Friday, April 26, 2013

When being social is a learned skill

Did you feel socially awkward as a kid?

I did. I felt different. And sometimes I felt lonely.

You know what's crazy? As I talk to fellow adults now, I realize that many (maybe even most?) of us felt socially awkward as we grew up. And if lots and lots of us felt that way, I guess we really weren't as "different" as we thought we were.

But the fact remains, it's hard when you don't feel like you fit in. I have so badly wanted to protect my kids from that feeling. I want them to naturally make friends. I want them to be well-liked.

I don't want my kid to be too hyper, or too awkward, or too intense, so that another child rolls their eyes and pulls away. It hurts me when I see one of my little ones, flesh of my flesh, struggling to fit in.

But there are some truths I'm learning, and I need to remind myself of them. Frequently. Here they are:
  • It's okay to be different. It's okay to not be liked by everyone. I'm just now learning this as an adult, and I'd love for my kids to learn it earlier.
  • If my kids are finding other children they do relate to, I probably shouldn't be so concerned. They don't have to be the most popular kids on the block as long as they have some good friends they can count on.
  • Many of us have to learn how to be social. It doesn't always come naturally. It certainly didn't for me--but as I grew, I learned it! Sometimes I still feel socially insecure. Most of us do. But in general, as an adult, I feel good about who I am, and about my ability to relate to others. If I can learn it, my kids can too. It's okay for them to stumble along the way--it's called trial and error!
My kids are learning to swim. It's proving to be a long, challenging process for Zoodle. And that's okay.

Chickie has to work hard to understand math concepts. Sometimes it's really hard for her, but I know that it's okay.

See, my kids have plenty of talents; they just don't have every talent.

When I look at a child who is a natural swimmer, I don't expect Zoodle to be like that. And when I see kids who are math whizzes, I don't expect Chickie to learn that quickly.

So when I see kids who are naturally social butterflies, why should I expect my kids to "measure up"?

Socializing is a learned skill, just like swimming or math! And some kids get it more easily than others! But that doesn't mean there's something wrong with one of my kids if he or she has to work harder at it.

So I want to accept my kids just as they are. If I see some social awkwardness here or there, I don't want to panic. I want my kids to feel totally accepted by me (even if they are acting "different") so they can be confident enough to just be themselves around their peers.

This one is hard for me, but, like my kids...I'm learning.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Green time

Last weekend I went on an overnight women's retreat with others from our new church. It was so nice to get to know new people, and to spend time with an old friend whom I was rooming with.

By the time an hour of free time rolled around on Day 2, however, I was ready to recharge with some time alone. So I took a walk on the lovely retreat grounds, enjoying the gorgeous spring. This "green time" was just what I needed.

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I brought a little journal and did some writing under a tree. How can you not be peaceful and inspired, surrounded by such beauty?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Two milestones

Just over a week ago, we were at church on a Sunday morning. Church had just ended. "Kids," I said, "We're going to a baptism."

"Can I get baptized?" Chickie asked.

Before I move on with the story, I'll explain what our family believes about baptism. We see baptism as a step that someone takes after they've decided to give their life to Jesus. (That's a decision Chickie made a long time ago.) By being immersed fully in the water, and then lifted back out of the water, the person being baptized is symbolizing Jesus' death and resurrection. It is also a symbol of that Christian's "new life" in Christ. Baptism is a way to tell others, "I am a Christian."

We want our kids to make faith decisions themselves, without ever feeling coerced. And we want to make sure that they really understand when they take a big step like baptism. I was so glad that Chickie had asked on her own, but I wanted to make sure she was ready! So I talked to her, and discussed talked to the leader of the elementary-aged kids at church. She understood the significance of what she was doing, and was certain it was something she wanted to do.

So about an hour later, we were at the river with others from our church (many of whom were also being baptized), and Chickie got dunked!

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A little later in the afternoon, she said, "Daddy, can I get my ears pierced?" Daddy and I agreed she could, so we took her to the mall, where she chose Hello Kitty earrings. She was nervous but didn't cry!

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I am loving life with my kids these days. I've fallen into the habit of not posting on my blog--something I thought I'd avoid! But recently I've been thinking about how many of these big milestones--and how many every day happenings--I'm not recording. I post them on Facebook, but that's not the most easily-accessible record for posterity! So I'm not making any promises, but I hope I sit down to write a little more often. It's such a sweet time of life, and I never want to forget it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A little birdie told me...

Cool thing about come across stuff you hadn't seen in years. Sometimes that's cool because you get the thrill of throwing it away. And sometimes it's cool because the item is full of sweet memories.

When I was a girl, someone carved this little pendant for me. He made one for my twin sister Becki too. Before birds were popular, I might add! I forgot who made it.... Maybe my mom will chime in with that information.

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I enjoyed wearing it then, and I love that I can wear it again.

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And this time I have a little girl of my own to share it with too.

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