Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Prideful Confession

Munchkin #1 is trying out college. She is half way through week two and it still feels a little strange. Strange to me, as Mom, anyway. We made it through 18 years without any type of formal schooling and now she's jumped in with both feet. She's got a daily schedule with someone else making recomendations for how she fills her time for several hours each day. I wasn't sure she was going to tolerate the lack of freedom for the first few days, but she seems determined to give it at least a semester's try.

I have to admit that I've encountered a few moments of anxiety, but mostly I've struggled with what probably amounts to excessive pride. I have resisted the desire to say, "pblttttt... I told you so," to those who may have suggested a time or two that I couldn't possibly know that she was learning what she was supposed to know because, you know, I didn't have tests and worksheets and drills to back it up. I've also resisted (well, I guess up until this moment) the urge to yell, "In your face!" regarding the ACT benchmark test scores recently reported for our state. And yes, I'm ashamed for counting and keeping track at all.

I don't know that she's going to have an altogether easy time with school, but I know she will do fine if she decides college is where she wants to be. And if/then, she'll be fine with whatever else she decides, as well. I honestly can't imagine what that might be, at the moment, but I do trust she will fill me in as the time is right. In the meantime, I find myself missing her at odd moments, and being filled with a kind of overwhelming giddiness when it is almost time for her to be home again. I am trying to resist the urge to beg for all the details of her day.

There's something very satisfying about seeing her take these steps, however, and I know that we have turned a parent/child corner. There's no going back. She's a young woman. She's full of confidence. She's trying things out. She makes my heart swell with pride.

Then again, I guess that's nothing new.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

4-H Year Ending

4-H has been a big part of our lives, especially since we moved to our current location in Kansas. I was a 4-H member as a kid, as were my parents and my husband's parents. We don't have livestock, or even a house in the country anymore, but I have found 4-H a good way to connect with our new community and help us to put down roots where we started out as drifters.

Munckkin #1, Evie, is finishing her last year of 4-H this year. I keep waiting for my sentimental gene to kick in, but mostly I'm feeling like time is passing as it should. I keep going back to the words of our midwife so many years ago. She told me not to spend time worrying about parenting a teenager when I was only the mother of a newborn. When she gets there, my midwife said, you'll know what to do. It was wise advise, and I think of it now. No need to waste time worrying about being the parent of an adult child. As we get there, I'll somehow figure out what to do. Or not, as I've learned along the way. Not knowing is okay, too. A lot of parenting is just hanging in there and listening and staying in tune and being prepared to be there when needed... stand back as much as possible...

I've talked with several parents of younger 4-H members this year and I've found myself offering encouraging words.
  • Don't let your young kids take on more than you are willing to help them with. When I was full-time momming it and the kids were little, we had a lot more time for working on projects together as a family activity. If you don't have that kind of time, don't enroll in several projects. Just start with ones that you will enjoy exploring together and consider ones where there is strong leadership in place on a club or county level.
  • Don't let yourself get in the position of resenting what you/they have commited to. If it ends up being too much, back off. There is nothing more miserable than witnessing parents and children who are fed up and so angry with each other by the time the fair rolls around that they are no longer civil to each other.
  • It's okay to walk them through the process of completing record books and filling out award forms. Each year, they will require less and less input from you. And one day, like me, you'll find yourself watching from the sidelines as your teenagers handle all the business of fair time on their own.
  • If you find yourself with a teenager, who is capable but not taking the initiative, you need to step back and ask yourself who the 4-H projects are for. Let them choose. Let them say no to things that do not inspire them. Let them go in their own direction.
Some scenes from the fair:

Middle Munchkin made both of these outfits and Munchkin #1 agreed to be a model to help her out at the public fashion revue. They had a good time showing. It was fun to watch them together.

Munchkin Boy placed 2nd in archery this year, and Middle Munchkin was top shooter in air pistol and .22 pistol.

Munchkin Boy talks with the judge here about his cinnamon rolls. We don't really care what ribbon they get. He makes awesome cinnamon rolls and we enjoy when it is not fair time because we can gobble them up warm straight from the oven.

A collection of Munchkin #1's fiber things. She knitted a sweater this year (Weasley style!) and a phone case. The octopus toy is her crochet project. Both of my girls enjoy fiber arts. I've decided it is a genetic thing that must have skipped a generation. I don't sew or do anything with yarn and needles, but my mother was very talented. She passed away when Munchkin #1 was only 1, but I often feel her presence when the girls are in the midst of fiber projects and sewing. I know she would be tickled to see all the fun things they create.