Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Letter to My Youngest Daughter

A few days ago I triggered after I asked my kid to help out in the morning, clean up, move into action, we all needed her help. She basically said "no, I only go at one speed." This is the letter I wrote her later. She still said she only had one speed, I said that didn't sound like she had much choice, no freedom there. I wonder where she learned that?

Darn it it Zoe, I feel angry! After I dropped off RG I realized I was feeling angry about how the morning went, asking you for kitchen help and how I felt you blew me off. In the kitchen, after you said you were only going to move at one pace, after I had asked you for the 2nd time, I closed down and withdrew from being in relationship with you.

That’s not what I want. I want to be connected with you and feel like we are a team together, you and me, and also all of us as family in the house.
If it were me, as a kid, when a parent asked for help & support, asked me to jump in and do the chores that were mine to do, I’d move into action and double time it to get the jobs done. Why?, to show my support for others, because I could do that, and because I know it would be good for everyone. That’s me. I do that with your mom, when she asks, I jump in and support her. I know how to be proactive and ask her what’s the best way I can support her now – she loves that. She feels supported and that’s important for her, maybe the most important thing. For her it shows that she is loved. I didn’t feel supported by you this morning.

You came back into the kitchen with a “dad help dishwasher card.” You said you would do the sink and top, you I could do the dishwashers. You gave me more work than you, AND you left without doing anything, saying there wasn’t time. You’re mom’s class was coming in, house cleaners coming later, I then did all the dishes.
I want to live in a house where everyone puts good energy into the family, into supporting the inner workings of the house so that everyone feels supported and connected.

I invite you, to be more proactive. I encourage you to be able to move at several different paces when you need to. I want to be better at expressing my anger, not at you, just express it as me, as your dad, as a parent when it’s appropriate. We could talk negative sanctions - forfeit your allowance, take away listening to books, reading books, TV, computer - for a week or until your are ready to contribute house work wise?

Still love you, you are a great kid, and come on…. There are things to fight me on but not this one. What did it serve you this morning? Did you get what you wanted?



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

And You Don't Even Need to Go Far

My wife, Laurie Wagner is a writer. Years ago she wrote a piece about how dads have to be more creative because they just couldn't pull out a breast and feed their baby and put them to sleep. She wrote about how I'd take the kids out into the front yard to explore and how one day I found a salamander.

Well I found another salamander recently. It brought back memories about that long journey, those long days and nights with really little people, dependent on their parents for just about everything. Now I leave my 11 year old at the cafe, after we ordered, after I told the waitress that I was leaving and where I was going and that I would be back soon (Longs), after I asked my daughter if she'd like to come with me or stay, after she said she wanted to stay and wished she'd brought her book, after she said yes to the waitress who offered her crayons and paper to color with.

We then went to the movies and saw UP. Sweet story of an elderly man and a young boy on an adventure. Well done.

My wife left town again for 3 days to go to Colorado to see her best friend's book signing. Lisa Jones just published her first book, Broken.

That leaves me solo dad. My older girl has been away on a 4 day sleepover 8th grade field trip so the house has been pretty quiet since the younger one is a bookworm and rereading the 3rd or 4th Twilight book for the second time - its at least 2 in. thick.

house taken from front yard

Salamanders in the front yard, the word is an amazing place and you don't even have to go far.