Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Your Kid is a Genius!

I am talking to my sister who has an adorable five year old, and as first time parents are wont to be, she is amazed by her daughter's ability to write and read on her own. "I am not saying my kid is a genius or anything..." she rationalizes humbly, and then goes on to describe her concern over the educational system.
I get it. I do, none of us want to be an annoying braggy parent...but them I wondered...
what are the results like in a family where the parents think and act like their kid IS a genius compared to those who think and act like their child is NOT a genius?
How do the kids feel about themselves?
How do the interact with that child?
I would venture to say that the opportunities for the children would be different. The encouragement, the confidence, the willingness to take risks and think and act outside the box would shift.

For instance a child who is seen as a genius in music is encouraged to and given the space to obsessively play music all day, to think, breathe and eat while humming music. They are supported for hours a day to play music and in fact expected to do so, giving them the ability to hone their craft, become masterful in an area that they most likely would have been mediocre in without the support.
I am not an expert in geniuses, but from what I have seen, they are not expected to be as social, "well rounded" or responsive to commmunity activities. They are seen as "special" and treated thus...or as just a "little bit crazy" when they get older and are discounted as "normal". This gives them the benefit of constantly striving, playing,thinking and creating out side of "the box" and societies' expectations.

A child who is not seen as a genius in music is going to have the expectation to "balance" his or her life, do sports, school, friends and TV all in manageable chunks of time, scrunched together, but none "too much" as to not "overwhelm" the child.

A child who is not seen as a genius is often not allowed the free reign of being obsessively creative.
They might also not be expected to be obsessively creative...and as expectations lower so do the activities parents choose to present to their child. They may be lulling them into stupors in front of the TV instead of challenging them with building, programming or being creative.

My father says "Every child has a genius". EVERY CHILD. He was a teacher for 29 years. He saw it all. He taught gifted and talented and remedial. And every child, he insists, has a genius.
And for that matter that means every adult too. Yes you...

The quest, I say as a parent who endeavors to be inspired by my children, is to find that genius. To wonder, discover and explore the world for what lights up your children and yourself.
Dive, delve into and develope skills in an area that interests you no matter what. Your child long as it is not harmful to anyone...who cares if what lights them up is the phases of the moon,trains or tap dancing?
Don't stop them!! Support their genius!
It does not matter if you don't see that it will make them money or get them into Stanford.

There is a guy,Ondrej Pakan, whose genius is to photograph insects just moments after it rains, with big beautiful water droplets on them. He makes a living doing that. That's genius.

There was an 18 yr old girl who discovered she loved playing pool on a blind date, played 8 hours a day and in 1 year placed 2nd in world champions ships and in 2 years placed first. That's genius.

Sugata Mitra, Ted Talk winner of one million dollars shares about how he put a computer in the projects of India and within moments they were learning. Within months they taught themselves materials 10 years beyond their grade level and scored the same average on a biology test that students in the UK with a biology teacher scored. That's group genius!

So what if your child is a genius?
How would you support them? What new actions would you take?

What if YOU are a genius?

What is now possible? How inspiring to imagine!

Monday, December 16, 2013

How Kids Teach Us to Be Successful

As children it is our raison d'etre. As adults it is last on the list.
Somewhere in between is the ticket to bliss.
Here's what we can learn from children.

Prepare for mayhem. Don't set yourself up for misery. Stash the China. Hid the permanent markers. In other words when you are playing don't expect for anyone to be responsible. Prepare then let go. Freedom and ease gives you power everywhere in life.

Laugh. Do whatever it takes to cause giggles, hoots and raucous gaffaws. That means let go of looking good and give up looking bad. Only in that place of vulnerability can you really love the magic of life.

Allow rule changes. Kids make up games and change the rules constantly. As adults we tend to think the rules of life are fixed. They are not. As soon as we break them we call it play. It's actually just called life. All of life is play, we just have an oppportunity to see it that way. Creativity and courage are the essence of leadership.

Yes. Say Yes to the mess. Make a mess! Yes to the finger paint in the hair and chocolate syrup everywhere. Spill milk? Play in it before you clean it up. Not afraid to mess up in life? All your interviews, projects and toasts will go much better...your confidence and spontaneity will have you, and others, laughing through the game of life.

Balancing playing with wild abandon and responsibilty is what has life work. Most of us have the responsibility thing down, we work and plan and then rest from all the working and planning.
What if we add play into where we least expect it? What miracles await us in PLAY?

Zen Honeycutt

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sharing the Happy

This morning my son ran to my bed, jumped in and snuggled with me. He bent his head back, looked up into my eyes and beamed. "Mommy, you make me happy every day and all the time."
My eyes welled up and my heart warmed and swelled until I felt like a beach ball in the hot sun.
What was instantly there for me was not all the moments that I made him happy, but the enormity of his generosity and choice to not let times I did not make him happy ruin his perception of being happy.
God knows there where those times! The crying fits and screaming rages, the "just a minute's" and outright "NO!"'s.
But he chose to declare his life was filled with "happy all the time," to remember those moments and to make our current moment, the present, happier with his choice.

He remembered the giggling moments, trike riding moments, and reading together moments; the times we laugh and play and snuggle moments. He chose to love me including every moment and make them all part of happy.

Because being together is being happy and those together times include ups and downs, anger and joy. The choice of togetherness, embracing all those moments, being able to be with them, is what makes up happiness.

Recently I had a falling out with a friend. We misunderstood somethings that happened. She did something that hurt and shocked me and I did something that hurt and shocked her, and not necessarily in that order. The hurt lasted longer than I expected and we hashed it out for quite a while. And in the midst of the worst of it all, just when I thought we could no longer be friends, the opposite of that misery flashed itself in my memory like the glistening of a coin in a fountain. Those moments when we were laughing until I almost peed my pants, the moments when we called eachother first thing in the morning and spoke to eachother just before bed, the moments when we screamed with joy about our day together and I felt like she was my sister and best friend, sent like an angel from heaven.
I remembered those moments and knew that is who we truly were for eachother. I chose to remember those times.
We resolved all our misunderstandings. What we choose is to live happy with our friendship because we value that more.
The most challenging and difficult times can actually show us what we truly value.

So I look at challenging times to ask myself, what is it that really matters to me?
To Bronson, it is to love his Momma. Thank God, because I love him so too. I love all my boys so much I would do watever it takes to be healthy for them. See, I have recently seen that working as much as I do on the cause of health and freedom in America has left me with fatigue and inability to function as I would like. My health is seriously being impacted. I am letting the challenge and difficulty of the times take away the happy.
That is not what I am commited to. I choose the happy. I value health. So that means rest, sleep, love, laughter, fun, writing, art, walking, yoga and eating healthy food I love. Being inspired by life!
My expression of being inspired by life is writing or making art.
So I promise to make art or write everyday for the next two weeks. And share them, share the happy.
Thank you for being people with whom I can share the happy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Secret of Getting What You Want: From a 4 year old

It was not how a Sunday morning is supposed to go. I woke up itching from the unsettled brewings of an argument the night before with my husband. Something about "not listening to me" was festering into a full blown rage.
I orginally intended just to talk. I really did.
I asked my husband if we could talk. But in hindsite I see now I really didn't mean that.
I meant "If you go downstairs and write now like you normally do I will feel ignored and angry again. You better listen to me rant right now or there will be hell to pay."
If I had said that at least I would have been being honest.
But I didn't.
I explained to him that I needed his support more, his listening and most importantly his affection. In hindsight I imagine it might have sounded like a plea from a mom for her teenager to pick up his socks.
But I didn't think so at the time. I was just justified. I knew what I wanted.

See, most nights he goes to bed earlier than I do and wakes up at 5:30 to write before going to work. I stay up late because it's the only time of the day I have to myself, when the house is settled in silence and the demands, bickering or distant squeals are not crying out for my attention. I can breathe. I choose to stay up late.
But then when I go to bed I want to connect with my husband. I want him magically sense from his oblivious slumber to roll over and reach for me, hold me and listen to me talk about the day. I want his affection and snuggles to envelope me, protect me and yearn for me.
Instead, he sleeps. Sometimes, he snores. It's like a Mac truck gargling.

So I stew in resentment. Then my brain, at midnight, kicks into second gear, my heart beats in a near panic and I start thinking of all the things he and I need to discuss...after school activities, are we parenting the way we could, can we budget better to make more room for college, what does he think of my plans for Moms Across America, does he really get the gravity of the GMO situation and can he just tell me what to do that will fix everything? Can't he just hold me and make it all alright?
Instead, he sleeps.

So today I woke up stewing, and my request of him, it boiled down to after 20 minutes of spitfire accusations and complaints, was really not a request. It was a demand. And who would want to be affection to a demanding person? No one. They would rather roll over and go to sleep. They certainly wouldn't want to wake up and listen to them demand more.

I got it. It wasn't pretty but I got it. With my game face on I sucked it up and went downstairs to join my family instead of eating the breakfast he made me in bed. I did my best to set the resentment aside and just be with my family. I was still feeling a undercurrent of shame however, because I realized that what I was asking for from him was really what I needed to be attention.

After lunch, as I was washing the dishes, my 4 year old sidled up to me with his cute chubby face and said "Snuggle wuggles?"
"Do you want to snuggle sweetie?" and he nodded.
"I am doing the dishes now-"
"After you are done..." he said with a hopeful smile, "Snuggles wuggles time?"
I was struck that he wanted affection and just asked for it in the cutest way.
I am not sure he knows he is irresistable but he sure knows how to ask for what he wants.
"Okay I said, I would love to."

I finished the dishes and found my son in the hands of my husband, (who was lying flat on his back on the couch), flying through the air.I saw that my son was just being cute and loving..anyone would love to snuggle him. I saw also that how he asked made all the difference in the world. Cute, agreeable, patient.

I didn't blame my husband anymore. I stepped over my husband legs and wedged myself in the fold of the couch, laying along side him, full body snuggle. I hugged Bronson who came in for a landing and it was "snuggle wuggle time". My husband smiled at me with tenderness and forgiveness. I saw deep in his eyes that all he ever wanted was to connect too. We just need to make it "time", and when he was awake worked. We hugged our son and rubbed noses and wallowed in loving affection.

At the beach later that afternoon my husband surprised me with a lovely back rub while we watching dolphins show us a glimpses of their dorsel fins while curling between the waves. I sighed in bliss.I went to bed as I usually do and this time he back was not a barrier, but just my man, a good man, to snuggle up to.

Sometimes, I realize even bigger than giving up one's pride to ask for something, is to just give it.
My sons continue to inspire me with their love, joy and play.
My husband inspires me with his commitment to providing for our family so I can do everything I am doing....which is exactly everything I want to be doing. I think he deserves some affection!

Zen Honeycutt

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Miracles in the Madness

I have been busier than a fly in a field of cow paddies on a hot day in July lately. Sometimes it feels just that poopy. Taking on the world can result in a whole lot of "No's" that really stink. Being a parent to three boys and planning a national event, Moms Across America March to Label GMOs, as maddening as it can be to do forty things at once, has it perks though. Here's a few of the small miracles in life that I could miss out on if I don't stop to sniff the good stuff.

1. Bronson, at 4, still has that warm puppy hair smell. His cheeks still pooch out and he likes to lick you like a puppy when you are not noticing.

2. Bodee teaching Bronson to subtract. And he wasn't taking away his candy.

3. Asking for help and people from all over the country responding with a yes. The instant bond. Miracle!

4. Ben wanting to be a part of the march "because it makes a difference in the world." He gets that HE does.

5. My friend and partner in planning the march knows exactly when I might blow a gasket and tells me we're doing great!

6. When the full moon is out and the communication swirl is at a all time high, I somehow keep my cool. Miracle!

7. The moment in a disagreement when everyone gets that they still love each other and all there is a silence.

8. Our exchange student from Hong Kong running from car to car at a Honk N Wave giving out flyers to strangers.

9. Having a hug and understanding from my husband who supports my mission with extraordinary patience.

10. Bed time stories that go on and on and snuggles that couldn't get any closer. Surrounded by boy bliss. Sleep.

I am grateful, despite the madness in the world, for the love, opportunities and connections with the beauty in humanity.
Every single moment is a miracle if we just see it.

Zen Honeycutt

Sunday, March 24, 2013

For the Days When You Want to Give Your Kid Away

If you are a parent you have had those days when you want to put your kid on the curb with a sign that says "FREE!".
Last week I noticed it was one of those days. For weeks actually, I have been getting mad at Bronson when he pouts whines, screams, resists, says no to everything and baby talks. I have been resenting him, resisting him, making him wrong and telling him to stop or go away. I get angry with myself and snap at my other sons and husband. Sometimes, "for sanity's sake", I avoid him and let him watch for TV an unknown amount of hours just to keep him occupied and me from blowing a gasket.
But this is definitely bordering on "Bad Mom" tactics. I end up making myself wrong for really not liking him. I am surviving my son, and myself as a mother.
As a result, I have a sullen, upset, defiant, stubborn and argumentative 4 year old who does not feel understood at all. I have frustration, anger, resentment, exasperation, and guilt. The ugly truth, the one that has me toss and turn at night, is that I have relationship with my son and family that I am not proud of.
And how I occur to myself about this (meaning it's not all his fault...I have something to do with this too), if tell the truth on myself, is that I am being overwhelmed and resigned that it could be any other way. This just is the way it is at 4! I give up! This is so dis-empowering and totally not what I am committed to!

When I looked at what was missing, like what could I put in that would really make a difference, I saw that me being peaceful, curious, and creative would really be inspiring.
And if I were being peaceful , curious and creative, wow…that would make a lot of joy available, connection and fun!

So I created the possibility of being Curious and Fun…like Curious George!
And what happened was: Bronson and I are sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast and once again he doesn’t wanna to eat. He is pouting, frowning, hunched over and looks like he is trying to melt his oatmeal with a laser stare.
Normally I would sigh, get frustrated or even angry and just tell him to EAT! He would complain. I would tell him to stop complaining, he would cry out or holler or even scream. Many meals time result in tears. Eventually he might eat ONE spoonful, I would give up and he would be eating a snack half an hour later. Groan...I know... totally doesn't work!
But this time I came from being curious and fun, Curious George! I saw him pouting and I asked him if he would like his oatmeal with some "really radical raisins" he said “ ba ba” with a ferocious frown.
Instead of getting mad about the baby talk, I just asked “ Bronson would you like to be small again like a baby?”
He said, “Yes I just want to be small and crawl under the table.” Still pouting.

Something shifted inside me and opened up. I was able to just be with him.I got that. I would like to be small and crawl under the table sometimes too! A lot of times in fact.
So I said “ I totally understand that Bronson, you would like to be small and go under the table... I really get that. You know what? Me too! “ He looked at me skeptically.
“Would you like to do that now? Let’s get under the table!”

So I crawl under the table and when he saw I was serious, he drooped down off the chair and joined me with that scrunched up face that is trying to be mad but can’t help a little bit of a puckered up smile…
And we curl up together under the table. We marvel under there, it is a whole new world and talk about painting like the Cistine Chapel…and I grab his Spiderman slipper heads and make them talk to each other. Suddenly he is giggling and I am laughing and when our exchange student came in she asks, “What are you doing under there?" And Bronson says “Having fun!”. I feel like a hot fudge sundae and his little voice is like sprinkles on top. I see in my bright and shiny four year old's face that that is all he ever wants, is fun and attention.
That moment at breakfast instead of being frustrating and forgettable, became wonderful and memorable.
And that would never have been possible if I hadn’t chosen being inspired and invented a new possibility of being Curious George. There is a shift we all have the opportunity to make when we realize we might be coming from an "Authoritorian" style of parenting and choose and "Inspired" parenting style instead. We don't have to, and sometimes it is not appropriate (when a child is about to walk into traffic a big loud NO! is effective) but there is that choice in our everyday life, and we really do "have the time", because it is our time, and our life and we get to say what is important.

After I began to get a little cramped under the table we got up and he sat back down, and Bronson promptly ate his oatmeal all up. No struggle. He just needed the space to be who he wanted to be and be gotten.
I love my Bronson, he is definitely a keeper!

I wish everyone many moments of being inspired by your kids!
Zen Honeycutt