Monday, January 23, 2012

Science Fair and other tragedies

The enthusiasm is fake
Okay, so I don't want to give you the impression that I don't support the public school system.  In most cases I can happily coexist with someone taking my kids for lots of hours during the day and sending them home smarter.  Ok, maybe not always smarter, but at least more educated.  But I really have to dig my feet in when it comes to Science Fair.  Just the words make me feel sympathetic to how the Grinch must feel at Christmas.  I hate Science Fair.  I abhor Science Fair and I really detest so much more that my third grade boy this year had to do stinkin' Science Fair.  After all, who are we kidding?  No kid does Science Fair solo!! It is basically homework for mom and dad.  Own up to it educators!!!  And if by chance you have gone to a Science Fair with your kids you know what I mean when you see these beautifully laid out and decorated, detailed, so extremely ingenious project that no kid could honestly say that he did on his own!  To make things worse, my husband came from a family of Science Fair phenoms!! His brother went to Nationals for Science Fair (who does that?!)  So clearly the bar has been set thanks to my dear mother in law who actually confessed to me the other day that she loved doing Science Fair boards.  That is all fine and dandy but when we first started with projects my husband wanted to endorse and encourage a project that had more science than most college classes,  then it would land in my lap to see it to fruition.  He learned right away that if mom was doing the support he'd better dummy thing down like a hundred times.
I believe that if a child is doing a project, (hold on now) HE or SHE ought to do the work!!!  That in itself is mind boggling, I know but before you get the impression that this would absolve the parent from doing the work, let me follow that up with the fact that just getting my boy to work on his project this year became more exhausting than reasoning with an Alzheimer's patient.  Now I don't rule out that Chance may have a little ADHD when it comes to focusing on school work, but at any rate the process was EXTREMELY PAINFUL!! So when I asked him what the title to his project should be he looked at me like I was asking him who painted the Mona Lisa.  My teenage daughters kept suggesting the title "Science Fair Sucks"... so naturally we named it "Science Fair Suds" tying in the soap he had used in the project along with our tongue in cheek to the whole system.
Painfully, like pins under my fingernails, we plodded through the writing/board summation last night.  Chance would type two letter, erase, type three letters, play with the printer, type a word, erase three letters, talk to the dog ........are you getting a visual?  Keep in mind that I am the kind of person that when I do something, I do it fast.  I really can't spend more than the essential time on a project and fully believe that I can cram four hours into one.   So you might as well have been doing chinese water torture to me. 

Trying to hold it together

waiting for each page
In the end, we managed to get 'er done.  I survived -- just enough to move onto my daughter's research project and her tears and frustration.  But at the end of the night I have one consolation; I have survived Science Fair for another year!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Things We Don't Say

The things we don't say are often, I have found, the most important things to say.  Why don't we just say them?  I mean, for Heaven's sake, out with it already!  I guess I am learning that the reason we don't say them is because we have said them so many times to ourselves we actually don't realize we haven't vocalized them yet.
Parents seem to be the biggest offenders in this situation.  Why?  Because their kids depend so much on what they think and how they feel.  That is how they create their own values and self esteem.  Scary as that may seem, think of all of those times you just wanted to hear your mother tell you that she appreciated what  you did or dad tell you how proud he is of you.  Isn't that the way kids are wired?  For better or for worse, parental acknowledgement can lead to a child's success or the lack of which can lead to the child's serious downfall.
I keep in my scriptures a precious treasure.  I realize this may be a precarious place to keep a treasure as it has a much higher likelihood of getting lost but I do it for a reason.  Several months after my father passed away I was really missing him and found myself asking him out loud if he could see me and if he knew how much I missed him.  That very day, if my memory serves me right, I was in church flipping through my scriptures rather inadvertently and came across a yellow sheet of paper.  The fact that it was a yellow sheet of paper was significant because I really knew only of one person who used that yellow paper.  I slowly opened the folded letter and recognized the handwriting right away, although I was somewhat dumbfounded because my father rarely sent letters and I didn't off hand remember when I received this letter.  What I will always remember is how overcome with emotion I was as I read the words "I want you to know that I think you are the best mom there is"  and, "Love, your Dad".  That wasn't all the note said but it was what I needed to hear.  I had to excuse myself from the room as I was so taken with emotion and gratitude that my dad was telling me he was there and he did see me.  These sweet words were something my father had never told me face to face.  I would never have known he felt this way, yet I often go back and reread these words and I feel all over again the sense of satisfaction in knowing no matter what anyone else thinks, my dad says I am a good mom.
I pride myself in being a pretty open book to my kids.  In fact, I am often accused of being too much so.  It always seems so obvious to me that they know how I feel about them.  But, just as any other inept parent, apparently there is still a communication breakdown when it comes to taking what I say in my head and actually verbalizing it to the child who needs to hear it.  Case in point:  This week my Morgan was struggling and once again we were there on her bed discussing what was going on and why couldn't she see the good and be happy.  I felt impressed to tell her how proud I was of her and her accomplishments this past year.  How I could see how hard it had been but she had really made a difference in her own life by consciously making choices to not let other's decide how she felt about herself and by choosing to believe she has value and can stand up to anyone in a positive and assertive way.  I told her that I could see such a change in her and that she had done that on her own.  I literally watched a light go off in her eyes.  I had said the magic words.  How ironic that I had said them so many times before... but just not to the right person.  I have felt that sweet girl change before my eyes these past few days and our relationship has taken another positive turn.
I'm going to try this out this week on my other kids.  I am going to make sure that when I have a positive thought about them that I tell them instead of assuming they already know.  Imagine the difference in your own life if friends told you more often how much they appreciated the way you listen to them, or if your husband mentioned that he was so glad you respected his choices, or whatever it is that you need to hear from the person whom you need to hear it from.  You actually have the chance to change lives with the things you don't say.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Little Tender Mercy

Add caption
Just wanted to throw on this darling pic of my Linzie ready for the stake dance the other night.  For several years now I have worried so much about her as she quit dance for a while and fell into bouts of depression.  There were friend issues and self-esteem issues and I worried as her weight seemed to reflect every emotion she was dealing with.  I have walked that fine line with her for a while now between encouraging healthy eating and excercise and basically having her interpret that as me telling her that she is fat.  It didn't help that friends said things and of course siblings just have to get their digs in as she would down a huge bowl of ice cream.  We have discussed balance in life and all of the other things the "experts" recommend to encourage healthy living and yet not obsess about body image.  At the end of the day I don't have any real answers other than the most important thing I have found is encouraging talents and dealing with the emotional issue before the physical one.  Health seems so reflective on the outside of what is happening on the inside.  We are back in dance this year -- for the fun of it and the past few months I have seen a transformation in her as she is on her way to a normal, healthy shape.  Just another reminder that things can and sometimes do work themselves out in the end.

The Joy of Dejunking

The Junk!
I have a confession to make. I may not be the housekeeper that I used to be.  Obviously I have had all kinds of help in this...I can think of 5 reasons.  I like to consider it a personal strength that I can overlook the mess and deal with the nitty gritty of parenting but at the end of the day parenting does consist of teaching how to organize and pick up after yourself.   I get that, even if it is not as often as I should anymore.  The messes left everywhere DO bother me, it's just that at times it is such an emotional battle to decide if I should just clean up after everyone and save the fight or if I should face the bull in the horns and get everyone involved in picking up after themselves.  Usually after I have fought this battle in my head I really would rather ignore it and move on to other issues.
So once again I am revisiting the goal of doing a better job of being consistent and riding kids' backs until the house is presentable on a daily basis.  To kick things off I started with the Great Christmas Put-Away and turned it into a Christmas and whole house dejunkathon.  It felt like an episode of "Hoarders" with my huge black trash bags stuffed to capacity. Trash bags with donations. Trash bags with garbage.  The kids were cheering me on with comments like "Don't get too close to mom, she'll throw you away!!" I thought I was being so original until I saw on Twitter all of the tweets about dejunking and New Year's resolutions to organize your home.  So much for individual thinking.  I decided there is a direct correlation between all of those Christmas decorations staring back at me for a month and then right after the presents are opened they begin to close in on me like a trash compactor.  The only thing I can think about is making it all go!
After a huge drop off at Deseret Industries and filling every empty garbage can in the neighborhood I am well on my way to having the upstairs done and then I will try to wrap my brain around the basement.  I cannot describe the relief that comes with getting rid of "stuff"!  You really should try this!