Everlasting Memories Blog About Life, Loss and Everything In Between
Happy end of February, peepers! To say that it has been a long month in my world is an understatement. With things in a little bit of a disarray, I am forging full steam ahead into the month of March and the madness that it brings.
Madness? Like as in college basketball? She likes basketball? Since when?
No. I’m not talking basketball. I’m talking the March Madness that overtakes my house as my little gooses come trailing home for an extended break. Bringing with them tired faces, stressed out bodies from too many late nights. A plethora of last minute college visits. Healing from surgeries and sprains. Stresses that have taken over their bodies, leaving them limping home in need of a little respite from this journey called life. And what better place to get that recharge of batteries than home.
And laundry. Loads upon loads of laundry.
And demands. And ‘I needs’. And ‘I don’t want this for dinner’. And ‘where are the batteries’. Dishes left in the sink or in the living room. Piles and piles of clothes left in the bathroom and in hot spots around the house. My grocery bill will destroy our budget, there will be more eye rolls than thank you’s, I will hide the frustrations from my Rob because I don’t need to poke that bear, pour gasoline on the fire. We will be getting back into the swing of spring sports, rehabbing our injuries and celebrating a college decision. I will be expected to be ‘on’ 24/7 in order for them to shut down - to 'turn off' for a couple of weeks. There will be a complete and total disregard for my time, my schedule, my life for most of the month of March as their lives and their schedules and their time will become of paramount importance.
Raising kids is hard. Hardest job I’ve ever had in my entire life. Even harder in today’s social frenetic times then when we were kids and life was so incredibly simple. And my kids are far from perfect. Read above. They are inherently selfish, self-absorbed and place incredible importance on keeping their streaks alive. They swear (a lot), they insult each other, they have a significant intolerance for mediocrity. And they are kind. Compassionate. Loving. Loyal. Hard-working. Animal lovers. Devoted. And 9/10 times, they choose doing the right thing over doing the easy thing.
So this guide is a little tongue in cheek. I don’t have the answers, in fact - just ask my kids. They’ll be all too happy to tell you that I am the worst at Jeopardy. But I can tell you what we did do - right or wrong. For all the parents out there that get out of bed every day and simply pray that today is a good day, let me do a good job, that are trying their best to raise good kids - this one, my darlings…this one is for you.
10 Tips for Raising Good Kids
We are pretty old school, not what I would consider progressive. Not that there is anything wrong with either. But I would definitely say that we took a more old-fashioned approach to raising our kids. Here are probably my top 10 tips for getting the job done. Plus lots and lots of alcohol along the way.
1. Respect your elders.
My children were taught from a very young age that whether or not you liked the adult, you will respect them. They have years upon years of life experience on you and that in and of itself is worthy of your respect.
2. Treat everyone the same.
This became of greater impact when my children went away to boarding school. That private school environment is different from where they were coming from. That’s simply a fact. But people are people. And the grounds crew, the kitchen staff, the Headmaster, the professors and teachers - they all deserve equal respect. A title is nothing other than letters strung together and all of them put their pants on the same way in the morning. Don’t treat one any differently than the other.
3. Eye contact and hand shaking - become proficient at both.
I love to see this more than what they realize. There is nothing more respectful than rising up and shaking someone’s hand while looking them in the eye. Nothing more respect garnering than approaching someone and shaking their hand when you greet them.
4. Do unto others as you would have done to you.
Such an ancient idea but such solid advice. Treat others the way that you want to be treated. That does NOT mean that because you extend kindness that it will be extended back. But it does give you the satisfaction of knowing that you upheld your own values.
5. Be a man or woman of your word.
If you give your word to someone - you keep it. Period. Because once you lose that trust, become someone that people don’t believe, it takes three times as long to build that trust back.
6. The words I love you are special - use them appropriately.
Tell the people that you love that you love them. Don’t leave the house without saying I love you to your parents. Let your siblings know that you love them. They are not words that you say when you’ve been dating someone for 12 hours, 12 days, really even 12 weeks. The words are special and you should use them often and sparingly. Learn the difference.
7. You are the company that you keep.
Surround yourself with people that reflect what you want to be perceived as, that have qualities that you admire. And know that there is such a thing as ‘guilt by association’. The company that you keep is a reflection of you as a person - make sure that reflection is one that you want to see in the mirror every day.
8. If something feels wrong - it’s wrong.
Don’t second guess that feeling from your gut that is telling you ‘Hey Dopey - this might not be a great idea.’ Listen to it and adjust your actions accordingly because rarely is your gut instinct wrong.
9. You are not the most important person in the room.
Do not ever conduct yourself as if you are the most important person in the room. You’re not. Most of the people in the room don’t care. Because they are too busy thinking they are the most important person. Get over yourself. You may be special to mom and dad but to the rest of the word, you’re just another some body. And that’s perfectly fine.
10. Be humble always.
Good things that happen in your life are a gift. Maybe a gift of hard work and effort. Maybe a gift that fell into your lap at the right place and the right time. Whatever good fortune, great success, accolades come your way - conduct yourself with some grace and humility always.
Do’s and Don’ts
As I mentioned, there are some things we did right and some things we did not so right. And really parenthood is not so much about the things we did right but more so about what we learned from the not-so-right. We didn’t follow these to a T but I can promise you that we tried.
Do be accountable.
If I could stress any one ‘do’ for parents - this would be it. Accountability is key. Countless times my children have had to be accountable for their actions with Rob and I knowing that the outcome for them was going to be shaming. Embarrassing for Rob and I. But they don’t get anywhere in life if we cover for them, fail to make them accountable for their actions.
Don’t hide behind your screen.
We have told our kids from day one - you don’t write, snap, tweet, etc. anything that you aren’t willing to say to someone’s face. Period. Because if you do and you’re called to the carpet on it - you will be owning it. And, as most kids do, none of them listened. And at some point in time, they all were called to the carpet on something sent in a chat, a text, etc. And all it took was that one time. You can’t be a hero by being a coward behind your screen.
People mess up. You mess up. Friends make mistakes. Parents make mistakes. Sometimes you’re wrongfully accused, treated in a way that isn’t fair, overlooked. Forgive where you can. There is no great guidebook for this journey of life and if the offense is forgivable - then do so and move forward. Because trust me, my little goosey, there are things others are forgiving you for.
Don’t play the blame game.
Own it. Don’t blame others for your misfortune whether or not they were responsible. Accept circumstances for what they are and don’t place blame and make others the fall guy. A bad call from the ref. Oh well. A teacher that maybe doesn’t care for your style of writing. Stinks but what can you do. A friend that dared you to take the drink or else. Happens. Blaming doesn’t solve the problem.
Do invest in yourself.
You are your greatest asset. You want a coach to notice you that isn’t noticing you? Work harder and give them no choice. You want to be seen as a captain? Show leadership off the court as well as on. You want the starring role? Rehearse the lines an hour longer each night. Take the time to invest in yourself to get what you want out of your life - because no one else will care as much as you do.
Don’t look at failure as something negative.
There is nothing that leads more people to being great than failure. You don’t learn from being number one day after day. You learn when your body is weary, when you got the C instead of the A, when you are passed over for the promotion…and you choose to drag your sorry carcass to the gym another day. When you get tutoring after school. When you take on the work that no one else wants to do. The success is not in the achievement - the success is in the 10,000 times you got back up to try again.
Do give back.
Give back every chance you can. Help a friend, a community. Extend a hand, a meal, a smile. The world is cold and harsh and there are people that are going through things, living a life that you couldn’t even fathom. Give back to others whenever possible and do so expecting nothing in return.
Don’t talk about yourself.
Honestly - most people don’t care. They have their own achievements and successes they want to talk about and most don’t want to hear about yours. If you’re asked, then fine. Go ahead and contribute to the conversation with some humility. But otherwise go about living your life to the best of your ability achieving great things quietly and without need of fanfare. Because that is how you were raised.
Great Gooses - My Farm
This past Christmas we knew my dad was dying. We didn’t know how long he had - the doctor’s thought months when in actuality he had 16 days. Christmas gifts for him were returned for obvious reasons. Instead, we wrote him letters. My brother and his family and Rob and I and our children. My brother presented them to my dad on Christmas Eve and on Christmas day, my dad read them one at a time, passing them to my mom to read after, crying through each and every one of them. Said he’d never felt so loved in all his life.
In Rob’s letter to my dad, his father-in-law, he wrote the following…
“As our kids grow older and move on to the next chapter of their lives, Hallie and I talk and wonder if we have done right by them. Did we show them enough love? Teach them to be strong and self-sufficient? Men and women of honor and integrity? The hard part is the not knowing. I think that each day you do the best you can and hope that in the end, all the little things add up to valuable lessons. I want you to know that you don’t have to wonder or say, “Did I do a good job?” You did it right. You have raised loving, honest children and allowed them to mature into great people. Quality people. You can look in the mirror and think, “I did a good job. I raised great kids.” This is really the best any of us can hope for. To pass on our lessons, hard learned that they have been, to the next generation. Well done, my friend. Well done.”
Let that marinate. Resonate.
Kids are going to mess up. Make mistakes. Shame themselves. Embarrass their parents. Make us so proud. Be epic failures and great successes. Make us wonder how we went wrong and then humble us, making us shake our heads and wonder how we got it so right.
I don’t have the answers. And this ‘guide’ - yeah, it’s a little old fashioned and not very modern or forward thinking. A little hard. I acknowledge that readily and with open arms.
My Lex is on the verge of turning 20 in a couple of months and has been told that come May 1, 2019 her bills are her own. Car insurance. Student loan payment. Cell phone. She will be working two to three jobs this summer, hustling in order to not only earn enough money to pay her bills for the year but to also be able to take a car back to school with her, afford it and have spending money. Let’s just say that she is less than thrilled and I’m probably in for a long summer. But that’s called adulting and we are doing her no favors by footing the bill. And she is going to soar.
And my CJ - he sacrificed four years of having a social life and immersed himself in the grind. Was told 'no', 'you’re not good enough' for most of his life. Failure could be his middle name. So he worked harder. The grind became his closest friend. Strength training. Speed and agility training. Tutoring. Shoveling in calories like it was a job to gain weight. Has a 4.0 GPA, is a two sport varsity captain and is being recruited to play football in college. The kid can send me over the edge faster than anyone I know, make my head want to explode with frustration. And he is going to do great things.
My little gooser, Jackson, he’s coming into his own. A small fish in a big pond, he chose to charter a course all on his own, making new footprints, being introduced to the grind. To failing. That academics matter as much as athletics and that he has some work to do - in the classroom and on the field. And he’s hungry. And it is going to change him and I just pray it changes him not too much, knowing that it is going to change him completely. This next year is going to present the biggest challenges he’s faced yet and he will face it head on, smiling, making a positive impact on everyone around him. Because that’s what Jackson does.
They are far from perfect. Like Shrek Far Far Away Land not perfect. But they are great kids with good values. Loyal friends. Leaders. Contributors. Men and women of honor. Quality people.
As parents we do the best we can to raise good kids. And with today’s societal pressures I think that we lose track of the basics. Respect. Integrity. Accountability. Kindness. Humility. And maybe by making sure that we are reflecting those same qualities to our children, they will become the company that they keep, chartering their courses to do great things, becoming great people.
And Tito’s. Lots of Tito’s helps too.
Cheers to March Madness. See you on the flip side, peepers!