Four Awesome Things I Learned From My Kids

Like any parent, I think my kids are pretty awesome. But sometimes their awesomeness just blows my mind. And it's even more awesome when they don't realize that they are being awesome.

I like to think that I work really hard to be a good person, but I'm still a work in progress even at the tender age of 41 (did I just say that out loud?) I still judge when I shouldn't, say things I wish I could take back, and let my fears stymie me from reaching my dreams.

That's why I love being around children so much. I am constantly amazed at what we can learn from kids. Kids who are not yet jaded at the world; kids who see things so clearly; kids who have a pure heart.

So, I thought I would share some life-lessons my kids have taught me the past few years. I would like to take credit for these, but let's be honest, kids are just good....usually until we mess them up, so I'm pretty sure it's just their innate awesomeness shining through:

They see peopleKids see people, and I'm not talking about the creepy way that Haley Joel Osment did in The Sixth Sense, but they just see people. My daughter's teacher recently went out on an early maternity leave. When I asked her to tell me about her new teacher, she excitedly said: "I really like her! She is nice and smiles a lot. She has four kids and she used to teach them at home herself. And she's pretty." I couldn't wait to meet her, so I was excited when her grade had an open house later that week. I was pleased to see that her teacher was all those things my daughter said, and very qualified, but I also was surprised when I learned my daughter's teacher was African-American.

Now, her color doesn't make a difference in the world to me, but I was thrilled to see that it didn't cross my daughter's mind to mention it, particularly because unfortunately I wouldn't call her school diverse. I was ashamed to even think that she should have told me about her race in the first place. She sees people as nice or tall or pretty -- who they are. And as she should.

One of my other daughters switched seats in her classroom awhile back. On the car ride home from school that day, she told me all about the new boy she sat next to in class. He was hilarious, loved Sponge Bob, wore glasses and played mine craft. A few weeks later she told me about a game she played with her friend and his Aide.  I didn't want to make a big deal about the fact that her new friend had an Aide by asking questions, but that very day her teacher sent a note home telling me what a great job she was doing sitting next to this child who apparently had Autism. The mother of the boy had contacted the teacher about how her son actually was talking about school for the first time, and mainly about my daughter. She was wondering if my daughter could sit next to him for the remainder of the year, but she didn't want to limit her socially or seem pushy.

My daughter in one swift move did what so many adults just can't (or won't) do. She RE-labeled a child. In her mind, it is her hilarious friend, not her Autistic friend. And yes, I said absolutely that she could continue to sit by this young boy, for what mom would want to separate their child from a friend.

No fear. For as long as I remember, I get embarrassed when I do something new. I hate looking stupid, and no matter how much I convince myself that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, I still let it get to me. And I know that I have missed opportunities because I felt like I didn't know how to do something (and didn't want to admit that I didn't know.) That's why when I recently signed my daughter up mid-season for a tumbling class, I tried to reassure her before she went. At eight, she still can't do a cart-wheel, but so desperately wants to participate with her friends as they tumble across the playground. I tried to remind her that the other girls in her group had been taking tumbling since September so she wouldn't feel bad that she was behind, but I'm not sure why I bothered saying a word.

"I just want to get my cart-wheel, Mom," said the sage 8-year-old. And she went into the class where the other kids were flipping all around her and did just that. Well, she did just that after four classes and falling about 408 times. But she never once got embarrassed, and the whole class cheered when she finally did it right. She clearly did not get that from me.

Lesson learned: I really need to get a grip and let go of my inhibitions. I've made a resolution to try some new things this year, and I'm taking her along to make sure I see it through. And I will no longer try to save her from any embarrassment. She is completely comfortable with who she is, and I'm not going to try to protect her from learning anything new. That clearly is my issue, not hers.

Don't sweat the small stuff. Last year, for the first time, someone was picking on one of my children. A classmate gave my daughter an F minus in an indoor recess art competition, constantly bossed her around, and pointed out to the class when she did something wrong. I wouldn't call it bullying per se, but she just wouldn't leave her alone -- so much so that the teacher recommended separating the girls into different classes the following year.

I for one was traumatized. How could someone be so mean to my baby?!? I wanted to call the other mom up and give her a piece of my mind (and I will not share the not-so-compassionate thoughts I had about the other child.) But when I talked to her teacher, she explained that my daughter was just avoiding her and seemed fine. And more importantly, when I talked to my little girl, she said: "Yeah, sometimes she's mean to me, but sometimes I like her. I just play with her when she's nice or I just ignore her."

Huh. How about that. No drama, no crying to me about her being mean to her, just ignore her. Thankfully I didn't let my rage get the best of me and make what was a small deal to my daughter an unnecessary big deal. And since that time, I have tried to heed my daughter's advice. Someone not so nice at the PTA meeting, I don't engage, I just ignore her. Someone posting negative comments on Facebook, I just hide them. But when they are nice to me, I return the niceness. Because I'm not going to let anyone mess with my Karma.

Every day is the "best day ever!" I love this about my kids. A trip to Costco where they get cheesecake samples can be the best day ever. Or, a random playdate with our neighbors can be.  Or a day at Disney World. Or a regular day when I make ice cream sundaes.

Seeing the good in any day is something I have been really working on the past few years. Gratitude as an attitude is my philosophy, but it's my kids that remind me to appreciate the little as well as the great things in our lives. And when you wake up in the morning with the thought that this could be the best day ever, well, that's just pretty darn awesome.

What have you learned from your awesome kids?

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Tags: autism, awesome, kids, mom, parenting

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