Friday, May 17, 2013

The Grandma Factor

What is it with grandmas? They seem to have endless patience, an ability to play games and read books forever, and be genuinely delighted by the paint on the wall, milk spills, and conversations about any such thing as the child is interested in. What is it about grandmas?

I have heard a few people, some close to me, relate how their grandmothers were influential in their formative years. Offering love and support in ways that seemingly escape parents and have real impact in the lives of young people. In all but one account it was mentioned how grandma would play games for hours.

Could it be perhaps that this game playing was a platform of sorts? A stage on which to build a relationship without time constraints, outside distraction and interference, and with a common goal. Possibly most important might be the absence of hundreds of ever-changing rules. Games are simple, even the most complex of them. Concrete rules that don't change on a dime to suit someone's emotions or situations. You can learn the rules and refer to them whenever needed, making sure to abide by them and perfect your strategy. Simply satisfying.

Yes, life is complicated. But grandmas seem to know something that we whippersnappers don't. They seem to understand that it really is about time. Time to get to know a person without so many rules. Children are people too. People just want to be understood and known for who they are, not who we think they should be or need them to be.

Perhaps those that have done what we are trying to do know something. Perhaps they see what we are too busy to understand. Maybe if we slow down and trust that our children will indeed eventually change their underwear daily without reminder, and be able to brush their teeth without smearing an entire tube of toothpaste across the bathroom, maybe then we can get some of that grandma factor for ourselves. Our families will be better for it.

Slow down. Trust. Play games. Read books. Love unconditionally.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Management; Unplugged

We just spent a week unplugged, Sunday late night thru Sunday late afternoon. It was fabulous.

I learned much:

* All the things I "run" by e-mail, didn't fall a part.
* Children really do need undivided attention and plenty of it.
* Quality vice quantity in relation to time with children is a fallacy.
* It is not possible to be present with a child whilst busy on a screen of any sort.
* Getting along takes time and effort, both of which are underrated in today's family life.
* No screen reads a book to a child quite like mom or dad.
* "Interactive" technology is no substitute for real interaction.
* What is lost in relationships can always be found if one is willing to wade through the discomfort and awkwardness without seeking the soothing comfort of coping mechanisms such as: tv, smart phones, computers, iAnythings, and busyness of mundane chores that really can wait.
* And much, much more.

In this "connected" world we live in we are often not connected with the right things. Being truly connected with our children takes time. Being plugged in is a supreme time sucker. It takes careful management to use technology and screens appropriately.

You never know when those precious moments are going to come that a child speaks to you about something that will influence their entire life. I have missed and brushed off many such moments because I was "busy doing important computer work." Intuition is best found when interference is at bay. There is much interference in today's "connected" world.

I didn't realize how much my lack of desire to play a game or read a book at a child's request was tied to my being elsewhere even though physically present. I thought I was just doing so much of it already that I needed a break, and that I had so many important things to tend to.

Is there really a limit to the good we can offer our children? Can there ever really be enough songs, books, and games? What is so important that it would take priority over my living breathing children? My desires have changed as well as my definition of "important things".

This here manager has unplugged and seen the light. Children need much less management when parents are present; physically, mentally, and emotionally. Managerial skills are best used to free up time for real life and interaction. Perfectly behaved robots that need you only when convenient or scheduled don't exist, but children are perfectly happy to be zombified by a screen when parents aren't willing to do the work and manage their time wisely.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Power of Friendship

A friend recently inquired of me, "How do you do 5 kids, one with special needs?!"

The answer is simple; friends, real friends.

Take last night for instance. Our youngest is sick with a nasty cold and wheezy cough and on top of that his disease flares up whenever it wants to. It chose last night.

As I am cleaning up throw up and preparing for who knows what over the next who knows how long, I remember; the older 4 children have a 3 hour science class about 20 minutes from our home this morning, hubby is gone, and the van tire is flat. I can't possibly do it. There is simply no way.

Late last evening I sent an e-mail out and within moments received a "Sure, what time shall I be at your house?" reply to my desperate request for help to get the children where they needed to be. She came out of her way, started her day considerably earlier and took my children along with her 3 to their classes.

Many such friends have helped me out tremendously over the past few years. There have been none so great as a select few, that for the past two years have literally kept things running for my older four while I tend to the special needs baby, now toddler.

True friends are hard to come by. I am so thankful to be blessed with enough. They are a powerful force in my life and I couldn't do what I do without them!