Tag Archives: parenting

Do What You Love

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I’ve heard it said, that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.  In essence this is true; but when it comes to the particulars of doing what you love, people (especially young people) often run into trouble.  The reason for this, is that doing what you love and therefore never working implies two things:

  1. You must, automatically, naturally, inherently, know what you love.
  2. Work is a bad/unhappy thing.

Let’s deal with the first problem first.  Knowing what you love. It’s easy to identify what you love when you’ve lived a bit; when life has involved more than school and an adolescent boyfriend.  When you know yourself choosing a love is easier.  But what of the young who’ve had their heads filled with the passionate words of tree-changers and change-your-lifers?  How are they to know what they love at eighteen years of age?  And will it be an eternal love, or just a short-lived passion?  At eighteen, life is still the great unknown. Of all that’s out there, how do you choose what you love?

When asked to determine what they love, or when told to only work at what they love, many young adults fall into a state of terminal indecision which, on occasion, leads to terrible feelings of inadequacy and sometimes depression.  Why?  Because they’ve yet to identify true loves and real passions. How, they wonder, can I not know what I love? The answer is simple; they just don’t.  Generally teens and young adults haven’t done or tried enough to know what they love.

Of late, this has been a hot topic of conversation between myself and my young people.  Finally, a solution occurred to me.  “You just have to try stuff,” I explained.  “Jeez, I didn’t know I hated being a secretary until I tried being one.  Sometimes you  have to get in and mess around a bit.  You have to know what you don’t like in order to home in on what you do like.”  That’s the thing, sometimes finding what we love doing, is simply a process of elimination.

Naturally, there are exceptions to this rule.  I have a very talented artist friend.  Her parents  (both of them) were artists and her grandparents, if not artists, were artistic.  She’s known all of her life, where her talents lay and I am inordinately jealous of the kind of security that must have given her as she grew and explored the world.

For the rest of us, we just have to figure it out.

Now, about work.  Work is not an innately bad concept.  It’s just something you have to do sometimes.  Sometimes, even what you love, can be hard work.  Parents know I’m I’m telling the truth.  We love our kids with an abiding passion, but there are days when we’d swap them for ten minutes of quiet and an instant coffee.

For me, writing is this way.  I love certain stages of the writing process.  In fact, I go so far as to compare the early stages of writing with the act of falling in love (you can read that particular rave here).  There are other stages though, that I would happily delegate.  The query/submission process is one.  The editing is another.  I realise these are important processes and I know they make the final product so much better and more valuable, but  honestly, there’s nothing fun about it.  It’s work; straight-out, flat-out, no-doubt-about-it, hard, grinding work. I live through the work so I can get back to the good bits, to the things I love about my job. I do the work necessary to make the final product perfect; to make it something I can love.

So here’s the lowdown on the whole ‘do what you love’ conundrum.

  1. You must actively seek what you love.  This is generally a process of elimination.
  2. All work requires that you actually work. If it didn’t, it would be called play.
  3. Parents: STOP telling your kids to do what they love.  Encourage them instead to do something.  When they hate doing that something, then encourage them to do something else.  This is what I like to call ‘failing forward’.  Eventually they’ll stumble upon what they do love then…Viola, the cliche becomes a truth!

In short, I think the cliche should say Find what you love and the work will be fulfilling…

Can I get a little support on that?

Kids & Cafes

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I watched a program last night wherein it was reported that a local council had banned children from drawing in chalk on the footpath outside a local cafe.  The cafe had been providing the kids with chalk in an effort to keep them busy and happy while their parents got their cafe experience.  After the report, a presenter commented, “Would they rather kids happily drawing with chalk or whingeing and whining in the cafe because they don’t want to be there?”

Frankly, I think the council is being ludicrous but that’s not the point.  The point is kids don’t like cafes (hell, in general I don’t like cafes, they’re pretentious, boring and overpriced). You can tell kids don’t like cafes because of the frikkin’ whingeing and whining.  Sooo, here’s an idea; instead of treating your kids like they’re accidental attachments to your formerly kid-free, cafe-hopping existence, consider them beings you brought into the world because you were ready for a change in lifestyle.  Get your coffee to go, walk your kids to the local park (take your friends with you if you like)and set them loose on the playground while you get your caffeine fix.

There will be three advantages to doing this. Firstly,  your kids will get some running around and exercise into their day which will wear them out a little, thus making your life easier when you get home.   Second, the childless people in the cafe will dislike you less.   Lastly, you’ll get brownie points for being a good parent.

Try it out, see how it goes.

Homework

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I hate homework.

If all else fails, train the dog!

When I was a kid, I didn’t mind it.  I was the girl who, in primary school, would complete a term’s worth of homework in a week and thereafter legitimately claim ‘no homework’ for nine weeks.

As an adult, I hate the stuff.  As a teacher I abhor it.  Why?  (Take a deep breath here and prepare for a rant).  Firstly, not every child has equal opportunity to do their homework.  Some kids go home to a nice desk in the safe environment necessary for homework completion; others struggle every night with violent lives that prevent them from completing, much less caring about homework.  These same poor kids are the ones who come to school (where they should be safe) and get in trouble with the teacher (me) for not having done homework!  Secondly, I want my students to be more than students at school, I want them to be students of life.  I want them to play football, swim, help their parents cook dinner, walk dogs and visit friends; homework doesn’t assist with the achievement of this goal.  Thirdly, I don’t want my students practicing incorrectly, somewhere I can’t help them.  Not all parents are equipped or have the time to help kids.  Only perfect practice makes perfect and homework doesn’t allow me to ensure this.  Lastly, and this is a biggie, if I can’t teach my curriculum in six hours a day then either I’m not trying hard enough or the curriculum I’m teaching doesn’t match my student’s needs.  Either way, the kids and their parents shouldn’t be compensating.

As a parent, I detest homework.  I’ve heard some parents say that homework is a tool that provides them and their children time in which to relate to each other.  Phooey.  My kids and I relate when we chat to each other while cooking, while playing with the dogs or while just sitting in the garden together.  Homework is something that causes friction between us not something that brings us together.  I despise homework even more, when parents start doing homework FOR their children.  I would like to say I’ve never done this, but just last weekend found precisely this scenario taking place.  How did I come to stoop so low?

It began when I insisted my child make her own diorama.  She was happy with the result, I was happy with the result, we all should have been happy.  Then we received an email regarding criteria.  New criteria meant the child’s own diorama would not garner her a passing mark.  Effectively, the ONLY way a child could pass this assignment was either to become a creative and intellectual genius within twenty-four hours…or with parental help.  Why should she fail and be made to feel inadequate when in fact her first attempt met all the original criteria beautifully?  Why should she be the only kid in the room who made her diorama on her own?  What kind of a parent am I?

I am the kind of parent who HATES homework.  Now I hate dioramas too!

I am however, thinking of starting a business making dioramas for other parents who also hate homework.  I think I could turn quite a profit…hmmmm

My Life Is A Circus

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When I started my Education degree (a million years ago), there was a crazy lecturer who insisted everyone in his tutorial learned to juggle.  Why?  Because teaching is like juggling, you need to be able to keep all your balls in the air and everything under control.  Rule one, don’t drop the ball.

So, I’ve known for a long time now that life is about juggling and balancing,occasionally walking a tight rope and often squishing lots of people into a tiny car.  I practice yoga in order to maintain my flexibility and balance.  I walk wild animals (otherwise known as Franke and Chewy) for fitness and I have just taken up kung fu, for…well…for kicks.  So why is it then, that despite all this knowledge and effort, I am still capable of losing my mind?

Yesterday for example, I found myself snarling at my husband.  He hadn’t done anything wrong.  In fact, I think he was doing his best to be angelic.  I snarled anyway.  Then, that same afternoon, I picked my daughter up from school.  She told me about how her bread roll had been mouldy, her scroll contained nuts (pine nuts btw) so she just didn’t eat it because Marcello is allergic to nuts and she can never remember to wash her hands.  She’d left her togs at home (on swimming day) and her hat in the car.

I cried.

That’s how we know I’d lost my mind.  I cried over a lunchbox and a hat.  Basically I cried because even while trying my butt off, I still dropped the ball.  My tightrope walk had failed and I was splattered, flat,  in the middle of the center ring. I’m not sure how this relates to writing; except that tomorrow is always a new day.  A rejection letter from one person does not mean a bad book.  A mouldy sandwich does not indicate (entirely) bad parenting…oh…and that really small car???  You should probably just get used to it.