Posts tagged as:

things kids say

I have learned in my parenting career that the fewer letters there are in a word, the more the potential of it being an extremely difficult concept to explain to your child. Some small words are deceptively simple. Small words with big, heavy baggages.

Mr. Monk used the word “gay” in the bad way the other day.

As soon as he said it, he knew he did something wrong. The air froze. The earth stood still. His brother sucked in his breath and for once, was speechless.

“It’s ok. Mommy’s not mad.” I reached for his hand and walked him upstairs to his room where I could talk to him quietly, without my 12-year-old chiming in whenever I took a breath as if he couldn’t wait to start parenting himself.

“I am sorry. I know I am not supposed to use this word, unless of course I am using it the right way.”

“What is the right way of using the word?”

“Being happy?”

I had to make a split decision at that moment to decide whether I should seize the opportunity to educate him or to prolong this “shielding”. I remembered this excerpt from NurtureShock:

How to raise racist kids?

Step One: Don’t talk about race. Don’t point out skin color. Be “color blind.”

Step Two: Actually, that’s it. There is no Step Two.

Congratulations! Your children are well on their way to believing that <insert your ethnicity here> is better than everybody else.

I decided to talk about what it means to be gay, to not make a big deal out of it, in the most basic manner, especially since we do see a lot of gay characters now on TV and in the movies, for which I am pleased.

We also just finished watching Modern Family in which a gay couple was portrayed just like any other suburban couple in a sitcom.

“You know there are people who are gay right?”

He nodded.

“Do you know what it means that they are gay?

“That they are happy?” Then he chuckled in a way that said he didn’t believe his answer and he was proud at his own wittiness.

“It means that… some people when they grow up, they realize that, well, … Ok.  Instead for a man to have a girlfriend, he has a boyfriend.”

“Oh.”

“And there are women who instead of having boyfriends, you know, they are in love with their girlfriends.”

At this moment as I write, I realized that I didn’t use husbands and wives. Please allow me to explain my oversight as that because I was discusssing the matter of heart and love with him at that moment, I unconsciously used the term boyfriends and girlfriends because that’s what people get when they are in love. Boyfriends and girlfriends.

I crouched down and held onto his shoulders so I could look him in the eyes.

“Did you know that I have friends who are gay?”

He looked surprised.

“I have a friend, a boy, you know, a male friend, he is gay so he has a boyfriend.” I continued. “I also have a very good girlfriend and she and her girlfriend have been together for longer than 10 years!”

“Wow.” At this his eyes widened.

“Yup. I met saw them not too long ago. They look very happy together. Actually I think they get along much better than mommy and daddy. They don’t seem to fight a lot.”

A smile.

“It must be because they are girls!” A lightbulb lit up over his head.

Then he added, quieter now, while looking down at his own feet, “Or, because they don’t have kids?”

Oy, gevalt!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

I don’t know where my oldest gets his athletic prowess. I guess we lucked out.

He started gymnastics at our park district when he was three years old because I did not like the idea of sitting in the sun, the rain, or the cold for ball games. When he was seven, he was asked to join the newly-formed Boys Team  and he started his “career” in competitive gymnastics. It did sound impressive when I told people that he went to the State Championship. I am not one of those pushy and hyper-critical parents. I am amazed by the gymnastic moves my oldest can do, with ease, and most of the time, with grace. But I will be completely honest: there will be no Olympic medals in the future. He is good, could definitely do better, but not that good.

We attend his meets and hold our breath and watch, ready to comfort him or to cheer him on. It is getting harder and harder to sit in the audience since every event now involves the risk of him falling off or falling down. I don’t think I will be able to watch without having a heart attack as they start doing more and more dangerous “tricks”.

How do parents of Olympic athletes quiet their hearts when it is happening? What happens if something wrong happens to your child’s routine? How do you stop the ache in your heart, fortify it, and find the right words to comfort your heart-broken child? I used to wonder about that.

As my oldest reached the higher level in gymnastics, the routines became harder. Because he grew in height without packing on the pounds, his muscle strength (or lack of) does not allow him to perform as well as before. This became very obvious when he attended his first competition this past season.  Less then half way into his floor event, he fell, sat heavily on his bottom, not once, but twice. I could hear the gasps from the audience even in the noisy gymnasium. I will be brutally honest with you: it was painful to watch. I wanted to turn my head and close my eyes. NOT because I was embarrassed, please believe me when I say this, but because the urge to go to him right away and hug him was so strong that I physically felt ill. I had to sit on my hands to prevent them from flying to my mouth or chest and bite my lips so I didn’t break down and cry.

But he got up and finished his routine. He was not frazzled. Much to my surprise, when he exited the floor, he was neither in tears nor pouting; he walked back to where his team was sitting and fist-bumped his coaches.

THAT was one of the proudest moments I have had as a parent.

He has learned to fail. Or rather, he has learned the ability to not get bogged down by an accident or a mistake and forge ahead. He has learned the ability to remain calm and focus on what is ahead. An ability that I am sorely lacking.

Several days later when I was sure it was safe to touch upon the subject, I asked him with a frankness bordering on admiration,

“What was going through your mind when you fell and sat on the floor? How were you able to get up and continue with the routine? How did you find the strength to be so brave?” I was truly amazed by this young person’s (“My own son!”) will power to remain poised under such duress.

“Well, it’s nothing really. The coach has always told us to NOT think about what has happened and just focus on what’s next in the routine. We just need to focus and finish the routine. I don’t notice the audience when I am doing the routines. I just focus.”

Focus. Grace under fire. I believe these are the things that make athletes such special people. Any athletes, no matter the rankings or the scores. They don’t become broken-hearted by a single setback. They just do it again, and again, and again.

At his second meet when my son once again did not place and I once again agonized over what the right things to say to console and encourage him, he bounded to the bench where I was sitting in just one stride, plopped down, and before I could say, “I am sorry honey…”, declared with a smile, “I have achieved my three goals today.”

“I was telling everybody this. I have three goals for this meet and I reached all three of them:

1. I had fun
2. I did better than last time
3. I was not physically or emotionally scarred permanently.”

I laughed and slapped him on his back.

THAT was another one of the proudest moments I have had as a parent.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

We have been watching the Winter Olympics. I didn’t plan to. But what’s not to love really? Finally something on prime time that does not involve dead bodies, sexual predators, or its own mythologies.

Naturally I gravitated towards Ice Dancing and Figure Skating. (No, I don’t really want to engage in a debate about how Ice Dancing does not count as a sport and should not even be included in the Olympics. Thank you very much).

Last Sunday though, we caught a glimpse of the Super-Combined and the boys and I were hooked. We don’t ski. Skiing has never entered my mind as a recreational option despite our proximity to some relatively inexpensive hills in Wisconsin. The word “skiing” conjures up images of Vail and the fancy schmancy aura surrounding “Skiing resorts” in my psyche. Memories of seeing people refusing to do away with their lift tickets still hanging on their zipper pulls long after their last skiing trip without any hope of ever going back again this season.

What was shown on TV was exhilarating. The commentators were talking about Bode Miller as this Comeback Kid. Everybody loves a good comeback story. So we held our breath as he rushed downhill. The camera at one point cut to his mother, I assume, with her hand to her mouth watching her son intently, perhaps with a bit comprehension. The camera zoomed in further to try to catch an emotional moment. Everybody loves a good human interest perspective in the games of sports.

With his eyes still on the screen, my oldest commented,

“You know, when I or [my brother] go to the Olympics? You have to remember that you are always on camera. So you have to remember to look good all the time. Don’t let the camera catch you tweeting or Facebooking! That’s the lesson we should learn here.”

.

Our job goal as far as our kids are concerned as parents is to never embarrass them. I am sure with me as a mother THIS is constantly on his mind. Later when one of the athletes crashed on the snowy course and thus dashed his dream for any medal, for yet another human interest angle, the camera mercilessly zoomed in on the father who buried his face in his hands, leaned his forehead against the fence, visibly shaking.

My preteen reached across the sofa, grabbed both of my hands, and besought me,

“Promise me. You will never do that! Don’t cry like that if we lose. Promise me!”

I simply laughed. For sure, this is a promise I will not be able to keep…

.

.

I also learned that athletes for Winter Sports live on the wild-er side, and they either have no mental filters because they are so adorably honest, or they are simply really really high, like “high”, when they are on the high mountains…

Read this quote from Norway silver medalist Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset as reported in Sports Illustrated… and tell me if it is not one of the best…

“My name is Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset. I skied the second lap and I f—– up today. I think I have seen too much porn in the last 14 days. I have the room next to Petter Northhug and every day there is noise in there. So I think that is the reason I f—– up. By the way, Tiger Woods is a really good man.”

(Sports Illustrated Writer’s note: By far the craziest quote released by the VANOC information desk over the past 13 days.)

.

Or this quote from Graham Watanabe, a snowboarder from the U.S.

“It’s feeling a lot more like this is my first Olympics. Try to imagine Pegasus mating with a unicorn and the creature that they birth. I somehow tame it and ride it into the sky in the clouds and sunshine and rainbows. That’s what it feels like.”

.

.

Update: Naptime Writing had written in a post “Lessons from the Olympics” which has a list of the things she learned about human nature from this Olympics that was observant, profound, hilarious at the same time. Knowing my readers, I just want to emphasize hilarious. I was grateful that she commented on the “fake flesh-colored” costumes worn by the skaters to make them look like they are wearing skimpy outfits when actually they are not. So it’s not just me.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Do you know what you are reading to your children?

February 26, 2010 no manual for parenting

Tweet Do you really know? I mean, really really? Do you know what you are reading them and how they are hearing what you are reading them?… I was browsing through the Costco “magazine” (what sadly passes as reading material for me nowadays) in bed when my oldest came to snuggle with sit by me. […]

48 comments

Contract

February 22, 2010 no manual for parenting

Tweet My husband is out of town again. Well, since he travels 50% of the time, as dictated by his contract, there is always 50-50 chance he is on the road. He’s sort of like George Cloony in Up in the Air, but without the dashing good looks. (Oh, I love you honey. I just […]

25 comments

Trouble Maker? You talking to me?

January 21, 2010 no manual for parenting

Tweet Sometimes I wonder whether the teachers talk about the parents amongst themselves. I would probably be known as “Trouble Maker”. My favorite moment was when I confronted approached the principal at the Thanksgiving Feast: “Could I safely assume that the headpieces the children are wearing are ‘turkeys’ and not ‘head dresses’?” I used the […]

42 comments

We are all in this

January 18, 2010 this i believe

Tweet Mr. Monk, my 7-year-going-on-50-old child, asked me last Friday at dinner, “Mom, is it true that you would not be here if Martin Luther King did not give THAT speech?” I was caught by surprise, I’ll be completely honest. Although I understand the impact Dr. King’s speech has had on the American history, culture […]

25 comments

The Golden Rule

January 16, 2010 no manual for parenting

Tweet I can’t remember exactly what started us discussing the Golden Rule at the dinner table. Probably had something to do with the constant bickering between the two of them. “Remember the Golden Rule? What is the Golden Rule?” I wheedled. “I know: it’s something like ‘Love thy neighbors’.” My oldest has the knack of […]

6 comments

I think my kids are scarred by this Christmas song…

December 17, 2009 no manual for parenting

Tweet I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus* Yeah. You know the lyrics. And seriously? This song is wrong on so many different levels… The innocent explanation of course is that DADDY is dressed up as Santa Claus. So mommy is actually kissing daddy, only that the poor kid has no idea and is probably going […]

26 comments

“How you should behave when you grow up”: a primer for your kids

November 1, 2009 no manual for parenting

Tweet My 6 year-old, at the end of sugar high, launched into a campaign for something that he thinks my husband and I should offer to him and his older brother. “A program.  A program for ‘How you should be like when you grow up‘,” he said. “Mom.  I think you and daddy should give […]

4 comments