"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spilled Milk: A couple of thoughts a week later

The shoes that started it all
Dan, of Single Dad Laughing and Will Work 4 Followers posts a weekly "Lessons Learned"... sort of a rundown of the good and bad of that week's posts, how they were received, and what he's learned from it.  I've been thinking about that all day today, because I've learned a lot of lessons in the past week, both large and small.

First and foremost, I'm an even bigger introvert than I thought.  One week ago, on a really really good day, my blog would get maybe 200 views.  Maybe.  Today it got 4,700.  My Spilled Milk post has been shared and re-shared and passed along almost 2,000 times.  I say that not to toot my own horn, but to give a frame of reference for what I'm about to say, which is:

I'm little bit overwhelmed.

I have gotten a lot of comments, emails, and Facebook messages (most of which have been extremely positive, for which I am very thankful!!) and  I'm grateful and humbled by all of you who've passed my words along.  It's been very, very cool to connect with so many new people.  It's also been a little.... strange.  Scary.  I don't always know what to say to everyone, so bear with me.

Second, I've learned that I should have been a little more specific about my daughter's age.  I took it for granted that people knew she was only three, and I had many new readers who did not.  I got a lot of comments from people thinking she was much older, and wondering why I'd be okay with a 7 year old (or whatever) throwing shoes into a lake.  It didn't occur to me until today to go back and edit the post to reflect her age.  Sometimes it doesn't really make a difference, but I think in this case it made a big difference.  She's three.  And it might have spared me some grief if I'd been clear about that from the beginning.

I've also learned that there are some major limitations to blogging as a means of communication.  A blog post like that one is just one little snapshot... a small example to illustrate a larger point.  It wasn't meant to be a blow-by-blow account of how I handled the situation, more of a discourse on how I did NOT handle the situation.  But I left details out.  I didn't mention what I said to her (and honestly, I don't remember the specifics of what I said to her) just because I didn't think it would add to the message of my blog.   It wasn't really my point.  That does not mean though that I had the words, or the attitude, of "What a great idea, you cute little thing you.  Let's throw everyone's personal property into the water.  Here's my purse, and don't forget my phone and car keys!"  A lot of people commented (most nicely, some not as nicely) that while maybe the "things" don't matter, that the discipline matters.  That the teaching right from wrong matters.  That the consequences matter.  That if I let my kids do whatever they want - which again, was not the point - that they'll grow up into miscreants.  Or something. 

I've blogged about gentle discipline many times, and I will blog about it again.  In fact, I'm working on another post inspired by the many comments on this one... a post about learning right from wrong, about learning respect for ourselves and others, and about what we really mean when we say "natural consequences."    I hope to post it soon.

I believe in guiding my kids through loving words and actions, and I believe in discovering and circumventing and figuring out the world WITH them and beside them.  I believe in treating them with kindness and with respect.  And yes, I do screw up constantly sometimes and I'm always striving to do better.

I think all of the above are great and worthwhile things to talk - and write - about as fellow parents, and are a big part of why I keep this blog.  But if you're looking for someone who takes a positive stance on things like time-outs, taking away of privileges, and creating lots of rules - and you don't want to hear about alternatives - then this might not be the right place for you.   If you disagree, but are willing to discuss and behave like a grownup, awesome.  If you want to learn about another way of doing things, great. I'm happy to have you.

And finally, a quick word about comments.  I love comments.  I think most bloggers love comments.  I try to respond to them all (I actually have a few from today that I still want to get to) and I don't moderate them so far.  In other words, if you write it, it shows up.  And just like I believe in treating kids with respect, I believe in treating adults with respect as well.  I'm glad to have a respectful discussion with someone who disagrees with me, but if you're going to lead by telling me that I don't care about my kids, and that they must be home schooled since they're so selfish... you're not too likely to get much of a response.

To those of you who are still with me, thank you!  It's been a wild, and fun, past couple of days. :)


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