Three Bonus Skills to Teach Your Kids

This is not a post about teaching your kids to dress themselves or tie their own shoelaces. It’s not even a post about ensuring your kids tidy their rooms and put their dirty clothes in the hamper. Or take out the trash and pack their own lunch. And shocker, it’s not about kids picking up their effing Legos. It’s not about teaching reading, manners, social skills, negotiation, independence or any of that.

Yes, yes, these are all important to their well-being and development, to the orderliness of your household, your mental health and the general good of society and all that. But there are a few extra skills which, quite frankly/selfishly, are the icing on the parental cake. Let’s call them bonus skills.

Teach them:

  • How to give your neck and shoulder massage nice, firm massage. Their little bony fingers can actually dig in to your tight sore muscles better than an expensive masseur.
  • How to use the coffee machine. After all kids love to push buttons so popping a K-cup into the machine is a breeze.
  • How to drive. No more chauffering them plus you no longer have to always be the designated driver. (Of course this doesn’t apply to parents of the under-16 crowd but we can dream, right?)

What other bonus skills are you teaching your kids?

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Holy Crap!

Since when did the word ‘crap’ become an acceptable and commonplace part of the English language? I hear people saying ‘crap’ left right and center and fully expect that any day now, I’ll hear this ugly – but apparently tolerated – word coming out of my kids’ mouths.

Don’t get me wrong: I am no prude. I have a filthy mouth. I’m just trying to delay the inevitable moment when my kids repeat explicit words and I have to react with the requisite  levels of discipline and feigned horror (while hiding my giggles.)

Flashback to the 70s … upstairs in my big brother’s bedroom. He was complaining about how crap his math teacher was in hushed tones so the parentals wouldn’t hear. I, at the tender age of about six or seven, had no clue what this word meant. (Shit, now you can work out how old I am … ) Anyway, later that evening over dinner, Dad was asking us about our school day. I excitedly offered up this new tidbit of information I had recently acquired: “Dad, did you know that Jonathan’s math teacher Mr. Agnew is crap?” (Side note: apologies to Mr. Agnew, I’m sure you were a fine teacher and my brother was just an extraordinarily large pain in the arse.)

Silence at the table. Uhoh.

Without going into the details, what followed involved soap, some chasing around the living room, my mouth and lots of crying.

(For which, I have never forgiven my brother.)

Hence, my friends, you can understand my sensitivity about the word ‘crap’. This punishment also applies to calling someone an ‘old bag’, I also discovered.

Kids, you’ve been warned.

My Son is a Liar

This weekend I overheard my son telling a couple of big fat whoppers to some other kids at a party.

“I’m on level 9 of Skylanders,” he boasted. “And I have a Smart Watch, I totally talk to my wrist and can make phone calls from my watch”

Fact: He has never played Skylanders (whatever that is.) And he does not own a Smart Watch (whatever that is.)

You may call it creativity, showing off, a fib. I call it a lie: an untruth.

And it worries me.

It worries me because this is not the first big fat whopper I’ve heard out of the mouth of someone I thought was so innocent, honest, bright and un-sneaky. But it’s not. I’ve heard him telling his sister and friends small, insignificant lies. And I’ve caught him telling bold-faced lies, right to my very face. About small things, but ….

I can understand boasting and showing off; peer pressure and all that. I can forgive a little creative license. But I will not tolerate down-and-out mendacity. Where does it come from? What motivates it?

Every day, I try to teach my kids to be kind, to have good manners and to be happy. And very, very silly. These are the values that matter most to my husband and I and which we model. Now I realize that we have to add reinforcing and reassuring that telling the truth always trumps deception. I guess that security plays a big role in this. A child needs to understand that there is so more to be gained by spilling the beans than covertly hiding them. But don’t get me wrong, there will be also consequence when whoppers are discovered, especially if their motives are dubious.

I guess I would be lying if I told you this parenting business was a cake walk. Are your kids liars? How do you handle it?

Manners, Please

You know what bugs me? Rude, selfish, thoughtless people.

I was recently aghast and disturbed when I read this post about an incident in which two teens showed utter insolence to a woman. No only did they not open the door for her, even though she was just steps behind them, but when she said “thank you very much” with a dose of sarcasm, they turned around and said “whatever, bitch.” O.M.G!

The mere thought of my kids – let alone anyone’s kids – behaving this way makes my nerves bristle.

But this is not just about kids, it’s about all of us.

Have you ever tried parking at the grocery store, only to find the spot you’d selected littered with an abandoned shopping cart/trolley? While at the supermarket yesterday, I looked and counted 17 carts slung around. Willfully. Selfishly.

It’s very easy to feel impervious to the outside world when we are driving in our cars. It’s almost as if, simply by being behind the wheel, we are excused from exhibiting basic manners like acknowledging with a “thank you” when someone lets you out, or saying “please, after you” to let someone go ahead of you.

Or how about taking a few seconds to RSVP to that invitation to a kid’s birthday party, rather than just turning up and assuming that the host can accommodate the unaccounted-for child or pay the excess fee for being one kid over the 15 limit?

I know we are all busy. I understand that things easily slip our minds. I know it’s natural to focus on me and mine, rather than you and yours.

But people, I’m trying to teach my kids to be polite and respectful and, frankly, you are not helping much.

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