Flaw led parenting is very real. It is parenting lead by finding the “flaws” in your child and trying to fix them. And I have decided to stop doing it and advocating against it. I am very aware of my “flaws”, the ones in my character and the ones in my body, because the people around me and who love me the most have pointed them out to me over the course of my lifetime, repeatedly.
I used to believe that a parent’s role in life was to make their children better, in other words, fix them. Mold them into better versions of themselves, and that is what most people would call positive parenting. My six year old is blissfully unaware of her strangeness in this world. She thinks it is completely normal to wear goggles all day long for weeks just because she wants to (we even went grocery shopping once with her wearing them). She wanted to wear glasses so she asked for a fake pair of glasses and has been wearing them religiously for weeks. She lives in her own little bubble. She chews her fingernails when she is bored, nervous or tired. She knows how to manipulate us when she wants something. She is overwhelmed with sadness when bad things happen to her or to the people around her. She still refuses to go to sleep totally alone in her room. But on the other hand, she has other amazing qualities like boundless curiosity and amazing compassion. Things I did not teach her, perhaps she learned them from just copying some people around her or they are qualities she was born with. It is irrelevant.
She had a swimming lesson this morning and I was watching a little boy getting our of the water and practicing dives. The swim coaches are amazing and patient, exactly what little children need and thrive on. Suddenly the little boy’s mom (no older than 10) comes out of no where and start yelling at him for not standing correctly and tells him to improve his posture. She stood there for a couple of minutes giving him the “look”, I am sure all of you know it. As children we were all on the receiving end sometime or another and as parents we have delivered it. It says, you are unworthy, you are wrong. The little boy’s face had a totally different “look”, a look we all know too. A look of fear, shame, bewilderment, stress and a boatload of negative emotions. I have seen the look on my daughter’s face when I yelled before, but never had it been so clear to me how damaging it is. I also know the look, from my own face, when others put me down so aggressively. Ten minutes later a much younger little boy, around five, was crying his eyes out because he didn’t want to get into the pool, the mother gave him a hug, told him to take a deep breath and decide if he wanted to swim today. The coach talked to him for a couple of minutes and personally took him into the pool in the safety of her hug and gave him a few moments of one on one attention. The little boy suddenly took the water like a little fish.
I am not mom-shaming. On the contrary, I know we all stumble, mess up and make mistakes occasionally and the rest of the time we are caring, responsible and kind parents. Perhaps all we need is a little more compassion and empathy, towards ourselves and our children. There is no point in raising a miserable prodigy. A happy, balanced and well adjusted child that is kind and caring towards herself and the world is a treasure, no matter what she grows up to be. We are not kind to ourselves because we were never taught, we never saw our parents doing it. We mainly saw disappointment, anger or resentment.
Resentment is another huge issue. How many of us have heard the words “after all I have done for you” and wished the person saying them hadn’t done anything for you. Your children do not ask you to push yourself so hard that you end up angry at them, but they do ask to play with you, they ask to go to the park and ride a bike, they ask to spend time having fun, they ask for your help building living room forts. And when you give them what they ask for and what they really need, they are almost always grateful.
They are especially grateful when they see you practicing gratitude. When they hear you saying “thank you” to others sincerely. Believe me, they can tell the difference. Children will model themselves like their parents. Treat them with true kindness and empathy and they will mirror that and it will become part of their character. Use emotional blackmail on them, and they will throw it right back in your face.
I will no longer try to “fix” the flaws in my daughter, but I will be there for her to help her out. To explain things and to help her grow whichever way she chooses. She might be small and inexperienced, but that does not mean she is stupid or that she needs to be told who to be. It just means she needs support and help figuring herself and the world out. She needs a mother, a shoulder to cry on, a comrade, a conspirator, a partner in crime, a pretend fairy in pretend fairy wings, someone to carry her piggy back around the house, someone who trusts her enough to learn how to handle the sharp knives so she can make everyone lemonade.
Perhaps, my reasons for doing this are entirely selfish, and there is nothing wrong with putting yourself first. I know first hand what trying to fix your flaws does to a person. It doesn’t work, it just magnifies them. The best about parenting is that it is an opportunity to parent yourself all over again in the process of parenting a child. Make the most of it.
Today the 5yo had the Halloween parade at school. It is a simple affair, they dress up and walk around the playground once then go back to classes. The parents were invited too. I had a problem with two things today. Which is quite good because I usually have more issues than just two.
First was that the parents were asked not to cross the white lines that marked the area where the kids would be walking. They were also very clearly asked not to stop the parade to take pictures. And what did many parents do? They did the exact thing they were asked not to do. This bothers me for so many reasons (see, I told you I always have more issues) first is that it is unfair to the parents who did the right thing and stayed in the designated area. They too have kids whom they want to take pictures of to immortalize the moment, but they chose not to stop the parade. Second it sends out the wrong message to the kids, that rules are not real and that people who break the rules get what they want and that the people who do not break the rules get nothing. That just deeply irritates me. If you are a parent and you really NEED to take pictures then do it before school or after school, not during an event that everyone else is involved in.
The other thing was the gender gap in costume choices. Girls were dressed as fairies, princesses (Disney princesses mainly), a few witches and fewer black cats. There was a total of maybe 4 girls in super hero costumes. The boys were slightly more diverse superheros, pirates, explorers, monsters, animals, two Pharaohs, a Riddler, a Charlie Chaplin (which was my favorite costume because it was so detailed and different) and a Harry Potter. Almost all the costumes were store bought. I want to see a world where there are more girl superheros. And more kids who are willing to think out of the box. Who want to be more than what they are taught they can or should be. I hate the Disney princesses. Just think about it, why would I want my daughter to be Ariel, who gave up her voice (the voice is quite symbolic here)? or Snow White, or Rapunzel both of which had to wait to be rescued? Perhaps Merida is an exception, it is about her own personal bravery and the mother/daughter relationship. Why would I want my daughter to be a fairy? I might want my daughter to be a powerful good witch. Empowered, smart and can help herself.
There wasn’t a single girl wearing a lab coat. Not one single girls thinks that being a doctor would be a good idea. Think about that. I think there might have been about 70 girls. Give or take some. There was a Wonder Woman whom I thought was awesome. Even the girls who were wearing witch costumes were almost all identical.
My daughter wanted to be a bat, which evolved into bat girl. She wanted bat wings and tried to figure out a way to sleep upside down but couldn’t. She was totally fascinated by the fact that bats are blind and can still fly around and get around. The process of making the costume fascinated her. I asked her a couple of times if she wanted to go pick a costume or if she would like to look at ideas on pinterest and we could make it together, and she wanted me to make it. It took me a couple of weeks to get it all done. She helped with the process and spent a few days wearing parts of it.
Yes I understand that not a lot of parents have the time that I do, or the skills to sew a costume or craft one. But it isn’t rocket science and it doesn’t need to take more than a an hour or two. We can’t teach our kids that everything can be bought like that and devalue creativity and hands on work. It is taking away from their childhoods as well as their creativity. Children need to build forts out of blankets and cardboard boxes. They need to make their own masks using paper and crayons. Every.day. They need to paint and draw and make up silly languages. They need to experience this kind of creativity and curiosity. They need to embrace it. And parents need it too. Parents need to be silly and play pretend with their kids. If we don’t then we are telling them that they can not be who they are or what they want to be. We are packaging them in little generic labeled boxes for life.
That is just it. It might be dress up and it happens for most kids on a single day in the year but that is just wrong. Every child needs to own a crown and a superhero cape. The crown is for them to pretend to be kings and queens. Which is a great opportunity to talk about community and how decisions are made and why? It is about teaching compassion even when we are in power. It is a fantastic opportunity to open their minds and widen their horizons. The superhero cape is to make them believe they can be heroes. Most of the superheros in comics pop culture are just ordinary men and women who became extra ordinary.
And then there are the real heroes in life, the ones that are extra ordinary because of the hard work they put in. Every day. There was one little boy who was a soldier and another who was a fireman. These are great examples, of people who keep us safe who put themselves at risk to get their job done.
The costumes don’t need to be fancy, a cape can be made of an old towel and a crown can be made of newspaper. It is not about them being real, it is about them being tools for change, dialogue, imagination and tons of fun.
Finally, it also makes you question, who do our kids see as role models? Who do they want to be? What do they want to become? Are they being taught the right values? Are they seeing these values enough in real life so that they grow up believing in them?
Sometimes, I wish I could just go to a Halloween parade, push the other parents, take pictures of my daughter while standing where I shouldn’t be standing and then go home and forget all about it. It would be so much easier than all of this thinking.
Everyone knows that when there is a little person in the house they tend to get in mummy’s hair all the time. And I mean literally get in my hair. My daughter has no problem sitting on top of me all day long. She thinks it is hilarious. I came across the blog Confessions of a homeschooler a couple of days ago and I think it is absolutely genius. Mind you I think any one who decides to home school their children and can actually do it without killing themselves or the kids must be super human anyways.
I found this Alphabet Tracing Sheet there. I printed it on thick card stock and had it laminated and got a nice bright red whiteboard marker for it too.
And she loves it.
It is such a simple idea that keeps her entertained for a couple of minutes at a time ( 4 year olds have attention span issues ). I have read about busy bags before which are basically just bags or boxes filled with things to do, color, count or whatever; but after trying out this idea I think I need to put a couple of them together and keep one in the car and one at home and one in my handbag so there is always something fun for her to do when she gets bored.
4 years ago I became a mother to a little girl, whose name loosely translated would be Precious.
And she is precious, and messy and funny and noisy and talkative and has stinky feet ( well that’s what I tell her anyway)
4 year olds like birthday parties just as much as they look making a mess.
After last year’s Hello Kitty fiasco I decided not to make the favors, just the cupcakes. I did a bit of googling and found OrientalTrading and they have some really awesome party supplies. Every party needs a theme and I decided on Jungle Animals because I felt it was gender neutral and would appeal to both girls and boys. We had it at school because it is the most practical and the easiest option too.
This was my first frosting experience. It was really really messy but so much fun.
I got these really cute cupcake toppers and the kids loved them, there were different animals and each kid got to keep the topper.
And what is a birthday party without a goody bag?
Want to see what is in the goody bags?
Notepads with googly eyes
I also added a pencil. I had also ordered some finger puppets, but sadly they never got shipped, but the friendly people at Oriental Trading, just refunded the money, no questions asked. If I had more time to spare I would have asked for them to ship them anyway because they were the original inspiration for the whole theme. Overall it was a sweet thing. Simple and easy
Every night at bedtime I to tell my daughter to sleep because if she doesn’t get enough sleep she won’t be able to function at school. Makes sense right? It is also very logical that if I just let her sleep late and spend the next day at school feeling groggy and tired she will go to bed earlier without arguing too much.
But for some reason I don’t stop telling her that she needs to sleep early.
And it is not because I don’t think she is smart enough to figure it out on her own, because she can. I usually let her make her own mistakes so she can learn how to fix them or learn from them. Like how she spent a week with permanent marker make up on her face so she could learn the fact that markers are for paper and no drawing on your face. I am not really sure she learned that lesson because yesterday she painted her toe nails with her markers again.
But are human beings logical enough to learn from all of their mistakes?
I make that same mistake of not getting enough sleep nearly every day. Logic tells me I need to be in bed by 10 because I am up at 5 am. Yet I am consistently late to bed. I am not stupid, I am quite sure of that. But in my head I tell myself that an extra hour of work will do me good and I can function on one hour less of sleep, sadly I end up in bed by midnight and I don’t think 5 hours of sleep is enough, actually I am pretty sure it isn’t enough because I am cranky most days. It would make more sense for me to get more sleep and be more productive during less hours of the day.
This is why parenting is so hard. We mostly almost always know the right answers, but we don’t always do the right thing. We also know that children see, children do and that the best way to teach a child something is by example, but we can’t always lead them in the right direction so we nag incessantly.
Every little thing we do, is something they will see and learn. For example, generally when my daughter is cranky, I have noticed that 9 out of 10 times I am too and she is just mirroring my own cranky behavior right back at me. And no matter how many times I tell her to be nice when I am not being a nice person, it just doesn’t work.
So should I just give up on telling her the things she should be doing? Well, I thought about this one long and hard and my conclusion is no, I am going to keep telling her, because maybe just maybe I will actually listen to what I am telling her to do. What I am going to do different is try to do more of the right thing so I am also showing her what she should be doing. And who knows, maybe I will eventually follow my own advice and actually go to bed early tonight.
** Coincidentally today she turns four.
As a mother I try really hard to instill the right values in my daughter. It is an ongoing and conscious process that keeps evolving. One of those values I really want to instill in her is gratitude for all the blessing we have. If you have seen the movie or read the book Pollyanna you should be familiar with the Glad Game. Pollyanna would say why she were glad with the things she has even if it were not what she really wanted in the first place. Now this is a lovely game to teach to children, but since my little one is still too young to recognize things like that on her own we play a different game.
For the last couple of nights after lights out and story time we start saying الحمد الله (Thank God) for all the things we are grateful for. I start saying the things we did during the day and the things we have and the things we got. Silly things, big things just anything I think she should be grateful for. For example: Thank God for the wonderful day we had, thank God we have wonderful friends at the nursery, thank God Lulu is healthy, thank God Mummy loves Lulu and Lulu loves Mummy, and I keep going until she falls asleep.
Sometimes she just parrots what I saw and then sometimes she comes up with her own stuff like last night she said thank God for Kitty. Kitty is her favorite Hello Kitty doll who gets dragged around all day and does everything with her.
The exercise is also good for me, because it helps me unwind even when the day has been tough. I am reminded of all the wonderful blessings we have and that they are all gifts from God. They are not rights but favors which are not always permanent but plenty. I felt she had to learn to be thankful to the creator just as she is taught to say thank you to people around her.
What values do you try to instill in your children and how? I would love to get more ideas.
3 years ago, right about now, was born. It was a normal day, well not so normal. I woke up, woke my husband up and we were getting ready to go out for breakfast and then I was going to work. My back was killing me since the day before but I still wasn’t due in till another week. I called my doc and she said she would like to see me. To make a long story short, I went through all the labor pain and then went in for an emergency C section. Too much info right?
Well it is my blog, and I have decided to stop self censoring myself.
And suddenly I had a little baby girl. All the reading in the world does not prepare you for the actual moment when you find a child in your arms. And I am not going to go all sappy and tell you that children are the nicest thing since the age of dinosaurs, because well, before I had her, I disliked kids.
I still don’t enjoy the company of too many noisy kids at the same time. And yes she exhausts me sometimes but it is a lot like a roller coaster ride. You know you might throw up and you know you will be so scared you just might shit your pants, but it is still an exhilarating experience that most of us are willing to go through.
Sometimes she totally drives me insane when she just won’t behave. Like last night, she just flat out refused to go to bed. Sometimes all the talking is so exhausting. I feel like a broken record. Or when she decides to fall asleep at 6pm and wake up at 4 am in the morning. I think I haven’t had any decent sleep since she was born. Then there was the time she decided to smear my favorite body cream all over the duvet. Ah well, just another day in the life of a toddler’s mother.
Two days ago she came running and gave me a kiss and said ‘el boosa beta3tek gat’ your kiss just arrived. And that is why it is worth it.
And on your next birthday call your mom and say thank you to her.
She celebrated her birthday at her nursery (yay no clean up for me and lots of help too). It was a Hello Kitty themed party.
Curious? Click here.
Motherhood is really hard on the knees. You spend half of your time on your knees either praying for them or praying for patience. The rest of the time you are on your knees cleaning up the mess they make.
I am getting myself some padded knee pads.
I woke up this morning to the smell of chocolate pudding. At first I thought I was dreaming of chocolate goodness, then I realized I was actually covered in chocolate pudding. Lulu woke up, helped herself to a pot, opened it and decided to climb into bed with us. When I first got married, I thought the key in my new fridge was silly, now I know why you need to keep the fridge locked all the time. This isn’t the first time, a couple of months ago I forgot to lock it and woke up with strawberry milk in my hair. She thought it was hilarious both times.
Toddlers are full of mischief.
I adore finger puppets. I think they are the best thing since the microwave or maybe even before the microwave. Lulu and I made these yesterday. You can print them out from the Family Fun website. I cut them out and she held the cello-tape while we stuck them together. Then she ate the frog and the dear.
She has lots of other finger puppets, 10 sea creatures, 10 animals and 4 other animals my sister got her from South Africa. They’re all made out of fabric and felt. These paper ones are so easy and fast to make. All you need is a printer and some sticky tape or glue.
I am guessing a slightly older child would probably have more fun with them. I use them for story telling but she usually just takes them off my fingers and plays with them. She loves it when we make animal noises and theatrical sounds for the stories. Sometimes I think I enjoy playing with her more than she does.
Children actually enjoy playing with a parent more than watching TV according to Play Report an initiative backed by IKEA. Check it out, it is a really interesting study. It might even change the way you play with your kids.