I have watched my children do some really amazing things and I am often suprised by how capable, resilient, funny and loving they are and then I remember that it is not by coincidence or magic that they came to be this way.
This caused me to reflect on why my children, in varying degrees, are the way they are; critical thinkers, problem-solvers, ‘doers’, funny, loving and emotionally resilient. This is, by no means a how to, more of a how come post.
My comedic family
DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT A SENSE OF HUMOUR
That about sums up the way things are here. Self deprecation, dry wit, nonsense talk, family language, inside jokes and general goofiness is all part of the atmosphere at Chez Vix. Laughter, humour and fun are a magic recipe for developing self-esteem. It’s even better when you can laugh at yourself. If not, there will always be someone here to do it for you. The key here is finding the right balance so that no one feels like a joke but are rather part of the joke. The children never stood a chance.
Working it out
I figured the best way to teach my children was to let them work things out for themselves with guidance. How do children learn and master skills if they don’t get to ‘do’. My father used to admonish me for the things I let my children do but I refused to mollycoddle them. Bubble wrap belongs at the post office and messes can always be cleaned. Master 6 used a knife from a young age. They have all used a screwdriver to take apart objects and see how they work. Master 6 made me a cup of coffee for the first time last week. Bieber can chop vegetables like a pro. The Princess has been cooking, without supervision, for the last two years ( she just needs to work on the cleaning up part of the process!) and loves to mow the lawn. Red has performed many science experiments (today was build a sparkler bomb day – my only advice – someone please film it). All children should climb trees, ride a bike on the road and jump on a trampoline. It was interesting to see the trampoline inverted one day and the boys launching themselves against it. There have been numerous obstacle courses, dubious structures and elaborate game play. The children have always tested boundaries and their own limits but they have learned a hell of a lot along the way. I have taken my part as safety monitor, mediator, facilitator and paramedic. Yes, there have been some injuries but everything is dangerous if you don’t have the necessary skills or mind-set to ‘do’. See 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do). Not for the faint-hearted. The important thing here is; children are allowed to make mistakes, learn from them and try again.
The Rubber Band Theory
Emotional resilience – the ability to bounce back from the situations that life presents. My children are rubber bands. I don’t know how they came to be this way, but I’m guessing that stepping out of the picture and giving them the dialogue to negotiate problems and situations for themselves has probably been the contributing factor. I love that they get angry at each other, it’s healthy. It’s even better when I hear this, ‘See this? This is my angry face. You wanna piece of this?’ My father passed away in September, 2010. That was a big test, for all of us. It still is. We just talked our way through all the hurt, upset and anger. The Princess and Bieber have experienced bullying at school and while that breaks my heart for them, I had to overcome my own feelings and help them work out strategies to deal with it. The princess adopted the ‘delete’ technique where she deleted negative people from Facebook, her social set and most importantly, her mind. Bieber took the ‘ Emo/Shuffle, water off an ignorant duck’s back approach’ where he would hide under his enormous fringe, turn his back and shuffle. He completely ignores any person that is not worthy of his attention. I noticed this odd behaviour at graduation but trusted his judgement. He only allows positive people to enter his ‘mental domain’. My children all have their own interests and strengths as well as their foibles. Each child is valued and respected for what they can and can’t do. However, do expect a good-natured ribbing (please refer to My comedic family) with the underlying message of ‘we love you for you’.
I believe that it is not enough to tell your children you love them. You have to show it. Maybe that is why my children are the way they are. The power is in the ‘doing’ not the ‘saying’. My husband is not a big one for expressing his emotions verbally but there is not one person in this house that would doubt his love for them. The rough and tumble play, the joking and the ‘being’ is all part of the recipe for love. I had a secret giggle when I overheard my husband on the phone to his boss telling him that he hadn’t had a sleep (shift worker) because he was cooking naan bread with The Princess. One rainy weekend minus the shift working husband we were all a bit deflated. The Princess pulled out a 1000 piece puzzle and we all took turns adding to it throughout the day. 14 hours of love in that little display below.
I have realised that children don’t care what they are doing as long as they are doing it with you.
Love helps children develop good self-esteem. They learn where they belong in this crazy world and find ways to connect with others. It’s healthy. Our refrigerator is full of love. Photos, paintings and inspirational quotes that fly off when the door opens. I really need a cork board.
As I am writing this, I have just been handed a cupcake with Love written on top in pink icing. The Princess is busily cooking in the kitchen. I have just been handed another and couldn’t decipher the pink icing word on top. Happens, The Princess tells me, rolling her eyes. Love Happens.