Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sorting through Papers

I've been spending the day cleaning out two desks in order to get ready for the impending demolition. It feels so good to get rid of stuff we don't need, but I also wonder how in the world I let it pile up. It also makes me mourn a bit for the days of letter writing. I love email and use it regularly, but it's not quite the same as a letter. Sure, I could print out important emails and same them. (That is, I could if our printer was working.) But, it's not quite the same thing. Email is so often off the cuff and spur of the moment, while letters tend to be more thought out. I came across in my cleaning the letters I saved from my grandmother. She faithfully wrote a letter to me every week from the day I went to college until she died in 1999. That's over 10 years of letters. They are not profound, just the happenings of the week and more often than not newspaper clippings that she thought I would find interesting. Seeing that stack of letters reminds me how much she loved me and she feels very close when I read them. Thank goodness she never took to computers.

The other thing I found is something I wrote several years ago. I attended a baby shower and we were all instructed to give our best parenting tip to the new mother. I like to give advice, so just couldn't stop at one tip, but wrote 10. Here they are:

1. Look for the humor -- Being able to find the humor in a situation helps to make the stressful more bearable. Just realizing that someday the current crisis will be funny can help.

2. Hug your child everyday and say, "I love you" -- Don't assume that your child knows you love him; say it and show it everyday. Sometimes bad behavior is just a way of saying, "I don't feel loved."

3. Be the grown-up -- You are the person who needs to set rules and limits with the corresponding consequences. Your child will have plenty of friends, but she needs you to be the adult. Boundaries help a child to feel secure.

4. Find friends who are at your stage in life -- Friends provide companionship, advice, and a dose of reality. It is so comforting to call a friend and have her assure you that no, your child has not come down with a case of the plague.

5. Find mentors -- Look for women whose older children you admire. Spend time with them and learn from them; their experience and wisdom are invaluable.

6. Read to your child -- There is no downside to sharing stories with your children, but the benefits are legion. You are spending time together, setting the stage for later reading, and expanding their horizons.

7. Imagine the future -- Ask yourself, "Will this be cute when he's 9?" Poor behavior you might think is cute in a toddler is usually not attractive in an older child. Nip bad habits in the bud while your child is still young (and you can still pick him up).

8. Create memories -- Look for ways to do special things with your family. Occasionally that may take the form of special trips or expensive events, but most don't have to be. Look for ways to turn the everyday into something special.

9. Develop family traditions -- Traditions are one of the things that make each family unique. They help to slow us down and to spend time with each other. They can become anchors throughout the year, especially when life gets hectic.

10. Regularly attend your place of worship -- If passing your faith on to your children is important, then they must see that your faith is important to you. Remember that actions really do speak louder than words. Just saying something is important without doing anything about it won't work.

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