ohblahdi’s Weblog

{January 31, 2011}   Priceless

My husband and I have always cherished the arts. He is a musician and sees most things very critically and analytically. I am a writer and an artist. I like to say that I understand meanings and ideas and very rarely notice the details, kind of touch feely. Together, we make a very good match; the small things collaborate to show the big picture. We have shared these views with our children and I can see little snippets of our personalities and passions glisten in the eyes of our kids. This makes my heart sing. There is nothing I love more that being together as a family sharing passions, beauty, and ideas. A burning red sunset at the beach, a challenging piece of politics, beautiful art, a rock concert are some of the most profound gifts we have given to our children. Time, thought, discussion and touch are much more of a blessing than anything tangible ever could be. As a teacher, I so often see my students like zombies with lots of nice clothing, expensive electronics and good hair lacking these very things. My students are lonely, angry, afraid, and lost. Sometimes they have no one waiting home for them for days. They go home and sit in their room. There is no conversation. The only attention they might receive is from a text message or a quick lunch at school. They crave the smallest thing from their family: time.
I remember when my oldest daughter began middle school. Middle school is the hardest time for any kid. We like to joke and call it a “holding ground.” Middle school is where kids are judged in some of the cruelest ways. You will notice that if your kids never cared about fashion before, they do in middle school. My daughter began specifically asking for particular clothing brands, shoes, etc. She was judged based on her reading materials, clothing, electronics, hair style, and even her socks. Before middle school as long as it was girly and comfortable, she was good. This all turned into a nightmare for me. My confident, sweet girl turned into a self-conscious wreck. My first instinct was to give her everything she needed to fit in hoping to give her a better childhood than mine. However, I realized that I turned out just fine and that those hard times made me who I am today. I know this sounds cliché and very parenty, but it is true. I refused that forty dollar Hollister Tee and the Victoria’s Secret underwear. I gave her the ultimatum, if she wants these high priced items, she must pay for them. Of course, she did buy her one tee and three underwear with her birthday money. I knew that materialism was not something I wanted to instill, but self esteem. She would find self esteem in her accomplishments and not in her underwear.
So we began to ponder our options for this building of esteem. She has always been a performer. We enforced this talent and love for the arts. We put her in theater programs, music lessons, and just spent a lot of time together. Nothing can replace good old fashioned family fun when it comes to building a child up. This goes for all of my children. How many ipods and Nikes do we have to buy to realize that they will get washed, broken or stolen. Activities, love, and conversation will never fade or fall apart. I would much rather spend my hard earned money on time with my children. Forty dollars can pay for a really nice picnic at the beach. You might even be able to afford a five dollar t-shirt to wear on the trip. An new cell phone could pay for a day at an amusement park for all of you. Go on a cruise together, or to another country. Go to the art museum or to a play. Discuss what you feel and see. Read a book together every night. That is free.
Kids need to know that someone cares for them. Kids need their ideas molded and reinforced. Kids need to see good examples of life. Kids need to hear good conversation. How can we know what they think if we never ask them? How can we raise good humans if we never talk to them? How can we just placate them with things? Of course they want things, they don’t know what they want. I can guarantee that most well-rounded happy adults came from well-rounded happy families. I know that the issues that I deal with in my own life are because no one ever talked to me growing up. I don’t want my kids to feel that way when they are older.
This weekend, my children, my husband and I all went to a concert in San Diego. It delighted me to see the wonder in my daughter’s eyes, the query in my son’s eyes, the excitement in my other child. I loved seeing that we all connected in that one place, as a family listening to rock music. Find something that you and your children can embrace together. It can be music, art, politics, philosophy, literature, sports, games or just chilling together on a Sunday afternoon. Don’t just watch your kids play games either, play with them. If you feel that need to placate with the tangible, don’t do it. If you are working too much to provide the unnecessary, stop. If you are afraid to get to know each other, stop. Don’t separate your lives. Share your life together as a family.


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