Archive for June, 2013

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atom & eve

June 14, 2013

Father’s Day. Traditionally a day with gifts of handmade cards, lawn equipment or BBQ tools. A day for the outdoors. What if, this year, for a gift you invited him back inside?

Not inside to the kitchen, living room or man cave. Not even into the bedroom. Invite him back inside your chemistry set.

???

Let’s rewind a few {cough, cough} years to high school chemistry class. No, don’t stop reading. This won’t hurt at all, I promise. As your chem teacher once said “In the beginning, there were atoms.” {which, technically were begat by quarks that were begat by strings, but that’s a genesis story for another time}. Atoms have a center called the….anyone? anyone? the nucleus. You are the nucleus in this scenario. Surrounding the nucleus are the…Bueller?…electrons. Now we’re not going to worry about probability or electron clouds, we’re going old school and sticking with electron shells.

Here’s the deal. Electron shells are like nesting dolls, one tucked inside the other. The first shell, closest to the nucleus, can only hold two electrons. The second shell can hold eight, the third 18 and so on. Now imagine that each shell is a layer of emotional intimacy. The people you hold closest, tell the most to, inhabit the inner shell. Next is the layer of good friends, then acquaintances.

And when we were falling in love? There was only room for our beloved and a BFF in the first shell. We barely interacted with our BFF, never mind any other electrons, we were so fully absorbed by The One in our innermost shell. We hardly went out, rarely even seeing any other electrons. Or if we did go, all we could talk about was our adorable, funny, handsome, smart inner electron.

But then…stuff happened. Moves. Kids. Jobs. Houses. Talk about health insurance and interest rates and college savings plans.

And now, here we are. There are all these other people inhabiting our shells. Our children. Face-to-face friends. FB friends. Extended and in-law family.

Your partner is still there…just… farther away. Sharing space in the third shell with 17 other people. When you have questions to ask or news to share, they aren’t always the first to know or hear. Sometimes, even, they never get asked, for opinions have been gathered and problems have been solved and we are ready to move on by day’s end. Without realizing it, the energy holding the two of you together has dissipated.

So for Father’s Day this year, use your magnetic charm and reel them back in to your inner shell. Make a date to stay up late talking about everything and nothing. {and, it turns out, by ‘late’ all you need is 10 minutes}. Make space to be vulnerable with each other again. Then do it again the next night. And the next. Be present and connect with your partner. every. single. day. Talk about real stuff- the ‘this is who I am’ stuff. The stuff you spent endless hours pouring from your hearts back when you fell in love. Yeaaaaahhhh. That stuff.

Because it may seem like the being is inconsequential to the doing, but who is picking up the kids after school or when is it time to buy a new refrigerator is the stuff. Who you are is the real.

Feel the chemistry. And keep me posted.

 

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safety dance

June 5, 2013

Safety Dance.

Do you remember slow dances? The three minutes and 42 seconds of sweating palms and stepping on toes, wondering, exactly, who was leading whom?

There are so many parenting moments that feel that same way. Do I step toward my child, tightening the boundary? Do I step away and give them more space? And possibly the one that makes our palms sweat the most is Safety.

Right now in the county where I live, a man has tried to lure three children, both boys and girls, in the past few weeks into his car, promising candy and asking for help finding his dog. The question for us isn’t about the (mythical) dog, it’s about finding our voice and helping our children. How do we do this?

Raise awareness. Tell your children the facts. A man has been asking children to get in his car. You can give them the specifics {white male, white sedan} but remember that he can change his vehicle and the color of his hair. So while the predator may change, a child’s intuition stays the same. Talk to your child about how their body sends them signals- a feeling of dread, a pit in their stomach. They are wise to listen, and then act. This is not the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. This is the story of the Child Who Was Aware. Even if the person they see isn’t ‘the guy’, tell them now that won’t matter. What matters is that they are safe. Encourage your child to take action, no matter what.What is action? Finding an adult to help them.

Raise voices. Ask your children what they think they would do if they were approached. Often they say I’ll kick him, punch him, bite him. Ever wrestle with your kiddos? Gently remind them how strong they know you are. Trying to physically out maneuver someone won’t work. How can your child be strong in that situation? By using their voices. Screaming “YOU ARE NOT MY DAD!” Will get attention from any adult in the vicinity. Even as adults we become flustered when someone strange approaches us. The same is true for our children. They quickly flood into flight, fight or freeze, which means they are not full of rational thought. So it’s important not to overload them with directions they won’t be able to recall in the moment. Keep it simple: Yell and Go.

Raise hands. Go with your child and knock on the doors of the neighbors you do not know. Introduce yourselves and your child. Create a chain of safe places for your child to go if they need help. If your child walks by businesses on their way to school, walk the path together and see which ones are open during school hours.

Raise community. This man has been prowling schools and bus stops. Work with other parents to create safety networks, ensuring kids are walking in groups and with adults during the transitions from home to school and back. Talk to shop owners and ask them to be additional eyes and ears.

Raise hope. Any time our children see us transform our worry into action, they learn how to respond in dire situations. When they see community built to create connection, they learn how to ask for aid and imagine change.

So dance with your child. Pull them in a little closer. Have them follow your lead. Teach them the steps. And if you have any questions, please keep me posted.

 

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