January 17, 2017

One Glove Wonder? Taking Care of Your Things

I must be the worst mom in the world tonight, or at least one that needs to re-examine disciplining her child and her own very bad reaction to a trivial problem. I actually yelled, very loudly and in a not-so-nice way, at my son for losing a glove. A glove!

I should say though, that after my son’s break-down just last week over losing one of his new Iron Man gloves, I thought he’d have learned a lesson. This entire school year I have been drilling home that his gloves and hat need to go into, and stay, in his backpack when they aren’t on his hands. So why this should even have been an issue. He’s old enough to know better. His crying and carrying on last week over this glove was terrible! I thought of telling him not to worry, since a single Iron Man glove would be of little interest to anyone. However, since the lost and found box has yet to belch out the aforementioned single missing glove, I now have to wonder if there was another little boy missing HIS Iron Man glove… But I digress.

This post is about discipline, both mine and his. It’s also about teaching a child how to care for their own things and about handling the repercussions when they don’t.

I have been asking my son to keep everything in his backpack since the start of school. I have also told him that HE is responsible for his own backpack and lunch bag. However I may have set a bad example when the dog ate through both the backpack and the lunch bag when my son left his bag out where the dog could get at it.

What did I do? Went right out and bought him a new backpack and lunch bag. I suppose I didn’t think about what message this would send my son, after all he needed both, as the backpack and the lunch bag were beyond repair. But what does that say to a child? Don’t worry mom will just buy more, right? How would it have better been handled? He did pretty well too until the missing, well-loved glove incident of last week. Mostly though this is due to my constant reminder for him to be aware of his things.

Today my son was emptying his backpack and yet again said the dreaded words, “Mom I lost a glove.” What makes this even worse is that it is actually 3 missing gloves since his (also new) Batman gloves were double-layered gloves that included two black full gloves with two fingerless gloves on top. I was going to suggest that from now on he would have to wear one Iron Man glove and the now single Batman glove, the problem is the remaining Batman glove is the fingerless one!

I told him that tomorrow he and his father would have to go out and buy two new pairs of gloves, with HIS money. I just can not discuss the gloves again. I still think I missed the mark though. My biggest concerns as a parent though are ‘why should missing one glove cause such an eruption of my emotions’ and more importantly, since it did, what will happen when my son truly does something “bad” and I get mad? I also need to consider him coming to me with his real issues; if I react so poorly won’t he choose to not come to me as a parent?

So here I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, and knowing fully well that I handled the entire situation very poorly. I know I am not alone as there are at least 20 single gloves in the lost and found that would likely produce likewise unhappy parents, I just need to re-examine my own behavior over the missing glove incident tonight as well as how to handle my son’s need for new gloves.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I am currently reflecting upon some of the following questions:

How do you teach your children to respect personal property? How do you teach a child the value of ‘things”? At what “age” should children be expected to be responsible for belongings? How do you discipline a child when something “necessary” is lost or damaged?

republished from annarbor.com 2010

January 12, 2017

Events: Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.

In Ann Arbor, the celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. provides families with several free and educational programs. From library events to musical performances to speeches and other free events; there will be several well-run programs for everyone in the family to enjoy.

MLK Celebration for the whole family will be held at YDL-Michigan (229 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, MI 48197). On Monday, January 16 at 1:30 p.m., honor the memory by sharing your dreams. watching Selma or making a fleece blanket for the Hope Clinic. at 6:30 p.m. artist Rodney Leon will guide adults and teens in painting a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barak Obama.

At YDL-Whittaker (5577 Whittaker Rd, Ypsilanti, MI 48197), kids can create change at 6:30 p.m. while hearing the music of the Civil Rights Movement or through watching Selma (PG-13).

Families can get Free Admission to Henry Ford Museum (20900 Oakwood Blvd. Dearborn, MI 48124-4088 ) in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday too.  Come to The Henry Ford Museum for live music, dramatic presentations, make and take activities or sit in the seat that Rosa Parks did. Thanks to the generosity of Target, admission to the Museum and parking are free. Activities include live musical performances, make and take activities and free giveaways!

The annual MLK Day for children and youth in Ann Arbor is being held at the University of Michigan at the Modern Languages Building (812 E. Washington, Ann Arbor). The full day event (8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.) allows participants a day of free activities filled with fun, creativity, dialogue and entertainment. While early registration is closed, youth can still be registered at walk-up.

The Ann Arbor District Library (343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor) is hosting an MLK Day Concert
with the Biakuye Percussion Group at 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room. The free event is intended for grade K-12. The performance features the Akan languages of West Africa, biakuye means unity. Biakuye’s energetic performances bring together a wide range of African and Caribbean music and dance. Their music reflects the unique journeys of its members, which have taken them from the U.S. to Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Trinidad, and Haiti.

As I find other programs for MLK Day I will add them to the list.

January 3, 2017

Be careful what you say, because kids repeat everything

As a parent with little ears that now repeat everything I say, I’m starting to think about my communication style, especially what I say and how I say it.
OK it’s a dream of mine really, to actually think before I speak, that has eluded me much of my life. I get so excited, or fear I'll forget, that I just spit it out; it's like my thoughts simply bubble out of my mouth. Lately however, I have really tried hard not to say the things I don’t want my children to repeat. Certain phrases, slang or catch-words are off-limits in our household, and I have certainly tried to stop my children from saying them after hearing their friends or other family member’s utterances of them. But that is really hard to do.
Yes, my sweet little blue-eyed baby girl has been heard to blurt under her breath, "dammit!"
Apparently this is an parenthood epidemic even worse than catching the flu in a room filled with snot-nosed, sneezing and slurping first-graders. I know my friends all tell me it's true. Why, just the other day one of my mom-friends was telling me of her experience with her son.
At any rate, the boy came over to spend the evening with my son. As they were playing together, the young man said to me matter-of-factly, “You know my dog got neutered.”She told me that their dog had recently gotten fixed, and she was trying to get her son to say that their “dog had gotten neutered”. Apparently she expressed one too many times that the dog had gotten his balls chopped off. Although, who knows, maybe she said it just once. After all that’s all it takes!
“I know.” I said.
And this is where it gets tricky, as my son then chimed in, “What’s neutered?”
I could have said that’s when they remove the dog's testicles, but that sounded too technical for 5-year-olds. Besides I really didn’t want to explain the term when I wasn’t sure what the other parent would think. So taking a moment to pause, and taking a huge breath, I told him, “That’s when the animal doctor, the veterinarian, makes it so the dog can’t have babies.”
Simple. Honest. To the point. And hopefully something that was not likely to get into the great ‘where do babies come from’ debate… Except then I heard from our young guest:
“No that’s when they chop his balls off.”
There was a moment of silence in the room, followed by gales of laughter ringing in my ears, my own laughter, as two young boys stared at me like I was a crazed lunatic. I couldn’t help but wonder, what my children are repeating to someone else…
Raising children sure makes life interesting!

December 15, 2016

Children and gift giving: How many presents are too many?

A friend of mine commented today on Facebook, posing the question: “How many gifts do you buy your children?
It occurred to me in reflecting on that simple question, though, that when I first had my son (the first grandchild and only grandchild on one side), gift giving was very different than it is now, seven years later.
In my attempt to stay organized and to keep from being drowned by and ever mounting pile of infant and toddler gifts, the Christmas my son turned 10 months, I requested that family members buy only a single toy and either consider clothing or a contribution to some type of savings plan — be it bonds or college-fund contributions. This lasted all of two months, though, since when his birthday rolled around, he received enough gifts for 14 one-year olds!
The second Christmas (and birthday), I tried to re-emphasize that one toy was sufficient. I also reminded everyone that my son was more interested in the empty boxes and wrapping than many of their gifts. That seemed to help. Some. Except for my brother-in-law who considered “one box” with many toys a single item since "they were so small."
By his third Christmas (and my daughter’s first), our families discarded any suggestions to cut back on toys about as quickly as a Bugatti Veyron. Both children received piles and piles of toys. Then within the next two months, received two more rather substantial piles. (Their birthdays are in January and February) We might as well have lived in Toys R Us!
Young children are often more interested in
the wrapping than the gifts and don't know
what they received or didn't receive, so
how many "toys" do your children receive?
Now almost seven years later, when asked the question of “How many gifts do you buy your children?” I found myself unable to answer. Luckily for me though, the requests to Santa this year from my children were rather manageable. Typicalyl each child gets a small box that includes several new outfits and jammies, one “large gift” (this year both kids are getting two-wheeled razor scooters) and several other smaller gifts.
In general, I can’t say that I have specific gift-giving philosophies, except that any money they receive has gone into their respective college funds. Friends and family often find it humorous when my children cheerily shout “college money!” when they open a card that includes cash or a check, so I suppose I have done something right!
What gift-giving philosophies do you have? Do you spend a certain amount or buy a certain amount of gifts? I read with interest this one writer's gift-giving philosophy to children and realized that subconsciously I follow many of the ideals that were jotted down. Do you have similar hidden ideals?
What happens when your children receive too many gifts? For the first three or four years, I actually hid 50 percent of what my children received to allow them to open the boxes at a later date. The excitement was still there, and they had a “new toy” to occupy their attentions.
What about gifting your children cash or bonds for their future? Does your family consider being fiscally responsible with their gift giving, or do they consider early estate-planning as “gift giving”?


November 23, 2016

Help Grieving Children Through the Holidays

The holidays can be a painful time, for adults and although no one wants to admit it, even children can have a painful experience during this time of year. Possibly they have lost a grandparent or even a beloved family pet. Courtesy of Ele's Place, a healing center for grieving children, here are some ways to help grieving children through the holidays:
  • Share photos and holiday memories of the person who died - Children want to know they're not alone in grief. 
  • Make an ornament, or prepare a favorite photo to hang on the tree that reminds the child of the person who died. 
  • Decorate a candle and light it at meal time in memory of the loved one. 
  • Help the child make a donation to a charity in memory of the person who died.
  • Help the child decorate a wreath with pictures and items that were loved by the person who died and place the wreath at the grave. 
  • Listen to the loved one’s favorite holiday music. 
  • Help the child with a blessing at meal time that mentions the person who died. 
  • Encourage the child to draw pictures and create gifts inspired by their memories of the loved one to give to other family members.

“It is important to help children acknowledge the loss of a loved one during the holidays,” said Wendy Brightman, Managing Director of Ele’s Place in Ann Arbor. “Children often need ‘permission’ to talk about the person who died. Let them know you would rather keep the memory of your loved one alive than pretend nothing has changed.”
Ele’s Place provides creative, age-appropriate support groups year-round for children and teens, 3-18 years old, throughout the Ann Arbor area. All services are provided at no cost to families. For more information, visit the Ele's Place website or call (734) 929-6640.

republished from my article on annarbor.com in 2009