A Travellerspoint blog

April 2012

The YES Word

Today I find myself musing about the deep power that our words have on the lives of others.
How do we approach other people, and how to we speak to those closest to us? Do we shy away, do we connect, or do we use our words to break down, to hurt, to discourage? I am always aware of how I use my words when it comes to my son, but not always how I speak to everyone else around me.

With my son, I intentionally try to be positive, to use encouraging words, to build him up, to encourage him, to guide him. Positive discipline is a subject term I came across just recently, while trying to learn new ways of coping with a toddler and his occasional defiance. At first, it sounded too simple, almost insulting and condescending to me. Positive discipline is about encouraging, not about denying your child something. Don't say 'no', say 'try this instead'. I slammed the book down in irritation. Doesn't this lady understand how frustrating a toddler can be? How you just want them sometimes to DO what you want them to do?! I don't want to redirect and be positive, I want to yell, 'Stop doing that? listen to your mother!' But after I had a few weeks to let the information seep into my psyche, I can tell you that I believe that positive discipline works, and that it is worth doing. And I can also tell you that it takes gallons of patients and likely years of practice.

Redirecting your child to a new toy, instead of asking him NOT to do what he's doing, or to stop what he's doing - it takes a lot more effort, but it seems to achieve the desired effect: child who quits playing with something he's not allowed to play with, mom who is not screaming and pulling her hair out trying to reason with someone who isn't making the connection.

Anyway, back to word power, here's what happened today. I brought my son Bodhi to the park around 8:30 this morning. We were the only ones there, so he had full run of the whole area. In typical fashion he set his mind to one particular section - this plastic climbing wall. For one hour, he climbed up the wall, and then back down - beaming at his success. But the BEST PART was when he climbed to the top... He turned around and looked at me, standing as a spotter below, and screamed, "YES!". First time, I laughed out loud. "Yes! Good for you, Bodhi, you did it!" I said in return. After the third or fourth time though, I recognized the power of these words. "YES", he said, again and again. An affirmation. Yes, I can. Yes, I did. Yes, I will.

Many toddlers begin to say "No", as a way of using their power, and defining their wills. I am sure my son will say No many times in his life, but I am so happy that he has first learned the word Yes. Hopefully it is because I tell him Yes to the things he wishes more than I tell him, No, he can't. Our words have power, and that power ripples through all areas of our life.

Yes is empowering, it is optimism, it is encouragement to explore, to create, to act. It is connection and support. No is separating, it is discouraging, it is inhibiting. It can tear down and disappoint.

In my opinion, one of the blessings to being a parent is the ability to partake in molding a young person, being able to support and nurture a new mind, a new soul, and give them the basis for a wonderful life. In this way, quite possibly the most important thing we can do as parents is to nurture and develop our children's self-esteem. Helping them to be independent, intelligent, kind, successful, wholesome, whatever else we hope for, it all seems to flow from this basic skill of having a good solid foundation of self-worth.

I try every day to build my son's esteem, but not always to positively affect others, or even my own. I have decided that in seeing everyone else with the same compassion and mothering instinct as I see my own child, I can begin to relate to other people as I hope others relate to my son. With kindness, and support. With words of positivity. Giving everyone the benefit of the doubt that I hope comes back to me. It is sometimes the hardest to react with loving kindness toward the ones we are closest to, because they get the heaps of our own stresses and anxieties poured out to them. It is a force of will to choose to stay positive, and to try to uplift, even when we ourselves do not feel uplifted. It is difficult to give and to support when we feel depleted, but this giving and doing for others, this outflow of our love and kindness is the fastest way to feel love and support in return. Raising the happiness quotient of all people is a desire that I find I have to recommit to each and every day. But most importantly, I can affect those closest to me by being more patient, reacting with kindness, and saying the yes word more than I say no.

Posted by globalmomma 05:36 Archived in USA Tagged park yes hope exploration kindness Comments (0)

To monitor or not to monitor...

That is the question we are currently asking ourselves. Whether we still need to listen in to our child sleeping, just in case he wakes in the middle of the night. Do we still need to use it? Do we still want it?

We have a baby monitor that is the basest of technology. Half the time we are not entirely sure that it works. We listen to the sound thinking it is either monitoring our son's room and the sound of his wave machine, or it is simply the blank noise of static. When our son was first born, we had a video monitor that was honestly the most important and the best spent $ of everything on our registry. I cannot tell you how many times in those first weeks I woke in a start, only to hear the reassuring sound of his breathing, or to watch his little belly rising and falling from the little camera view I had of his crib. Now that he is a big boy, sleeping in his very own bed, and capable of sleeping through the night, I wonder why we continue to listen to his sounds through the night as we sleep. It is reassuring to know he is OK. But when do you decide it is OK to stop listening? Tonight was I was laying in bed, I pondered this. The arguments are that I want to know he is safe. I want to know he is sleeping and healthy and not in need. When do those needs as a mother end? at what point do you decide that it is OK to let your child begin to fend for themselves? I think even in when your child goes away to college you will want these same feedback mechanisms, to know they are OK, to know they are sleeping, to know they are well. I kept waiting for a sign to know I could let go of the monitor, but now I realize it is a wait for something that will not come. A wait for a moment that never arrives, no matter how grown-up they become...

As mothers, we always, always want the best for our children. We want to keep them safe, we want to meet their needs. They may need us less, but we never stop wanting to care for them and make everything OK.

I sat there tonight in bed thinking about how my son now wakes up in the morning, comfortable and well-rested. He sleeps through the night, he can soothe himself to sleep. He, most of the time,no longer needs us during the middle of the night at all (thank goodness!) He plays in his room until the sun comes up and we go into his room to meet him. He is blissfully unaware that we watch over him, that we hear him. Yet, I think that he knows it all the same. And that it helps him to feel safe and secure, I know that it helps me feel secure, when I wake in the middle of the night. To be able to hear my son breathing and dreaming. It gives me peace. So I guess I will continue with this unnecessary practice, at least for now. Until I decide I am ready to move on, and to let go of this attachment of closeness. For raising a child is a constant meditation of letting go, a continual balance of holding close, being fully invested, and yet being able to separate and release. The baby monitor is my nightly reminder of this ritual and this balance of closeness and separation that evolves and yet defines this relationship of parent and child.

Posted by globalmomma 11:22 Comments (0)

Gonna Love the Life I Live and Live the Life I Love

I saw this on the back bumper of a truck today, and smiled like the cheshire cat. I am sure I have read similar phrases before, but this time, it hit me straight to the heart like an arrow.

I have been realizing just how much energy and awareness it takes to be fully present in the moment. Not only to be in the moment, but to be enjoying the moment too. I sometimes start my day like a sequence of events - coffee, check, read books, breakfast, park, nap. Last night I thought to myself, after a very fun bath time and good half-hour of cuddling and reading books: wow, I am REALLY enjoying this. This moment, this time with my son, it's where I want to be. I was savoring it, and I wondered why it does not always feel this way. Sometimes I go about the motions of reading books with my son, but it isn't particularly where my attention is... I am thinking about dinner, or tomorrow's tasks. And I don't just soak it up.

Sometimes the days can get repetitive with a young child, because hey, it's what they like. And they know what they like. I tell my son all the time how easy he is to please. Good food, running and playing at the park, and it is the BEST DAY EVER for him. Even if we go to the same two parks everyday. He doesn't mind, he likes it. He knows just what things he likes at each park, and goes to each one in turn. He is super content with his routine and the basics of his life. I however, find the routine occasionally tedious. The park...again. Sometimes I want something new, something different, some other experience.

But today I am reminded of what a beautiful life I have, how lucky I am to be IN it, day in and day out, able to soak in my life and appreciate the fleeting moments. I try to hold him a little tighter, try to open the windows a little wider, try to take just a second to embrace where I am this instant. Because I chose this life that I have, from my family to my home, to the clothes I wear, the car I drive, the minutes I spend. I chose this life based on what I love, and when I look at it that way, I am happy and lucky to live this life. Life is too precious to just go through each day to get through it. If you aren't enjoying it, what's the point? When you can consciously look at your children, look at your house, and say, "I CHOSE THIS", it makes you realize what a blessing it can be to experience the life that you love.

Posted by globalmomma 14:08 Comments (0)

The Amazing Brain of a Two Year Old

semi-overcast 81 °F

I am watching my almost two year old with awe. He is putting magnetic letters on the refrigerator as he names each one in turn: R, M, Q, D. We just bought these magnets last week to encourage his rising fascination with letters and numbers. He has spent a little over a month reading books, looking at cards, pointing at signs, absolutely enthralled with LETTERS. We will be at the beach, and he will run over to the sign that says, "PLEASE KOKUA KEEP OUR BEACH CLEAN" and point to each letter. He asks, Momma? I tell him each letter, again and again until he is satisfied he comprehends.

I am not entirely sure how extraordinary this is, but to me, it is possibly the most extraordinary thing I have ever witnessed, watching an individual gain a grasp of a language. I knew he was interested in letters, and I knew he was starting to get some of them and recognize the patterns, but I tested the extent of his knowledge last week. I asked him, where is the B? He points right to it. Hmm, that may have been a lucky guess. Where is the Z? Points right again. And makes the sign for Z. OK, how about N? Points. N, he says. I went through each letter of the alphabet, and he did not make a single error. He recognizes them all.
By this week, not only does he understand them, he can say all but 4 of the letters, and he can sign all of them in ASL (American sign language)
People stop me and ask me, did you do that program, your baby can read? no, I tell them, I didn't do anything special. This is all him. This is his self-directed learning. In fact, I wish he wouldn't push himself so hard. I don't entirely understand this desire he has to know, know, conquer.

I wish I had read more books about childhood development. I wish I had more of a concept of how their brains soak up information and integrate it into their awareness. I know my son has a somewhat one-track mind when it comes to learning. If he has an interest, he will focus on something until he gets it. Already at 22 months, he can count and sign to ten, say and sign his letters, and is starting to read and recognize words. I do not know how this kid does it, or even what to do to encourage it. He does it on his own, I just follow along. I bought him an etch-a-sketch for a plane trip in February. While trying to come up with a game, I started drawing things, like a square, or a letter, and he would name it. Now, he wants to do this game everyday.

His language skills are exponentially growing each week,and I find it difficult to keep up with his growth, but find it so incredibly inspiring and miraculous, how much he is able now to communicate and how much more he can understand. It somewhat parallels my experience with the German language. I studied German for 10 years, throughout high school and majoring in college. I studied abroad in Vienna Austria and gained a confidence with the language and my ability to communicate. I was like a child with the language, not getting deeper concepts, but able to get my point across with growing ease. Now that the past 10-15 years I have only had fleeting yearly visits to Europe and short conversations with people in German, my ability to speak has declined markedly. When people hear me speak, they do not guess that I am fluent. Yet, I still understand almost every word, and definitely can understand a movie or a conversation in German. I use this to understand that although my son cannot always tell me things, he knows far more than I am aware he knows. When I take time to test that knowledge, each time, I am shocked that he knows it all. If I ask him to bring me the letter H, he does. If I ask him to pick out 3 books, he does. Ask him to choose an outfit to wear, and he emerges from his room with a shirt and shorts. Wow. When we take the time to really think about what is happening with a toddler, and appreciate what they are doing everyday, there is no doubt in my mind that all of my time spent with him is the most important part of my day.

Posted by globalmomma 02:41 Archived in USA Tagged language development toddler brain intelligence learning growth fluent Comments (1)

Top Ten Reasons Not To Buy:

Lately, I have been consumed with the idea of buying a small place to call home on this beautiful island of Hawaii. I would love a place of my own to decorate, to paint, to landscape, to rent out or dwell...BUT I recently had a realization that there are plenty of reasons also NOT to buy a home.

Here are the reasons I am satisfied not to be a homeowner:
(1) No expenses for extra maintenance, like when our dishwasher broke last week or the plants needed a new irrigation system
(2) No concern over condo fees or upkeep
(3) No stress over rentals and reviews from renters
(4) No need to hold down a steady salaried job to get loan approval
(5) Not having to clean everything perfectly...I subscribe to a 'good enough' policy with a rental that wouldn't be so lenient if I owned
(6) Not having to stress about it if your child steps on a plant or breaks the window blinds, because hey, it's a rental
(7) Not being 'under water' on a mortgage
(8) No late night worries about the worth of your investment
(9) Flexibility to move anytime, go anywhere
(10) Freedom

Posted by globalmomma 12:28 Archived in USA Tagged home rental mortgage ownership advantages Comments (1)

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