Today was celebration number 2 of 4 for the kids birthdays. She is 13 tomorrow, he is 10 on Wednesday. Today was family party day. I have a lot on my mind. Besides the stress of hosting family, some of whom are very judgmental, I also leave for a huge karate thing on Wednesday. My to-do list is getting longer, my time at home is shorter, the stress is building. Granted I put a lot of pressure on myself for everything to go well, so some of it is my fault. Today my aunt and my sister both asked if everything was alright. Apparently I have resting angry face. I was engaging in conversation without a problem, but when left to sitting quietly, subconscious thoughts must have changed my facial expressions. So to my family, I apologize. I am NOT angry with any of you. I tried to get to talking with all of you. I am very distracted, stressed, and out of sorts right now. I love you all and I will work on my resting angry face.
It is late again and I find myself pondering my slice. I lay on my couch, a movie that I don’t want to see but my husband had picked out playing in the background. He has chosen Darkest Hour. Any movie he sees is on WW2 he will insist on watching. A few weeks ago it was Dunkirk. Too many times I have sat through these docu-dramas, or historical fiction productions that I have no interest in. I would prefer a good Jason Bourne, Thor, or some action flick. This movie I affectionately call mindless entertainment. I don’t have to think, I can just watch and enjoy. If I fall asleep, I am NOT confused when I wake up. So here I lay, with the movie playing in the background, slicing to all of you so I can halfway pay attention to a movie I have no interest in.
Today was the day I thought I had no slice. I sat at the computer staring blankly at the curser, waiting for inspiration, trying to force my sluggish mind to come up with something, some moment, some triggered memory of importance to share. Then I walked away. I have all day, and other things to do. Other more important things to do.
Tonight I have my slice. A memory I will cherish forever. My daughter turns 13 on Monday and today she had friends over. She wanted tacos and rollerskating, so we kept it simple: make your own taco bar and head to the roller rink for an hour and a half, followed by cupcakes. But, while I love this memory, this is not my slice.
My slice is of an almost 10 year old boy, learning to skate with his mama, holding so tightly to her hand she has bruises. His wobbly, shaky legs going out from under him on more than a hundred occasions. Back up he goes, clutching her hand until he stands up straight, shuffling forward on his skates. He only goes part-way around before he leaves the circle to try again. Gathering his courage and working on his confidence until he decides he is ready to do the full loop. Around they go, him falling, her encouraging and cheering him on. He is not coordinated, but he tries so hard, never once saying he couldn’t do it. But he goes again and again and again, and he falls again and again and again, smiling and trying. And at the end of the night, it is this moment that she will remember, couples skating with her boy, teaching him how to move on wheels. He wants to go back and so does she.
Tomorrow marks the first of a few celebrations over the next few days. Tomorrow my oldest has friends over to celebrate turning 13. Yes you heard right…..I have hit teenage years. I am NOT old enough for this.
Sunday is a family party to celebrate both kids. 1 is 13, the other 10. Yes, we have officially hit double digits. I have no more babies and definitely feel that I am NOT old enough for this.
Monday is her official turn 13 birthday. Wednesday is his official turn 10 birthday. And sometime in the next week or so he will have friends over for an epic Nerf battle. Still, I am NOT old enough for this.
I still remember bringing them home. I still remember first words, first steps, first everything. I feel young, I feel ready to take on the world, and I have 2 NOT babies who are taking on the world with me. My grandma taught me that age is just a number. Well I hope she is right because I choose to NOT be old enough.
Awhile back there was a show on tv about what life would be like if we had no electricity. I am almost living that life.
Try to work from home, no internet. Ok, I’ll go do my volunteer time at my kid’s school and it will be back on when I get home. Wrong!! Still no internet. Call comcast…..bot voice says no service until 2. I’ll head into work and work there instead of here. But first, make my lunch. Try to turn on the tv for background noise…..No tv. That service is attached to the internet. Stupid Comcast….outage took that out too. Ok. Alexa to the rescue. Nope. She doesn’t understand me because that is also internet based. So now I’m making my lunch in a crazy, quiet house so that I can go into work, while using my phone data to put this post out there. All because something electronic needs to work. Plus side, I just turned on the dishwasher and it works…..So we haven’t hit the dark ages around here yet.
Last night I posted a story….a reminder of sorts of a long ago time with my son. I hit publish and then my daughter walks in the room and says, “Mom, I need sand for school tomorrow.” Say what? This sounds like it should have been my slice tonight….It is 8:30pm in March…..where am I going to find sand? I text her father to see if he had ideas or can stop somewhere. Nope, nothing.
Then inspiration hits. For the past few years, we have gone to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on vacation. He asks where we kept all the shells we have collected over the years. Down to the basement we go, digging out shoe boxes filled with ziploc baggies of shells…..and at the bottom of each bag is sand. We have just won parents of the year, just by cutting a small hole in those bags and squeezing out sand like you would icing from a tube. And she went to school with a baggie of sand…..hopefully it was enough for her project.
It’s funny how a story or a memory sneaks up on you. This morning, as I was trying to leave for the gym, both kids needed to ask me something. Their father is standing right there, next to them. Yet they need to ask me. This man who has changed diapers, taken them fishing, cooked 95% off the meals that have kept them alive, and will be taking them to school was not allowed to answer any questions. So late to my class I was, all to answer questions he could have.
Which reminded me of this sweet moment in time with my youngest.
My house has an open floor plan. When you walk in the front door, you enter the family room. The living room is up four steps to your left, the kitchen/dining is straight ahead and up four steps. Beyond that are the kids bedrooms (six steps). My bedroom is up another six steps from that. I joke that it is a tudor on the outside, a split level in the middle and a two story at the back. There are no walls until you go upstairs to the kids bedrooms.
My son, who was 8 at the time, wanted a glass of milk. He was in the living room. He walks up 4 steps to the kitchen, walks through the kitchen and up 6 steps to his bedroom level. He turns and goes up 6 more steps to find me. I am in my room folding laundry.
“Mom, can I have a glass of milk?”
“Sure, go get it.”
“Why can’t you? I’m folding laundry. Where is your father?”
“It’s too heavy. Please can you help.”
“Where is dad?”
“Ok. Give me a minute.”
He goes downstairs and starts pulling out a glass and the gallon, which was full. I enter the kitchen to see my husband cooking dinner.
“Have you been here the whole time?”
“Jack walked past you to ask me for a glass of milk, and to get it for him.”
To which Jack smiled and said, “I didn’t see dad.”
So this morning when only mom answers will do, I was reminded of this moment, when only mom pouring the milk will do.
I was sick 2 weekends ago. The kind of sick that you don’t move from bed for two days, binge watching whatever you are awake you see. While I was quarantined from my family, my husband purchased an addition to our family. We now have Alexa. I do not understand the necessity of having such a device. But he and my kids both think it is cool.
“Alexa, what is the news?”
“Alexa, what is the weather?”
“Alexa, play _______.” (Whichever music said person enjoys.)
My husband also says christmas is from after thanksgiving until it ends on January 2 when we put the lights away. I often turn on the outside lights in March just to mess with him. Now we have Alexa.
“Alexa, play christmas music.”
Hearing his exasperation when he walks in the room makes me laugh. I now see the necessity of such a device.
Today was a day.
An ordinary, extraordinary day.
A hang with my daughter day.
A volunteer in my community day.
A be excited about reading day.
A Wrinkle in Time day.
A perfectly ordinary, extraordinary day.
Earlier in the week I wrote about being on a journey. At the end of the month I will be testing for a Master’s Rank in Martial Arts. One aspect of this test is that our Grandmaster did not want to produce empty headed warriors. At Black Belt students are required to write 1,000 word essay and answer a 100 question test on history, terminology, etc. Within our studio, we have taken this requirement and broken it down into smaller steps so that all of our students have been working towards this goal (ie 50 words, then 75, then 100, etc for the essay and smaller tests in the beginning, gradually getting longer and more in-depth) But I have digressed from my point.
This essay that is required at black belt is also required at Master’s Rank. Only at Master’s Rank it is a 20,000 word essay. After much contemplation I have decided to write mine on an instructor’s box of tricks, a toolbox if you will. What does every good instructor need to know or be able to do in order to lead a class? What do we as teachers do really well to make sure that information is passed to our students? How do we go about teaching the next generation of leaders so that they may be better than us? Here are just a few of my thoughts:
- Know each child by name
- Always find the positive before you offer a correction
- Greet everyone with a smile, a hello at the door, etc.
- Body language is important
- Be kind on purpose
- Know your audience
- Have a plan B, and C, and D, and E
- Offer different ways to teach the same skill
- Have 3 reasons why you are teaching in a certain manner
- Use focus anchors to bring everyone back
- Have clear expectations
- Practice zero downtime. Even downtime has a purpose.
- Always look for professional development
I would love to hear your thoughts. My goal with this list is to then design skills and drills to enhance my students understanding of what each of these mean. They are our future leaders but they need to know how to be leaders. Too often we put people in positions of leadership who don’t understand how to lead, how to communicate, or how to pass on knowledge or ideas. My goal is to change this, one person at a time.