We only have so much energy in life. In my last post, THE FULL BUCKET, I wrote about what happens when that energy is all used up. Choosing your battles is one way to ensure you avoid getting so drained that you are no longer able to function well...
This year, I will give two simple examples from the Full Spectrums: Armpits versus Teeth, and Grades versus Manners.
Choosing your battles doesn’t mean you abdicate any discussion of or efforts toward other areas of life – it just means you reserve your mightiest strength for those areas that seem most deeply important for yourself and/or your loved ones.
Here are two choices I’ve made for us:
1. ARMPITS VERSUS TEETH
Middle schoolers stink. Even with deodorant. Especially if you start with the crunchy granola natural stuff. We are on the Old Spice Ultra-Chem Turbo Level by this point but it only gets applied, shall we say, intermittently. You see, my G has very, very little interest in hygiene. So if I want to be sure he is doing something hygiene-related, I have to supervise.
I stopped brushing teeth with G about a year ago, trusting that he would take responsibility for this important matter. We found out the hard way last fall – when he had to go under general anesthesia to have a tooth pulled -- that he was not ready to brush his teeth alone. Now we brush our teeth together again, with him leading. Ten brushes in each spot. This is non-negotiable.
Sure, I ask G to put on deodorant and ask him if he has done so...but with my limited time and energy, sometimes deodorant doesn’t happen. Tooth brushing does.
2. GRADES VERSUS MANNERS
How many talks do your children really want to listen to? Z is one of those people who is able to excel at anything she cares to excel in...So her consistently getting all threes (“meets grade level expectations”) on her report card is...unexpected. Sure, I’ve talked with her about this – quite a bit.
But I reserve my most heated, heartfelt talks for the area of what I call “real manners” (i.e. the manners that are about kindness and respect, not the right fork). Because Z has grappled with an attachment disorder since she came home, she’s always had issues with feeling she doesn’t have enough, and with control. These factors come into play frequently when it comes to sharing and treating others with basic respect.
I know Z is a tough cookie who will always make her way successfully in the world, so I don’t lecture too, too much on grades and hard work. But for her to feel good inside -- and for others to feel comfortable around her -- she needs to learn to act with “real manners” in heart and mind. This, like tooth brushing, is non-negotiable, so I save my heartiest lectures for this subject.
Because I am not at her all the time about certain other stuff (grades, etc.), we are both able to be more fully present in this important, healing arena.
We are all works in progress. It matters that we take a little time to see where our efforts can be most effective – and to ponder what we most value. This can vary, of course -- the key is to take a step back and determine which battle you will choose.
The next and final anniversary post will be the most popular, putrid post of the year: THE COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT!!! We at FSM are a leetle behind this year on account of because life, so there’s still time to get your COMPLAINTS in!
Thanks and love,
Full Spectrum Mama