Posts Tagged ‘opportunities for learning’

Over the past week, my youngest son has planted seeds with me.  He has carefully chosen seeds that he likes: watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, basil with the hopes of them growing into big and strong plants.  We have a plot at a community garden as well as a raised bed on our second floor balcony which my husband made.  He asked that his melon could be planted on the balcony because in the past year the animals have always gotten to the melons before we have.  He wants to protect them. He doesn’t want to have to pick them before they are ready, when they are too small and not ripe, simply to avoid having them bitten into.

 

And so with this in mind, knowing that his plants may not make it to full fruition, he planted the seeds anyway.  Knowing that there is only so much he can do to protect these plants, he patted the soil down anyway with hopes that in planting the seed and starting the growth, good things would happen.

 

And so it is with life.  We plant the seeds, knowing not all of them will make it, but hoping they will and doing what we can so that they do anyway.  We don’t give up at the start, not bothering to plant the seed.  We hold fast to our intentions, our hopes and our dreams, nurturing them with our belief in them, and in ourselves, our ability to bring them into fruition.

 

And so it is with parenting; we do what we can to bring our children up with a belief in themselves to reach their dreams, even against the odds.

 

We need to prepare the vessels that contain them.

Nourish.

Give them space.

Protect.

Remember only what is important.

Allow them to grow.

That is how we parent

 

 

 

A few weeks ago my kids agreed to try some doodle art inspired by artist Traci Bautista .  We never really got to the doodle part, but the boys had fun with the layers that they created using found stencils. It was a fun art activity to do with the kids.

 

You could have each family member do their own then piece them together in a collage, you can frame them side by side or if you are brave like me have your kids work on the same one together. Be prepared for disagreements. Think of it as an opportunity for learning.

 

There is no wrong way of doing this activity.  Below are just some suggestions and ideas of what can happen.  Encourage spontaneity and above all FUN!

 

Materials

  • paint
  • paint brushes
  • paper
  • apron, smock or old clothing to wear
  • old tooth brushes (optional)
  • sponges (optional)
  • brayer (optional)
  • stencils
  • Objects to us as stencils such as feathers, netting, doilies, popsicle sticks tooth picks, pennies anything goes as long as you’re okay with getting paint on it.
  • Things to add texture: large brush, sponges old tooth brushes
  • Spray bottles filled with single colour and some water

 

Choose a medium to large size paper. Choose about 3 colours that everyone feels goes well together. Have some white paint to lighten the colours adding to the layering effect. Not sure about mixing colours? Check this link out: mixing colours.

 

Here is what you will generally be doing to create your painting:

Place items on the paper and spray paints lightly over the area you want to make an imprint of. Remove the “stencil”.  Allow paint to dry between layers or before putting another stencil on.  Any object you place down and spray paint on will leave a negative of the object when it is removed, giving a stencil effect. The first ones will leave white outlines, but as you add more layers of stencils and paint the painting will have more textures.

 

Place object on paper, spray one paint colour at a time allowing it to dry before adding another colour.  This is to avoid making the colours muddy or brown.

 

Use a brayer or sponge to put paint on a plastic letter stencil for a neat print.

Press this down on the paper, being careful not to shift it and smudge it.

Press firmly.

Lift carefully.

Use a styrofoam tray for a wide pallet for use with wide brushes and brayers (paint rollers).

 Be careful not to put too much paint on your brush or it will get under the stencil.

Rather than dragging the paint brush on the doilies or other stencils, dab the brush into the holes gently to leave a print.

Lift carefully.

Be sure to hold down the stencil as you apply the paint.

Be sure to praise team work!

You’re done when you decide!

 

The other day I was taking my eldest son to a doctor’s appointment and we took Public Transit as we usually do, since the office is right on the subway line.  It was rush hour so somewhat on the crowded side, and there were several groups of youth canvasing asking passersby for change or tokens to help Toronto’s youth.  We passed them on the way as we rushed to our appointment again on the way back to drop my son at school.  This second group was younger children, a school group that were volunteering their time to fund raise.

 

As we passed them by headed towards the stairs to catch our train, I stopped mid stair.  Sometimes we can get so caught up in the everyday rush of getting places or getting things done that we pass by opportunities.  This is why I stopped.  I reached into my purse and pulled out some money, giving it to my son to donate.  He took it then hesitated, because it meant him going up the stairs and approaching someone he didn’t know, as well he said he was eager to get to school (nothing like a dentist appointment for doing that) I let him know that it was ok since we had missed the train anyway, and he then went and made the donation.

 

Of course I could have just done it myself.  I really wanted my son to do it for several reasons:

1. I felt is was important for him to feel like he was taking action, helping others helping a cause.  I had noticed him looking at the youth who were calling out their campaign with their T-shirts on “Help Toronto’s youth, your change can make changes happen”.  I believe it is important for him to recognize and be grateful for what he has, that he is not in a position where  he need this kind of help.

2. I wanted to push him a bit outside his comfort level by having him approach the volunteers himself with the hopes that he will feel confident to initiate this himself one day

3. I wanted to model the idea of taking time to notice what is happening around us and rather than be passive bystanders watching and not doing, I wanted him to remember to engage and participate fully in life, take opportunities to help when you notice them, however small.

4.  I wanted the youth to feel heard, to encourage their efforts by listening to them and show them that we appreciate what they are doing by taking action and donating.  I think that it is important important that youth who volunteer their time and effort feel that they are actually making a difference.  Giving them a positive response helps ensure that they will continue to be active participants in change rather than discouraged bystanders who feel there is no hope.

5. When others see you donate for a cause I think it has a ripple effect.  It makes it all the more easier for them to justify stopping and taking a few minutes to reach into their wallet, walk over and help out.

 

Giving a little bit of money may have been a “drop in the bucket”, but we can’t forget that each drop creates its own ripple.  This was not just about helping through giving money.  It was so much more than that:  giving attention to our surroundings and what messages to pay attention to; giving our attention an appreciation to the youth who are taking their time to raise awareness; taking the time as little as it might be, yet still breaking the habit of just walking through crowds with blinders on; and finally by responding we potentially set off a ripple effect to the crowds who  may be in “I can’t stop -have to get somewhere important” or “I am not going to pay attention to what is being asked of me because it doesn’t concern me” mode but then notice someone else taking action and stop and do something themselves.

 

Our actions are more powerful than we think.  Hopefully it is the kind of power that brings other great things to life.  Your children are watching.  Everyday there are opportunities for change, lessons to be learned.  When we take the time to take our blinders off and be open to seeing the opportunities and lessons life presents to us, our children will see them too.

 

 

 

As I sit here stressing, yes stressing over what to write for today’s Metaphor Monday, feeling behind (no video today, sorry) and at a loss of what to write, there it is. Life lessons everywhere indeed. Once again humbled by my struggles.

 

While I don’t exactly like to be stressed about things, I am reminded of how motivating stress can be. Let me clarify, when I was a grade school student , even in high school, I was one of those do your writing assignment at the last minute and get an “A” kind of gal. Yep, I was almost always doing my assignments at the last minute, procrastinating, avoiding until I could not put it off anymore. And it always turned out, for me anyway.

 

Though leaving things until the last minute certainly isn’t for everyone, it speaks to the importance of a little bit of stress to motivate one to move forward. Too much stress of course can be imobilizing. This is not an inviation to push stress upon your self and others, only a call to take notice of it when it is already there.

 

The old addage “No pain, no gain” comes to mind in another way. There has to be just the right amount of discomfort inorder for one to move forward and recieve the gains of doing so. If you just stay put, and don’t stretch beyond your comfort zone then you will of course just stay put, nothing new tried out, no new insights.

 

Applied to parenting it looks something like this: when we see our children struggle with something new or even something they have tried before, sometimes standing back and letting the frustration unfold is the best thing we can do for them. If we do it for them, or jump in too quickly and tell them it doesn’t matter, we do our children a disservice. We rob them of that motivating stress which can push them beyond their presumed limits and show them just what they are capable of.

Taken a step further we can see stress’ role in creating change in our lives as parents too. When we are feeling stressed because of how things are going with our children, whether that be arguements, sibling fights or chaotic routines, it is a good time to step back and figure out what is the gain here? What message is this pain trying to convey? Just as our body gives off physical pain signals when it is injured and needs tending, stress is usually a good indicator and hopefully a motivator to shift some things around with a little tender loving care. We can get sucked into that drama of “woe is me, other families don’t have to go through this“, or we can take a closer look and see what is the underlying message here. What needs to change?

 

It is a balancing act for sure. Knowing when to step in, and when to sit back. Knowing your own levels of tolerance for stress and when you may need some help. I would be lying if I said that there should be no pain. We are human, with emotions that somtimes are like being on rollar coasters. We are human, carrying around that baggage of times past. We are parents, we are learning, we are gaining more life expereince every minute, each day.

 

Be ready for some pain and tears. Be ready to let these go. Be ready to move forward again and gain some peace of mind knowing that every parent every child is human.

 

The Parent Inspiration Toolkit can help you parent through the stress. With guided meditations and expressive arts exercises to ground you and strengthen your connection with your intuitive parent.

 

 


When I was a child I had a jewelry box that played a little tune every time the bottom drawer was opened; “raindrops keep falling on my head, ….the blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me…..’Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complainin’…”(Lyrics by Burt Bacharach).   I also remember the standard rain song that kids sing “it’s raining its pouring the old man is snoring bumped his head in the middle of the bed and couldn’t get up in the morning!” Two songs about rain with two different perspectives; in one the singer speaks of things getting better with the other things get worse.

The other day we were driving through a rain storm on the highway. I found myself battling thoughts about how horrible the weather was, yet admiring the beauty and the strength of the storm at the same time. I watched in awe as  the transformative beauty of the  lightening as it lit up the sky and horizon, while the power of the storm’s down pour managed to bring the cars on the highway to almost a halt . Then and there I realized something, storms are inevitable, a necessary release from mother nature.  After all it it has been pretty hot here lately and the gardens are pretty thirsty, right? Thats a good thing. The weather is only as bad as we make it. It’s all a matter of perspective.

 


Disappointment is a part of life that everyone needs to know how to deal with at some point. Storms are inevitable. When my kids cry or tantrum because they are unhappy about something I can take the opportunity to help them through those sad or angry feelings and show them it’s ok to cry.  They need to know that  it’s ok to feel disappointed, angry or sad and that you can feel these feelings and still be fine after. Just as the plants are quenched after the downpour, so too are our children. Crying is a normal part of the human response to pain and upset. Crying can help release emotions as well as the hormones that have built up inside in response to intense emotions.When plans are changed or canceled I can focus on the disappointment or on the opportunity for growth, to try something new and perhaps have a surprise adventure. Of course there will still be upset, this is natural, but the way we weather the storm with our children will make all the difference to how they are able to bounce back and look ahead. Sometimes disappointment can be a motivator to move forward and strive for something else as well. 

 

As parents it often hurts to see our children upset. We want to shelter them and protect them from the storm. But maybe going through the storm with our support is what they need to help them grow and flourish. These experiences prepare them for the inevitable storms ahead. Eventually these storms will be accepted as the storm before the calm, the necessary showers for transformation. When this happens with our support the stormy weather becomes showers that are necessary but not feared.

 

 

It never ceases to amaze me how much I can learn from my children. While I like to think they learn from me as well, I still need to remind myself how much they can figure things out themselves when given the chance. We would’nt give them the answers on a test, or do their homework for them.

Are our answers the only “answers”?

So why then is it so hard for us as parents to take a step back instead, and let them find their own solutions? Why do we feel the need to give them “the” answers? Are our answers the only “answers”?

We too need to look inside for the answers. Sometimes it is not so easy as a parent to do this. Sometimes we avoid looking inside for our own answers and we look to others instead. Looking for that perfect answer of what exactly we should do in a particular situation with our children. We second guess ourselves and miss what has been there all along, what is right in front of us: the answers are inside.

Look inside. I quarantee you will find the answer.

Parenting from a Different Perspective

Don’t be taken out! Take yourself out instead. And I don’t mean to lunch, find out more in this weeks metaphor Monday.

Often I’ll ask my kids “What are you going to do different next time?” when their choices have been less than ideal. With this tool there is no need to wait for next time for them to practice a different response. Let us know your thoughts on this below.

 

 

 

This weekend my son got an idea into his head to make something and he’s going with it full speed. He won’t stop. He is building a go cart from scratch. Despite my (unintentional) road blocks “No you can’t take apart your skateboard and use the wheels”. He perseveres; he manages to get the skateboard wheels from a friend’s skateboard which is old and worn.

 

He doesn’t give up. He has a vision and holds on to it.

 

He uses his dad’s power tools and enlists the help of his friends. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for your friends to use the power tools as they aren’t familiar with them.” Yet another road block from a limit setting adult. But he perseveres once again; he has his friends hold things in place as he works on them; has them help lift large pieces of wood from the back yard to use. He negotiates that they will share this go-cart in exchange for the wheels and the labour. He doesn’t give up. He has a vision and holds on to it. He knows instinctively that he must do this, hang on, keep his dream alive if it is to become reality. And so he does.

 

 

 

He won’t stop. Even so much that when I call him in for a late dinner he takes an extra 20 minutes. He cleans up the tools somewhat reluctantly (clean-up somehow is not part of his vision) and comes in to an annoyed mother. A torn mother, who wants to allow his creativity to unfold, who doesn’t want to discourage his dream from fruition, but who realizes that certain routines need to be upheld or chaos may unleash itself in our household…..or will it?   Yes, its the delicate balance between letting go and steering clear. Always a challenge.

 

He eats and diligently heads back out to work on his project, with the determination that would earn him and A+ if it were for school.

 

The next morning his determination continues. “You have to do your chores first” I unwittingly say in my roadblock voice. “Okay” he says, after first trying to negotiate that he do half first and the other half after working on his go-cart. He does his chores in record time and is outside eager to create his dreams. He enlists his brother’s help this time, gets the nerve to ask our neighbour to borrow some tools he needs, and is off!  He is so focused, that even on an empty stomach, calls of pancakes for brunch are not enticing enough for him to come in right away.  But he eventually comes in, fuel is a necessity after all.   He eats and diligently heads back out to work on his project, with the determination that would earn him and A+ if it were for school.

 

 

He inspires his brother to make a go-cart too, which he helps him get started. He’s a dream maker, an inspiration, a magnet attracting what he needs to get to where he wants to go. All because he has a vision so strong it drives his determination. A dream so important to him he is able to continue pursuing it despite detours and roadblocks.

 

 

As I write this I realize now that there is so much I can learn from his endeavours this weekend (and most days).   I am truly honoured to be his unwitting student.

 

 

Happy “birth” day!

Welcome to the fifth Metaphor Monday video. In this series I explore a different metaphor each week, viewing parenting from a different perspective.

Please post any comments below.


 

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