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When I was in second grade, my mother asked me what I wanted to be for Halloween. Without a second of hesitation, I said I wanted to be a princess.  I wanted a dress with a crown.  I wanted pretty shoes and make up.  She said okay and I went to bed believing my mother was going to make me into a princess.

The next morning, I jumped out of bed and ran to the living room where my mother would lay out our clothes for school.  I stared at the pile of clothes in my spot and tried to wrap my mind around my concept of a princess and what was before me.

“You’re going to be a hobo.”

“I wanted to be a princess.”

“I was a hobo when I was your age.  It’ll be fun.”

A hobo was a far cry from being a princess.  I cried as I pulled on the old raggedy clothes my mom dug up from somewhere.  I cried as she made my face look dirty.  I sucked back my tears as my dad took me to school.  I had to pull it together and save face for my friends.  As everyone sat on the rug, my friends wanted to know what I was supposed to be.

“A hobo!” I cried.  Then the tears streaked my dusty face.

“You still look cute,” said my friends as they tried to console me.  But I was bitter.  I wanted to be a princess and my mom sent me to school as a hobo.  Today I can laugh about it.  As my youngest son tries to decide which one of the expensive one-time-only costumes he wants to wear for Halloween, I think back all those years ago and better understand my mother. She was being practical.

Mom’s Superpower


There is no shame in my game. When I hear my oldest tell my youngest  that mom would be disappointed if something isn’t done correctly, I pause. When the youngest corrects the problem, I cheer. It’s wonderful to be everywhere without leaving my chair or raising my voice. I like to think of it as a superpower.

Remember when you believed your mom or grandma had eyes in the back of their head?  As a mom, I know that moms are amateur sociologist and psychologist. We know human behavior better than anyone. We could predict the end of the story before the first act of the action has completed.

So as moms, we need to plant the seeds to get a child to stay on the right path. Get your voice into their head, so if they are in conflict, they will trust that voice to nudge them into the right direction. If they respect you, they will not want to disappoint you. Eventually your voice will be their voice, but until they get to that point, use your superpower.

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The idea of being a role model has been rearing it’s head lately due to our current political sideshow. As one candidate is being called a a crooked liar, the other is being called a racist, misogynistic elitist. People argue that these candidates for president are setting examples for our young.  If the proverbial digestive waste floats to the top of the toilet bowl, then our children will favorably view that achievement and try to emulate it.

If your child is looking past you, the parent, and the familial village you created to surround your child for a role model, then the chain of command was broken somewhere and it needs to be fixed.  Yes, if your child is a basketball player and admires the skills, work ethic, and achievements of Kobe Bryant, then that is fine.  But if your child looks to Kobe Bryant as a role model in the sense that everything Mr. Bryant does is the way to be with no sense of self, then there is a problem.

A child needs to have an idea of who they want to be as they grow.  The character building starts with the parents and the people who help raise your child (i.e. grandparents, aunts, uncles).  A moral compass, common sense, education, and self awareness are the building blocks for a strong foundation for growth.  Once a child has a strong foundation, then they are capable to look at athletes, entertainers, actors, and politicians more objectively. They can choose from the buffet of a person’s career without picking up a serving of misconduct that will create lifelong problems.

 

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Violence in the schools, religion, and bullying are just a few reasons why parents choose to homeschool their children.  If you are beginning to entertain the idea of stepping into the homeschooling world, here are a few things you need to consider.

  • Can you afford it?
  • Are you familiar with your state laws?
  • Do you have an independent learner?
  • What are your educational goals?
  • Can you access support and resources?

To downsize a two income household to a single income household takes commitment.  If your local school system is unusable and your only option for a good education is private school or homeschooling, you may find homeschooling can be the best way to guarantee your child would get a good and affordable education.

Every state is different when it comes to the requirements for educating your child at home.  Go to your state’s website and do some research.  California has fairly reasonable requirements for homeschooling.  A household must apply for a private school affidavit between October 1-15 to establish the home as a place for education.  Records, subjects, administration, school district, etc. are all listed as a framework.  Another option is to have your child serviced by a private school satellite homeschool program like CAVA (California Virtual Academy). Your child will have the school curriculum available at home and/or online.  The educational program will be on the same pacing and testing schedule as everyone else involved in the program with a periodic meet up with a teacher. Another option is to have your child taught by a certified educator/tutor.

After you have checked  the state laws, you need to look at your learner and question if this new way to educate would be a good fit.  If you are looking at a more traditional program, you may want an independent learner.  It takes discipline to sit at a computer to watch an educational video and get a wealth of work done in a structured period of time when all the creature comforts of home is near. Another popular philosophy on homeschooling is unschooling .  This student driven approach may be uncomfortable for you, the parent, or the child because of the seeming lack of direction in schedules, subjects, and all the bells and whistles tied to traditional schooling.

The educational goals you set up for you child should be deeply tied to your approach. Truth be told, the way you may begin to homeschool your child can/will change from day to day or year to year.  You may have one child who thrives with a structured, traditional program while another child prefers an unschooling approach.  The best resources for a new homeschooling family are conventions and local/statewide organizations.  California has California Homeschool Network and Homeschool Association of California which are two great places to get information.  At the local level, many communities have co-ops or homeschool groups that meet regularly for park days, classes, field trips, social gatherings.  I belong to a great homeschool community where the calendar for social events is always full.

The advice I always give to parents who are thinking about homeschooling is to try it out.  If it’s not a good fit for your family, you could always re-enroll your child into school without much disruption.  Your local school would not turn your child away.

 

 

soccer

When I see STUPID, I see red.  Yesterday I sat on the sidelines watching a bunch of 10 and 11 year old children play soccer in the cool, windy Fall evening.  As I tried to watch my son’s team try to achieve a second victory, my ears were assaulted by a father yelling at Katie.

“Get to the center, Katie!”

“Drop back, Katie!”

“Make my dreams come true, Katie!”

For the love of all that is great in this world, I wanted to confront this man who easily tipped the scales over 250lbs and tell him to shut-the-hell-up.  SHUT UP!  First of all, Katie looked like she would’ve been happier being at home watching a young Bruce Wayne on Gotham.  Second, the poor child is at that awkward pre-teen stage where the body is starting to change, so I’m sure she appreciated her dad calling attention to her.  Then I had to laugh when I heard her father say to someone that Haley would not get the ball if she wasn’t in the right position.  Seriously?  I thought soccer was a team sport. If he cared about the team, it shouldn’t have mattered if she got the ball.

Parents, it’s okay to love your special jewel to the moon and back, but when you act belligerent and out of control at an athletic event, you look like a crazed fool.  I would hazard to guess that your child may harbor some resentment towards your outrageous display of support.  We have a few of those parents on our team.  One parent brings his children infrequently to team practice and chooses to loudly coach his children from the sidelines during the ENTIRE game.  Another parent must think his child has the agility and speed of The Flash.  His son could be at mid-field and he’s yelling at his son to go get a ball that’s…near the goal.

Team sports sponsored by parks or great organizations like AYSO are designed to help children learn skills, teamwork, and good sportsmanship.  The parents turn the friendly competitions into bigger than life events which is unnecessary.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a child cry because their dad was berating them after a game.  The language falling like boulders on young, fragile egos is horrific.  It’s time for parents to enjoy the experience and knock off the nonsense.  Hug your child and tell them there is more to learn from losses than wins.  Let them know you see they are trying.  Let their name fall from your lips alongside a cheer rather a public criticism.

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Today I woke up at 5am to workout before I had to take my young soccer player to his 9am game. I was a well oiled machine. After one hour on the elliptical and 30 minutes lifting weights, I was on my way home. At 8:30am I was ushering my kids and husband out the door to get to the park on time. Feeling like a champ, I reached into my pocket to take out my phone to check for last minute team texts. Imagine my horror when I realized I did not have my…phone.

Good golly, Miss Motorola, I was cut off from the world. Yes, my near and dear were with me in the car, but my lifeline to the world was sitting alone and neglected in my workout bag. I was ready to drop the family off and retrace my steps back to the house to rescue my electronic extension of my arm when my husband put his foot down. He said I should enjoy being disconnected for a few hours. I looked at him as if he just told me to hold my breath for five minutes. What if I wanted to check the weather? What if someone asked me something I couldn’t answer without doing a Google search? What if I got a tweet from a friend sharing her random thought of the day?

What was I to do?

Well, I put on my big girl panties and pretended it was 1996. I sat in the sun and watched my son’s team win their second game of the season. I had a conversation with my mother without having to do a random fact check. I enjoyed the morning without being seduced by the siren song of the smartphone. It was liberating.