A good friend and I were talking recently about letting bad behaviors slide for too long and letting kids get away with stuff. I had a little epiphany this weekend as I watched myself, once again, fall all over myself to make sure nothing was an inconvenience to Weston. Whatever he asks me to do, I do with a smile. Make his meals, run forgotten items to school during my work day, do his laundry, drive him to the mall, give him more spending money that I require for myself for snacks, clothes, etc. If I was somebody else, I'd give myself NO respect for this behavior. In return he leaves jobs undone or done sloppily around the house, rarely thanks anyone for favors, and gets on my case for not taking care of things that should be his responsibility. Charming, right? He'll make somebody a lovely husband some day at this rate. So tonight he came into the house, asking what was for dinner, and rummaging around for snacks to spoil his appetite. I told him if he wanted me to get dinner right then and there he needed to help me clean the kitchen, so he turned on his heel and said, "No thanks, I'll wait.", and headed off to skate. That's when I told him that if he didn't clean the entire kitchen, then and there, not only would I not make dinner for him AT ALL, but that he'd be grounded. For a week. So my kitchen is clean now and I just realized that I have this strange bumpy thing that runs down the middle of my back.
It cannot go without comment that three of my favorite bloggers, Heather Armstrong, Alice Bradley, and the now not-so-nameless Laid Off Dad, have gotten together with a few other folks to produce this new book. So congratulations all of you, and thanks Heather for recognizing just how great these people are and including their writing.
It has been a strange, Through the Looking Glass kind of day on the Blogosphere with finslippy announcing her miscarriage, and Laid Off Dad telling us he and his wife are divorcing. I was taken aback by both revelations because the lyrical and sometimes very personal descriptions of family life that both blogs (and dooce.com also) provide sometimes mimics a close friendship. Though it's not face-to-face, I interact with them on an almost daily basis, and on a pretty personal level. I guess along with congratulations, that makes me want to send along a "hang in there." So.... hang in there.
I just finished reading Randy Pauch's The Last Lecture. I my opinion, this is 2008's The Life of Pi or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. I got to thinking, what pearls of wisdom might my kids pass on that they have learned from me? The following is my crack at a list:
1. You can never be kind and polite to too many people. Even if you don't like somebody or if they are mean to you, simply remaining kind and polite in all your interactions will mitigate all sorts of problems. 2. Get the stuff that makes up your daily work load done first. With no work to worry about you'll enjoy the rest of your day so much more. 3. You can learn something from everyone. No matter how young, how inexperienced, or uneducated, everyone has a different perspective from yours. Listen and watch, and you'll probably figure out something you didn't know before. 4. Family should always be your number one priority. Your friends come and go, often as a function of how convenient it is to interact with them on a frequent basis. If you are lucky, your family was with you when you were born, and will be with you at the end of your life. 5. Never value objects over people. If something gets wrecked or lost, you can almost always replace or fix it. Getting angry at someone for accidentally damaging or losing something can never be undone. Your finest moments are when you rise above worrying about objects and realize value of the people in your life. 6. Take time to stop and do what you love. At the end of your life, chances are pretty good you won't wish you had spent more time at work, doing laundry, or doing your taxes. 7. Dogs and children can be very frustrating. Try very very hard to not fly off the handle at them because the guilt that follows those kinds of acts will eat you alive. 8. Don't stand aside and let someone bully or tease and friend or family member. Meanness should be faced off and dealt with. 9. Don't play practical jokes on people or poke fun at people and then make them feel badly for not taking it well. You are being a jerk. Stop, apologize, and don't do it again. 10. And speaking of apologies, keep them sincere, never make excuses for your self, own your screw up, and.... don't do it again. 11. Be considerate of the people you live with. Just because they are family doesn't mean you should treat them with less consideration than the people you work or go to school with. If you wouldn't do it to your co-workers or fellow students or even a stranger, think hard about if you should do it at home. 12. How you perceive other people reveals flaws about your personality. If you don't trust people, perhaps you need to become more trustworthy yourself. If you walk a mile out of your way to become offended by the smallest things, perhaps you are thinking offensive things about other people. Examine your responses to people and consider that maybe what bugs you most is that characteristic you most need to work on in yourself. 13. Be honest when it's truly important to do so. You never know when your integrity may be all you have to fall back on.
Funny, this was really easy. Once I started, the ideas just kept coming. Cheers and deepest respect and admiration to Randy Pausch with fervent hope that he gets the miracle that he so deserves.
At 12, Weston is allowed more freedom to roam, as long as he's no more than a cell phone call away. Last weekend he used that freedom to ride to 7-11 with the three boys that live across the street (12-year-old identical twins, and their very jaded 15-year-old brother). About half an hour after they left, I got a call from Weston. "Mom. We found a bird that fell out of it's nest. I think it's a mockingbird." I explained that it would be best for the chick if they just left it, and that the parents were probably nearby, feeding it. After doing my best to explain nestling/parent interactions, and with his impatient friends champing at the bit to leave, it became apparent that the bird was coming home with him in his baseball hat.
At home, all of the boys crowded around the box to which they had transferred the tiny bird. Shouldering my way in, I laughed in relief! A killdeer! This would be easy to reunite with it's parents. They had only managed to find it because it was hiding amongst some vinca, where it must have had only minimal camouflage. I packed four boys and a baby killdeer back in my car, and as we headed back to the church where they found the bird, they indignantly related that the minister had told them to leave it behind, that if the bird died, it was "Nature's way".
No parents could be heard or seen around where they found the baby, so undaunted, we headed a few hundred yards away to Ross Creek, a channelized stream with gravel levees. Sure enough, the anxious parents (and if you know killdeer, you know they do anxious really well) were there, flying in circles and calling. We set the box down, backed off and waited for the parents to get a bead on the location of their chick. After about 20 minutes, the trio was reunited. Who would have thought that something as small as a killdeer chick could get four gangling, world weary teens high-fiving and feeling like heroes?
If it rains, apparently it does indeed pour. This time last month I was desperate for work. Any work. Certain I would never hang out my shingle as a biologist again, I was willing to consider becoming an administrative assistant again, just so I could feel like I was contributing to our finances, rather than being nothing but a drain. Now things have picked up (albeit only a little) at my current job, and the work spigot seems to be cranked to the open position. Spring is a great time to imitate the local flora a fauna and get busy being prolific!
- Call Dr. Contini about heart palpitations (for Weston, who is 12). Thankfully they went away. - Fire Garrett's pyschologist (No. Leaving his cookies at home next time is NOT an appropriate solution when my son has tackled and dog-piled the kid that stole them.) - Pick up dog pooh in the back yard (Yes, two dogs DO generate twice as much!) - Make an appointment to have my moles looked at (Every six months. Melanoma or not!) - Call consulting firm to grovel for a job (Ugh! I hate being underemployed!) - Call Weston's school to figure out why he's getting an F in Social Studies (maybe fix the palpitations while I'm at it?) - Clean hardwood floor in kitchen (Two dogs means twice as many lick marks)
1) I have a morbid sense of curiosity. If I could read about forensic anthropology every day, I would be very happy. 2) I have named two hockey teams. Seven in Dog Beers. Pucker Up. 3) I am terrified of bees. 4) I secretly admire Dr. Laura. 5) When I get REALLY mad, I cry. 6) I hate to cry. 7) I am lazy. Very very very lazy. 8) I have a green belt in kung fu. 9) I can parallel park in the teensiest space. 10) I can back up a trailer without jackknifing it.