BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Learning Patience

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How do we learn patience? How do we learn that sometimes things don’t happen as quickly as we would like them to? Is patience a trait that can be taught or does it develop naturally?

Infants, of course, have no patience. If they’re uncomfortable, they let you know. In return we take care of their needs. I think it’s natural that asĀ  kids grow they still have their needs met by adults, but perhaps not as quickly. Does that teach patience or just lead to irritability? I think it can go either way.

If I want your attention but you put me off brusquely I will probably feel hurt. If you tell me that you’ll give me your attention shortly, I’m likely to be satisfied. Does it work that way for kids too? I suppose it depends on a lot of things, like who the kid is, what they want, and what’s going on around them.

I’m thinking about patience because of our state testing. Can kids who are nine or ten years old patiently go through all of the questions and possible responses and evaluate all of them before choosing? Can they be expected to sit quietly for multiple hours at a time? How much patience are they supposed to have?

Some of my students are quite impulsive. Some of them are extremely high energy. Sitting quietly doesn’t come easily to them. They’re trying, though, and for that I applaud them.

I do think it would help kids learn a little more patience if we didn’t drop everything to cater to their wishes. I see it a lot. Out at the mall a kid whines about being hungry and out comes the bag of Cheerios. At the restaurant there’s a wait for the food and out comes the technology. A student leaves a paper at home and a parent drops everything to run it over to school.

I know this rant sounds all old and “in my day,” but I assure you my mother never carried around sippy cups and snacks, and if I forgot my violin or my homework? Well, that was on me. It would never have occurred to me to ask her to bring anything to school (or even to call her from school–only the nurse did that– and only if I was throwing up).

But did I carry snacks around when my son was small? You bet. We’re much more mobile now. My mom and I didn’t go far when I was a kid. Maybe to the grocery store, or the bank or the beauty parlor or the dentist. Wherever it was, we always went home afterward. We didn’t live out of some rolling second house on wheels complete with snacks, communication systems, and entertainment. Jeez, in those days there weren’t even cup holders. Can you imagine? Barbaric.

I’m not suggesting a return to the dark ages (I love my cup holders), but maybe we could use a little more patience and try to teach it to our kids. Maybe we can take our time on a project and not expect instant results. Maybe we can engage kids in something that isn’t instant and takes work. How about planting a garden or building a backyard obstacle course or writing and illustrating a book? Maybe even just reading a long book together, one chapter at a time. There is value in delayed gratification, and there is value in persistence. I wish more kids had opportunities to experience both on a regular basis.

When our kids mess up, we have to let it happen. No, I’m not suggesting you allow your child to set the house on fire, but you paving the way so that your child never experiences any discomfort is a disservice to your child. I know you want your child to be happy. I know you don’t want him to be uncomfortable. But do you want him to be independent? Do you want her to be resilient? Do you want them to be self-reliant? Or do you want to fix everything for them for the rest of their lives?

The “pay to get my kid into the college of my choice even if the kid isn’t qualified” folks don’t. Their message to their kids is, “Whatever you might be capable of on your own isn’t good enough, and you need me to step in so that you can have success as I define it.” Ouch.

Maybe it sounds cruel to a modern parent, but the phrase, “No, I won’t play with you right now, go find something to do, without technology,” can be a loving response to your child. Let kids explore and use their imaginations, and they will discover worlds that aren’t found in any app. Stop trying to fix everything for them, they will be okay as long as you let them fail from time to time. Being uncomfortable in the short run can have great benefits in the long run. And parenting isn’t instant. You have to have patience.


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I Feel Like a Failure

After four successful challenges, which I’m still completing each week, I’ve hit upon the one that broke me. Exercise. UGH. I just don’t LIKE it. I’m too BUSY. I can’t possibly do it ALONE. Does it even really MATTER? Do I HAVE to?

In a nutshell:mistake-oops1

1. Too bad.

2. No I’m not.

3. Yes I can.

4. Yes it does.

5. Yes I do.

I JUST DON’T LIKE IT

This statement is only partially true. I don’t like the idea of having to exercise, but once I get going I actually don’t mind it all that much. There are lots of types of exercise that this body isn’t built for, but I don’t have to do those. I have a bellydance DVD that I enjoy (although it’s murder on the shoulders, but I modify) and I can certainly take a walk in the park. I also have gorgeous pink boxing gloves that are gathering dust. Just putting those on makes me want to get up and move (and maybe jab at something too, just saying). And when the weather gets warmer, I’ll be in the water walking my laps, my favorite exercise of all. So no, I’m not going to be doing burpees or running marathons, but I don’t have to. I just have to move.

I’M TOO BUSY

As if I’m the only person in the world with a full-time job and a family. I could be exercising now, but I’m sitting comfortably on my well cushioned backside instead. I live directly across the street from a lovely park. As in walk to the end of the driveway, look both ways, and cross. It’s RIGHT THERE! A walk around it is about a mile. People walk it all the time. I see them from my house. As far as I can tell the only difference between me and them is that they actually took the time to get to the park, and most of them probably don’t live directly across from it. I can walk after school. I can walk all weekend. No, I’m not like my wonderful colleagues who wake during the dead of night to exercise, but there are certainly enough waking hours for me to find at least twenty minutes to spare. My brain knows this, but my lazy body is in denial.

I CAN’T POSSIBLY DO IT ALONE

This one is really a double lie. First of all, yes, I can. Even if it’s too cold out or too scary out or too anything out, I have a treadmill. It’s in the house. It’s plugged in. It works. I know how to operate it. It doesn’t take two people to get on a treadmill and walk. In fact that would be a problem. It’s hard enough to walk on it with the dog. It’s actually her treadmill and sometimes she wants to join in when I’m on it. I let her once, but I was so concerned with our safety that I didn’t stay on for long. Now we take turns. Although in reality, she gets about ten turns for each one I take.

Now here’s the other part of that lie. I don’t have to do it alone. My son walks the dog every day that he’s here. I can go with them if I choose. Even if he’s not here, my sweetheart will always drop everything to go for a walk with me. He’s also ready, willing, and able to field my jabs and kicks if I happen to want to get on my pink gloves and go all pugilistic on him. I bet he would even go to a gym with me, if I asked him to. The mere thought sends a chill down my spine.

DOES IT EVEN REALLY MATTER?

Well of course it matters. I know that the more sedentary I am the more weight I will continue to carry around, negatively impacting my quality of life. When I move I feel good. I feel powerful and in control, not to mention that I lose weight. When I lose weight, I don’t huff and puff as much, and I feel more comfortable in my own skin, not to mention all the good things that happen inside my body. My doctor confirms these for me with my regular visits. I take medication that requires regular bloodwork, and it’s quite obvious from the results that the effort I put into my body is directly affecting how efficiently my body works. I really want it to work for a long time, so I need to put in the effort. I know this. Now I have to live it.

DO I HAVE TO?

I suppose the answer to this one has to do with the type of life I want to life and how long I want to live it. If I want to keep being sedentary I guess I don’t have to exercise. I could just keep sitting on the couch and allowing time and age to take their toll on me. I can imagine a scenario where it gets more and more difficult to do anything, so I would do less and less. All those minor annoyances of being fat would compound and eventually I would have some really serious health problems. I’m not excited about that prospect. The opposite scenario, the one where I get my butt in gear and get moving, seems far more attractive. In that scenario I have fun being active and do all sorts of neat things. There have been times in my life where I felt great, and moving was a part of it. I’ve never been a real athlete, but just putting in SOME effort makes me feel good. Why is this truth so difficult for me to remember?

THE NEXT STEP

I’m done beating myself up over this “failed” challenge. After all, I did put in one good day of exercise, and that was more than any of the days in the previous week. I’m not giving up. I’m not quitting. I’m going to try again. And again and again and again if that’s what it takes. I have to. I want to live a long and healthy life, and what I’m doing now isn’t working, so here I go again.


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Fighting the Failing Feeling

629305I knew this was coming. I braced myself. I thought I was ready. Turns out I really wasn’t. My time off work ended and the last two weeks have been busy and hectic and a challenge. They have also been energizing and fun and satisfying, but they’ve been awful in terms of taking good care of myself. My sleep has been lousy, I haven’t exercised nearly enough, and I’ve been eating poorly. Turns out old habits are hard to break. I knew this, of course. I even tried to plan for it. The sad truth is, though, that at the end of a long and busy work day I find it difficult to exercise and prepare nutritious meals. I’m trying. And eventually I’ll get it, but I’m not quite there yet. In the meantime, though, it would probably help if I stayed away from cinnamon bears and beer. UGH.