Adult Child

We’ve done it – we’ve managed to raise one child to become an adult. It’s a strange feeling to think that our daughter is no longer legally a child and is responsible for herself – well sort of! My daughter would like all the freedom that comes with being an adult but isn’t so keen on the responsibilities.

It only seems like yesterday she was a newborn baby swaddled and nestled in my arms. It’s hard to comprehend that she is now an adult. I still want to wrap her up and keep her by my side, but while that isn’t possible, I am at least proud of the woman she is becoming.

It really doesn’t matter how old your child is, you will always want to protect and care for them. My daughter is currently on ‘schoolies’ (an end of school tradition where kids go on holidays to celebrate graduating). This is the first time she has holidayed without a chaperone and I must admit I’ve had sleepless nights wondering if she is ok. It’s not that I think she will do anything stupid but where you get a group of teens conglomerating under the influence of alcohol and god knows what else, there is a propensity for trouble. I just don’t want her to get caught up in any violence or drink spiking etc. I know that as our kids grow up I have to learn to give them freedom, but until she is back home safely I think that I will feel uneasy.

It’s hard to believe I have an eighteen year old daughter as I still only feel eighteen myself. I look forward to the progression in our mother/daughter relationship from me being the disciplinarian to being more of a friend. In fact, since she has finished school I’ve noticed a shift in our connection, as she is now happy to hang out with me for a coffee and she has begun to confide in me more.

Parenthood is a journey through your kid’s different phases and now we embark on our next phase.

So today we celebrate our daughter’s milestone birthday in her absence and can relax in the knowledge that we’ve succeeded in getting our first born to adulthood. One down – three to go!

Kids birthday parties aren’t what they used to be!

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When I was a kid, birthday parties used to consist of a few friends coming to our house or a local park. We would play pass the parcel (the variety where there was only one winner) and maybe run a 3 legged race. We would eat fairy bread and have a homemade cake – and we loved it!

Fast forward to my kid’s generation and every party seems to be bigger than Ben Hur! Every party seems to have a theme and you almost need an event planner to pull it off! A few years ago our family went to a kid’s carnival themed party that had full size rides, bouncy castles and a disco at their house. My daughter went to a party last year that had approximately 100 kids as guests and had a DJ and a photo booth.

My daughter is turning thirteen this week and she is having an ‘international’ party where the guests are to come dressed in national dress of their choice of country. My daughter scanned a passport and made individual invitations for each guest with their photo and a description of the ‘itinerary of their trip (aka party)’. I’ve been receiving RSVPs addressing me as the ‘travel agent’.

We have purchased six foot tall cardboard decorations to reflect a number of countries and they will be spotted around our house with food from those nations available to eat at each country (eg. pastries in France, pizza in Italy, chocolate in Switzerland etc).

Thirteen is a funny age, as they want to be independent teenagers yet I still have to make lolly bags for the kids when they leave.

I have a rule in my house that the kids can’t have a birthday party at home between the ages of fourteen and eighteen as these are the years where you run the risk of underage drinking occurring. Over the past few years, my eldest daughters have celebrated their birthday by just going out to dinner with a few friends. Needless to say, my eldest is very excited at the prospect of having a birthday party at our place to celebrate her eighteenth in a few months. I have mixed emotions about it, as I enjoy a party as much as the next person, but I’m concerned over gate-crashers and young adults drinking too much when we are responsible for them. Anyway – I’ve still got a few months to come to terms with that. Right now I need to focus my attention on the international celebrations this weekend – if the kid’s can’t find me, I might be in ‘France’ drinking champagne 🙂

What is the most extravagant kid’s party you have attended?

(Image courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)

ADOLESCENCE TO ADULTHOOD

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Our first-born child turned seventeen yesterday and I’m trying to adjust to the thought that in less than a year she will officially be an adult!

It is hard to let go of the child she once was, not to mention the integral part of our family that she is, but yesterday was a wake up call! This year, she chose to spend her birthday with her friends and boyfriend and gave celebrations with her family a wide berth. Don’t get me wrong; she made sure we had a small window of time to give her presents before she raced off for breakfast prior to school, then another small window of time for my parents to give her gifts before she went to have dinner with her boyfriend.

It is a tradition in our family to always have a family dinner out for everyone’s birthday, so it felt very weird to not even be dining with our daughter on her special day. To make matters worse, for her birthday next year she has already planned to be away on a holiday to celebrate the end of school. Her milestone eighteenth birthday will be spent away from family, which to be honest, breaks my heart. To think we have raised and nurtured her through her whole childhood, but are not even going to be present for her ‘coming of age’ really saddens me. I know she has to grow up and I have to allow the apron strings to be cut. It is just that as a small child her family was the center of her universe, but now her priorities have changed and I need to adjust my expectations otherwise I will be left resenting the fact that she is independently moving on with her life.

Part of me is proud of the young woman she has become, whilst another part mourns the child she was. It is hard to imagine your baby as an adult and I now have less than a year to come to terms with it!

(Picture courtesy of Marcolm, freedigitalphotos.net)

BARGAINING TOOL

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For our son’s last birthday we gave him a mini ipad. It was not primarily so he could play games, although he loves doing that (Minecraft is a particular favourite at the moment). It wasn’t to keep up with other kids, as many of his friends have ipads. It was in all honesty so we would have something we could use a bargaining tool. In essence we gave it to him so we can take it off him!

There is no golden rule for what works when disciplining kids. What works for one child won’t work for another or even something that has worked with a child in the past won’t always work in the future! I’ve tried sticker charts, jellybean jars, a chart with $100 where they lose $1 each time they do something wrong, time-out, naughty chair, behaviour star chart app and finally confiscation. All with varied results.

Our son doesn’t mind being put in time-out, he doesn’t really care if he loses stars on his behaviour chart (which equates to money or treats) and in general he doesn’t care if he has toys and possessions confiscated.

He has never been the sort of kid who is particularly attached to things, so in situations where there have to consequences for poor behaviour, he has never cared enough about anything for its confiscation to mean anything to him. In February I confiscated his xbox controller – initially for a week (but he didn’t care); it then became for a month (still his behaviour didn’t change); eventually he lost it until Christmas (at this point he realized the severity of the punishment and gave in).

Sadly, he has just spent money he received for his birthday on Disney Infinity characters he can use on his xbox, except he has no access to his xbox for another few months. Instead, he has to use them like figurines and play with them in the traditional sense, rather than in the interactive electronic way in which they are designed.

We are firm believers of following through on any threats so he will have to wait until December to get back his x-box but in confiscating it for such a long time, it meant we didn’t have any bargaining power left. We came to the realization that we needed a new item that he would love so much that we could use it as a bargaining tool. I’m happy to say that it is working a treat. In the last few weeks he has lost the privilege of using his ipad on several occasions but usually for a few hours or overnight. He adjusts his behaviour and then gets it back at the allotted time. It is starting to work that just the threat of losing his ipad is enough for him to do as he is told. That little Apple device is seriously worth its weight in gold!

I’m sure Steve Jobs expected ipads to be tools for entertainment and business, but little did he know that in our household it would be valued more as a bargaining tool!

What do you use as tools to help when disciplining your kids?

(Photo courtesy of Ambro, freedigitialphotos.net)

CLASH OF CELEBRATIONS  

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Once every seven years we have this phenomenon occur in our household – a day where two celebrations clash with each other. This year happened to be the year for it: where our son’s birthday fell on Father’s Day.

Father’s Day normally consists of my husband having a sleep in then breakfast in bed accompanied by gifts and then followed by a relaxing day. Our son’s birthday is normally the opposite! He likes to get presents bright and early and then we fill in the day with fun activities.

So a dilemma presented itself, as it does once every seven years, how do we make each of them feel special on their day of celebration?

Our day started at 5.30am when our son came bounding into our room in the hope of receiving his presents – no sleep in for Father’s Day! After patiently waiting an hour and a half we agreed to wake his sisters at 7am so he could have his gifts. Propped up in bed side by side, the kings of the household in turn received birthday presents and Father’s Day gifts.

As a combined celebration we went to a café for breakfast before returning home so our son could play with his new gifts whilst my husband researched movie times to take our son to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I thought what an amazing father he truly is to give up his day of relaxation to help my son celebrate his birthday. How selfless of him I thought – until I found out later that Megan Fox stars in the movie, at which point I began to wonder if the movie outing might have been for my husband’s benefit too!

The day may not have been a dedicated celebration for either of them, but as they love and adore each other, it was lovely to see them sharing their special day together. We now have seven more years until we have a clash of these celebrations again!

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net)