Today, as I sit with the sliding door open, listening to the light rain and waiting for the full force of Hurricane Irene to arrive, I am enjoying my husband’s windchimes. When at home, I always have light instrumental music playing in the background. But, sometimes I just like to listen to the sounds of nature, and today is one of those days.
Today, I can see and hear the rain falling off the roof. I can see and hear the tree branches swaying in the wind, and the chimes, though nice, are a distraction. They are unnatural. The winds and rain come in waves like the ebb and flow of the ocean. Some bursts of wind are stronger than others, and the tree branches sway like dancers on a dance floor.
Ultimately, I don’t know what Irene will bring, but right now… I’m enjoying her approach.
Last evening the atmosphere was orange. This morning the winds and rain are arriving. Tuned out the constant drone of news reports and sat on my covered porch to experience the moment. I can hear the tinkle of raindrops and see the tree branches swaying. The humidity has dropped and the air is a soothing warm temperature. Maybe this is what they call “the calm before the storm”.
I sit here in anticipation and wonder what will actually occur. Will it be another “storm of the century”? Will it fizzle out and be no more than a nice summer rain? Then I realize that’s what makes life interesting. It’s the unknown. No one ever knows what the next moment will bring, and that is what adds excitement to life. The newscasters are able to play into our fear and excitement of the unknown. It’s like watching a scary movie when we sit in a dark theater anticipating the unknown.
This morning I observed that the birds had gone to wherever birds go before a storm and there were no insect sounds. I watched my husband gather all the loose items around the yard and appreciated having a protector.
We have a choice… we can hide under the covers and fear the unknown; we can sit in the window or on the porch and be awed by mother nature; or we can grab our surfboards and shoot the waves.
Today I had an opportunity to explain why I and thousands of other grandparents lavish our grandchildren with love, but the words wouldn’t come to me until I was awakened by an alarm in the middle of the night and the words came. I couldn’t go back to sleep so now I will explain to all the young parents why grandparents appear to be more loose and forgiving with our grandchildren.
We look back at our parenting and see many of the things we did wrong. We frequently ask ourselves “if only” I had done something else… would my children have turned out differently. “If only I had put my children before my career” “If only, I had dedicated more time”. We are full of “if onlys”. We also have the benefit of watching how our peers raised their children, and we learn from what we have read and many other influencers.
By the time we become grandparents, we have a much better sense of how to raise a child and our grandchildren get the benefit of that. These are some of the things we know
- our children are incredibly fragile
- everything we do to them shapes them
- being a parent is not a license to deliberately inflict physical or emotional pain
- a parent who cannot correct their child without yelling is out of control
- a parent who cannot correct their child without hitting is out of control
- no one, especially a parent, has the right to deliberately harm a child
- emotional pain is equally as bad as physical pain… but the marks are less visible
- when we tell our children they are fat, they are dumb, they will never be able to do better, they are too tall, too skinny, too short… we inflict pain, and we create that belief in them.
- kids are quick learners. if a parent smacks Justin because he hit James… then we are sending mixed messages
- kids understand emotions. If you tell Susan that teasing Karen hurts her feelings, then Susan understands. If you tell Tony that tripping Larry at school embarrasses and humiliates Larry, then Tony understands.
- the next time you catch yourself screaming, yelling, or smacking your child… just STOP… take a breath… apologize for hurting them… explain that no one, even you, has the right to deliberately hurt them… then explain why he/she should not have done X.
- When a parent’s response is to be out of control than the parent is teaching their child to be out of control.
Grandparents have learned that the best corrective tool is lots of love and understanding.
The next time you yell/smack/correct/punish your child, ask yourself if you could get the same result by talking and/or restricting activities.
“The key is to maintain a positive, loving emotional environment while setting consistent rules and limits.”
— from The Children’s Hospital Guide to Your Child’s Health and Development, Children’s Hospital Boston