Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Are You Pickin' Up What I'm Puttin' Down?

A few weeks ago while talking to Mackenzie on the phone, she started switching some words around while trying to tell me something. Realizing what she’d done, she said, “Nanna, let me rephrase that so it makes more sense…”

My immediate reaction was to smile and think to myself, “How did she get to be so grown up and so smart in seven short years?” My second thought was this: How often did my kids wish I would have rephrased things so they were easier to understand or more pleasant to listen to? 
Fast-forward a couple of weeks to a memory my daughter Emma and my daughter in-love, Becca were sharing. I’m not sure how the subject came up, but the memory was that of a seven year-old Emma getting in trouble for sneaking a change of clothes to school because she didn’t like the choices I’d given her. 
I honestly don’t remember the incident, but they both did. It went something like this…I’d given Emma a choice between two sets of clothes to wear to school (something I often did until they were around eight or displayed the ability to choose appropriately for the weather, etc.). 
Apparently Emma didn’t like the choices I’d given her so she sneaked a change of clothes into her book bag and changed when she got to school. Well it just so happened that I had to drop something off at the school that day and met Emma in the hallway. Emma and Becca both remember Emma getting in trouble for the incident. From Emma’s (then) seven year-old perspective, she was getting in trouble for wearing something I hadn’t okayed. But knowing my thought process, that wasn’t it. The reason she got in trouble was because of her dishonesty. Sneaking and lying never did and never will cut it with this Momma. 
Emma’s bag lady routine happened nearly fourteen years ago and like I said, I don’t remember it. But I’ve thought about it quite often every day since she and Becca brought it to my attention a few days ago. Why? Because I didn’t rephrase my words and attitude so it would make more sense to my little girl. She missed the message entirely and I let it happen. 
Don’t let it happen to you and your kids. Make sure they get the real meaning behind what you are saying. And if they don’t say, “Let me rephrase that so it makes more sense.”

Momma D
                            Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Please Get Off the Tractor and Don't Pick Up that Lamb

Our farm was a Missouri Agri-tourism site. This meant it was recognized and promoted as offering educational and entertaining farm tours. In other words, families, adult groups, and groups of children—LOTS of children visited the lambing barns and greenhouse on the farm to learn where our food comes from and other important things about the word of agriculture.

For the most part, children made up the bulk of our visitors; preschools and schools wanting to give their students the farm experience. I thoroughly enjoyed giving the farm tours; making sure everyone had a good time while learning something new…a good and safe time.

Our farm was a working farm, which means there was livestock, tools and equipment—things that could have hurt someone if not used properly. That’s why immediately after I welcomed a group of children to the farm, we talked about safety rules and how obeying these rules would make their visit more fun for everyone. And you know what? The kids were good with that. Even the most mischievous children and busiest preschoolers willingly obeyed the rules. As for some of the parents who came along as ‘chaperones’…they were the problem.

The parents who came along usually came with cameras (or phones, as time went on) so they could capture every moment of the event—which was fine. I had no problem with them taking pictures. What I did have a problem with however, was the fact that many of the parents told their children to break the rules. In nearly every group of visitors was a parent or two that told their child to climb on a gate, pick up a lamb, climb up on the bales of straw or hay, or get up on the tractor so they could snap a few pictures.

Whenever I saw a child getting ready to break the rules, I was quick to remind them by saying, “You promised not to break the rules, so please keep your promise.” You could see the kids’ uneasiness when their parents told them to do these things. They knew it was against the rules and most of the time, this was enough to keep things in check. There were times, though, that the reminders went unheeded and parents would say, “Oh it’s okay, go ahead.” Or “I just want a quick picture he/she won’t hurt anything” to which I replied that it wasn’t okay and they would need to follow the rules. The end.

I’ve been thinking a lot about those parents lately—the ones who teach their children to disrespect authority and who instill a sense of entitlement and a belief that they are exempt from the rules. Hhhhmmm, sound familiar?

How many news stories wouldn’t be news stories if parents didn’t encourage their kids to break the rules? How many outbreaks of violence and shootings wouldn’t take place if parents didn’t teach their children to ignore the voice of authority? You might think it’s ‘just a picture’ or that the teacher doesn’t know what he/she is talking about, but when you teach, encourage and condone your children’s attitude of disrespect and disregard for rules and guidelines, you are actually one ‘episode’ closer to being a news story.

Think about it…


Momma D

                             Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Best Fishing Happens In a Laundry Basket

The other day I was reminded of a picture Olivia sent a while back along with a text telling me Reuben had spent a good part of the morning in the laundry basket ‘fishing’. At one point Olivia noticed he’d taken his shirt off. When she asked him why he’d done that, he said (with all the sincerity in the world), “Because I didn’t want to get it wet.”

How sweet is that, right? But you know my sharing these stories is always about more than how sweet and special I think my kids and grandkids are, so here’s the deal…
Reuben’s mom is doing him a HUGE favor by allowing and requiring him to use his imagination and to play…you remember that, don’t you—actually using your mind, your body, and ‘stuff’ in order to entertain yourself. FYI: this is the opposite of relying on a television, a computer screen, or even a phone for entertainment.
Letting (or making) your kids play is essential for their physical, emotional, and psychological development. Studies show that kids who spend too much time in front of a screen of any kind have over 75% more psychological problems than kids who don’t. Kids who have too much screen time are also…
*Less social—they don’t know how to interact with real people
*Not as academically successful as kids who don’t
*Considerably more prone to be overweight and out of shape
*Have little or no interest in extra-curricular activities, sports, or hobbies
*Have fewer friends
When I look at this list I think, how sad! When I look at kids living this list, I think shame on their parents!
At this point I’m sure you’re asking “How much is too much (time)?” The answer: no more than two hours a day combined screen time for kids ages 3 and up (according to the American Academy of Pediatrics). Kids under age 3 should have half that amount of time or less.
Our kids deserve better. They deserve to know what it feels like to play in a mud puddle, splash around in the rain, catch lightening bugs, play hide-n-seek, bake cookies from scratch, play board games, play dress-up, play kickball with the kids in the neighborhood, ride bikes, and yes, take your laundry basket out on a fishing excursion.
So now that you’re done reading, get up and go play with your kids.

Momma D
                            Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be copied or used without permission from the author. 


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

That Momma Bear...She Really Knows Her Stuff

John and I raised our kids using our faith in God and the Bible’s teachings, common sense, and a whole lot of love. But I have to tell you there’s something (or ‘someone’) else I depended on for advice. She’s got a first-rate philosophy when it comes to raising kids. I mean this gal really knows her stuff. Her name? Momma Bear…Momma Berenstain Bear. 

You might be laughing right now or even thinking all those years of raising my kids was harder on my brain than I’m willing to admit, but before you go that far, hear me out.

Momma Bear faced just about every issue a parent can face and wasn’t afraid to address these issues realistically, unapologetically, and the way every parent should—with respect, discipline, and love. For example…

When Sister Bear was faced with how to deal with the in-crowd (aka mean girls), Mamma’s words of wisdom were exactly what Sister (and our kids) needed to hear: “They show off for the crowd by picking on someone who has a certain kind of name or wears a certain kind of clothes. They try to build themselves up by putting others down.” In other words, you don’t need friends who treat other people unkindly in order to get attention.

And then there’s the issue of trusting your kids with the freedom of being out from under the umbrella of your supervision. Mamma Bear sums it up better than anyone when she says, “With privilege comes responsibility.” Remind your kids that every action we take has a consequence; good, bad or indifferent and that we all have to live with the consequences of our actions as well as the actions of others we associate with.

Momma Bear isn’t the only one in Bear County who knows what life is all about, though. When it comes to facing up to peer pressure without caving in, Farmer Ben had a few things to say worth repeating…like when he was talking to Brother Bear about going along with the members of a rowdy bunch of boys because he was too afraid to say no. Here’s what he told Brother, “…being a part of a group is okay-and maybe even having a leader. But you always have to think for yourself-especially about important things like what’s right and what’s wrong, and what’s safe and what’s dangerous.”

Here’s something else Momma Bear helped me teach my kids: I really do understand. When your kids play the ‘you don’t understand’ card, start sharing stories from your childhood and teen years and the outcome of the decisions you made (good and/or bad). Doing this builds a stronger bond between the two of you. They’ll hear first-hand that you really do understand the pressures they face to fit in. And who knows…they might even actually consider you a safe and viable source of support and advice in the future. I know that’s what happened in my house.

 Momma Bear reminded me why it is important to hold our kids accountable for the lies they tell, to own their mistakes, not to put too much pressure on them, to not judge people based on what they look like, and a plethora of other important things. But most of all, Momma Bear reminded me (and my kids) that at the end of the day knowing that you are loved with that ‘just because’ kind of unconditional love is what matters most.

Momma D
                          Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.