Helicopter parents butt into zoom school

brother and sister dressed up

My son when he was in second grade. I think I remember my daughter’s bangs had something to do with gum and big brother.

Can you imagine how hard it would be to be a helicopter parent in today’s world? Imagine if your child was on zoom calls for school. I’d think most helicopter parents would be sitting right there with their child.

In an article I read from Good Housekeeping by Gina Rich, there were quite a few funny examples. The article is called Parents Who Butt In During Remote School Are Just Trying to Help — But They’re Doing the Opposite.

Here’s an excerpt:

Child development experts have already firmly established why helicopter parenting and lawnmower parenting — or swooping in to rescue our kids from every problem — is harmful. Overly involved parenting jeopardizes kids’ independence and resilience, not to mention parents’ sanity. Yet months into a pandemic that’s forcing physical classrooms to remain closed, the unescapable proximity has caused many parents to struggle. It can be hard to let children muddle through the challenges of virtual school without intervening.

Earlier this fall in Berkeley, California, Allison Landa went to check on her 5-year-old son, a transitional kindergartener who is learning remotely. When Landa saw her child wasn’t following the teacher’s instructions to draw dots on a page, she decided to jump in. “I took the crayon and helped him swirl it on the page. Then I drew a dot of my own. Then I quizzed him: What color was the dot? How big was it?”

Across the country in upstate New York, Emily Popek was helping her third grader, who was suddenly the host of her class Zoom meeting after a glitch kicked the teacher out. Looking at the screen, Popek saw her daughter’s classmates — and a lone parent whose voice sounded familiar.

I realized I’d been hearing that parent’s voice,” she says. “You can never see her kid — it’s just her.” During the first Zoom meeting of the school year, the same parent had joined the conversation and started asking the teacher questions. “The student wasn’t interacting with the teacher at all,” recalls Popek, a school communications professional. “It was all being mediated by the mom.” And Popek’s story is just one of many: Playgrounds across the country are filled with whispered complaints of parents who interject during lessons, prompt their kids to give correct answers or complain that their kids aren’t being called on enough.

To be fair to parents who are trying to work at home and have their kids succeed in school, this year has thrown them a curve ball. They are trying to do what’s best. Although sometimes it’s better to do less. Let your kids take over their education. They will gain so much more, even if they mess up.

I remember when my son was in second grade, I volunteered to be a classroom helper. My role was to sit at the back of the classroom and correct papers as they were turned in. The teacher was fabulous and she stood in the front of the classroom making a list of five or six assignments on the board and keeping the kids enthralled with an occasional cartwheel. She had me call kids individually to go over their assignments with them. She said it was so much better for them to get instant feedback and learn from their mistakes right away. That’s why she used parent helpers.

Anyway, I would get antsy watching my son not do anything but fiddle at his desk while other kids were hurrying through their list of assignments. I’d walk up to him and try to encourage him to get started. The teacher would admonish me and send me back to my desk. “Mom, leave him alone! He’s got this,” she say. Then when it was almost time for recess, my son would miraculously start his work and get done in time to go play. And if not, he’d take his work outside and finish it at a lunch table.

It was tough for me to watch him dawdle. But he lived through it and so did I.

brother and sister in winter wear

My kids all grown up in their winter wear at a PAC 12 Swimming Championships.

If you’re a parent with your kids learning online at home, what are your secrets to making it work? Do you find yourself wanting to jump in and help? Or, take over?

Does illness influence negative thoughts?

I wrote this last year when I discovered a connection between not feeling good and my own negative thoughts. With all the focus on COVID-19 in 2020, I felt I needed to repeat this post.

Palm Springs pool

Hoping to dive in again soon.

I’ve noticed a correlation between how I feel and negative thoughts. I’ve been battling a nasty cold since I got home from my Seattle trip. With my body feeling weak, achy and my head stuffed through and through, I’m catching negative thoughts entering my brain.

Maybe it’s because my brain isn’t up to speed that I can stop them in their tracks? Or, maybe because I’m not feeling well, my brain is producing more negativity than usual? I feel like my weak body is a target for the negativity swirling in my brain.

It reminds me of a webinar about “managing thoughts” that I heard lately and wrote about here. It was by David Benzel of Growing Champions for Life. He talked about how your brain is a tool and it’s not who you are. A summary of what he said was if you don’t use this tool called your brain, it will use you. He explained how we’re bombarded with 55,000 thoughts per day. If we can separate ourselves from those thoughts, we can evaluate them. When a negative thought pops up, like “Who am I fooling?” or “I’m really not very good at this,” I can stop it and say, “Where did that come from?” or “How is this helpful to me pursuing my goals?” After separating ourselves from the thought, it is less likely to get inside and take over our psyches.

Benzel talked about living in the now. He said worry and anxiety are based on thoughts about the future. Our regrets are thoughts about the past. There is only one here and now. That’s all we have control of. Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t dwell on the future. Take advantage of the now.

I’ve spent two days mostly in bed, trying to get over this cold. I don’t feel much better today. But, I’m guarding myself against negative thoughts taking over. I know that I will feel better soon because I’m taking good care of myself. I also think that when people get older and are in pain, or if someone isn’t feeling well, they may be filled with negative thoughts. Maybe that’s why they are grouchy or may bite your head off. It’s something to think about, isn’t it? I can empathize with their hurt bodies being inundated with negative thoughts from their brains. They may not realize it, but their physical condition is allowing their negativity to take over.

Do you notice a connection between negative thoughts and illness? If so, what do you do to manage your thoughts?

Beautiful long hair tabby cat.

My constant companion while feeling sick.

 

 

 

Working on an attitude of gratitude

brother and sister with red hair

I’m grateful for these two.

I keep on promising to write in my gratitude journal. But somehow this crazy 2020 leaves me less than grateful. That’s probably why I need to commit to it more than ever. There’s an exercise known as “Three Blessings” that I should complete every evening for months on end. This is the plan: every evening write three things I’m thankful for that happened during the day. They may be little things, like something beautiful I saw on a walk, or bigger like a new writing job referral. Then after each, I explain why the moment happened. It’s an exercise I learned about from a book called “Flourish” by Martin E.P. Seligman. He says in his book that this exercise has been proven to be just as effective as taking anti-depressants in fighting depression! I find it as a nice way to get grounded after a busy day and reflect on everything that is going well.

I try to have an attitude of gratitude. I didn’t realize how many benefits being grateful brings to your life until I read “Gratitude yields health and social benefits” by Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Here’s what they had to say:

Positive emotions such as gratitude open our minds.

With Thanksgiving having passed, we may want a jump start on our New Year’s resolutions. Research shows such a long list of health and social benefits that families might want to focus on cultivating an attitude of gratitude all year long.

Researchers at Northeastern University found that grateful people are more likely to be patient and make wiser decisions.

Gratitude also makes us more likely to take better care of ourselves. In one psychology journal, a study showed that a grateful attitude correlated to a greater willingness to eat healthier foods, exercise more and go to the doctor. Some research even shows that being appreciative boosts willpower.

Counting our blessings before bedtime can also translate to better sleep. One researcher said it may help soothe the nervous system. Not only can gratitude improve our quality of sleep, it can also help us fall asleep faster and sleep longer.

The health benefits of gratitude can’t be overstated. It’s been shown to decrease physical pain, reduce symptoms associated with depression, decrease blood pressure and boost energy levels. In fact, simply cultivating a lifestyle of gratitude can add an average of seven years to your lifespan.

Being grateful also makes us more resilient, less envious, more optimistic, kinder and more social. It’s no wonder that the more grateful a person is, the more likely the person is to have strong social connections, healthier marriages, larger friendship circles and improved networking skills.

Not only does gratitude have the power to transform our health, our social lives and our careers, it can transform our personalities. Research shows that gratitude contributes to a wide range of positive character traits. It makes us humble and it makes us more generous. Together, these traits combat entitlement and self-centeredness. Grateful people are more willing and able to focus on others and can therefore contribute more broadly to their communities.

We the parents have both the opportunity and the obligation to raise children who will have a positive and transformative effect on the future. As we focus on grooming an attitude of gratitude in our kids, we are not only improving their own quality of life but we are helping to change the world one child at a time.

I do believe it’s our duty as parents to instill gratitude as a trait our kids should embrace. One way is to start a gratitude journal. Another tip is to ask your children at dinner or bedtime to name three things they’re grateful for. In the book I’m reading called “Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance” by Julia Cameron, has exercises to list 10 things you cherish. Another day there I was asked to write 10 things I’m thankful for. It’s not a bad thing to do. By the way, I gave my husband a journal of gratitude and he’s enjoying writing a few things each day.

As parents, I think we need to let our kids and family know how much they mean to us. It’s that time of year!

What are you most grateful for in your life?

The new normal: our crazy topsy turvy life

Today I’m looking back on when things got crazy. They’ve never stopped. I also am not okay with the “new normal.” Nothing is normal. Nothing.

Here’s a recap of the day before we sheltered in place. My kids who live in the Bay Area already went on shutdown.

Pretty long-haired cat next to flowers and swimming pool

Our cool as a cucumber cat is helping to keep me calm.

I was doing okay, but yesterday when my kids called me and said they were under mandatory “shelter in place,” I started to panic. I’m wondering if the world will ever get back to normal? They were working remotely in my son’s house in the Bay Area.

The mandatory shelter in place started today. Yesterday they were told to prepare to be home for at least two weeks. My daughter is working remotely and decided to get out of the city and drove home last night. It’s so nice to have her home! I wonder how long she will be here?

cute pug

Waffles the pug came home, too.

My dad agreed to let me grocery shop for him and I found everything he needed except for toilet paper, of course! While I was driving from his home, my daughter called and Waffles, her pug, ate something and was trying to throw up, but nothing was coming up. I told her to call a vet and I got really stressed out again! She called back in tears and said that the vets she called would NOT take new patients in their practice due to the Coronavirus! I was in the car and while she was talking to me and I noticed a big white pick up truck on my tail! Then he swerved in the lane next to me, and started yelling and screaming, giving me the finger. He threw a milkshake at me! It hit my windshield and the car was covered. I’m still shaking.

What in the h*ck is going on, folks? Is this really the time to become completely unhinged?

white pick up truck road rage

This is the guy in a white pick up truck with a Home Depot trailer that threw a milkshake at me.

Let’s take a moment to breathe some fresh air, calm down, take a walk and enjoy your families. And love up our dogs and cats, too!

As a follow up, Waffles the pug spent the night at the one facility that accepted new patients — the emergency pet hospital. It turned out he ate berries from a bad bush and was placed on an IV after his belly was emptied from the toxic berries. At 16 pounds, he’s a little guy and quite fragile. 

What excitement has your family experienced in this topsy turvy new normal?

Day 220: Time for another shutdown?

I am looking back on this crazy year called 2020. We went through all these days of sheltering in place, yet my little resort town has been busier than ever. The grocery stores are packed. The airbnbs are all booked. I don’t see people sheltering in place as much as they are flocking to Palm Springs.

Does all the visitors to our town help during Coronavirus? It’s something I don’t understand.

Palm trees at sunsnet

A beautiful sunset view from my home.

It mostly younger people coming in small groups. I think they may be working remotely or not working at all and feel the need to get out of their cramped city spaces and spread their wings.

I feel the need to get out as well. I think being stuck at home for days on end is wearing on a lot of people’s nerves. I know my kids and many other young adults are experiencing anxiety, depression and all sorts bad thoughts from this lurch away from “normal.”

When I ask if we’re headed for another shutdown, what I mean to ask is will this one ever end?

Is anyone else feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or confined? If so, what are you doing to feel better?

Blue sky and palm trees are attracting visitors.

How to stay focused when overwhelmed

view of swimming pool

The pool where I swim Masters.

Do you ever wonder why sometimes life is slow and easy and then bam! We get overwhelmed with everything? I’ve been feeling that way all week. There’s a lot of stuff going on in this crappy year called 2020. I’m having trouble dealing with all the emotions hitting me.

Here’s how I try to cope when I’m feeling overwhelmed:

ROUTINE

I try not to mess with my established routine. For going on six years, I have followed Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and it’s served me well. I start the day with three pages of journaling, a long walk and prayer. Even when I’ve got a crazy schedule or upheaval in my life, there’s no way I’ll cheat myself of this time to get my head and body refreshed and ready for the day.

SWIM

Exercise is so important to staying stress free and to keep your mind clear. Unfortunately I have a tendency to let go of swim practice when I’m too busy. It’s my hope to be consistent with three practices a week. I’ve got a good start until this week and I took a few days off and it’s not helping me.

PRIORITIZE and ORGANIZE

Figure out exactly what you need to get done and let go of the other stuff. When I’m juggling a bunch of projects at once, I figure out what is most important. If I do the harder tasks or work I don’t want to do first, the rest is easy. Getting the clutter out of the way helps, too. My daughter is big on color coding her work and putting it on a white board or calendar. I’m going to try color folders for each of my projects so I’m not searching through papers on my desk.

WORK AHEAD

When I have a few minutes of free time, I work ahead. Last week I was waiting on work, so instead of surfing the internet and reading news online, I made a list of everything I needed to get done for this week — and jumped in on it. Lists are my saving grace. I start each day with a list of to dos and work my way through the day. Then, I make a list for the next day, and start in on that, too. One of my friends told me she crosses things off her daily lists with a red pen. I’ve adopted that and it’s so satisfying!

beautiful view of mountain and park

Views from my morning walk.

What are your methods to stay on track and focused when things seem out of control?

The mystery of the missing glasses — solved!

Last September and October I was housebound waiting for cataract surgery. I wrote this about our beach vacation and how my glasses went missing, just as I needed them the most. I had to go without contacts for weeks on end so my eyes would normalize. My contacts add pressure to my eyeballs and change the curvature of my eyeballs. So, before the doctor would perform surgery, he’d check my eyes and waited until my vision stabilized. A very stable 20/2000!

This is what I wrote last fall:

horses on the beach shore

Views from the morning beach walk.

We unpacked from vacation last night and I can’t find my glasses. This is especially bad, because I’m having eye surgery in a few weeks and I’m not supposed to wear my contacts. The question is — where did my glasses go?

Our vacation was in a VRBO beachy house in Summerland, a quaint town near Santa Barbara. We had our daughter and Waffles the pug stay with us for the first weekend and then mid-week our son and his girlfriend joined us.

It was one of the most relaxing and best vacations in recent memory. We walked the beach a few blocks below the house each morning. Each day brought new sights with a combination of fog, clear sunshine, horses, dogs, seals and dolphins. After the morning walk, my husband and I’d log onto our laptops for a few hours work. Then back to another beach for hours sitting under an umbrella, watching the waves and reading. We’d end the beach day with another walk with our feet in the cool ocean water. What we found so surprising was practically vacant beaches in August — in So Cal!

Dinners we shared with friends and the kids. We know several great couples who live in the area and we laughed through great meals and memories, like grilled fresh ahi, a delicious Italian restaurant and a make-your-own pizza night. For the kids, I cooked prime steaks, salads and their favorite veggies, using my tried and true reverse sear method I found on youtube.

turquoise beach house with tropical plants

The beachy VRBO.

I was resigned that the wonderful vacation must come to an end. What I wasn’t prepared for was losing my glasses. The last time I wore them was at our friend’s house and I packed my small handbag with contacts and glasses — I’m sure.

The next few weeks will be interesting, because without contact lenses, I cannot drive. I’m literally going to be housebound until my cataract surgery — except if my friend takes me to Masters swimming and I can manage to swim blind.

My contact lenses change the curvature of my eyes, so I have to let my eyeballs rest and return to normal. I scrounged up an old pair of glasses at least five years old and scratched as heck. But it’s better than nothing, I guess. I plan on taking my morning walks, and continue on with my writing, although at a slower speed and most likely more typos — since I can’t see worth beans. In the long run it will be worth it. But, where did my glasses go?

pug running along the beach

Waffles on a beach run.

My girlfriend has searched her house on her hands and knees. I have done the same in my own house. I’ve gone through trash, laundry, drawers, suitcases, bags, under beds, and throughout the car and trunk. Of course, I blame my missing glasses on my husband — but that’s a story for another time. Just when I need my glasses the most, poof! They’re gone!

MYSTERY SOLVED! This summer in August we returned to the same beach house for vacation and voila! In the back pocket of my worn out Tommy Bahama beach chair were my glasses! Now I have them, and I don’t need them. Of course.