This Thanksgiving, other than being grateful for the obvious husband, son, family, friends, I am only grateful for one thing. Myself. With all of my quirky ways, sometimes stoic personality and often direct approach to life, I would not change a thing.
Last year around this time, my life was what you might call chaotic. Lots of drama, lots of tears (most behind closed doors – remember that stoic description), lots of disappointments and not a lot of happiness. It may sound worse when I write it but the point is that I was not in a place where I felt satisfied with my life. A good friend listened and simply said, it will be different in a year, I promise.
I always remember that conversation and now that we are approaching that one year mark, I can gladly tell her she was right. It was anything but an easy year to live through and I doubted her promise over and over but I not only got through it, I am happier and more confident than ever.
The schools I work in are covered in hand made children’s work, stating thanks for family, friends, toys and candy. While it is endearing and heartfelt, the best lesson to teach our children is to be thankful for who they are. We want them to celebrate talents, strengths and accomplishments regularly but on the one day to actually state the thanks out loud, it is never to ourselves. Is this a narcisitic thought? Maybe. But is it the truth? Absolutely.
Have your children not only thank those around him or her but give a special thanks to being who THEY are. Make “I am thankful that I am …” cards and bring them to your holiday celebration. Encourage everyone to do the same and instead of going around the table doling out compliments to everyone and everything else, have guests give themselves a pat on the back. You will be surprised how much children learn from observing. Having a parent, relative or friend speak highly of themselves is the best way to teach a child how to be proud, confident and self assured without being pompous, arrogant or egotistical.
Nothing has to be too deep, just simple and honest. “I am thankful that I am good at sharing”, “I am thankful that I got a great grade on my science quiz”, “I am thankful that I get to feed my cat every day”.
On this day of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, give yourself and your little ones a large helping of self gratitude. It will make everything else taste extra sweet. Happy Thanksgiving!
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I will never forget her. Sprinting down the street to get to my tutoring client on time, it happened. She stopped me. “I know you never have time to talk to me, but I wanted to let you know my daughter won’t be able to do her homework because she has a dance recital tonight.” Out of breath and watching the bus leave without me, I said, “Sure, no problem.” What I was thinking was, “Couldn’t this information have been communicated through a note or during dismissal 10 minutes ago?”
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I never want to relive childhood, it was traumatizing. Seeing it through Jack’s eyes is close enough for me. However, after a long day of work, commuting and being a mother, sometimes I yearn for that trauma.
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I am thrilled to announce my partnership with Mommybites as a contributing blogger. Mommybites is a national site dedicated to enhancing parenting in every which way. Jack and my mom even made it into the article – see the pictures of them cooking embedded in the article. Click here for my first article!
I dream of being a real estate agent when I watch “Million Dollar Listing New York” and I fantasize about being a designer when I watch “The Rachel Zoe Project.” I don’t however, dream of being a NYPD officer or an FBI agent when I see anti-terrorism movies. Found at the Belleville Public Library, “The Panther” by Nelson DeMille confirmed my lack of interest in this area.
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I watched as my friend stared in horror as I changed his diaper. Flailing, screaming and crying, my fear of her newly cleaned floor becoming dirty from his diaper came true. I’m so sorry I sighed, feeling more mortified than ever in my life. Then I heard myself lie, he’s just tired, it’s way past his nap time. I cried the whole way home.
These incidents started very early on in Jack’s life. I voiced both my and other’s opinions but I also knew what we really meant. We said he is tired but what we were thinking is he is out of control, we said he is an active boy but we meant he must have ADHD, he is trying to find his independence covered up he doesn’t play with other kids and it’s strange. The list goes on and on.
In my gut, I knew something was off. And I was right.
Jack has sensory processing disorder I am proud to admit it. I am proud that we are getting him help and that we are learning how to make him successful and comfortable in this world. As we tell people about the disorder, what most surprises me is not people’s reaction to the diagnosis (we all knew something was up), it is the praise Steve and I receive for recognizing something was wrong, doing something about it and not being afraid to admit it. My response is always the same – what is to be embarrassed about? we all have stuff, this is just his stuff.
I write this as a lesson to all parents not only as a parent but as a teacher. I used to teach those students where something was clearly off and parents did not want to address it. Either they didn’t see it, didn’t want to face it or were too embarrassed to admit it. You know who lost out? I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t the frustrated teacher or the “hush hush” parent …
If I knew then what I know now, I would have gotten him help a long time ago. I am certainly not an expert but I think parents need to be their children’s protectors so let’s do our jobs well. Based on my experiences (and this goes for anything you think might be a red flag), here are some tips … I hope they help!
- Record your thoughts in a notebook – when does the behavior take place, what happened just before the incident, etc. (I should have been doing this sooner but I was afraid of what I would find).
- If people around you are giving those colorful band-aids I discussed earlier (he is just an active boy, etc) and you are not agreeing with it, investigate, ask questions, be curious.
- Discuss symptoms with your pediatrician and if they are not giving you answers that satisfy you, switch doctors.
- Compare – it is OK if it is for a good reason. Are other children the same age acting this way on a regular basis? Does your child seem to be doing things differently?
- If your child goes to daycare, school or has a nanny, ask them questions. Things that may seem typical to them may not be, they might be used to it because they see your child often.
- Rely on friends and family – One of my closest friends, cousin and future sister in law are all involved in early intervention and I picked and still pick their brains constantly. We all love Jack and want him to succeed. It takes a village, right?
- Stop caring about what other people think. Your child’s issues are not a reflection of you or your parenting. You didn’t cause anything but you can 100% help to solve it. (I need to remind myself of this every minute of every day).
Here’s to helping our children become the best version of themselves!
I’m done with the heat and it’s only beginning of July. After endless humidity and rain, we were all fortunate to get a beautiful July 4th weekend. However, by the end of it I was craving some cooler temperatures. For the rest of this article, please click here.
Aptly written on our country’s independence day (although posted later), this post is about freedom. Ironically, the idea came to me when I was shopping in JCrew.
After asking someone who works there what clothes match with my new silver sandals, he looked perplexed and replied “In the JCrew world, we consider silver a neutral, you can wear it with anything”. It got me thinking, what world do I live in? It is certainly not the JCrew world, even though I love to visit often. Leaving defeated and convinced I am a fashion nightmare, I heard a song on the radio called Same Love which continued this question. It is all about acceptance, no matter if you are gay or straight. It is about misconceptions and preconceived notions. It is about loving everyone, no matter who they are and whom they love. I cried throughout it.
Unfortunately, this is not always the real world that exists. But, as laws change and get overturned, all I can do as a mother is be hopeful that the tolerance continues. I can bring my child up in my world, regardless if the one outside the walls of my home is not as accepting. I can teach him to treat everyone the same. I can teach him that he is smart, funny and strong. I can teach him that no one can define him but himself.
Will everyone accept him for who he is? Probably not. Will people always take the time to get to know him? Maybe not. Will they laugh at his humor and love him for the amazing, inquisitive boy I know him to be? Not always. But, if he knows who he is inside and out, he won’t care what they think and that is the greatest gift of independence Steve and I can give our child. Happy 4th of July weekend!
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