Tag Archives: Parenting

Scouts and Chores

One the Achievements the boys in Big Brother’s Cub Scout troop is working on is Know Your Home and Community.  Part of what they are working on is doing chores around the house, consistently, for a month, as an exercise in responsibility.  Big Brother has a chores list that he helped create.

Chore Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
Water for Molly              
Help with dinner              
Pick up lego              
Take out trash (help)              
Clear dinner table              
Take out Molly (help)              
Vac up dog hair              
Put up own laundry              

Parent Initials:

             
               
               

We are into the second full week, after starting with a half week after last Den Meeting.   Big Brother is maintaining his enthusiasm. 

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Just because I can do it faster and better doesn’t mean I gain anything by doing it myself

Really, if you stop to think about it, I loose ground if I do all the chores myself, even if in the short term they are done faster and look a little neater.  My main function is not to make pretty beds, or to sort all the toys by size and function; my main goal in being at home with my children is to raise them, to train them.  To create the adults they willo someday be.  There is not a chore in this house, which I am training my boys to do, that I can’t do faster (much faster) and better (much better).  I can do most chores correctly the first time, in less time, and “just get them done”.   I admit sometimes that is a major temptation.   However, even in the short term; this gains me nothing, and gains the boy less: and in the long run it is a determent to the very function of our family. 

Families are supposed to be grow children into adults; not just warehousing them.  I am training my boys, coaching them, teaching them.  Skills that not only will make my house run smoother (someday, I hope, right?) but that will allow them to be independent and keep their own homes and someday to equally team with their wife to care for their home and raise up their children.  Yes that is the joy of this, as I struggle to teach them to care for a home and clean up and keep it neat and tidy, I can enjoy the knowledge someday they will be fighting a 5 year old that has to DUMP a toy box to get a toy out.

So I choose to redirect the 5 year old for the fourth time to pick up ALL the blocks (not just most of them, not just the ones he can reach sitting down, not just the ones on the rug) and I choose to call my 7 year old back and help him (again) get the bedspread on straight.  Both of these examples (especially the 5 year old) take more time than it would take for me to do it myself.  I work today, do extra work one could say, now to ensure my ease and their ease in the future.   But really is it “extra work” – it is more work than picking up the blocks or making the bed myself would be, certainly, but at the end of the day my job is not to make beds or pick up toys; my job is to train up young men.

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Send that boys outside

The best puppy is a tired puppy; and that goes tenfold for boys.

Boy are given, by God their Creator, a need to be physical, a need to go, and explore, and to conquer.  They need to run, to climb, to build, to be loud and messy.  It helps them grow, it helps them learn, it allows them to practice skills they will need as men (defending the innocent, fighting the bad guys, facing challenges and over coming obstacles).  As trying as it can be for the mother, God put these needs in our boys to give them the tools they will need as men.

My boys are “all boy boys” they are active and going from the second they open their eyes till bedtime; they are not children who sit and ponder the great truths of the world; but they will try to climb every mountain.  I trust that as their bodies work out the next foot hold, their minds are free to roam and contemplate.

I run our boys, not as hard as I should but as hard as I can.  Today we went to the pool for three hours.  The amazing thing is, this didn’t slow them down.  Well it did for a few minutes; they were showing signs of tired when I called it time to go, and for about 30 minutes after Big Brother looked like he was dragging and could drop off.  But within 30 minutes, after getting a snack, they were back to normal racing around the apartment playing “dart gun war” (ninjas?  Cowboys?  Now sure who the players were today).

I generally work my boys as hard as I can.  I need to commit to do more, to get them up and moving more, to challenge them more.  Most mornings we walk (always over 1.5 miles; I am trying to push it up to 2 miles a walk).  3 or 4 days a week we hit the pool, today we were there 3 hours, normally it is an hour or 90 minutes (today we met friends there so we stayed longer).  I am limited, by the temporary housing we are in (small apartment; not a house, no yard)

I so miss having 33 acres and the ability to kick their butts out the door — two little all boy boys were not meant by The Creator to live in a small apartment.  All boy boys like mine are meant to be working fields and gardens and following a wagon train for miles a day … they need chores that are not “put water bottles in the fridge” they need to use their bodies and be worn out and tired daily.  They need chores that they can see benefit the family (helping day build the patio, helping mom weed, taking care of the garden, carrying stuff to the compost, helping sweep or shovel snow).  They need chores that use their bodies, that challenge them physically, and that wear them down, make them tired.  They need their bodies to be engaged and tired – trust me they think better half tired out than they do full of fidget energy.  I can’t wait to have a yard again, with holes to dig, bugs to find, rocks to carry and stack, weeds to pull, and adventures to have.

Send that boy outside, challenge him to use his muscles, let his mind wonder as his back does the work.  They will be better for it.

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Cheerful Chart

This week starts something new for us at school.   We are starting a Cheerful Chart for Big Brother.  I am seeking to improve our learning experience, to accomplish more, and to make school more fun for everyone.

Today is our first day of use, so I can’t speak to the over all effectiveness but I will describe be for you, and a post on results will follow in a few weeks.

I started with my planning document.  I have created a chart to plan school on because I have not found a planning book that I liked, that had enough space for all our subjects and would let me plan both boys.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Activities
Bible
Phonics / reading /
spelling / diction
Lang Arts / Grammar
math
World history
US History / Social Studies
Logic / Science
Art / Geography

To make our cheerful chart I started with the planning chart and added ‘subject’ to it that I do not have on my planning chart (read-a-loud time, quiet reading time).  Then I tool the columns of Day 1 to Day 4 (since I plan for 4 days of academics a week and do not label with weekday titles) and divide each into two columns labels then DONE and CHEERFUL.

Each day I sit down with it and mark out subjects we will not be doing that day (for example I did not have any spelling or dictation planned for today) so I marked that out.  Then as we do subjects we mark them as DONE and if he earns it he can have a sticker for him CHREEFUL box.

In truth it is more than cheerful, it is attention and effort too; but I thought CHERERFUL was a good catch work to use with a 6, almost 7, year old.  I am still fine tuning it.

 Weekly CHEERFUL Chart

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Activities
Bible / memory

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

done

cheerful

done

cheerful

done

cheerful

done

cheerful

Phonics / reading /
spelling / diction
Lang Arts / Grammar
math
World history
US History / Social Studies
Logic / Science
Art / Geography
Read-a-loud time
Quiet reading time
Penmanship
Cheerful totals

I explained to him that we’d count up his cheerful points and he will have the ability to earn things with them.  I gave him the example of toys he asks for and assigning a cheerful point value to them and allowing thing to earn them.  As we develop I also see him having to maintain a certain cheerful percentage to plan his video games.  Again, we just started this, it will grow (I hope). 

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Obedience is NOT a bad word

Obedience is NOT a bad word.  I know this goes against all the AP mothering out there and I may be asked to turn in my Militant Mothers of America membership card.  BUT there is nothing wrong with expecting your child (especially at 4, 6, 9) to JUST DO WHAT YOU SAY.

I fight this issue CONSTANTLY with mine, and maybe that is what it rubs me raw these days.  My boys are not instantly obedient, heck give them 5 minutes and they might get back to you; but this is something I continually am addressing.  I do not have this parenting challenge down, and it is a real struggle for me (for us I guess, the boys have ownership of this too).

All the good, gentle / positive discipline AP moms will tell you either 1. that a truly attached child WANTS to make momma happy and thus will do as you ask cheerfully because of your relationship (implication being, that is your child is not jumping to please you by complying with your every glance, there is a problem with the relationship, thus you as the parent) or 2.  that you should never stifle a child and they must be allowed to grow and flower without restraint (implication being you are an ogre if you want a child to stop their flight of fancy and pick up the shoe you just tripped over for the 5th time).

My parenting job is tough, not as tough as some that I know personally, but certainly more challenging than a lot.  I love my boys, but God has too much faith in me and my boys are not by any means easy.  I love them, but if I had a nickel for each time I hear “you got your hands full”.  I’d be able to buy every book I have every wanted and then some.

I will be painfully honest.  I am tired.  I am just flat out tired of every single thing that comes out of my mouth being met with 1. argument, 2. question or 3 counter offer or some great and frequently unique combination of all three.  To quote Nike: JUST DO IT.

Mine don’t just do it — but I wish they would, I strive for a day when they will; and I am not a bad mom for saying that.

If I see a creepy man at the park and say “time to go” I’d LIKE to see 2 boys run to the car.  If I see a car I do not know coming up our driveway and I say “in the house” I’d love to see 2 little boys run in the house.  I fear the day there is a stranger at the door, I say “go to momma’s room now” and I get whines and fits and stomped feet and carrying on.

I do not think I need to explain 20x a day why I ask for the water bottle to be sat up, why I tell them to watch their fingers at the door, why I tell them to not put their shoes in the middle of the kitchen.  I do not think “pick up your army men” required a 20 minute dissertation on why it is a good idea — JUST DO IT. “Do not touch that” doesn’t need a reason, it needs compliance.

The fact is, one day obeying momma or not obeying momma could effect their very safety.

Parenting is hard enough with out each and every thing you say becoming a matter of debate and long winded argument.  I miss the non-verbal

The sad fact is, in reality there are relationships where one has the power and the other does not; this is a reality of life.  Sometimes you just shut up and do it; you accept that the person you are dealing with doesn’t HAVE to tell you everything nor explain in great detail their reasoning.  You do not have to be persuaded, you do not always have to agree.  A law enforcement officers tells you what to do, you do it; your boss tells you what to do, you do it…. Mom tells you what to do — you DO IT.

Tonight I explained at length that we were getting home late because I had to take Little Brother to urgent care (he fell at the park and cut his chin, tore it up pretty bad), and when we got home to go sit on the sofa while I unloaded the car and let the dog out.  I even told them to put on a TV show and sit there and wait for me.  We walk in, I, in a cheerful tone, say “shoes off and get on the sofa please” and am met with a “I want to play computer games, I didn’t play this Moring and we have been gone all day, why do I have to sit he is the one hurt” —- for the love of pete is it THAT hard just to do what your mom says?

I do know more than my 6 year old; I do not think he really believes that but it is true.  I have my reasons, I am not known for my random behavior nor are mental health professionals generally concerned about my ability to think and act rationally; no matter how much my sons question it.  Sometime I do not want to shout out across the park just WHY I want them to come over to me.  Sometimes I need them to obey now (usually I need them to obey now) and would be glad to explain my reasoning AFTER they are away from the strange car, after they are not standing in the middle of a parking lot with a car flying at them, after they have moved away from the drop off into the pond and so on.

I continue striving for ‘obey me now, then we talk’ (and guess what then you get to have a conservation with a much happier momma who is much much more willing to reach an agreement, consider a compromise or agree to your request); I continue on the path – but I maintain, and I tell my kids, obedience is not a bad word.

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the dreaded star chart discussion

A topic hotly debates in education; be it classroom or home, is the use, misuse or over use of incentives and rewards.  Books have been written about it.  A very well known one is Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes http://www.amazon.com/Punished-Rewards-Trouble-Incentive-Praise/dp/0618001816/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313237181&sr=1-1.  The discussion of incentives and rewards in education, of course, blurs with rewands and praise in parenting making the debate that much hotter.

I, personally, for what it is worth, think it is a case of taking a valid point to a silly, even absurd end.  I think we are all smart enough to agree that you CAN over do rewards and incentive programs and evidence of their misuse is not hard to find.  I, also, think we all agree that motivation must be internal for a child to become a successful adult.  However, I truly feel that to shun ALL incentives and rewards due to their occasional misuse is a gross over reaction on par with closing all swimming pools due to one or two drowning.  I think the key is, as in all things, moderation and on going careful evaluation of the system chosen.  Any tools, parental or educational, even the best ones, can alWays be misused; be it stroller, binky or a star chart and treasure box. 

I am sure I am not alone in remembering — with joy — the sticker charts and reward systems of grade school.  All our teachers did them — the BIG 100 poster from Kindergarten that you got to add you name to after you counted correctly to 100 — the reading caterpillars we had each year that you got to add a body part to for each independent book read, the sticker charts that had a sticker for the end of each book in the SQRRR system http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SQ3R .  That was fun, reading at your own pace, checking off the books, and levels, I have to say I really loved that.  But think about it, working at my own pace, working independently, checking off books as I went on a visual chart?  That was a dreaded “star chart” that was supposed to make me lazy and unwilling to complete tasks unless someone give me a shiny sticker for it.  Granted there were others that I rarely got a sticker for, or rarely achieved the necessary levels (never got my 100% spelling test on the board); but somehow that motivated me more to push forward on the things I could excel at.  My point, antidotal thought it is, is to show that success on some “incentive programs” and failure regarding other; did not ruin my ability to self-motivate and get stuff done. 

i do not think in any way it has limited me now, it was fun. I made Dean’s Honor Roll in college without a sticker chart to keep me on track.  I have been very successful at 2 challenging office jobs, no external sticker chart. Now, I do admit a dear love of my day timer and checking items off my to do list. 

In my opinion the incentive systems my grade school teachers used succeded, they had kept me excited about school work and accomplish (checking off) things long enough for me to internalize the drive.  The drive or motivation is now mine, internal, but if there had not been an external frame to encourage me until the seeds planted bloomed internally, who is to say if that internal drive and ability I have to personally set and accomplish goals would be as well honed as it is? 

I see rewards and incentive systems as an external exoskeleton; a framework or scaffolding to be in place until the tender young learner is more hardy and mature and has enough personal history to realistically see a challenge and know it can be met. 

It is hard to love something that is really a struggle; reading, school work, chores.  A perfect example:  reading can be a blast, it is a passion of mine, BUT until you get to the fun level it is hard.  Reading is hard, and can be very challenging and discouraging to a child until they have practiced enough to find their groove and feel successful.  If a star chart, a visual record of books read, a history of challenges over come, and also a goal to work towards, keeps a child engaged, excited and practicing until that child’s ability is more fluid and the child more at ease; then so be it, a star chart is better than fighting.  So if a 1st or 2nd grade is encouraged to push though a book that is a lot of effort for him, by the incentive of 10 books equaling a special pizza lunch, it gets him the practice he needs to make reading easier and fun so that he reads for a the joy of it later in life. 

I feel the idea of teaching / parenting our children without rewards or artificial incentives is in itself artificial.  Yes, that is kinda funny.  I challenge you to sit and color with your favorite 4 yo and NOT tell them “good job” or “nice work” or something like that.  🙂

we all have incentives — they maybe implicit rather than explicate most of the time, and as adults they are self imposed as often as not. I clean up dinner and the kitchen before i sit down with a book — that is self imposed, but i learned it by having the ‘SOP’ created for me and taught to me.  Most adults love their careers, but how many would keep doing it if there was no paycheck?

I think the issues, and discussion, should not be whether or not to use incentives (be it a reward system that earns the child something, or a visual system of accomplishment like a star chart that is the reward itself) but how to use them effective to help a child internalize rather then remain stuck on the external.  I think the discussion would be better directed that the appropriate and most beneficial use; both in timing and application. 

I think the fail comes if the incentives are too easy — my 5 year doesn’t need a potty chart, my 3 (almost 4) year has outgrown his too but they loved the excitement of getting to choose a sticker at one time.  Or if they become the end and not the task; I, personally, do not feel that “come on get that star” should be the main mantra of the classroom.  My older son attended pre-school at the public school part time last year; his classroom did have a “4 good days – happy sticker — = trip to treasure box”.  Big Brother was proud of the fact he never missed a sticker, and he did enjoy the treasure box.  My concern was the times I hear an adult in the class address the loss of a sticker in place of the behavior.  Example:  I was there for ST with my other son and sat outside the room listening (as I often did) a child is messing with another child’s paper, rather than the adult saying “do not mess with Johnny’s paper that is upsetting him” the adult said “you are going to loose a sticker”.  Now, in my view, that is a misuse of the sticker for good behaviors system.  Not that the child would loose the sticker, but that THAT loss of sticker was the discussion point and not the poor choice and the reason for the choice being poor.  Nevertheless that is not the system, which is laziness on the part of the adult using the system and that potential exists in every system; any good tool in life, and parenting or education, can be abused. 

I see star charts and posters and so on as a ‘fun’ thing, a way to make something a bit more visual for a child. A child that makes their bed each day for a month can’t see that accomplishment of diligence — but they can see a full star chart. A child is not going to internalize anything they can’t ‘see’ or stick with long enough to accomplish. 

I am planning to do something with Big brother soon, I am thinking something to earn (or loose) for each day of cheerful cooperation?  Stay tuned for that saga …

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I love this message

In reading today I came across, again, the letter Sarah Palin crafted for her family, about Trig.   Originally this message came out in the “secret e-mail” scandal.  The UK Daily Mail printed it; a letter Palin sent to her family; framed as a message about the blessing of Trig from God. 

I simply can not read this message and not cry.  I had to share it here, for all my momma buddies.  it is not new and i did not create it, but i do love it.

To the Sisters, Brother, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends of Trig Paxson Van Palin (or whatever you end up naming him!):

I am blessing you with this surprise baby because I only want the best for you. I’ve heard your prayers that this baby will be happy and healthy, and I’ve answered them because I only want the best for you!

I heard your heart when you hinted that another boy would fit best in the Palin family, to round it out and complete that starting five line-up. Though another girl would be so nice, you didn’t think you could ask for what you REALLY wanted, but I knew, so I gave you a boy because I only want the best for you!

Then, I put the idea in your hearts that his name should be “Trig”, because it’s so fitting, with two Norse meanings: “True” and “Brave Victory”. You also have a Bristol Bay relative with that name, so I knew it would be best for you!

Then, I let Trig’s mom have an exceptionally comfortable pregnancy so she could enjoy every minute of it, and I even seemed to rush it along so she could wait until near the end to surprise you with the news – that way Piper wouldn’t have so long to wait and count down so many days – just like Christmastime when you have to wait, impatiently, for that special day to finally open your gift? (Or the way the Palins look forward to birthday celebrations that go on for three, four days… you all really like cake .) I know you, I knew you’d be better off with just a short time to wait!

Then, finally, I let Trig’s mom and dad find out before he was born that this little boy will truly be a GIFT. They were told in early tests that Trig may provide more challenges, and more joy, than what they ever may have imagined or ever asked for. At first the news seemed unreal and sad and confusing . But I gave Trig’ s mom and dad lots of time to think about it because they needed lots of time to understand that everything will be OK, in fact, everything will be great, because I only want the best for you!

I’ve given Trig’s mom and dad peace and joy as they wait to meet their new son. I gave them a happy anticipation because they asked me for that. I’ll give all of you the same happy anticipation and strength to deal with Trig’s challenges, but I won’t impose on you…

I just need to know you want to receive my offer to be with all of you and help you everyday to make Trig’s life a great one.

This new person in your life can help everyone put things in perspective and bind us together and get everyone focused on what really matters . The baby will expand your world and let you see and feel things you haven’t experienced yet. He’ll show you what “true, brave victory” really means as those who love him will think less about self and focus less on what the world tells you is “normal” or “perfect”. You will grow and be blessed with greater understanding that will be born along with Trig.

Trig will be his dad’s little buddy and he’ll wear Carhartts while he learns to tinker in the garage. He’ll love to be read to, he’ll want to play goalie, and he’ll steal his mom’s heart just like Track, Bristol, Willow and Piper did. And Trig will be the cuddly, innocent, mischievous, dependent little brother that his siblings have been waiting for in fact Trig will – in some diagnostic ways – always be a mischievous, dependent little brother, because I created him a bit different than a lot of babies born into this world today.

Every child is created special, with awesome purpose and amazing potential. Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed up world you live in down there on earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome. Doctors call it “Down’s Syndrome”, and Downs kids have challenges, but can bring you much delight and more love than you can ever imagine! Just wait and see, let me prove this, because I only want the best for you!

Some of the rest of the world may not want him, but take comfort in that because the world will not compete for him. Take care of him and he will always be yours!

Trig’s mom and dad don’t want people to focus on the baby’s extra chromosome. They’re human, so they haven’t known how to explain this to people who are so caring and are interested in this new little Alaskan. Sarah and Todd want people to share in the joy of this gift I’m giving to the Palin family, and the greater Alaska family. Many people won’t understand… and I understand that. Some will think Trig should not be allowed to be born because they fear a Downs child won’t be considered “perfect” in your world. (But tell me, what do you earthlings consider “perfect” or even “normal” anyway? Have you peeked down any grocery store isle, or school hallway, or into your office lunchroom lately? Or considered the odd celebrities you celebrate as “perfect” on t.v.? Have you noticed I make `em all shapes and sizes? Believe me ,, there is no “perfect”!)

Many people will express sympathy, but you don’t want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on this.

I know it will take time to grasp this and come to accept that I only want the best for you, and I only give my best. Remember though: “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts… for as the heavens are higher than the earth, my ways are higher than yours!”

I wrote that all down for you in the Good Book ! Look it up! You claim that you believe me – now it’s time to live out that belief!

Please look to me as this new challenge and chapter of life unfolds in front of you. I promise to equip you. I won’t give you anything you can’t handle. I am answering your prayers. Trig can’t wait to meet you. I’m giving you ONLY THE BEST!

Love,

Trig’s Creator , Your Heavenly Father

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