Thursday, September 23, 2010

You Gotta Have Goals

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

My goal to be a published author is coming true.  I'm taking baby steps and little by little I'm getting a piece published here and a piece published there.  I've spent the last two years immersed in writing websites, reading books about writing and learning the craft.  I've followed writers whom I admire, asked tons of questions of those who have come before me and compiled a list of rejections along the way.

I still have quite a lot to accomplish on my goal list, but the point is I have a list.  When my kids tell me they can't do something or are not capable of accomplishing a task I say, "baloney."  Figure out a way to make it happen.  You want to be a better baseball player?  Play catch every chance you get.  You want to improve your piano skills?  Practice, practice, practice.

They are learning that I will never say, "you're right it's too hard. Forget about it." Instead I will say, "the only limitations are those you place on yourself."  I get lots of eye-rolling and dirty looks, but eventually they will learn that success is a journey, not a destination. If they can learn to set goals they are that much closer to achieveing them.

I have two more published credits based on my goal list.  Check out my article in the Fall/Winter edition of Long Weekends magazine:  Perennial Playtime.  Also, I had my essay A Boy and His Shovel published on the This I Believe website.

What are your goals?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

And Then Came The Tears

Christopher started Kindergarten and I was fully expecting tears.  My tears, not his tears.  But, my  independent, scared-of-nothing, little guy got a little scared.  And he melted into a puddle of sobs after I left him in the classroom on his first day.

I've seen mothers ripped away from their kids' death grip outside the school every morning.  It's horrifying to watch a sobbing child being dragged away from his mother.  I was always so thankful that I never had to experience the horror of walking away as your child is crying, "please mommy, don't leave me!"  Until now.

Lucky for me, there is no death grip.  There is no dragging.  Christopher walks up to his classroom with no problems.  But, once inside the classroom, the tears begin and his little voice tries to spit out, "but I will miss you mommy" amid gasps and sobs.  Can't I just take him home and forget about this whole Kindergarten thing? I  miss him, too.

On a deeply disturbing level I'm glad he misses me.  I've raised two boys that, thus far, have had zero problems when I'm not around. Neither one has batted an eye when I've gone out of town, dropped them off at Grandma's or left them at a play date.  Christopher never shed a tear when I walked out of his preschool classroom.  I'm a little bit happy that Christopher is sad that we're not together every day anymore.  Is that so wrong?

He can miss me and he can be sad, but he can't cry and tug at my heart strings when I leave him at school.  He has to get used to the fact that he now has a job and that job is going to school.  I think once the routine sets in everything will be OK.  For now, we are still adjusting.

We read The Kissing Hand last night in an attempt to bypass the tears at school this morning.  We discussed how it's OK to feel sad and it's OK to miss mommy but he has to go into his classroom and let me go home or I won't be able to walk him to his classroom at all.  I kissed his hand so he knows he can touch his cheek and feel my kisses throughout the day.  

When we got to the classroom door this morning his lip was quivering a little bit.  I told him that I loved him and that I was proud of him for doing such a great job this morning.  I said goodbye and he went inside.  As I walked away I heard his little voice yell, "mommy" and I turned around.  He came out in the hall and asked if he could have one more hug.  "Of course," I said.  I squeezed him tight, told him that I loved him again, and asked him if he would kiss my hand, too.  I figured I could use a few of his kisses throughout the day also.

Christopher didn't cry today.  As we hugged goodbye we both knew that we would miss each other terribly but we would be OK.  He went on his way and I went on mine.  What Christopher doesn't know is that his separation from me is just beginning.  He will be sad today, but he will relish in his independence as he gets older and the tears will become a distant memory.  My sadness is just beginning as I realize today and every other day that he is growing up way too fast. My tears might never end.

Life is funny like that.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Loud and Proud

My son Christopher is loud.  His loudness defines him.  Anyone who knows Christopher knows that his decibel level is at least 90% higher than everyone else’s, including screech owls and little girls.  Some people can’t appreciate his volume and ask me to quiet my son.  Have you ever tried to quiet a happy, expressive, full-of-life, creature who beams with joy?  Who would want to?

Christopher’s 5-year-old brain knows that having fun is the only thing that concerns him.  Having fun means squealing with delight and shouting from the rooftops that he’s here and he’s ready.  Please don’t ignore him because he will keep asking for your attention.

Being quiet is as foreign to Christopher as an introvert suddenly breaking out in song at the family BBQ.  It just isn’t in his genes.  I can relate.  When I’m talking animatedly to my husband about the crazy lady counting her pennies in the grocery store check-out line ("she took forever!") or the obnoxious driver who cut me off on the highway ("son-of-a-bitch changed three lanes without looking!"), he sometimes put up his hand like I’m breaking his eardrum and says, “I can hear you.  I’m right here.”   I know what it’s like to be loud and to be hushed.  I don't want to do that to my son.

I appreciate that Christopher lives his life with the zeal of twenty people and has a personality to match.  He will not only break out in song at the family BBQ, he will add some funky dance steps and tell a joke without skipping a beat.  Some people long for that kind of personality.  Christopher has it in spades.

I know I have a happy child and that’s all that matters to me.  To see Christopher’s antics and fun-loving ways is to witness a child who is truly happy in his own skin.  Christopher doesn’t care if you don’t like his dance steps.  He will do it for the next person who pays attention.  If I had an ounce of Christopher’s confidence I would be a better person.

I'm sorry, dear neighbors, if Christopher's volume has offended you in these summer months while all the kids played outside.  I've asked him to take it down a notch.  I've requested that he not scream so loud when he plays hide-n-seek.  But, it's pointless.  He might quell his enthusiasm for a little bit, but when the seeker eventually finds the hider all bets are off!

Christopher, I love you for who you are and all that I know you can be.  I don’t care if you are too loud for the masses, your decibel level is welcome in my house.  It won’t be too long before your 5-year-old brain turns into a 15-year-old brain who is worried about what other people think and is too careful not to offend.  For now if you continue to squeal with delight, so will I.

Your beautiful voice is music to my ears.

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