way into a Hooters like no one I’ve ever met. I’ll tell you a few stories about him, though they will never do the wonderful man I love justice. Be prepared to laugh and shake your head at them, though. I get that part honestly, too.
He lost most of his vision before they moved from Blue Ridge to Jasper, but when no one could get his Cadillac out of the garage, damned if he didn’t grab the keys and do it himself! What’s more, he did it using only his peripheral vision and didn’t so much as scratch the paint!
When we were stationed in New Orleans, we’d drive up for Christmas and stay with my grandparents. My grandmother had bought all four of her grandchildren these Snoopy sleeping bags that snapped up the side. She’d lay all four of us grandkids out in her formal living room, where the tree was set up until they’d enclosed the carport many years later. We were so excited to be there, sleeping on the floor in those sleeping bags at Christmas time, that sleep was a JOKE! We’d laugh and talk and the adults would get so irritated with us. After our parents’ coming in did no good, Granddaddy came in and scared the sleep out of us. You see, according to my Granddaddy, there was a witch who lived in the woods behind their house. At night, she would walk the neighborhood and find the kids who were still awake. She would haul them off with her, to her cabin in the woods, where she would boil them in her big pot and TURN THEM TO SOAP! Now, to a quartet of kids, this was the worst possible thing, next to being turned into broccoli or turnips. He’d go back to bed and we’d try harder to stay quiet. Just when we’d nearly given up on that, the breeze would blow outside. They had a gas light on the porch, which flickered. They had holly bushes lining the front of the porch. There was a street light across the street, but at an angle, so every shadow was elongated. They even had a porch swing that would creak when it moved. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. The breeze moved the holly branches, the gas light flickered adding some yellow glare to the shadows as the swing creaked and the branches scratched the porch railing… we were SURE SOAPY SALLY WAS COMING TO GET US! Needless to say, we were quiet, because we didn’t want her to know we were still awake. The next thing we knew, it was morning! HE WON!
Yeah, that was my Granddaddy.
Now, he’s sleeping in heaven, leaving these memories behind to keep us warm as a winter storm threatens to roll us over. I’m glad he isn’t hurting, anymore. I’m glad he’s resting, finally. I’m glad he’s with his brother and mom and son. I know he’s watching over us, shaking his head at us as much as we’re shaking our heads at him. So, this is my goodbye to my Granddaddy. I won’t be able to attend his funeral, due to some rotten timing. I will, however, wear his love in my heart for the rest of my life. I only pray I can leave my kids and their kids with this same feeling when it’s my turn to go.
To quote a Randy Travis song from WAY back… “It’s a love without end, Amen.”
Until we meet again, Granddaddy…
I love you.
I’ve decided, rather than pick a word for the whole year, I’m going to pick one for each month and work towards achieving that word by the end of it. I’m going to tailor my Level 10 Life towards that word, in the hopes that using that word as a focus will help me move towards achieving it.
My word for this month is .
So, how does that apply to the Level 10 Life concept? Well, there are 10 areas of the L10L concept and all you have to do is apply that word to each one. Here is an example circular spread I found online (here) to show you the 10 areas:
Well, let’s walk through it:
Area 1- Family and Friends= Growing my relationship with my family and friends has a lot to do with interacting with them. I’m going to do this a few ways this month: dating my family, writing letters to my brother and to a friend I’ve been horrible about keeping up with, and continuing to pray for their well being each night.
Area 2- Personal Growth and Development= the word is right there, people! In my case, I’m going to do this by working my way through Growth Mindset trainings and books to get as close to proficient in it as possible! I will probably have to put off starting my Masters until Summer so I can afford it, which makes me angry, but… nothing I can do about that.
Area 3- Spirituality= I need to learn how to meditate. Research and implementation will begin this week. In some ways, this can be Personal Growth, too, so there’s that!
Area 4-Finances= I suck with money, let’s just get that out, now. I pay my bills, but the rest… yeah. This will be the year that changes. On January 1st, I set up a savings account and I will put money in it every time I get paid. My goal is to have $1,000 sitting in that account for emergencies by the end of the year. I’m growing the habit of being conscious of money. I also need to get back on the coupon bandwagon. That’s another goal on my 100 things list!
Area 5- Career/Business= I’m applying that Growth Mindset to my daily life, even in my classroom. My class will be learning it with me, and I will try to take each day with the opportunity to grow in mind in my classroom. There’s so much to learn from each class. I need to remember that, too.
Area 6-Significant Other= I’m going to date my husband and spend time with him, just us!
Area 7-Fun & Recreation= I’m doing some work this winter learning about plants and seeds. You may not consider it fun, but I totally do. I’m dating my family, which is, by definition, fun. I’m also working on my 100 things list, which has a ton of fun things on it. My growth in this area is mostly in trying things and getting my backside off the couch!
Area 8- Contribution/Giving= A donation to the United Way is taken out of my paycheck every two weeks. That’s rather passive. I want to grow in this area, too. I’d like to attack the people at school, honestly. Start a “Random Acts” kind of thing where I just do something nice for a random person. I like seeing people’s faces when they are on the receiving end of it. I handed the guy I buy my newspapers from an extra $20 the other day. He’s a really nice guy who caught me in a math blunder and, instead of being a jerk about it, he was actually very gracious in his correction. I owed him some of that money, but, more importantly, I know he needs the money and I had it to spare. The smile on his face was totally worth it.
Area 9- Health/Fitness= I fell off the wagon with my health plan in the last few months and I need to get back on it. Since it’ll be easier once my schedule is back to normal, I will start this when I get back to work. I also want to hit 10K steps every day and to do that I’ll need to go for a walk every evening. There’s a really nasty weather system moving through this week, so I also need to clean up my treadmill and get it moved into the house so I can actually use it. This is my growth area here this month.
Area 10-Physical Environment= Holy cow! I need to get my physical space back in order. Something I’ve learned about depression, mostly by living it, is that when it hits you, your physical space goes to hell. My motivation for putting things away was nil for three months. At home, at school… I couldn’t keep up with it. I’m in a better place than I was, so now I’m going to tackle it. Christmas started the fix-up in my house, so now it will spread to my classroom, too. I want it all done by the end of the month.
So, there it is! My plan for my Level 10 Life with the focus of Growth this month. I’ll reflect on this when I choose next month’s word. Come play along with me!
What’s your word this month? How are you working towards accomplishing it?
Until next time!
Something I realized over this winter break is that I spend a lot of time with my kids, but I don’t spend a lot of time WITH my kids. There are a billion reasons for this, cleaning, projects, TV, Minecraft, arguing about whether to watch Pepa Pig or Shimmer and Shine… the list is endless! To be honest, my kids drive me insane! They’re kids, they’re supposed to. A lot of parents forget that, I think. Teachers, too (guilty).
So, one of the things I’ve decided to do this year is DATE my family. That means I will spend a night with just ONE of them every month. That’s three nights a month that I will spend with JUST THEM doing what WE want to do. It sounds so easy, but this crazy thing happens when life gets going… we don’t make time for that one on one time that we all need. By taking one kid out for the evening, the other gets quality time with Dad. By leaving them both with a sitter, and spending an evening with my husband, I can actually focus on HIM. Not on his nap, his RC car, taking him lunch or dinner because he can’t leave the track… I married that guy for some reason and, as God is my witness, I’m going to remember what it was!
So, on Monday night, my youngest daughter and I went on a date. It wasn’t anything horribly extravagant. We just went to the mall and shopped the sales. We stopped by Claire’s for jewelry, went to Build a Bear for clothes for her Bear, avoided Bath and Body Works (“I’m so sick of that place, Mom,” says Tadpole in her most teenager tone!), went into a store called Charming Charlie’s (higher end bling than Claire’s where everything in the store was “so fantastic” and “glamorous, mom!”), wandered through Hollister (because it has a porch out front, people!), then proceeded to go into every store that sold clothes for small girls looking for the perfect dress. Alas, nothing matched what we had in our heads. It was either not foofie enough, not sparkly enough, or the wrong size. Tragic, I know! We agreed that buying a new book was a good consolation prize and proceeded to Barnes and Noble to pick one out. Luckily, they had a perfect fit! 😉
Now, I know you don’t care much for my personal blathering about my date with a five year old, but I’m not really writing this for that purpose. I’m writing it because I want you to DATE your family, too. Even if it’s not every month, just spend time hanging out with ONE person, giving them your complete and undivided attention. My monster and I had so much fun tonight and I’ve already scheduled date night with my oldest daughter two weeks from now! While I don’t have a day nailed down for my husband, I WILL be going to see Rogue One (which I still haven’t seen, yet!) this month and he promised we’d go together to the awesome theater with recliners in Pooler! No phones, no kids, no distractions… just us!
Now, it’s your turn!
Until next time!
I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the last few months about the concept of “Growth Mindset” and I’ve been trying, not only to teach my class how to handle it, but also to convert my current thinking towards it, too.
I’ve found a few resources online, but nothing that really helps me incorporate it into my students’ day. It’s a bit frustrating, I’m not going to lie. Pinterest has a ton of little worksheets and I found some journals and workbooks for teenagers that I’m currently working through, myself. OK, honestly, I’ve set the notebooks/workbooks up, but haven’t really done much with them, yet. If you’re interested, check them out at the links below. They’re both created by The SuperHero Teacher, who I am quickly becoming a huge fan of:
- Growth Mindset Journal for Teens
- Growth Mindset Portfolio for Teens (this is an interactive notebook format… seriously very cool).
Today, I stumbled on another resource, this time on Youtube! Her name is Stefanie Faye Frank and she is the ONLY person I’ve seen in my search who talks about how to address this with your CLASS in a way that a) they’ll understand and b)be willing to do. This is the first time I’ve actually thought, “ok, I have a plan, then!” when I’ve looked at these resources. I’m going to embed one of her videos here so you can see what I’m talking about. This is just a basic “What is Growth Mindset?” level video that will take about 6 minutes to watch and it’s worth every darned second! Where’s the TedTalk with my new friend Stefanie, I ask you!?!
Seriously. Awesome, right?
I’m going to have to create this for my class from scratch, heaven help me! You’ll see more on this, later!
Until Next Time!