Last Saturday, my daughter Norah went to see Hamilton in Dallas. Norah is obsessed with Hamilton, and has been dreaming of going to see it from the moment she heard the show was coming to Dallas. Hamilton tickets are not in our family budget. But Norah is not one to have her dreams thwarted. She is a maker, a doer, a person who brings things to life. And so, she set her sights on making enough money to purchase two Hamilton tickets. One for herself, and one for Rachel (pictured above). Her solution? Neighborhood bake sales.
In our house, we don’t do much forcing in the way our children spend their extra-curricular time. We hold them to academic standards. We hold them to household rules. We hold them to expectations about how they contribute to caring for our home. But we don’t make them participate in extra things unless they really really really want to. Resources like time and availability can be in short supply in our home, so if they say they want to do something, then we are all in. But if they feel lukewarm about something, then we politely decline.
One of the benefits of this approach is we get to see what our children are naturally drawn to by the way they choose to spend their time. We get to see their hard-wired talents emerge and find wings. For Norah, entrepreneurship is in her DNA.
Do you remember the story, The Little Red Hen? This version could be called The Little Red Norah. All by herself she made the cookies and bars and cupcakes. All by herself she painted a sign. All by herself she set up a table at the entrance of our neighborhood. All by herself she took the money she made from the first sale and invested in more ingredients, better equipment, and canisters from the Container Store so that she could keep her ingredients separate. All by herself she put her sister on the payroll so she wouldn’t have to sit alone. All by herself she saved her money. And all by herself, after many hours peddling her wares, she bought two tickets to Hamilton.
All four of my children have similar stories (although in differing arenas), and it makes me immensely proud as their mother to see their gifts flourish when give the space and time for them to do so.
Here’s what we talked about this week….
Are you familiar with K Pop? It’s a genre of Korean pop music that is having a moment. There is a popular K Pop song on the radio right now. Our kids know the song, so when the K Pop band was the musical guest on SNL, we let them watch the performance. A few days later, in the car, the same song came on the radio, and our youngest chimed in with, “You know, I really do love this cake pop music!”
Do you own a waffle ladle? (Side note. Saying “waffle ladle” over and over is funny and you should try it.) A waffle ladle is a really helpful tool. It’s a ladle with a flat bottom instead of the curved bottom found on soup ladles. The flat bottom allows you to scoop the batter and then scrape the bottom of the ladle on the side edge of the bowl before putting the batter in the waffle iron. No drips! The waffle ladle that I have is part of a set of three. The large one is for waffles. The medium one is for pancakes. And the small one is for crepes. I don’t make crepes, but the other two come in very handy for weekend breakfast escapades.
Do you throw full or mostly full cups of beverages into the trash? If so, my theory is that you have never worked in the food service industry. I watch grown adults put full cups of water into the trash and wonder, “Where do you think that water goes?” There isn’t a drain in the trash can. The liquid pools in the bottom of the very thin plastic trash bag, and then if something like a fork or a toothpick pokes a hole in the bag, the water drains out and spills everywhere. Water is not trash. Water is liquid and needs to be poured down a drain before putting the cup (which is trash) in the trash can.
Lately, I have noticed a certain category of parenting discussion. It’s the kind where something hard has happened to a child socially (not being invited to a party, another child saying something hurtful, etc.), and the parent is wondering how to best navigate the situation as an advocate for their child. As can be expected, the parent wants a good outcome for their child. Yet, sometimes it seems they are willing to model bad behavior in an effort to get what they think is best for their child. The thing that I want to say, and that I have said when the conversation was in person and with someone I know (I will not engage in parenting debates in the comment section of a social media platform with strangers), is this: Your child is watching you. Your child is learning from you in this situation how to navigate the hard things in life. Instead of getting caught up in the details of the situation (“Will the other mom be mad at me if I say something?” “Will my daughter recover from being sad she wasn’t invited to the birthday party?” “Should I plan something fun for my child to do on the same day as the party?”), consider the lesson your child will learn from the way you navigate hard things. What are the values you want to pass along? Are you being honest or are you choosing to lie to make it easier? Are you protecting your child from reality or are you allowing your child to feel the natural consequences of a social hierarchy that isn’t always fair? Are you creating a safe space for your child to learn how to express their emotions or are you minimizing their feelings? Are you rescuing? Enabling? Gossiping? Back-stabbing? Regardless of how the circumstantial details get worked out, the behavior you model is what your child will remember, long after the birthday party passes.
Have a lovely week!