Thursday, August 23, 2007

Using kids' desires as leverage

I was reading Spiritual Parenting by Hugh and Gayle Prather until I put it aside because my friend Julie loaned me the AMAZING book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I just finished the section on Italy last night and had to go downstairs to eat a bowl of pasta with pesto and cream...a poor substitute for the real Italian stuff, but she made me! I have to admit, the Prathers were beginning to lose my interest around page 40, but I really liked the following two paragraphs, and thought I'd share them, and remind myself to not try to change my kids...

[Their house up to this point has been tiled, with no soft surfaces on the floor due to their son's severe allergies.] "...[Jordan] had been lobbying for a rug in his bedroom for several weeks...When Jordan first brought this subject up, we made the mistake that many parents make. Instead of considering the request strictly on its own merits and out of our desire for what was best for Jordan, our unconscious response was 'Oh, one of our sons wants something. How can we use this as leverage?' Most adults are actually far more manipulative than most children. [emphasis mine] Using our kids' desires as leverage is just one of many ways we manipulate them, but it is a particularly unloving way because, in a sense, we are asking them to sell their souls. We hold out something they want and say 'You can have it as soon as you become the person I want you to be.' As soon as you become a neat, tidy person; or a more outgoing person; or a punctual person; or an academically oriented person; or a 'respectful' person. The truth is that many of the world's geniuses, mystics and greatest innovators were not tidy, outgoing, punctual, or especially polite. Jesus was not respectful of authority; Einstein found school boring and showed little scholastic ability; and Buddha rejected his father's idea of family duty.
Usually it's because they still have some degree of inner strength and integrity, and not because they are perverse, that children fail to live up to the so-called negotiations or contracts adults make with them -- the terms of which, in reality, are conceived of and imposed by adults and are not "agreements" at all. In many instances children are fighting for their identity and not "waging a power struggle" when they deviate from a parent's understanding of what a child "agreed" to do. Often they are withstanding a basic misuse of parental authority and power."

Not that I expect/want my girls to grow up to be the next Einstein/Buddha/Jesus, but why risk squelching them?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rolling girls

Fairy wing tattoos and more

The whole family got fairy wings last week -- have we mentioned that Sabine likes to watch Miami Ink? Interesting...she drew Vivian's, Daddy's and Mommy's wings (I did the designs on them later), Daddy did her wings and I did the designs. Pretty cool. Though Bret did get busted by the assistant swim coach when he took off his shirt at diving practice, "Nice tattoo, buddy..." Fortunately he also has a young daughter so he understood that sometimes daddies must do these things.

Friend Kristin stopped by the other day and brought her almost 3 year old daughter Acacia, and her nanny-charge Mari (who's 7, I believe) and the kids ended up playing in the (mostly brown) paint that was on the back porch. Sabine and Vivian had been painting earlier in the day, and the messy party started out with someone accidentally stepping in a blob of white paint and squealing. All of them then wanted to step in the paint, and squelching my first response to say, "no...that's not how we play with paint" we went with it. It was hilarious! I only wish I'd gotten photos of all of the kids before we cleaned up. They were squishing it in their toes, stomping around the deck...and loving every minute of it.

Just today, while making a happy birthday card for a friend, Sabine wrote both her and Vivian's names backwards. I showed her how they looked forwards (in the mirror above her art table), but she just said, "Don't say they're backwards." OK then. I stand corrected.

Is there anything more wonderful than fresh, new playdough? Ahhhh...I can smell it now (though that may be because it's stuck in my clothes).
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Two girls, daddy and a double rainbow...

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The last camping trip of the summer

Bret began coaching the High School Diving (springboard, not scuba) team Monday. So he's up every morning at 5:30, into work by 6ish, so he can still get in around 40 hours per week engineering while diving season reigns (until the end of October). It also means he'll be going to meets almost every Saturday (and some weekdays) until then, so the Airstream is done for the season -- unless we use it as a guest room again -- come on out!

Last Friday Granny Jean and Boopy (in their RV) and the girls and I drove up to Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park around noon. After finding 3 campsites (Bud, Allison and Kate were joining us, too) I asked Sabine and Vivian, "Who wants to go get icecream?" -- expecting Sabine to say "ME!" Sabine didn't respond right away, but Vivian raised her arms high and shouted, "MEEEEEEEEE!" It was pretty darn funny. I asked her if she wanted to share with Mommy, to which she responded, "Nooooo." So there it is.

Vivian with her OWN icecream cone...think she liked it?

Sabine finished hers first.

Old Catalina dog sure likes camping with her pack.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Department of Nothing

So I'm reading Nick Hornby's collection of short stories, Speaking with the Angel, and come across this great story The Department of Nothing by Colin Firth, yes, THAT Colin Firth...hello Mr. Darcy...who knew he was an author, too.

The story is being told by an 8 or 9 year old (my guess) boy who has a close relationship with his elderly, housebound grandmother (she lives with his family). The grandmother captivates the boy daily with a segment of a fantasy/adventure epic that she is creating. The problem is, that she tells him parts of the story in the morning, before he has to go to school, which makes him habitually late for school resulting in detentions, etc.

Here's the part I really liked, with my compliments to Mr. Firth.

"It can still make you go a bit mental to be torn viciously from a mysterious midnight garden to your mum shouting 'cause you didn't eat your haddock. So your life is made of half-finished stories and games that never actually get added up into a whole thing -- unless it's your homework or your broccoli, then you can finish it all, however long it takes.

There's a name for all this: most people call it real life, but actually it's called the Department of Nothing. It's not just one department, but loads of mini-departments. The broccoli and haddock and meat with vomity white bits get made in the Kitchen of Nothing. School is the Paper Department, where they have this special doom-paper so anything that you write on it is doomed. Then there's the Waiting Room where you get told Not now, I'm busy, or You're not old enough yet and all that, and this is also where detentions come from. And then the Department of Vacuum Cleaner comes and sucks up all the second halves of stories and games, so you can never find them again. Grown-ups think they are the controllers, but they're not really, because it's the Clock Department who have the actual power; marching grown-ups about like sergeant majors to one two, one two. Absolutely everyone lives there -- unless they get to go to Grandma's room, which is the only way out of the Department -- except nobody knows that, even though it's blatant. The trick is holding on to the magic to get you through the Department of Nothing. The luckiest thing is that stories come right at the beginning of the day."

You'll be glad to know the story does have (if not a happy) a hopeful ending. I'm half way through the book, and would strongly recommend it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I've discovered YouTube

So click here for a few short clips from Brian and Gabriel's visit...stay tuned for more.


This is from Gabriel's first day in town...and introducing Sabine and Vivian to PIRATE play.

Gabriel in the tall grass...

Sabine and Gabriel enjoying an m&m snack after the day of "fishing" and rock-pinkie-crushing at the lake (Sabine survived Bret's blood blister remedy of a hot needle through her finger nail...ouch!).

Gabriel and and Sabine with (once again) the world's BEST most TOLERANT kitty, Cicso.
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Uncle Brian and Cousin Gabriel's visit

Here we are trying to catch frogs...Granny Jean stayed home with Vivian.

Big Uncle B holds Gabriel and Sabine on his shoulders.

Boopy, Brian, Gabriel and Sabine walk down the path with fishing gear.

Brian and Gabriel at the top of the gondola ride at Teton Village (Boopy was the photographer).
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