Could We Possibly Have Done Something Right? (Part 3)

Happy Week after Thanksgiving, friends! I am truly grateful for every one of you, among the multiple blessings in my life. We had a wonderful day (somehow, without turkey to go with the leftover stuffing). And Younger Son turned 15 on Saturday. I had a houseful of loony boys, made five pizzas and a brownie version of a cake. Cleaned on Sunday. I definitely missed out on any ‘relax’ gene that might have been handed out in my family.

Thanksgiving 2013 Before all the sides dishes made it to the table. Too lazy to pull out the fine china and crystal this year. We got through. 😉

Okay, so we took a week off and now we’re back to talking the parenting thing. In case you missed them, here are links to preceding posts one and twoBTW, this series is not meant to be a tutorial on how to get kids to do chores.  I wanted to share  my own amazement at positive–unsolicited–behaviors from my guys of late, and how blessed I feel because of it. The rest, as the saying goes, seems to have taken on a life of its own.  

Here is where we left off: EXPECTING my children to BE responsible is probably the crux of what I hope to have taught them to date.

My end as a parent includes teaching–but more importantly–modeling responsibility. And, if possible, with a minimum of grumping. (An area in which I hope to have improved as they’ve gotten older. Not sure I always modeled graciousness, folks, especially when they were younger.)

Far as I can tell I started when they were very young. (At least I think I did!)

Cant’ say it was all that complicated either. (It shouldn’t be, especially if you want to insure success.)

One of the first things I did was have the kids make their beds daily. (BTW, I do too, or Hubby does.) I always kept the job simple: all they had to do was straighten/fluff their pillows and pull up a comforter. (Note: Their beds only had a fitted sheet. I’ve never used a flat top sheet b/c it’s a bit much for kids to handle getting the bed done the way this mamma likes, so I skip it to this day.)

They also dressed themselves. Can’t remember who picked out their clothes—knowing my controlling self I’m sure I ‘guided’ them to outfits I liked, especially since I most likely picked out most of them at the store. ;).

My other biggie: I handed each kid his backpack to carry from Day One. Every now and again one or both would ask me to hold them while they ran a race with other kids walking home. No problem! I did, but gave them back immediately upon completing the race.

(That’s subtext again. What I didn’t say but showed through my actions. Speaks way louder than words, folks.)

One after-school episode stands clear in my mind pictures: that of a mom—I’m sure a very kind-hearted and compassionate one—leaving the playground after school ended for the day. THREE backpacks hung off her shoulders while she simultaneously balanced a very wide box of cupcakes with both hands. Her daughters walked in front of her twirling umbrellas. ‘Nough said.

And just the other day, my neighbor stopped to chat. She’d just picked up her kindergarten-aged twin boys. She was carrying two backpacks.

I bit my tongue and chatted about how big the boys are getting.

Next time: Not being afraid to do what you have to do.

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Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right?–Part 2

Hope everyone had a great week and weekend. Sorry for last week’s posting snafu. Funny. I made a mental note to change the date on the ‘inspired some more’ write-up, but forgot to check the note, I guess. 😉

“What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?”

That’s where I left off last post. If you missed it, you might want to check it out. (Pinky swear: it ain’t all that long, and lays the groundwork for this one.)

As I stated previously, my coworker’s question really struck me, and I’ve been wondering about it ever since. Those of you who have been hanging around the blog for a while might remember a series of posts I did about Discipline vs. Control. (I’ve linked you to the first. Feel free to take it from there, for a total of five essays on the topic, and maybe a bit more insight into groundwork laid.) And before I go any further, please note I’m no magician who turned my guys into pretty awesome young-men-in-the-making. Yes, Hubby and I work hard constantly, but I also believe we are lucky, too. (Some folks do everything to the best of their ability and still run into problems. And that’s assuming there aren’t special needs or other issues involved.) 

Okay, back to business.

Not that Hubby didn’t help out before, but since he took on the role of stay-at-home-dad, he’s taken on many of the responsibilities involved in keeping a house running. He often refers to the house as “his job”. So, he models a lot of the cleaning behaviors and consideration. (These are important components, folks.  Akin to the subtext in a story: what’s not written but inherent and working on your psyche as you read.)

We usually all pitch in after dinner. On many occasions though, when Hubby knows I still have paperwork to do, or errands to run after work, he’ll offer to clean up on his own. (Most of the time, I try to move a little faster and make sure to employ everyone present. If every person does a small part of the bigger job, we all get done more quickly, and one person isn’t stuck with all the work, right?)

And this is a bit of an aside, but it ties in: years ago a friend and I were chatting. Something came up about her husband offering to “help” her do something home or kid related. My friend accepted his offer. She also took the time to point out that whatever had to be done was their responsibility—not hers alone with him jumping in because he thought it was kind, his duty or whatever other reason spurred him on to offer his time and efforts.

Back to subtext: this was a shift in perspective for me! Being a doer, I tend to lead and ask others to take on parts of the job. I quickly got the concept and passed it on to Hubby. Little by little, could it be the sons are getting this too? (Interesting too, how on the same day I write this, older son just happened to start filling the dishwasher while he, his dad and I were hanging out in the kitchen, discussing how his friend’s mom seems to create at least part of the conflict she complains about re: her son. It was like my guy was on auto-pilot, chatting and cleaning. More thoughts on this in a later post.)

Allow me one more take on this before I get back to the point please: When my full-timers were small and my part-timers (a.k.a., stepsons) were still children and spent time here regularly (i.e., weekends, overnighters, etc), the bulk of my time outside the day job—which never lacked for work to bring home—was taken up with two to five boys at any given time and paperwork when I wasn’t attending to a kid.

One day, Hubby got a little annoyed with this. He told me he felt as he was “at the bottom of the totem pole.”

I’m sure he got a look for that one. “Actually,” I told him, “I’m at the bottom. You’re probably the next step up. However, since we’re supposed to be equal in this relationship and family situation, I’m thinking you’re belong at bottom next to me.” (Chances are, Hubby wasn’t too thrilled with me at that moment.)

And all this, IMHO, brings me back to a single word: RESPONSIBILITY. Perhaps that is the “key” to the “foundation” Hubby and I may have laid “something like this to happen,” as my coworker put it.

We’ll talk about this more next week.

Have a great one, folks. And if you found this content share-worthy, would you kindly take a sec and do so?

As always, I thank you!

Joanna

Are We Giving It Away? (Part 3)

Welcome back, you brave souls! Personal matters have been eating up most of my time, so please accept my apologies for having gone missing two weeks or so now.

For those of you catching up, I’ve been spouting off about TV ads running in languages other than English. If you dare, feel free to read those thoughts here and here. (Wonder of wonders, fingers are crossed you’ll return after that! :D)

And back to what annoys me most in all this: responsibility.

Have you any idea how many times I’ll walk into a store—especially in the town where I grew up—and am greeted in non-English? I doubt that happened in my parents’ day. Nor can I tell you how often my mom gets mail; the envelope is stuffed so that the recipient opens it to non-English. On a good day, the same note is printed in English on the reverse side.

As Americans, we’re giving our country away by allowing subtle, seemingly harmless things like advertising and foreign language mailings slip by without a complaint. It’s like we’re too many generations in—the rich kids who inherited the fat of our forefathers (and foremothers) quest for freedom, which we just always assume we’ll have. We don’t appreciate it because we didn’t earn it. We take it for granted and assume it will always be there.

Final case in point then I’ll leave this alone. (Of course we’re open it up to comments.) Hubby worked for a company that was built from the ground up. Senior CEO founded it and grew it into a formidable force in the industry of its type. People worked there for years and retired from it, many satisfied with the work they did and the pensions they earned. (Yes, I realize the economic climate was significantly different ten to twenty years ago.)

Senior’s son, Junior, inherited the company. Hubby often came home with stories that strongly suggested Junior didn’t value the company. He was born into and grew up in wealth already there. I’ll assume that was all he knew.

Long story short, through a set and/or series of not-so-great financial moves, Junior put the company up for sale. (Sounds like he used the inherited conglomerate as collateral and eventually killed the company’s credit rating.) That was almost ten years ago. Those who took over, didn’t do so in a very nice way. And those who might have still been around since Senior’s reign had little choice but to watch and shake their heads in disbelief, each who stayed put in a position to do the work of three people and stories of stress like I’d never heard from hubby before. About six months in, hubby’s department—of which he was supervisor and very happy in his position—was eliminated. He was one of the last to get a good severance package. Those got cut in half starting a few months after he was dismissed.

Some sixth sense tells me Americans aren’t necessarily valuing our homeland. Makes me very sad, to say the least. Scared too, when I see news articles related to key political figures telling college students to not celebrate our country’s birthday; supporting apparently archaic laws towards women, and proposing the notion of imposing fines on companies who hire an American-born citizen over someone who immigrated here illegally, among others.

Anyway, I’m not going there. The purpose of this post wasn’t to point fingers. It was to vent and throw out some awareness of how important it is to protect the America our foreparents fought to create.

Have a great day, friends!

Joanna 

Are We Giving It Away? (Part 2)

Hi all,

Hope today is a good day! Just getting back from a couple of days at my li’l cottage in the woods. Not wishing my life away–or the kids’ teen years for that matter–but looking forward to being able to go and STAY there for a while. Love my internet but I like being able to focus on fiction when the availability of the world wide web is highly limited.

Love. It. Here.
Love. It. Here.

Thanks for coming back for more thoughts from moi on my previous discussion. I should have just run this three-part piece last week and gotten it done. (Will do that this week. Then we’ll get back to easy recipes or something a bit lighter.) Sorry folks, I can’t  let this one go. (I appreciated your patience and tolerance. Besides, it’s written already. ;))

We left off here:

Shakes head @_____. Little by little this country is giving itself away. One day, you might wake up and not have a clue what language is coming at you. Sad. Go to other countries. You’ll find everything written in THEIR language first, usually English second. (And BTW, plenty of people from around the world speak better English than many Americans. What’s up with that?) Here, we don’t care. Just cater to the masses, who aren’t being put into a position to learn the language of the country they came to. Again, just sayin’.

See the first boldface part of the comment? You notice that reflected at airports, hotels—heck, go to the French Open Tennis Championships. Announcements AND the live scores are said FIRST in French THEN in English. Same is true at any Olympics: language of the host country first, English second, French (official language of any Olympics) third.

Other countries get it! Sports venues get it! What’s wrong with the United States?????

Second section in bold letters makes me think of my parents and so many immigrants who came before them. My mom went to night school to learn English. Mom had more opportunity (a.k.a. necessity) to speak it in her work settings, so she’s pretty darned functional. (Hearing loss impacts her ability to understand more than does the language barrier. She also reads English better than she realizes.)

My dad was a tailor and either worked alone or with other Italians. His hearing was worse than my mom’s, but even his limited, conversational English had a certain degree of functionality to it. And once, when he found himself in the middle of some kind of misunderstanding at his job, he went off on whomever he spoke to in English. Broken as it was, it was fluent enough to communicate his situation. I just remember washing dishes while Dad was on the phone, going on and on and never hesitating to come up with words. I kept wondering, “Wow. Dad’s English is a lot better than I thought.”

And perhaps that’s what is annoying me most: responsibility. At the risk of sounding petty and lacking for compassion (which I am not), I feel our country is not necessarily challenging its newcomers to learn what should be its primary language.

Again, IMHO, I’m just sayin’.  (Teach every kid and adult as many languages as you want after that. I swear I whizzed medical vocabulary in college b/c of the Italian and Spanish I was already highly familiar with. A second language (or more) under one’s belt is rarely a hindrance.)

For the sake of staying-shorter winded I’ll continue this next time. (Then I’ll be done. Pinky swear.)

Once more, I invite your thoughts and/or opinions on this topic. Or, if you’d rather list what you’re making for dinner tonight, if/where you plan on going on vacation, etc, go for it! All family-friendly interaction welcome here!

Have a great day,

Joanna

Are We Giving It Away? (Part 1)

Hi everyone,

Hope all of you who celebrate the USA’s birthday did so in style this past (hopefully extended) holiday weekend! We made it up to my brother’s for a good old-fashioned family BBQ. Got home in time to watch our town’s fireworks display from our backyard. Those ended just as the televised Macy’s display got underway on NBC. Can’t ask for better!

Mega-congrats to newly-crowned Wimbledon 2013 winner Andy Murray! He has grown so much as a player in the last year or so. What an awesome show of power, variety and mental hanging in there again World Number One Novak Djokovic. (Felt so bad for Djok, too. He had to fend off Murray AND the English crowd vying for the end of a 77-year English-winner drought at their prestigious tennis venue.) As seems to have become typical on the men’s tennis tour, these guys were pure class while being interviewed. I hope both are proud.

Okay, enough tennis talk. (I’m actually tennised out. Yep. It happens.)

Now back to our originally scheduled post…

Folks, I hate waxing political but every now and again “ya just gotta.” And as I said a couple posts back, this is my blog and I can grump if I want to.

Background: had the TV on the other day. Second time in just a few months I caught advertising in a language other than English, on a well-established, English-language-based, cable network no less.

The first commercial was for a popular household product. It involved two characters conversing; the first spoke non-English (with subtitles) while the second character translated to English, as per the first character’s request.

This irked me—has been irking me—enough to keep reminding myself to write a letter to the company. Not because I don’t understand the language. I studied it in both high school and college and am fairly fluent. And, I am a first-generation American child of parents who immigrated from Italy. Technically, Italian is my first language. It bugged me because it targeted non-English speaking folks first, a practice that seems to be implemented more and more, in more ways than one.

Guess I watched another, completely non-English commercial one too many times. This one was for a major national retail chain, and this time, there was no English at all.

That got on my nerves.

So…

I went to the retail chain’s Facebook page and wrote this:

Love your store. Seriously dislike the advertising you’re doing in _____. (BTW, I speak THREE languages, including ______.) Last time I looked around, though, this is the UNITED STATES. Our primary language is ENGLISH. Just sayin’.

Please understand: It’s not that I am without compassion for those who struggle with a language barrier. My issue is with “corporate”, if you will.

Speaking of, the company in question has yet to reply to my comment. (Doubt it will.)  I got quite a few Likes and a few supportive comments from good friends. One person, however, had this to say:

“And one the primary values of the United States is the freedom to conduct business in whatever language you choose.”

Person got 6 likes to my 25 or so. (Fist pump. Hey.That’s encouraging.)

My response to author of comment:

(Shakes head @_____.) Little by little this country is giving itself away. One day, you might wake up and not have a clue what language is coming at you. Sad. Go to other countries. You’ll find everything written in THEIR language first, usually English second. (And BTW, plenty of people from around the world speak better English than many Americans. What’s up with that?) Here, we don’t care. Just cater to the masses, who aren’t being put into a position to learn the language of the country they came to. Again, just sayin’.

I’ll stop here and pick this up next time.

I’d love your thoughts on this matter so far. What do you think about advertising in a language other than English on English-speaking television channels? I mean, have you ever tuned into the Italian station and listened to advertising in English? If you’re a tennis fan, what did you think about Murray’s win? Or Djok’s loss? Or Nadal, Federrer, Sharapova and/or Serena Williams’ losses? (Did I ask enough questions, lol?)

Enjoy the day, folks. Thanks for indulging me.

Joanna