Monday, June 30, 2008

The Joys of Camping

This weekend we went camping with a group of friends. I had forgotten how much fun camping can be, having opted the last couple of years for a cabin in the mountains instead of a tent. While staying in a cabin offers certain advantages - like hot water, comfy beds, a full kitchen, hot tub and pool table - it still doesn't compare to camping.

There's just something about being outdoors all day long that can't be beat. Mind you, we do it the old fashioned way, with just a tent and campstove. For us, the point of camping is to get away from the technology that dominates our lives. We want to rediscover the thrill of communing with nature, listening to the wind blowing through the trees, gazing up at the stars from a hammock. No TV, no radio, no newspapers. The X-Box is replaced with a friendly game of horseshoes, the gameboy with a game of cards.

When we arrive home, we are refreshed, relaxed and ready to plan the next trip.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Keeping the Big Picture in Mind

When a baby is born, she is completely helpless. She depends on her parents for her every need. You must feed her, bath her, change her, comfort and entertain her. All this you do gladly, for she is the most precious thing in your life. She is your child.

As she grows she becomes more and more independent. It starts with little things. She learns to talk and walk and is soon getting into everything. She learns to feed herself and go to the bathroom by herself and she most definitely learns the meaning of the word no!

As time goes on, it may seem as though life is nothing but a continuous struggle with your child. She longs for her independence. You don’t want her to grow up so fast. She can’t wait to go to High School, to drive a car, to leave for college. You wish she could just stay this little forever.

Parenting is a tough job. While we start out in complete control of our children’s lives, gradually we must learn to relinquish that control, just as they must learn to take care of themselves. It’s easy to be saddened by this transition. We mourn the days of family outings and togetherness. We see this as an end, rather than a beginning. But that’s exactly what it is – a beginning!

It’s the beginning of your child’s life as an adult. It’s a celebration of all that you have taught your child and all the memories you have helped to create. If you’ve done your job as a parent correctly, your child will be completely independent and able to thrive without you. You can look forward to a new relationship with your adult child. You will have done your job well.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Making the Most of your Time Together

Kids are like sponges, soaking up new thoughts and ideas, absorbing all kinds of information. They see the world through fresh, unfiltered eyes and their curiosity is contagious. Yet somehow, as they grow older, they begin to grow leery of museums and art galleries, anything that might be – that dreaded word – educational. The child who once got so excited about a field trip to the post office in kindergarten wouldn’t be caught dead in a science museum or a concert hall.

“It’s too much like school mom. I want to have fun on my weekends off.”

So what is a parent to do? Simple. Keep talking to your kids. Keep those ever-important lines of communication open. And look for opportunities to inform and educate your children without turning the conversation into a lecture.

For example, a recent trip to a local beach provided me with multiple opportunities to discuss a wide range of important topics with my thirteen year old. As we parked next to the Civic Center we noticed a little garden out in front with a sign welcoming visitors. As we strolled along the path, we read about each drought resistant plant and talked about what we could do to save water.

As we turned around, we caught sight of a beautiful restaurant with a curved roof that resembled the thatched roofs we had seen on a trip to Ireland. My son was almost too young to remember that trip, so we talked about the dying art of roof thatching and other interesting things we’d encountered in the “old country.”

A stroll down the side streets led us to a thrift shop and we talked about the need to help others and the good feelings we gain from donating to a worthy cause.

Stopping at the ice cream shop on the corner for refreshment, a few more steps brought us to the beach, where we sat down and enjoyed our ice cream while we watched the waves. No lessons here, just the warmth of the sun on our faces and the feel of the sand between our toes. Just another memory of time spent together, sharing our thoughts and feelings, learning about the world around us and learning about each other.