Tag Archives: respect

On Becoming a Mommy

Some people are born into families that love and respect them. They grow up knowing their self-worth. They know the worth of those around them. Some people are respectful of others because it doesn’t occur to them, even in moments of anger, not to be. Some people make great parents. I am not one of them.

I am the best me I can be. I am the best mother to my children I am capable of being. I would like to think that is good enough. And maybe for today it is. However, I want tomorrow to be better. I want to be better.

As we enter Lent and reflect on our lives and grow closer to God I look at the way I parent and know the most direct path to God is through my Children. Each moment I choose to be calm instead of yelling, respectful instead of spiteful, I move closer to God. And closer to my children.

Over the years, the actions of others impacted me greatly. Maybe not enough to instantly change the path my parents started me on, but enough that I knew an alternative path existed. When I was seventeen, I babysat for a wonderful family. Everyone was happy. It was plain to me that the children loved and respected, not feared, their parents. I didn’t have an opportunity to witness their parenting in action very often (I was the babysitter after all), but there were clues. An article on the fridge said children might feel shame or embarrassment if a parent corrected or disciplined in front of others. They used a secret word to let the children know they needed to talk in private. No spankings, no standing in the corner, no yelling, shaming, insulting.

Years later I was blessed to meet some wonderful people who have shown me that it doesn’t matter how a person parents so much as why they parent. These friends have parented in ways I said I never would. However it’s plain to me that their children are no worse for wear from the style of parenting. What’s the difference?

Respect.

As parents we don’t automatically deserve respect. We must earn it. One way of earning it is being respectful to our children. One parent may spank, another may talk, still another may use time-out. It doesn’t really matter (IMO). What matters is the feel of the exchange to both parties. Do both the parents and the children leave the exchange feeling loved and respected? If so, then everything will work out okay. But if the parents feel like they’ve given-in, then they leave resenting their child. If the child leaves feeling like his/her parents didn’t listen, didn’t understand, or did’t didn’t care, then they’ll be less inclined to talk to the parent in the future. That child will be less inclined to heed the parents advice, and will more likely go against the parent’s wishes in the future. Unless both parties feel respected there will be no real resolution and no real connection.

It’s a tricky road to walk. How does one learn to be respectful? It’s usaully pretty easy to see when I haven’t been respectful. Broken hearts glisten in tears rolling down sweet little faces. But choosing the gentler path can be difficult.

For me it starts by seeing the patterns. I know certain things will happen everyday. I’m in the middle of doing something and one of the girls needs me. I know she needs me before I provide my undivided attention. I know that every day, one of my girls will inadvertently hurt someone else. I know these things happen and I can choose how to respond before it happens. Having a plan in effect takes the stress from the situation and allows me to show my children how much they mean to me by not yelling. That plan gives me the opportunity to bypass my knee-jerk response. Now I need to work on moving that plan into other areas of my life. Into other relationships.

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A Bully to be Respected

Every minute of every day we spend with our children is a teaching moment. Some days provide ‘better’ lessons than others. Some days I wish I could erase the lessons learned and teach better ones. Other days I’m not sure what I taught or how I could have taught better.

Ella takes gymnastics one morning a week. Agatha HATES dropping Ella off. In fact (she says) she hates the entire building. But this past week, we dropped Ella off, Agatha wanted to stay and watch. So we did, but then I realized I forgot Cordelia’s coat (and we needed it when it was time to walk to the library) so we ran out to grab it. When we returned there was a woman sitting on one of the chairs we’d been sitting in before running outside. She had her back turned to a baby in a baby in a bumbo seat (roughly 4.5 ft off the ground). In front of the chairs was a narrow counter and a large viewing window. There were two other people sitting at the window with three seats available. On the far side of the woman and baby, behind a door, stood one chair with just enough space for one small person. The baby in the bumbo was in front of this chair, and a coat hung over the back. The other two were right in the middle, purses adorned the counter in front of them. Someone even sat in the least desirable spot in the entire room. The bench beside the purple Christmas tree. Even if the bench had been free, and she’d stood on it, Agatha wouldn’t have been able to see Ella. Oh and at this point Cordelia was crying because she was hungry and tired.

So we entered the room, and Agatha climbed up on one chair (bar stool), and I sat on the one beside her and started to feed Cordelia. The woman with the baby in the bumbo looked down at Agatha – did not look at me – and told Agatha “I think someone’s sitting there. There’s a purse on the counter. She probably just went to the bathroom. You can find somewhere else to sit.”

Agatha said, “I was here before, I just got Cordy’s coat. I want to see Ella in class.”

Woman: “I’m sure the woman wants to watch too, you can go sit somewhere else.”

Still the woman didn’t look at me, or say anything to me. But at that moment the women whose seats we ‘stole’ returned from the bathroom (or wherever they were). The three women all conferred, then the one woman leaned over me, bumping me, to get at her purse. I will point out that there was plenty of space between the chairs so she could have stepped up without touching anyone, and her purse was not on the other side of me. In other words, as far as I can see, this woman purposefully ‘bumped’ me. She did this three more times over the span of the three minutes we were actually sitting in the chairs.

Each time she bumped me, the other one bumped Agatha. Then one of the three loudly said, “Can you believe that? They won’t move.” And glare at us.

First, the women at any given time should have actually said something to ME, not the three-year old. Second, they’re full-grown 30+ year-old women they could have been mature enough to stand for the three minutes it took Agatha to locate her sister and be happy, and for me to latch Cordelia on. Third, they should never have touched either one of us.

I felt horrible. Not because we sat in someone else’s seat, but because of how they behaved toward us. It felt like middle school all over again. If we don’t overtly do anything really mean, we won’t get in trouble, but we’re gonna do everything we can to make her miserable.

After Cordelia settled enough for  me to stand up, I did. I leaned down to Agatha and told her, “It seems it’s very important to these ladies that they sit down on these chairs. We’ve finished what we needed to do, how about we go play with the toys?” She agreed, we moved. All total, from sitting down to getting up, we might have been in the chairs for five minutes, probably less.

I didn’t want to allow those women to bully us out of the seats, but at the same time I no longer needed a seat, and Agatha had yet to realize anything was amiss. I didn’t want her to. Also by letting her know someone else wanted the seats, she had the opportunity to choose to share. She happily did so. Our children watch us at all times. They see how we treat others. They hear when and how we talk to others.

What do you want to teach your children?

At what point is it bullying, at what point is it just a misunderstanding or a difference of opinion, a meeting of opposite views? When I realized the other women wanted those chairs, viewed them as theirs, I could have asked their permission to use them briefly. I could have told Agatha not to sit there. I could have balanced Cordelia, and nursed her standing up. Those actions would have been ‘respectful’ to the other women. It would have been polite. We want our children to be respectful and polite. Don’t we?

Respect: Noun: A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or    achievements.

Verb: To admire deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Polite:  1.Having or showing respectful behaviour.                                                                                                                                              2.Of or relating to people who regard themselves as more refined than others.

Should I have been respectful and polite? Did any of the women have a greater ‘right’ to the chairs than we did? Possibly. Their purses were close to the chairs. What would Agatha had learned if I hadn’t sat down? Possibly that others are more deserving than we are. We should stand, be uncomfortable, while others have the opportunity to sit. And empty chairs are not ours to use, no matter how brief. She might have learned that even though the chairs were empty, we didn’t take them because someone else was planning to use them. She would have learned a polite way to behave in society.

What would those other women teach watching children? If you don’t get your way, push others around. If someone has something you want, take it away. If you don’t like someone’s behaviour, don’t bother talking to them, instead whisper hurtful words behind their backs.

I’m not saying I was ‘right’ to sit down when I knew the other women believed the chairs were theirs, however I’m not really sure how else to have approached the situation. There were two paths. Either sit down, or stay standing. Was there a better path? Which one? Why?

There were seven seats at the window and three benches along the wall. Two benches had bins on them, one bench was taken.  Was it wrong for Agatha and I to use the seats, considering there were purses on the counter near them, and there were no other seats? When there’s limited seating, should you save a seat if you’re not actually there?

What would you have done, if this was you? Would you have moved, or remained seated?

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Pretty Maids All in a Row

The girls have been so excited to go to ‘camp’ this summer. Each girl has two – one week long camps. I thought they’d enjoy them – Groovy Girls, Fairytopia, Playpalooza, and Bike something or other.

Each day they’re so excited to show us what they’ve made. We smile and say something like “Oh such a pretty shade of green”. Despite the fact that apparently only one colour was available to begin with, since every leaf (that’s exactly the same shape) is exactly the same colour. We say “Oh I see you spaced the stones the same distance apart.” Only to be told that the ‘teacher’ helped. Yeah. We realized that. We know what our children can create. And we love what we see. But the items they bring home from camp – I don’t want to display those on my fridge. I don’t want to keep them. My children didn’t make them. I really despise it when someone tells the girls the ‘right way’ to create. Whether that’s telling them how to colour a colouring page, or how to hold a crayon or where to place their googily eyes. Sure give them information. If you blend those colours of paint together, it’ll become the same brown as your other picture, then we won’t see what colours you used. But don’t tell her the leaf can’t be an alien, and it can’t have eyes, or if eyes are allowed, don’t tell her they have to be placed in a certain spot.

If that was all, I might be able to relax, but it’s worse. From what I can tell the only purpose of these camps is to prepare children for jail school. In order to go to or from the playground the children needed to walk in a straight line. Three years old. Together wasn’t good enough. They had to walk in a single-file, ruler-straight line. You might wonder what the big deal is?

Well the big deal is that they spend fifteen minutes outside. Of those fifteen minutes I saw them take five minutes forcing the children into the line. One child was slightly off centre. Everyone stopped until he was directly behind the child in front of him. They paused, and made sure everyone was straight before they continued. Then they paused because one child left too much space between him and the person in front of him. Everyone had to stay straight, with eyes ahead, until the boy caught up. Then they paused to assess the line. One little girl was too far forward, and was almost beside the adult leader. The leader got down to the girl’s level and pointed out the error of getting out of line. The girl had to get back in the straight line, before they continued, every one had to repeat that they would “walk in a straight line”. What kind of line? “A straight line”. That’s right, the leader told them to repeat after her, then she asked the question and waited for the children to respond. Three year olds were being treated that way. I was tempted to go over and get Agatha right then and there. But there’s a rule about that.

When camp was over and the door to their rooms opend, the first parent stepped inside. Then the next, then me. Did any of the children come running over? Nope. They were such good little girls and boys (please note the derision – there’ll be a post about that horrible word soon). They remained laying face down on the carpet until their parent touched them. Until that moment they were not to get up. Even if they saw their parent.

I don’t want an automaton. I don’t want my child walking in a straight line just because someone told her to. There wasn’t a street to cross, sure there’s a lake and I can understand needing to be sure the children stay close. After all a group of twenty three year olds can be unpredictable. But there were at least five leaders there. It would’ve been okay if the children walked beside each other, even if they raced to see who’d make it to the sidewalk first. But apparently five adults can’t figure out a way to respectfully move children from point A to point B.

I wanted my children to have an opportunity to meet new children. I wanted them to have fun. But I can see fun is not the correct word. I’m not even sure what word to use. Everything was so structured I don’t think there was time for fun.

I’ll leave on the words of Robert Frost:

 TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,        10

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.        15

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.        20

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