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What lessons your child is learning in an “everybody wins” environment

I guess I am old. I graduated high school in 2000. Things have changed in regards to education and I don’t believe many of them were changes for the better. For instance, when I started kindergarten, it was only a half day. That was where we were expected to learn our letters and numbers and how to make friends and follow directions. Now, if a kid doesn’t know that by kindergarten now, he or she is just doomed to failure and in need of extra help because the majority of the kids already know that stuff. They start school younger and younger. I admit, I sent my older daughter to 3 year old preschool and will do the same with my younger daughter, but it’s because they are already so far ahead that I feel they would be bored sitting home with me for another year and they really need(ed) to learn how to interact with other kids and authority figures. I don’t regret that decision, but the pressure that is put on younger and younger kids is a little nuts. Now they have full day kindergarten with homework. Homework! If ever there was something you can do to kids to make them not enjoy going to school, it’s giving them homework every single night starting in kindergarten. Ugh. In my city they are also making 4 year old preschool full day, every day. That seems really crazy to me. My daughter is 5 and still misses me during the day and gets exhausted by the end. I don’t think she ever would’ve survived doing that a year ago. Those are just a few of the decisions that I think are making the education system worse for my children than they were for me. But I think my biggest problem with the education system today is this idea that everybody is a winner.

Well…no, everybody isn’t a winner. If we’re all winners than nobody is a winner. It is the dumbest idea that anyone ever came up with in my opinion. I am of an era where when we had a science fair, there was first, second and third place. And then a participation ribbon that everyone knew was a pointless thing to hand out. Now, as a friend just told me, they don’t even have judges. They have “consultants” and they are instructed to give everyone a good grade and positive comments. Then everyone gets a ribbon, but there is no 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. Could someone please tell me what the hell the point of having a science fair is when there is no winner? No best project? I don’t get it.

What do our kids learn from this experience? They learn that no matter how hard they work, they are going to get the same recognition as the person that put in the bare minimum effort or no effort at all. What is the incentive to work hard and try their hardest? Answer: there isn’t any. Kids start to feel unimportant, unrecognized, and unsatisfied with their lives when they don’t get the recognition they deserve for doing something outstanding. They also don’t have the desire to keep practicing that instrument so they can be the best, or work on that artwork to make it look awesome. They don’t have the initiative to run just a little faster or kick the ball a little harder. What’s the point? Everybody wins anyway right?

On top of not feeling the need to do their best, they get a false sense of entitlement which I believe is pervasive in our society right now. When kids graduate and go to college and get their first bad comments from a teacher, they are devastated. This also affects how parents view teachers as well. When their child is given a bad grade or report, the parents immediately believe that the teacher is biased against their child and is doing something wrong by providing this constructive feedback. How else are our children supposed to improve themselves and work up to their potential, if they cannot ever hear a word of criticism? This quote perfectly sums up my feelings on the subject: “Perhaps if we offered the gold, silver and bronze for actual achievements, kids would learn lessons that better served their needs as adults. Perhaps if we let them lose and teach them to congratulate those who win, we would help them build the motivation and endurance needed to face real life challenges—e.g. sustaining a long-term marriage or securing employment—two very elusive trophies in today’s world.”

It frustrates me when my child comes home proud of herself for doing nothing more than showing up. I feel like if I want to give my child a false sense of accomplishment that should be my choice, but I don’t like the school doing that for me. I’m trying to teach her to work up to her potential and try hard. So when she brings me a piece of art, I don’t fall all over myself if it’s not her best work. I don’t hang it on the refrigerator unless it is. When she does a sloppy job on her homework I tell her. Does that make me a bad parent. No, I think it’s the opposite. I’m creating a child who can deal with the ups and downs of life. She will be able to deal with criticism and learn how to improve from it. She will know that this world does not revolve around her. I believe she will be a better person for it.

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/face-it/201111/do-we-all-deserve-gold-setting-kids-fail

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on 03/31/2014 in Uncategorized

 

Reflections of 31

I am coming up on another birthday on Thursday and I just want to take a moment to reflect on my life this year and what I think about growing another year older. This year has brought a lot of happiness, probably an equal amount of frustration, some big accomplishments (like finally finishing my bachelor’s degree and booking more photo shoots than ever before) and lots of love.

In the last year my daughter started Kindergarten, learned to read and became a little bit more grown up. My other daughter graduated from her crib to a toddler bed and has been taking little steps towards more independence every day. I mended a rift in my family and let go of a lot of built up pain from the past that no longer serves any purpose for me. I started work on a valuable project in my community with some good friends and I have gained a few pounds. Despite that though, I seem to feel more comfortable in my skin every year.

I feel like my husband and I are on a great path for the next year and I can’t wait to see what becomes of all our hard work. I’m really excited for the possibilities!

And finally I don’t feel sad for growing another year older as I used to. I feel so thankful and happy that I was blessed with another year of life. I just can’t seem to get sad about growing old when I know what the alternative is! Every year I get to spend on this earth with the people I love is a gift and I am well aware of that.

So even though the weather is supposed to be awful and I have to do a bunch of stuff on my birthday that I don’t want to, I’m going to enjoy being another year older and another year wiser. And my mom is coming out to visit for the weekend and that’s the best present I could get! So for all you women who are telling everyone you’re still 29, stop it! Embrace your age, embrace the important lessons you have learned that only come with age and embrace the fact that you’re luckier than a lot of other people who never made it to your age. Growing older is a beautiful thing that I wish everyone was lucky enough to experience.

 
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Posted by on 03/10/2014 in future

 

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This is why I can’t sleep…

My husband always tells me that I am an ostrich because I always have my head firmly implanted into the sand. But I say that’s a good thing. I have managed to live a very happy, mostly positive, low anxiety life. If I was to pay too much attention to all the horrible things going on around me, I would be in an anxiety ridden, depression death spiral. I really couldn’t function if I didn’t ignore so much bad stuff. My problem is that when I go to bed at night, for some reason my brain gets loose from the sand and all I do is worry. Worrying is very much a part of the territory with parenting, I know, but it’s just nuts. Here’s a list of all the things that I worry about at night.

1. The education system. Will it do right by my kids or will they get to the point where they hate school by the first grade?

2. Bullies and mean girls. Enough said.

3. Natural disasters. Will everyone starve this year because of the icy winter in the south and the horrific drought in the west? Sinkholes, droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, snow storms, they are all getting out of control.

4. Climate Change. How will the world be when my girls are adults? Will they be safe? Will they have a healthy life without air pollution or will they have clean water to drink? Will they be living in some earth pod free of any natural stimuli or beauty?

5. Food. What the hell are they putting in our food nowadays?! Meat is all pretty much disgusting unless you slaughter your own, vegetables and fruits are all pesticide laden and packaged food is just a gmo, diabetes laced death trap.

6. Every other product out there. The chemicals! Oh my god the chemicals! We slather them onto our bodies and our children’s bodies without even thinking about what we could be doing to ourselves.

7. Whether I am doing a good enough job parenting. I want to be able to teach my children to be kind, thoughtful, considerate, smart, feisty, grateful, and every other wonderful thing. But I have no idea if I’m succeeding or completely screwing it up.

8. War. I really try to actively ignore any talk about any kind of war and this Russia/Ukraine thing is stressing me out and I don’t even know what’s going on. I get serious anxiety about that kind of thing. I can’t. I just can’t.

9. My health. I worry about my back feeling like crap every single day. I worry about not eating right, not exercising like I should and just generally not taking care of myself the way I should be. I want to be around for my girls for a very long time and I need to step it up to make sure nothing gets in the way of that.

10. My business. I lay there thinking of ways I could get more business and get my name out there more and then I start to panic a little.

This is just a little glimpse of the things that cross my mind on a nightly basis. I’m completely fine all day because I’m running around taking care of the kids and doing other things, but the second I lay down these are the thoughts that plague me. I hate it. I wish my head would stay embedded in the sand where it belongs all the time, not just during the day. It’d be much easier for me to fall asleep. Like my husband. He can fall asleep in mid sentence. If I could have a super power, that would be it. It’s Ostrich Girl! She can fall asleep at the drop of a hat! :) For now, it helps to write all these anxieties down and get them out of my system.

 
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Posted by on 03/05/2014 in Uncategorized

 

The Great Disney Debate

Man those Disney commercials sure have a way of sucking you in! Every time I see one, especially if my girls notice it and start getting excited about all the characters they’re seeing, I feel like I should take them. I went to Disney World when I was 3 and it left a lasting impression on me for my whole life. I even remembered bits and pieces of it when I went back for my honeymoon when I was 21. Memories came flooding back to me when I went back. I really loved it. It was a great time with both my parents before they got divorced the next year. My girls are getting big enough to take a fun family vacation too. They are still small enough where they would really love Disney World and be really excited about everything, but big enough where I wouldn’t have to be changing diapers or any of that baloney. And they are getting big so fast. Soon they might be at an age where that doesn’t sound as fun anymore and the excitement will not be as great. So I feel like I should take them. And then I think…

It’s so hot! There are so many lines! Crowds! It’s so expensive! They’ll probably be terrified of half the rides. They’ll get tired of walking after about a half hour and then they’ll get cranky and hungry and we’ll all start snapping at each other. I’ve heard from people that it’s really stressful and not at all a relaxing vacation. And I feel like I would rather bring them to someplace like a Beaches resort, or Hawaii, or Montana, or anywhere where it will consist of lazy days at the beach or hikes in the woods or something where they can learn something about the environment. But then I still have in the back of my head, the guilt that kids should get to experience Disney when they are still kids. But on the other hand, I am not really into all that consumerism and I just want to spend quality time with the kids. Plus my older daughter really hates crowds and noise and waiting in line and heat just like her mom. And the younger one is not a fan of rides.

I personally don’t feel like going on a vacation where I have to walk miles a day in the Florida heat with two (probably very annoying) kids in tow. But then I think it’s not always all about me. I don’t know. I am constantly going back and forth on the matter. I want to make great memories for my girls and I feel like Disney World is kind of a great memory to have from childhood and I don’t want to take that away from them just because it sounds like a lot of work for me. It’s seriously back and forth one thought to the next. Very tiring. What are your thoughts on Disney? Worth it, or skip it? Can they have just as much fun there when they’re like 12 and 10 or so or should they go when they’re younger and their eyes are all filled with magic?

This parenting stuff is hard!

 

 
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Posted by on 03/02/2014 in Uncategorized

 

Rant of the day

Why is it that my child can remember that I bought her a book after no-tv week a year ago, every detail of a trip to Washington D.C. we took two years ago, that I promised her a treat this morning, and every other non-important thing I have ever said to her but she cannot seem to remember the things I say over and over and over again every single day? The kid is like Rain Man or something.

It’s always the same things with her. Rinse off your toothbrush or the bristles will get all hard and gross, flush the toilet when you go to the bathroom, don’t take toys out of your sister’s hands, ask nicely when you want something, don’t take all the books off your bookshelf at once, and the big one SIT IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR CHAIR!! I don’t know why, but this has to be my biggest pet peeve. The girl is constantly perched on the very edge of her chair at the dinner table and every single day, three meals a day (or two if she is in school) I have to remind her to sit in the middle of her chair. It has gotten to the point where I told her tonight that if she doesn’t start remembering, she’s going to be excused from the table and not get to eat. I feel like she’s doing it on purpose sometimes because she knows it drives me nuts. I didn’t a little interview with her one day and one of the questions was “What does mommy always say to you?” and her response was not “I love you” or something along those lines, it was “Sit in the middle of your chair”. So if she knows that’s what I always say, why do I CONSTANTLY have to repeat myself? I feel like I’m living in Groundhog Day here! Oof!

Seriously the girl remembers everything that has ever happened in her life yet she cannot seem to manage the one simple task of sitting in the middle of her chair so she doesn’t drive her mother to an early grave. Is it really that much to ask? I feel like I’m losing years off my life here just based on the amount of breath I use on telling her these things. I hope to god I won’t still have to be telling her the same things when she’s sixteen. Oy vey!

Ok, rant concluded.

 
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Posted by on 02/27/2014 in parenting

 

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What once was, what is and what will be

The past sure has a way of making it hard for us to move on to the future. Whether it is something good that you look back on with fondness and wish it was still happening, or something bad that you can’t let go of in order to succeed, or change or just be happy. Even though the past is done and behind you, sometimes you just can’t help but carry it with you into the future. It is such a hard thing to live in the present and not the past or future. It is one of those things that I think people can work towards all their lives without ever really being able to do it.

I got thinking about this for a few reasons. One was yesterday when I was reminiscing with friends about how we used to hang out on the weekends drinking at night and then waking up late to go to the bookstore and get coffee and see movies all the time and going out to eat. While I love my children to death and wouldn’t trade them for anything, I really enjoyed that freedom to be spontaneous, to not have to care for anyone besides myself and to not be constantly consumed with worry about one thing or another. Once you have children all that goes out the window for the next 18 or more years. It is a hard thing to say goodbye to.

Along the same track, later that night I watched the last two episodes of The Wonder Years on Netflix. Kevin up and quit his job with his father and decided to just take off and drive. And the way he explained just getting in the car with not a care in the world and just the open road in front of him hit me like a punch to the gut. Being 17 was awesome. I was old enough to have some responsibility and young enough to pretty much be able to do as I pleased. It was a time of concerts, driving wherever I pleased, working a pretty mindless, easy job and making out with my boyfriend (now husband). The feeling that I will never again get to experience that youthfulness and freedom almost physically hurt. It is really hard to think back on a great time in your life and know that you can never have it again.

Then today I read a blog article about how when you have a child that you know will be your last one, how it’s so hard because as they have all their firsts you are having lasts right along with them because you know you will no longer experience this phase with one of your children again. That was hard for me to read too. I don’t give stuff like that a lot of thought normally, but then I read something like that and it just makes me sad. I look forward to having great relationships with my girls doing stuff only older kids can do, but at the same time, the past holds me back. It’s hard not to get all misty eyed thinking about your kids when they were babies and how fast they grew up.

So a lot of the time I feel like I’m either tethered to the past, longing for times gone by, or I’m thinking about how wonderful I hope the future will be. I do try my best to live in the moment but a lot of the time either the past or the future is pulling at me. Mostly the past. I tend not to be able to think that far into the future. If it’s more than a week or month out, it’s too abstract for me and I just can’t even picture it.

Have any of you ever felt like this? I’m sure you have. Maybe you wish you could go back to your high school or college years. Maybe a study abroad trip that you’ll never be able to do again. Maybe it was a time when you were single and doing what you pleased all day long. Maybe a time when you were in great shape. But, if we don’t let go of the past and let it stay there, it’s hard to make great memories out of the present. So, I guess we just need to let it go. Today is one of the good old days. :)

 
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Posted by on 02/24/2014 in family, future, parenting

 

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Smarty Pants

I’m a proud mama today. I decided to contact my daughter’s teacher via email last night to express some concerns over the reading material that was being sent him with her. We had spoken previously about how she was doing so well with her reading that she was going to start sending her home with books to read a few times a week. The papers that have been coming home though, we not books. They were just little sheets of paper with like four sentences on each side and the sentences were only about three words long. Way to easy for her. So I asked if it was possible if she could be given more challenging materials. I was told that those weren’t actually the books she was going to be sending home, those were for everyone, and she just had been sick so she hasn’t done it yet.

She then told me that she was going to have her tested in library today just to see where she falls on the scale and what level materials she should be reading. She figured she’d be a 12-15. She said that she couldn’t teach beyond an end of first grade level which would be a 28, but she didn’t think she was there yet anyway. So a little while later she called me back and said that she tested at a level 20. And she probably could’ve gone on further but she got tired and they didn’t want to push her to hard. So she said she was going to ask the principal if she could move her into the first grade classroom for their reading groups. She also said that she’s at the very top of the class for her overall skills. And that is impressive because she is one of the youngest kids in class having just turned five the second week of school.

I’m so glad I asked and advocated for her because I don’t want her to be bored and start causing trouble. I want her to be challenged enough to keep interested and improve her skills. Not challenged so much that she gets frustrated and stops liking it though. It’s a tough act to balance. Her dad and I figure though that we may as well try and then if it doesn’t work out we can always move her back to her regular class. I’m not surprised that she is so far ahead because for one thing, both her dad and I were very advanced in reading at her age too and for another, I have been reading to her nightly almost since she was born so I’m sure that helped a lot of words start to sink in.

I’m just so proud of my girl I had to share! :)

 
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Posted by on 02/12/2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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