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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Next Journey

Yesterday I registered my daughter for high school. I then came home and began to have a nervous breakdown, just a mini one.

I know she will be fine. I am looking forward to her starting this new chapter in her life. I am excited for her.

I am scared to death. I worry about her. I want to protect her. I don't want her to get hurt.

She has been at the same small private school for 9 years. She will be going to the local public high school where she will have 400 (more or less) children in her freshman class. She has been with the same 35 children for the past 9 years. This will be a huge change.

Intellectually I know she will be fine. I know that it will be a HUGE adjustment for her, but once she survives the first few months, she will be fine. She has a good head on her shoulders, has strong morals, likes herself, and respects herself.

Emotionally, as a mom, I want to protect her from all the mean people in the world. I don't want her to ever get her feelings hurt. I don't want her to get her heart broken. I want to put her in a plastic bubble and keep her innocence intact.

Realistically I know this is not possible. I know that she needs to hurt, in order to grow. She needs to experience life in order to live. Her hurts and broken hearts will help create the woman she is becoming. I know this, but I still don't like it.

She, on the other hand, is very excited about this new venture. Nervous? Yes, she will admit to that, but her excitement overrides her nervousness.

"I can't wait to meet new people and make a fresh start." This is what she told us at the dinner table tonight. The past 9 years has not been easy for her. She is ready for a new start and we are ready to watch her bloom and flourish, hurts and all.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

One Mountain at a Time

As I sit here listening to rain gently falling outside I find myself reflecting on the past month and the struggles and triumphs I have experienced. As I come down the other side of the mountain I remember the struggle going up the other side. Parenting. It is a journey of climbing mountains and coasting down the opposite side. I am almost afraid to say out loud that I have reached the summit and am teetering on the cusp of the mountain. I am afraid to jinx myself.

Michael. My sweet little son. My angel boy. The source of my struggle this past month. Every night became a battle over homework. He would become distraught, cry, whine, dig his heels in and refuse to do his homework. I would become distraught, yell, pull my hair out, and say things I am not proud of. I was at my wits end and tired of the nightly battle. One night I almost didn't come home from work, I could not fathom another night of the same. Night after night, nothing changed.

I prayed about it.

An answer came to me. Every time he started to have a meltdown, he was told to take a seat on the carpet and I put the timer on for 9 minutes (he is 9 years old). Every time he cried, whined, yelled, broke down - the timer was reset for 9 minutes. Sometimes he sat there for 30 minutes. I did not yell or scream. He would finally calm down, the timer would go off, and he would get up and complete his work.

This worked....for awhile. Unfortunately I would find myself putting the timer on over and over again in the evenings. I was at a loss again. Inspiration came to me yet again.

At the beginning of each week a list was started. Whenever we needed to discipline Michael we wrote it on the list. Whenever he did a kind act, was responsible, etc. he would cross an item off the list and write down the positive act. At the end of the week, if there were any items not crossed off, he lost privileges for that weekend (TV, computer time, dessert, etc). He has never lost a privilege and his list is getting shorter and shorter and his good deeds are multiplying.

This has been working for the past few weeks. We have noticed a marked improvement in his attitude and behaviour. I am not a screaming banshee in the evenings. Peace has been restored to our house, for the time being.

Boundaries, consequences, praise, rewards, patience, love and kindness, respect. Climbing the mountain is hard work. At times I can not see the summit and I despair of falling down. Perseverance fuels my ascension, add to that the love and commitment required to be a parent and I reach the summit. As I coast down this mountain I look ahead and see another mountain on the horizon. I can't tell how far away this mountain is, or how difficult it will be to conquer. Conquer it I will though. I will bring with me my perseverance, my love, my commitment, my patience, and my faith. mountain at a time.