This is not my typical post. It does relate to families and raising children and I feel like it is an important topic. The matter at hand is privacy. I am not talking about data privacy and whether the government and companies have access to all of your private information. My issue is personal (and family) privacy. In my mind and from what I see in my business and personal life every day, privacy is no longer what it used to be. And to me, as I will explain, it is a problem.
There are many matters and activities that are private and should remain so. But in today's current society, everything is shared. Yes, I am a proponent of technology and what it has to offer in terms of efficiency and mobility. But it has ushered in a culture where people know no bounds. It started out with cell phones and people walking down the street talking so loudly that you had no choice but to overhear their conversations. And this carried into other public areas such as restaurants, hotels, and transportation. With the advent of social media, this has exploded exponentially with every thought, image or comment being instantly uploaded for the world to see in a media that is permanent. Yes, permanent. Many people to not take into account the fact that whatever you say or post on the internet will be there until the end of time and can always be found by someone whether its a friend, spouse, or future employer.
What may be seen as a harmless picture or post at the time can spiral into a whole other matter because of one person's comments or views (no matter what the original poster's intentions). A future employer or bank looking to give you a loan will not give any consideration to the context of the picture - simply that it exists and what it shows at the time they view it.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating your accomplishments or sharing proud moments with your family and friends. Just be mindful of what you are sharing. It may be difficult or unfair that what you say or post now impacts your life in 10 or 15 years, but that is the world we have created for ourselves and the world we live in. Be mindful. And be prepared to take responsibility for your own actions. It is no one else's fault that you posted the picture of yourself doing something which may put you in a bad light.
There is no better feeling in the world than to come home from work and have your child greet you at the door. Our son is generally a happy child so I am usually met with a smile and maybe a hug before he runs off to go back to whatever toy he dropped when he heard our dog bark that someone was at the front door. It always makes me feel good to see that smile, even if it is for a fleeting moment just before he runs another lap around the house leaving a path of destruction.
But I have to admit that I had never seen anything like when I got home yesterday. There was nothing different about my work day that made it any different. I did not come home any later. I was not out of town on business. It was just a normal day at the office. I pulled into the driveway and headed into the house as I usually do.
When I got inside to see our son, he was literally jumping with joy to see me. Screaming my name (that is not unusual as he has been doing that for quite some time) and jumping. He was so excited. It made me so happy and made me feel so good. Once he stopped jumping and smiling and giggling, he ran over and put his arms up as he usually does for me to pick him up. He did not stop smiling though. Not one bit.
I have to admit that coming home to a greeting like that makes it all worth it. It makes you forget about all the stress of everyday life. You realize how important you are to your child and how good you make them feel. If he greeted me that same way today, I would not complain...
My wife and I worked very hard to create an effective bed time routine for our son and just as hard to maintain it. We have tweaked it a bit to accommodate for our son growing up and his needs changing, but overall the foundation has remained the same - dinner, bath, book, bed.
We learned just last night how effective our routine has become. As it is summertime, we are able to get our son into the pool (which he loves). Generally his naps after swimming are lengthy which ever parent relishes. Yesterday's after swim activities largely mimicked his bed time routine in hind sight. He had a large snack after swimming, read a book, then went down for a nap. We were expecting about 2 hours give or take, which is typical after he swims. It wound up being 4 hours and we figured out that he thought it was actually bed time. We had no choice but to change his diaper (was not in his usual nighttime diaper) so we had to get him up. We were hoping that it would be like a normal midnight change where he would barely be awake then go right back to sleep. Last night, however, we were not so fortunate. He was wide awake and hungry (which was understandable) so it became a bit of a trying to time get him a snack then get him back to sleep. He did go back to sleep and was down for the rest of the evening.
What we learned from last night's events is that we have gotten him into a very effective night time routine. We have implemented it since birth and have continued it ever since. He is comfortable with his routine and his body inherently knows what all of the steps put together mean. We encourage any parents, or potential parents, who ask us to get their child into a consistent routine. It helps the child and it helps the parents. While last night was a bit difficult, it validated our efforts.
Any parent will attest that raising a child is expensive. You can try to be a good shopper and search out deals and not spend excessively, but that only helps to a point. Not buying your child every new toy, game or device that comes on the market will also help. Yes, our children deserve to have whatever they want. That is until parents decide that point has been reached.
There are many other ways to bring your children happiness than just running to the store to buy a toy. In our house we have become heavily in favor of do it yourself projects. Yes, one reason is to save money. But in addition, there are many advantages of doing it yourself versus just buying something. You can completely customize it (well at least within your own skill set) for your child. It will be far less expensive to build, though obviously you will have to commit the time. Depending on the project, you can also get your children to help make it. They will enjoy having an activity with their parents and it will also be a sense of accomplishment when it is complete. And, at least in my mind, you should have a sense of pride when you complete the project and your child plays with it or uses it.
No, not every project will be easy or perfect when it is complete. There will be a lot of trial and error. So far we have started fairly small though eventually we may get the nerve to do larger projects for our son and our home. The projects we have done have a purpose as well. We encourage our son to read, so we built bookshelves that allow him to easily choose a book and read without having to get anyone to help him. We want our son to learn the alphabet so my wife made flashcards for him to color and draw on that he can practice with after they are laminated.
There are many many different projects that we can do for or with our children. It is as much the time we spend with our children as it is the actual project. I have said it before and I will say it again, be present.
As a parent we have to face facts - our children just want to eat, play, and have fun. I cannot blame them. I am just jealous that I am an adult with responsibilities.
It is our job as parents to care for our children, nurture our children, and help them grow and develop. Growth and development comes in many shapes and form - crawling, walking, talking, eating. The list goes on and on and on. There are certain things that children will pick up on their own at their own pace - crawling and walking for example.
There are many other things that we need to teach our children (or heavily encourage) which require a bit of creativity. Teaching them to talk, read, and write is no small task. But there are many ways to do it - talk to them, read a book to them, play games, or make flashcards to name a few. The idea is for our children to enjoy the activity and the benefit will be that they learn along the way. Let's be honest, as a child and eventually student the last thing I really wanted to do was sit inside at a table or desk and sit and read or practice handwriting. But if the learning activity was really a fun game that disguised the boring learning part I would have been more inclined.
This little bit of ingenuity carries over into meal time as well. All children go through phases of what they are willing to eat or will spit out of their mouths. If you can make your child believe that a vegetable or another component of their meal is not on their "spit out" list but is rather something they eat - you can get them to eat it. And this creativity generally has to come on the fly as mid-meal a child can decide they no longer like the meat or vegetable they ate just two minutes before.
As parents this is just another reason we have to be on our toes. Our children will learn and grow on their own, but the more we can foster that growth using creativity the more our children will enjoy it.
The scenario is very familiar to us at this point. We take our son out to eat at a restaurant and people compliment us. No, not just because he is the cutest kid in the world but also because of how well behaved he is at the table. He has his bad days just like anyone else, but they are few and far between.
As soon as our son was given the go-ahead by his pediatrician (in other words, after all of his shots) that he could be in public places we started taking him with us everywhere. To the store, to Starbucks, to restaurants. Obviously at the beginning he was not eating the same food that we are - it was either a bottle or some variety of baby food. But then he progressed to eating food like we eat (though in much smaller bites) and he began to join us at the table not just sit in his stroller.
He is now accustomed to sitting at the table with us. He generally has a book or a small toy to keep him entertained. He does not have a tablet put in front of him to watch a show or movie and ignore the world around him. We do not permit that at home and we do not permit that in a restaurant. Through our efforts he has learned to sit patiently (everything is relative) and eat along side of us. And he loves every minute of it. He is still developing his fork and spoon skill set but he tries. And he is pretty quiet. He knows how to ask for more food, how to drink his water, how to wipe his mouth with his own napkin.
And because he is able to behave he is able to accompany us more and more. The more time he spends with us, the more he learns to behave properly. As much as he is a child, he also needs to learn and develop.
Patience is a virtue. Or so that is what we are told. Any parent can attest that children test that virtue all day every day. Sometimes they push the limits and test our boundaries to see how much they can get away with. Other times it is simply a learning exercise.
He loves playing with his toys and some days decides that he simply wants to make a mess. He knows how to clean up and can do it when he wants to. When he does not want to clean, he runs away from the toy mess he left in the middle of the floor and goes into another room. He knows exactly what he did. This is where having patience is necessary because he will eventually come back to help clean up the toys. But he has been taught that he needs to clean up after himself and that mommy and daddy will help him but it is his job.
There are some things that our son picked up on very quickly and learned pretty early on. He was rolling over, crawling, and then walking by 6 months old. Now we cannot keep up with him half the time as he runs from room to room in the house. He is trying to teach himself to jump. He is teaching himself to eat with a fork and spoon. He learns something new every day.
Some days it just takes more time and effort to teach him certain things. We keep practicing and practicing and he eventually gets it. But he can get frustrated and we must remain calm and patient and help him through. When he learns something new or figures out how to do something on his own, his happiness is worth the effort.
Or at least so they say. As parents know, or will soon learn, their children are very observant and pay attention to everything they do. Yes, parents - the good and the bad.
While we are not always able to control our words or reactions in a situation, we must keep our outbursts to a bare minimum. While your child may not use the same four letter words now, do not be surprised if they do down the road. And yes, they may also see it on television or in a movie or even at school, but the less negative influences we impart on our children at home the better it is for them.
But they do not just learn the bad, they also learn the good. Our son loves to "high five." He thinks it funny and now runs to do it. He copies our sounds (tries to copy our words) and our actions as well. I sat with my legs crossed the other day and he came sat down next to me and did the same. He checked to make sure his legs were the same way as mine. If we put ketchup on our french fries, he wants the same. If we dip our chicken in sauce, he wants the same - and he makes the dipping motion. If we laugh, he laughs. I licked sauce off my fingers without even thinking about it and now he does as well.
It is not until you actually see your child imitate your actions that you believe they really do it. But once they do, it is quite endearing. And it can be funny as well as a good learning experience as well. I want to be his role model - I want my son to learn from my wife and I. We just need to make sure that our impact is positive.