Freedom

When was the last time you experienced a sense of freedom? Having the house to yourself for a few hours? Or time out of the house by yourself?

My oldest just got his license and can drive on his own (gulp). He worked hard to get the license and is now getting a new sense of freedom.

My first sense of freedom was riding my bike with my friends. I then walked to school (most kids in our neighborhood did, so there were lots of others around, thankfully). I am reminded that being free felt good, not only because I was able to do things away from my parents, but because I had a sense they believed in me and my ability to handle the freedom (though looking back in it I’m sure they worried). It contributed to what I believed I was capable of, and grew my confidence in my independence.

I know I will worry as my son embraces his newfound freedom, but I want him to know I believe in him and his abilities and hope I give him the same confidence that was given to me.

Where is your child experiencing freedom? How are you helping them gain confidence in their independence?

Paying for Your Mistake

What happens in your house when any of your electronics stops working?

In our house, when a valued electronic stops working we go through several phases: denial (I can dry it out, there’s no way that cracked the screen, etc.), fear (okay, this isn’t working, it’s broken, how am I going to fix this?), and stress (how long will it take, how much will it cost?….agh!). Then reality sets in…we will get this fixed, it will cause some inconvenience, and cost us money we weren’t planning to spend.

My boys have longed for a computer that would allow them to play video games on. We hang onto our electronics for a long time, trying to squeeze every penny out of them, and that doesn’t bode well for teen boys dying to play games that require computers with high processing speeds, and loads of memory. We didn’t budge on their ask for many years until COVID hit, with all the social distancing and at-home time we figured it was time.

The boys were overjoyed when we got the computer, and have enjoyed it and used it almost everyday, until it broke. Or more specifically the screen broke. It didn’t get cracked but would only display 3/4 of the screen, the remaining screen was mainly white. What exactly happened? I thought. My boys went through the motions: denial – no it can’t be broken (reboot, still broken); fear – what are we going to do (this will cost money, how quickly can we get this fixed?), and stress – how long will I have to live without my computer??? 😬

I know it must have felt like a lifetime to my kids, waiting almost three weeks for the replacement screen to arrive and the repair shop to fix it. During this time our oldest mentioned a handful of times he’d cover the cost of the repairs. I appreciated that he wanted to cover but wanted to understand why. Neither he nor his brother had been forthcoming regarding what might have caused the screen to become damaged.

After picking up the repaired computer I asked my son why he wanted to pay for the repair, if he felt he had any responsibility in what happened. Without any further prompting on my part he said, “Mom, what happened is totally my fault. I didn’t handle the computer as carefully as I should have.” “How so?,” I asked. “I know I dropped it at least once or twice, and grabbed it when I was moving it.” While I wasn’t crazy about his carelessness with the machine, I was impressed with his honesty and willingness (dare I say desire?) to be held accountable. “Okay,” I said, “You can contribute to the cost of the repairs. The expectation is you will be more careful from now on, and should this happen in the future you will cover the full expense.” “That’s fair,” he said, and that concluded the conversation.

Holding my son accountable financially (even partially) was hard. As a parent, holding my child accountable for behavior or mistakes has gotten easier with time, but adding the financial component felt like we are reaching another more adult-like milestone with our son, and was new ground for me. But it was a good lesson for my son to learn — sometimes you have to literally pay for your mistakes. But owning them, and getting them corrected does pay off (pun intended) 😊 — my sons got to play their games again. They were both ecstatic!

How do you hold your child accountable when they do something wrong? How do you help them learn or do better following their mistake?

Helping a Mother in Need

When was the last time you did a random act of kindness?

My oldest son needed to get a new identification. After weeks of waiting, and thinking I had everything we needed for the appointment, we headed out to the office. We were met easily by a waiting clerk. Awesome, I thought. I gave them the paperwork. Everything was there. This is good, my optimism for this being the shortest appointment ever was growing. Then they asked for payment. No cash. No credit cards. Only a check would be expected. How could I forget to bring a check?, I thought. My mind started racing. I couldn’t just run to the car, my checkbook wasn’t there. If I went back to the house, I’d lose my place and have to reschedule the appointment again. Dread started sinking in.

Then the most amazing thing happened, a woman working with the clerk next to mine saw what was unfolding and offered to help. “I’ll give you a check. You can just Venmo or PayPal me.” I’ve never been so grateful. “Are you sure you don’t mind?,” I asked. “Not at all,” she said, “I’ve actually been looking for an opportunity to help someone else. The same thing happened to me when I was at a grocery store and the bill was over $400. I couldn’t believe someone would help me in that way and having been wanting to pay it forward ever sense. This makes me feel good.” I used her check to complete the transaction and transferred the owed funds noting in the notes “helping a mother in need.”

We all have had moments when we need help. We left house without diapers, or need someone to hold the baby while we handle another crisis, or ask someone to momentarily watch one child while we chase after another. There are always opportunities to help. This woman was a godsend and truly helped a mother in need. Now I’m on the lookout for who I can help, and pay forward her kindness.

How has someone else helped you in a time of need? How have you helped another parent in need?

Making the Most of It

Did you incur any weather that impacted your holiday plans?

We were looking forward to getting out of town for a few days over Winter Break, but were snowbound for a week. It forced us to just “be.” It was a bit of an adjustment, we had been so looking forward to our trip, but Mother Nature had other ideas. We had no option but to make the best of it.

While most of our family were fairly unproductive (meaning we sat around trying to stay warm and watched lots of TV) , my oldest decided to get together with a friend and workout — how did they work out? By shoveling sidewalks for other people without being asked. My son’s friend had the idea, but my son was in. He was so inspired that when he got home that first day he shoveled the sidewalk around our block (which is an oversized block covering three streets). I was impressed by his desire to do this. I asked him if any neighbors noticed his work and thanked him (we live where snow doesn’t happen often and folks aren’t accustomed to needing to clear their sidewalk). “Not really,” he said, but it didn’t seem to bother him. He repeated meeting up with his friend throughout the week, they changed it up (where they shoveled and would include have fun at several snow covered parks (they wouldn’t shovel the parks, but toss the football, etc.).

The time off truly allowed us to disconnect and enjoy the moment. We didn’t have to worry about being anywhere, getting anything done by a certain time, or braving the elements. It was a much needed respite from the flurry of activities leading up to the week prior.

How did you spend your holidays? How did you and your family make the most of unexpected situations?