Today I am celebrating teaching my kids fabulous lessons and at the same time, opening them up for deeper learning, by allowing them to make their own choices.
To start with, my 13-year-old…Last night she was close to tears around 10:30, in exhaustion, with still more homework to finish. I cut her off and pointed out the fact that her brain was done for the night, and it was better to get to bed and wake up early to finish up. She woke up this morning even more exhausted and overwhelmed, so I gave her the choice to miss school and get caught up on rest and homework.
Some parents (i.e. her father) might be a bit judge-y about this decision. However, I think it taught her a valuable lesson in self-care. Now granted, this daughter hates to miss school and is overly responsible, therefore I didn’t feel like she was taking advantage of the situation. I probably wouldn’t have given this same offer to her younger sister, who has faked some of the finest ailments in her ten years on this planet.
My teen felt tremendous amounts of guilt and shame for essentially playing hooky. I assured her this was actually a thoughtful decision in the sense that she needed to give her body and emotions a day of rest and this can sometimes be the most responsible thing a person can do. And if she didn’t rest, she could end up a whole lot worse and miss even more school- my personal favorite, “It just hurts, everywhere!”
Although she spent several hours on the couch watching TV, she wrote a beautiful paper, emailed all of her teachers to catch up on missed work, and finished her day refreshed, caught-up and ready to finish out the week. I feel proud as a mom to impart this wisdom on my beautiful daughter at such a young age.
My younger daughter’s lesson wasn’t as dramatic, but perhaps for her personality, just as important. Today she was given the gift of trust and independence. After school she asked for three dollars, which she promised to pay back, and if she and her girlfriend could ride their bikes to Jamba Juice and split a large smoothie. Of course when I was this age, it was pretty much a given that we would ride our bikes all over town. Sad to say, but times have changed and this was a huge step for her.
It was the furthest she had ever been on her bike, without adult accompaniment, and ordering and paying on her own was new as well. She was concerned that they wouldn’t take her money, because she was too young. I assured her that the teenager working the counter at Jamba Juice couldn’t care less about her age. Upon returning, she felt proud, self-assured and most importantly, a sense of accomplishment. And I didn’t even worry about her the entire time (a gold star earned for mom).
It is so easy as a mom, to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and want to shelter our children. Sometimes we forget that we are raising young women (and men) and preparing them for the real world, which will sadly be here before we know it. I am proud to help these two amazing human beings take another step in their growth and development.
Today I feel like an awesome mom!