Kid in the Parent (Conscious parenting, Playfulness)

We were in the pool and, out-of-the-blue

Her – “Papa said you have a man’s body but inside you’re really a kid.”

I laughed

Me – “He said that?”

Her – “Yeah.”

Me – “Well, that’s nice to hear. Part of me is a kid.”

Her – “You’re playful.”

That warmed my heart to hear from her perspective as I’ve wanted to be a more playful parent. I think I’ve been too serious.

Anyway, through the window I could see my Dad

Me – “My Dad was fun to grow up with. He spent time with me. He laughed when I did long burps and let me be silly and enjoyed it. I felt free around him. Then sometimes he would get really firm but not too much.”

Her – “Like you get mad.”

Me “Yeah but not too much. I try.”

It’s nice to see that my attempts to be loving and more playful in moments throughout the day are felt and seen. That makes me want to do it even more.

You’re Capable (Self-image, Confidence, Independent thinking)

She called out from the other room where she was watching TV. She was alarmed but not panicked.

Her – “Daddy, there’s a wasp in the house!”

She was, of course, asking me to come and take care of it. In a calm “nothing to it” tone I responded

Me – “Okay, open the door and let it out.”

She got up, and it went quiet.

Me – “Did you open the door? Is it out?”

Her – “Yeah.”

Me – “Nice going handling it.”

The message?

“You’re capable. You don’t need me to save you from most things. You can figure it out. But… if you stumble or get overwhelmed, yes, I’ll be there. Even then, unless you’re in immediate danger, I probably won’t save you fully. I’ll help a bit as you get it done for yourself.”

You can do it. I know you can.

Federer and Italia (Humor)

She got back from her Mom’s for a visit and wanted to watch TV. My Mom and Dad are here, and Italy was playing Spain in the Euro. My Mom very patiently nudged her into giving her the TV to watch. Isabella counted down the minutes like she was watching grass grow. When Italy had won, she turned the station only to see Wimbledon on.

Me – “Wait! That’s Federer. Don’t turn the station.”

She turned it back and then to cartoons and then back quickly.

Me – “You might as well get used to no TV for the next two weeks. Wimbledon is on. Even when we’re sleeping I’m leaving it on so Wimbledon energy gets in the air.”

My Mom laughed.

I was serious.

Italian Football and Federer at Wimbledon…

Priorities.

Phineas and Ferb will just have to wait.

Toasting My Dad (Gratitude, Values, Family, Grandparents)

Blessed to enjoy a day with my little girl and my parents. Built a car with my daughter. Played in the pool and read together. My Mom prepared her 30,000th incredible meal despite my insistence on keeping it simple. My parents opened a 38year old bottle of wine and we reflected on how much happened in that time. I told my girl at the dinner table what I admired most about my Dad – his kindness, the way he treats the people in his life, his honesty and his discipline and positive habits. We toasted him and he of course gave credit to my Mom. Always sharing the credit.

Free Range Chicken Parenting (Freedom, Independent thinking)

I greatly dislike parenting styles that are rigid and that constantly manage a child’s every move with a serious tone, and I’m not comfortable with the other extreme of just letting them be fully.

In short, I try to parent in sort of a free range chicken kind of way. Not the best analogy, I know, but it makes the point. I create fairly wide parameters most of the time within which she can roam freely and feel the way she is mean to feel – a happy, free, supported kid.

Sure, go to the fridge and get yourself a snack, but be sensible if it’s getting close to dinner and no if it’s ten minutes before dinner as that just makes no sense

Sure, eat the candy or popsicle, but be sensible with what you know about health and take care of your teeth without me having to remind you

Sure, go outside with your friend and explore, but wear your shoes if you’re wandering around, stay away from the road (high speed road), and use good sense

Sure, make a mess in the house, let your imagination run freely, but then pick it up within a reasonable time and without me having to badger you to do it

And so on.

When I do put my foot down, it’s usually after a reminder or two about the parameters. Admittedly, sometimes I tire of repeating myself. Most days, though, my parenting style works well. There is a warm connection, and, with this in tact, it’s easy to gain her cooperation. Without that warm connection or being sensitive to what she is feeling and thinking, it becomes a power struggle. I don’t like those and try to stay away from that.

Despite my ‘free range chicken’ style, she’ll still come to me and ask me things that I prefer not to be questioned on. This morning, she asked me if she could have watermelon.

Me – “Of course you can have it. Why are you asking me? Just do it.”

A little while ago, she plopped a candy roll in front of me. I knew she was asking me if I could have it but instead

Me – “Oh, thanks!”

I took a few pieces and munched happily

Her – “Hey, I want some!”

Me – “Oh, I thought you brought those for me.”

I smiled

Me – “You don’t have to ask me about little things. Use your own good judgment.”

No person wants to feel managed and bossed around, and I don’t want her feeling that way, either, especially in her home. Home is a place to feel free, relaxed and connected. I’ve not found that a rigid parenting style helps. In fact, not only is it ineffective, but when I do slip into that serious more controlling place I usually feel lousy for the rest of the day. It’s not who I want to be, and it’s not how I want to relate to her. Plus, for the long-term, I want her to learn to make decisions for herself. That requires letting her figure things out and occasionally making poor choices.

Let a kid be a kid.

Cultivating Leadership (Values, Leadership)

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When we think of young kids, we don’t usually think about developing them into leaders. But I think it’s important. It’s been said that if you really want to grow your life and prosper, develop yourself as a leader. Might as well start planting some of the mentalities early on while I work on that in my own self and life.

This morning, we worked on her Fairy Garden for the fourth time. She sort of entered this summer day in a lazy way. That’s probably as it should be with her late nights and the long pool day she had yesterday. Nevertheless, she made a list of things she wants to do this summer, and I’m balancing allowing her to just be with nudging her forward on her stated goals. So, after a few prompts, we were out cutting vines. She lost her enthusiasm quickly, so I direct her to be the one to carry away all of the things I was cutting down.

At one point, she stopped and went inside. I complained but didn’t force her. My parents, though, who had been out there observing did tell her, “Your Dad’s doing all the work. You should be out there.” She peered through the bedroom window at me as I continued to cut, and I prompted her again.

Me – “Come on. You said you wanted to get a good sweat today. Let’s get more done. You have all day to do other things. Come on.”

She came back and started hauling things away.

Me – “You know, this Fairy Garden is yours. That makes you the leader.”

Her – “Me?”

Me – “Yes. And, do you think if I was working for you and saw your attitude and work ethic right now I’d be inspired?”

She shook her head no.

Me – “People look to the leader. The leader sets the tone in attitude and effort. You can say, “Come on, let’s do it. Yes, we’re a little tired, but think how good we’re going to feel standing in it soon with it all cleared. Let’s put in a little more work.” Now, can you see the difference in that kind of an approach?”

Her – “Yes, Daddy.”

Of course, she’s eight, so I’m not expecting her to blossom into some inspiring leader today. Besides, it’s already in her. There are times we work on projects and she pretty much does what I described just when I feel like stopping. Her enthusiasm carries me forward.

But leadership is what you do when you’re tired and off, as well. So, I thought it was a good discussion.

We stopped soon after. Progress made and a leadership mentality planted…