Archive for the ‘How Do You Handle These Issues?’ Category

Think. Filter. Speak.

I grew up in a family predominantly female. It figures that when my time to be a mother came around I’d only have boys. Being the sole female in the house turned out to be quite interesting. A quick adjustment to a less feminine environment accompanied by manly interests in sports and the like changed my focus from the fashionable to the more earthy, shall we say. Issues with decorum were met daily. One particular bee in my bonnet was the free flowing, let-er-rip style that was most prevalent around the dinner table. Oh, it was there all day long. It merely manifested itself into its ultimate smack down at dinnertime.

There is no need to elaborate on the specifics of these conversations. It doesn’t take much to imagine how these dialogues flowed. Let’s just say that the choice of words and topics were more crude, rude, and lewd at times than I could handle. Being the mom in a house of men you have to roll with the punches. You let out a little line and when they’ve roamed into dangerous territory you jerk them back in to propriety.

My answer to this problem were three simple words. Think. Filter. Speak.

To this day all I have to do is say those three words and my guys know exactly where I’m at. They know that I think they’ve crossed the line. I’m sick of hearing it. Nip it!  Take a lock! Immediately they will make fun of me and taunt me about my inability to handle them. It’s up to me to then make it perfectly clear that I see no humor in the conversation. I do not enjoy the choice of words. You better Think about what you are about to say. Filter it so it is something that will be deemed acceptable. And finally, and only after the first two requirements have been met, Speak.

My ability to monitor conversations over the years has proven invaluable. We can be anywhere and all I have to do is say Think. Filter. Speak. and there is an immediate pause. That is usually followed by a seque out of the muck and into greener pastures. This simple message to my boys has saved me embarrassment on numerous occasions. I don’t know if it will work in your household. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose – except some less than desirable adjectives, nouns, and verbs.

 

By Gret Boyd

 

Step Back. Breathe. Be A Spectator.

Stress – The word that dominates the 21st century. At least that is how it might seem to many of us. Stress reaches out to all of us. It’s the string that wraps up our packages filled with family, jobs, home ownership, living conditions, financial obligations, and every other expectation we place on ourselves. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. When I look back at the things I’ve had to handle in my life I realize that my ability to handle stress has been challenged over and over again.

To give you a rough idea of some of the obstacles I’ve faced I’ll give you a quick synopsis of some of the life issues I am familiar with. I have been involved in the start of a new business three times. Consequently I am very familiar with the ins and outs of business ownership. Not a fun thing during, oh let’s see now, three recessions. I have a family. I have owned two homes in my lifetime. I have moved eight times since I married. I have family members who live clear across the country which makes it very hard to be a part of their lives. Holidays can really suck sometimes. I decided to go to college at an age that was not exactly the demographic you think of for college. Consequently I am still paying off my student loans. I think that paints a picture of where I’ve been and some of what I’ve been through. Happy times – YES! Some sad and very stressful times, unfortunately – YES to that too.

There have been times along the way when I honestly didn’t know how I’d make it through to the other side. I went on a journey – reading all sorts of books. Studying different religions and philosophies. I guess you could say I was on a quest to find my center. A place I could go to under all circumstances that would allow me to escape what was going on at that moment and give me the perspective to move forward with deliberate thought and a plan of action. I know that sounds like a long process. Probably sounds like a bunch of hooey to some of you too. I’m not talking about embracing a monumental shift in any of your philosophical or religious dogma. It is a way to escape everything for a split second. It is a way that allows you to refocus on what is truly important. A triage, if you will, to put everything in its proper place of importance and urgency.

Three steps: Step Back. Breathe. Be A Spectator.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes All You Have To Do Is LISTEN.

Let me offer this brief vignette for your enjoyment. It is the story of one hectic morning in the life of a mother and her children as they prepare to start their day and head off for work and school.

Cast of Characters: Mom, Daughter #1, Daughter #2, Son, Baby, Grandma

Set the scene: It’s a typical day in an average household. Everyone is up at the ring of an alarm and ready to start the day. Mom is up. Kids are up. We enter the kitchen where Mom is busy putting together lunches while Grandma watches the baby and helps get breakfast moving along. Time approaches when each child has to get dressed for the day. The scene opens with Daughter #1 about to have a meltdown.

Daughter #1: “Mom, I have nothing to wear.” Read the rest of this entry »

She answered, “I’m going to be famous.”

A few years ago my extended family added some new members. At a family event I was introduced to some new friends and their children. As the day progressed we all took the time to start up a conversation and see if we had anything in common with a new acquaintance. I was seated at a table with a young girl, maybe eight or ten years old. She was very animated and enjoying herself. Not the shy type she was easily engaged in a conversation. We went through the pleasantries of what’s your name, what grade are you in and so forth. I was curious if she had any special interests and I asked her if she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. Without batting an eyelash she looked me right in the eyes and said she was “going to be famous”. Wow, I thought. She must have some talent or skill or intellectual gift that she’s been honing. How else do you become famous?

The conversation continued to be light and interesting so I asked her how she would become famous. In my mind I was thinking that she must sing like an angel, or be a devout student of dance. Perhaps she had artistic skills that I could talk to her about. Maybe she was a brain. How wonderful to chat with a precocious future academic. I was a bit taken back when she admitted that she didn’t actually know how she would become famous. In her mind – it would just happen. It was inevitable. She was so fantastic that the world would seek her out, lift her up for all to see, and she would be the talk of the town. Wow, I thought to myself. Where does this come from? How can a young girl be so delusional about life? Her life. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Right In Front Of Your Nose

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the bellow of someone in my family yelling out in exasperation that they couldn’t find what they were looking for. This proclamation is accompanied by a not so subtle insinuation that I, personally, am responsible for their inability to find this one particular item. According to the offended party, in each and every case I did something to make this item incapable of being found. The items I’m talking about run the gamut from food items to pieces of clothing to homework and on and on… Why they come to the conclusion that I am the culprit, I will never know.

It is my regular routine as far as housecleaning goes to be pretty darn easy-going about the quantity of clutter and filth I will tolerate. It is only at a time when I’ve reached the threshold of utter disgust that I will explode into action and move everything in sight. There is usually a fair amount of hints and cajoling prior to my unleashing my one-man cleanliness brigade. A once cluttered countertop is now open for business. A pile of clothes is now sorted and in the proper drawer or on a hanger. The canned goods are stacked. The refrigerator is now organized. The random stuff that spreads out in every room has either found a home or is waiting for its owner to claim it and put it away. You would think that people would appreciate the effort. No, that is not the case. Instead I hear whining and moaning that this or that is now missing.

It goes something like this: Read the rest of this entry »

Why Is Everything “Gross” Mom’s Problem?

It doesn’t matter how big or how small your family is, it should be obvious to each family member that they are part of a unit and therefore liable to share the burden of chores and such around the house. Kids are taught to participate from an early age. I think when it comes to what you’re asking of them – they get it pretty quickly. Now compliance with those expectations is another matter all together. We’re all familiar with the expression, “knowing is half the battle”. Sometimes knowing is the beginning of the battle.

Over the years it’s become pretty obvious to me that I am responsible for every gross thing that occurs inside and outside of my house. I did not aspire to hold that position in my family – it was awarded to me by my spouse and children. I know for a fact that I’ve made it perfectly clear to them that I am not flattered by this designation. So, it comes down to two things: 1) they know what’s expected of them and chose to ignore that obligation or 2) they know what’s expected of them and just don’t feel like it. You’re thinking… that sounds pretty much the same. It really isn’t. For me, if you chose to ignore something you are deliberately saying “no”. If you just don’t feel like it you’ve given it some thought and decided you just don’t feel like this time. Maybe next time you’ll think differently, but for now, I don’t think so. And this is the reasoning I think I am facing most of the time when it comes to gross stuff.

What exactly is gross stuff, you ask? It is comprised of a myriad of things, all disgusting in their own way. A nasty odor is often involved. A particular texture or oozing gooey consistency can be part of it. A direct connection to germs is another possibility. Would you like some examples? I’ll share some with you now. Read the rest of this entry »

Dealing With “Mr. Not Me”

It isn’t long after your child learns to talk that they discover the word “no” and you’re off to the races. As their vocabulary develops a bit more you will without a doubt one day meet Mr. Not Me. I’m not sure how he invades your child’s body – perhaps it is some genetic awakening. All a parent knows is that their once sweet and for the most part manageable child is now inhabited by an alien being whose sole raison d’être is to bring any disciplinary tactics on your part to a screeching halt.

We all start when our children are very young teaching them the basics of right and wrong. We encourage them to fess up to their malfeasance. Each time you give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and move on to become a better person. Unfortunately Mr. Not Me thinks that’s a whole lotta hooey. He laughs at your attempts to discipline. He mocks your every attempt to encourage your child to “just tell the truth”. He is filled with joy as he manipulates your son or daughter as they turn to you with the eyes of such sweet innocence and profess their complete lack of knowledge about your source of displeasure. If he were only a being of the material world and not floating in the ether you think that you’d have a better chance of silencing his influence.

If you’re lucky enough to have multiple children in your household you will find that your experiences with Mr. Not Me will undoubtedly manifest themselves exponentially. At any given time you can be faced with an army of Mr. Not Me clones. Even the neighborhood kids will be found to be under his spell. Getting to the bottom of a situation will surely require all of your tactical parenting skills.

Ah… some of  you have not met Mr. Not Me yet. You wonder, “…just how bad can he be?” I will be happy to fill you in on some of his dastardly exploits. Sit down – this may take a while…

~ Your son is in elementary school and he is having a birthday party. The kids are having a blast and they’re very excited to get their hands on some birthday cake. You all gather around the table and sing and wait. The time has come for your son to blow out his candles. You smile with joy at the sight of such a happy occasion. Your heart filled with motherly joy. You missed it didn’t you?  Mr Not Me just snuck in the room. You were distracted for but a second. Just enough time for your son to blow out his candles with his nose. You turn back to the table and find everyone grimacing and the kids are screaming. You think you saw what you just saw, but you can’t believe what you just saw. You ask your son, “Did you just blow out your candles with your nose?” (I really wish I could let you hear the tone in your voice right now – it’s quite amusing.) Without missing a beat your son turns to you and says “Not Me”.*

*I should have prepped you for this answer a little better in the beginning because once Mr. Not Me shows up there are two things that inevitably follow: 1) Not Me is followed by silence. It’s now totally your problem to figure this all out, or 2) Not Me is followed by finger pointing. It’s the other person who did it. Doesn’t matter who that is. It’s usually the person closest to them. In my experience it’s even been the dog a few times.

~ Your son has been given his first pocket knife. He is thrilled at the thought of whittling sticks and cutting rope. There are so many things he can do with his trusty pocket knife. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that there really isn’t much he can do with his knife. Heck, he’s just a kid and he knows that if he does something stupid with it he will surely lose it. After all, he had to work his fanny off for weeks convincing you that he was old enough to handle a pocket knife. He made all sorts of promises about how he’d use it. No way is he going to run the risk of having this prized possession repossessed.

It’s summertime and it’s getting mighty hot. You switch on the AC and wait for that smooth cool air to fill up your house. Wait a minute, nothing is happening. You check the thermostat and sure enough you did indeed turn it on. You check the temperature setting. It should be getting cold in here soon. OK, what the hell is wrong here? You check all the vents in the house. Maybe they are covered with clothes or something. Nope. That’s not it. Last resort you decide to check on the AC unit outside. If it’s not running then you know that’s the issue.

As you come up to the unit outside it’s making noise so you think you’re home free. You still have no idea what’s going on, but how bad can it be? It is running. As you get closer to the unit you start to see something weird about the front of the AC. Looks like it’s bent in the front. Oh no… it’s not just bent! It’s full of holes! Lots and lots of holes! Your mind scrambles to every conceivable reason for this and then it hits you. But no… how could that be? Why? Who does that anyway?

You call your son over to ask if he has any idea of how this happened to the AC unit. He gives you a blank look. As the temperature outside rises so does yours. You can feel the slow burn working its way up your chest. You ask for the truth and this is what you get – “Not Me”. Must have been his brother. He got a knife too this summer. Only problem here is that you know for a fact your other son never took the knife out of the box. (… next page)

Things You Didn’t Know (aka The Playdate From Hell)

All parents want their kids to thrive. They want nothing more than to raise a child who becomes a sociable, well-mannered, and captivating member of society. Okay, I am exaggerating a bit. But, you know what I mean. We want our kids to have friends – get along – have fun. With that in mind many parents will go out of their way to encourage a current friendship, strike up a new friendship, or add to the friends their child already has. An endeavor well worth the effort, but there are Things You Didn’t Know.

I am certain that every parent can give me a story about the playdate from hell. This is the playdate that didn’t turn out quite the way you anticipated. Some of you knew about this right on the spot. It was obvious because someone was crying, bloodied, or begging to go home. Then there are the playdates that you thought went quite well. From everything you saw a grand time was had by all. But wait – there were Things You Didn’t Know. For your amusement (oh, who am I kidding, for my amusement…) let’s recollect some of the high points of a playdate from hell. Read the rest of this entry »

Monsters. Can’t Live With Them. How To Get Rid Of Them.

Let’s all visualize a perfect day playing with your child. They seem to be having tons of fun and you can’t get over the fact that there have been no melt-downs or tantrums today. Life is good. As the day winds down you go about your regular routine – getting ready for bedtime. Then all of a sudden… there’s this scream and your child runs out of his/her bedroom frightened to death of something they just “saw”. All sorts of things start to run through your mind as you go into superhero mode to protect and defend your child from whatever foe they’ve encountered in their room. You approach the door of their room amped up and ready to pounce on that foe only to discover the perp is hiding somewhere. So you ask – “What’s all the screaming about?” “Where is it?”

And that’s when you are introduced to your child’s imaginary monster. Read the rest of this entry »

My Space. Your Space. Kid Space. Our Place.

 

Families come in different sizes. Homes can be big and small. Finding the perfect balance in sharing the space within your four walls can be a bit of a challenge when you have multiple children in your family. From the very young to the adult in your house, everyone needs to feel that they have their own space. This sense of “my” space is not only a specific room in a home, but a boundary for your personal space that needs to be respected. And mentally, it’s important to know that when you need it you can retreat into the space inside your head where you have the opportunity to reflect, ponder, reminisce, plan, and refresh. Instilling a respect for someone else’s space is a never-ending process that requires constant reinforcement and the ability to adjust with changing needs.

Read the rest of this entry »

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