Rights of Passage

Rite of PassageIn some very different ways this weekend we crossed through some rights of passage in the house – and I would say came out on the other side mostly OK.

First, 11.5 became the first of the two to go to a Sweet 16 party.  In this case it was the older sister of one of her best friend’s.  So Friday night, off we went to a place so I could drop her at the event.  She’ll be getting onto the bar/bat mitzvah circuit by the end of this year so not a bid deal – plus her sister did a great job prepping me for this over the last 18 months with bar and bat mitzvah’s all over the place.

In a right of passage passing within the right of passage, this was the first time (at least the first I can recall) where one daughter went into the closet of the other to pull clothing.  They are getting a little closer in size, so hopefully this will work.

But we weren’t done with that.  For 13.5 there is a semi-formal this June as she and her friends leave the friendly confines of middle school and head for high school.  Admittedly, I am still a little fuzzy on the details of this (I appear to be the only parent in town lost on this one) she does need a dress.

Initially, I told her we could go grab dinner and do some dress shopping while 11.5 was at the sweet 16.  As good as I have become at handling these things I get at 13+ dress shopping with dad is not a highlight of a weekend.

So, I agreed to take two additional 13-year-olds to the mall.  So me and a trio of 13-year-olds.  Clearly, shopping with dad would not have worked, so in the next right of passage the was crossed, off went the girls seeking out dresses, bras, body butter and whatever else they could find.

This is the first time I’ve turned either of my girls loose at the mall.  A little protective yeah.  But we do what we are comfortable with.  Sure enough, 40 minutes into my nice restful sitting outside the Apple Store I got the text – she found the dress.  So off to Charlotte Rouse where I dropped the card (after making her try the outfit on for me).

As the girls grow up – the right’s of passage get a little greater and a little bolder.  This is where all my theory on teaching right and wrong comes into play.  Time to find out if I did my part right – as the next right of passage awaits.

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Being Able to Step Back

foot stepsThe words of warning are well-intentioned I know, and kind of redundant.  As a single parent of a now 13.5 year old and an 11-year-old I’ll have two girls in the teens together.  Yeah, they warn of the teen years (especially for girls), as of now my strategy to survival is being able to take a step back.

Right now it’s more the case with the older than the younger, there is a lot of feeling out to see just how far she can go – and at the same time some clinging to make sure she stays safe.  I fully know this will change over the next few years.

As she tries to branch out, I try to let her do it and explore the world around her.  I cherish the moments she decides to cling to her childhood and just hang – but I also want her to be independent and able to be out in the world.

Being able to step back though is not quite as easy as it sounds.  You have to be willing to live with mistakes and lessons.  Being able to step back means giving up some control so she can get out and explore the world.

Friday I went to pick her up after school at a friend’s house to find her there with her friend and a boy.  The plan was they were going to go out to dinner with a third girl and all come back to my house.  This would have been the first boy (minus the kids in the neighborhood) coming over.

Today its a trip to the mall with a friend with a friend.  We don’t live close enough for two 13 year old’s to make it to the mall on their own.  The friend’s mother is driving them there and will likely be in the mall.  I fully expect the two of them to venture off and go make up shopping or something like that.

At this moment I ask myself if I did my job to prepare her for this.  Did I show her how to be aware of her surroundings?  Can she find her way from end to end?  I think yes, but we’ll find out.

With a deep breath today I find myself being able to step back….

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SHHHH Can You Keep A Secret?

Big news, but its a secret OK?

My next book is about to be available on any and all e-readers.

UPDATE: You can now download the full book on your Kindle.  Support for all other readers is pending.

UPDATED (AGAIN): You can now also download the full book on your Nook.  Support still pending for iPad and others.

Almost two years in the making, The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning is the title of my book and also a blog I posted on December 4, 2010-the day Risa passed away.  From a pure marketing perspective for a blog, that title is awful.  For me though it was very descriptive of what I felt at the time and how things have unfolded over the 24 months since that day.

So, if you just can’t wait, feel free to get a preview here.  Expect me to be nauseatingly in your face once the book is fully available.

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Snap Decisions and Setting Expectations-and Measuring Results

One of the moments parents of any stripe have to judge and think about is discipline and sending a message to our kids about what is expected, what is accepted and when expectations are not met, what is the consequence.  Over time I’ve found this gets measured based on the maturity of my children, the importance of the infraction – rarely though do I consider the consequence because even if there’s a right outcome the path to getting there may not be the way to go.

One of the advantages of a dual parent household is the two can play off of one another, so there is not just one voice of discipline.  Classic good cop/bad cop approach.  This helps changing the voice and tone of discipline and correction and I believe stops the children from tuning out.

In a non-child involved way I saw this last night.  At a friend’s house to kill some time before reclaiming both girls from different events my friend was lamenting that one of his dog’s had tuned him out because for the last few weeks all the dog had heard was “dumb dog” from him.  My thesis here is that children can be the same way (but obviously not dogs).

Case one is 11.5 who desperately wants to be a teenager.  And that’s fine.  What is not fine is her occasional need to tell stories for no reason at all.  This week our sitter asked her to call me before a friend came over mid-week for dinner.  Generally, if homework is done and the sitter is OK with it, it’s not a problem.  But the rule is, there has to be a call to me because I want to know who’s in the house and what is going on.  When asked if she called me, 11.5 said yes.  There was no call.  Needless to say when I got home a little after 10 (it was Wing Night), I was surprised to find out that a friend was over.

Thursday morning, I quietly confronted 11.5 out of earshot of 9.0 and she knew right away what was wrong.  She lost her iPod at least for the weekend, maybe into next week.  Seems about right.

Then there is 9.0 who is somewhere between wanting to be 12 and staying a kid.  She asked (ok begged) if she could walk from her school to a local ice cream place on Friday afternoon after school.  It’s about half a mile between spots.  I didn’t let 11.5 do this until she was in fifth grade.  9.0 in fourth grade gets the younger child advantage here.  So I let her go.  The plan was a walk to the ice cream place and then her friend’s father was going to pick them up and take them back to the friend’s house.  For 9.0 this was going to roll into a sleepover (been there done that) so I had her pack her overnight bag Thursday night.

The deal was 9.0 would text me when they got to the ice cream place.  Got that text about 20 minutes after school let out.  Things are going well.  Then she had to text me when they got to the friend’s house.  At 5 there was no text.  At 530 I called her cell phone-no answer.  At 545 I called her cell phone-no answer.  At 6 I called the friend’s house.  “I forgot,” was the response.

No sleepover.  The explanation being you don’t want to be treated like a child and do things like walking to the ice cream place then you need to follow instructions.

Now, I am not overly naive here.  I am pretty sure 11.5 will get caught up in another stupid lie that really serves no purpose, and I am sure 9.0 will offer up “I forgot” as the excuse, both probably before the weekend ends.  Hopefully though they learned that there are expectations and acceptable outcomes and consequences for failure to hold up their end.  We’ll see.

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