Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tooting Your Horn with Your Kids

As you all know, I am really involved in my kids’ lives…mainly because I don’t have one of my own. However, I like being there to cheer them on. Growing up, I was extremely involved in school activities, especially sports. So being on the sidelines, in the bleachers or in the dugout with my kiddos only seems natural. However, they have been a little skeptical of “Mom” having too much of an opinion about their extra-curricular activities. Why? Because they’ve never known me to be involved in any extra-curricular activities myself. In their minds, I am the queen of all things domestic. If they need instructions on brushing teeth or making beds, I am the resident expert…literally. But when it comes to things outside of the home, they often feel that I am outside of my element. That had to change.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a horn tooter. To my own detriment most times, I rely heavily on self-deprecating humor to keep from being embarrassed when I receive compliments. In doing so, I have not only downplayed my skills with adults, but with my children as well. For instance, Jack has played basketball for a couple of seasons now. When I have tried to give him advice or show him proper technique in the past, he would brush me off. Finally, I asked him why.

“Because you’ve never played basketball, Mommy,” he said.

What? How could this be?  My own son didn’t know I played junior high, high school and collegiate basketball? 
photo from my high school yearbook

Hadn’t I told him this before? Haven’t I showed him pictures or taken him to a game? In short, no! Jack believes the greatest thing I’ve ever done was give birth to him. So when I received an email to attend an SMU game honoring basketball alums, I quickly RSVP’d and made the kiddos tag along.

At halftime, all former players were asked to report court-side to be recognized.

“Where are you going,” Jack asked?

“I’m going down to the court,” I replied.

Surprised, he asked, “You played here?”

“Yes! Now watch Westley until I get back.”

So who’s the assistant coach of Jack’s basketball team? Me! And he is more inclined to listen to me now that he knows my basketball background.

The same thing occurred with Reese. She was on the mini-cheerleading squad at her school, and they were preparing to perform at a high school football game.  While she was showing me her routine at home, I said,

“Looks great! Straighten your arms a little more though,”

Rolling her eyes, she said, “This is cheerleader stuff, not mommy stuff. Watch, and I’ll show you how it’s done.”

Oh no she didn’t! I had to break out the 1989 Woodrow Wilson High School yearbook to show her my cheerleading skills!!

Before this, I barely made a noise with my horn. Now, I’m a tooting fool. When checking over their language arts homework, they would give me the stink eye until I reminded them that I used to be an English teacher. When rehearsing speeches for church or memorizing poems for school, they sighed in utter frustration every time I told them to slow down and “put your face into it.” That’s until I pulled out my old resume tapes from being a TV reporter. 

I’m not doing this because I’m pompous or overly proud of the things I’ve done. Instead, I want my children to be proud of the things I’ve done and, in turn, to be proud of themselves and where/who they come from. I am constantly learning that parenting is about more than just washing dishes and folding clothes. I’m their most important mentor…their very first role model. It’s imperative that I share what I know… the good and the bad. They need to see Mommy learn a new skill, meet a goal or overcome an obstacle… because if Mommy can do it, they can too.

Try it. Share your experiences with your kids. And it doesn’t have to be something monumental. If you are going back to school to get a degree, let them look at your homework assignments.  If you’re working out at the gym, take them along. Show your children that there are more dimensions to you than what they see at home. You will open their eyes to the real meaning of the word “superwoman.”  And instead of you bragging on them all of the time, you just might catch them bragging on you.