GROWING UP

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I was recently having a deep and meaningful conversation with an eight year old girl about growing up. She told me that she couldn’t wait to be an adult so she didn’t have to go to school and she could choose what she would do every day.

I explained to her that she is currently in the best time of her life. As a school kid, she gets around twelve weeks of holidays each year and that when she is grown up she will only get four weeks annual leave per year. I also explained that instead of going to school until 3pm she would have to work until at least 5pm, probably even later. Finally I discussed with her the fact that all her hard work and effort would allow her to earn money that she would have to use to pay bills for food, clothing, housing and all her entertainment, whilst at the moment her parents pay for all those things for her.

After this enlightening speech I taught her about the old adage ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ and said that although it might look like much more fun to be a grown up, the best time of your life is when you are a kid. There aren’t too many adults that wouldn’t like short days spent with friends, where you get multiple breaks to play, plenty of holidays and don’t have to pay for a thing!

As with anything in life, you often don’t appreciate how good things are until they change. So my advice to this little girl was to not wish away her childhood but to embrace and love life now, because once she is grown up, there’s no going back!

(Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net)

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BEST AGE  

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The other day I was pondering when are your kids at their ideal age? I know we love them dearly at all stages and every age is unique but I came to the conclusion the best age is when they are seven!

At seven they are finally able to be rid of those bulky, restrictive car seats that harbour a treasure trove of things from lego pieces, to Barbie shoes to enough crumbs to do a schnitzel dinner. Finally you’re free from the restriction of having to always ensure that if they travel with a friend that they have a spare car seat or alternatively go through the motions of undoing copious amounts of straps to pass over your kid’s seat to reveal a whole new array of items such as sultanas, stray fries and old happy meal toys, hiding underneath. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to not have to deal with car seats again!

Furthermore, by seven, kids are a little independent – they can shower themselves, dress themselves and are skilled in the art of turning on the television in the morning, leaving you to doze (as best you can with the TV blaring) until a reasonable hour. They can ride a bike, swing on a swing without needing to be pushed and can play independently with friends. Parenting just becomes that bit easier.

At seven, they are also not too independent, which means they are too young to let their social lives ruin yours. They just come along with the family to friend’s houses, can be taken to a restaurant and are equally as happy to have a family night in! Once they become teenagers, they develop their own social lives, which inhibits yours, as you are their taxi service.

Homework is also great when they are seven. It’s usually just one sheet they get at the start of the week that needs to be returned at the end of the week, as opposed to high school where homework is a nightly chore. You also don’t need to refresh your quadratic equation and trigonometry skills when they are seven (just a hint – you will by the time they are in high school, so you might want to start studying now!).

One final thing that is great when they are seven is that they are usually missing teeth which leaves them with goofy smiles and a cute lisp whenever they have to say their age (how ironic this stage of life happens when they are ssssix and sssseven).

It’s funny that when they are little you can’t wait for them to grow up and when they are older, you wish you could turn back the clock. I don’t think I truly appreciated my kids being seven at the time, but with hindsight I realise that seven is the golden age!

What age do you think was your kid’s best age?

(Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net)

SCHOOL WORK ETHIC

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I have watched all my kids address their homework and study needs in differing ways. One of my kids has always left her homework until the night before it is due, believing she works better under pressure, whilst another does her homework and assignments as soon as they are given. The job gets done either way, however when they reach more senior years of schooling, leaving things to the death knock brings about unnecessary stress and under preparedness.

I try to suggest (okay I nag) my kids to do revision of the work they have learnt that day so that the information sinks in. Then when exams rear their ugly heads, it’s not so daunting to have to revise months worth of work. Similarly, I recommend that they chip away at an assignment as soon as it is received, so the end result is more thorough and therefore scores higher.

Although the school and I try to drum into the kids this form of study work ethic, it seems to me that a child’s nature is the over-riding factor in the way they approach work. In my experience, the kids who have always been crammers remain to work that way and the methodical plodders continue that way too.

As a parent, how much should you interfere with your kid’s study? After all, the only one that is affected by their preparedness or lack thereof is your child. Should they be left to sink or swim? Having said that, as a parent you really want to see your child reach their highest potential, so I’m sure there wouldn’t be too many parents that don’t encourage their kids to study and work hard.

It’s a fine balance between being an inspiring and supportive parent versus creating conflict that may stress out an already frazzled kid.

As with everything in life, finding that balance is the key! What are your thoughts?

(Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net)

SILENT DISCIPLINE  

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No parent wants to put on their ‘grumpy parent hat’ when they are out in public. We all wish that our children were angels and that there would be no need to have to discipline their behaviour. Thankfully sometimes a silent glare is worth a thousand words.

There is the quizzical raised eyebrow ‘what do you think you are doing?’ look, the open eye ‘watch out buddy I’m watching you’ look and the heavy frown ‘stop misbehaving’ look. Such subtle looks are often a sufficient form of communication for your children to notice that you are not happy with their behaviour and rectify their actions without you having to verbally discipline them.

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It got me to thinking that with the rise of the use of botox there must be a host of parents out there who can’t rely on this form of silent discipline as their kids wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between an ‘I’m in trouble’ glare to a bored glazed over stare. Maybe we are going to have a generation of parents who will need to start using a form of hand gestures like the “Meet the Fokers” ‘I’m watching you’, the shrug of the shoulders for ‘what are you doing?’ and maybe a good old fashioned wag of the finger for ‘stop it now or else!’ Of course, the other alternative is for these parents to nag and chastise their kids, which would ruin the carefully created image of these parents being young and carefree!

Is it worth having a wrinkle free forehead if you have to sound like a grumpy mum? For the moment at least I will continue to endure having wrinkles so that I can have my arsenal of silent discipline stares!

Picture courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

MUSIC FESTIVAL

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As is often the case these days, I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to balancing the protective side of me wanting to keep my kids safe versus allowing my kids a bit of freedom to grow up and spread their wings a little.

Yesterday I allowed my fifteen-year-old daughter to attend a music festival for teenagers 12 to 17 years of age. The stereotypical image of music festivals being an open slather for drugs and alcohol crossed my mind, but as it was aimed at teenagers who had to show photo ID confirming their age, I was confident there would be no alcohol for sale and also hopeful that screening at the gates would minimize any exposure to drugs.

The ‘Good Life’ festival has previously been run well, with designated buses to take the teenagers from central station to the venue and in reverse for the return trip. The only issue yesterday was that the mother of all storms hit mid afternoon which led to the organisers cancelling the festival mid way through.

No buses were available to ferry the kids back to the train station (5kms away) so the kids were ejected from the venue in a ferocious storm to try to find their way home.

I fully understand the festival organisers decision to cancel the concert due to the storm, however I’m really disappointed that a day that was designed to be a safe, fun day out for teenagers, left them in the precarious situation of being stranded in the middle of town with no transport options in the middle of the storm that was so severe it led to the cancellation of the concert.

Thankfully my daughter’s friend’s father rang a friend who lived locally to collect them from the venue and drop them at the train station, but thousands of other kids were left to their own devices.

When I collected my daughter from the train station, she said that the day was far from living the ‘good life’ and that it had been the worst day of her life. I tried to console my daughter by saying that sometimes the worst events become the most memorable stories.

If I’d known there was the possibility that my daughter would be stranded in town, I would never have agreed to let her attend, but then again, I guess a part of growing up is finding yourself in unexpected situations and then working out a solution. I’m just grateful that she arrived home safely, albeit cold, wet and tired from her ‘Good Life’ experience. If nothing else, at least she gained some good life experience!

(Picture courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net)