Monday, 26 March 2012

The gift of personality and music

Music transcends language, words, time, emotions, thoughts and can fill us with varied responses that is often hard to describe. Music can evoke sadness, memories, joy, beauty, a sense of fun, party time, make you wanna dance, sing, celebrate...... it's pleasurable to listen and to make music. 

Our family loves music. Our house on any one given day is like a mini conservatorium, filled with the sounds of a saxophone, piano, guitar or flute floating through our rooms. Our poor neighbours. 

I am ever so grateful that my Mum as a single parent also afforded me the opportunity to learn as a child and though I never went anywhere formally with my music, still today love to play as a creative outlet and have great fun with our music team playing at church. 

For this reason, I wanted to give my children the 'gift of music'. We all know the financial and time costs,  also the balance of desire & discipline involved; of not wanting it to become 'forced', rather an encouraged extra curricular activity in a hope that it can become a natural love for our children.

 Today's story is about, Deep Waters, who plays the piano and has done for 7 years now, he is currently working towards his grade 6 AMEB exam and though loves his music now, it has been a struggle many times to keep him interested and engaged. 

When he first began he used to cry practising and I felt like a horrible mother strongly encouraging him to practise. Deep Waters has the perfect personality for piano - he loves a challenge and is good at concentrating, attention to detail. I used to agonise over the balance between, parental persistence and encouragement, not to give up too early and feeling like I was coercing him to hang in there. I am glad that we persisted. He has since thanked me several times for 'forcing' him to hang in there. And to hear him play today, brings such incredible beauty and joy to my soul, and he has a deep sense of achievement. 

I would not force all of my children though - it's been a deliberate choice with Deep Waters (DW). Knowing his personality and his natural aversion to new things, have always found that DW needed to be gently persuaded, 'forced' to do many things, ice skating, talking on the phone, getting a hair cut, going out, visiting family..... DW is a home body, loves his own time, very self content, avoids confrontation, likes routine.  

Sunshine on the other hand, was playing the flute and also crying when practising. She begged me to let her simply focus on her dancing. So I let her quit, only to have her of her own volition pick up the flute one year later and start playing again. So each child is different. 

Deep Water's piano teacher calls him a, 'music machine', a natural talent as he will do anything that she stills him to do! So I felt quite strongly not to let him quit, a sense of responsibility to foster his natural talent and to ride the waves and find creative ways to encourage him to hang in there. Exhausting & tedious at times and it would certainly have been 'easier' to just let him quit, however our persistence has yielded results.

He wanted to quit last year again - typical grade 9 boy stuff, wrestling with his identity, not wanting to be associated with 'gay piano', says DW. However again knowing his personality, knowing how much he respected his teacher, knowing he wouldn't want to disappoint her, said he was welcome to quit, but he must be the one to tell his teacher, I would not do it for him. 

He couldn't bring himself to tell her. So today he is still playing, and loving it this year! Again I am grateful we rode the waves, pushed past the pain and indecision and have a Mozart in the making.

As parents we all wrestle with these issues, from music, to dancing to sport to whatever, do we encourage them to persist when they want to quit, or do we help them overcome the natural inclination to give up when things get tough? I think it's individual, consider their personality, consider the long term benefits, consider what is best for them. Cherish your children..............

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Love & limits

Cloud & Townsend have written an excellent book called, Boundaries - it is a book that has helped shape my parenting style and also challenged me personally to walk within healthy boundaries in life, particularly, relationships. A friend highlighted this book to me again recently and it reminded me of a story about my son - just after I had finished reading the book, was keen to put into practise new found knowledge!

Children (teens & adults) need boundaries to feel safe, they need to know our yes is yes and our no is no. Setting limits is usually ok, that's the easy part, it's the follow through that is the most difficult. No matter our age. 

Last year, one night on school holidays, Mr EQ decided he would sleep out in the lounge on our fold out couch - not unusual for him on holidays, nor unreasonable. However what was unreasonable was he kept jumping up and down on the couch, like a child. After asking him to stop, he continued. I gave him a choice/ limit;  stop or he wouldn't be allowed to sleep out in the lounge. He continued. When it came time to say good night. I calmly folded up the lounge and said he would now need to sleep in his own bed. 

He took great offence to this and said he would sleep outside on the trampoline! Ok, that was fine, I decided that I would not play to his game, keep to love & limits, kissed him sweetly good night, told him I loved him and went to bed. He took his doona & pillow and went outside. About 10 minutes later, the heavens opened. Down came the rain, I thought of EQ out on the trampoline, getting absolutely drenched. I didn't hear the back door open. After another 10 minutes, I got up, went outside with an umbrella to find him on the trampoline with pillow & doona, completely wet and still insisting on sleeping in the rain. I strongly suggested he come inside and he strongly resisted...... so again I simply & calmly stated the consequence and left him to his wet pillow & doona! I went back to bed. 

Another 10 minutes,  the back door opened. He showered & finally went off to sleep in his own bed. It had taken a long time for his stubbornness to melt. Thankfully the rain helped. But this story always stays in my memory because the next morning, EQ was a different kid. He had been growing a teenage attitude, thinking he was above parenting and stretching the boundaries daily, testing me. I had sensed it was time to pull him in again. And it worked. He seemed to regain respect, his attitude was somehow tempered.  It seemed almost an insignificant thing to make a big deal out of, but as a parent we know there are some 'battles' we know we must win. This was one of them.

As parents we need to remind ourselves of the beauty and benefits of love and limits, choices and consequences, in big and little things. To take heart that setting healthy boundaries creates children that have a safe sense of their world, develops self control and responsibility in their own decision making. Happy parenting!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Secret desires

With the birth of my first great nephew 2 weeks ago, am filled with memories of my own children when they were newborns. Holding a newborn is one of life's beautiful mysteries. There is something so wondrous about newborns, that I can only think it is the awe of new life that fills us when we see, hold, touch, smell a newborn. So precious, so vulnerable.

Even though 3 of my 4 were made in Taiwan, all of them were born here in Australia. There were going to be mega citizenship issues to give birth in Taiwan (Taiwan doesn't give 'aliens' any citizen rights not being a fully recognised nation in their own right, they are still seen by the international community as a renegade province of China). So to prevent any problems we simply came home to have them.

In my 3rd year of nursing at Uni, I had completed a women's health assignment on the topic of, Home Birth. I had researched extensively, met with the then Qld Home Birthing Association and was convinced myself that when the time came, I too would have a home birth. 

When pregnant with our first (technically our second as miscarried our first) and in Taiwan had contemplated a home birth, but being in a foreign land etc didn't feel confident. Coming home at 36weeks to Australia did not leave much time to prepare for a home birth, and both our parents felt very nervous about home birth idea for our first child, so to honour them I decided to go to hospital. Though a long 24hr labour, the birth was au natural and as I had hoped thanks to Lamaze breathing techniques.

For our second, we had come back from Taiwan and were living with my parents on their property. I started labour quite late at night, everyone else was in bed, so wandered around the house in labour thinking, "I don't want to go to hospital too soon as I spent far too long hooked to monitors etc with my first, so rather labour at home & by morning we should be ready to go".

Fair enough thinking, but given that usually the second birth is quicker than the first I did not factor that in. By 2am that morning I was having a hot shower to help with the contraction pain & was overwhelmed with the sensation of wanting  to 'push'!! Oh dear, out of the shower, woke my husband and said we need to get to the hospital asap, was getting dressed and Deep Waters was born! On the bedroom floor! His father had been awake all of 10mins before he delivered his own son! Thankfully he is a nurse and very cool under pressure, so he took it in his stride, but my parents who were awake by this time, were quite alarmed and called an ambulance! 

God had granted me the secret desire of my heart! Since studying nursing I had wanted a home birth experience and here it was, totally unplanned, but perfect! How beautiful is our God! 

Our Thoughtful Princess was also born at home, also unplanned as it was a precipitated birth a 90min labour! We were waiting for my parents to arrive to care for our other 2 children before we left for hospital and she was born on the kitchen floor! Almost unbelievable! Again fulfilment of the secret desires of my heart. 

By Sunshine, the children's Dad had enough of home birthing midwifery and said he really wanted our fourth in hospital! So to fulfil his heart's desire, we did so! 

" Delight yourself in the Lord and He will grant you the desires of your heart". Psalm 37:4

Be careful what you pray and hide in your heart. Cherish your children......

Monday, 5 March 2012


What kind of a photo represents a parent's heartbreak and disappointment when you find out one of your children has lied to you about an event that was questionable in the first instance? So sorry no photo this post, am still trying to come to terms with my son's poor choices and my own response to it in the midst of a Family First campaign!

This past week through a series of phone calls have discovered that my beloved 16yr old son has lied to us as parents about where he was and what he did on a night that we were told he was sleeping over at a mate's house. We were told they actually didn't sleep, and that they long boarded all night! A plausible story if you knew my son & his 5 mates, they eat, sleep & breathe longboarding! I was actually not too bothered by this, as at the same age had slept at Sutton's Beach with a whole bunch of friends & thought if longboarding all night is the 'worst' mischief they get up to at 16yrs we are doing ok!

However this week we have discovered that he & his mates were NOT longboarding all night!! I don't need to share the details of what they did get up too, as most of his mates' parents read this blog & it's not my place to reveal to the world what our 5 boys got up too - but let me just say, it is typical 16yr old boy stuff, understandable, but still incredibly Disappointing, with a capital D! As parents we have often commented on how much we trust our lads, a great bunch of mates that love hanging out together & have been up until now incredibly trustworthy. Mr EQ  even thanked me about a month for not being an 'over protective parent'! That is all about to change!

After given several opportunities to 'come clean' with the truth about this night, my son still chose to not reveal some details that were the most incriminating of the night. He later told me he was protecting his mates & didn't want to ' pimp on everyone'. This I understood, but it has now come with an even more severe consequence. My son was remorseful, but not overly....... he appeared more upset we had found out, than that he had broken my/our trust.

Until I told him that I had spoken to his Dad about the matter and that WE had decided TOGETHER the course of discipline/consequence for his behaviour, his poor choices, his dishonesty. Given that we are divorced, this carried a lot of weight. If his Dad had his way he wanted to ground him until he was 18!!!

Mr 16yrs has a healthy respect of his father, and said he was very, very nervous to see Dad, fearful of his reaction and thinking he would just 'rage' at him. When I told him that rather Dad's response was one of tears  - he was totally shocked! It was this that broke him. It was then Mr EQ cried himself, cried with the true tears of regret & remorse for what he had done knowing.

He knew then that his actions, his lying had so disappointed his father that much. " Dad never cries, I have only seen him cry once in my life and that was when Grandma died".

We explained that it wasn't his actions so much that had disappointed us, it was the lies, the dishonesty, the cover ups, the planning of this event with no consultation with us as parents. That this has now broken the trust & will take a long time to regain. We pray that this painful lesson is learnt now to hold him in good stead for days to come.......

In the joys and disappointments of parenting, we still choose to cherish & love deeply, we all make mistakes. Loving discipline is one of the greatest & hardest gifts we can give our children.