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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I Used To Be Perfect

Remember my motivational speech to my children that I wrote about in my last post?

My oldest son hit his first homerun last night. He was thrilled. And I was $20 poorer.

The night before my 10 year old hit two doubles and a single. And I was $5 lighter in the wallet.

I'd like to think it was my incredibly motivating and inspirational talk with my sons, and not the lure of cold hard cash.

It's funny, before I had children I though I would be one of those parents who didn't bribe or punish. I strongly felt that the intrinsic value of doing something would be lost if I put an outside motivator on it. But my children were also going to be perfect and want to learn their multiplication tables for fun and spend their spare time composing original violin concertos to play on their weekly visits to the elderly. They would self discipline!

Before I had children, I was the perfect mother.

And so the other night after my motivational speech, when my 10 yr old asked, will you give me something if I hit the ball into the outfield? After negotiating we decided on $1 for a single, $2 for a double, etc. The kids has the best game of his short little life, probably because he was too busy mentally calculating his newly acquired cash and what he would buy with it,than feeling anxious.

The 11 yr old said, "That's not fair."

I answered, "Welcome to my life, dear."

"What if I hit a homerun? Like out of the ballpark homerun? Will you give me $20?" he pressed on.

I calculated the odds of that happening. He has never hit a homerun. I figured my money was safe.

So under the guise of being magnanimous I answered, "Sure. Why not."

At 8:00 pm last night I got a phone call from him on his father's cell phone. He hit that homerun.
I wasn't there.

"I wish you had seen it, Mom."

I think I may have died a little.

He came home with the ball. A dirty, smudged ball, that someone had dug out of the woods and given it to him. He held it up proudly, for all of us to gaze upon it's magnificence. He wanted me to write the date on it so he could save it.

I pulled out my trusted Sharpie, asked him to verify the date on the calendar, took a deep breath to steady my hand, and proceeded to write the wrong date. The wrong freaking date.

He cried. I scrubbed the little spot on the ball trying to get the marker off. In the end I was able to "fix" it in a way that was acceptable to him, and if you didn't know any better you wouldn't even notice. But you'll always be able to see that little clean spot, where I tried to fix my mistake.

Every time I look at that little ball sitting on his shelf, I'll remember this night, and my woefully inadequate self.

My kids might not be perfect, but I love them just the way they are. I hope they think the same about me.

$20 should buy a little forgiveness... right? right?


Blogger Gwen said...

I've decided that we're all perfect parents, until we have children. And I'm sure your pep talk worked. Think of the money as a "bribe" to use your positive thinking method rather than a reward for how well they did at bat. I'm suree they both got up to that plate and thought, "I am a batter. I can do this."

11:20 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I am right there with ya sista. My oldest hit a homerun this weekend. I was only out $5 because it was in the park. It does make your heart swell with pride when they accomplish something great.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Carola said...

Your kids are already behaving like professional baseball players! only later their homeruns will be worth way more than $20.

11:21 AM  
Blogger moe said...

Yep get em playing for cold hard cash right away. Someday that ball might pay for your retirement. Consider it an investment.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son hit the metal sign on the fence last week.

It made a loud noise and everyone was gasping because they thought for sure it was over.

It missed by like 2 inches!

I would gladly have paid $20 for that 2 inches!

11:35 AM  
Blogger Lilly said...

That's incredible. It might be expensive but you might have found the key to your sons becoming star players! ...Your son will grow to love the smudge on the ball someday because it'll make him think of you.
...And the smudge on the ball is not as bad as what I did with tomato sauce to my son's carefully script written school report last night. Luckily I could scan it in, clean it up in photoshop and print it out again and it looks really good...

11:40 AM  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Fortunately my bribe only worked once. $5 for a soccer goal. The offer stands. And $5 for any basketball game where my son scores more than 5 points.

11:44 AM  
Blogger meredith said...

Thank God you're not perfect, life is more fun this way.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Tess said...

if you were a perfect mother, I wouldn't read your blog! :)

12:14 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

One thing I've learned from having stepkids is that internal motivation doesn't always come naturally OR at a certain age. I've also accepted that it's okay to begin to foster that internal motivation with external "bribes" - once they experience the internal rewards AS WELL AS the external, the lesson becomes easier. I think the idea to pay them was actually great for those reasons!!

12:27 PM  
Blogger nextcommercial said...

So, he's telling you the date. And, STILL you wrote it wrong?

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Kristine said...

Now, I see the flaw in my plan....I asked my parents for money when I got A's on my report card. My mother told me that she did not need to pay me for A's because I would get them anyway...I should have been holding a little something back.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I love that you wrote the wrong date on the ball. This is probably one of those things that you will forget about until your kids bring it up years from now: "Remember the time you hit that homerun and Mom wrote the wrong date on the ball? HAHAHA!!!"

And if you write that book, I'll pay $25 for the hardcover instead of waiting for it to come out in paperback. How's that for bribery?

1:04 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

That is so awesome! (The bribe and homerun, not the wrong day)

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Gigi said...

I bribed my sons with a 2liter of diet soda that they could keep all for themselves. To them at that point, it was like gold. They just needed that little something to take away the anxiousness and doubt of hitting the ball. Once they did it, they knew they had that capability. Now those boys are 17, 19, and 21, and how I wish that a promise of a 2 liter bottle of soda could help build their confidence with more adult situations! Keep writing I love your blog:)

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

It's not bribery, it's just a little extra motivation. We tell the kids if they score a goal in soccer we'll go out to lunch, and they can choose where (it doesn't happen very often), and we give them $1 for each A on their report card.

Money well spent, I say.

4:56 PM  
Blogger stacey said...

You know my theory is your only a perfect mother with perfect kids if you don't have any. I know this cause I had the same kind of mindset and then the kids happened and out the window all that went. At least we all know we are not alone in this mothering thing.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Libragirl said...

You are one of the most perfect moms I've ever "met" You adore your kids, they are happy and enjoy life and the older ones protect the younger ones and they love each other and they love you and the dad...the only perfect mom is mine and she ain't that perfect.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Maddy said...

I really hope the date was not 06/06/06 'cos that's that date we have all been hearing so much about!

I suggested the mantra to my 10 year old last night on his way to training and he came home ecstatic that it worked. He said he chanted *I am a batter, I can hit the ball, I'm going to hit the ball* ... and hey guess what, he did.

Thanks again for being a great role model to all of us anti-perfect-mothers.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

I just love reading your posts, esp. about baseball and little league. I think my son is around the age of your boys (he's 10). Our "code" is "Buck a Base." Kind of like what you had: $1 for single, $2 for double, and on and on. BUT, he gets $1 for a stolen base. And, since he's a catcher, he gets $1 for each baserunner he throws out. When he starts getting down (which doesn't seem too often, but it does happen), I just shout out "Buck a base, baby!" and he gets right back to playing hard. The other parents don't "get" it or if they do, they don't say anything. Then again, no one says ANYTHING to any kid, unless it is to criticize, so I really make up for it with a bit of eccentricity. (yeah. I have to dance the hokey-pokey on the pitcher mound after the game, because they all hit the ball one game.)

Yes, your heart does sink when you aren't there and they do something great. BUT, when they call you on the cell, or act it out when they get home, oh, it is just so exciting. (ok, after the tenth time they act it out, complete with sliding into the little sister, that gets a bit old, but the boys are just so excited!)

So........WHOO HOOOOOOO on him hitting the ball! Keep us updated with the little league happenings!

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Sleeping Mommy said...

I'm having one of those days too. I'm glad I'm not alone.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Junosmom said...

Kids don't need perfect parents - they'd never be able to live up to that anyway. Kids need imperfect parents that make mistakes, that model forgiveness, humility and being human. They need to see us handle regret, and say we're sorry. That's how they learn, because like the rest of us, they won't be perfect either, and it's not what happens in life, but how we handle it that counts.

10:42 PM  
Blogger My Full Hands said...

I am guilty of bribing one of my kids just to touch the ball in his soccer games. "I'll give you five skittles every time you kick the ball" Needless to say, it just wasn't his sport.

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Nohe 5 said...

Congratulations to your son for hitting the homer. And congratulations for treating this accomplishment with the honor it deserves. Keeping that ball will mean so much to him when he is older.

5:45 AM  
Blogger My float said...

Weren't we all perfect parents before we had children! No bribing? Ha! Sometimes a bribe is necessary to get my son out the front door! My pockets are never going to be the same. Good for your kids.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Belinda said...

Yes. All my best parenting was also done before I had children. I was BRILLIANT. Today, I threatened my 3-year-old with a certain consequence if she didn't cease a certain behavior, and she laughed. LAUGHED. With genuine hilarity. At the very idea.

11:54 PM  
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Blogger Personal Development said...

Neurolinguistic Programming

In the early 1970s in America Richard Bandler, then a young college student studied the work of Fritz Perls and later Virginia Satir and found that he could reproduce their high-level therapy skills to a degree that even surprised him. Bandler seemed to have a natural ability to mimic (model) the language patterns by Virginia and Fritz.

At the University of California at Santa Cruz, Bandler who was well versed in the teachings of patterns in mathematics and computers teamed up with a college professor, John Grinder to help him understand the processes that were at work. Soon Bandler and Grinder, who used what he knew about patterns in linguistics, created a new model for personal growth called NeuroLinguistic Programming.

Bandler and Grinder had set out to model the hypnotic skills of Milton Erickson. They had astounding results. They built a communication model about human "thinking" and "processing" and used that model of how we see images, hear sounds, reproduces smells and tactile experiences in our mind to track and model the structure of subjective experiences.

Sounds very complicated but really it works very simply. Here is an example as used by Paul McKenna - probably the best & most successful hypnotist in the world.

Close your eyes and think of a negative memory. Become involved in the situation as best as you can. Feel the emotions that you felt, see the things you saw and hear the things you heard.

Now take that memory and project it onto a mental screen seeing yourself in the picture. Put a frame around the picture and view it as if it is an old photograph. Next drain all the colour from the picture and shrink the screen to the size of a matchbox.

Have the feelings associated with the picture decreased in any way?

Another good example of NLP involves Anchors. Have you ever smelt a certain perfume or aftershave and had it remind you of a certain person or situation? Gone to a certain place that brings feelings long forgotten flooding back? Or been in any situation that creates emotional responses that would not normally be associated with it? Well if you can answer yes to any of these then you have experienced anchors. Some anchors are associated with positive feelings and some with negative emotions. However, you should be aware that anchors can be consciously installed or already existing ones altered. Here is an example:

Think of a time when you were really happy. If you can't think of one then imagine something that would make you feel really happy. See what you would see, hear what you would hear and feel what you would feel. Really get into the picture and try to experience it as though it were happening now.

Now brighten the colours and make them richer. Increase the volume. Make the picture bigger, brighter, louder. That's it and more and more....

Now press your first finger against your thumb and fully experience your happy feelings. Do this everyday for 2 weeks and you will create an anchor that will instantly recreate these feelings. Whenever you want to feel like that again just press your thumb and first finger together and wham the feelings will come flooding back! Don't believe me? Just try it and see!!! self hypnosis

5:09 AM  
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Blogger Personal Development said...

Many people try to achieve goals. Most fail. Some strive, work hard and plan for all the details yet they achieve little or nothing at all. Others strive, work hard, plan and achieve huge success. Yet there are a few individuals who do little else than take small steps and seem to achieve a great deal with what seems like effortlessness. What is the difference between these people and which one would you like to be?
Most members of the human race fall into two categories - those who live in the past and those who live in the future. Most live in the past. Many of these are the people who achieve very little in their lives and are so fearful of the future that they dare not strike out to get anything. They are the under-achievers who hang onto bad episodes in their lives and either relive them time and again or look at new situations as similar potentialities. They say things like "all men are deceivers" or "all women are interested in is money" or "I can't do it. I tried before and it didn't work so why bother!". Due to bad experiences in the past they believe that all future events will turn out the same way if they dare to go after what they want.
The other type of person lives in the future. This type tends to create more of the things they want in life. They have a vision of where they want to go and exactly how they are going to get there. They work diligently at making concrete plans and they pursue those plans with a persistent ferocious appetite for success. These people are the high achievers - The Richard Branson and Bill Gates of the world. These people have much to teach us about setting and achieving goals.
However, there is a third type of person who almost goes unnoticed. They are the person who takes life in its stride and yet achieve most of what they want. I am sure you know of such a person in your life that just seems to saunter through life and yet they always come out on top. Or a person who you hear of that has decided to open a shop. You meet them a few months later and they have three shops all doing well! So what makes these people so successful and if they aren't living in the past and aren't living in the future where are they living?
I suppose you guessed it! Whether they are consciously aware of it or not they are living in the present. It is in the 'living' present that we have our greatest power. Everything happens in the present. You live your entire life there - even if your mind does not!

By becoming more aware of the present and by 'accepting' it as it is we are much more in control of our emotions and focus. When we live in the past we are fearful of making bad choices and/or getting hurt. We do not wish to recreate the past again! When we live in the future we can also be fearful of what might happen. But even if your future vision is full of power and worthy of working towards many people can, and often do, get stuck there. By constantly reaching for bigger and better goals they fail to enjoy what they have in the moment.
If you wish to start living a life that is almost effortless begin first by living in the present. Accept your situation the way it is and then you can enjoy what you have. Your focus changes from a memory of what was or a vision of what might be to a realization of what is. You become much more empowered to then see the beauty of life and also look at where you wish to make changes. But to make changes you must first accept the situation as it is. Trying to escape from your present only increases your focus on your problems by creating resistance to what is. Accept your life as it is now. Make no judgement, just accept it and then you will be free of doubt, worry, pain and fear. For you only experience these things when you live outside the 'moment'. subliminal

3:36 AM  
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Blogger cylon said...

The personal development industry has never been bigger! It consists of a myriad of authors basically telling us how to improve our lives. We are constantly being told self help and self improvement has never been easier. New techniques, gadgets and potions adorn the shelves of new age shops and the 1 billion dollar industry, that is personal development, offers many different approaches to help better our lives. They offer ways to increase our bounty and ultimately alter our own reality. A great example of this is how to develop a Prosperity Consciousness. But does this state really exist and if it does will it bring the effortless unlimited wealth promised?
A lot has been written about prosperity and how to attain it. We have been told by many religious traditions and every personal development guru that the Universersal Source (God, Spirit, Cosmic Mind or whatever label you chose to give it) is boundless wealth. We are also told that abundance, wealth and prosperity are our birthright! Why then are so many people ill, broke, frustrated and unfulfilled? Can a person really develop a prosperity consciousness and effortlessly attract wealth? Well as with everything in life there is only one way to find out. Test it for yourself!

Before we can attain and then test the effectiveness of having a prosperity consciousness we need to understand some basic truths. Let's start by explaining three fundamentals of personal development namely; 1. The Universal Source is all wealth, abundance and prosperity; 2. Prosperity is our birthright; 3. You get more of what you focus on.

1. Why are we told that the Universal Source is unlimited wealth? - Because the Universal Source is the consciousness of the Universe - a universe that is still expanding. It is the driving force behind physical reality. It created everything you see, hear, touch and smell as well as all that we are unaware of (microwaves, radiation, air etc.). It has been stated in religious and metaphysical traditions that this intelligence is not only the Source of everything but that it is also the substance of it! It creates the Universe from itself! It is omnipresent (everywhere present). That means that the entire seen and unseen aspects of the universe are a part of this Universal Source. Science reaffirms this theory as it states that nothing is solid and everything is just one mass of pure energy that vibrates at different frequencies and gives the illusion of separateness.
So we can now claim that the Universal Source is unlimited wealth, abundance and prosperity with some belief. For if this Source is the very substance of everything then it is all the wealth, abundance and prosperity that exists at this very moment!
Ok so far? Now lets look at the second point - prosperity is our birthright.

2. If this Universal Intelligence is the source and substance of all things then there can be only one intelligence in the Universe. Jesus said to his disciples "know ye not that you are the temple of the living God?" Buddha attained enlightenment and "oneness". The list of these religious teachings are too numerous to mention but their message remains the same - God (Universal Substance) resides within and around us. It's very substance makes up our physical body and the world around us - "For in him we live, move and have our being" Acts17:28. Therefore, if this Universal Source is at the very core of our being and is the substance from which we take physical form then it stands to reason that we are connected to everyone else and in fact everything else around us - we are a part of all the wealth, abundance and prosperity of the universe. Just as your hand or foot is a part of your body, so every grain of sand, blade of grass, wisp of wind, bar of gold and brick that is laid in a mansion is part of you. The unlimited wealth of the universe is yours for the claiming. It is already yours, always has been and always will be. It is a part of you.
Ok let's go the third point - you get more of what you focus on.

3. "It never rains but it pours", is a saying I have used myself in the past. Have you ever wondered why such a statement appears to be true? Well metaphysics and religion tell us that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" or as Job cried out to God "For that which I greatly feared has come upon me". What we focus our conscious attention on increases! Don't believe me? Test it for yourself! If you can muster up the strength to do it then think in negative terms for a week. Judge everything that happens to you in negative terms and think only of a negative outcome and watch what happens in your world!!! This is a relatively easy experiment as we are conditioned to think negatively by the world. A word of warning though - once you prove that your focus determines your reality stop thinking negative thoughts as best you can.
I will not go into the 'hows' of why our focus has such a profound influence on our lives (that would be the subject of a book or perhaps a future article) just prove to yourself that it does. A clue can be found in the teachings of Jesus when he said "The Kingdom of heaven is within".
So now we have the three principles of the prosperity consciousness explained let's put it to work. The attainment of a prosperity consciousness is relatively simple - just think on the first two principles until you fully understand them and integrate them into your consciousness. As you focus on them you will discover that your feelings of lack disappear and you begin to feel a connection with everything around you. It is really just an attitude shift - nothing metaphysical or mystical about it at all. You begin to consciously realize that everything is a part of you. Your focus changes from poverty to wealth.
If it helps make a list of affirmations that correspond to the two principles outlined e.g. "God is the Source and substance of everything", "I am at one with everyone and everything around me", "I am a part of all the wealth, abundance and prosperity of the Universe" etc. Don't just rhyme them off in a parrot like manner, think on them and realize the scientific or spiritual truths behind them.

Will it work? Well I can say now that if you follow the above instructions a real change will happen in you. You will start to see the beauty of the world and the unlimited resources that are available within and around you. Will you attain wealth, abundance and prosperity? Test it for yourself! personal development

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