Letting Go: They’re Growing Up—Part 2

Hi everyone. Hope those to whom this applies got to enjoy a wonderful Father’s Day doing exactly what they love to do. I know my hunny deserved a great day. Hope he feels he got one. 🙂

As we’ve all come to learn about Joanna Aislinn, she is not particularly good about creating—let alone sticking to—a schedule.

I am very glad, however, to have hosted Christine Warner as she launches her next book, Secret Love. (If you missed it, the link to last week’s post is below.)

I wanted to tie into Stacey Wilkes’ Life Lessons of a Mom posts one more time. (They’re quite interesting and very mom-relatable, or so says MHO.  Feel free to check them out.  I linked you to her most recent.  This one and this one are read-worthy as well.)

Ended my post-before-last on the topic of overprotective Italian mammas with a promise of a post about D-Day, a.k.a., the day Older Son’s acquired the dreaded DL. That would be the—scary music please—Driver’s License. (Thought I was bad the day the kid went on the ski trip.)

Joanna n baby boys  Older Son is on my right.  

Background: I always remember a day when Older Son was eight. I was standing on a neighbor’s porch, watching my boy cross the street alone. Out of nowhere a thought hit me: That boy is halfway to his driver’s permit.

Well, that stay of execution came, sooner than any parent wants, I guess. At sixteen-just-turned, the boy did his six-hours-behind-the-wheel course and practiced driving with his mamma every chance he could. (Talk about not feeling in control that first time the kid is controlling the car and mamma is in the passenger seat. The perspective changes big-time!)

DL Day came in December—on a snowy morning. He already had a car and went to school with it immediately after finishing his road test.

Aside: My Italian mamma didn’t let me take a car alone anywhere for the first six months. See? I’m much better at letting go than my ma was–and is. She’s an off-the-boat Italian mamma–and far, far worse than I. Just sayin’.

Back to the DL-Day: That evening, Older Son told me he was picking up his girlfriend at work, off a nearby, VERY BUSY highway. No way was that boy going onto THAT highway, and driving up a slippery, snowy and/or icy ramp in the dark w/o his mamma.

He did fine until after we picked her up. I knew where three lanes on that stretch become two; wasn’t sure the kid did. Not sure, either, whether he noticed the semi-trailer merging right to left—sans blinker—at that exact spot.

Mamma calls out: “Watch the truck!”

Older Son swerves left at the very instant a car flies by on the same side.

Don’t ask we didn’t get side-swiped. God was watching I’m sure.

We got out of there safely and dropped off his girlfriend at home.

Mamma promptly lost it, on the less-than-five-minute-drive between our houses. Older Son, in all his compassion, pulls over and hugs his mamma. “I knew this was coming.”

“I’m sorry! It’s just that I love you so much, and I know I can’t hold you back, but I’m so scared at the same time.” Sob, sniffle. Sniffle, sob.

The next morning, I got up and did the li’l old Italian lady thing—sobbed like a fool—while everyone else slept. The morning after that, the inspirational books came out.

By the end of that first week, people often asked, “How’s the driving going?”

“I’m doing much better,” I would answer.

I realized then I hadn’t texted the kid—for the first time in a week—to make sure he’d gotten to school.

I suppose I’m doing better, almost seven months since DL Day. I’ve survived his first snowboard trips with only a friend, and a spring-break ride to the shore. The next biggies: going to the shore with his friends and no parent(s).

The weekend-after-the-senior-prom deal is more than a year away.

I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

photo (33)  This was taken on the first day of this school year. (Only they aged, right? Right??) The brute on my right is Younger Son. He’s training for a lineman position for his high school’s football team. (Now why can’t either one of these guys be into a nice safe sport like…uh..tennis? 😉 )

Check out Christine Warner’s virtual visit here.

Have a great parent war story to share? I’d love to read about it! Solidarity!

Have a great week, everyone. Thanks for indulging me!

Joanna

Did The Kids Figure This One Out on Their Own?

Or do they just “get” something the rest of us don’t?

Happy Thursday after Easter, friends!

I apologize for not getting this up last week. Impending Spring Break messes with timelines for school-related paperwork, which has to take priority. (I always wonder though: God-forbid something serious happened to the person doing the write-up a few days prior–i.e., an injury–doesn’t the paperwork NOT get in on time? Does life stop because of that? Just sayin’… :))

Anyway, these thoughts were inspired by a conversation between me and my older guy a few weeks ago.

Most Friday mornings I drop my sixteen year-old son off at school. Our other regular passenger is his ‘girlfriend.’ I keep asking myself why I still put quotes around that word; they haven’t broken up once, and she’s been around three years (plus).

Yep. 1/26/10: that used to be part of my older guy’s text signature. This year, that date fell on a Saturday. It wasn’t until AFTER I picked them up at The Olive Garden that I realized why they’d made dinner plans and just assumed someone would drop them off and pick them up. (Yeah, the mommy in me got a little cranky with them doing that, but I’d missed the bigger picture up front. I got over it soon enough. And I got on my kid’s case about getting her flowers. Won’t tell you he’s lazy, but he can be a bit lackadaisical when it comes to doing things.)

Back to Friday mornings. He was doing his hair for school—I swear he’s the daughter I never had when it comes to his appearance—and I happened to ask about a woman who is best friends with the girlfriend’s mother. (Names are made up.)

“How’s Melanie?”

“She’s good.”

“Did she and Henry get back together?”

“Yeah. They’re back and forth all the time. They fight over stupid stuff. They’re like teenagers.”

“Have you and Fiona ever have a fight?”

“Not really. Her mom and Melanie are envious of us. They want to know what our secret is.”

I laughed. “I’ll tell you the secret: control. You and Fiona don’t try to do that to each other. You let each other be.”

“Yeah. I guess.”

Funny. I’ve got a pair of teen sweethearts who inherently get that. (Hubby and I do okay in that department, but every now and again it creeps up. Then we deal and hopefully have learned something new about each other, eighteen years down the married line.)

I’ve watched these kids in action over the past three years. Like her mom who grew up the youngest of five and the only girl, Fiona’s friends are mostly boys, the same ones who are my son’s core group. (Doesn’t seem to phase him none, to his credit.) Her appearance matters but she’s no diva, which is nice.

She and my son spend a ton of time together, but neither cares if one does something without the other. And—thank God!—there’s NONE of the ridiculous, “You can’t talk to that girl” or vice versa. (I’d probably bean either or both if they did. Can’t stand that nonsense.)

We’ve spent vacation time with her family and she’s come away with us. Spend that much time with someone, s/he’s bound to get on one’s nerves. Not so with this girl. They’re a lot alike—even resemble each other a bit—in how overall easygoing each one is.

Got me thinking about how much control gets in the way of having ANY relationship, and not necessarily a romantic one.

When one lives and lets live, life is so much easier on both sides. I can be me without worrying about feeling judged. Disagreements are seen as differences of opinion and not as a personal affront (most of the time anyway). I can do what I need to do without worrying someone else is going to get bent out of shape. When that goes both ways with a spouse, parent, child or friend, I’m can pretty much guarantee a respectful, peaceful and mutually satisfying relationship where two-way interaction just flows naturally.

What are your thoughts on this? Any experiences come to mind that you’d care to share? If positive, what made them so? And if not, how did you deal?

My little home in the woods. Water to go on in about a week–that means we can actually start going again! I’m psyched! 😀

My little home in the woods. Water to go on in about a week--that means we can actually start going again! I'm psyched! :D

Have a great day, all!

Joanna

Discipline V. Control (Part 3): The Fruits of Discipline

Happy Tuesday, friends! Hope this week is treating you all well so far. For those of you catching up with this particular series, here are links to the preceding posts. I’m hoping you don’t get sidetracked and remember to come back! 😀

Discipline V. Control–Part 1

Discipline V. Control–Part 2

Back to the fruits of discipline, I recently got to watch first-hand a great example of how my son and his friends are utilizing their current repertoire of fishing skills. As many of you know from previous posts, kids are often at my house and usually hanging out in the kitchen when I’m getting dinner ready or cleaning. We often engage in conversation and I take every opportunity I can to teach. (One can hope I do so without being preachy and/or without showing surprise, shock or disapproval for all the stuff kids know nowadays that I had probably just begun learning at their age. They keep coming back, so maybe I’m doing something right? I also happen to love middle-school and now, high-school-aged kids. If they don’t feel judged, they’re very open and a whole lot of fun to have around.)

Anyway, I had my older son’s ‘core crowd’ over on a Friday evening. One of the boys grabbed his coat too when his ‘girlfriend’s’ mother (the one whose dad is said to be strict) came to pick her up. He wanted a ride to a party to which he’d been invited by another friend who wasn’t present at the moment. Because he was in my house, I went into mother-mode and started asking questions.

In short, this boy couldn’t come up with the better responses any parent hopes to hear when a kid is off to a high-school party. The boy who invited the dude at my house was reported to have met the party host, a senior, earlier that day—and the inviter is not known for sound judgment up front.

Mind you, I’m dealing with freshmen. I also was not in a position to tell the invitee he couldn’t go, which I made clear to him as I plied him with queries for details of where he was headed.

The core crowd of kids at my house chimed in, advising this guy to not go (for all the right reasons, too). He put on his jacket anyway and left with his girlfriend. He was back in five minutes’ time, having opted to hang out at my house for the rest of the evening. (He’s recently joined the wrestling team and voices liking how it keeps him out of trouble by being busy after school.)

Could I have asked for better? No way. This was peer pressure at its most positive. My older son’s core crowd of friends is far from perfect, but that incident shows me they’re—fingers crossed—on their way to making more sound decisions as time goes on. Makes me feel good too, to know these are the kids my son is with outside the house. I also realize this is a just-for-today moment, but can pray that more of these will string together on their road to adulthood.

At least this post turned out a little shorter, lol. Your thoughts? Experiences? I’d love for you to take a moment and share yours here. We parents and guardians are on an immensely challenging journey of raising kids to face a world far bigger and menacing than the one with which our parents had to deal.

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Thanks so very much!

Wishing each of you a joyful day,

Joanna

Discipline V. Control–Part 2

Welcome back! Hope you’ve had some time to digest last post’s discussion. (If not, take a few minutes and read it now but don’t forget to come back!)

Are you ready to delve in a little further? Awesome. Just one quick thing: please remember, these are nothing more than my thoughts on these concepts, based on my parenting experiences to date. By no means do I consider myself an expert.

I ended last time with this thought: Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in the process of discipline.

Back to Dictionary.com: Respect has multiple definitions, but I chose those that apply to this essay.

As a noun, it refers to (1) esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability; (2) deference to a right, privilege, privileged position.

As a verb: (1) to hold in esteem or honor; (2) to show regard, or consideration for (i.e., someone’s rights); (3) to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with (i.e., a person’s privacy).

I won’t declare I’ve always practiced respect in all my parenting decisions. I can’t aver that I inherently understood what it means to show regard for my children’s needs. I am, however, blessed by having internalized early on that a little person does have feelings that need to be considered, something that hit me very clearly one day when my older guy was about eight months old.

We were on some multi-errand run and probably on, at the very least, our sixth stop. This means the little guy had already been dragged in and out of his car seat eleven times. Now mind you, this little guy had always been fine with being in the swing or bouncer or stroller for as long as I needed him to be or was willing to go. (He’s still pretty cool that way.) As I strapped him in for time number twelve, he started crying. Chances are, I was initially irritated with his reaction, but luckily, compassion clicked in and it hit me: This guy is tired. He’s had enough and shouldn’t be subjected to his mother’s inability to slow down.

I’d read parenting books—God knows, they abound— and then beat myself up over not being a ‘good mom’ because I couldn’t make the ideals depicted in those books happen. Lucky for me, a close friend (and mom) would remind me that if there were ONE most effective means, there’d be a lot fewer books on the topic. (My favorite: Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate, by Elizabeth Pantley. Currently, I’m browsing through George M. Kapalka’s Parenting Your Out-of-Control Child: An Effective, Easy-to-Use Program for Teaching Self-Control. Came across that one at a case manager’s office at school, and thought I could glean some wisdom for dealing with my younger, somewhat anxious, reactive and much-more-of-a-challenge son. BTW, if anyone is interested, he’s be available through Lent. I’m giving him up to the first willing taker. ;))

Okay, now that I’ve gotten sidetracked almost beyond repair, I learned, by reading those parenting books, that discipline is a form of teaching, as well as a form of living. My job is not to make the kids do what I say (controlling), but to guide them to the best choice available at any given moment (discipline).

Hopefully, they’ll exercise good judgment up front. When they don’t, one could hope they take advantage of the ‘opportunity to learn,’ assuming the consequences of their action(s) aren’t overly devastating or life threatening in any way. (Elizabeth Pantley deals with how to use natural consequences—or create logical ones—very nicely in her book.)

This segues me to the old adage, Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. When I fight for my way or that instant response to what I tell my kids to do for no other reason beyond I want my way (Gasp! Controlling again!), I’m not teaching them to fish. By guiding them to make wise choices today, I can only hope they’ll be laying out a foundation to make even wiser choices as they get older, and especially when they’re in a position to make (big) decisions without someone more experienced at their side.

We’ll pick up next time with the fruits of discipline.

So what are your thoughts on all this so far? What have you learned on your journey relative to authority and kids? No, you don’t have to be a parent to join the discussion. All kinds of interactions count (i.e., those of teachers, psychologists, baby sitters, siblings, grandparents, etc), so don’t be shy!

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. As always, I thank you!

TTFN,

Joanna

Finally! That New Series I Promised: Discipline V. Control

Discipline or Control?

I’m dedicating this one to my sweet friend Indi—from whose wisdom I gain so much, and who was kind enough to let me know she’d be looking forward to this post! (Has she been patient, too. Little did either of us know a single page of thoughts would morph into…ten?)

Yep. This one will be a series, friends and followers. One that will probably cover a minimum of five posts. Please feel free to chime in as often as you like. All thoughts welcome!

As many of you who read my musings regularly know, my boys are now teens. The older is fifteen, the younger thirteen. On almost any given day you’ll find as few as one and as many as seven of his friends in my home. During Christmas vacation, nine of them dropped in for an early afternoon ‘breakfast.’ One had come in from another state for the holiday, and was staying with a cousin where a total of eleven kids were hanging out for the week. (Two of those guys didn’t want to leave their video games. Off track as usual—sorry! Point is, I get to know these kids, and they start feeling like my own.)

As a mom, I often ask myself Am I raising them right? From the day my guys were born, my biggest struggle has always been finding a balance between disciplining them vs. being controlling. Just maybe, I’m starting to see the fruits of all these years of (frequently) agonizing over which one I am in any given situation that calls for me—or hubby—to step in and exercise parental authority.

Please bear with me through this disjointed trip, set to be delivered in a minuimum of five posts. (I know I get long-winded. Being someone who gets excited when I happen onto a short post elsewhere, I’m trying to do the same in my own blog home. And yes, seems I’ve fallen short again…)

Let’s start with definitions.

According to Dictionary.com, discipline has several definitions; among those training, punishment and instruction to a disciple (i.e., student).

Control, on the other hand, is to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command. (This one can give me the heebie-jeebies when I see it in action, or how its negative effects can manifest themselves.)

Real-life story illustration: On the Saturday before Christmas, we’d just gotten home around 8:30 PM from a get together at my sister’s-in-law. Within the hour, I’m hearing kids’ voices outside calling out to my older son. I figured they were coming from another friend’s, who lives three doors down from me. They came in for a minute then headed back out.

One of the girls often complains about how strict her parents are, especially her father. After they left, hubby asked if that particular dad knew his daughter was out walking around at that hour. I had no clue.

Didn’t think much about it until the next day, when one of those who was out the night before was over with her mom, and I made mention of my husband’s comment. This girl’s mom went off a bit on her daughter, after she realized her daughter and the other friends wandering around the night before had essentially been stranded at a neighborhood restaurant (which amounts to a 25-30-minute walk from my house). Sounds like a disagreement between the kids at the restaurant resulted in their ride being cancelled by the boy whose dad was supposed to provide it.

My immediate thought was: my kids would never have thought twice about calling me to pick them up. The girl whose father is strict may have been afraid to call. My son’s ‘girlfriend’ stated, “We didn’t want to bother you,” and the boy with them rarely asks for a ride from his parents. (His stepdad watches his toddler brother and his mother works on Saturday nights. His father lives about a half-hour away.)

The situation made me feel really good about my relationship with my kids so far. When they were really small, I found it very tough and often terribly frustrating to manage (a.k.a. control)  busy boy behaviors. Seems like then it was all about them getting to do what I wanted or expected, and I often felt resentful those times they did not. (Sometimes I still feel that way, lol.)

Too many times, I grappled with whether I was being permissive or letting them make choices out of respect for them as people, especially after I’d set a boundary then found myself discussing/negotiating it (a supposed no-no in the way of effective parenting, or so I’ve heard here and there).  Maybe what appeared to be negotiating then was my way of thinking aloud and making sense of the process as I lived it. (I still do that and my poor kids have to listen to it, lol. Good thing that older one is patient!)

Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in this process. We’ll talk more about this in the subsequent post. In the meantime, please go ahead and add your thoughts and experiences on this subject. Not an easy one, but one that is manageable with a shift in mindset.

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. As always, I thank you!

Until next time,

Joanna