Posted in connections, ebb & flow, mental health, mindset, parenting

The kid way to process life

Kids work through stress and unfamiliar situations through play. (This is why play therapy is very effective with littles.)

The last play date we had (two weeks ago?), the kids were playing “corona zombies.”

Since play dates have ended, The Kid was playing a robber/spy game by himself where he had to steal and avoid a virus. (I don’t know how to do both simultaneously, but it’s his game. Not my place to “fix” it.)

He jumps on the trampoline A LOT (thank goodness that became part of the family before all this started!). The Climbing Daddy has a spiky ball for rolling underfoot. (Intentionally. Ideally while seated.) The Kid puts it on the trampoline and tries to bounce it off. It’s the virus (because they look similar) and he’s trying to get rid of it.

This is normal. This is healthy. This is how kids process stuff.

This is also informative.

If you’re seeing and hearing stuff like this come up in play, let them play it out. Of course you can have a conversation about it, but please don’t stifle the play.

(Likewise, if you hear them playing out other real-life-ish scenarios that raise red flags, be gentle, but have a conversation.)

As far as life without playdates?

He’s been using Marco Polo* to talk to friends and has had a few virtual playdates via FaceTime. I got tipped off that Battleship and Guess Who can both be played via video chat without adaptation, and they’ve enjoyed playing.

*I didn’t know much about this app until a week or two ago, but it’s been a lot of fun, for me and the kids.

We’ve made drawing and typing and foreign language learning part of our daily routine. He needs some structure and routine, and I don’t want all schoolwork. These are things he’s enjoying (so far) and are good for him and he doesn’t do in school.

Finally, one of my principals shared this with us.

choose connection

 

Deep breath. You can do this.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, mindset

Camping and quitting

Half a year ago, we made plans to go camping in Joshua Tree National Park over spring break. Plans rounded out with two other families in three sites side-by-side.

The Climbing Daddy, The Kid, and I have camped at Jumbo Rocks campground before, and the site we happened to be in had some great scrambling immediately behind us. So we reserved that one and one to either side (56, 57, 58, if you’re wanting to check it out).

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We learned last week that rain was in the forecast, but we had the sites already reserved and figured if rain actually happened—we are desert-dwellers—we’d make the best of it.

We set up shop on Sunday, explored a little, ate dinner, enjoyed being with fun people in a beautiful place.

Monday morning we had a slow breakfast and clouds slowly rolled in. Not ominous, but not inspiring hope.

We took a hike, climbed on some rocks, found a nice spot to site and have lunch, explored some more. Kids had a great time.

Back at camp, the rangers came by and let us know it was expected to start raining around 11 that night.

A couple of the guys went into town for forgotten items and said that in their travels, they felt the air change, saw the clouds become ominous, agreed that we weren’t getting out of this dry.

We had dinner and decided we were going to pack into the cars everything that we didn’t specifically need to sleep.

On a short tangent, meals with three families, when we didn’t coordinate ahead of time, were so much fun. We all shared everything and ended up with a hodgepodge of tastiness that we wouldn’t have had on our own. Yum!

Back to the story.

We also realized that at least two of us had never had our tents in the rain and didn’t know if our rain flies were useful.

Finally, I thought … this is dumb. Why are we packing up everything except tents and sleeping bags in hopes that we’re not up at 2 a.m. wet from the rain? And without anywhere to cook (if it were still to be raining the next day)? Let’s just go into town and stay at a hotel.

Part of me felt stupid for suggesting this plan. Was I just being “soft” because I’m not a die-hard camper? Or because the first night had been unexpectedly cold?

The other part of me knew that my plan was grounded in reasonable real-life. We weren’t trapped in the wilderness—we were on a spring break trip to a national park with three kids under 10 and one barely older.

After many small conversations, adults in attendance agreed this was a good plan. We left the tents (to see if they could take the rain) and went into town.

One of the littles fell asleep on the way. Two others played chess until they fell asleep. The older played on his iPad for a while.

Adults drank beer and played Cards Against Humanity.

We were all warm and dry.

And it rained. Not at 11, but the next morning, the ground was soaked and puddles were abundant. In our tent? Puddles.

Whether the decision was solid going into it, it was retroactively justified.

I was reminded of something I’ve known for a long time and still forget from time to time — it’s not always bad to quit.

Posted in ebb & flow, know better do better, mindset, motivation, vulnerability

Awkwardness of growing up

Adults often reference the awkwardness of growing up, of adolescence.

And sure, that’s a weird time in life because so much is new and we have no choice but to muscle through the weirdness, surrounded by other people who are in a similar position, led often by people who are condescending and dismissive.

We have to take risks and grow because we have no other choice. Those paths don’t all look the same, of course; regardless, we’re all doing it to some extent.

The problem is that once we find relatively stable ground, many of us stay at that point where we don’t have to risk any more—or feel like we don’t have to risk any more—and we stagnate.

There will be awkwardness any time we’re in a state of learning something new. It might be a new athletic endeavor, a new artistic path, a new intellectual project, a new interpersonal risk, a new intrapersonal journey.

They’re all awkward and uncomfortable and we feel kind of lost and suck at them when we start.

Start anyway. (Or start because!)

Be brave enough to suck at something new.

 

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, meandering, mindset

Do it again, a little bit better … ad infinitum

My brain likes to edit.

I’m not one to jump in to lead a project without knowing a lot about it. I like to get the lay of the land, see what I can see, try to understand how it works and how the people within it work.

Once I know stuff and have asked some questions and am comfortable, look out.

I don’t teach things the same way twice. Always minor editing. Sometimes complete overhaul. “How can I do this better?” “These two kids still don’t get it—where is their ah-ha moment hiding?”

Of course, that also means that I’m also always seeing ways that the house could be better. Or the yard. Or a blog post. Or this system. Or that procedure. And on and on.

Efficiency!

I want procedures to be efficient. I want to maximize space (not jamming as much as possible into a space—just using it well). I want to maximize time. I want to get the most bang for the buck, which often doesn’t mean the cheapest answer short-term.

This also gets me stuck sometimes, overthinking options.

Sometimes it leads to discontent. Sometimes that discontent leads to growth.

Talking through ideas, though, it always sounds like discontent, when really, it’s just how my brain works.

“Y’know, if this wall was two feet that way…”

I don’t really want to move the wall two feet that way. It’s completely impractical. Gut the whole interior and start over? Hmmmm…

(Fortunately, I am also lazy in some ways, so if I see a re-do but it’s going to be a lot of work, I’m not always inclined to jump up and get it done.)

I do wonder occasionally … if I were to design a house from the bottom up and could do it any way I wanted—no restrictions—how long would it take before I wanted to edit it? Probably at a shift in life circumstances, when the space would obviously be used differently. But before that?

Anyway. I tried some new activities this week with my kids at school. Trying to get them to learn some things that they haven’t been clicking with. Some of it worked, some of it we’re not done yet—to early to call it.

To that end, my editing brain is all good.

I know there are households that fight this fight with regards to how the dishwasher is loaded. Or maybe how the laundry is folded. Are those arguments “correct versus incorrect” or “more versus less efficient”? (I have some opinions about how dishes get loaded in the dishwasher, but it’s because they’re easiest to get in and out that way. And I rarely mention these opinions, but I do sometimes move dishes around after they were otherwise loaded…)

P.S. I need to add here, before The Climbing Daddy chimes in, that I’m not 100% practical 100% of the time. There are certainly pockets of life where “bang for the buck” is not my highest priority. And some areas where the most efficient isn’t the least taxing, and I go with the latter. However, all of the above is true more often than it’s not.

P.P.S. On a tangent from the dishwashers … I saw one the other day that has an extra little tray at the top for serving utensils. It blew my mind and created discontent with my current dishwasher. Not that I’m going to go replace it, but when the time comes…

Are you a reviser? Or do you find “good enough” and stick with it? Or something else? I’m always curious how other people’s brains work…

Posted in connections, ebb & flow, know better do better, mental health, mindset, socializing, vulnerability

Your contribution to collective emotional pollution

“You choose what you put out into the world.”

I don’t remember where this crossed my path recently, but it was timely.

It ties in to an earlier post about negative people—from a first-person perspective.

My output of complaining goes in cycles. When I notice it’s increasing, I make an effort to cut it back. It makes my life better, and it makes better the impact I have on the people around me.

(There’s a difference between complaining and talking about something negative that’s happening.)

Soon after seeing the sentiment, I was posting on Facebook. I had been driving The Kid to school, followed by getting myself to work, and the way drivers in front of me interacted with traffic lights was not enhancing my morning commute.

I know there are people who would have joined me in my rant about these drivers.

I chose to post a light and lovely story about The Kid instead, which still got interaction—from many of the same people—but of a different variety. And we were all a little smiley-er for a moment.

(Caveat: there’s a lot of bad stuff happening in our world, in our communities, maybe in our families or homes that we need to speak out about. We can’t pretend these things don’t exist. I’m not at all suggesting that we whitewash all that and just share rainbows and unicorns. Again: there’s a difference between complaining and talking about something negative that’s happening. I could argue that staying silent in the face of injustice—whatever the scale—is allowing said injustice to be put into the world.)

If making the world better by contributing to it in a positive way is insufficient motivation for you, there’s some truth to “you get what you give.” Not in a tit-for-tat kind of way, but I can attest that seasons in my life when I have been friendlier, more attentive, less negative, etc. to and around the people in my circle of influence, in general, I have been met in kind. And it has been easier for me to let go of those who did not treat me in kind. (Certainly, exceptions exist. There are people whose insecurities don’t allow them to be kind, regardless how they are treated.) Saying, “I’m going to be nice to people just so that people are nice to me” might leave a smear of “ulterior motive” in your intentions and knock things out of whack.

Or, we could just boil it down to: reputations are hard to change. Build a good one.

You choose what you put out into the world.