Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I Was That Kid

Several months ago the media, doing what they seem to do best, incited the public against a mom’s insinuated lack of parenting skills when her toddler ended up in the clutches of a gorilla at the zoo. And then a few weeks ago the media once again took on the role of rebel-rouser when a parent shared her home-surveillance video which showed one of her toddler-aged twins pulling a dresser over on himself. Talk show hostesses and a plethora of others went into accuser-mode. How could this mom not have been there the instant the dresser fell—if not sooner? Or for that matter, how could she have let it happen in the first place?

Parents, give each other a break! Quit being so hard on each other—so mean to each other!
Stuff happens…fast. I know because I was that kid. When I was three I pulled a chest of drawers over on me because I was trying to get something from the top of –something that didn’t belong to me. My parents were just down the hallway in the living room…being good parents. 
When I was three I threw a fit when Granny took me for my first haircut. I’m talking major fit—the kind that sent my little black patent leather shoes flying across the room. This was not my normal behavior and it in no way reflected on Granny’s lack of discipline. Trust me. 
When I was four I gashed my chin open on the edge of our dining room table after slipping on some peanut butter while ‘tap dancing’ on said table-top while my mom was in the basement taking laundry from the wringer washer so she could hang it on the clothesline, which was also in the basement. Oh, and while she was doing that, she was also being a good mom. 
When I was six I ended up covered in poison sumac growing along the fence in the barn lot. A couple of doctor’s appointments and two kinds of medicine later, I was as good as new and no one even thought about blaming Granny or Mom for being neglectful. 
Until I was tall enough to not ‘have to’, I climbed on top of the counter tops to reach things in the kitchen cabinets. My favorite thing to get was the pancake syrup…as soon as my mom or Granny answered the phone (which was attached to the wall, back in those days). 
When I was seven...when I was nine…. I could keep going, but I won’t, because hopefully I’ve reminded you that wherever a child is present there is the potential for stuff to happen. 
Stuff happens in the blink of an eye. Stuff happens no matter how careful you are. Stuff happens no matter how consistent you are when it comes to discipline. Stuff happens because…well, just because. 
So before pointing fingers and laying blame, remember this: your kids just might be that kid before the day is over. 

Momma D
                       Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Privilege Of Doing Things Over

In addition to sharing my Momma D advice and encouragement with you each week, I am a feature writer for a parenting magazine in Australia. I know, it’s crazy, isn’t it? A gal from Mid-Missouri writing for the “Land Down Under”—just one of the many wonders of the internet.

Anyway…they recently asked me to write an article on “Parenting MBA”—MBA being short for Minimal Behavior Accepted. The purpose of the article, I was told, was to motivate parents to decide what their ‘threshold of pain’ was in regards to just how much they were willing to let slide before saying ‘enough is enough’. As I thought about the angle they had suggested I take, something Granny always said (that had been said to her by my great-grandma) kept running through my head….

“If you don’t do it right the first time you will have the privilege of doing it over again.”

There’s nothing minimal or MBA about that, is there? It wasn’t enough for Grandma or Granny to be satisfied with doing just enough to get by. I don’t remember it being enough for my mom either, and I know it wasn’t enough for John and me when we were raising our kids. And I’m glad for it.

By taking a minimal standards approach to parenting you are squelching their self-confidence and self-respect. You are saying…

*I won’t expect too much because I don’t think you are capable of giving any more than that.

*I won’t expect too much because it doesn’t really matter.

On top of that, you are encouraging your child to be lazy, irresponsible, selfish, and disrespectful of authority. Ouch! I’m sure that hurts, but it’s the truth.

Social media is flooded with posts and tweets about ‘the good ‘ole days’ and ‘remember when’s’ that speak of a time when respect, hard work, self-sufficiency, and other solid character traits were the norm rather than the exception they seem to be today. So if we really do long for that type of society and lifestyle again, then it’s up to those of you who are raising children to do something about it—something like raising the bar and setting higher expectations for your children than just minimal standards of behavior.

I’m thankful I was expected to do things right or do them over. I’m also not apologizing for expecting the same from my kids. And you know what? I am confident in saying they wouldn’t want me to. Children want, no, they need to know you believe they are capable of more than just enough to get by. Their confidence and success as a productive child and adult depends on it. So instead of settling for the least they can give, help them see just how far they can go.


Momma D

                      Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Spaghetti Served Up With Love

One of my all-time favorite wedding anniversaries is one John and I celebrated at home eating a simple dinner of spaghetti, salad and garlic bread. We ate it in the living room of our house, sitting across from one another at a makeshift table complete with candlelight (even though the room wasn’t very dark) and music (80s country, if my memory serves me well).

Now before you start accusing John of being a big spender and Romeo of the year, let me finish by telling you that the meal was completely planned, prepared, and served by our three daughters, who were 3, 10, and 12 at the time. It was their idea. Their gift to us. And get this: they even cleaned up afterwards-without the help of their older brother who was at a cross-country meet.

I can still see them wearing their aprons (aka dish towels) around their waists, writing down our ‘order’ and checking to see if everything tasted okay. But even more than that, I can still see and hear the excitement and sense of pride they felt for being able to do something special for us. And it truly was special.

It was special because I got out of the way and let the girls express their love the very best way they could think of. Had I denied their request to take over the kitchen or even help them, it wouldn’t have been the same. It wouldn’t have been nearly as special for them or for me.

Yes, John and I enjoyed a yummy and romantic dinner (how could it not be romantic when so much love went in to fixing it). But we didn’t get nearly as much from that evening as the girls did. In allowing our girls to give their gift, their way, they were able to use their talents and abilities with confidence in order to serve others. My girls were also reminded that it really is even more special to give than to receive.

So parents, I want to encourage you to get out of your kids’ way and let them give from their hearts using the talents and abilities they have within them. Don’t restrict them to making cards, dropping a few cans of food in a box, or donating unwanted toys. Those things are okay, but your kids have lots more to offer and they really want to do so much more than that…if you’ll let them.


Momma D
                          Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Earring Calamity

Back in the day when our son Zach was playing soccer, we spent quite a few Saturdays at the soccer park watching him play. Elizabeth and Olivia didn’t mind because most of the kids on Zach’s team had siblings who were the girls’ friends, so they all just played together. And Emma, who was three at this particular time, was happy as long as she had toys to play with and chocolate milk to drink.

In fact, I was getting more milk out of the cooler for Emma in-between games one Saturday when the ‘earring calamity’ happened and it happened like this…
Elizabeth, who had just celebrated her 12th birthday two or three weeks prior, was sitting on the ground beside the car waiting for me to finish what I was doing when she exclaimed, “Oh, no! My earring fell out!” 
In most cases a missing earring wouldn’t be a big deal, but Elizabeth had just gotten her ears pierced for her birthday, so it was a big deal. She still had a month to go before she was supposed to take them out. After checking to make sure she was right, my first thought was that we’d never find the earring because we didn’t know when or where she’d lost it. But because the back of it was still ‘stuck’ to her ear, she was sure it had just happened. This led to my next thought—that we’d never find the earring in the gravel where she was sitting. Once again I was proven wrong. It took her less than a minute to find it (I still call that a miracle), wipe it off, and begin asking me to “please put it back in”.

I’m gonna be honest and tell you just thinking about it now makes me cringe and gives my tummy a little queasy feeling. And I’m not even squeamish about stuff like that. But because the piercing was so new and Elizabeth’s little ear was still so tender, it took multiple tries to poke, wiggle, and work that earring all the way through and secure it back in place. It hurt. It hurt a lot. But Elizabeth didn’t flinch. She made faces, gritted her teeth, let a few tears fall, and when I wanted to stop a couple of times because I knew I was hurting her, she insisted we keep going until the job was done. 
I’ve been proud of Elizabeth for many things in her life, and I’ve got to say that this day is definitely near the top of the list. Why? Because she didn’t let the pain or difficulties involved stand between her and doing what had to be done.
As parents we need to take a lesson from Elizabeth’s determination and strength. We need to look the issues and difficulties of parenting in the eye and keep going until we achieve the desired results. We need to stop being afraid to discipline our children effectively (and fairly) even though it’s not always pleasant or easy to do, because in the end everyone benefits. We need to stop being afraid to teach and require our children to have the strength and character to do the right thing even when doing the right thing hurts. 
If Elizabeth and I can do it, so can you!

Momma D
                              Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.