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Teaching Them Right

What Lesson Are You Teaching?

Parents amaze me. You’d think I’d have gotten used to it by now, but nope – I haven’t.

I will start out by saying that in no way, shape, or form do I even begin to think that I am a perfect parent or person. I’ve made some really bad parenting choices in the past and most likely will in the future; however, to me, the important parenting moments are those when you openly admit your mistakes to your kids. Nobody is perfect – not me, not you, not anybody. All you can do is what you think is best at any given moment.

I will continue by saying that in no way, shape, or form do I even begin to think that my kids are perfect and “deserving” of anything other than mine and Hubby’s love and guidance. Everything else, they have to earn by making good choices and working hard.

I’m on the board for a local Little League. I run registration each year. Kids who are 9/10 or 11/12 can register to try out for a minors team or a majors team. Majors teams are a bit more competetive, travel a little, and play an occassional tournament. After try outs, the two coaches in each age division draft their teams from the pool of ALL 150 players. Each year, not everyone makes a majors team. We only have 2 teams and 50 kids that try out for it. We also have a couple kids who register for minors that the coaches liked and are drafted to a majors team and given the opportunity to play in that league if they want to.

Sadly, each year, there are a handfull of parents who can’t believe that their kid wasn’t drafted to a majors team, and instead of taking the $30 difference in registration fee that we refund, they take their ball, and their kid, and go home. Yes – they quit the league.

What the hell kind of message is that? If you don’t get what you want, just quit? If you had a bad tryout, stomp your feet, throw a fit, and quit? If you don’t get your way and find out that maybe you’re not as great and awesome and perfect as your parents think you are, quit and don’t even try?

How about this lesson . . . sorry you didn’t make majors, son. Try your hardest in the minors division this season, then try out for the all star team and prove to them that they should’ve drafted you. Maybe next year you’ll get drafted to a majors team.

Last year, Dude’s team had 4 kids on it who had tried out for majors as 9/10 year olds but didn’t make it. Those kids came out and played, tried hard, practiced, HAD FUN, and didn’t whine. His team won the minors division for his age group.

This year, 3 of those 4 kids were drafted to majors teams in the 11/12 year old division. Hard work, patience, and ATTITUDE pays off.

Oh – and did I mention that this is LITTLE LEAGUE, these KIDS are 9, 10, 11, and 12 years old, and that it’s BASEBALL? Since when does a kid get to just quit because he didn’t get on the team he wanted?  Since when is it OK for a parent to pull his kid out of an entire season because he didn’t get chosen first? How in the hell do these people think that having their kid sit out a season is going to make them better in any way, shape, or form?

In my personal opinion, there are few ways better to spend a Saturday in the spring than at the ball field watching young boys play baseball. In my son’s opinion, there are few ways better to spend a Saturday in the spring than at the ball field PLAYING baseball.

I wouldn’t dream of taking that away from him.

Late = Zero

I’m annoyed. I love Dude and Princess’s school – it’s a great school. They’re learning, they’re having fun, they’re making friends, and they don’t feel threatened. One thing I can’t stand, however, is that there is rarely any consequence to being late – whether it’s your self that is late or your homework that is late.

I grew up in an environment where if you’re not early, you’re late. And I still, for the most part, live by that. My kiddos are quite often the first ones anywhere, and if they’re even a minute late, they hate it (which I like – late is not an option and should be avoided at all costs).

This “lesson” I’ve been teaching the kiddos is being ruined at school. I’m referring to homework. Princess’s teacher is awesome – if your work is late, you get docked points and you most likely get to sit inside at recess and finish unfinished work or sit out for a while during recess if your work was just turned in late. I like those lessons.

But I wish they’d take the lesson a little further. Turning in your work late should equal a zero. Ya ya ya, I know – people get sick, but there are processes in place for that. For every day you’re sick, you have 2 days to complete and hand in the work. That’s acceptable to me.

What is NOT acceptable to me is when my wonderful awesome Dude does his homework and “forgets” to turn it in. This has happened more often lately. To me, that’s just stupid. If you put forth the effort to do the work, then think to turn it in! If you can’t turn it in because 1) you “forgot” or 2) you can’t find it in your mess of a backpack or 3) you swear you turned it in because you remember handing it to the teacher but lo and behold a week later I get an email saying you have a missing assignment and could you please turn it in and you find it in your mess of a backpack . . . then you should get a zero. No credit for late work – period. But no, the teachers have not docked him ANYTHING for turning his work in late – not even some percentage of points! What the hell kind of lesson is that? Certainly not the lesson we’re teaching at home.

And yesterday, his band practice sheet was due. I don’t babysit him about his homework . . . it’s his stuff and his time and his grades and his consequences. He gets all A’s – always. But yesterday, he hadn’t completed his band practice sheet for January. Since the beginning of the school year, they’ve gotten a band practice sheet for the month. They have to set practice goals, record their actual time, and write a short paragraph on a question the teacher has on the sheet for each week. Then the student needs to sign it and the parents need to sign it for each week. Last Friday was a snow day. No school. I asked him if he had any homework to finish before we left to go snowboarding for the weekend. Of course he said No and we moved along.

Monday at the bus stop I ask about his band practice sheet because I didn’t remember signing it. He got this look like “OMG I can’t believe it’s due today blah blah blah excuse excuse excuse.” I told him he was grounded after school until he got all of his school stuff in order and could prove he wasn’t “holding” completed homework in his backpack. I also may have mentioned that getting anything other than an A in band when your grade is entirely dependant on handing in a practice sheet would be completely unacceptable.

He comes home and says “Well, I got lucky today! Mrs. Music Teacher said our sheets weren’t due until Wednesday since we didn’t have school last Friday.”

Um, what? So basically what she said was that since they weren’t in class last Friday for her to remind them to fill out their sheets and bring them back on Monday, she was giving them another class day. Another class day because they are incapable of reading the due date on the top of the sheet? Another class day because 6 months of completing the same monthly practice record with a due date of the first class period of the next month isn’t enough time for them to figure it out?

What (pause for dramatic effect) EVER!

You’re still grounded!!!

I know it’s easier for the teachers to not dock points, because then they have to deal with the parents of those perfect kids who just couldn’t get their work done on time because of whatever it was that was more important than SCHOOL work. It’s easier to give the points than try to convince the parents that their kid turning their work in late shouldn’t be acceptable.

We’ll all have a boss we don’t like at some point. We’ll all have work deadlines that are difficult to meet at some point. We’ll all have a busy personal life that makes focusing on work difficult at some point. But ya know what? Get used to it! That’s life. Learn NOW how to deal with it, before you don’t show up for work on time because you were just too tired, or before you lose your job because you didn’t meet your deadline because you had too much going on, or before you quit your job because there is one person there that doesn’t cater to your every desire and you can’t figure out how to get past it.

Late work at school should equal zero points.

Off my soap box.

Light Headed

My Dude and some of his buddies joined 45 other people from his school to raise money and shave their heads for St. Baldrick’s. Their team of 50 raised $15000! I thought that was pretty awesome :-)

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The event was a whole day-long thing . . . they had Leprachauns juggling on stilts, face painting, balloons, live bands, emcees and 6 shaving chairs ready to go. Here is Dude and some of his friends at the front of the line just waiting, nervously, to get their heads shaved.

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My little Dude got himself in the chair – he’s smiling, but a little nervous.

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And finally, the shaving begins! For the kid who does not like change and hates to get his hair cut at all, this was a big deal.

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Here he is, almost finished! And kind of still smiling.

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And finally, the boys are done :-) What a handsome group!

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So proud of my Dude (raised $575 himself) and his buddies :-)

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I haven’t talked much about Brownies this year . . . but yes, I’m leading Princess’ Brownie troop again. We have 15 second graders :-) We’re having a blast so far! Earning try-it badges, going on field trips, attending cookie rally sleepovers – we’ve been working hard and having fun.

But the thing I am most proud of them for? Their food/toy drive for our local small-town food bank. Last year, the girls brought about 15 toys total to the food bank in December. This year, with the girls older, they thought of ways to raise more food, including doing extra chores to earn money to buy food and toys, asking neighbors, and putting boxes out at church, just to name a few.

And what did the girls do this year? They brought 207 pounds of food PLUS 3 large boxes of toys. I. Am. So. Proud. Of. Them!

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They’re already talking about ways they can get even more to donate next year. I have to say that leading the Brownie troop is one of the most fun and rewarding things I’m involved in with my kids :-)

I Like Her Confidence

I found this on the counter when I got home the other day . . .

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Princess’ response when I mentioned that it was only November and possibly a bit early for a thank you note to Santa… “I’m crazy busy and I wanted to get this done while I had a minute.”

I have no idea where she’s heard that :-)

While I like her confidence that Santa will indeed visit the House of Boedie, if her behavior this morning was any indication of the next 3 weeks, she may be sorely disappointed.

*** I also like that she’s actually thinking about thank you notes on her own now – yay!

Stuff The Bus

Every year, Walmart, a local TV station, and a local radio station team up to Stuff The Bus to get school supplies for kids who may not be able to afford them.

And every year when we go get school supplies, each of the kids picks out an extra backpack. Each of them gets double of their school supplies and packs the extra bag with stuff to put in the Stuff The Bus bin. When we checked out of Wally World last week with our supplies, Dude noticed the price tag for 4 sets of school supplies (two for 1st graders and two for 4th graders – so no spendy calculators and stuff) – $200. Yup – $50 average for each kid – and we get the basic stuff – no characters and all that crap on the folders and notebooks.

Seriously, why should it cost so much for school supplies? And especially at Walmart? I won’t even go into the items on the list that I think are totally ridiculous. No wonder there are kids out there who can’t afford school supplies.

Anyway – the kids absolutely love picking out the extra stuff, stuffing the backpacks, and putting them in the Stuff The Bus bin. The smiles on their faces is awesome . . . and I love how it makes them feel – like they’ve done something good for someone in need. They talk about it for a long time after they do it, quite often mentioning how lucky they are that they can afford the supplies.

A couple days later, I was at Target in the school supply section to pick up a couple things. A girl that was maybe 11 or 12 was sobbing in the aisle. Her mother was explaining that she couldn’t get the “extra” stuff on the list – only the stuff she really needed . . . like the pencils and erasers and notebooks and folders . . . no extra copy paper and dry erase markers and tabbed dividers and the like. I felt so bad for the girl. She wasn’t sad that they didn’t have the money – she was afraid that the other kids would make fun of her when she showed up and didn’t have all the stuff on the list.

Please donate school supplies. Pick up an extra package of paper, some extra folders and pencils, or if you can, throw in one of the very expensive calculators that they seem to require these days. School is difficult enough for kids without being ridiculed for something that seems so small to us, but is a huge deal to them.

Teacher Gifts – Foam Flowers

We had a rainy Memorial Day weekend – and it’s STILL raining and supposed to be raining all week. We did squeeze in some pickup baseball and barbecues between the rain showers and had a blast!

In between the breaks in the rain, the kiddos and I got busy making gifts for their teachers. They each had 2 teachers in their classrooms this year – all 4 of them were AWESOME – we totally loved them. We had to come up with 4 of something that weren’t too expensive, but still said a huge Thank You from the heart. We decided on foam flower bouquets (a big thanks to my friend, Gail, for the idea!).

The kids spent quite a bit of time cutting out flower petals and leaves while I got my fingers all sticky and full of splinters putting floral tape and foam petals on bamboo skewers. But, I think they turned out well! (excuse the poor photo quality – in my infinite wisdom, I set the bouquets in front of a window!)

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Princess chose some shorter metal buckets for her teachers. This one and a pink one just like it. It took her and her little kindergarten fingers quite a while in a couple sessions to cut out all of these flower petals, but she did it! I was very proud of her.

 

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Dude chose some fun tall metal buckets for his flowers. This one and a yellow one for his other teacher. It didn’t take him quite as long to cut out his petals, and I didn’t have to do as much “rounding” of his corner cutting as I did with the ones Princess cut out.

 

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Here are a couple pictures of the flowers from the top. We put gift cards to Hobby Lobby inside each bouquet (except for Princess’ teenage assistant – she got an iTunes gift card).

I won’t claim that the kids did this project without a little whining. There was a LOT of cutting involved, and they did get tired of it after a while. BUT, they stuck it out and understood the importance of putting time into something special for people who are important to you.

And, I will say, that they were both so proud when their teachers were so happy and grateful for their handmade gifts. Dude may have even whispered “That was totally worth the effort.”

What would I do different next time? I’d put more petals on each of the roses. I’d also mix and match the colors for the other flowers instead of just using the two colors they each chose for each flower. It was their project, so I did as I was told, but I might try to influence their decisions a little more next time 😉

Any teachers out there? What was the best gift you’ve received? What is a gift you’d LIKE to receive from a student?

Money Well Spent

I guess it’s Dude’s week for the blog. But I was sooo proud of him that I just had to share!

All year they’ve been learning about money in school. They each have a check register and have to earn money and pay desk rental, etc. In December, they had a market day where each kid made or brought something to sell (straw rockets, paperclip necklaces, etc.) or sold a service (doing nails, desk cleaning, etc.). It was a big hit!

After market day, they started a new thing. They still earn money by handing in their homework on time, standing quietly in line, following directions, respecting others, etc. And they still pay desk rental and lose money if they are rude or don’t follow directions. Every two weeks, they can buy stuff from the classroom store before they are set back to $0. Things in the store include extra play time at recess, bringing a toy to school for recess, no homework pass, and other things like that. Out of all the things on the list, Dude bought reading to the preschoolers. Yup, instead of buying free time or something for himself, he bought the privilege of going to a preschool classroom and reading to one of the preschoolers for half an hour.

Ahhhhhh – I’m a proud mommy today!

The Kid Has Some Values

His mom should be proud.

Every now and then, I get discouraged at the state of our kids. Not any kids specifically, just kids in general. I’d like to believe that kids are generally good people – I know that they are. They are, afterall, just kids. But for me, the issue is their lack of respect for others, especially adults. Their lack of ambition. Their entitlement attitude. And the list goes on.

Yesterday, I took the kids up skiing and boarding in Breckenridge. Princess was in a lesson, so I had the entire day with Dude. We had a great time. He got to choose what runs we did, when we did them, when we took a break, when we ate lunch. It was his day. Twice he chose to take the Four O’Clock To Town run. It’s a long green run that takes you all the way into Breckenridge, right to the bus stop. I figured why not. We can practice our turns and all that jazz. Of course Dude thought it was fun to ride the bus to the gondola then ride the gondola back up to Peak 8.

Anyway . . . we had crossed the road to wait for the bus. There is also another bus stop on the other side of the road. Two young adults (19? Early 20s?) showed up with their boards. The girl was obviously mad about something. She started talking rather loudly to the guy. He turned around and said “You need to chill out! And you need to stop cussing all the time. ESPECIALLY when there are children around!” as he pointed across the street to where we were sitting. I waved at him to say thanks.

I’m not even that kids mom and I was proud of him. Proud that he noticed we were even way across the street. Proud that he noticed that Dude was a child. Proud that he had the guts to tell that girl to zip it and have some manners. Proud that in a place where manners aren’t always at their best, this guy thought of the only two other people that were around instead of getting caught up in what was going on with himself at that exact moment.

His mom should be proud.

Now if someone would talk to the idiot who felt he needed to light up on the lift for the beginner hill -the one that all the kids in lessons and beginners practicing use! Not the most pleasant ride up the lift in the middle of the beautiful Colorado Rockies on a clear sunny day.

18 3 and 4 Year Olds

Yesterday I had the pleasure of chaperoning my daughter’s preschool class on a trip to the zoo. The class had earned the trip by making good choices throughout the school year and filling up their jar with buttons. Each chaperone got assigned 4 to 5 kids for the day. I will be the first to admit that my daughter is no angel . . . she is a very loving, sweet, kind, smart little girl . . . but she is also very stubborn, strong-willed, and driven. However, after every event I attend for school, whether it’s attending Muffins with Mom, watching my son’s class read their country reports, or chaperoning a field trip, I’m always so proud of both of my kids. While they act like kids as much as any other 4 and 6 year old, they are courteous to adults and their classmates and they listen to direction (most of the time). Most of the kids on the field trip were very well-behaved, but I’m still always stunned by how much disrespect kids seem to have for any adult, whether it be the zookeeper, the chaperone, the teacher, or even their own parents. Some are quietly direspectful, testing you at every turn, trying to see how far they can push you (not very far with me as they found out). Others are loudly disrespectful, hitting their parents and actually yelling at teachers and sayin “No” to them! I’ve never told my children they can’t say No to adults, because they CAN say No to adults when necessary. However, we’ve also made it very clear that disrespecting their teacher, a chaperone, other parents, and their classmates is totally unacceptable. My daughter can attest to that . . . she lost pretty much every privilege she had the entire month of February for being disrespectful to Ms. Jennifer (her teacher). We made it very clear that was not acceptable, and the problem is solved.

When did we start allowing our children to be so disrespectful of grownups? I know the argument you’re all going to throw out there . . . “there are so many crazy adults out there, my kid shouldn’t have to be respectful to them.” Of course not . . . that’s why you never tell them they can’t say No to an adult – they can and should say no in certain situations. But, on the flip side, being disrespectful to teachers, grandparents, other kids’ parents, your own parents . . . those people that you’ve put your trust in to help your children through life? OMG if I ever thought of disrespecting someone like that I wouldn’t have seen the light of day for months!

Are you teaching your children to hold the door open for others, especially women and the elderly? Are you teaching your children to say Thank You to their soccer coaches, teachers, grandparents, friends’ parents, etc. just for being there and helping your child? Are you teaching your children to offer their seats to the elderly, whether on the bus or waiting for a table at a restaurant? All of this, of course, is better taught by your good example than by simply lecturing to your children that they should do these things.

I guess this is just one of those topics that’s always bugged me since I’ve been spending more and more time around kids after having two of my own. And after what I saw at the zoo yesterday with the gaggles of kids there on field trips, it really struck a chord.