Mom Knows Best – Really

Written By: Kim - Jul• 29•12

The reason we decide to have children can vary. You know they will be cute. You know how much they will cost you. You know that the love you feel for them will be unconditional and that any heartbreak you will endure for them will be almost unbearable. What you may not realize is how much time you will spend motivating them and the many ways you will do it.

Mike and I have two children who are polar opposites in terms of motivation. Our daughter is motivated by winning. It’s simple: She wants to be first and/or the best.

Connor’s efforts paid off.

My son could care less. His attitude reminds me of the surfer dude in those 1960 movies: “It’s all good dude. Just chill. I’ve got my board and the ocean, what else do I need?” Gah! As the son of type A parents, I feel sorry for him. You need an education! You need a good career choice that will help you live the lifestyle you choose. If you aren’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

While Mike and I are far from stage parents,  we do want our children to try things and do their best. Sometimes, that means signing them up for things they won’t do themselves. I braced myself for the impact when I signed my 14 year-old son up for swim team.

We live in a community that has a vibrant, successful swim team. Because Mike and I both work outside the home, I was always hesitant to sign the kids up. And the kids showed little interest. Swim practice starts right after Memorial Day at night until school ends. Once school ends, practice is either in the morning, the evening, or both if you choose. Yes, I certainly could have relied on my stay-at-home Mom friends to shuttle my younger children back and forth, but they have enough to do with their own children. I don’t want to add to their busy schedules. Have you seen a stay-at-home Mom or Dad lately? They are more plugged in and busier than any CEO I know.

Swim meets are on Saturdays for two month and the kids have to be on deck checking in with their coaches by 5:45 am. That’s right people: I said 5:45 am on a Saturday….in the summer. The reason we start so early is because the meets are held at outside community pools. Our goal is to be finished by Noon so the communities can have their pool back for the rest of the day. And, it’s hot as hell. We lug canopies, coolers, chairs, towels and the really smart parents have water misters and fans. I so need to find those for next summer.

Last summer, my daughter expressed an interest in swim team, but because we were going on vacation the last two weeks of July, we felt it was not right to only participate for part of the season. This year, she asked again after a close friend of hers and her Mom talked to her about it. I signed her up with only 8 spots left on the team. I signed my son up a week later with only 2 spots left. If the three of us were going to get up at o’dark thirty and sweat until Noon on Saturdays, he was going with us.

Oh the backlash. The worst words you can say to a teenage boy are “you have to get up before Noon.” He complained. He whined. He said he wouldn’t go. He tried everything he could to get out of 8 am weekday practice promising to go at night. Sometimes night practices get cancelled because of thunderstorms. The kicker was that he promised to go to Tae Kwon Do instead of swim. All of his negotiation tactics fell on deaf ears. Oh, and the complaints about the biker pants styled Speedos….remember, most teenage boys wear board shorts to the pool. If their knees are seen by the public, their shorts are the wrong size.

The first meet was really not a meet. It was time trials, but it gets the kids used to the routine. My son was so nervous even the timing judges noticed. And, it was cold. We had a nice, mild early June which sucks for anyone getting in to an outdoor pool. Did I mention my son has not an ounce of fat on him? Yeah, he was cold and miserable. But then he took his mark and dove in.

And, he’s been successfully improving his time in all of his swim strokes since that first weekend in June. His sister has too. We are so proud of them. I knew we made the right decision for our son when he asked me: “Can I do swim team next year?”

Congratulations on a job well done!

Teen Career Choice and Failure Breeds Success

Written By: Kim - Oct• 16•11

I recently had a conversation with several girlfriends about our kids. Interim reports were out that day from school. While some of us were elated that our children were applying themselves and bringing home good grades, others were distraught. The conversation then moved to a friend who’s high school junior doesn’t know what she wants to do. The Mom was worried because the two younger children that followed already had career plans. I wish I would have mentioned my story to her.

It’s been a long time since I decided I wanted to be a doctor. At the tender age of 12, I knew I wanted to be a pediatrician. I loved kids but hated math, science and biology: core courses required for doctors. Even in high school, these subjects were ones I constantly struggled with. If I brought home a B, I considered it success.

I continued on my chosen career path because this had been my dream since I was 12. Why would I change it? The dream lasted until the first semester of college, where I took calculus 1, biology 101 and English 101. The only class I passed, even with a tutor, was English. In my defense, my tutor was a guy I had a crush on since sixth grade. I should have know it would not end well for me. But this was a turning point in my life. I just didn’t know it yet.

Let me repeat that: The kid who wanted to be a doctor since she was 12 did not pass her freshman courses required for a premed major. What now?

©Moi Cody, courtesy of stock.xchang

I moved on to something I thought I could handle since I was working part-time retail: business. Have you ever sat through an accounting class? Ick. Not for me.

The fall of my sophomore year, I took a speech communications class. My rudder came in the form of my professor who said I excelled in his class and should consider a journalism major. I graduated with a double major in journalism and public relations. I then went on, six years later, to get a master’s in publications design. Publishing was my career path and I don’t regret it.

If I had listened to my Mother, I would have been a prelaw major. She said I should be a lawyer since I loved to argue so much. She never would live long enough to see me work with 29,000 corporate lawyers, most of whom do not love to argue. Even the law firm litigators I speak with get tired of the circus wheel and move in-house. There is just too much stress in always being on and geared up for a fight.

So why, as parents, are we so worried about our teenager’s career choice? They haven’t even had a part-time job yet, but we focus so much on what they will do long term. Many people major in something, get their first after-college job and realize they hate what they do. They adjust and figure out how to use their degree in a new way. They network. They go to graduate school to pursue something else. They find their passion through experience.

The type A in me has a tough time not obsessing over my children’s career choices.

The Mom in me wants them to experience different jobs, internships and workplaces so they can find their passion.

The former teenager in me remembers three majors in college and it all turned out ok.