Ive gotten better at NOT glorifying the busy.
I’m back to forcing myself to acknowledge–-in the nicest of fashions—declining invitations or turning down work is not a result of my being too busy.
I’m saying no because it isn’t a priority right now.
It’s been hard—yet I find it easier each time I do it.
No isn’t a four letter word. Living with margins is OK.
Life has grown slow around here (*cue lackadaisical confetti*) yet, because slow isn’t necessarily *simple*, parenting challenges abound.
Ones which remind me of a book I read years ago—long before I was a mother.
I’ve appropriated the title as a reminder of sorts.
A loving nudge to myself when I’m tempted to focus on the child’s ROOTS and not encourage her to spread her wings.
The book’s very title, Blessings of a Skinned Knee, is a reminder letting our children fall & fail is, in fact, the most powerful way to encourage them to grow.
I parallel this growing process to learning to bowl.
When children are little we offer them small bowling balls and place bumpers over the gutters.
We lessen their load so they don’t grow too quickly depleted.
We fashion safeguards around them so they can experience life yet not get hurt.
As children get older we pass them heavier balls—yet leave the bumpers in place.
We strengthen their self-esteem in this safe fashion until, when they’re ready, we remove the bumpers and let them fly on their own.
Invariably they fall or fail.
The oxymoronic title Blessings of a Skinned Knee serves to remind us there are gifts in these
failings gutter balls.
Blessings I only grasped on an intellectual level until recently.
“May we go for a walk *alone*, Mama?”
The child asked if she could take Charming for a walk.
She’s eight. We live in Oakland. She’s not known for her ability to, uh, focus. And did I mention she’s eight?
I longed to say HELL NO.
I told her yes.
Yes she could walk him alone if she took a specific route and brought her Dad’s cell phone in case anything happened.
Five minutes after she left my phone rang. I answered it and she calmly asked if she could talk to her dad.
After he hung up he relayed what she’d told him:
She’d dropped his cell phone when Charming unexpectedly pulled and it had shattered. She was very, very sorry.
He and I were shocked.
She’d left a child who cried, blamed and made excuses if anything “bad” happened, yet when given freedom and faced with a problem she’d stepped up, owned up and not shed a woe is me tear.
It was the blessing of a shattered iPhone.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say when she returned she carried herself with more confidence.
The lean-in uber-confident stance returned.
I immediately told her how proud I was with how she’d handled the incident.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I panicked and was afraid you’d be angry, but I knew I had to tell you right away and so I did. That’s why I called.”
Experts say children gain authentic confidence when they learn to cope with failures or problems.
All I know is the experience gave her a confidence boost I never could.
She was proud of how she’d problem solved/made good choices in a bad (who doesn’t have the initial inclination to lie or hide the evidence?) situation.
As a parent Id felt the fear and removed the “life-bumpers” anyway.
She’d slid straight into the gutter and surprised us all by finding her own way out.
We debriefed (she brainstormed what she might have done differently).
I normalized (yep. Ive shattered my phone).
I shared tools (all the ways I make decisions so things like that happen less often).
More than anything her Dad and I were grateful.
Grateful we let her try to fly.
Grateful the failing was small.
Grateful what we’d known intellectually had been proven true:
Children gain confidence by having the opportunity to fail and problem-solve a solution.
There are blessings in these failures.
And gifts in shattered iPhones.
Kierston saysMay 28, 2014 at 3:21 am
Brittany @ Delights and Delectables saysMay 28, 2014 at 4:08 am
I love learning your mom lessons friend! Baby D shattered my iPhone a couple weeks ago…. but at least he learned to swipe! Right?? 😉
Jen saysMay 28, 2014 at 4:33 am
Proud mama moment! That is so awesome!
It totally trumps the PIA of having to get the phone fixed.
misszippy saysMay 28, 2014 at 4:50 am
I have found, time and again, that kids will rise to the occasion when given the opportunity. The book Free Range Kids was another great read along these lines…
Healthy Mama saysMay 28, 2014 at 4:51 am
Another vote for the book Free Range Kids.
Love this Carla!
Maureen saysMay 28, 2014 at 5:24 am
I love the quote that states we must give our children 2 things in life. Roots & Wings. You are doing a fabulous job at both. 🙂
Myra saysMay 28, 2014 at 5:38 am
My daughter always called me when she got to school. I recently gave her my car (really?!). I wondered if she would still call me when she got to school. Was I nervous and totally freaked out? Oh yes. Did she call me? Oh yes.
Susan saysMay 28, 2014 at 5:50 am
Love this! It is fun to see them gain confidence. I find I’m much more relaxed with our youngest 😉
Jody - Fit at 56 saysMay 28, 2014 at 6:44 am
A testament to the fact of you are doing something right, 🙂 and what a great mom you are to her – lessons have to be experienced…
Katrina Elle saysMay 28, 2014 at 6:49 am
I see someone being our next president 😉
Jennifer FIsher saysMay 28, 2014 at 7:20 am
agh . . . it’s hard to let them become independent but we must train them bit by bit to go . . . . I have one leaving the nest for good next year and I’m so proud of how he’s learned to own and overcome all his mistakes and wobbles
cherylann saysMay 28, 2014 at 7:22 am
My grown daughter calls me-just to tell me she misses me and loves me.
That’s the best gift.
TriGirl saysMay 28, 2014 at 7:33 am
Oh, the horrible feeling of a shattered phone. Good for her! And for you guys! When I taught, it was amazing to give the 2nd and 3rd graders responsibilities. Accountability for their homework, for their choices…they thrived! It’s a wonderful thing 🙂
Dick Carlson saysMay 28, 2014 at 7:43 am
I worry so much that we have been raising legions of kids “without removing the bumpers” that I’m now completely reassured by your story. At least one set of parents understands that you’ve gotta work towards the day that the bird flies out of the nest into the world. You should IMMEDIATELY stop every other thing you do in life and start teaching parenting full time, to as many people as possible. Please.
Coco saysMay 28, 2014 at 8:11 am
Ah, you and your timing! My daughter is in a situation that I could easily bail her out of, but I know that’s not best for her in the long run, so I’ve decided not to, and I am oddly at peace with that decision. (But if the situation literally called for bail that would be different!)
Renee Benda saysMay 28, 2014 at 8:14 am
Yeah!!!! <3 I don't want my babies to grow up. But I do agree bruises and skinned knees are lessons and it's important to learn them. I'm also a fan of kid *street justice* where they must resolve their own conflicts without a parent telling them what to do. That was how I grew up and it enforces decision making and conflict resolution early.
Jenny saysMay 28, 2014 at 8:30 am
Great job Tornado!!! We’re all very proud of you!
Kerri O saysMay 28, 2014 at 8:48 am
I have to remind myself of this often lately. I sooo have the knee jerk reaction to hover/protect.
Denise saysMay 28, 2014 at 9:56 am
Such an endearing post. <3
mimi saysMay 28, 2014 at 10:22 am
Let them make the errors and learn the consequences now, when the consequences aren’t huge and beyond our control. That’s wise parenting.
shari saysMay 28, 2014 at 11:37 am
Now you know she is responsible and can handle herself in situations.
lindsay Cotter saysMay 28, 2014 at 12:59 pm
i am in awe of tornado. She is wise beyond her years and so purposeful. proud mama moment for you indeed
Amanda - RunToTheFinish saysMay 28, 2014 at 1:13 pm
talk about the most amazing lesson, she already knows that telling the truth is the best way to handle a situation!!!
Kim saysMay 28, 2014 at 1:52 pm
I love the way she handled that (and y’all, too) – so hard to let them go but so very rewarding when we do!
And, I carry 2 phones (personal and business) and every single day I say, “good think I have an Otter Box!”
Christine @ Love, Life, Surf saysMay 28, 2014 at 2:21 pm
Absolutely love this. I know that I shelter and protect my kids more often than I should but yes, when given the opportunity, they rise up and it’s a gift and lesson that I could never provide on my own. Love how she handled the situation.
Andrea@WellnessNotes saysMay 28, 2014 at 3:29 pm
Yes! It is so important to give kids the freedom to have real experiences, including making mistakes and learning from them. But I know how hard it can be… The Tornado did great! And she has a great mom! 🙂
Susan saysMay 28, 2014 at 4:21 pm
BRAVA to you all. Especially to you both. And hey, I know a place in Emeryville that’ll fix that screen in 15 minutes or less…. 😉
Carla saysMay 28, 2014 at 4:54 pm
She handled that so well for such a young age! I try to let my kids make their own mistakes, what I find harder is having discussions with anyone else about it. When the people around me talk as if their kids have never made a mistake and are so perfect and terrific, I just don’t want to share my normal kid stuff (or at least I think it’s normal). It makes it hard to have an outlet.
Angela @ Happy Fit Mama saysMay 28, 2014 at 5:02 pm
Wow. That is awesome. Way to go Tornado!
Erin Kreitz Shirey saysMay 28, 2014 at 5:37 pm
Carla, the timing of your post couldn’t have been better timing. The girls have been asking to walk to school together every day. I am super nervous- every corner nervous. I let them go last week, and walked to school after to make sure they were ok. I said I had to be there for “Monday Morning Assembly”…but really wanted to make sure they were fine. Jack is eager to let them fly…I am nervous. In part because of almost losing both of them. All the more reason to let them grow and be strong and empowered, eh? Thank you! I forwarded your post to my better half too. 😉
Heather Montgomery saysMay 29, 2014 at 4:11 am
She is such a good kid. I love it.
Sandy@GrowTaller saysMay 29, 2014 at 7:44 am
The testament to being a good parent, is when your child still feels comfortable coming to you, even in their greatest mistakes. I am always hesitant when my younger cousin, wants to go out for a walk as you always hear some pretty scary news on the TV but at some point we have to equip them with tools and let them out into the world. Awesome post!
Michelle saysMay 29, 2014 at 8:35 am
Lovely. It’s hard but sweet when we see them grow up a little. The tornado has some awesome parents. 🙂
Roz@weightingfor50 saysMay 29, 2014 at 11:11 am
You are raising a pretty magical little person Carla!!! Big <3 to her, and you!
cursor saysMay 29, 2014 at 11:42 am
I love giving me children good care. It makes my happy
Wendy saysMay 30, 2014 at 5:42 pm
I’ve read the book, and actually, I heard the author speak, and was nodding my head as my gut clenched in fear wondering if I’d have to strength to let go.
I did, and like you, i found blessings.
It’s not easy, but its what’s right. So proud of both of you!
Mo at Mocadeaux saysMay 31, 2014 at 11:27 am
I think this is one of the toughest things about being a parent. How do we decide when our child is ready to do something today that we didn’t think they were up to doing yesterday. How do we all of a sudden let them be independent? It is scary but necessary.
Abby @ BackAtSquareZero saysMay 31, 2014 at 3:50 pm
So proud of you for being a brave momma and the Tornado for being so honest and wonderful.