It’s okay. They’re Just Kids.

As much as I love our yearly tradition of making gingerbread houses, I’m not so fond of having them in my house for the entire month of December… crumbing, rotting, and the pick, pick, picking by every child who comes by. They are usually a broken down mess that “disappears” immediately after Christmas, but during lull at Christmas break, I had the (brilliant?) idea of letting the kids demolish them in the backyard instead… WITH  the caveat that they clean up after themselves.

The kids ran out to the yard with head-spinning giddiness at the prospect of running over their gingerbread houses with their dump trucks and burying them with the diggers. They hooted and hollered for a solid ten minutes. Then… they got bored (as kids do when you think something is going to be super awesome and fill an entire afternoon) and returned to the house before I had a chance to follow them outside.

I asked if they had picked up  the yard.

“YES!” they sing-songed  in unison before turning back to their iPad.

Noticing that there was no evidence of trash bags strewn about or whining over who had picked up the most and/or least, colored outside the lines, or whatever else DOES NOT REALLY MATTER RIGHT NOW…  I asked them to specify exactly HOW and when they had picked up the yard.

I was secretly hoping that they had thought to put the trash directly into the bins outside so that I could lavish you with stories of my clever, considerate, wonderful children… but no.

“We threw it over the neighbor’s fence!”

“WHAT?!” Horrified, I grabbed two trash bags and ordered them to put on their shoes and coats. “We’re headed to the neighbors’ yard to apologize and clean up. NOW.”

There was a slight hesitation at the door followed by a flustered explanation and apology from my son and daughter. I could tell our next door neighbor was confused, so I quickly recapped and asked if we could go in their backyard to pick up.

“Oh it’s okay. They are just kids. It’s fine. Thanks for letting me know,” she said.

“No. I would feel better if they could pick up their mess,” I insisted, sending psychic mom waves in her direction. Please, please, please let me have this parenting moment. PLEASE! 

“Oh, it’s not a big deal. I can take care of it, not a problem. Thank you so much!”

Really?! Sigh… 

Knowing that we couldn’t force ourselves into our neighbor’s yard, we just apologized again, wished them a “Happy New Year”,  and moved on with our day.

—————–

Same story. Different place and time. In the absence of nearby relatives, I grew up celebrating every milestone and holiday with a tight-knit group of family friends. One Thanksgiving, two of the boys picked tomatoes from my dad’s garden, climbed to the top of our swing set, and chucked them into our neighbor’s pool. I don’t know how our parents found out about it but they did… and it was the first and the last time anything like that happened at a family function.

This was many, many years ago. We all see one another less frequently now, but  the tomato story still comes up almost every Thanksgiving.

Remember when…

Yes, that was dumb… 

Yup! 

We were “just kids” too at the time. All of us have since managed to grown into well-adjusted, functioning, socially responsible adults. One of the boys just started med school and the other is an analysts for a financial firm. I’m raising two little people of my own now, who in spite of a lapse in judgement here and there truly are awesome, kind, and considerate children.

We’re all doing just fine.

—————–

We’ve adopted a new mantra in our family recently: Mistakes are just an opportunity to learn. As a parent, I sometimes find it hard to let this learning take place– always hovering, warning, worrying, waiting to catch– and allow things to simply resolve themselves. Also, I don’t actually get to control what the lesson will be…

My children may not be perfect, but neither are the teachable moments that come our way. What I anticipated would be an afternoon of natural consequences ended up being an excellent example of extending grace and forgiveness, which was far more powerful and lasting, in my opinion.

People… screw up. It’s a fact of being human. We all make a mistake and sometimes there’s simply no way to fix them. But you CAN always own it, learn from it, pick yourself up, and do better next time… and yes,  let others do the same.

So maybe it really is okay that tomatoes and gingerbread houses sometimes get tossed over the fence and that kids be allowed to “just be kids”. Just as long as it doesn’t happen twice…

Inbox Zero

I spent an hour one afternoon cleaning out my email. I went with the inbox “nuclear option” (delete or archive everything) and also unsubscribed from over 350 newsletters. Then, I declared it the best use of 60 minutes.

INBOX ZERO! Not even a “Welcome to Gmail”!

Email Zero

It is a relief NOT having over 3,000 unread messages waiting for me. If that number gives you heart palpitations, be assured that most of these emails were press releases and blanket blogger pitches that I have every “intention” of getting to, but please… let’s be real. NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

I had some misgivings about unsubscribing/deleting messages to things from my tech writing days. It was sad to let that part go, but it’s much better than letting the guilt and stress consume me everyday. So I just held my breath and moved it all to “Trash”.

Trash. What a funny place to put something I once thought of as my “life’s work” and “passion”.

For the past few years, I’ve carved out a modest and meager online reputation as a freelance tech writer. Living in Silicon Valley, being courted by top tech brands, and working with some of the best, I had found my “tribe” in the tech world. It was exhilarating to coast up Highway 101 to meet  a potential new client or fly over the the glittering Vegas strip on the eve of another Consumer Electronic Show.  I would get a little light headed in my own fangirl ether and swoon over this gadget, that device…

As quickly as I was sweep up into it, it all fleeted just as fast.

I have not written an honest-to-goodness, Grace-caliber tech post in over a year. I’ve barely written any posts in over a year. It’s not a coincidence that that seems to coincide with our move back to Texas. I’ve been told that things are supposedly “heating up” in Dallas, but frankly I don’t feel the fire… in me.

I don’t feel the fire in me.

Months upon months ago, someone reached out to me an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY his company is investing in. Would I be interested getting it started? I would only have to commute an hour and half every day (puke!), but there is NO ONE ELSE DOING what they’re doing. It’s a GAME CHANGER.

“It’s like Groupon and Facebook for dog lovers who like Pinterest!* What do you think? Are you interested?” he cooed over the phone.

I just closed my eyes and thanked them for thinking of me because that’s the polite thing to do. Then, I let them know that there’s already something just like that (“It’s called Pinterest.”) because I just couldn’t resist.

There are people… everywhere.. doing awesome things and I love it! I appreciate it! I truly do, but my head… my heart… my focus. It’s just not there right now.

As most of my tech tribe heads off to (or is already in) Las Vegas this week for CES 2014 (i.e. our Christmas), I’m writing my lesson plans for the next few weeks and refusing to let myself get jealous. Okay, too jealous.  I sincerely hope to be back in my bright and beautiful tech world someday. Someday…but that’s day is not today.

Today, we’re starting our Map Unit and my daughter has a treasure hidden somewhere in this house. This is what I will be going after at the moment.

*Disclosure: I made up this “product” for the purpose of this post since I signed an NDA with the actual company prior to our phone conversation. But trust me, it was pretty darn close to this…. My response, however, was genuine.

One Word 2014: Cultivate

One Word 2014

When I chose “Persevere” as my One Word for 2012, I had NO IDEA how eerily prophetic it would be. I wish there was an anonymous place online where I could pour out everything that happened to us in 2012– blow by devastating blow. Maybe one day I will find the strength to tell our […]

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Our annual Christmas card is the highlight of my holiday season! I spend weeks… if not, months before… finding an amazing photographer, selecting coordinating outfits, choosing  just the right layout… And when it finally comes together, I cannot wait to mail them to all of our family and friends, near and far, just in time for Christmas. […]

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{Sponsored} Navigating the Holidays with GameStop

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Disclosure: I was hired to host a blogger lunch and learn with Techlicious and GameStop in Dallas, Texas. This post, as well as any related promotion, was compensated as part of this event.   I grew up in a household full of girls. We had a myriad of dolls and tea sets, instruments and bikes, a […]

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{Review} Virtual Piggy: A Safe Way for Kids to Spend, Save, and Give Online

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I started getting an allowance when I started junior high, which is probably late by most standards. But it’s not like I had anything to spend it on since I was not allowed to LEAVE THE HOUSE except for school and piano lessons until then… Any money received as gifts was hoarded away in a college fund, and everything I ever […]

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Rethinking Cell Phones in the Face of School Emergencies

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If you had asked me a week ago if I plan to get my first grader a mobile phone this Christmas, I would have laughed. In fact, I think I did when my tech-savvy six-year-old sheepishly tried to slip one on his Christmas wish lists. Following the tragic school shooting last Friday and far too many […]

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{Monday Morning Status} How to Discuss Sandy Hook with Your Kids (or Not)

If you have decided to talk to your kids about the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, chances are your already have. I, for one, have decided to shield my children from this horrific news in every way possible. They are already under enough stress and anxiety over our upcoming move and around school that there is absolutely no […]

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