Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ten Ways to Disappoint and Upset Your Children

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I didn't enter into parenthood with a vision of rainbows and unicorns and lollipops.  In fact, I postponed parenthood due to several situations, one of which included a healthy dose of fear that I'd eff something up and cause undue trauma to my offspring. I had high expectations for myself and spent my early adulthood trying my hardest to learn about child development, parenting strategies, and what to do if something went sideways and I needed back up.  


I always wondered how my own mother could make things look so effortless. She was pregnant seven times, with the seventh baby being her rainbow baby. Every day she made sure we had clothing, lunches packed for school, and transportation to school.  When we came home from school, there was always something we could eat for a snack to hold us over until dinner.  


How she managed to make fresh, home cooked meals every day without losing her mind is beyond comprehension. She could take an egg, some flour, and two chicken breasts and turn it into a meal for eight people. It was like the loaves and the fish every damned night. Plus, there was usually an amazing dessert to make sure we were sufficiently enticed to eat our meal. 


As a child, I of course had my moments when I wondered why my parents did, said, and made us do things a certain way.  Sometimes it made sense, and sometimes I thought they were just conspiring against us kids.  I especially loved it when my dad would hide the weekly supply of cookies for our lunches to prevent us from devouring them in one sitting.  It actually became a game with me and my siblings trying to figure out his next hiding place. 


I often think back on my childhood and realize what I thought were rough times really weren't that bad.  There's something about experiencing parenthood that significantly alters our perceptions.  Perhaps one day my own children will look back and come to an understanding of how challenging it can be to parent three very different personalities, help each one navigate the treacherous path through puberty, and ensure that they develop not only a sense of who they are, but of their God given purpose in this world.

Until that happens, here are some ways you might disappoint and upset your children.  It's okay.  They'll hopefully understand why you had to do these things once they become responsible for a human being or two or three.  

Say NO

Tell children "no" even when they whine and cry and make you lose your mind.  It's good for them to become acquainted with this word, understand its purpose, and appreciate the value of this tiny, two lettered beauty.  Use it judiciously to preserve its integrity.  Knowing when and how to scoop out a portion of this delight is the key to its power and effectiveness.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Encourage them to HELP

Give children things to do around the house that will help maintain their living environment. Here are a few ideas:

  1.Pick up items around the house and put them where they belong. 

2.Take out the garbage. 

3. Load and unload the dishwasher.  

4. Help sort/clean/dry/fold the laundry. 

5. Plan and purchase a meal. By the time they are getting ready to go to middle school, you can hopefully give them $20, send them into the store, then have them plan and purchase items for dinner a few nights each month. Make it a family project! 

6. Clean the bathroom.

7. Keep your own room organized.

8. Change the toilet paper roll.

9. Hang up your towels to dry after a bath or shower.

10. Vacuum all areas of the home.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Buy from THRIFT Stores

Children may feel pressured to buy the latest brands of clothing and shoes.  Disappoint them when you do not give in to peer pressure based shopping sprees.  Learn to be okay with their discomfort. Empower them to make a clothing budget and show them how their $ goes farther at a thrift store.  You can often find brand names with tags still on the merchandise.  
Inspire them to create their own styles and sense of fashion.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

 Show teens how to increase their EARNING potential

 When they get older and want to increase their $ for clothing, find ways to foster their love of fashion and encourage their entrepreneurial spirit.  Check out how they can earn their own income with a small business like Stella & Dot.  Teens can become stylists for family and friends. They will appreciate being able to earn their own money instead of being handed an allowance.

Teach them ADVOCACY for themselves and others

You won't always be able to rescue them. Teach them how and when to speak up for themselves, share their ideas, and communicate in ways that will be heard and respected.  This takes a lot of time, patience, and practice...so start early and continue to expand on their repertoire of coping strategies; they will learn how to become empowered in this often harsh world of realities.  Shielding and protecting them may feel like the best thing, but remember they need to be equipped to deal with life and all it's unexpected crises.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

 Teach, Encourage, and Expect ACCOUNTABILITY

Make sure children understand that choosing behaviors involves consequences, both the good and the bad.  Preventing children from feeling the pain of those consequences does them no favors.  If your child takes something from a store, for example, require them to make restitution for their actions.  Don't bail them out and blame the messenger.  Hold them accountable and make them attend the court, take classes, and pay their dues to the community.  It will be hard for you too, but the lesson is an important one to learn.  Same goes for inappropriate behaviors at school.   Have those meeting with the counselor and principal, discuss solutions to problems, and require your child to be a part of those solutions.  Is is hard and uncomfortable to watch your child struggle? Absolutely.  But they need to develop these life skills while they are still young and you can provide the guidance required.


ASK a TON of Questions

You will definitely upset your children by asking a bazillion "stupid" questions.  Ask anyway!  Who are you meeting? Where will you go? What time is that event over?  What are their parents' phone numbers in case of emergency?  Do they have access to alcohol, guns, etc...  How will you let me know if I need to pick you up?  What time will you be home? How can I be sure you will make the right decisions? What will you do if there is an emergency?  Who else is going to be there?  

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

WAIT on that Driver's License

The quickest way to disappoint and upset a young person is to hold off on that driver's permit and license.  In other countries, young people have to wait until the age of eighteen to drive.  There are several reasons you do not need to acquiesce when it comes to the learner's permit. To everything there is a season.

 First:  Drivers today are even more distracted than when we got our permit.  Even seasoned drivers have been hit by those who refuse to put down their damned cellphones while driving, put on makeup while driving, and text while driving.  Put an inexperienced teen behind the wheel trying to contend with that madness is a crap shoot.  I have been in two accidents in the past 6 months and both were caused by inattentive drivers! One rear ended me when my child was in the car.  Following too close is a HUGE pet peeve of mine.  There's just no freakin' reason! Look up and just drive!  You have no idea the amount of damage that is done not only to vehicles, but to a person's sense of safety.  

Second:  A professional driver's course is the best option for providing insights and training for a teen.  A parent who is anxious creates anxious drivers.  These courses can put quite a dent in your wallet.  If I hadn't been so traumatized by those accidents, perhaps it wouldn't be such an issue for me. But I am definitely giving my child the best chance at learning how to safely drive by enrolling her in a driver's ed. course.  

Third:  Insurance is outrageous. Again, thanks to so many inattentive driver's out there, our rates continue to increase.  Until I can safely insure my child, I will continue to transport her to activities or have another responsible adult I can trust provide transportation.  This is just too important to ignore.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom


1. ALWAYS Wear your seat belt. Require others to
wear their seat belt if you are driving or if they are
driving with you in the vehicle.

2. Understand the behavioral and potential life altering consequences of a
 physical/emotional/sexual relationship
 as well as the signs of abuse.

3. Alcohol/Drug awareness and signs of addiction 
* NEVER drink/drug and drive no matter what amount of alcohol/drugs have been consumed/used.
*NEVER get in the car with someone who has been drinking/drugging.
*Make an agreement your child can call you for a RIDE 
no questions asked. Discussions tabled until the next day.

4. Be aware of your surroundings.

5. When given the choice to walk away or engage in a 
verbal/physical confrontation, choose to walk away. 
Your life may depend upon that decision.

Have a plan for the unexpected. (I know. It sounds impossible.) 
But knowing what steps to take in an emergency is important. Talk to your children and discuss scenarios.  When I lived on a military base and worked as a civilian with the Army, we were taught OPSEC.   (Operational Security)  Discuss your child's personal and family plan for what to do in an emergency, how to contact each other, and a meeting place.  This type of attention to detail will annoy the heck out of them, but it's an important life skills lesson.


 REMIND them that parents are human too

Disappointing and upsetting your children is part of parenting. It's uncomfortable at times, and it doesn't necessarily give you nice warm feels.  But it is critical that we continue to teach, remind, advocate, and guide our offspring through the crazy maze of life.  I have been know to remind my kids, "I am a human mom, not an android."  They promise to engrave that on my memorial marker one day.  I'm fine with that!


Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend filled 
with challenges, adventures, &
plenty of resources to tackle your goals!
Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom
Kindest Regards,
~ Mary

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Guess who I ran into at a Goodwill Store in Colorado Springs? Still impressed five years after we met!

Prepare for the next adventure...Give the Gift of Quality Sleep
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Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

 Another Chance Meeting After Five Years
Written by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez 

Dearest Readers,

I met "Joshua" five years ago at a KFC restaurant where he was having lunch with friends.  The following story is important to our recent reintroduction.  My son loves to go to Goodwill Thrift Stores in search of items that will help him complete various projects; usually these involve trips to the electronics section.  Last week, we visited one in our area.  I noticed several adults on a day trip with their group, and noticed one gentleman who seemed very familiar. I just couldn't place exactly where I had seen him, but I felt that we had spoken before. 

Several minutes went by with my son scouring the store for his treasured items.  He asked one of the sales assistants for help looking at a video game behind the locked glass counter.  She kindly showed it to him.  As we were discussing the merits of its price and how it fit into his budget, the familiar gentleman approached us and introduced himself.  The sales assistant remarked, "He's very friendly!"  She obviously knew him and I figured he was a frequent customer.  He said, "Hello! I'm Joshua!"  I extended my hand in return and said, "Hi! My name is Mary."  We shook hands and he smiled back.  He then confidently announced, "I bet I can guess your middle name."  I instantly remembered where I had first met Joshua!  That one question, the way he asked, and the confident smile sparked my memory.  So, do you think he guessed my middle name?  First...here's the story I pulled from five years ago.


Mini-Memorable Moments are Priceless
 first published 10/14/13 at Reflections Beneath the Poetz Tree

Written by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez 

This week I was gifted with an opportunity to connect with a total stranger.  Yet he came into my life just when I needed him.  Wednesday was a stressful day for me.  One of Isabella's teachers accidentally marked her absent on Monday.  The efficient school system that is District 11 provided an automated call to inform me that my daughter had missed a class and that I needed to call back.  I knew that my child was in school all day, but I checked with her in case she had been tardy.  Perhaps there had been a substitute teacher who might have missed her during attendance.  Isabella assured me that she had been on time and in every class.


I went to the school in person on Tuesday before noon.  The attendance secretary checked and informed me that Isabella had been marked absent from her Social Studies class by her teacher.  No substitute was in on Monday, but there was a substitute on Tuesday morning.  The attendance secretary reassured me that she would leave another email and a voice message for the teacher.  When I called back that afternoon, there was still no word from the teacher.  I left a voice message too.  

By Wednesday morning I still had not heard from the teacher, so I called the attendance secretary again.  I let her know I had not yet heard from the teacher and was concerned because I did not want an unexcused absence to remain on Isabella's record.  She recommended that I leave another voice mail for the teacher.  I said I would, but that if I didn't hear back from the teacher by the end of the day I would like to schedule time to meet with the principal.  Here's my concern:  The district expects parents to inform the school of a child's absence in a timely manner or risk being reported to social services.  If I take the time out of my schedule to determine the cause of a marked absence, then I expect the same courtesy in return.
I understand how busy a teacher can get.  I have been in a teaching position too.  What I know is that if there were an error on my part or as the result of an oversight from my team, the last thing a parent wants to hear are excuses!  Well, that is exactly what I got when the teacher finally called me back Wednesday afternoon.  I heard that she was busy with the track team on Monday and Tuesday and was in meetings all day on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.  She said Isabella's name was next to another child who was absent on Monday.  She never apologized or empathized with me or my child.  I expressed that I simply wanted my daughter's attendance record corrected.     

I wrote a letter as a follow up but never sent it.  I didn't want Isabella to experience any repercussions if the teacher decided to become offended.  So I'll wait and see if future issues arise.  Perhaps she was just having a busy and stressful week. At any rate, parent/teacher conferences are due next week, so hopefully I can communicate with the teacher so that she actually remembers who my child is next time we talk. (She called me Isabella on the phone.)

My conversation with the teacher left me in a little bit of a funk.  I know...get over it.  But I do expect teachers to at least accept accountability for their oversights.  Lord knows I've had many conversations with parents over the past 25+ years of working with children.  Even if the issue was a missing pacifier or a bottle cap, I took that parent's concerns seriously and made sure they knew I would do whatever I could to make sure it didn't happen again.  It means a lot to know a teacher cares about your child!

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An Unexpected Meeting  

So me with my "in a funk" attitude went to grab a bite to eat at KFC (which I hadn't done in probably over a year) and went to find a table.  As I walked past two gentlemen, one of them flashed me a huge smile and said, "Hi.  How are you doing today?  Isn't it a beautiful day outside?"  I had to respond.  I noticed that the young man had either physical and/or cognitive challenges and no apparent internal editor.  But on that particular day, I was grateful that he was so open and friendly.  I said, "Yes.  It is a beautiful day."   He stood up, walked over to my table, extended his hand, and said, "Hi. My name is Joshua."  I responded with a handshake and said, "Hi Joshua.  My name is Mary."  Joshua continued to grin at me and responded, "I bet I know your middle name."  I said back, "O.K  What's my middle name?"  He said, "Louise!"  "No, not Louise", I answered.  He thought for a moment.  I told him, "I'll give you a hint. It begins with a B." 

Joshua said, "Beth. Is it Beth?"  "No, not Beth."    He took a sip from his fountain drink.  At this point I noticed two ladies of mature age watching our exchange.  They smiled.  Joshua said to me, "Is it Bernice?"  I responded, "No. Not Bernice.  But you're getting closer."  Another gentleman who was perhaps a guardian or relative said, "Josh.  It's time to get going."   Joshua turned to me one last time and said, "Bernadette!"  I laughed and smiled and told him, "O my gosh. Yes!  You guessed right!"  He had a huge smile on his face.   The two older ladies laughed out loud.  We all got such tremendous joy out of this conversation.  It was so simple and pure and spontaneous.  It pulled me right out of my funk.  On his way out the door, Joshua said good bye and I let him know that I appreciated how he came up to me to talk.  I smiled and encouraged him to have a nice day too.

What an unexpected blessing.  I'm always amazed how God knows just when to send a little sunshine into your life.  I hope you too experience a joyful interaction with someone in an unexpected way.  When someone has an obvious developmental or medical challenge, don't discount the value of what they have to offer.  We can learn something from individuals who have faced adversity and continue to smile. 

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Back to Another Chance Meeting
So...Do you think Joshua successfully guessed my middle name again?

Joshua proceeded to guess my middle name.  "Is it Elizabeth?"  Nope.  "Is it Anne?"  Nope.  I looked at Joshua and gave him a hint. "It begins with a 'B'."  He look thoughtful and replied, "Is it Beth?"  Nope. But you're close!  Joshua's eyes lit up and he smiled. "Bernadette!"  Yes!  You really are good at guessing!  The sales associate was smiling too at this point.  I told her, "I'm sure I met him a few years ago!  He is the only one who has ever wanted to guess my name."  I turned to Joshua and smiled. "You may not remember, but I met you at a KFC a couple of years ago." (At the time I didn't realize it had already been five years!) "You introduced yourself to me and my children and guessed my name. It's so great to see you again!"  He politely smiled and asked, "Since we haven't seen each other in a long time, may I have a hug?"  Of course I said yes, and happily complimented him on how well he looked.  

I love being able to connect with individuals who are genuine and pure of heart.  There was something so innocent in his ability to communicate using what he knew as a tool his ability to guess someone's middle name was an asset.  It is important for each of us to find a way to appreciate, help, and understand other points of view.   Here are a few "What ifs" for your consideration:

1.  What if I hadn't responded to Joshua's greeting five years ago?
2.  What if my children had observed me ignoring or mocking Joshua's attempts at communication?
3.  What if I wasn't aware of Joshua's challenges or appreciate his efforts?
4.  What if I had been unkind or uncaring while a room full of diners observed my interactions?

There are many opportunities each of us will have on a daily basis to make a difference.  We can choose to be a positive influence in our world, or we can create dissonance and divisions.  We can learn to take care of ourselves and maintain healthy boundaries without destroying someone's spirit.  The joy I felt when I saw Joshua again and reminded my child of our first meeting was like reaching for sunshineWishing all of you the opportunity to reach for some sunshine too.  

Hoping your week has been filled with adventures,
plenty of resources to solve your challenges, and mini-memorable moments.  
They are priceless!

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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Mother's Day Gifts 2018 ~ Page 2

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Happy Mother's Day!
World of Writer Mom

Writing to make a difference for these amazing characters!
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I have over 20 years of experience in Early Childhood Development Birth-Age 5 including work in classrooms and as an Infant/Toddler Program Manager.  I have several writing projects in progress including a resource book for parents of infants and infant room teachers in a full day child development (school) program.  The book will provide families with information about what to expect and how to monitor their child's progress in an Infant room.  My second book project involves how to cope with family challenges, lessons in forgiveness, dealing with a spouse's addiction, and reinventing yourself along the way.  I am excited about all of these projects and am currently accepting comments regarding experiences my readers have had placing their child into a full day child care program.  I would also like to hear from Infant room teachers.