Monday, April 13, 2009


So back to it. :)

Here's my problem.... complacency.

And I don't mean a "resting" period. And I don't mean a "soaking it all in" period. I mean a "I'm comfortable where I am watching television" period.

Not that the tellie is even a problem (read: a stressful worry for Mama) at the moment, as Cartoon Network has been banned again. By Trevelyn, of course. For a couple of more months, until Summer, he says-- and its been about three weeks, now. (He got frightened by something again - I think it was Batman, though he doesn't talk about it, and so we just respect his wishes.)
And I never mind pbs shows and library videos, or even the Flinstones, Scooby, Dora and Diego, as the children love them so much.

So-- it's not the tv.

And since that's not it, I've been asking myself today and yesterday what it is.

I think it kind of surfaced the other day, maybe a week or so ago, when Trev was pounding on the computer desk, and really frustrated. He was angry because he wanted to play with his friend, and she was in school. (He was pounding and screaming, I was pmsing, you can imagine that the moment wasn't going over terribly smoothly.)
Our conversation was something like "Come on, Bud... let's do something together."
"No, I just wanna sit here and wait for (friend) to get out of school."
"She doesn't get out of school for six hours."
"Then I'll just sit here and wait."
"And what if she can't play when she gets home? Then your day will have wasted away." I could just envision the meltdown happening if she couldn't play (and didn't think I could take it)... "You can't just sit and wait for your life to pass by, Son. Do something fun."
"I'll just go sit on my bed and wait."

Now as I sit here (in this quiet morning, when everyone but me still sleeps) this doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
He can be pondering the game he and she play, and think about dinosaurs, and think about racing, or whatever he's thinking about.

But I was in that "He never wants to do anything," place, (that's the truth as I saw it in that moment) and I was totally frustrated by it.

And it's not true that "he never wants to do anything". Obviously, if you've ever visited OLM.

But it is true that he can be complacent in a place that he isn't happy with, and will turn down things that I know he will love or truly enjoy in the name of "I'm comfortable right here where I am".

So what to do? And do I have the right to do anything?
(Lord, this isn't another "I must Fix It" thing, is it?)

Here's what I don't want:
I don't want to be a domineering -or even authoritarian- parent. I want to aid and support my children in limitless love, and to give them the very best of myself so that they may find and represent the best part (ie the Most) of their individual Self.

I don't want my children to rely upon me as their motivation for Learning. That's an obvious one, and not really a problem, as they really are inquisitive and interested (but just don't ask me if that's true when I'm stressed out about something).

I don't want to be my child's main motivator in Life. Though this one is a bit complex, as I'm not a self-motivated person, so I really have no idea about instilling it in my children. Spiritually and philosophically, I suspect that it's an innate part of us-- a characteristic that some have, and I am perfectly comfortable with being motivated by different things - a warm summer's day, someone's blogpost about a fabulous adventure, a view of a snowy landscape, the sudden p and v of my children and a need to run and wander freely, whatever.

And here's what I know:

Inspiration comes from the outside. It can come from anywhere and everywhere.
It doesn't have to be fancy. Someone can mention "curtain rod" in a book and your mind wanders to a fabulous idea of using a curtain to make a puppet theater.

It's my job (as I have seen more of the world, and have a broader scope) to provide my children with Inspiration. Now it isn't left only to me, but particularly as we grow and learn naturally (educationally speaking) it's up to me to hunt and gather for them.

So.... again, the question.... is it also my job to say "Let's go"?
And, again, it comes down to paying particular attention, I think.

If the mood of the day (such as the day-before-yesterday) is one that says "Uh, no.... we're not fit for being in public today..." then we'd best cancel plans and stay home.
And if we've had a crazy busy few days, and the children have had a blast, but are now coming undone, then of course a day in front of the tellie might be just the thing to recuperate.

In light of "what I really want for my children" I can revisit yesterday's question of "Is it alright to urge them to do something they don't initially want to do?"

And then I can ask "Is urging one to stretch acceptable?"
I'm really comfortable with this idea. It feels freeing and strong. It feels right.

So I arrive to a similar conclusion... but one that feels more loving and liberating than yesterday's answer.

The difference between the pale bitterness of yesterday's resignment (ie my children losing the Joy of Discovery), and today's conclusion is authenticity and honesty.

It's in part the approach.
It is asking "then how about this?" to Trev's answer of "Aaaw, Mom, do we have to?"
It's asking "then what?" (and persisting until someone comes up with a happy solution) if not.
The answer is using an honest approach to his skeptical "no, thanks"... "Hey, Bud... remember the other thing that you love? I really think you'll like this one, too... how 'bout we give it a try? At least for a couple of minutes?"
The problem I had before is that I wanted to call a spade a spade, and asking or urging seemed and felt manipulative, and I may as well therefore call it Force. Coersion.
A bitter pill to swallow.

Now I've shifted slightly again, and am able to see that I was on the right track (as Sarah said) and that bringing true authenticity -much love- into it is the right thing to do, but, too, is the very important matter of leaving the Final Decision up to the children.
With no judgment or disappointment from me.

Love, love, love.
Only Love.

Thanks so much to those who responded to the last posts and helped me to work through this.
Much love to you.


Stephanie Ozenne said...

I just thought of something my mom did a couple of times when I was younger. The time I remember best was when I was 11-ish on a sailboat with my Girl Scout troop. It had a bowsprit, which was a large beam extending from the bow. There were wires to hold on to and you could scoot out over the water and get an exciting ride (and I'm sure there was a net or something so you couldn't fall in). Some of my friends were going out there, but I was totally chicken.

My mom offered me money - a huge sum for me at the time, to do it. So I did and it was really fun.

I'm not suggesting you pay your kids to do stuff, of course. But in that instance, I'm so glad she did something to push me out of my comfort zone, because that experience was a great adventure and I still remember it.

Stephanie said...

That's what I'm talking about.
Participating in adventure, as well as pushing them out of their comfort zone.

I have offered Trev a dollar to try something before. :)
It doesn't feel like cheating!

Rinnyboo said...

My mom did that with me too once. I was probably 9 or so and we were at a little fair in Idaho. All of the kids in our party wanted to ride a little metal roller coaster and I was way too scared to ride. My mom offered to buy me a new Cabbage Patch Kid if I rode it once. This was so out of character for her that I took her up on her offer and tried it. It was not a very fun ride, in fact I remember wondering why I had ever been scared to ride in the first place. But it seemed to get me over some self-imposed hump I had put in place to keep myself off of coasters. After that I rode any and every roller coaster I could find (the scarier the better) AND I got a Polly Gwendolyn Cabbage Patch with realistic red hair (not yarn!)

I don't think it is cheating to lovingly try to get your kiddos to stretch. I think, like you have said, the problem comes in when one uses coersion instead.

Thanks for always giving me new ideas and inspiration, Steph. I often find myself visiting here and OLM and and thinking, "OOOh....I wanna try THAT!" No coersion necessary. :)


Jumbleberry Jam said...

I'm intrigued (and, perhaps a little relieved) to hear you consider yourself as one who is challenged in the self-motivation department. From all that you and your kids do, there's no evidence on OLM. :-) I struggle with this and fear being DS's guide for that reason. Another wonderful post to help me think through it all. Thank you! (btw, my main blog is, not the one I default to here...can't figure out how to change it.

singingfamily said...

I loved reading this post. I love knowing there are other moms out there like me wondering and reflecting and growing and stumbling.
Thanks for your humanity and honesty.

Jennifer said...

Its such a fine line to walk as a mom. I have struggled with this myself and it has been refreshing to read your perspective on this. I want my children to learn for the love of learning, not because I said so. Its a very very fine line for me.

Nicole said...

Beautifully written post Stephanie. Thank you for sharing your heart here. These are things I have been thinking about as well, it is nice to hear your thoughts on this.