Monday, 11 November 2013

Tao Te Ching ...

I think this is beautiful ...

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 29
translated by Stephen Mitchell (1988)
Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.
The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.
There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.

The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Children Shine at Different Times

I received an insightful email from Nikki Bush, Creative Parenting Expert, and it reminded me of something that happened about three years ago with my oldest daughter.  It brought up a lot anguish for me.  The school my kids go to have a Top 6 gala every year (as there are 6 lanes in the pool) and on this particular afternoon they were having the trials for the gala.  Now, being a provincial swimmer during my school days, my girls both started swimming lessons when they were quite young, because for me, the ability to swim is really important (pool safety) and it is also a really healthy sport to do.  My daughter had been for lessons for about four years with a bit of an interruption when we moved down to the coast, so I was really confident that she would make it into the gala, I mean after all she had been swimming for four years!! 

I was sitting next to a really lovely mom, who has a very sporty child and she had started swimming lessons a few months earlier.  Anyway, the trials began, and my daughter was very excited and in a very playful mood, sitting with her new best friend (as only girls can do) that she had made that year.  So the heats for the first stroke start and it is freestyle.  To my horror, my daughter came about 4th or 5th in her heat, so that took me quite by surprise, especially when the little girl, who's mom was sitting with me, came first.  Also, some of her other little friends who had only started lessons that very year, came in just before or just after my daughter, and I didn't even think they weren't sporty! Something inside of me started to panic.  My daughter however, was not in the least bit perturbed!  She came rushing out of the pool with a big smile on her face, saying, mom, I came 5th and ran off to play with her new mate!  The next stroke was backstroke, which is not her greatest, and she came last in her heat! She had the same reaction - "Mom, I came last!" and ran off to play with not a care in the world.  Meanwhile, my panic was rising and to make matters worse, that same little girl who's mom I was sitting with, and who had only been having lessons for a few months, came first!  I could not even concentrate on what was going on around me and found myself praying to God that could my daughter please, PLEASE just make it in the next stroke, breast-stroke, which was her strong stroke!  Have you ever?!  I mean, people are struggling with all kinds of horrors out there and here I am praying for her to make it into a little school gala. Luckily for her and I (as I might have had a nervous breakdown there and then by the side of the pool) she did actually win that race and what blew me away was that she came running out of the pool with the EXACT same reaction as when she came last; "Mom, I won!!" and ran off to play.  By now, I was almost an emotional wreck!!  That's when I realized that I really needed to look at this, as it was not about her, but all about me and my needs.

This same gorgeous daughter of mine, also needed a bit of OT in her earlier years of school for some sensory integration and didn't always finish her work on time in class.  She also struggled a bit with concentration and I was terrified of the ADHD label. That particular week of the swimming trials, I think I had also had a meeting with her teacher at school and we had discussed her concentration.  So this too was all fresh in my mind.  Again, I did really well at school, and growing up, education was really emphasized.  I think it also stemmed from two parents who were not well educated at all, in fact my mom never finished high school in Holland as they needed her help on the farm!  So my parents were determined that I would get a good education, because, God forbid, if anything in life should ever happen (divorce, husband dying ...) I would be okay financially.  Oh, I forgot to add that I am an only child!

So after my panic stricken afternoon by the pool, I had a deep look at what was really going on for me to have had such a strong reaction and such deep feelings around a small school gala. 

I realized  that my sense of worth or being okay and safe in the world, stemmed from doing well academically and on the sports front; and not just doing well, but really exceeding. That need to excel filtered through to other areas of my life. So when the prospect of my daughter not making the Top 6 gala emerged, topped with the idea that she might not fly academically, my whole sense of safety started collapsing!  I have really had to work with that over the last few years and I have also realized that what is truly important, is to encourage their JOY and help them discover their natural strengths and talents and to help them to fly in those areas.  And sometimes, those areas do not receive accolades from those around them or on the school front; and sometimes those accolades happen much later in life and sometimes they arrive from the friends and family who's lives they touch.  And all of that is okay!

It hasn't been an easy journey of letting go and even a year later, I was so desperate for her to be in the top 3 of the Reading Tree event they have.  I knew that it was quite possible for her and that she was reading up a storm, but so often she would just forget to tell the librarian about the book she had read and forgot to put it on the tree and I had to sit on my hands to stop myself from going in there myself and telling the librarian just how many books my child had read.  I was so desperate for her (or me most likely) to get the recognition, because ... yes, she would then be okay!  And for her, it simply didn't matter because for her it was all about the JOY and pleasure of reading!  She's just so got it right!

So my darling daughter has brought me so many big lessons to look at and work with and she still does and I doubt whether that will ever stop.  I am truly grateful to her for that!

So in light of all the above, I was delighted when I received this email from from Nikki Bush, Creative Parenting Expert ...

Dear Pascale Schroenn,

We are heading for that time of year when children get awards for their performance in the classroom or on the sports field - or they don't.

There is often a small core of children who repeatedly get awards year after year, and then there is the mixed bunch surrounding this core that changes each year.  A child receiving an award is at his or her best, right now.  But the reality is that our children grow, shift and change all the time and this means that they will peak in different areas of their lives at different times. 

The mastery timeline for intellectual, physical and emotional development is not cast in stone.  There are things we can do to help our children to sharpen the saw in certain areas, but sometimes it's time, maturity and patience that are required.

I also believe that children grow and develop in different ways every year, many of which, may not even be directly connected to academics or sport, but may in fact be as, or more, important.  For example, it might be your child's year to grow in confidence.  Many small successes in a multitude of areas, some of which may not be publically recognised, may be just what is required to prepare the platform for your child to go on and shine at some future time.  Perhaps it has been a year of repeated disappointments, of not making sports teams or just missing the marks they were aiming for, or a year characterised by breaking up of friendships or friends moving schools or countries. This kind of year provides the opportunity to learn about failure, disappointment and perseverance.  And some children have the odd year when their health is more compromised, in some instances, just because they have grown very fast, and this too will impact on their performance both on and off the field.

No two years are the same.  We need to embrace them all and ask ourselves:
  • What were the lessons this year provided?
  • What were the worst parts of the year?
  • What were the best parts of the year?
  • How are we, or how is our child, stronger for the experience?
  • Is there anything we need to change for next year?

When you have had this conversation as parents, then you can casually and, when and if appropriate, introduce the conversation to your child, to help him/her to discover the lessons and to grow from them positively.  In this way you will be helping to break through their limiting thoughts, to 'unbox' themselves, so to speak.

All children need something to strive for and measure themselves against which is why we have standards, norms and award systems.  Measuring your child only against the annual school awards can, for many, be a very unfair benchmarking tool.  It can also, however, be a fantastic starting point for a conversation about individual differences, their gifts and talents and all the good things they bring into your life and the lives of others. 

Children need to know that you are there every step of the way, encouraging and applauding their development, regardless of the awards they do or do not receive.  Remember that you see a lot of amazing things that others never will.  We need our kids to fully believe in the concept that everyone shines at some time or another and in very different ways.  They need to be happy for those who shine today, for it is their moment, and hold on to the belief that, "If I keep learning, practicing and growing, my time will one day come, in its very own way."  And that's okay.

Please see Nikki's website, Nikki Bush, for some really interesting and thought provoking ideas around parenting and playing with your children!

Have a beautiful weekend!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Surprise ...

My hubby got back from the States yesterday with a whole lot of yummy goodies and one of them was this beautifully wrapped box of Aveda tea!!  Of course I had to share it on my Stoeptea blog!!

I've just had some with my friend Donna who was helping me with a flyer (thank you sooo much my special friend) and it is delicious (liquorice, fennel, basil and perppermint!! Yum!)