Little victories

Ri has been struggling a bit lately with self-confidence. It really irks me because she is such an amazing kid and I just wish she could embrace that fact and see the wonderfulness in herself.
We have instituted affirmations into our lives so every day I make her tell me three good things about herself. We will get there, I know we will. But I wanted to scream last night at gymnastics when she was trying to do a flip over on the rings and could not do it. All the other girls did and I kept rooting her on but she just couldn’t quite get there. She looked completely dejected and I was heartbroken. The class ended and I asked the instructor if Ri could try the rings again. She agreed and I looked Ri in the eyes and told her she could do it.
She walked over and tried it. She didn’t do it. But the instructor let her try it again and showed her how to tuck her elbows down once more. Ri didn’t give up.

I was so proud of her – it took all my might not to scream “Whoo-hoo Maria” at the top of my lungs. She beamed when she rose from the foam blocks and rose to do it a second time.

Little victories.

Yeah, I’m good

“I’m really proud of myself, mom.”

“Yeah? Why, buddy?”

“Because I’m getting an award tomorrow night at my football ceremony. I worked really hard to get it. I didn’t know how to play football but now I’m good.”

I looked in my rear view mirror and watched Mario stare intently ahead as he spoke to me about his upcoming award. How is it that a five-year old could exude this confidence and pride so easily and I could not at age 41?!

I thought about Ri and how I could never imagine those words coming out of her mouth. Countless studies confirm that boys tend to be more self-confident and aggressive than girls. Every single time I walk in to my boss’s office to negotiate my salary, I think about my dad’s advice long ago: “You can’t feel bad about demanding a higher salary. If you think it’s what your worth, ask for it and don’t look back.” And this coming from a man with scruples and compassion and no desire to beat everyone up the corporate ladder.

I began to respond back to Mario with advice to not get too cocky about his achievement. But then I stepped back and stayed quiet. It’s not as though he was parading around chiding “I’m the best ever.” He was simply being honest in telling us how much he had accomplished and how excited he was about it. Good for him.

Something I should probably do for myself more often than I do – just like buying a new pair of running shoes or treating myself to a massage. A few kudos directly to myself be it as simple as getting Ri to school on time or reading Mario a cool book or as complicated as orchestrating a family Thanksgiving meal or pleasing an irate client.

Maybe the more I pat myself on the back, the more comfortable I will feel touting my accomplishments when necessary, and the closer I’ll get to that darn salary I deserve…!

My little slugger

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“Go Mario!”

He soaks up the fans’ adoration and takes a hard swing at the ball. A bouncey grounder to second. He holds his loose helmet on top of his tiny head and runs to first. He looks over at me and gives a thumbs up.

Proud pumpkin-seed boy.

When he heads out to the field, he catches me reading an email in my phone.

“Mom! Put your phone down and watch me!”

Nah, he doesn’t crave attention – not at all. I put my phone down and he sports a mischievous grin. I yell “good job” to him when he runs after a grounder even though he has the closed part of his glove on the ground instead of the open (we definitely need some grounder work).

He lines up after the game with his teammates and gives the other team high fives. Hopefully he keeps up that sportsmanship up through the years because that competitive spirit in him always pokes through.

“Did my team win, mom?”

“I think you tied. You both played well.”

“No, mom. I think we won because I got around the bases and I caught the ball. Yeah, we won.”

Ok then. He clearly does not need any confidence booster from me. But he does need me to put down my phone.

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A+ Confident

Mario has been hearing us get on Maria about having to do her homework for the last eight months.  He usually sits in the other room playing his Ben Ten game or watching a show or jumping off the couch onto the chair and vice versa.  I have tried on numerous occasions to try to get him to read a book or draw while Maria is working on her homework.  He has always had no desire. 

He sees Maria get frustrated at times.  She is now at the stage of reading chapter books.  Some of the books are so incredibly boring that she brings home that I can totally understand why she detests having to read them.  Mix that with the fact that they have harder words in them so she can’t just fly through them like she used to do, and it is even more frustrating.  The other night I was making dinner and she was reading one of the chapter books.  She had to read eight pages and she had cried about that fact for an entire ten minutes before she finally plunged into it.  She wanted to read to herself so I let her.  Within a minute, I looked behind her and saw that she had flipped through to the sixth page already.  Each page was filled with words.  There was no way she had read all of them in a minute.  I looked at her.  She looked at me.  I crinkled my face at her.  She crinkled hers back at me.  I asked her if she read all six pages.  She said yes. I asked her if she read every word in those six pages.  She said yes but a little softer this time.  She glanced up at me after saying “yes” and then said “Ok, I didn’t read them all.”  At least she told the truth.  Mario watched the entire exchange, and threw in his comments at the end.  

“Maria, you have to do all of your homework.”

Maria rightfully flicked his arm. 

Mario working awayI think Mario used to enjoy watching Maria get flustered and enjoy the fact that he did not have to engage in this nightly exercise of homework.  But last night, he embraced the idea of homework.  Maria was taking a shower and something hit me to tell him that his school sent homework home for him to do just like Maria’s school does for her.  He totally bought into it.  I brought over one of Maria’s old kindergarten workbooks.  We started with an area that he is really good at – sequencing.  He looked at three pictures of a boy and he had to determine which action went first, second and third.  He got them all right.  I gave him a high-five and wrote “A+” on the top of the page.  From there, it was all over.  His head was the size of Jupiter.  I flipped over another page and had him work on the next exercise.  He got it right.  He wrote his own “A+” on the top of the page.  When he got to a page where you had to circle the objects that had a certain vowel in them (e.g., find the “a” words in ball, cow, and ape), he had no clue.  But when I tried to explain it to him, and point him in the right direction, he got so angry. 

“I know how to do it, Mom!” 

When he circled all of them, I let it go and moved onto the next page.  However, Maria was not so generous.  She had to take the opportunity to point out to Mario that he did not get the answers right. 

“Mario, you circled them all and that is not right. You have to try again.”

Mario’s response: flick her in the ear. 

He ended up finishing the entire workbook because he refused to stop until all of the pages were completed – right or wrong.  Maria left the room after the flicking, and cuddled with her dad on the couch.  I remained at the table with Mario watching him proudly circle the answers he believed correct and then watching him mark an “A+” a top every page of the book.  He certainly does not lack confidence.