Monthly Archives: June 2009

The Parenting-Sales Connection

I issued a challenge to my children the week before last to make a list of all the things they wanted to do this summer.  I wanted to make sure we did something that met everyone’s expectations of a great summer vacation.  They both essentially wrote things that translated into, “I just wanna have fun!”  I was looking for more detail, but I guess it is simple from their perspective.  I need to refocus my older eyes and see if I can adjust them to peer through a younger perspective.  I think it is probably a lot simpler than I was making it out to be.  Isn’t that most always the case? 

I noticed today that my son was re-reading a book that he has read now, oh, maybe twenty times.  This is not an exaggeration.  I thought it was great the first five times, but now I found that I was feeling a little frustrated with him.  I reminded him that he has, in his newly redesigned “library” system, quite a few books that he hasn’t read yet.  He acknowledged that fact, and said he was going to get to them.  And, I know it is true, he will read them eventually.  I realized that what really mattered is that he was reading, and for some reason this book, and others like them, were like old friends, calling to him so they could retell their story.  There is a comfort that comes with reading an old favorite again and again.  That was a moment for me to step back and realize that it was a good choice for him, and that it was his choice, not mine.

I talked to my children not too long ago about using our time this summer for them to learn how to cook more things.  They both have always enjoyed helping in the kitchen and loved sharing their creations at meals.  This past school year they did help cook, but not as much as in the past.

Tonight I announced that I would like for them to prepare tonight’s dinner menu and make it.  I shared with them the ingredients that were options in the freezer and refrigerator, and encouraged them to come up with the combination that they thought sounded good and they wanted to cook.  They seemed pretty okay with the idea, that is, until it was time to start cooking.  5:30 pm rolled around and I told them that I thought it would be a good time to get everything going, since we usually ate around 6:30 pm.  My son said, “In a minute.”  My daughter said, “I’m not going to start until he does.”  So, I waited patiently.  Fifteen minutes passed, same drill.  Forty-five minutes passed, and now my son’s response, “I don’t want to cook.  I never wanted to.  I’m  not going to.”   His sister said, “I’m not going to if he doesn’t.” I ignored this and went downstairs, getting out a few of the ingredients they decided on (they came up with the menu earlier).  Then I called to them and said, “I have the chicken out, it’s time for you to decide how you want to cook it. ”

My son reluctantly came downstairs.  My daughter followed.  I pretended I never heard an objection, and went along as though they had never said anything to the contrary.  I then shared with my son how I usually prepared the beans he chose, and gave him a few options.  Then he was off and running.  My daughter followed.  There we were, all three of us preparing dinner (I had the job of preparing shortcakes for dessert).  I didn’t dare make a comment about how just a few minutes earlier they were complaining and claiming that they weren’t going to cook.  The funniest moment for me as a parent was, when my husband walked in the door, right as dinner was almost complete, and my son exclaimed, “Dad, I cooked dinner tonight, and I made chicken with a sauce and baked beans!”   He was clearly very excited and proud.  This experience reminded me of a lesson I learned in sales training years ago, a No is just a Yes in disguise.  It is a good salesperson’s job to unearth and address all objections, then uncover that Yes.   I guess being a parent is more like being a salesperson than I realized.  I think the key to remember with children is that a soft sell approach works better than a hard sell.  If anyone has found this principle to be true, please share your story!

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Ready or not, summertime is here!

Well, it is official.  We now have a 2nd grader and a 5th grader.  They are excited about their jump in grade levels, but more than that, they are excited about it being summertime!  I have heard several moms say, including several author moms, that all has to be put on the back burner because it is summer and the kids just want to play.  Face it, adults want to play, too!  That doesn’t mean, however, that good work can’t be accomplished.  I think we just have to be more creative in how we get things done.

As an author, I do think it is a prime time to be a content creator.  I heard this title a while back, and really liked it.  It fits what I feel my calling in life is.  My husband often encourages me to wear this title and assume the role on a daily basis.  He is right.  It is so important to not just strive to create content, but to actually do so.  It is easy with a new summer schedule to think that real writing has to go by the wayside.  I don’t think that is true.  I am actually feeling more inspired to create now than I have in recent months.   I am feeling like I will, however, need to be more creative in how I structure my time to create.  I enjoyed reading the recent blog posts of fellow SCBWI members, www.throughthetollbooth.com/, discussing how to approach the summer and writing.  Good food for thought.  So, for all the authors out there, let’s create some content!

My children are easily moving into the summer routine.  Sleeping in a little later, watching movies, just hanging out.  Last week my son attending a sports camp.  On one of these days, my daughter declared that she NEEDED to have a High School Musical movie marathon (her brother would have had no interest in this great plan).  This entailed watching all three movies in succession, with NO break between each movie.  She said she wanted it to be like one really long movie.  Well, she got her wish.  She seemed a little zombie-like afterwards, but she was happy.  Now, mind you, there was mention that this would not be a pattern we could repeat on a daily basis or her mind would definitely turn to complete mush.

It was fun to let her do that, and also to let my children have a voice in what they would like to do for fun this summer.  They have given me some ideas, but we still need to make our “master list” of what we would like to do.  I have also made a list of projects to complete around the house.  I have crossed several off my list already, feeling pretty good about the progress thusfar.  My children, however, told me that it was silly for me to want to do these projects now when I should have done them in the spring while they were in school.  I guess they didn’t love the idea of helping me with all these great projects! 

The most recent project was cleaning out the garage.  My son thought it was a great idea.  I quickly realized he had a bigger idea of cleaning out the side storage room in our garage to make room for our family’s bikes.  After I picked him up from his camp, he immediately started taking everything out, and within 30 minutes, he had it cleared out.  I was impressed.  He was motivated by the idea of having a dedicated space for his bike.  It made me think about what motivates him and his sister in life overall.  I am reading a book that I think will help answer these questions.  More about this later.

The really big news in my family is that there is talk of getting a puppy.  This has been a dream of mine and our children for what seems like forever.  My husband, however, didn’t share our dream.  He called puppies varmints.  You probably get the idea of his take on the issue.  That was the case, until a recent meeting of a dog that lives on our street.  The only time I have ever heard him say that a dog was cute.  The children and I made it our mission to find that dog again and find out what kind of dog it is. 

A few days ago,  we saw the dog again, and discovered that she had been a pound puppy, and they thought she was probably a Golden Retriever/Cocker Spaniel mix.   I looked up this mix, and discovered that it was known as a Comfort Retriever.  I told my husband this information, and he has been researching this breed of dog like crazy since then.  He even called a family  meeting to share that he was open to exploring the possibility of getting a puppy.   He just asked that we complete what he called a “puppy plan” that would include all the information on what we would need, how a puppy would be cared for, etc.  We checked him for a fever.  He is fine.  He said that God had softened his heart and made him open to a puppy.  Our daughter has been praying for a puppy for a solid two years now.  She said she just knew Daddy would want a dog one day, God had told her so.  I admire her patience and perseverance.  We found a breeder a few hours away.  Next step will be a trip to visit them and meet the potential parents!  Yippee!!

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Getting back on track

I can’t believe that it has been so long since I last posted.  My intentions really were good when I said I wanted to post more often.  I guess I let too many things get in the way.  Like many busy moms working to build their careers, I try to juggle too many balls at once.  Sometimes I do it well, and sometimes I don’t.  So, this is a new day.  A new post. 

I can’t believe that it is the end of the school year already.  My children are very excited about summertime and the prospect of announcing they are in the next grade after tomorrow.  A big deal to be in the 2nd and the 5th grades!  They have had super busy weeks leading up to the end of school.  I have heard several other moms say that this time of year is even busier than the holidays.  I believe I have bought into that belief as well.

Now the challenge to have a fun summer for us all while finding time to still write.  My son said he wanted to do a lot of relaxing and having fun.  My daughter said she wanted to play a lot.  They both said that they don’t want me to work any, but to play with them and do fun things with them.  That can all be a tricky order to fill.  Fortunately, I have signed them up for a few activities this summer, allowing me several good windows of time to work.  I will have to make sure I use this time well.

One thing my children and I recently accomplished is a complete reorganization of their bedrooms.  We cleaned out mounds of things that they didn’t play with anymore, and rearranged all that remained.  Both of them wanted their books organized more like a library so they could find things better.  I told them I just couldn’t bring myself to getting that detailed with it, so we agreed on categorizing the books in our own way.  The result was two children thrilled with seeing all their books in an orderly set-up.  My daughter said that one of the things she wanted to do was read all of her books from the top of the shelf to the bottom.  We started this project some months ago, but she kept being pulled away by the Ivy and Bean books and American Girl books.  She said we needed to start over and make that a good goal for the summer. 

My son’s biggest thrill with books lately has been the arrival of the 5th Percy Jackson book, The Last Olympian http://www.rickriordan.com/.   To prepare for this book’s release, he re-read the third and fourth books.  He had saved a gift card from his birthday to purchase the book.  I told him that I had a coupon for the book, saving 40% off of the cover, plus we got a 10% member’s discount.  He asked me to print this coupon and then proceeded to cut out the coupon (multiple coupons were on the page), tape it to the inside of his gift card, and place it all in my purse with a note reminding me to please get the new book TODAY!  Couldn’t tell a bit that he was excited.

He did read the book within the first two days.  He would have finished it the first day if he didn’t have to go to sleep.   The review on the book from my son is that it is AWESOME!  He has since re-read the entire series, and read the 5th book two more times.  I do love his enthusiasm.

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