Keep Calm And Carry On!

Picture this. It’s the first day of Kindergarten. Parents are dropping their children off. Extra exciting. Most of the kids  seem curious about the new school, some look a bit apprehensive. In general though, all children are doing well. Unlike their parents. I just couldn’t believe the drama filling up the classroom, together with all those intense emotions, furtive tears, distracting camera clicks, I-will-miss-you and blow-me-a-kiss gestures.

Naturally, it is the first day of school and it is a big deal! Of course, human beings are emotional creatures and Americans love to express their emotions more than any other human beings!  But aren’t we blowing things out of proportion here? The kids are just going to school, not to the moon. It’s just a few hours of fun play and learning mix. Nothing terrible. So why so much drama? Why so much anxiety? How exactly is it  supposed to help our children ?

Not sure if it is a personal trait, but I’ve noticed that my anxiety is my children’s anxiety.The more I overreact, the more they overreact. It’s a domino effect.  A simple example. I used to openly panic every time I couldn’t find my purse. It wasn’t an issue until I had children. Overtime, I’ve noticed that the very mentioning of my nowhere-to-be found purse was enough for my son to start crying. At first I found it endearing and empathic. But then it dawned on me that  I was subconsciously traumatizing my son.  In other words, I was sabotaging  his self-control skills and logical thinking by teaching him to overreact in stressful situations. Lesson’s learned though. I am learning to control my stress centers and my son shows his empathy calmly, as we both look for my purse, that I still notoriously misplace.

Back to the school topic. Kids need strong parents to help them go through changes and challenges. School is full those.The best we can do to help our children is to keep calm and carry on.

About common parenting and common sense

Here is a fun fact about parenting. We are all experts in this field.  We know exactly how to be the parents who raise great kids. We don’t think about how we are going to deal with their tantrums, picky eating or low grades. We don’t plan for our sleepless nights or exhaustion, because these are not the things that are supposed to be our problems. We know what we are doing and we are going to show the world, and our own parents, what real parenting is about. And then, ready for everything and anything, armed with books and good intentions, we become moms and dads, just to realize that we’ve been ready for nothing. Who would imagine that our child hates broccoli and cleaning up  and loves computer games more than spelling games? Yet, however we try to deny it, this is our reality.  We can either accept that our children have taken us a little by surprise and let them be picky, rude and lazy, or we can admit that we are far from experts in parenting and humbly agree to take corrective measures. Perhaps it is the challenges of parenting that have taken us by surprise and we should revisit our parenting goals and techniques, before it’s too late. In other words, if it’s important to us that our child is respectful to other people, we can’t tolerate them disobeying  their teachers. If we want a child with integrity, we can’t let them cheat on games. If we want a diligent student, then why do we do their homework?

There are no experts in parenting. Even the parenting book authors have their questions and dilemmas. In parenting there is no one-fit-all guidebook or a miracle help line with 100% effective solutions. Instead, there is a lot of trial and error, plus constant adjustments. But at the same time, parenting is not a rocket science. It is not a science in the first place. People have been raising kids for ever and many of those kids turned out really well without Kumon, ADHD treatment and  ballet classes at the age of three. They turned out well, because their parents raised them with love and common sense. Why is this combination such a rare beast these days? Are we so afraid of losing that pricy spot in some elite school that we have lost our parenting instincts altogether? No worries. Thanks to us driving our kids from class to class and driving ourselves crazy, our child’s place in the best school in town will be guaranteed.  The only spot our child will miss, will be at the school of life. But who cares?  None of our friends and fellow parents worries about it either.

Common has become a new normal.  Big kids ride around in strollers as if they couldn’t walk, tired parents serve as play-mates in the park full of kids, veggies are taboo… I am not trying to criticize anybody. Rather, I am trying to provide some food for thought for everybody, myself included.  Until recently I was cutting my son’s apple into wedges, because it was easier for him and less mess for me. And then it dawned on me: my son has teeth for a reason!

Common is not normal. Common is easy and contagious. Common is an excuse. I might sound old-fashioned, but as a parent I’d rather stick to normal. My children deserve it. In other words, it’s the school of life for my kids. How about yours?



Happy New Year and 1bookperday in 2014

Happy New Year, Everyone! It’s been a while since my last post and all I have to say in my defense is: I have been thinking about you. Unfortunately, the holiday season and a trip across the time zones was enough to throw my meticulously mastered routine through the window. Even now I am not fully caught up on things (let alone sleep) and getting back on schedule have been pretty painful. But I’m getting there. And as I was thinking about new picture books to read and a new topic I realized that things have changed in the meantime. My older son has opened a new chapter in his reading career and transitioned to chapter books. My younger son, on the other hand, has just discovered the fun of board books. At first I panicked. What am I going to write about? But  then I realized that this to-be-expected change of our reading landscape is actually a great opportunity to redirect my blog in 2014.  As I am putting the picture books on hold, I am not giving up on the parenting theme.  And the book I am going to write about will be the one that is not published yet, but which we, parents, keep writing day by day: “Today’s Parenting at Work. Does it really work?”

See you next time with my first batch of observations!  Feel free to join the discussion.