Bank Deposits, kid version

So, this is in many ways an oldie but a goodie….this concept of banking with your kids.

No, I’m not talking about the allowance or financial planning; coins and greenbacks.  I’m talking, rather, about the most important kind of banking: the Bank of Our Children.  What I mean is this, an old parenting nugget is to make sure you make “deposits” in  your child’s bank account of affection, daily.  Sounds simple, no? Simplistic even.  That very aspect, so basic, doh, makes this an easy nugget to drop or brush off. It’s easy to nod in agreement and then blithely trip along on our daily treadmill.

But that would be a mistake.

It’s one I’ve made all too often and even too recently.  This has been an intensive summer, to say the least.  You all know that.  But numerous other events and things have been cranking up the pressure as well and with that vise, something has to give.  That would be me.  Or, more precisely, that would be my equanimity and even on some days, my kindness and affection.  One of my kids, in particular, has born the brunt of this, fueled by my frustration and disappointment in some of their choices, but aggravated by the general stresses of this summer and simply, mostly, by my sheer laziness and/or burnout in keeping that razor sharp tongue and lightning fast temper locked up.  Happily, Coffeedoc is most excellent at doing this, he doesn’t fall into that bear trap of temper and intensity.  He’s the most even keeled guy I know.  Thank goodness for such gifts.

Suffice it to say, I’ve made more withdrawals than deposits in this bank account lately.

So, I’m once again, flipping back the pages to the basics for a refresher course in parenting basics 101.  And the most fundamental one is: make sure you make sure your kid knows you think they are great, good, even awesome.  Even if they are frustrating you, you (ok, me) can look ’em in the eye and kiss them on their forhead and smile at them with soft eyes a couple of times in the day.  You can tell them “I love you,” without it sounding snarky.  Really, you can.  And if you can’t, you can touch their shoulder as you pass by them in the kitchen and you can let them see you looking at them with a smile.  Really. You can.  Ok, that’s right, I can.  But some days, some of those hard brittle parenting teen days…or five year old days, or kids from hard places days…..you have to intentionally MAKE yourself do it.

That’s right, you have to MAKE yourself do it.  Because you might want to growl at them, you might want to tug their ear to get them to listen, you might want to hold up your palm toward their face and glare instead of hearing them.  But that would be a mistake.  Because then your ‘bank account’ {by which I mean: THEIR bank account of this resource too} of closeness and affection with that kid, your kid, is draining like a sieve.  And if you (ok, me) can just pull them into even a half shoulder hug….you’re changing that pattern and building that interest and that reserve back up again.

But, this particular bank account….it’s not only your best resource for happiness and heck, even retirement (fair warning children!) but it’s theirs.  For their future too.  It’s their most important IRA, it’s  an IKA  – Individual Kid Account.  And you are the steward of it.  Those deposits may seem fleeting and ephemeral, but they are worth more than platinum or gold.

>On Not Being Able to Paint

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study of Leonardo, mmg

It’s a bit of a curse, being a perfectionist control freak.
It is stifling.
It is limiting.
It is stupid.

I used to be, back in the day, almost an artist. I say almost, in that I was never quite tortured enough (though I tried) to be one, I suppose.
And really, never talented enough either. Not driven. Not truly.

And therein lies my problem. Because, if I was a REAL artist, I’d wouldn’t care. I would just paint for the joy and release of it. And sculpt and draw. All those things that ARE such a release and a joy….all those things that when I remind myself that’s it’s ok to take the time to do it, and then DO it….I feel such joy, such pleasure. I feel such a flood of “oh, yeah, I love this, no matter what, this is part of me.”

So, if I get that feeling, that simple pleasure, every time, WHY can’t I just jump in and keep up with it? I can only guess because I am not deep down a true artist. It’s ok, I can live with being a dabbler. The problem lies in the control aspect, the perfectionism. Because I want every piece I start to be, well, perfect. And if I don’t have the time to devote to making it so, or if I am rusty or in a medium where I am less proficient, then I am somehow…..stifled.

And I do nothing.

And I think that is the saddest thing. And when I intellectualize it, I can jump start myself again, because the intellect in me knows that the control freak is an idiot.

And then I realize, this overflows into so many aspects of my life and choices. I gave up running, back in the day, when I knew I would never be anything but laughably slow (and they did) and to run any distance whatsoever would be almost beyond my ability. I do the same thing with gardening, sewing, quilting, some cooking….I often don’t start because I fear that I or it will not be good enough.

It can even overflow into mom-hood. I can choose to not start or to shut off, out of fear of not being ‘good enough” or totally in control of a situation – of a ‘life-painting’, if you will. The intellectual side of me can easily live in fear.

That is what the urge to perfectionism is, the control freak side really is: fear.

But, I did end up running that half marathon. Then I ended up running that marathon. And I was laughable. And it was still awesome. Worth it. Joy, pleasure, amidst the dorkyness and pain. And I didn’t care about that anymore. It was liberating. I gave up the perfectionism there, and it worked.

So I am determining to choose. I choose to not choose fear. {And yeah, that scares me. Ha!}

But.
I am tired of not of being able to paint.

So, I think I am going to carve out a bit of time, even if it is nowhere near the amount I used to spend in my marathon painting sessions, back in the day. And I think I am choosing to paint again…in different new mediums, new canvases.

I’m going to go find my brushes.