Independent People Emerge

Artwork from 14.5’s HS art show

It’s something I’ve known for a while but probably didn’t want to admit to myself until I was forced to – and somewhere during the high school art show this week – that moment came:  my kids are truly independent people.

As a parent you watch with some amazement as your children develop personality.  I’m pretty sure the first time we noted that was in a restaurant setting where our kids expressed choices on what they wanted.  You could see it at that moment. Independent people emerging.

This week at the high school 14.5 had a dozen or so art projects on display – and its while I was walking around with her showing me the projects and listening to her describe the assignments – I realized her independent person had fully emerged.

I think the timing was about the same when I realized my older one was an independent person too – but I am pretty sure I never admitted it to myself.

What I mean though is not that I am no longer needed (although that day is coming).  What I see from the girls is they can make their own choices.  They know what they like, and then can express it.

16.5 is an exceptional writer and story-teller.  She can express her thoughts and feelings with symbols and directly.

14.5’s voice clearly emerges through her art work  You can see her expressing herself and her feelings.

Both of my girls are independent people (and they still order what they want when we’re out to eat).

As a parent I have to be amazed and in awe that I can see this.  I think it’s what parents want when they start out – and to see it manifest is rewarding.  Independent people emerged in my house and in their lives.  My hope as a parent is they can nurture their ability to share their expressions and thrive at it throughout their lives.

One day, perhaps they’ll have the honor of watching independent people emerge within their children too….

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A Few Quiet Moments

A Few Quiet MomentsAlthough it wasn’t by (my) design – I had the house to myself last night.  But it’s a few quiet moments this morning – while the girls are sleeping upstairs that seems more relaxing to me.

Maybe it’s because I’m a little better rested this morning.  Maybe it’s because I’m not in a flurry of text messages with the girls over who is where and when they are coming home….

Or maybe it’s because I tend to be a morning person (now).

There was a time when I was able to sleep well past 10 in the morning.  Now sleeping to 830 is sleeping in for me.  But that time has become some of the most productive of the day for me.

Whether I am out getting the weekly food shopping done, getting to the gym, heading out to the trails for a bike ride or a run – or simply catching up – getting a few quiet moments in the day isn’t so bad.

Despite having those moments last night – there is no way to gauge the productivity as I sat on the couch watching Chopped and hockey.

So, coffee at my side I get some writing done here and on a few work projects (even on a Sunday) and try to figure out how else to make use of a few quiet moments – before getting into the crux of the day.

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Measuring Success and Measuring Up

Measuring UpOne of the toughest lessons we learn in life, and one that is tough to explain to my kids is to try not to spend too much energy measuring yourself to your peer group-but rather to measure your actions to your own expectations.

But sometimes its tough to practice what you preach.

(Get Dad the Single Guy’s book The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning now)

Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself (I hope) silently comparing my parenting decisions against friends with similar aged kids.  I question if my decisions measure up or if I am too tough.  The good thing is that I can take away some different opinions and perhaps some new skills to try out.  But still, I find myself comparing.

Then I talk to my kids.

12.5 has friends who play sports, instruments etc.  While that’s not her interest, she is a great writer and story-teller and I push her to do those things more.  It’s a delicate line though, because you don’t want to create more work on top of school work.  When I talk about her great accomplishments in writing though, the feedback I get is positive.

I need to take a step back and measure her against her accomplishments, the same as I need to measure myself against my own accomplishments as a parent.

10.0 has varied interests and sometimes its tough to get her focused.  But she is really good at crafts, violin when she practices and when she wants sports.  Then I talk to the parents of her friends and I realize her in the aggregate her accomplishments add up.

I need to take a step back and measure her against her accomplishments, the same as I need to measure myself against my own accomplishments as a parent.

On the whole I have great kids and firmly believe we are all doing a great job of being the best people we can be.  Sometimes its nice to sit back and think about that, and other times its important to look around and see if there are ways we can improve.

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Amplified Questions as a Successful School Year Ends

Today was the last school based event for my girls this year. They have two more goofy 2-hour school days to go before the school year ends.  Today’s event was “Portfolio Day” in 8.5’s class room.  At this event each of the kids in the class gets up and reads a story or poem from the writing portfolio they compiled during the school year, and then share the portfolio going back to the first day of school.

For 11.0, her last event was her “moving up” day-she enters middle school next year.

In both cases, the girls really acquitted themselves so well.  11.0 lead her class in a rap for one of the seven community principles they learned about.  8.5 stepped to the microphone in her class and was clear and concise in her reading-and was one of the only ones in the class who read something more factual and less creative writing based.

It honestly made me feel good that my kids were able to do this.  It’s such a skill to stand up and present something to a group of people.

But as is often the case, with those good feelings came the nagging questions: the what if’s and could that have been different?  And those weigh on me, probably more now than they did at the start of the school year when Risa was in hospice.

I feel like then I had an excuse, now I don’t.  After all no one would question someone with two young kids, a wife in hospice, holding down a job etc, right?  But could I have done more during the school year?  Intellectually I know the answer to that question is no, I truly do.  But emotionally and psychologically I wonder.  Is there a something the girls are missing out on having just me around, and not a female voice?

When all is said and done, life is what you make of it.  Experiences are neither good or bad, they are experiences-and it’s up to us to make the most of each experience.  If I can pass that along to the girls, I’ll think I have done a good job.

But will I know?  Yet another question to ponder.


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