Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Voice. My opinion. Her opinion.

There have been many incidents over the years that have caused this blog to be written.  Two have happened in the last two weeks.  We need to wake up and see how our words affect people and how they sound.  I thank the Bargain Hunter for giving me a voice.

Let a child give their opinion and the wolves are waiting to pounce

Does being an adult mean we deserve respect?  Or does it ultimately have to be earned?  

I’m pondering this notion on a hot, sticky July afternoon and I don’t like what I’m discovering.  I grew up in a home that taught respect, but not the kind of home where you had to be quiet as a mouse.  I’m one of five sisters and a brother and we’re known for all having big opinions. 
Really.  Very large and loud opinions.  

We sometimes have to shout to be heard at family gatherings.  We don’t often get into fights, in fact, I don’t really remember many fights at all.  There was the typical teenage bickering, but even now as adults we just hash things out over coffee – and more coffee – you know how that goes.  Our issues, our kid’s issues, our friend’s issues… on and on it goes. We’re pretty insular and what we hash out in private doesn’t usually make it into the public eye.  

It’s just how we roll. 

Our kids are often included in these conversations.  We value their opinion, and try not to let our strong personalities stop them from expressing their view. They may have to fight to get a word in edgewise, but get a word in they do.  How could they not have an opinion growing up with so much talking going on? 

My children, of which I have three, are very strong-willed.  Their Dad, he of pulsing Aztec blood, never lets the sun go down on an argument.  Our kids have learned they don’t usually win an argument/debate with him.  What they do know is that they can state their opinion without fear.  He’s raised them with a voice and a spirit to use it.  We guide them with what we want them to know, then step back and let them learn.  It’s the letting go process and some people don’t know how to do it. 

I’m not sure why some adults can’t take the opinion of a child or one of a young adult.  Are we so set in our ways that we think we need to “set them in their place”?  Do we feel the need to beat our opinion over their heads so they change their crazy ways and see the light?  Or do we feed them the “I’ve been through everything in my life” talk so much that they can’t live and learn life for themselves?  

Who decides who is right – and why are you arguing with them?

It’s a battle I’ve seen raging here lately – kids with opinions and adults who want to batter/berate them into the ground.  I’m tired of it. 

I welcome the teens who come into my home with an open heart.  I welcome their views and different points of conversation they may bring.  Who are we to tell them it isn’t so and that they can’t do something a certain way?  That they can’t have a different opinion than the “norm”? 

I for one don’t feel my authority as an adult is disrespected when kids believe something different than I do.  Is it a power game? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard an adult tell a kid that they know nothing about which they speak.  

I was taught a certain way, but that doesn’t mean I had to keep that belief system.  I have varied from it, distanced myself from it, came back to it, and adjusted it to be who I am – not who you think it should be.  Let’s not take these beautiful kids and negate their beliefs with one fell swoop – whether it’s our belief or not.  Let’s not tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about just because what they say convicts us of our own actions.  

Being an adult doesn’t give instant authority or wisdom.  Kids can sniff out posers a mile away.  Have we forgotten the freedom it is to be a kid?  Before we had mortgages, bills, and political views to stuff down people’s throats?  Back when our biggest issue was what cassette tape we were going to buy to cruise down the boulevard on a hot July night? 

Our children have the freedom to feel, to state, to say – and I won’t be a part of tamping those lovely thoughts down so they fit my own

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Family time >>> Computer time

My most recent column on The Bargain Hunter.  Can someone please hide my laptop for a week? 

Carving out time and getting away from the computer

I have lots of thoughts to write about this July 4th weekend. None of them have come together into a remotely cohesive train of thought. Should I write about how I threw a double baby shower on a dime? Or should I let you all know how I would like to rip Verizon Wireless because they keep adding hidden charges to my account? Maybe I should write about that great deal I got on toilet paper….

Maybe, maybe, maybe. I’m just not feeling any of those things today. What I have on my mind scraping the inside of my skull is one word: TIME That’s it - no punctuation after it or anything because it stands on its own. I’m sitting here typing trying to figure out where I can buy more time, or just do more with the time I do have. Have you ever sat at your computer fiddling around with Pinterest, playing Words with Friends (although my kids tell me WWF is now over? Never got the message?) or simply mindlessly surfing random sites for clearance items? All those snippets of seconds add up to hours, which add up to days, which add up to time lost. Why is this bothering me today? Me, I’m a techno freak. Although I don’t stay on my computer from morning until night, I do check it in the morning before work, when I come home, and I usually have it open in a chair beside me. Um, I may have stumbled onto the problem. I’m addicted.

This is not news. This is also not a post on how to save money or be frugal – but I’m thinking any person who wants to better themselves could use a good post on how to use time wisely? Either that or be a better listener when your better half asks you a question and you actually hear it instead of half of it and pretend to answer like you know what was said. That’s called fake listening and I’m guilty. Facebook has taken me over. Thanks for your evil billionaire-ish ways Mark Zuckerberg. Who am I to blame him? The dude is raking in some cool cash on our inability to tear ourselves out of an Internet fog. I simply need to know every moment what everyone’s having for supper, is that so hard?

All kidding aside, our lives need order and discipline. They also need freedom and fun. What I’m searching for is a balance. I need to learn to lay aside the laptop when it’s time. When I get to the bottom of the Pinterest page and it’s having trouble “fetching pins” quickly enough – I know it’s time. Or when Facebook has nothing new on the home page because I’ve checked it 20 times in the last 30 seconds and no, no one has updated yet. I’ve become a Facebook comment-hoarder. I’ve compiled a list of ideas to keep me from crawling inside my computer ala Tron – and if you don’t know what Tron is then I know I’ve gone too deep. (Look it up though, great movie and great remake).

1) Realistically, we need to take breaks from the computer. No one is made to go non-stop. Sometimes I feel a headache coming on when I’ve been typing awhile or even working online. Sometimes a day or two will do, or maybe two weeks is in order. It helps us keep perspective and realize that the computer world is not the real world. Here is a great post from The Simple Mom on taking a break: http://simplemom.net/on-breaks-and-why-i-need-them-regularly/

2) Pick up the written word. Books have always been a lifeline to me, but since the advent of the computer and everything available on it, I’ve found it hard to concentrate. I will not graduate to an e-reader, so I need to carve out Missy plus book time. For me that will entail my front porch, a cup of coffee, and that book that grabs my attention and won’t let go. I have one in mind I’ve been wanting to buy and doggone it I’m going to buy it. Spaces of time in our day must be devoted to ourselves or our peace of mind will go out the door.

3) Short of hiding the computer, which is ridiculous, we need to be able to strike a balance. Read this article from my friend and fellow blogger Tracy Lopez, who writes for Voxxi and has a great blog calledhttp://latinaish.com/. Read her excellent article on unplugging: http://voxxi.com/unplug-from-technology/.