parenting, writing

Repeat After Me: It’s Not About You. Good. Just Do That 1000000 More Times

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One of my kids didn’t get something they really wanted. They worked super hard for it but no, they still didn’t get it. It stung. Not just for them, but for me. Of course, since it wasn’t about me, I didn’t have the luxury of acting irritated or devastated or outraged. I just go to shake my head, say “Oh, I’m so sorry” and listen.

(I could have gone Operation Varsity Blues on their butt, but I had already blogged about how I’m so much better than that. I can’t be a hypocrite now, can I?)

The good news in the above paragraph, at least regarding my own experience, is that I’ve grown so much. Even a year ago I’d have been aghast at the results, dramatically trying to pump the kid full of encouragement and wisdom that, in the end, would have done nothing to ease the teen’s pain and instead only serve my own wounded pride at the rejection which, as I type this, makes no sense. My child is not me. It’s natural to feel bummed out for my kid. It’s quite another to personalize it. After all, in doing so, I’m not giving my kid time to grieve for themselves. Maybe they’ll be over it in a day. Maybe not for a month. At the time my kid found out about the results, I had no idea what they would need. But one thing they didn’t need was their hypersensitive mother swooping in on their grief, creating confusion. (A year ago it might have ended with my kid comforting me.)

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(um, sorry, I did.)

The issue with this reaction would have had the effect of having my kid feel less safe to tell me what is going on in their lives for fear of eliciting a nutty response.

sss.

Maybe you don’t suffer with this kind of attachment to your child’s outcomes.

Maybe you are the kind of parent that can easily let go.

I DO let go. Oon the outside.

But on the inside, it still hurts. It speaks to old wounds in me. It tugs at the child who was never picked for the lead in the play or for the sports team.

But… and this is the big takeaway: It’s NEVER my child’s job to suffer my hurts.

And in the case of my kid, they were over it the next morning. (This mama might take a few more weeks to process it… but I acknowledge that… and am calling the fact that I was able to sit with my kid for a good hour and help THEM process it a big win.)

Now if I can just get through the next week of work, burying a family member, signing up both kids for college courses, get my printer to work and put away two weeks worth of laundry we’ll be golden.

Not that it’s your issue ever, dear reader, to worry about this crazed blogger’s dumb schedule. But a prayer? That wouldn’t hurt. And Tuskany, you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be swinging by your place again this week. You saved me last Wednesday.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #29: It can be hard to let your kid feel disappointment, but let them feel it anyway. Just listen and don’t make it about you. (Oh, that last part. It’s not easy. We all have our hurts, don’t we? Oh, you are perfectly balanced? #LuckyYouIDon’tBelieveYou)

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education, faith, parenting, Uncategorized

College Admissions: Some Parents’ Guilty Pleasure

Most of you have probably heard about the bribery to college admissions that’s got people like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin facing prison time. I’m already waiting for the Shameless and Fuller House Memes to surface.

Oh wait, here’s one!

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On one hand, my stomach dropped when I heard the news. It’s so unfair to the kids who really do work their butts off to get into these top schools.

On the other hand, I don’t really care. I’m one of those moms who doesn’t buy into the whole college application freak out thing. The truth: My son is a Sophomore and we have not researched one school (though we said we would). I don’t know how or where he’ll take an SAT and I’m not overly worried about him getting a coach for it. We’ll start researching in a few months, look at JC’s and go from there. I have enough faith in my kid to know he’ll land somewhere! (Mom brag: He went from not amazing grades last year to straight A’s, 1 B+ and he’s taking Japanese this summer. This GPA did not happen with me bugging him. I literally have zero idea what he’s learning in school. The hard work was last year when, after letting him fail, I made him meet with me every day at 4PM to go over his organization. I knew it would be a pain for me, but it would ultimately put him in the driver’s seat. These same tools are what will get him on the road to college one way or another.) So, back to that:

Why Don’t I Care About College – And a Caveat

I want my kids to do the best they can with their lives. But I’ve seen enough A-Personality neurotic kids to know that if a kid doesn’t learn to appreciate the success of who they are, no school is going to make a difference. They will just get there, not be happy, and anxiously climb up to the next thing. And then they’ll graduate and anxiously work toward a job, and then a promotion, and then a mate, and kids, all the while not really knowing why they are striving so hard.

No, that’s not what life is about. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I believe the best thing I can do is guide them toward their path and let them be self-confident people who are content with what is, not what is not.

Don’t You Care At All, Andrea?

Of course I care. Ask Tuskany. I stress about my decision to let go. But in the end, I will always choose to let go. I do so, sometimes with fists clenched onto the last bit of rope, because I’m raising them to be adults that make their own decisions, not little puppets I write checks for to look good for the world. (Look where that landed the culprits in this latest scandal?)

I feel so strongly about this topic because I was that go get ’em kid. I got the straight A’s. The college. The TV job. The house. The marriage. The kids. My outsides were great. But inside I was a wreck. It wasn’t until I broke down the construct of what I thought I needed to be happy that I was able to be, truly, happy.

Tonight I’m going to go downstairs and eat some soup. I’m going to remind my son to get off the video games. I’m going to compliment my daughter for all the auditions she went on. She’ll tell me about the groups she landed, the ones she did not. And then we’ll go to bed. Life these days is busy busy busy… but it’s simple. It comes down to, “Are who you are in your soul enough?” When the answer is yes – and it always is – there isn’t a thing to worry about.

Zero fucks given. It’s a model for livin’.

(Hey, I think I just wrote a country song! Maybe I can make a million dollars and bribe Harvard to take my kids!)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #25: When we teach our kids that who they are is more important than where they go to college, we are giving them the best education they can get: To be learn to be happy with what they have, not what they do not.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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parenting, writing

The Best Advice I Forget to Take

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I am lucky that I am really close to my teenagers. Part of it is that we are huge people, so we are literally close.  (I’m not kidding. Stink is on his way to being 7 feet. We live in a 1950’s starter with low ceilings. We might have to move in a few years. To a yurt. Or a circus tent.)

The thing is that I’ve learned one powerful tool over the past few years. I mentioned it a while back, but it’s such a bootie saver that I’m repeating it. It goes like this:

#1 Parenting Tool to Save Your Relationship (And head from spinning off its axis like Linda Blair after smelling too much High School Axe)

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“Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?”

Then just follow their lead.

Even if you are dying to say something.

Even if you have to super glue your mouth. And then cover that with tape. And cut off your tongue. (Don’t do that last part. You’d never get to enjoy coffee again. That would suck.)

I am telling you, this parental response is like crack for an addict. It just calms everything down.

Still not sure? Think about it: When you’re upset, do you want someone just spouting off their opinion? No, you don’t. If they did, you’d want to punch them in the throat.

Or wash down a Chipolte plate with a large Diet Coke and silently resent them (and hate yourself for being such a wussy).

No, asking before breaking and entering a teenager’s vulnerable emotions is the best course. Every. Single. Time.

Which is why tonight I am typing this a bit defeated. Because not only do I not like listening to other people’s unwelcomed advice, I don’t even take my own.

Come to think about it, you’re not asking for my opinion either, readers! But you’re reading, so I will, unlike how I ever want a date to end with my teenagers, assume consent is implied. (Thanks to Tuskany’s lightning speed text “Is everything okay?” I will clarify the consent reference. It’s from watching One Day at a Time. Such a remarkable series that covers so many issues our teens face – sexual consent notwithstanding. My kids are fine… they are not into dating yet. Thank God.)

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Oh, man, being a parent is hard sometimes. Why couldn’t I just be a crystal gem, like my kids’ favorite show of late, and fight virtual demons while morphing with other dysfunctional beings to create life?

Actually, I think that last part is how I ended up with my kids in the first place.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #19:  When your teen is upset, try asking “Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?” It’s a game changer and keeps you a safe space for future conversation.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education, parenting

This is the Greatest Show! (Of Anger and Resentment. Send in the Clowns, Baby!)

I thought I hit “publish” on this post yesterday. But after a less than stellar day dealing with a new job, a family death, being low on gas, being a speaker at a meeting with my husband and the realization that “Yes, I CAN do it all, just not all at once” I goofed up. Please enjoy a post where I out myself on being a less than perfect parent. #progressnotperfection.

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Yesterday…

Today I totally overreacted with one of my kids over something I had asked them to do the night before. (Not once, not twice, three times.)

My requests often feel like a stack of dishes on my counter. No matter how high they grow, they are not often met with “Let’s bolt out of our chairs and get right to that, Mom!”

But I had already danced the dance of “Am I nagging if I ask a fourth time? / When will they learn to be independent if I bug bug bug?” so I dropped it. Well, not quite. I also texted from work.

Crickets.

And the request still wasn’t done. I was irked when I finally saw my child and really raised my voice, throwing in a few examples of other things said child doesn’t do in a timely manner.

And then I huffed into the living room. And shock of all shock, my self indignation did NOT make me feel better.

After a bit I remembered that just a few hours earlier the dean had called my classroom regarding two kids who had escaped from my room and were found pounding on bathroom doors.

Um, is it possible I dumped on my kid because I felt dumped on?

Ding ding ding!

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Why do I always go back to the same well? I guess I need to keep getting hit with the same lesson until I change. It’s not unlike what I’m teaching being taught at school with my art students. Just like the classroom kids, I have every right to give my teen a consequence for not following up. But getting angry and surly? It does nothing.

What’s it about, Andrea?

It’s all about ME setting expectations, letting go and knowing that some things are just what they are – age appropriate defiance/immaturity/distraction. Doesn’t matter. It only matters how I perceive and react to it.

Bottom line: ITS ALL ABOUT ME! (Hey, I normally like that last part. Just not in these cases. You know… the ones where I need to give God my character defects and be willing to change to avoid pain.)

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Ten minutes later I had prayed, gotten quiet, saw my part and was ready to start fresh. This meant going back into the kitchen and apologizing for my outburst.

Which I did!

Only to be met with a slow, direct stare and be told, “Please come back in 20 minutes. I need time to decompress from my grrrr’.”

I wanted to pop the kid. But at the same time, this particular knows who themself, and said self means not deigning to dive my instant gratification/push push push/apology well of crazy. I had no choice but to respect it or head on over to the big clown tent for another show.

Now if I only I can learn this same lesson before my emotional explosions instead of afterwards. Constantly buying circus tickets is expensive.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #16: When I try to fix or criticize other people, there is always something disturbed in me. And that gets me mad. Because that means there is no one to blame but myself. #Stupid truth.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

books