Friday, August 15, 2014

An everyday family tradition

What is your best thing ?

Those are the words we hear every night repeated at our dinner table.
Years ago when the older kids were just little people we started an everyday dinner time tradition, to try and focus on each other's highlights and low points in the day.

At some stage in the meal someone will ask any other person at the table "What was your best thing today? " The replies are often funny, or mundane, sometimes they are revealing and pleasantly surprising. Sometimes a best thing is as simple as the snuggly welcome home someone got from the dog that afternoon, or that they managed to shoot a netball hoop after 258 failed attempts.  I LOVE it when their best thing is whatever I've cooked for dinner.

The initiator then asks " What was your worst thing today?" Again, the answers can reveal in a sentence or two whether the replier is having issues with a subject or classmate, whether they are sad about something we didn't even know about.  It's always okay to say you didn't have a worst thing.. That is a happy day indeed !

We then ask again " What is another best thing" to finish on a positive. Once that person has given their three answers it's their turn to ask another person at the table and so we go on. Any visitors to our table are included, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, sleepover visitors, even dad's mate who came for dinner on his way to a conference !

The only rules are - we all listen to each other's answers, and you aren't allowed to say "nothing" for your best thing. If the answer is nothing we all give some helpful hints, including the fact that they have a hot meal in front of them, warm clothes and a loving family. They might need to be reminded that there is only one week until school holidays, or that they got an award at school assembly.

So what were we teaching our kids ?
That there is always more good than bad in every day.
To try and focus on the positives and really think about what worked and what didn't work in each day.

They have learnt to sit, listen and take some interest in what is going on in the lives of every other person at the table. 

When kids are little, we as parents often ask "What did you do today?" Imagine how busy little people try to summarize all that happened in the day-  Impossible! Giving them a starting place and a specific question helps them organize their thoughts.
As the children have gotten older, we've found this little tradition has been crucial in engaging our teenagers in conversation. We could ask "Have you had a good day?" and we would no doubt get a monosyllable answer. With this tradition, they have to answer in a sentence and give more than just a Yes or No response. 

We didn't realise it when we started, but this simple family tradition has become one of the most important daily events in our lives.  

Do you have a family ritual or tradition ? How do you help your child reflect on their day ?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Laughing at myself - I MUST CONFESS

I MUST CONFESS - Deep inside, past all the grown up, mother of 4, responsible working nurse me, way past the mortgage paying, grocery shopping, bed making 42 year old me, there still dwells a bemused 18 yr old.

I regularly have moments of wonder.

Wonder that anyone thinks I'm mature enough for all this responsibility, that I have even a quarter of what it takes to raise another human being, let alone four of them.

I'm stunned that I am deemed trustworthy enough to work, to drive, to supervise teenagers.
And yet here I am.
Sometimes I talk to myself, from old to young, or from young to old.... one girlfriend to another.

Sometimes 18  year old me is stomping her feet saying "I don't want to do this".  Often she is looking in the mirror saying "Holy crap Lisa, what the heck is going on with your hair? "
Regularly she is shaking her head and chuckling "Wow, 42 years and you still can't put on eyeliner !"

 She laughs out loud at me ... ( she doesn't LOL becuase at 18 years of age for me there was no such thing as text messages, or mobile phones. )... she laughs out loud at my rules for my teenagers. Giggles when I lay down the "Rules when your boyfriend comes to visit", and snorts when I'm demanding that my teenage girls do some homework. She mocks me and asks "How are you going to handle this one" when my teenager declares (again) that she hates school and is quitting, and high-fives me when I manage to convince the same teenager to stay at school, at least for the rest of this week.

When my teenage daughter is telling me she hates a subject or that some teacher is boring, on the outside I am maturely trying to problem solve and explaining the importance of a complete education.
But 18 year old me is reminding me of how many times I told my parents I wanted to quit. I'm reminded of how frustrated I was at having to do subjects I hated, and how I thought most of my teachers were idiots.

18 year old me shows me a flashback, of my Mum sitting on the end of my bed, gently asking if I would consider doing just an hour of study for my HSC.. and of me laughing and saying "Nope" I had a boyfriend to visit, friends to catch up with.

When my just-turned-18 year old daughter asked if she could go to Melbourne for a night with a group of friends, 42 year old me at first said "Hell, no". After several discussions she got permission to go but only after I questioned her for details, rang the motel they were all staying at, checked on who else was going, lectured her on the possible dangers of drinking and going out in the city and the importance of sticking together.

A little whisper in my ear was again reminding me of how, just one month after turning 18, I announced I was going away for a weekend with my boyfriend, and that there was nothing my parents could do to stop me. I was bold enough to go, to just expect that I had every right in the world to do as I pleased and that they would just have to get over it.

I'm pretty sure that 18 year old me is a bit shocked at all the seriousness of this parenting gig. She's certain that this isn't at all like we had imagined. I think she thinks I'm a bit of a bore.

But that's because she's 18, and she doesn't know what I know now.


What would your 18 year old self say to you now? 

On Mondays I love to linkup with Kirsty from My Home Truths for I Must Confess.

She is having a teensy little break from blogging so I am hosting the I Must Confess linkup this week. Please join in - add you post confessing anything, or just sharing what's going on in your day. We love to see new faces so add your link and have fun visiting the other blogs. xx

Prompt for next weeks I Must Confess Post is  'If I could go back to one single moment in my life, it would be...'  hosted by Emma at ... get typing bloggy friends.

I'm also Linking with One Mother Hen for Open Slather