Strengthen your kid and you will also strength their spirit.
Recently, I saw a possible "at risk" pre-teen girl. With some mildly disturbing behaviors, her parents would like me to weigh in on whether she has been sexually exposed or not. I am not a child abuse investigator, but there were some things that could contribute to her being more at risk than the average eleven year old girl. Due to some factors [confidentiality, you know], the bottom line is that she will be subject to a fair amount of self esteem eroding situations. If she stood out due to being too tall, or too short; too big or too scrawny, she will be subject to the endless belittling of her inappropriate classmates. If this is the case, low, low, low self esteem lends itself to the potential of victimization as well as future inappropriate behaviors. How, as loving parents can we combat the negativity facing our child? Overly simply put, we must counter-balance it with assisting our child in developing skills in order to give them a solid sense of pride and self achievement. Assuring our child that they are great, or smart, or pretty is not good enough. Teaching them "that sticks and stones..." is less than helpful. She plays the flute? Join her enthusiastically in her home practices. A beginner in softball? Play catch with her. Show her how to bat. Show her how to catch the ball; all are loving home activities, and all extra bonuses to help her achieve. Back in my girls softball coaching days, I sent home "newsletters" for the parents reminding them that in a matter of seconds, their girls will have moved away from home. Playing catch with our kids enables them to get a jump on the typical kid who doesn't practice at home. Plus, we teach them how to be kind, loving parents themselves.
Strengthen your kid and you will also strength their spirit.
I was 19, and in college in Austin when I joyfully was reunited with Belaire fruit popsicles while shopping. When I was a kid, a box of six popsicles and four children in the Sommer family meant two lucky kids would get two popsicles apiece, while the slower-to-the-freezer kids would get one apiece. As I loaded the treasure popsicles, I realized all six were mine. Six popsicles! Then, a few moments before I was to check out, I was struck with the Popsicle Awakening. I breathlessly left the checkout line, went back to the freezer section and snagged another box of popsicles. Greed? Negative. With an amazing enlightened view of my life, I realized that regardless of my previous life experiences, I was now graced with the ability to make my own decisions. This fantastic revelation has impacted almost everything in my life. Raising children? I (well, really we) can write the book of clever, joyful parenting. This includes clever, not so joyful discipline. I don’t have to follow the former rule of my parents, or with some limitations, even society. It’s my call. Marriage? Same inspiration. Why be like everyone else? Do I want to be a romantic old man? Sip wine, exchange stories, and play new board games? How about as a therapist? Yesterday I plugged in a kid’s phone into my good stereo to sample his taste in music. It was mainly enjoyment with only a touch of suffering. Today a teen and I transplanted an angel leaf begonia, peeled a luffa sponge and had a good conversation along the way. Plus he got the luffa and about 200 seeds. Hey, I’m an adult, and now I get to make the rules. Why mindlessly follow a worn down path when you have the ability to make your own? I love being an adult and writing my own book of life. After all, it all began at nineteen with two delicious boxes of popsicles. Yum.
I was in the doctor's office some years ago when a grandmother sat down with her six year old grandson. With a nearly empty waiting room, it became a racetrack - gym - tumbling mat - playroom for the bored kid. Although he was a bit distracting, Granny's constant hissing angry threats to him as she thumbed through the three year old magazine was incredibly bothersome. "Stop that right now!" "You come over here and sit down!" "What did I tell you?" I felt like getting her magazine, rolling it up, and every time she threatened him, I'd wack her upside the head. Such strange thoughts go through my head when I observe lousy parenting....
Anticipating a young boy's boredom should be an easy task. We then could prepare by packing up some books and appropriate toys and assigning ourselves the position of entertainment director. It is the parent's duty (and privilege) to teach our children proper behaviors, but at the same time remembering their age. Still, parents should not dismiss their duties by saying things like, "he's only five, and five year olds shoot their mashed potatoes across the table". Rather, we should teach our kids important lessons, manners of course being one of them*, but know that teaching is an ongoing process, and for them to be good learners, we need to be good teachers.
[*and how to share, respect for women, and kid-like problem solving, just to name a few...]
I was 18 and new to Austin, and the Armadillo World Headquarters seemed like a smaller and “Austinish” version of San Francisco's Fillmore West. Even back in 1970, my freshman year of college at St. Edwards University, Austin had its own hip, simple, southern flavor. You'd go to a concert, sit on the floor, share crowd commodities (such as large bottles of inexpensive wine passed around, etc.) and absorb the music.
One always feared that their car, regardless of size, might fall into one of the sinkhole “potholes” in the back of the Armadillo. Although unconditioned in Austin, the huge fans near the ceiling provided enough oxygen to keep us from suffering too much. As we grew older, we realized the Armadillo’s existence from only 1970 to 1980 was a short-lived era of inexpensive and energetic music for we lovers of music to enjoy. If only we had known of the tiny, temporary slot in our lives we were living at the time……
Roy Buchanan was a spellbinding magician of the "crying guitar. Cheech and Chong were amazingly funny for virtually no props. The same was true with the fabulously and insanely funny Committee Theater from North Beach in San Francisco. Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie, even Frank Zappa (who later shared it was his favorite concert venue to perform at). Hundreds and hundreds of performers for a mere couple of bucks. Still, Freddie King was the King of the Armadillo. Every time he played, he performed like it was Carnegie Hall. He and his music were massive, hypnotic and almost overwhelming. It was an awesome experience for Denise and me. We should have gone to the ‘Dillo more.....
My wife of forty-one years, Denise, reminded me of our post-wedding reception as we walked into the Armadillo beer gardens the evening of our morning wedding . We were greeted with cheers and a standing ovation from the entire outside beer garden crowd, led by our family as we arrived as the newlyweds of only a few hours. Beer, nachos and family on a warm, humid evening in Austin was a fine start to our blessed marriage.
We will both always remain grateful for having the opportunity to experience music in a now sadly extinct manner: simple, naïve, cheap, and simply for the pleasure of loving music. Armadillo World Headquarters: a permanent place in our hearts.
About the Author
I did NOT like writing stuff in school. However, now that it's voluntary, I like it. I'm still working on that attitude of mine.....
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All persons and situations reflected in these writings are pretty much fictional, based on generalizations over the course of many years of counseling. Any actual events or settings have been changed, including names and other details, to protect client confidentiality.