As time goes by, I am amazed of the effect that a good role model can have in a child’s life. Children, adolescents, and grown people are the product of two guardians committing to there well being. I recently heard a quote from a father lamenting his absence from his children’s lives during WWII. He went on to say that half the job of being a father was just providing warm houses, placing shoes on feet, providing hot dinners, and just showing up.
This idea of just being present resonated with me. I realized that what I treasured most about my father was the time he gave to me. I remember the early homework sessions, the shared stories, and the day I thought my heart would burst with happiness. My best friend Tracey and I were jumping rope in the driveway with a bunch of neighborhood kids. My parents arrived home and parked on the street so that we could continue jumping. My dad set down his bag of groceries and jumped into our turning rope. I was stunned and delighted. That day has been etched in my mind as one of the happiest times of my life. I wondered why this memory still seems so clear. While it is wrapped in a color washed patina, it is still filled with all of the scents, light, and joy of that day.
I think I understand now. Time is a precious commodity. It is the most valuable thing we have to sell in this life. When men shower their attention and love on a child, the child is enriched and made important in their world. They are validated by the unspoken approval given when a parent deems them worthy of time and consideration.
Men so often are absent. We expect them to be men and provide in acceptable venues. We question their manliness if they do not bring home considerable “bacon”. I believe that men bring a more valuable currency to the family. They bring their time and energy. That is what will change lives, our planet, and our children. Time spent versus money spent is what we should measure a successful man by.
Any boy can have a paper route…it takes a man to raise a family.
Watch where you sit on the first day of school. You might be sitting next to your new best friend or your maid of honor. It happened to me it can happen to you.
As the school year begins for me and my new charges, I am reminded of that fateful day that I met my first best friend, Jackie. I was new to Brooklyn, New York and it was unlike any place that I had ever been before. Everyone looked like me. What a novelty. No one looked like me in Toronto, Canada at the time. Unfortunately, no one sounded like me in Brooklyn that day in 1971.
I had shown up that day in my prettiest dress and my white hair ribbons. My fellow classmates gazed back at me in jeans, t-shirts, and Chuck Taylors. When the teachers introduced me to the class, everyone gaped at me. Not a good start by any means. But, to add insult to injury I opened my mouth and believe me Brooklyn did not come out. It could have been a miserable time except for the kindness of friends. I met one of my dearest lifelong friends on that day, and it has made all the difference in my world. Love you, Jackie. Always will.
<Australia’s Sun Coast
There comes a moment in every mothers life when she realizes that the boy she took care of as a child has become a man. Oh, there were hints, whiffs, and physical manifestations that the growing process had begun along the way. But, one day your son does something that speaks to your heart. That moment tells you that your boy is now a man. While there were hints as I said before, the pivotal moment occurred for me last year.
Every year Nathaniel and I travel together with students to far away places. We interview and then prepare them throughout the year. The real test is how they conduct themselves in a foreign land away from parents and family. Our goal is to create a temporary family unit while they are away from their own. But, as you know, students get homesick and every child is open to some high jinks. After a couple of days into our expedition to Australia, I noticed that all the young men were straining to be with Nathaniel or to at least emulate him. Some of the girls developed crushes, but the most important thing was the comfort and safety he provided. Nathaniel helped heal some of the homesickness which is a natural part of international travel. The most eye opening part of our trip was the way that Nathaniel rallied the male members of our delegation to feel responsible for our delegation. All the boys helped with the management of our luggage and the safety of our female members. My son was showing boys how to become men.
Nathaniel was a funny, athletic, polite, moody, game playing boy. Nathaniel is now a musical, kind, and thoughtful man. His maturation has been a wonderful thing to behold.
So, it happened again. One of my little darlings came to school yesterday with the sad news: they were moving away. This happens so often, it happened to me. If you are a teacher I am sure it has happened to most of you. Relocation occurs for terrific reasons and terrible ones.
In this new world economy, families are sent to all parts of the country (as well as the world). Relocation allows us to “Lean in” so that a parent or guardian can realize their full career and earning potential. A relocation can offer a glimpse of a new world and enhance the life experiences of the entire family. However, I also have students who are relocating due to an unfavorable life event, such as divorce, death, or custody issues. In these cases there is often little time to smooth the way for a positive transition for the individual into their new life.
Transitioning into your family’s new world can be made smoother by employing a few processes that I have used though several relocations.
What is a parent, guardian, or educator to do to ease the transition for the youngster who is going to be taken away from the familiar and the routine?
These are a few of the things that I have learned that helped my children and students transition from one living situation to another.
1) Anchor children in their present.
2) Link them to their past.
3) Engage them in their future.
Read these titled Blog posts for more details.
I had been teaching children a long time when I noticed that every year I would get 5 to 6 students who seemed to shine in the classroom. They were just wonderful kids. They were kind, pleasant, happy, and not necessarily the smartest students in the class. They just seemed to be grounded and were able to delay gratification. They also were capable of great empathy and seemed to always have a positive attitude.
Every year I assign a family history project, and after a time I began to see a correlation between these kinds of students . These students knew extensively about their family history and relations. They knew were they came from and who their family members were. It also seemed that the size and/or negative information contained in their family history did not matter to the student. In fact it was with relish I was told about some of the family skeletons in the closet. I suppose the child’s response was based how the information about family was presented to the child. Some students even saw the negative information a proof that their family was strong enough to overcome adversity. I am sure that some information must be left to the discretion of the parent and guardians. I feel that the sharing of information tends to anchor the child in their life. This allows children to put themselves on the timeline of their family. I believe this answers internal questions and raises self esteem.
As your family moves from location to location , your children will always be home as they are anchored in your family’s history.
Grandma Ruby at 15
It has been my experience that the more my children were involved with the day to day running of their lives, the easier it was for them to adapt to various re locations. You are probably doing these routines already:
- Family meal time
- Consistent bedtimes
- Extended Family and friends interactions
- Family vacations and outings
- Organized sports activities
- Youth based organizations
- Weekly Religious Practice
I found that these activities formed the framework of my children’s lives and therefore each component was reproducible in another location. Any of these activities can become a touchstone for your child. Touchstones help link children to their lives. Their familiarity allows youngsters to feel some measure of control and assurance in an unsettling time.
Every change in a childs life alters their future. Like a stone dropped in still water, the ripple of change is far reaching and has life altering consequences. Relocation can open new worlds, enhance learning, and allow one to re-invent oneself.
Engaging kids in their future gives them the ability to see all moves in a positive light. Everything that happens can lead them to the dream they want to make happen. In order for you to help your child envision their future, you have to get clear about your future and your vision for your family.Having a plan for your family allows you to make essential decisions and to chart your course through this life. A family mission statement will let your family know where you’re going, how you will get there, and what will be waiting there for you. Even toddlers understand when the ideas are broken down for them. Setting goals is a powerful exercise that is good for the family and teaches personal actualization skills. Goals can be as simple as:
- We will save all of our change this year so we can donate them to a charity.
- We will have or travel to a family reunion in 3 years.
Working together on goalsand taking part in the success of the family allow children to envision themselves as lifelong achievers.
Another way to envsion children in their future is for them to see how and where you make your living. Work is often an abstract concept for children and the actual experience of seeing you work helps them make sense of the world. This will lay the ground work with which they will use to plan their future.
Finally, allow your children (when possible) to visit your elders. The relationships that are transgenerational are especially rich.
The visions my parents had for me and my family were so big. I feel that we far exceeded them. The visions you have for your family will be realized and your children engaged no matter where in the world you take them.
Last Thursday my baby turned 21 and yesterday I threw her an “old lady party” with lots of sweet drinks, sugared desserts, and of course: quiche. The assembled “village”of her life sat in our sun drenched living room with smiles, laughs, and love in their eyes. After tearful toasts, more food, warm hugs, and heartfelt goodbye’s the house was silent. Everyone had left for their lives.
I shuffled to the shower and let the warm water slide over my head. Under my man made waterfall I took a moment to reflect n my life so far. How fortunate I have been so far. Even my heartbreak has been in most ways fortuitous. There is not much else I can ask for in this life and a multitude of things I give thanks for daily.
So, if this is the second adulthood of which I have read and studied, what happens next? I pondered what should I do next. Taking stock of what I have and what I want will be first. The first part is relatively easy, but the latter may take some time. I’ll let you know.
When I was a teenager there was a magazine campaign featuring legendary actresses sporting mink coats. The photos were tres chic but, I was more taken with the tag line: “What becomes a legend most?” I never thought that I would feel the same as those high fallootin’ celebrities. Fortunately, being a mom has become the greatest role of my lifetime.
So, on the anniversary of my daughter’s break out role as a new soul coming to the planet, I want to thank her for the twenty six years that she has allowed me to take credit for her beauty, innate goodness, and fascinating mind. Nikki makes me look good and that ultimately will be what becomes my legend. No mom can ask for more.
I leaped heart racing from my bed this morning as I forgot once again to take the house phone to bed with me. The ringing at 6 am filled me with apprehension and fear. Every between adult (one who has almost grown kids, siblings who are evolving, and ageing parents) knows the times that the phone rings only when there is an emergency. In this case the caller ID revealed that it was my mother’s cell phone.
Answering the phone with trepidation, it ushered in my mother’s frantic voice. “I dreamed that your father died and I did not know what to do”, whispered my mother. “If that happens, I will come for you”, I said assuredly. Weary and shaken, I hung up the phone after talking to my calm as the ocean dad. My mother suffers from varying stages of dementia and several things chilled me about our conversation this morning. Besides the initial fear of hearing the words that frighten me to my core was the fact that I realized, what do I do when the lion is afraid?
My mother has been the lioness of our family. There is no hesitancy in her defense , her pride, or her love of us. Recently, when my dad was mugged he laughed at the memory of my mom’s fight to defend him. That is who she is, and who she will always be for me. So, now it seems that I am the head lioness. Would that I be as valiant and lionhearted as my mother.