Monday, October 25, 2010

For What It Is Worth

For what it is worth, I think I was offered a job today. At least I came home thinking that I had been offered a job. Later, the job offerer came to my door and gave me her business card and said that she couldn't print the job responsibilities, but she would email me.

The moments tick by. . . .

Still no email.

For what it is worth, I reached my hand of forgiveness out today to someone who, I think, needs to feel that everything is going to be okay - in spite of the fact that they have wronged me. Hey! I can be forgiving. It was only money. It was only something that I was looking forward to. It was only something that I had saved for. It was only something that, in my imagination, was going to complete an invented process that was going to make enough money for me to retire on easy street.

Now, it is also turned into a rescue. Now I will feel even worse if I file for resolution through PayPal. Now the thirty some-odd dollars I get back from PayPal will haunt me as I conjure up images of the seller huddling in the corner of her dirty little hovel sobbing.

For what it is worth, I have suffered more today from ocular migraines that in the past 6 months all combined. I have had at least 4 episodes, but am better now. No episodes since about 2p.

For what it is worth, I still have a car full of boxes filled with fragments of my life waiting to be cleaned and priced for a yard sale this approaching weekend. Could that be another emotional trap? Are their things lurking inside those boxes that will create a firestorm of uncontrolled blubbering? Surely not.

Friday, September 10, 2010

From Whence We Came

As I become more experienced in life, I find myself looking to the past as a way to understand the future. I won't pretend to completely understand the economics of past, but I will try to offer some of it's surviving arts to help enhance the living standard for the future.

Having never before lived in such financially challenged times, and having never fully understood the challenges it takes to feed hungry mouths before, my initial glance back is to the survival skills that helped my grandparents bring my parents through The Great Depression. Some of those skills have come forward as a part my everyday life from my parents. My father was born in 1921, so he remembers very well the struggles his family went through. My mother, born in 1926, remembers less, but was still greatly affected by it. He also cultivated asparagus, and rescued apple trees from falling down a bluff and planted it in the back yard to be amply rewarded with enough apples for years to come to furnish Mom's freezer and canning shelves, plus more to share.

Some of the traits of my parents that I attribute to Great Depression Trauma rank right up there with 'hugs & kisses' on my list of thing I love about my parents. My dad was one of the best multi-taskers that I have ever known. Most of the tasks that he set himself to involved his outstanding MacGyver skills. I think he must have taught those skills to MacGyver himself. He could fix a flat (or a car, or a tractor, or an air conditioner, or a washer, or a dryer) with nothing but bubble gum (or pine resin) and bailing wire (or twist ties). He learned those skills from working on the family farm when there was nothing else to use to fix the equipment.

My mom, closely challenging his survival skills, can feed a family of 5 for $10.00 a week. You think I'm kidding? It is really impressive. My mom, in her 80s still mows her own yard. It is not a small yard; in fact, it is large enough to yield enough wild greens for a wonderful side dish for all of her children and in-laws, grandchildren and in-laws and great-grandchildren. They are washed, boiled, then fried in an iron skillet with a bit of bacon grease (yes, saved from the breakfast bacon) and served with cornbread. Add a pot of brown beans cooked with the scraps from a previously baked ham and there is a complete meal for 25 for less than $5.00. Add the green onions grown in her little garden plot and the meal is now complete. She will even scare up an apple cobbler from apples grown on the tree Dad rescued from the bluff. While those skills are to be envied, please note that nobody eating that meal would notice that it was a practically free meal. Hey, the tea cost something, but considering that the hibiscus blossoms that enhanced that Lipton tea was also free, it wouldn't be that much.

So, as you might surmise, all of these skills were so commonplace in my household that my siblings and I thought that they were normal. One of the most difficult things to come to grips with while growing up was to realize that not everyone grew up with the same set of financially conservation principles that we did. We watched people being wasteful with food, clothing, and money, and even tried it out ourselves. Being a baby boomer gives a unique perspective to a lot of situations.

During the 'Back To Nature' phase of the 60s and early 70s, it did not surprise me to watch my friends struggle to live off the land. Those were some of the happiest of all of my friends, and thought I did not have the desire to do it myself, I watched as some of my friends learned some of the things that I had grown up just knowing instinctively, like canning, drying fruit, making clothing, and growing a garden.

I find that my thoughts keep going back to the skills that made my childhood so rich. Is this an attempt to recapture that time in my life? Perhaps, but I prefer to think of it as a way to make my future 'richer' as well as that of my children and grandchildren.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Raising Independent Thinkers

Raising an independent thinker is not an easy thing to do.

First of all, we have always thought of the dynamics of parenthood as 'me right, you wrong' and our discipline follows along those lines. But when we take that stance, our lives with our children become an escalating power struggle as the 'little ones' strive to assert themselves as independent entities.

If you need further incentive that an adult independent thinker is what you want to raise, just think of who will be making the decision on your senior care at that point of your life. Do you prefer someone who doesn't know how to make the right choices? someone who doesn't know how to think things through?

I think the answer to that is no.

The first step to raising an independent thinker is to teach them right from wrong. Now this is not an easy thing to do with a young child, but children from an early age can be taught self-control. I used to resort to punishment while raising my children. That seemed to teach them nothing except 'we better not let Mom see us doing this'.

What worked best for me was the following speech:

"You need to control yourself. If you don't control yourself, I will have to control you - and you know you don't like to be controlled by me."

They did not always see it my way initially, so the second part of that speech was waiting in my bag of tricks.

"If I can't control you, I'll call someone who can."

Needless to say, I never had to call. But I knew from the beginning that I had to be willing to do so.

The next step to raising an independent thinker is to make them responsible for their mistakes. That might seem harsh, and it is a really tough thing to do, but it is a necessary step. How many times have you seen a sweet kid make a mistake and take a piece of candy from a store? You will notice that I did not say 'steal' a piece of candy from a store. At the age that this most frequently happens (two or three years old), thievery is not the intent. The intent is most often to eat a piece of candy. The action of hiding their attempt to satisfy an urge is not directed at the 'owner' of the goods, but at their parent or caretaker who would probably say no if they were asked to buy that piece of candy.

If the child is punished but not made to take responsibility for their actions, the next attempt will probably be more successful because now they have a background on the subject that tells them "I'm gonna get punished if I get caught" so their goal becomes not getting caught instead of controlling their urges.

Making the child responsible for their action involves an explanation of what happened (please leave out any reference to 'stealing' at that point). Focus on their lack of self-control in satisfying an urge and involve the owner of the goods. Don't take the blame on yourself ("I thought I had taught him/her better than that!") or subject the child to a situation where they will be put down or called a thief. A straightforward approach works best. If the child can make a decision (do you want water or milk?) and verbalize, they should approach the owner of the goods, say 'I'm sorry' and pay for the candy. Of course the money comes from you. That is where the fun part comes in.

At home (never degrading the child) explain what took place and the amount of money that was involved in taking responsibility for the mistake. Set up an age-appropriate set of tasks that will help him/her earn the money to pay you back. And, pay him/her in money (lots of change) for their work. For a 2 or 3-year-old, it might be taking clothes to the dirty clothes basket or helping with the laundry (also a good opportunity to teach them to fold those washcloths). Let them earn more money than they need to pay you back.

This is also the first step to raising financially responsible kids. I know that they don't have all of the concepts of money and it's worth and it's place in the world, but their is no time like the present to start.

The third step to raising independent thinkers is to praise and reward them for making the right decisions. That goes a lot further than punishing them for making the wrong decisions, though those need to be discussed and your expectations need to be verbalized. Never assume that your children are automatically endowed with the 'good/bad' sense. Bring it down to a game level, if necessary. Play a game where you name an action and they respond with (hitting-incorrect/hugging-correct). You can make it age-related.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Social networking is about to get me down. I am at the time of my life when I should be forgetting the past (and the present for that matter) and I keep getting reminded of the past like it was this morning. There are so many people in my past that I have loved, some inappropriately, and being reminded of the good and bad times takes me back so far so fast that I suffer from culture shock. They say that it is better to have loved and lost - I think it is better to have loved and forgot.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Don't you love it when something you have learned in the past comes back to haunt you? I want to use the knowledge, but I am afraid that, since it is basically untested knowledge, it may rear it's ugly head and bite me in the butt.