This past summer, I had the awesome opportunity to visit Costa Rica with my mom and daughter and fulfill a dream of learning to surf. I was both scared and excited but as soon as we got out on the waves, my fears turned to determination and exhaustion. I had the best guide, he stayed with me the entire time, helping me get on the board and feel the waves. It was the most exhilarating experience. I still dream of turning back the clock. If I could go back to 19, I think I would have skipped college and just been a surfer girl. Not really, my life is wonderful, I’m truly blessed but I totally get the draw of just surfing everyday. So much so that I’m going back to visit Dante and Dantes Watersports again for more surfing lessons in Manuel Antonio – Costa Rica! Can’t wait to hit the waves again!
So I fell in love with this crazy sport because it makes me feel my age – 25! OK, not my the age that I am if you calculate the exact year I was born (1966) but my real age. It’s the me that’s inside that I’m not letting go of. Not yet… possibly not ever. We’ll see how long I keep her (the 25 year old inside) alive.
So, three hundred spills later, I learned to surf.
Then I wanted to learn to spin, I tried, fell, fell again then on the 50th fall, I hurt my coccyx bone and could not walk well for a few months. I got better, fell another 100 times and learned… then I decided I want to learn to surf goofy, I surf ‘regular’. This was hard, it’s like a righty using their left hand to write cursive, but another few hundred spills, I learned that too… not so well.. as you can see I”m pretty floppy here… but I learned.
Now I want to learn to do an “Acid Drop”… not quite as cool as this one, but you get the idea:
So, I try, I jump high try to land my feet on the board and PHFLOOUUUF, my arm yanks out of it’s socket and goes in one direction, my knee bends in an inhuman way and feels odd for about 5 minutes, my back scrunches… but I rest a few minutes and try again, this time, I miss the board completely, I try again, again, again, and again. I didn’t know it until now, but I’m hurt, I have to take some time off my back hurts. I know that kids 1/3 my age figured it out in under 10 tries, but it will probably take me a few hundred more (at least). Just for laughs I will probably video my many falls until I learn, but I will learn. I won’t give up.
Sean, Julia and Kristina – when you want something, you have to risk failing, getting hurt… it will hurt, hurt like mad. As I’m writing this I really can’t walk too well, even sitting hurts but I don’t regret it, because I know that the pain is temporary. In a month or two, I will be back on the board and I will achieve my goal and it will feel good because I’m tenacious. Not because I was born that way because I CHOOSE to be that way and you can too. Choose to be tenacious, take calculated risks and don’t be afraid to fail, because it takes 100+ tries to succeed. So many people don’t try. Stay in the safe zone but there is so much more out there for you if you jump out of your safety zone.
I don’t think of my attempts as failures, they are simply part of the learning process. In fact, every time I fall and get up again and try again I believe the falls and “failed” attempts are just the opposite, they are my HUGE successes. Although I’m scared, although I don’t want to fall, I keep going because I know that if you fall enough eventually, you will land it, and you will succeed and you will feel great about it.
My youngest wrote an article about what she might like to do when she gets older and she was struggling as she didn’t know… I asked her what she wanted. She answered to help people. How? Who? We talked on and she decided she wanted to help the poor, before long we were discussing their plight, food, water, sustainable living and she decided on water and she wrote about founding a non-profit to help the poor around the world.
She wrote that she would need to be innovative and tenacious to make this happen and I agree. I am impressed by their visions of what is important.
Gives me pause, I try so hard to help them see how important this is. I was pleased to see it in her essay. Yes, I want you kids to be tenacious.
What do you do when you find out your 3rd grader has no friends and is bullied? What do you do when you hear another child call your child a nerd? What do you do when your child’s best friend starts hanging with the “cool kids” and has left your son or daughter behind? What do you do when your child’s friends don’t call back or make excuses in order not to come over for a playdate.
Being a parent is painful, we feel every heart ache so deeply and we want to make it all better. As I watched my kids navigate bullying and rejection and then go on to be happy, social and all find great friends, I can say it did not happen “naturally”.
Moms talk about this a lot… some moms say “don’t worry, it will all work out” and it might, but it doesn’t always. Some say “all they need is one good friend” but it’s so much better to a great group of friends.
Some mothers are overly involved in manipulating their children’s friendships to ensure they are in the “popular crowd”. What is popular? According to one child, “the populars only talk to the populars and one level lower”, “I’m in a crowd where I can talk to anyone I want”. I asked “That sounds so much nicer, is it?, “Oh definitely” she replied.
Here is my advice to parents:
If they are being rejected by a certain group of kids, or the neighborhood kids, or the soccer kids, or baseball kids – let that be! Don’t force your child into a group that is rejecting them. Help them develop a friend in the sport, activity or interest they love but don’t force friendships where they aren’t happening naturally, it won’t work as much as you want it to.
If kids don’t call back or reciprocate invites… find out if it’s because the never have friends over or if they don’t invite your kid over. If it’s the latter, then help your kid focus on friends that reciprocate and genuinely want to stay and be with your kid. Otherwise, they are banking their friendship on a fair weather friend and when the wind blows they will be alone.
Find their own tribe. They know who they like and who likes them, and it might not be the crowd they want to be in. Talk to them about how they feel inside with different friends. Which ones make you laugh, come running to you in the playground.
Grow those friends one at a time and bring them together with group sleepovers and play dates as well as individual play dates. Watch how they behave during the play dates. Praise them later on specifics on how they exhibited great social skills and sharing, caring, etc… but also note issues they might have did they pout or cry when they didn’t get their way, not share, not listen well. Work on those issues when the time is right. Coach them on how to react, share and listen.
Also learn why kids are bullied or are rejected:
Is your kid bossy? This is going to hurt but this is probably a reflection on you… mom or dad. Do you demand that they do this now and do that later? Change your tone and your way of requiring they do things by saying it nicely. They will mimick you. Yes as a parent you have the right to say “Do your homework now” but if you change it to.. “Sweetheart, would you please do your homework” in a soft tone…. you will not hear them be so bossy. Bossy kids are often rejected by their peers.
Does your child have difficulty communicating? Whether it be speech issues or nonverbal communication, they need to be very aware of speaking clearly and reading people’s faces, body language, etc…
How are their social skills? Actively work with them on listening, sharing, negotiating, and giving more than they receive. Do they remember people’s names?
Kids love confident and assertive kids… do you actively build their confidence? Do all you can to create winning situations and build their confidence.
Make sure you have open communication with your children, ask on a scale of 1-10, how bad was the bullying, sadness etc… know what’s really happening and don’t be afraid to find out the negative as well as the positive, it might just save their life.
Two out of three of my kids had super tough times. Once we found the right tribe of friends, kind, smart, witty kids who were not necessarily the coolest or the best jocks.. but genuine kids who were thoughtful and kind… I worked at it, we invited them over frequently, had sleepovers to help develop bonds, I don’t let them spend much time on screen time as that is not bonding time that lasts. Force them outside, to take walks etc… You have to try out different friends and watch their behavior… are they are really good long term fit for your kid. If so encourage it. Or do you see serious behavioral issues like disrespect, if so discuss it.
I can say after heart ache that the child I was most concerned about is never ever home. If I allowed it that child would be at sleepovers every weekend all weekend and have back-to-back playdates as that child’s friends call all the time to get together. That child is not in the popular crowd but is very popular with his/her friends. They are not the kids who we thought would be his/her friends, they grew from clubs and extracurricular activities. But they are true friends, the kind that will last a lifetime.
I met a woman in my industry, she is young, strong and so intelligent. She is a Christian, yet a full on bulldog in business. I’m completely in awe by her, inspired. She embodies strength and determination. I said “yet”… I often thought that Christianity meant being soft, it does not, being a bulldog in business does not mean you aren’t soft inside, it means you make the hard decisions and those turn out better for everyone in the end. She completely challenged so many of my preconceived notions and has made me a better person for knowing her just a short while. That is inspiration. You don’t need to be mentored, just shown.