“Top to Bottom”
As a mother of four, I have held a front row seat to all of the milestones my children reach. First word, first steps, first day of school, first crush. Always starting and stopping. Beginning and ending. “Staircase moments” as I call them. The “Ups” and “Downs.”
As a Board of Education member, I work closely with the students in my school district. Not as a teacher, but as a mentor. I advocate for each of them. I watch their milestone moments and celebrate with them.
Recently, attending a SAFE graduation in my district, I heard Lt. Crook tell the kids they were on ‘top’ as fifth graders in their school. They reached a milestone. The SAFE program teaches students the dangers of drugs and alcohol, bullying, internet safety. We teach safety at an early age in my district. Our goal is for our students to remain safe.
Lt. Crook told the students they were on ‘top’ this year. In middle school, they would be back at the bottom until they earned their way back to the top as eight graders. As freshmen in high school, back on the bottom and must fight their way back to the top to hold the esteemed title of ‘senior’ and hopefully ‘graduate.’
Inevitable changes occur. Time passes. The fifth grade students sitting before me would walk toward me at graduation in seven SHORT years to receive their high school diploma. WOW!
Time marching; children changing.
We often hear the term, ‘change is inevitable,’ it is true. But what are we planting as our young children grow? What are they seeing, absorbing, mimicking? We want to produce a beautiful product, but first we must invest our time and energy; and it takes a lot of energy to climb ‘life’s’ steps everyday.
Here is a list of the top ten things I encourage parents to do with their children starting from their first day of kindergarten. (From what I have learned as a mom and board member).
- Engage your child. Don’t simply attend to his needs. Listen to him.
- Show up at school unexpectedly for lunch.
- Volunteer in her classroom. Interact with your child’s friends. Know who they hang out with.
- Read with them. Pick a book; hold a family book club to discuss the book. (This works at any age).
- Attend school functions. Science nights, PTO nights. Be involved.
- Always. Always. Make time to attend a program if your child is in it. No matter how small. He will never remember all of the many, countless hours you sat patiently in the audience, but he will never forget the one time you missed.
- Host a sleepover with his friends. Invest in his interests. (Hopefully in will not involve Xbox!)
- Make time for family time. Game night or movie night.
- Have the ‘talk’ at an early age. Kids need to know where they came from. God created them in a beautiful way. Don’t shy away from it.
- Discipline him. Yes, set limits. Set boundaries.
Change is a’coming. Every, single day our children step into a world that is constantly changing. Think about it . . . did you have an Iphone when you were a teenager? Netflix at your finger tips? GPS to track your car?
We clean our houses from top to bottom, but do we clean our ‘homes’ from top to bottom? You are eager to get rid of the junk in your kid’s closet. When necessary, get rid of the ‘junk’ he sees on the internet. Limit his time online.
Get rid of the ‘junk’ in his diet. Teach wise choices in food nutrition.
I know several parents who use the LIFE 360 App to track their teen drivers. I have yet to use this App or even download it with my older three. Now, 16, 19, and 22, I have chosen to trust in the promise God gave me when they were born.
“Train up a child in the way you would have him go and when he is older he will not depart from it.”
God promised he would take care of my children. I read something once which I still quote today, “The true sign of a successful parent is to raise an independent child.” Independence means ‘letting go’ which is the HARDEST of all things to do.
Now, do I worry when they are out on the road? Absolutely, but God tells me not to worry. Lean not into thine own understanding.
This Mother’s Day, I celebrate me. I celebrate my successful independent children. I celebrate my own mom and the women who have helped to raise my children.
While still in the process of raising them, my youngest only 13, I feel much satisfaction in my work spent parenting; I deserve a promotion and I hope one day to get that in the form of a new title; GRANDMA. (Although, I would prefer a much cooler and hipper name!)
Engage your children. Celebrate changes. Love each phase. Enjoy your blessing.
I often say to Alison, my oldest at 22 years old, “I have never been the parent of a 22 year old before; I guess we must navigate this new step together.”
Celebrate each ‘top to bottom’ moment. Soon, your house and your home will glow!