Delight In Purposelessness

It seems we've become consumed with the “Purpose Driven Life.” Everything is about improving our health, our career, our income, our status, our safety, our happiness. The world.

It has filled us, and bubbled over to our kids. Most western kids are driven (literally and figuratively) to a ceaseless kaleidoscope of school, tutoring, sports, music, dance, and other extra-mural achievement. Even at home they're treated like employees and paid for chores.

Anything, and everything, that could conceivably contribute to 'success.' A capitalist, western, vision of success that has everything to do with wealth and status.

Remember when you played without purpose? When you built a fort; jumped on your bike after school and cycled around the neighourhood; just kicked leaves; or lay on the grass looking at shapes in the clouds.

No purpose, no plan, no goal.

Wasn't that delightful?

Yeah. I'm going to do more of that.


How To Win Your Teenagers Heart Before It’s Too Late

If you consider that you probably start reading bedtime stories to your youngster when they’re about 6 months (ok – some of us started reading to the ‘bump’ but bear with me) and you’re likely to end at around 6 years old when you transition to listening to them read to you; that works out at just on 2000 bedtime stories.

Every one you miss, is gone forever…

Whilst I can tell my teens stories, and when camping or sometimes around the dinner table I get to. I can’t replay the 3 weeks of reading bedtime stories I missed because I was preparing a sales proposal, or was entertaining my boss.

And yes, from an educational PoV, I can play them MP3’s or CD’s. Yet all the studies show that kids listening to a recorded story simply don’t do as well as those whose parents read to them.

That’s because it’s not about the story. It’s about the relationship.

Relationships are messy, organic, not task driven. This isn’t a check-box to tick off. Sometimes it’s a quick retell at a friends house before putting them down in the spare room. Sometimes it’s 3 stories and a bunch of interminable questions. Sometimes it’s laughing so hard milk comes out your nose. Sometimes it’s just laying quietly listening to music together.

So take off your watch, & slow down to their time. This allows you to build that deep relationship that lasts into their teens. It allows them to ask you the questions they’re pondering. It builds the communication channel for them to come to you when they’re confused, or scared, or hurt, or anxious, or elated through the turmoil of adolescence. And like a plant, this channel doesn’t magically appear. It takes years of nurturing, careful watering, occasional pruning, constant praise, and the sunlight of love.

Even then you only get 10% of the relationship with your 13-18 year old that you had with your 3-8 year old. There’s no such thing as quality time without quantity time first.

So despite what you think, your priority is to enjoy as much time with them as you can.

Oh, and it’s for you too. The thing I miss most about my grown-up daughters are the bedtime stories I sacrificed for projects and study. On balance I’ve forgotten more about Windows for Workgroups than I ever needed, but every investment of time with my daughters has repaid 100-fold.

Magical times.

If they’re already teens, make stories together…

…a topic for another night!

Parenting – Nothing prepares you for it…

By now you’ll know that Miss11, our youngest daughter, Charis, had a horrific accident on Thursday. In what was an innocent Sydney Summer Holiday afternoon, she had a friend over to swim. Charis, ever the gymnast, was demonstrating her new backflip into the pool. Only this time, she missed the water.

What followed was 48 hours of crisis management, family co-ordination, global communication, medical learning, even negotiation. All this whilst hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.

You want to fall apart, but you can’t. You want to wind the clock back, but you can’t. You desperately want to substitute yourself for your child, but you can’t.

The next 3 mins is a vignette of just some of the experiences over the last 48 hours.

To be honest, when things are happening, you’ve no time (or place) to be capturing things on video. But there’s also a lot of time when nothing is happening. Very much like in the army, it’s all “Hurry up & wait!”

  • The 1st big fear was that she’d broken her neck – an x-ray ruled that out.
  • The 2nd was that she had suffered neurological damage, through a possible fracture in her forehead (air had leaked from her sinus under the skin) – today a CT Scan ruled that out.

She has broken her nose, & this will have to be reset surgically in the next week or so. Not great for a young lady about to start High School.

But we have been blessed by all of the support from friends & family, near & far. We’re blessed that her injuries by and large are superficial.

But despite the issues we have been dealing with in the first 3 weeks of 2010, like all issues that actually warrant concern, this one blind-sided us on a Thursday afternoon….

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