We (Wii) Dance

Do you have a Wii or know someone who does?  If so, have you ever done Wii Dance?

My boys were introduced to Wii Dance during after school activities. When I picked them up one day I saw my youngest son participating and my oldest eagerly awaiting his turn. They both worked diligently to match the the dance moves showing on the screen, whether they were “officially” playing the game or not. There was great concentration, but also a wonderful joy. I couldn’t help getting caught up in their enthusiasm.

As I’ve aged, I’ve been bracing myself for the day I’ll become uncool to my kids. Watching them do Wii Dance I realized that moment was approaching faster than I’d like. The moves on the screen seemed more modern than what I remember growing up, and the fact that I just used the word “modern” to describe dance moves makes me feel even more old. I was tempted to join in with my boys and give Wii Dance a try, but resisted the urge, because I’m determined not to embarrass my children in public, at least not intentionally.

Once the Wii Dance party ended, we headed for home and found ourselves later that evening watching a movie. The movie had a soundtrack with several dance-able songs. I took that opportunity to get my groove on (and yes, the fact that I just used that phrase seems to be cementing that I just can’t help but embrace I am of a certain age). Instead of dancing by myself, I invited the kids to join me. They thought it was a blast. We laughed, we spun, we dipped and really enjoyed ourselves. We decided that we have a lot of fun when ‘we dance’.

I might not ever get to do Wii Dance in public, but I’ll take a private dance party with my guys any day.

How do you show your fun side to your child?


Spring is in the Air

As I walked out of the house, rushing to get everyone in the car something caught my eye: blossoms on one of our bushes. While I had just been in a hurry to get to my car, I allowed myself a moment to examine the plant more closely. Were there more blooms? Would there be more soon? The one I was looking at was so beautiful.

My children, who I was busy hustling out to the car only moments earlier, noticed that I had stopped. “What is it Mom?” my oldest asked. “Look at this,” I said. Both boys came over to see what I was looking at.

I never tire of the beauty that comes with Spring. Daffodils blooming, tulips starting to grow. The blooms in white, purple, pink and yellow that come to life. For me, it’s a magical time of year. The natural beauty I’m experiencing is both comforting and humbling.  It is so powerful it’s no wonder I felt compelled to have my children experience it with me.

My son’s joined me by the bush. “Oh, there’s a flower,” my son said. “Oh, yea, and there’s another,” my youngest added. They both examined the bush in search of more blooms. It was one of those moments where you’re both present in your surroundings and fully engaged with the people around you–rare and special, in my opinion.

Once we finished examining the plant, we proceeded to the car. “More flowers are coming,” I commented. My son asked, “how do you know?” and while I could have said ‘this is the time of year that plants start to bloom,’ I decided to respond based on how I felt, “I can feel it in the air, can’t you?” My sons nodded in agreement. It made me smile.

How do you experience the beauty of nature with your child? What season is most magical for you?

Lucky Clover

When I was a child I learned that four-leaf clovers are good luck, and if I found one I was told I would have good luck for a day. It was never quite clear to me if it was the day you found the clover, or the next, but the promise of a good day sounded fantastic.

My children have learned from their classmates that finding a penny is good luck. They get very excited when they find change on the ground. They understand money buys things, but also realize there is almost nothing you can buy for a penny. It’s as though the penny represents more than one cent. It represents that something good happened to you. And if it happened once, it’s likely to happen again.

What is it about these signs of luck or good fortune that captivate us? The promise of happiness or good fortune coming our way expectedly, right?

Luck seems to help explain good things that are, well, unexplainable. A few examples of how I’ve experienced luck:

  • Winning a prize for a contest that I’d never signed up for
  • Running into an old friend in an airport thousands of miles away from where I grew up and where I currently live
  • The day I met my spouse

Now, I realize their are nay-sayers who might attribute these experiences to fate or coincidence, and yet others who adamantly believe we create our own luck. I have to admit any of these things can be true, but I prefer to think of them as luck. They were unexpected, there is nothing I could have done to influence them happening, and they brought me joy.

There are certainly instances where we make good situations happen for ourselves, but isn’t it nice to think there’s a possibility something good might happen outside of our efforts?

I’m happy my boys think finding a penny is good luck. The happiness it brings them is priceless, it makes me smile. So does finding four-leaf clovers.

What unexpected joy have you experienced? Did luck play a part?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Time Time Time

As we spring forward, I am reminded of how precious time is. I’m reminded of how quickly time has passed since my children were born. I’m reminded of how much I used to dislike longer days when my children were younger, because the longer light keep my children up later or woke them earlier. Now they are older, and the sunlight doesn’t affect their sleep like it used to, and I’m starting to look forward to the longer days once again.

I’m reminded that how I spend my time each day is up to me. That I need to be selfish with my time (and ladies, we know that isn’t easy, right? Because we’re raised to not be selfish.), but I believe we owe it to ourselves and our families to be selfish with our time. Who knew being selfish could be a good thing?

To explain further, when my children were younger I spent my time where I thought I was supposed to, not necessarily where I wanted to. I said “yes” way too often. “Will you volunteer to serve on this committee?” Yes. “Will you host a play date?” Yes. “Will you _fill in the blank_?” Yes. See, it’s scary, I would say “yes” to just about everything.

What I learned was that I was not only doing myself a disservice, but also my family. I was spreading myself too thin and wasn’t experiencing a level of happiness, satisfaction or justification that offset how and where my time was being spent. In fact, I was exhausted and miserable. That spilled over to my family. My children may have been too young to notice this, but my husband wasn’t.

I started to get more selfish with my time. Where, how and who I spend it with. While I gladly give time to my family, friends and work, I seek opportunities that help me recharge my batteries. When I’m recharged, I’m better at being present, and noticeably happier. That spills over to my family. My kids are older now and they notice it, my husband to.

What do you give your time to today? How are you recharging your batteries? Do you struggle with being selfish with your time?

The Envelope Please…

There is something seductive about the Oscar ceremony. You watch an award show for people clearly gifted in their talent, looking their finest, with great attention to detail, including the envelopes that hold the names of the winners. The seduction part is how easy it is to believe that personal success and accomplishment comes only from winning an award. That your ability to be successful is determined by others (those deciding who win the awards) and not you.

As an adult this isn’t lost on me. I bought into the notion that success was measured by others early in my career and continued to believe it until I had children of my own. Who doesn’t want to win an award for their work? Who doesn’t want to be recognized or acknowledged for their skills?

As a parent I don’t want my children to buy into this idea that success is determined by anyone but them. A statue, trophy or plaque is lovely to receive and feels good, but it doesn’t define who you are as a person. It doesn’t define if your work or life is a success.

My boys are at the age where they are exposed to competition at school and in the play yard. My oldest loves keeping score. When he loses he gets upset. He gets angry with frustration when he tries his hardest and the end score doesn’t reflect his efforts. “I did so good,” he says with a mixture of surprise, and disappointment, “how come my score isn’t better?” His face scrunches up and he balls up his fists. He makes a errrr sound in frustration. My husband and I talk to our so about the progress that he made when he played and while he may not have won, how he is getting more skilled and improving every time he tries. “Everything you want to be good at takes practice,” we tell him, “and lots of it.” You can see his mind working. It’s a good opportunity for us to teach him about what success really is.

“Do you have to win to be successful?” I ask my son. He looks up at me with questioning eyes, like he wants to say yes, but realizes I wouldn’t ask this question if it were the answer. I continue, “success is when you learn something about yourself and grow. You might receive a statue, trophy or medal along the way, but those items don’t determine who you are. You do.” He seems to understand what I’m saying, but you can still see he’d prefer to just win trophies, or get the highest score. Just like I did as a kid.

What is success for you? What is success for your child? How do you help them determine the value they bring?