Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lessons I teach my kids

Not so long ago, but long ago
When I became a mother, I planned. I read.

Nothing prepared me for the reality of it, not babysitting or reading or thinking about being a parent. I was granted three wonderful children who are terrifically different in their temperaments, preferences and every other thing that could possibly be different.

That said, it occasionally falls upon me to impart wisdom, advice--life lessons, if you will--to my darling children.

Here's a list (in no particular order) of lessons I never dreamed of teaching my children, yet have found the need to discuss--sometimes at length--with my offspring.

  • Never open the car door or window to the crazy drug addict.
If someone runs up to your car, yelling that they are dying of the AIDS virus and need money for the bus, there is something wrong, indeed. Not something you can fix by handing them money. Something you should lock your doors and keep your windows closed against. This is especially true since a lot of people in Cleveland have guns (sometimes even with concealed carry permits) and the person running up to the car CLEARLY forgot this, meaning something is VERY wrong with them, so just drive away. Quickly.
The gang, now
  • But do pull over and help sometimes.
There is a really fine line and trust your gut on that one. My kids know I’ll pull over (have done so and even driven 5mi for gas for someone, gave it to them way out of my way and making myself late, before returning to whatever I was doing when I saw the person alongside the road), but I don’t pull over for the bus money people. There’s a time, your gut knows the time, trust your gut and you probably (not guaranteed) won’t get killed. But you can’t not help…being a helper is one of the greatest things you can do with your life, in my opinion.
  • Sometimes it is okay to be angry.
It is also okay to be sad. It is okay to be hurt. You don’t have to pretend not to be any of those things. Chances are good, though, if you let those emotions rule you—which they will try to do—you won’t remember to choose to be happy. Because it is a choice. Life will drag you down, worse than any riptide out there, but you can’t let it. Although you gotta try to find the happy, to find the way to get past the sad/hurt/angry/whatever, you are ALLOWED to feel those emotions. You don’t have to bury them under fake smiles or otherwise hide what you’re feeling…you’re allowed to feel bad things. I’ve found people are happy to tell folks to be happy, but they forget to let them cry. I try to let them feel all of it because, well, life is full of both good and bad. Ignoring any part of it, or pretending it away, is not living life fully. Embrace your tears and your laughter. The best days are the ones when the laughs outnumber the tears.
  • Other people are going to be angry, too.
And sometimes you can’t do a thing about it. We met an angry security guard at the cemetery the other day. He was just…ticked. I don’t know what his personal issues were and he certainly was in no mood to chat about it. Sometimes you can help—be the shoulder to cry on, be the person they vent to. Others? Sometimes you just have to let others feel what they’re feeling and walk away. You can’t fix everything and if more people admitted to that, they’d spend less time worrying over things they couldn’t change.
  • Sometimes it is your fault they are hurt/angry/sad.
If you can, make it right. Own up to what you did and try to make amends for your transgression. Other times…
They’re going to feel how they feel and there’s not a thing you can do about it. Learn to accept that you can’t control how others feel or think and worry about what you can control—yourself.
  • Language is powerful.
You can use it to hurt. You can use it to heal. Sometimes, you don’t intend to and you do one or both things…
Remember your words have power. Remember your words can change the world, or even change a person.
Choose them accordingly.

What are some lessons you never planned to teach your kids, but did anyway?

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