teaching learning moments

Yes, the pictures above ARE ME! (I usually avoid sneaky captures, so this is a rare moment 😉 ) What I am doing here, however, is not rare.

On this particular day about a month ago, I had collected three girls (one being my daughter) from school, and taken them to the dance studio they are all a part of. I’d been rushing around for two hours prior, and was desperate to relieve my bladder, so I accompanied them inside (okay, so me going inside with them IS rare – keep reading 😉 ).

The conversation in the car had been centered around a particular teacher, who had left them feeling rather uninspired and completely demotivated for the upcoming exam period. They needed to vent and have their own discussion, and so I didn’t interrupt. But I listened – partly because other than driving, there wasn’t much else I could do!

While I was in the bathroom and thinking about what had transpired in the car (because a bathroom is a place that inspires great thought), I remembered a story about a similar type of teacher that we had had when I was in high school. There was also a lesson in there, so I decided to share. Upon entering the room, the audience had grown and now there were two other younger beings, as well as the assistant dance teacher present. (The assistant dance teacher is the ”capture culprit”.)

To my daughters horror (oh the shame, my mother speaks, uttered by most teenage girls her age) I opened my mouth and began to recount what I remembered. I know it doesn’t look like it from the pictures, but they did all laugh with me at the end, including my kid 😉 I don’t know who it was who commented how lucky my daughter is to have a mom that is not only good at story telling, but is such an inspiration. Her reply was, “Yeah, well try living with it. Every moment is a teaching moment.” This was followed with a roll of her eyes – and then everyone was rushing about getting ready because their class was about to start.

I’ll admit it. I was a little disappointed with her reaction, and her comment. But it wasn’t new to me. I also know that she really didn’t mean any disrespect , nor was there the intention of emotional harm. I know this, because I know her. She’s often frustrated with me, and queries, “Why does everything have to be a teaching moment with you?” We had a long conversation about it a couple of weeks ago. I understand her frustration – she’s 14, and I am ‘the mother’. At 14, any instruction offered by those in authority (even when intended to help, inspire or uplift) is always taken as if it truly is a bitter pill. And since my daughter simply doesn’t swallow pills (we’ve tried in jam, cheese, chocolate, yoghurt – that small thing simply isn’t going down her throat) it’s a little more difficult with her.

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Photo credit : Facebook

(Ah yes, teenagers! Don’t get me wrong – she’s a great kid. But she’s still growing, and tends to be a little more defiant when it comes to seeking out lessons to learn. But then again, look how long it’s taken me!)

And she’s sort of right. Because I suppose there comes a time when it can get really annoying. She has also pointed out to me that I am ‘worse’ these past few years when it comes to teaching moments.

I think that this may be because in the past few years I have opened myself up to experiencing more learning moments. As I have mentioned in many previous posts, something has shifted. And although this process is painful, it’s bringing with it a lot of very positive outcomes. It’s changing my character, for the better.

While the word purpose is inclined to draw our focus to goal-based achievements – the type where we set a target that is usually ‘verb’ orientated (get a promotion at work, gain new customers, publish a book) – I have allowed myself to broaden my thinking 😉 Yes! Goal-based achievements are important. They are long term, future focused and give us a direction in which to head, often with a  tangible result.

But what about the other types of goals? While those achievements are great, if they never happen in your life it doesn’t mean that you lived a life without purpose, or that you somehow failed to achieve in your journey.

I have many ‘verb based goals’ and, truth be told, I happen to be falling behind. Tomorrow is not promised and I may never reach them. This thought is a little bit frustrating for me. BUT…

I am already aligned with the greatest purpose of all that I can hope to achieve when I choose to act in kindness, compassion and love. This ‘personal purpose’, while it is based on verbs, may not always have a visible outcome. I may not see the end results. I won’t always know if I was able to help guide someone, or influence them in a positive way. I won’t always know if I helped others change the course of their lives to a better direction, or whether my smile that day was the one thing that changed their mind about taking their own life. I won’t always know.

But it won’t stop me from being kind, sharing a smile, showing compassion.

And in the same way, as frustrating as my teaching moments are, I won’t stop dishing them out.
(Although I may need to be a little more sensitive regarding their frequency 😛 )

Most importantly of all, as painful as the learning moments are, I won’t stop being more aware of me and my surroundings in an effort to find them and determine what it is I need to know about them. Because it’s an ongoing process, and I am very aware of how it affects my emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical health.

So, for me? I am quite happy being a goal setter, go getter, in matters pertaining to the heart. And who knows, the rest of it may just follow 😉

Jail Bail?

Every now and then, I take a break from my usual blog posts and post something lighter and less inspiring, more unusual. This normally contains word definitions or idiom explanations – things of that nature. Today isn’t all that interesting, but I did find it kind of funny 😉
Today was inspired by none other than my 14 year old daughter.

We all know what teens are like. They have their very own language – in fact each generation seems to 😛

Each country too, as a matter of fact. It’s no surprise then that words and expressions used in different countries are, well, different. So I can’t claim what I am about to share next as a guide to ‘teen speak’.
(Interestingly enough, my son’s teen speak was similar to what I grew up with, carrying the same definitions. My, how times have changed in the last seven years!!! Enter my daughter. 😛 )

We got out the car at a local store, and she exclaimed, ”Oh my word, Mom! I need to bail!”

Entering the store, I asked, “Who you hiding from?”

I turned around and was greeted with a blank stare.

A little further into the store, I asked, “Why did you need to bail from the car so fast?”

The total look of confusion on her face told me we weren’t talking about the same thing!

In ‘my days’, bail was pretty much defined as I need to go; bounce; take off. 
My usual go to place when it comes to trying to find the more trendy meanings of words is the Urban Dictionary (although I find the language inappropriate a lot of the time). After checking it now, I see it wouldn’t have helped me this time though anyway since it seems to be in line with my definition. Therefore not cool. Not trendy. “Way back when you were a teen, Mom….”
(It really wasn’t that long ago 😛 )

Seeing her confusion, I naturally asked, “Okay. What does bail mean to you kids then?”

She shushed me, blushed (the cute guy nearby had turned to look our way) and pulled me to a quieter corner of the store. There she stammered out,
“Well…uh… it means to…um….you know? When your undies get…um…..and you need to…um….”

From that completely unhelpful explanation, I somehow got the drift of what she was saying. So I whispered back, “You mean when you get a wedgie and you need to pull your panties back where they belong?” She nodded, shrugged her shoulders, and replied with,

“Yeah, you know, bail.”

I think I am going to have a tough time understanding this new teen speak of our local kids! 😛 😉

Spring Cleaning

I’ve been missing in action. For me, it’s been a difficult time – but as usual, there is always some amusement to be had from difficult periods in our lives. My last blog post was very significant to my absence thereafter – which is rather funny (both funny ha ha, and funny weird) because I didn’t plan it that way at all.
Another thing that I found rather amusing is the fact that I have been ‘M.I.A’ for the entire season of Winter here where I live.
So perhaps this was made for me…….
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The only problem is that I haven’t been asleep the entire time…..although then again, maybe I have. Sleep is more than just eyes closed and snoring….it sometimes applies to a dormant soul and a closed heart – just some food for thought.

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Parenting 101 – not.

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Yesterday I felt cornered. Sort of. I had coffee with a new acquaintance (she can achieve friendship status almost instantly because, well, coffee), and she asked to ‘hear my story’. I tried to keep it as brief as possible as I relayed situations and occurrences in my life that had not been pretty, and then revealed the beauty that resulted from the ugliness.

At the end of our rather lengthy conversation, which was initially a ‘quick cup of coffee’, she told me I was a really good mom.
My children have been known to tell me the same – and since I am also ‘dad’ all the time, I also have Father’s Day cards claiming that I couldn’t be a better father, even if I were a man.
I am deeply honored by all of this – that an acquaintance, and my children, could see me as such a successful parent.

But I am not. I don’t say that lightly, and I certainly don’t say it falsely – I do not secretly have this huge ego that says that I definitely am a good mom, and parent.

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The School of Life

My son returned home from school the other day (he’s in his final year), walked through the front door, and said,
“Mom, please will you make me something to eat, because the way my day has been going, I’d probably chop my finger off.”
So I obliged – mostly because I would like him to keep all ten digits, but also because I didn’t feel like cleaning up blood in the kitchen. I treated myself to yet another much needed cup of coffee, and then called him to join me at the table. He missed the chair entirely, and wound up on the floor. Of course, my hysterical laughter could be heard from miles (I am sure), but he just frowned at me. Seeing his expression, I managed to regain control, and helped him up off the floor, saying,
“Okay, tell me about your terrible day.”

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Apron Strings and Daughter Things

I really don’t know why they make us go to these parent teacher meetings at the beginning of every new school year. They just repeat everything we were told the year before. This year, it was a combined thing so we were all together, and not in our individual teachers classrooms. At least last year it felt more personal, and the teacher was able to communicate to her parents her methods and what she wanted for that particular year. Last night we were one of 300 sheep, just being told the general rules and regulations that have been told to us for the past four years. It was annoying, and boring.

The only thing different came at the very end. They discussed the excursion for this year, and my brain stopped yawning.

This year, my soon-to-be eleven-year-old daughter will be flying the coop for two nights and three days as she joins the rest of her grade on an outing to the mountains. There, they will sleep in dormitories; go on hikes to nearby waterfalls and experience the icy cold of the waters beneath them; participate in abseiling and obstacle courses; and attempt climbing walls.

All of last year, my daughter kept saying that she didn’t want to go – which was surprising because she loves the outdoors and all those adventure activities are right up her alley. But the thing with her is this: she doesn’t like the dark (we sleep with the bathroom light on at night), she has been the victim of some bullying (and those kids will be going too), she doesn’t like being forced into doing something (and they pretty much make you take part) and she’s rather accident prone (if she hurts her leg/ankle, she can’t dance, and by her own admission, dancing is her life!).

Schools have been taking kids to this particular adventure camp for years. In fact, I went back in the day – except with us we did it as a Grade 7 excursion. My daughter is a lot like me – and my experience was only 70% great.

At night, I couldn’t sleep because some of the other girls in the dormitory were unsettling. I was also scared of the dark and there were NO lights on – and the teachers were sleeping in the room next door, not in the dormitory with us.
I was petrified of the climbing wall overhang for some strange reason (I loved abseiling) and wound up crying halfway through it, after being forced into participating…which meant I got teased by the other kids for the remainder of our time there.
I slipped on the rocks at one of the waterfalls on the last day, and twisted my ankle – which resulted in me having to be carried ALL the way back to ‘camp’, and more teasing.

In all of my daughter’s nervousness, I have been encouraging her, and keep telling her ‘it will all be fine, you must go’. (She knows nothing of my experiences, and I won’t tell her either!) The trip is compulsory, the school doesn’t give you a choice – in fact the only way they will allow that a pupil does not attend is in the case of the death of a family member. Upon returning from the meeting last night, I asked my daughter if her feelings had changed with regards to taking part in the excursion. Apparently, my little adventure queen now can’t wait and is ‘definitely going’.

Now I am the one with mixed feelings, leaning more towards locking her in her bedroom for the remainder of her life, let alone those three days.

It’s not just based on my experience years back, but also on my son’s experience when he went a few years ago – and came home to not sleep alone for six months, which is credited to all the ghost stories that were told, and some teasing and bullying that took place thereafter. My son has always been afraid of ghostly things – he’s improved as a teenager, although I think he knows each and every woven thread of the inside of his blanket from watching horror movies with his friends.

My daughter is tough though – so I am sure she’ll be fine. She’s a strange combination of Princess and Pirate. And I’ll have to lecture her beforehand because I am pretty sure SHE will be the one telling the ghost stories.
I think I’m more concerned for safety sake – because of where we live, and the fact that she is a girl. And deep down there is also that voice screaming, “And she’s my little girl!”

I just have to keep telling myself it will be okay. And somehow let go, just a little.
It’s difficult when she is with me all the time, and only sleeps out for a night maybe three times a year, and at a friends house down the road – not two hours drive away from me!

I can’t help wondering if she will in fact be all right.
But then again, I need to recognize in myself: this is mostly Mommy fear – more importantly, will I be okay?

I don’t think I should cut the apron strings just yet, but perhaps I’ll loosen the knot a little.