Earning Your Stripes

Validation. We all need approval – especially children. Way to go, good job, you got it. We all have our favorite sayings of validation that we say to our children. While I was hurling through Brooklyn on the A train at 7 A.M., I overheard a mother and child doing some schoolwork. As a parent and teacher, I was impressed. I did not hear (nor care) what they were learning. All I heard was the mother drone on, “Good job…”  Whether it meant anything to the child, I’m not sure.

In March of this year, BR started taking karate. I pushed it. It is said to be good for kids with ADHD as it can help them with focus and discipline. In addition, karate could help him with his OT issues by improving body awareness. Lastly, he expressed an interest. Okay, I asked him multiple times, and he finally agreed to it. My wife got on board, and we signed him up for a program.

So, since March BR has been attending karate twice a week for 45 minutes. The boys and girls vary in age but seem to be anywhere from 5-9. At first, he was challenged but seemed to take to the discipline and noted that SJ (his younger brother) would benefit from it. I was ready to gloat.

The kids start off with a plain white belt. From there, they need to earn stripes before moving on to the next color belt. There is an opportunity to earn stripes at the end of every month (assuming you have been to at least 8 sessions since you last moved up). The first time BR was up for a stripe, he got one. He beamed with pride when he talked about his stripe (a piece of black electrical tape – pretty fancy, ehh). He quickly got his second stripe and was feeling good about his accomplishment. I would catch the last 10-15 minutes of class and saw a boy who was really trying to focus and do his best. I also saw improvements.

Then he hit a speed bump.

One time, two times, three times, came and went, and he could not get the third stripe. He even went to karate camp – 5 5-hour days – and still was not up to getting the next stripe. Then, he stopped talking about karate and getting him to practice was a chore. I did not want to argue with him about it. After all, this is an extracurricular activity. I told him multiple times that practicing is the key to getting better, and he needed to decide if he wanted to improve. (FULL DISCLOSURE My wife is the one who supervises his practicing. She keeps telling me I should, but it does not happen. This may be why she was less excited to sign him up for karate in the first place.)

Well, today was the September test. My wife prepped him again – a lot. We all hoped he was ready. SJ and I got to the Dojo just in time to see the Sensei make the stripe presentations. Lo and behold, BR was the third one called. He had earned his stripe. A good job – I’d say. He persevered despite the frustrations (I was ready to pull him out) and accomplished his goal. I am so proud of him!


A Worthy Cause

Let me tell you what I do and what you do when the phone rings.

I reach for the phone – usually. I look at the number and then scan my memory if I know to whom the number belongs. If I come to the conclusion that I do not know to whom the number belongs, I let the machine take that one. The answering machine is very popular in my house. It gets lots of calls.

Anyway, the onslaught of charity calls is much. There are so many worthy causes. This is especially true these days when many people are out of work and therefore struggling financially. I do indeed tithe and do my best to give to worthy charities but am unable to give to all who are in need. Ultimately, I have to decide to whom to give and whom to leave out. I am sure everyone knows my dilemma.

This coming week my family and I are participating in a walk to raise money for the Lustgarten Foundation. The Lustgarten Founation is a large financial supported of Pancreatic Cancer research. We do this as a way to honor my mother-in-law who succumbed to pancreatic cancer a few years ago. My own grandmother also had pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, many of you may also know someone who has or is suffering from this terrible disease.

I have included a link here (http://2012ParamusWalk.kintera.org/grandmasylviesteam) to our team which again is walking in honor of my mother in law. If you have the inclination and the financial wherewithal to make a donation, I would appreciate it. It is a worthy organization.

Thanks for your consideration and be healthy.

Truly Helpful Inventions

In the last couple of weeks, I have posted about my idea for Kiddie Kennel and the need to wash my hair. If you boil down both posts what it comes down to is that I have been very busy and would like some space. The feedback I received essentially fit into two categories: I’m also busy, and you have to make time. I agree 100%.

Well, I have a thought. We all know we are living in a technological age and that technology is supposed to make our lives more convenient, relaxing and easier. Yet, we are busier than ever with a nagging need (?) to fill each moment. I’d like to blame the technology. Actually, I’d like to suggest some new technology which will truly help make things in my home life more peaceful.

1. Urine Magnet – this handy item ensures that those who don’t shoot straight will still hit the mark. Place the magnet in the toilet and the urine will end up in the toilet. ALWAYS! This will limit bad odors and save you from cleaning yellow rivers.

2. Bed Belts – this wonderful item will help you get that restful night that you so sorely need. You know the child who insists on getting up in the middle of night, getting in your bed, kicking you and stealing the blankets? Well, with the bed belt, you won’t know that child anymore. In addition, those children that are floppers will be safe and you will have peace of mind. Don’t worry there is a button that can be used if it is a true bathroom emergency.

3. Sock Absorbers – this blissful item will bring you bliss. It functions similar to a shock absorber and is perfect for the heavy footed person in your house. No longer will you have to cringe as lead foot pounds the floor mercilessly. Tell me now – isn’t that blissful?

4. Volume Control – this special item will pay for itself quickly as your aspirin bill will fall dramatically. We all know people who seem to have only one voice – OUTSIDE VOICE. Now, we don’t want to diminish the headache inducing individual’s enthusiasm and excitement but just turn it down a notch or three. Well, the human volume control can do that. It’s true.

5. Lego Suction – this is truly a time saver. Who doesn’t have a child that loves Lego? Answer – no one! Now, as we all know Lego these days – unlike when we were children – comes in some ridiculously small pieces. So, even when we parents have our children clean up, they often miss pieces. Stepping on those Legos brings one word to mind – OUCH!!!. The Lego suction works similar to a vacuum but is specifically designed to just pick up Lego. One easy flick of the switch and the Lego is quickly sucked up and can be easily put away. I am enraptured just thinking of this.

So, tell me wouldn’t these types of new inventions help you? Make your life more convenient? I knew they would.

P.S. Any more ideas for truly helpful technology? I’d be happy to hear about them.


Have To Wash My Hair Tonight

That’s not really true – the title that is. I am a morning shower person. Anyway, you know how you used to watch those television shows like Happy Days and other comedies of that era? When a woman didn’t want to accept a date request, she would say I have to wash my hair. Now, of course, the guy did not buy that excuse. It’s just too lame. However, he would accept it at least publicly because it was a way to escape the embarrassing no to his date request. “Hey she’s busy,” he could tell his friends, “she has plans tonight.”

This is the third week of the new school year. We have already had some days off for holidays with more coming. Despite that, I feel as though I have so much to do. Rushing, rushing, rushing.

One of my goals this school year is to minimize stress. Actually, it’s a goal I set every year which seems to fade ever slowly away till it’s time to do grading for the first marking period. At that point, it just completely disintegrates. I end up feeling anxious and fighting the feeling that I am not getting enough accomplished.

Last year, however, was a bit different. I wasn’t as hard on myself. I followed through on some of my promises to myself. I actually got to get bed earlier one night a week, assisted the students as best as I could and did not take their failings as my own. I even did some things for myself (one of those was to start a blog – you may have heard of it – it’s called memyselfandkids) You know what? It felt good!

This year, I am ready to take it to another level. I have a number of things that I want to accomplish outside of school. Therefore, I have to be even wiser and more efficient when it comes to budgeting my time. This goal has been in the back of my mind all summer. I know I can, I know I can. I psyched myself up.

You’re waiting for the but right? Well, here it comes. Sort of.

I have had to go out nearly every night since school started. Whether it was a back to school night, religious commitment, a concert (saw Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band last night), I have had regular plans every night. You know what I need? I need a bunch of nights in a row where when you get home, you can latch the door because you know you are not leaving till the next morning. You know the type of night I mean? Now, of course, there are still familial responsibilities, but that’s different. That’s an everyday responsibility, and one I enjoy (usually).

So, I am thinking about using that line. The next person who tries to make a plan will hear, “I need to wash my hair.” Who knows what they will think? I just know that I need the space and time.