I've moved! Visit my new site.

Momsoap is movin' on up, to a real dot com! Visit my new site at: http://www.momsoap.com Please visit my new site and re-subscribe if you like my writing. I hope to see you all there!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fate took a big crap on my head last week

I haven't been able to write this week because my head has not been in a good space for writing about parenting, which is, I guess, essentially what this is supposed to be about.

I'm about to go off on several tangents, but stay with me because it all ends up in the same head space.

I met up with parenting coach Sandra Blackard for an interview a couple of weeks ago. What I wrote about her in that story was the basics. But what she talked to me about was so much more.

Blackard's technique of "Say what you see" for kids works great.

To boil it down, you literally always just say what you see.

For instance, you want your kid to eat his vegetables. "But I don't LIKE vegetables. I don't want to eat them!" he says. So instead of engaging in a power struggle over the vegetables you go, "You really don't like vegetables. You don't want to eat them."

Then, using SWYS, hopefully, the kid will go something like, "Well, maybe I like green beans. I'll eat green beans, but I won't eat cauliflower!" So, there. Problem solved.

Blackard says with SWYS if you allow the child to be heard, they will always come up with a solution to the problem.

(I totally just made up that example, so Sandy, if you are reading this and you want to comment further, please do so. I should say at this point that I do not profess to be an expert on SWYS.)

Moving on.

Okay, interesting enough for the kids, although her idea isn't really new to AP literature. Haim Ginott's ideas have been around for a while and are ingrained in AP readings by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, (the "How to talk..." ladies).

What intrigued me most about Blackard is that she encourages you to use SWYS on yourself too.

Ever since I met with Blackard, I have found myself really listening to MYself. And actually saying what I see, or really, HEARing what I am SAYing inside my head.

For instance, when Toyin says he is going to be home by 5 p.m. and then he doesn't show up until 5:30, in the past I would have found myself going, "YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO BE HOME BY 5!" Then storming angrily around the house muttering and/or shouting about how he NEVER shows up on time and how pissed off I am and now my evening is RUINED!

Instead, now, I say to myself, "I don't like that. I really don't like it when Toyin doesn't do what he says he's going to."

Then I can say calmly to him, "I don't like that you didn't show up when you said you were going to. I really don't like it when you don't show up on time."

This confronts the problem without being accusatory or judgmental and states the OH-SO-OBVIOUS, well, at least it was to me. Right ladies?

As I write this I realize that using Toyin is a bad example because if he reads this then he's going to be like, "Yeah, you still yell at me all the time."

But anyway, the point is, I have been hearing myself. I'm finally listening to myself. And it's helping me solve problems for myself better than I have in the past.

This leads me to my next tangent.

Last week I got an e-mail from a woman I've seen only a handful of times. She came to my house once for a playgroup and we've seen each other at a couple of AP functions.

She responded to a post I made on our online forum when I posted a link to a story I had written about Austin Attachment Parenting.

I swear to the gods, I have always toyed with the idea that I believe in fate, but I was never sure. I am now cuz Fate bitch-slapped me and said, "Hey, WTF Martha! How can you not believe in me? I'm right fucking here!"

Ok, a little over the top I know. But that's how I felt.

Like, ok, back to SWYS for a minute, Blackard uses the metaphor of talking to kids like you're on a map. Like, you can't tell them to turn left at the Stop sign if they are on the playground and there's no Stop sign. So, you have to be where they are when you are guiding them and that's how they will know where to go next. That's how SWYS works. If you can't see it, then don't say it. Right? Right. Get on the map. Then you can move forward. If you're not on the map, then how can you find direction? Metaphorically speaking of course.

So, like, I'm on the fucking map and this chick Michelle e-mails me with an idea that she wants me to write about: UNjobbing.

That's not a typo, dudes. I am not making this up. There's unschooling and now, I have finally heard it all. Unjobbing. It's basically being self employed. But it's being self employed because you really don't want to have a J.O.B.

That's totally what I'm trying to do.

Do you see how there I was on the map and then out of the blue someone came along to inspire me? How can I ignore that? I mean, it's like a fucking Lifetime movie of the week starring Melissa Gilbert.

See, I don't want to work away from my home for several hours a day and have to stick Annika in daycare. The reasons why are many, but Annika is the supremo number one reason.

Michelle's idea for an article was to talk about how she and her husband, Joel, are able to work from home and stay with their daughter, Siena. She loves it so much that she wants to inspire other people to do the same thing.

So I went over to Michelle's house and we talked about self employment and unjobbing and unschooling. She's really cool. And when I left her house I felt so motivated and positive about my life that I realized something. And for the first time I heard myself say it. Out loud. In my own head.

I don't like having a job. I want to work for myself. I want to be self employed. I want to be my own boss. It's scary. But there it is. Right there in my brain. And it's been there all of my adult life.

So this morning as Annika and I were lying in bed performing our mandatory, morning nursing session, I was thinking about how I haven't written a post in almost a week. And I was thinking about Sandy Blackard. Then I was thinking about all the random and various ways I plan to go about making money. Then I thought about Michelle e-mailing me and our visit at her house and I realized it all tied together. And voila! I knew I had to write about it.

As our morning wore on, I boiled and churned this blog post in my head, I came up with the headline because I knew that this all stuff -- Say what you see, listening to myself, unjobbing, being a mom -- all of this stuff is part of my journey of being mindful.

Then in my head popped my headline, "Wherever you go, that's where you are." I know it's nothing new, but it totally fits with the mindfulness and the map analogy.

And now for the best part, I know, I know you thought I was done being all zen and shit. But here goes.

This morning, on a total whim I decided to take Annika to Ruta Maya for the morning kid's show. The act was Sarah Dinan, a Celtic singer, who also does kids songs. She's a mom too.

And she's singing kids music and we're clapping hands and singing and having a grand old time. Then she says she's going to do one, just ONE mind you, of her Gaelic tunes. She tells us, "Okay, you probably won't understand the words because it's in another language, but the name of the song is -- get this shit -- "Wherever you go, that's where you are."

I shit you not. Okay Fate, c'mon over here and give me a big hug.


  1. Martha,

    The vegetable example was close. What readers miss in a written article is how it sounds to SAY WHAT YOU SEE (SWYS): http://tinyurl.com/SWYS-YouTube

    The purpose is to leave children truly feeling understood so they have no need to defend their position, in this case, their tastes. Once children know you understand, you can go on to problem-solving with CAN DOs.

    SWYS: "You really don't like that cauliflower! It tastes bad and smells yucky! You don't even want it in the same room with you, and there it is, sitting right there on your plate. And on top of that, somehow you have to find a way to eat it! Man!"
    CAN DO: "Hmmm. Must be somewhere I can put it while you figure out a way to eat it without having to taste or smell it."

    I don't know how it would work on cauliflower, but my daughter ate her broccoli with ketchup on it for years. It worked for her because she was the one who came up with the solution.

    Check your boundaries, then let the child problem-solve to come up with solutions that work for you both. In the example of a distasteful vegetable, could you offer 2 veggie choices at each meal? Or maybe a special veggie-free day each week or month to celebrate your child's other tastes? CAN DO problem-solving at mealtime can take the power struggles out of the kitchen. CAN DOs all the time can take the power struggles out of your life.

    FYI: While it has the same roots as Ginott, etc, the SWYS approach is unique in it's simplicity: starting with SWYS (the same thing) every time, finding STRENGTHs in EVERYTHING your kids do (no kidding), and giving you a way to be on your child's side in problem solving with CAN DOs. No rewards or punishment; just pointing out your child's greatness and opening up possibilities. What guidance could be better than that?

    Plus, the SWYS approach makes all other relationship-based parent training more accessible. The greats like Ginott, Faber/Mazlish, Kohn, etc. have got the theory; we've got the simple how-to.

  2. I am so bad at doing the SWYS. I find myself always wanting to offer praise to my daughter or comfort. I'm trying to work on it!

  3. Martha, the voices in my head say exactly the same thing. I don't want to work for anyone but myself (well and Cavanaugh). I want to stay home with my kid. I also want to be dealing with the right here and now rather than projecting some stories about a turn that might occur in the future.

    The only thing I don't agree with is that fate took a crap on your head. It sounds much more like a gift in your path. I love that Sandy's method of Say What You See has gotten you to hear yourself. I need to practice a little more of that.


Hey! Momsoap has moved. Please comment on http://www.momsoap.com. It'll help me transition and your comments will be forever linked to the post. Thanks for being a loyal reader. Psst, you're my favorite. Don't tell the others. ;)