Baby’s First Birthday

March 15, 2012 at 7:34 am | Posted in Family Ties | Leave a comment
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This week my family is celebrating my nephew’s first birthday.  Last year this week the first grand child on my side of the family, the first boy on my sister-in-law’s side, came into the world, and has already made it a better place. Dare I say he is the glue that keeps our family together, and he isn’t even speaking yet.

He has made some amazing strides and I’ve enjoyed watching him take baby steps in growing up.  I have loved watching him giggle and explore his toys.  I love the cute little outfits he wears that make him look like a little man.  I love his beautiful blue eyes. I am amazed watching him learn and happily celebrate every little triumph.  He has made everyone so happy.  He has changed my family forever, for the better.

And as he continues to grow, he will learn more and more each day. He will take more steps, start growing teeth, eating solid foods. He will talk. He will really and truly know me, almost as well as he knows his mother and father.  He will likely become a big brother, and one day have more cousins from my side of the family.  I know he will make a great cousin to my kids when I am ready.

I’ve enjoyed watching my brother become a dad.  It is crazy to me to sit next to him while he holds this beautiful boy who loves him so much.  I think back to our childhood. I remember things that he did has a child and all of him that I see in this little boy is clear as day.  He is a spitting image of his dad, with the light of his mom.  They have created a safe, comfortable, and fun environment for him, and work hard to keep it that way.  I look to them as models in how to balance work and a family life.  I myself have enough trouble trying to balance my work life with my responsibilities in being an adult and still having time to enjoy not having the responsibilities a parent has.

Watching this baby grow is inspiring, and watching first time parents so naturally nurture him gives me hope for future generations.  Something that I’ve thought often about in my adult life is that most parents are first time parents. It isn’t easy to remember what it is like to be on the other side, begging to do grown up things while your parents hold you back, typically for your own good.  Parents simply try to make the best decisions they can for their children, and while as kids we may think of our parents as gods — the ones who know everything, the truth is, just like the rest of us, they have to make it up as they go along.

My nephew has a good family ready to help shape his values, and we have an amazing nephew to remind us of what really matters.

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Please Quiet Your Kid

February 9, 2012 at 8:57 am | Posted in Family Ties | 4 Comments
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Before I was the mature, civil 29 year old I am today (wink), I was a rambunctious college kid, a wild teenager, a rebel pre-teen who barely noticed the adults around me, a hyperactive child, a mischievous toddler who once ran away from home and a typical baby who didn’t want to sleep.  For some reason, it is easy to forget all of this, especially when you are in some public place and you hear a screaming or babbling child.

Must be the parents’ fault, right?  Because none of us were ever like that, right?  We were all perfect, well-behaved children.  Can’t you tell by how civilized we all turned out?  We never bitch about stupid, meaningless things, except of course screaming children.

I spent a large portion of my twenties away from all forms of children after 6 years of babysitting, and when I was exposed to them again, it was so easy to get aggravated by the shear energy of a child kicking the chair I sat in on that super tight flight – so easy!  Granted, I have a very low level of patience for anyone, really.  But now as more and more children seem to be popping up around me, I am turning a corner.  It’s not their parents’ fault they are loud.  They are still learning the ways of the world, still so innocent and excited about life.  Now when I see a kid acting a little crazy, I just smile.  They are enjoying life and God bless their parents who have to deal with that energy 24 hours a day.

But while I am at least gaining patience for the little people, I am nowhere near wanting my own just yet – so don’t get any ideas!  I am more than happy to spend time with my nephew or my friends’ kids, but I am still fond of the fact that I can return them at the end of a visit. I have my own noisy household to deal with.

Teens Do the Darndest Things

January 10, 2012 at 6:46 am | Posted in Life and Living | 1 Comment
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When I was working at my last job, I had a very high profile client who was launching a campaign geared towards parents of teenagers.  The goal was to encourage parents to have open and honest conversation with their children about sex and relationships.  At the time, I was thrilled to work on this project as it was something I believed was really important seeing as the majority of my lessons on this topic were learned through Cosmo magazine, friends, and awkward early experiences.  I could easily flash back to my teenage years and think, “I wish my parents would have told me that.”

At the time that I was working on this project, there were no children, let alone teenagers, in my life.  I had gone from babysitting a wide age range of children for 6 years to college and the years following college where there was not an adolescent in sight.  So while I remember what it was like for me, I had no one to show me what it’s like in this day and age to be an adolescent.

Fast forward to present day.  Beyond the babies that are popping up seemingly everywhere, there are some teens in my life today that I can influence, even without being a parent.  So when I get caught up in conversations with other adults about the teens we know and their activities and how we respond, I can see so clearly how difficult it is to communicate effectively and be the person they need you to be.  Adults just don’t agree on how to manage teen issues or how they should treat teens.  What is the appropriate response, particularly when a teen wants to know about your life as a teen?  What should we be asking teens on a daily basis to make them feel like valued members of society and not youngin’s that know nothing?  How do we teach them right from wrong without telling them what not to do?

It’s a delicate balance, and I’m happy to have this experience now while I am still young.  Because although times have changed, so much of the learning process has to stayed the same, even though many of the questions I had came a few years later than they may come now.  I think the most important thing is to remember how it was when you were there, which is easier to do when you are still young.  But if you can keep the memories alive, you can more easily put yourself in the teen’s shoes so they truly believe that you understand, that you are there to help and not to pry, that you are to be trusted and that your opinion really matters when it comes to the tough decisions teens have to make.

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