Teaching love

standard April 6, 2011 Leave a response

“What makes you crabby?” I asked C in the car this morning as we drove to school?

She thought for a moment before answering.

Being hungry. Being tired. Being nervous or impatient about something. The answers came out slowly at first, then faster as she warmed up to the subject.

We were talking about a little boy she’s been having issues with at school. She thinks he’s mean to her, that he singles her out and says stuff to hurt her feelings on purpose.

I’m not saying she’s wrong, but the fact that the teacher has never noticed (in a classroom of 12 kids) makes me think that maybe, just maybe, she’s perceiving meanness where only grumpiness resides.

So, in the car, instead of telling her that I thought maybe this little boy got grumpy at times and lashed out at her, I tried to get her to come to that conclusion herself.

It didn’t take long for her to make the jump.

I don’t want her to spend her life making excuses for people when they’re mean to her, but I would love for her to learn early on that few people are really intentionally mean and that often they’re just caught up in their own issues. It’s unbelievably easier to forgive people and move on when you realize that.

“But what if he isn’t crabby, what if he’s just mean?” Her little voice reached me from the back seat. Timid, sad and a little subdued. Because if he’s just plain mean, then no amount of empathy will change anything.

“Well, then you remember how many people love you and think you’re awesome and you just walk away.” It’s only taken me some 30 years to learn this. I didn’t think she’d buy it in a five minute car chat. One glance back in the rear view mirror confirmed my fears. Mommy’s mumbo jumbo wasn’t being swallowed.

“Babe? Who loves you?” I asked. She shrugged and looked down. I prodded a bit, but got no further than a few shaking points in my direction and in the direction of the absentee passengers who usually ride with us – daddy and Little L. I was running out of time so I filled in the blanks for her.

As name after name rolled off my tongue I watched her in the mirror. First her head perked up, then her shoulders moved back, her chin lifted, her eyes started to shine. When her smile appeared I started to skip people in my list and she filled in the blanks in a voice that kept growing louder and louder.

I filled her with the names of all the people who loved her unconditionally and when she was full to the brim with all of their invisible support I reminded her that for every person who will ever be mean to her, there will always be tons more who can show her how that one person is not important.

When I dropped her off at school there was a bounce in her step that hadn’t been there when she’d walked to the car. And tonight… well, tonight she asked for that little boy to be added to her birthday party guest-list. Because apparently, when he’s happy and he laughs, he’s really very nice.

What a weekend

standard March 28, 2011 3 responses

I’m sitting here on my couch, feet up on the table, TV blathering on the side… and I’m just blanking on words.

I had the most amazing, transformative weekend and I’m just too tired to even try to articulate it.

Just… wow.

Imagine 28 complete and utter strangers coming together, in one room, for three days. At first glance we had nothing in common except for a circumstantial interest in Life Coaching.

Then after three intense days learning the fundamentals of this coaching program – partnering up for coaching exercises, listening to each other share, open up, and dig deep to share our innermost hopes and fears – it was like a room full of best friends.

We left tonight and parted ways in the parking lot, then we drove away amidst much waving, honking, and other last minute attempts to keep the connections going a tiny bit longer.

The drive home was surreal.

When I arrived at the coaching center on Friday afternoon all I knew was that thought I could maybe see if coaching was a good fit for me.

When I left this evening I was convinced that it was so.

I’m good at this. Even better, it feels easy, natural. Like I’m finally slipping into the perfect skin.

There is so much more to share – like the massive tire blow-out on Saturday morning (no relation to the coaching training and no one got hurt!) – but I need to let it all just soak in tonight. Just bask in the moment.

That’s it. I’m going to go bask. In my bed. With my eyes closed. And if light snoring ensues… well so be it. I’ll be basking in my dreams of my future. Or something like that.

Think before you speak

standard February 25, 2011 2 responses

There is an old French adage that says that you should “turn your tongue seven times in your mouth before speaking.” Now, as a kid I spent a LOT of time wondering just how one is supposed to “turn” their tongue. Which is definitely not the point of the old saying, but probably did keep me from blurting out anything unthinkingly, which is the point. So maybe it does work.

This week, on his favorite podcast, my husband heard some more constructive and helpful advice on watching what you say before you speak. Five simple questions that will ensure that you never say anything you’ll regret later.

1)      Is what you’re about to say true?
2)      Is what you’re about to say kind?
3)      Is what you’re about to say useful?
4)      Is what you’re about to say timely?
5)      Does what you’re about to say further the connection between you and the other person? (Optional in that it doesn’t lend itself to every interaction you might have during the day.

Imagine for a moment that every person you work with used these questions before speaking? Meetings would be shorter, interactions would be more efficient, and feelings would never get ruffled.

Now imagine that you take those questions into consideration before talking to your husband, to your kids, to your friends. Nice, right?

Like any new habit, it’ll take a while to get used to pausing before you speak and making sure your words are filled with the right intent. But I guarantee that it will become second nature sooner rather than later, especially when you start to notice the impact on your interactions.

Calendar challenges

standard January 31, 2011 5 responses

I sat down tonight to put everything from our home calendar and my phone calendar into my new life planner. Between what’s in my head, what’s on the fridge, and what’s in my phone, it’s amazing I haven’t missed more appointments in the last couple months.

C’s school has umpteen events, the preschool has a ton going on, I have work appointments and, when I can, I see my friends. I the middle of all that there are the kids themselves, the husband, and the simple fact that I work 25 hours per week.

Oh, yeah, and that coaching thing that I want to do. Four four day seminars being hosted in a town over an hour away. Seminars that I somehow have to fit into my already hectic life.

The first seminar is scheduled for the first week of May, Wednesday through Saturday. That Monday M kicks off a 4 week trial and that Friday C has grandparent’s day at school followed by a Spring concert in the evening.

The second seminar is scheduled for the first week of June, same days… that week C is off school Thursday and Friday.

We’ll figure it out. I‘ll figure it out. It might involve a bunch of driving to get back for the concert, and it might involve hiring a temporary sitter for those four days to drive the kids around and be there in the evening. But it definitely won’t be easy or guilt-free. 

When I first got everything down on the page of the planner, I blanched. The timing couldn’t be worse. The timing could never be worse. There’s always going to be a school event, a daycare thing, a work to do. There’s always going to be me facing two paths – the mom path and the personal path – and feeling torn no matter which I chose.

I looked to see if maybe there were alternate seminar dates, but for the time being these are the only two sessions offered. I hesitated, looked at the already chaotic week, then I wrote them down in the book, in pen no less, and I made a mental note to find a childcare solution for the days I’d be gone.

If I didn’t truly believe that this was the road I need to take to eventually be home more for my kids, if I didn’t truly believe that this was the right path for me, I might have shrugged my shoulders, closed the book, and moved on. But I need to remember that those two paths – the family path and the me path – they bob and weave and intersect over and over again. Even more importantly they feed off of each other.

I can’t be a great mom if I’m not at peace inside my head, and I can’t be at peace inside my head if I don’t pursue my dreams. Maybe the calendar challenge is really a big deal, or maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill – letting Egmos do his thing, creating the doubt, making me think I’m not worth the effort and the extra hassle.

Either way, I’ll find a way to make it work. I have to.