Monthly Archives: March 2013

Haiku: Breach — A True Story

Norman Rockwell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A dollar

If you jump in the water;

Wet boy, no dollar

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Fear is Different From Respect

Photo By D Sharon Pruitt [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Whom do you respect and admire?  What do you respect about that person?  Courage? Wisdom? Mental, physical or emotional strength? Kindness? Or, do you respect that person for their power to scare and humiliate you?

Shine from Yahoo ran an article about a 13-year old girl whose parents made her stand for 90 minutes at a roadside with a sign that said, “I’m a Self-entitled teenager w/NO Respect for authority. I’m also super smart, yet I have 3 ‘D”s because I DON’T CARE!”

This might be a kick in the pants to scare her into bringing up her grades.  But in the long run, is this the kind of tactic that will bring out the best in her?  Do decent people humiliate each other?

Who are the best supervisors and coaches?  Back in my previous life as a career woman, I had a great boss.  She had high expectations, and I did not want to let her down.  I wanted to do well in that job.  Why?  Because she set a fine example.  She had a strong work ethic, was knowledgeable about her field, was a great team-builder, and encouraged me.  These are the things that make a great boss.  As I develop my parenting skills, I look to her example.  I want my kids to feel encouraged to do their best.

This boss never, ever did anything to humiliate me, even when I really screwed up.  I don’t do my best when I am scared.  I suppose I’d run my fastest if I were chased by a wild animal.  Other than that, does fear bring out the best in any of us?  Maybe it does for some people of a certain temperament, but I doubt it is common.  And even if humiliation was effective, is it the right way for a person to teach another person, whether adult or child?  Would this husband and wife treat each other this way?

I do not think that scaring and humiliating our children into submission brings out the best in them.

I admit there have been times when my children have acted disrespectfully toward me.  But it was not because I didn’t scare or humiliate them enough.  It was because I got flustered, lost my temper, and had mommy-tantrums.  I was being weak, and they could see that I was not in control.  That is how I lost their respect.  As I learn to keep my temper, speak calmly and firmly, and encourage them to do their best, I can see that I gain their respect.

Many people commented with praise for the parents who wrote the embarrassing sign.  I think it is a good thing that the parents wanted to correct their daughter’s behavior.  But I am amazed that so many people think that this is a great method.  I think it was a desperate, thoughtless, maybe even sadistic measure, and not a long-term solution.  I think it is sad that the girl’s behavior stemmed from the tragic death of her uncle, and that her parents responded by hurting her.  What a slap in the face to say the girl doesn’t care.  Obviously she does care, or her uncle’s death wouldn’t have had such a strong effect on her.  And why make a public display of a private matter?  I hope that these parents will empathize with her grief and help her work through it in a constructive way.  I hope that they strengthen their relationship with their daughter and develop true respect.

Because fear is different from respect.

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Zucchini Optimism

Grow, Little Zucchini!

Grow, Little Zucchini! Grow!

I would try positive thinking, but I don’t think it will work.

My zucchini plants are a real life example.  I spent about $140 on stuff for my garden, $60 of it on dirt.  “What, Mom?!  You’re BUYING dirt?”  Oh yes, kids.  It’s very good dirt.  It has cow poop in it.

So this year, I thought I’d add zucchini.  When I was growing up (in a different climate from here), it seemed like there was too much zucchini.  Someone was always giving away the extras from their garden.  So, I figured, it must be easy to grow.  Always one step behind, I began researching zucchini after I bought the plants and brought them home.

According to my local gardening book, the species of squash that includes zucchini is “the most easily killed by squash vine borer.”  And, “most organic efforts to thwart borers have proved failures.”  In spite of all this, I went through the hassle of making a 12″ deep, 24″ diameter hole and layering it with fertilizer and building a hill for each plant.  Well, maybe I cheated a little on the 24″ diameter.

I considered giving up, and just sticking them in the dirt without all the trouble of preparing the hill.  But then it struck me how optimism and pessimism are self-fulfilling.  If I believed the zucchini would fail, then I wouldn’t make the effort, thus causing them to fail.  But if I had faith in my little zucchini and made the effort, they might survive.

I’m still not convinced they will hold out, but at least they have a chance.  My little hills are sort of a symbol of hope.  I don’t suppose a person can be a gardener or farmer without some optimism.  And I’m counting on my kids to look for the tiny vine borer eggs, so that my designer dirt doesn’t go to waste.

Note: For a great Houston gardening book, check out Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro Houston, by Bob Randall, Ph.D.

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Seeing A Baby Chick Hatch — Is It Worth the Wait?

One of many pictures my son took of this cute chick

One of many pictures my son took of this cute chick

Oh yes, it is.  Especially if you’re a 40-plus-year-old suburban girl who’s never, ever had the chance to see one before.

But, I almost missed it.  I almost went with my urge to hurry and go see “everything.”  I had brought my kids for our first visit to a Rodeo and Livestock Show, but we had only four short hours to do it all.  Was it really a good use of time to watch an egg rock intermittently, then chip a little, then crack, with long pauses in between?

My daughter, like me, was ready to move on.  But my son, age 10, was in awe.  He did not want to budge.  We girls took quick visits to other displays while he stayed, waiting, fascinated.  I knew I couldn’t make him miss this.

Eventually, a glimpse of beak broke through the egg, and it wasn’t an egg anymore.  It was a little baby chick inside an egg.  His head appeared after some resting, then a wing, and then he finally pulled his whole tired little body out of the shell.  What a thrill!  New life is a miracle every time.  All three of us watched that tiny baby break out.

It was the highlight of our day.

So, I wonder how much I’ve missed in life in my impatience to see “everything.”  I’m grateful for kids who show me a different “everything,” even if it’s not what I thought I wanted to see, and at a slower pace.

What have your kids made you slow down and see?

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How Dads Matter

Gerald R. Ford and Son (Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-US Gov't)

Gerald R. Ford and Son (Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-US Gov’t)

A pet peeve of mine is hearing people suggest that fathers are not important.  Or that fathers are the bumbling idiots you see on tv sitcoms.

Here is a video about the importance of dads.  Feminism is nice for equal rights and all, but let’s not forget that mothers are mothers and fathers are fathers.  The video is 15 minutes, but worth watching.  If that’s too long (or not), check out the two articles below from Psychology Today:

Here’s an article about the difference between a father being there and not being there.

Don’t skip this one even though it’s last.  Here are some really powerful statistics that will make you want to go hug your husband and thank your dad.

Thanks, Dad.

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Happiness: The Greatest is Love

Happiness

Happiness

When I saw The Daily Post‘s weekly writing challenge, this picture came to my mind and I couldn’t wait to write about it.  The challenge is to present a photo that shows true happiness.

I believe happiness is deeper than a sparkle in your eye.  It is not joy or fun or peace.  It is a mixture of joy, peace, contentment, satisfaction, and love.  And the greatest of these is love.

This picture of my children is that mixture.  The joy of a sunny day.  The peace of nature.  The contentment of free time.  The satisfaction of wandering off to explore.  The love of family and best friend.

You don’t even need to see the expressions on their faces to know.

This is Happiness.

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