Friday, September 20, 2019

Won't you be my friend?

There's this clever trick that my son's teachers have incorporated into their classrooms. They all refer to the class as "friends." Not as "students," or "kids" or even "children." Friends. I've heard statements like, "Clean up your stations, friends, and we can all head to the library." And: "I'm not sure where the humming is coming from, my friends, but it needs to stop."

In a way, it is brilliant, because it makes the students consider each other part of one big friends group. So, when I ask my son about his day, I hear him label everyone as a friend. 

Of course, the slight downside to this is that it is a little harder for me to determine which of my son's classmates he has a deeper friendship with, but I am OK with having to ask more questions to determine that. (For the record, sometimes he is not OK with my probing.)

Figuring out your child's friendships can be hard. The children that are labeled as friends one day become adversaries the next week and then make up again before the school day is out. Or you'll suddenly get a phone call from a parent inviting your child over because he is the best of friends with their child - even though you've never heard that child's name mentioned before.

I like that most of the advice on the topic of childhood friends is to just listen. Our kids are still trying to figure out how to navigate their own behaviors and sometimes trying to figure out someone else seems like it is too much. Eventually, they will learn what they are looking for in a true friend and (hopefully) will want to tell you all about it.

Does your child have a best friend? Share the story in the comments.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The songs that fill your home

I think I need to spend some time looking for some new music to play. 

I get in this music rut every now and then when I play the same playlists too often, and I just want to hear something new (or at least a favorite song that I have temporarily forgotten). It's in these times that I break out of my rut that my son usually gets exposure to new music as well.

We play a fair amount of music in our home. I sometimes play upbeat songs from the early 2000s when I am buzzing about the kitchen; my wonderful husband plays music from his teenage years while he does the evening dishes; we listen to easy '70s sounds when we play board games as a family; our son requests specific songs to play as he zips around the downstairs area on his hoverboard.

All of this exposure to music is a wonderful thing for our son and has resulted in him having a wide variety of tastes. He can belt out a few lyrics to "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers, as easily as he shakes his hips to "I Can Make Your Hands Clap" by Fitz and the Tantrums. The key thing for my husband and I to remember is that the diversity of songs that we play is important, because it is incredibly unlikely that we can ever shape his taste in music to be just like ours.

In fact, instead of you influencing what your child listens to, your child may very well introduce new music in your life (beyond the soundtrack of the latest Disney film).

It all boils down to this: Play music. Interact with music. Make it a presence in your home so your child can shape a soundtrack to their own life.

What type of music do you like playing in your household? Share with me in the comments.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Lucky to have grandparents

My son has three sets of grandparents. That is three sets of people in his life that he can learn from and grow special bonds with. He's a lucky kid.

And I'm a lucky adult, because none of the parental sets is overly intrusive into our lives. I am sure there have been lots of moments in which I've been judged, or I've cringed over something that they have said or done, but on the whole - everyone seems to enjoy their special role.

I get that this is not always the case. Some grandparent interaction is fantastic for everyone; until it becomes too much.

(By the way, I find it particularly fascinating that most of the instances cited for when it goes badly involve food or drink of some sort...)

Parenting for the first time felt very adult. Knowing that I was fully responsible for a helpless individual was a scary/wonderful event, and I was determined not to mess it up. I read books, I listened to other parents, I learned that I was going to mess some things up no matter what I did.

One rule I eventually learned to adopt was around house rules. If my son is at someone else's home, he has to adopt those rules. That includes his time at his grandparents' homes. Sometimes I forget this rule, but generally, I try to turn a blind eye to when he gets spoiled. (I often remind myself that he is supposed to get spoiled by his grandparents, and he doesn't get to see them that often...I would probably feel very different if this were a more frequent occurrence.)

Navigating the particulars of your adult relationship with your own parents is tough. Toss a baby into the mix and it just got tougher. But I don't think it has to be if everyone remembers that all parents have different styles and that most kids turn out just fine. If there is a big issue, then yes, talk about it as adults, but with the understanding is that your child is well loved.

What is special about your child's time with their grandparents? Share with me in the comments.

Friday, September 13, 2019

The path to growing up

My son has asked for - and received - some new responsibilities this year. All of the items are activities he is definitely capable of, and he seems to like doing them. I like watching him mow the lawn or help with more chores or make decisions about his after school activities.

But - what I really wonder - is why I didn't encourage him to try these responsibilities out sooner.

I wouldn't say that I am a pushover parent, but I am definitely the one who still sees my son as more kid than young man. Is that a Mom thing? I find myself having to repeat his age to myself (he really is nine) and remember that while he could still revert back to childish behaviors, we should be having more conversations and less yelling.

It pains me, but I have to actively remember that he is growing up. And that means re-evaluating his milestones.

Not all milestones are the same for his age range, but I need to at least take the time to ensure that I am helping my son grow up. I do, after all, want him to be a successful adult one day. As I keep reading articles about how teens and twentysomethings seem to be taking longer to make the split from their parents, I know that we parents are the ones to blame.

While I do not want to encourage the riskier teen behaviors in my son, I do want to make sure he knows that its OK to forge his own path away from Mom and Dad. It is, in other words, OK to grow up.

Even if I don't always like it.

Are you actively helping your child grow up? Talk about it in the comments.