I’m Starting with the Mom in the Mirror

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There’s a book called Mindset by Carol Dewck.  It’s becoming widely read by educators, and many parents. A friend of mine just wrote an awesome piece about it here.  The idea of cultivating a growth mindset has been popping up for me, beginning with a consultant at my boys’ school handing me the book three years ago. I put it off, being busy and all, and I think I actually over-borrowed her book by a year or something.  Oops!  So I finally read it, and the gist is that we can choose to have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.  You can change your way of thinking, and you can choose to try hard at things that aren’t easy.  Of course there is much more to it, and you should pick up that book.

This seemed like a really simple concept, and I pshawed the idea that needed to change my mindset.  Of course I had a growth mindset! My mind has had a lot of attention!  I spent my late teens and twenties working on myself, understanding how I worked, and I came pretty darn far with that, thankyouverymuch.  I needed those years for that.  My mindset was solid.  It was my kids who needed some help here, not me.

The last couple of years brought parent-teacher conferences where I heard that my boys were awesome, except they needed to learn to persevere when things didn’t come easily right away.  I would heavy sigh, internally blame it on Latefordinner, and say “I don’t know where they get that!” That’s not how I do things!  And I work on it with them.  I take them for very long hikes in the woods and make them figure out how to get back, dragging them for miles when they want to quit.  I make them do chores for screen time, teaching them new chores and following through with my rules.  I use the mantra my parents used: “You can do hard things!” I make them problem solve, forcing them to figure things out before I help them. But the desire to work hard still doesn’t seem to be ingrained in their psyche, in their mindset.

The other day Tuna got a new Transformer.  He was frustrated because it wasn’t easy, and Latefordinner wouldn’t help him.  He reminded him that he used to get frustrated when he was four (he’s almost 11 now), but now he had to big-kid-up and figure it out.  Tuna carried that thing around with him all day, working and working on it until he could transform that thing in 10 seconds.  And he did it!  He was so proud of himself.

Then he came to me and wanted ME to try it.

Asking me to do Transformers is like asking me to sew something–I might throw a tantrum and smash stuff.  I have avoided Transformers for seven years now, passing them off on Latefordinner, because I CAN’T DO THEM. I HATE doing them, and no one is going to make me!!

So I wouldn’t do it.  I actually snapped at him  and asked why he even wanted me to do it.  Did he think it was funny that I’m not mechanically inclined?  Did he want to watch me fail? No, I wouldn’t do it.  I don’t sew, and I don’t do Transformers.  I had the fixed mindset that I couldn’t do Transformers, and I refused to try something hard. I told Tuna I would not try.  Now, there are some things in life we just don’t have to do as adults–taxes, sewing, washing cars, dishes…oh wait, gotta do those. BUT, when my child came to me and wanted me to try his Transformer, it was an opportunity to teach him how to do hard things.  I stomped my foot and refused!

The whole thing didn’t sit right with me. I knew I was being hypocritical and childish. I almost blew my opportunity to model the growth mindset. …..until I realized what I was doing.  I took me a day, actually.  Once the lightbulb went off–I think it was Latefordinner’s account of telling Tuna to work hard that flipped the switch– I went to him and asked him to teach me, and to be patient with me. I explained that I really should work harder on the things that don’t come easily.

It turns out he is an excellent teacher!  And, I was a pretty good student.  Transformers are hard when you’re me.  I can do hard things.

How many other times had I unknowingly taught him not to try?  How to quit?  How to not even begin?? How many other opportunities have I blown?

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The good news is that Tuna (10), Binker (6), and Squishy (3) are still young enough to catch on, and they’ll have minimal damage.  I am always brought back to the mirror in parenting.  I used to call Tuna my little mirror–he shows me the truth of who I am–he is a reflection of me.  Somewhere along the chaotic way I lost that, (I think because it’s a bit overwhelming to see three different perspectives of your own reflection, like a three-way mirror), and this has been a shining reminder to do some inward reflecting.  It’s the same concept as putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others–how can I grow their mindsets if I’m in denial about my own?  I’ve spent too much time projecting, not realizing that I’ve been giving away my opportunities for growth. Mindsets, like reflections, are never solid. We are never ever done growing. Who was I to think I didn’t need to change?  I really hope to hear some hard work reports at conferences this year.

This parenting gig is hard! Good thing I can do hard things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just get the pig

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Me: Ask me for something ridiculous.

Tuna: “Can I jump off a cliff blindfolded while holding a python?”

Me:  “When pigs fly! Ha!”  He thought it was hilarious.  That boy totally gets my humor.

I originally thought this amazing creation would hold a place on my piano so that every time one of them asked me for something I could just point to the pig.  “Mommy, can I have a pet hamster?”  I point to the pig.  “Mommy, can I tie my skateboard to the car with a rope and see how fast it will go?”  (Hasn’t happened yet, but it will.)  Point to the pig.  “Mommy, can I put my drum set in my bedroom?” Point to the pig.

This pointing will totally happen from now on, but it turns out this special guy is holding a place for a much bigger reason.  I originally saw it about a month ago.  I thought it was great!  It made me laugh!  I loved it!  I almost bought it, but then that not-me-judgy-intruder voice in my head said “nah, it’s too weird. Don’t get it, it’s tacky, it’s too much, it’s over the top…”  I took a stupid picture of it instead of just buying it.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the flying pig.  I wished I had bought it, I sighed every time I went back looking for another one and it wasn’t there.  I kicked my self wondering why I didn’t just get it when I could.

So Squishy is getting molars, and he has been whiny/screamy/pissy for about a week now.  I have almost lost my marbles a few times, and thankfully Latefordinner helps me keep them from rolling too far.  I had to get away from the colicky toddler yesterday, so I flew out the door the second Latefordinner got home.  I had a few minutes before yoga, so I stopped just to see if maybe possibly that piggy was at the store,  And it was!!

Now, I realize it’s not normal to obsess about a ceramic pig with wings, and I was abnormally giddy when I found this thing again. I felt like I was being rewarded for taking care of myself though, and I floated up to the register with its wings.  A few people  just looked away, but the woman in line behind me started cracking up!  She had a thick accent, and said “I never have seen that kind before!”  I grinned and said “Yeah, I’m going to just point to it whenever one of my boys asks for something outrageous,”  And she doubled over laughing!!! She was in tears!

I felt amazing as I walked out with my pig.  He just made TWO people’s day!  What else was he capable of? The place he now holds is one of power and pride for me.  I will never again deny my natural state of weirdness.  There is so much freedom in flight!

Question:  Will I forget that I don’t have to listen to not-me-judgy-intruder-voice ever again?

Answer:  Point to the pig.