Archives For Kids

A wise woman once told me, “No matter where a mother was raised, how old she is, or how much money she has in her pocket, in the vast majority of cases, she wants to give her child a better life than her own.”

Of course this observation applies to dads too.

As a former athlete turned mom who is now raising my children and watching them compete in sports, I can easily draw a parallel between an everyday parent’s concern for their child’s general welfare and a zealous parent’s desire to see their offspring succeed in extracurricular activities. More often than not (especially in countries considered overly competitive like the United States), parents want to watch their kids achieve greater success than they ever personally experienced growing up.

I think this might be the biggest reason why we witness time and time again all across our great country and in our own communities, otherwise perfectly behaved adults lose their minds and their ability to act sensibly on the sidelines at youth sporting events (or spelling bees, or show choir performances, or dance recitals, or debate competitions, insert the activity of your choice here). Mom and dad simply want to see Little Johnny and Sweet Susie win because, one assumes, winning equals success.

And success leads to happiness. HEY REF! YOU SUCK! THAT DAMN KID TURNS THE BALL OVER EVERY TIME HE TOUCHES IT! I DON’T KNOW WHY ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH YOUR COACH CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT! BE MORE AGGRESSIVE! QUIT BEING SOFT! STOP YOUR CRYING! (just trying to make the kids “happy,” right?)

Many of you already know I launched a business last week. It’s a labor of love for me because I believe so strongly in the message I am both trying to spread and continue to practice.

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“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I shared my moment on GiveTheGameBack.com. I would encourage anyone who’s struggling to keep perspective on how to support a child competing in sports to read about that moment. It basically involved someone giving me high praise about my son’s overall positive demeanor and attitude when I needed a gentle reminder that what he was doing and especially NOT doing on the ball field shouldn’t tarnish my pride for him.

A former collegiate teammate of mine read it and took the time to let me know it resonated with her:

“This is such an important conversation. Parents have lost their minds. Please know your words are inspiring for the other end of the spectrum – those of us who have great kids who love sports but just aren’t athletic. As former successful athletes, both my husband and I have struggled a bit to see our son on the sidelines or the C team. But he’s a great kid.”

Anyone who’s ever met me knows I am about as competitive as they come. Winning feels GREAT. Dominating an adversary in a sport for which you’ve both sacrificed years of blood, sweat, and tears is a life experience that is hard to match. There is a reason why my friends tease me about my inability to leave the glory days behind.

But I vow to give my kids the best life possible. It is their life to live after all. I’m guessing the best life possible for them won’t necessarily be measured in wins and losses. It will be measured in remarkable experiences lived, both on and off the court and field.

I challenge youth sports parents and promoters everywhere to join me in this movement.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Written by a mom to her children, and anyone else who feels like reading.

By now you’ve come to realize that there are good days and there are bad days.

With as hard as I try, it’s nearly impossible for me to remember what I considered to be bad days when I was your age. I imagine my worst days involved feeling rejected by someone I thought I wanted to like me, not achieving something that I worked really hard for, finishing in second place when I knew I could be first, seeing someone I cared about get hurt, trying to find my way in a sometimes chaotic world, losing control of my car on black ice, dissolving a long-lasting relationship, and saying goodbye to my childhood dog.

The bad days, even though small in number compared to the good, were still really hard to get through. I will try not to minimize your woes if you come to me for guidance.

You’re growing up with challenges I never personally faced. Although it is impossible for you to wrap your minds around this, I remember a time before computers, cell phones, and social media. I’m part of the last generation who knows what it was like to grow up offline.

While I won’t understand every obstacle you’ve faced or have yet to scale, I do know this: both the best of times and the worst of times are yet to come. I guarantee you that.

The only way for me to explain that bold statement is by recounting my own personal experiences.

At your age, I thought I knew what it was like to feel everything very deeply. With each passing year, however, I am exposed to more beauty and tragedy than I ever realized was possible.

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…on top of the world. Until I discovered how it feels to watch someone you love achieve their own success in life.

…extreme pride. Until I received a compliment about how you treat others when I am not watching.

…heartache. Until I read a story about a dad tossing his 5-year old daughter off a bridge for no apparent reason.

…trustworthy. Until I had to find a way to allow others to keep you safe when I couldn’t be there myself.

…helpless. Until I watched your grandma, my mom, slowly suffer on the liver transplant list with a rare blood type that was hard to match.

…selfless. Until I learned about the young man who gave part of himself to give your grandma new life.

…cheated. Until I lost my grandma far too soon.

…loved. Until I sat with you in bed every night reflecting on how our days went and talking about the future.

…confused. Until I witnessed you playing Minecraft.

…spiritual. Until I eavesdropped on your prayers.

…embarrassed. Until I learned about you publicly relieving yourself at recess on school grounds.

…clueless. Until I watched you run football drills.

…pressure. Until I had to pay the bills.

…disgusted. Until I saw you lick the floor of Target.

I wish I could bubble wrap the absolute best parts of life and store them away for safekeeping. I also wish I could shield you from the tragedy and despair you’ll inevitably face. The best I can do is help prepare you for both.

I promise to always offer you my ears to listen, my shoulder to lean on, and my unsolicited advice. I imagine you’ll appreciate two out of the three of those.

Written by Heidi Woodard

I’m coming to you from a water park somewhere in the Midwest. It doesn’t matter exactly where because I imagine the same scene could unfold all across America.

I feel like I need to set the stage by announcing that I am by no means a germaphobe. In fact, I just returned a basket of french fries because I found a hair resting ever so gently on top of one. I had already eaten about a fourth of the basket by that point. Instead of complaining to the vendor about how disgusting and unsanitary it was, I just swapped it out for a new basket…no questions asked.

Yep, the writer behind Maternal Media is super gross. And she loves french fries. Preferably hairless ones.

Now that we’re all on the same page with how low my cleanliness standards are, picture this if you will: I am elbow-to-elbow with a boatload of other families in January in Nebraska doing what we do to entertain our kids. Our options are limited with wind chill temperatures averaging between negative 20-30 degrees below zero.

My son, along with a group of his friends, and his sister (whom he considers a friend about half the time) are splashing, sliding, and laughing. He’s celebrating turning another year older, but not necessarily wiser by what I just witnessed.

The group of hyped-up kids just ran up to me to announce they couldn’t go into the lazy river anymore because a kid threw up in it. I looked at the river and, sure enough, it was now empty with all entry points blocked off by caution cones.

Hhaaaaappyy Biirrrrthday ttoooo yyoooouu. BLUUGH!

It was all I could do to just lean back in my chair (strategically chosen in close proximity to the bar) and look up at the twinkling lights above me in order to regain control over my own stomach.

Calgon (and chlorine) take me away.

Calgon (and chlorine) take me away.

After they made the big announcement, the kids returned to the water wonderland (sans river) completely unscathed by the circumstances. I figured, as long as they were good, so was I.

No more than 20 minutes later, I looked up to see small patches of swimmers circling the river and, with each subsequent lap, the patches multiplied. I thought to myself, It must have been a rumor that they closed the lazy river because of kid puke. There was obviously some other issue that caused the temporary shut-down. Whew!

I decided to approach my good friend, the bartender, and tell him what my son had told me.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me (nervous laughter): I don’t need anything other than to ask you a question.

Him: Yeah, what’s that?

Me: My son and his friends told me they shut down the lazy river because a kid threw up in it.

Him: (Nothing in reply…just a blank stare.)

Me: But I see it’s now open again. They couldn’t re-open it if someone actually yacked in it, right?

Him: Yeeaaahh, I mean, they could. I mean, they aren’t going to shut it down permanently with all these people here if only a small part needed to be cleaned up.

Me: (Nothing in reply…just a blank stare.)

Him: I hadn’t personally heard that that happened…so I really don’t know what’s going on.

Me: Ok thanks.

I returned to my chair and reminded myself that chlorine was invented for a reason. No one else seemed to care that some child’s gastrointestinal juices were magically removed from the lazy, disturbingly hazy, river. I learned they have a protocol for taking care of situations like these. The more you know, right?

The party was deemed a success by both my son and his friends.

Yet I can’t let it entirely go without asking…has anyone who’s reading this post actually worked at a public pool or water park? Can chlorine solve all? Well, all but the imagery/queasiness I can’t seem to shake from my system?

Written by Heidi Woodard

Someone recently gave me an excellent blog idea: Find a movie that I loved when I was around my own kids’ age and document their reaction as we watch it together in present day. The movie I selected was the 1990 holiday family classic, Home Alone.

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‎Macaulay Culkin was 9 years old when he appeared as little Kevin McCallister in the holiday cult classic, Home Alone.

My oldest son is 12, my middle son is 11, and their little sister is 6. Technically, I was older than them when Home Alone was released, but I figure Macauley Culkin was about their age when he starred in this film so it passed the test – pursuant to my imaginary rules that I feel the need to justify for some dumb reason.

The following is a summary of our (mine and my children’s) combined streams of consciousness as we watched the movie together.

If you’ve never seen it…seriously, who are you?…the basic plot of this movie is that Culkin’s character, Kevin McCallister, has a large family and often feels like he’s either left out or being judged unfairly. He wishes they would all just disappear. The family leaves on a vacation to France for the holidays thinking that Kevin is with them, but realize mid-flight that they accidentally left him behind. Kevin has to defend his home against burglars while they are away. Hilarity ensues.

Not even 10 minutes in, I realize there are a lot of inappropriate words spoken that I never questioned as a child, which makes me believe I was either completely clueless as to what I was hearing back then or had become completely immune to their effect after absorbing them spoken so often at home. (My parents got their first EVER computer last year and started following my blog so I like to add in little fabrications here and there just to freak them out.)

There’s nothing quite like your daughter asking you what that falling object is (at the 1:07 mark in the clip below) to make you feel like an utter failure in the domestic duties department. Me: “That’s called an iron, sweetie. We have one…somewhere.”

I remember that seeing a tarantula crawl on burglar Marv’s head was the only thing that really made me cringe when I was a kid. Not the possibility that I could be left alone, or the fact that burglars could terrorize me, or that a boy my age had a Playboy magazine in his treasure chest.

My boys and I talked about all of the highly unlikely scenarios we were watching. How could NO ONE in a house of 20+ people wake up if they needed to leave for the airport at 8 a.m.? EIGHT A.M.?! There’s always at least one annoying morning person who is on their second cup of coffee or who has run their second mile by then. And then, when they did all wake up in a total frenzie running around barking orders at each other, little Kevin was able to sleep soundly through that mayhem in an attic?

Then the dysfunctional family arrives at the airport and runs right past the ticket lady who happily catches their boarding passes as they fling them at her en route to their seats? Not a single I.D. check? These people seem completely safe to board the aircraft I guess.

And what is UP with Uncle Frank McCallister? Is he not the biggest another-word-for-donkey on the planet or what?

I’m a realistic woman. I know my kids are far from perfect and are bound to do some pretty regrettable things throughout their lifetimes. But if any of my relatives were to snap at any one of my children like Uncle Frank yelled at Kevin, well, I’d be hard pressed not to retaliate with a few counter-insults of my own.

I NEVER LIKED YOUR JELLO MOLD OR YOUR HUSBAND, MARY!

My oldest son dryly pointed out that it took roughly 22 minutes from the time Kevin called 911 until the police actually arrived to help out. I hadn’t even noticed because I was too frustrated with the fact that Kevin refused to recruit his creepy old man neighbor for back-up. I mean, COME ON KEVIN, the guy admitted to having anger management issues which clearly resulted in him losing touch with his son and grandchildren. BRING THAT SHOVEL-WIELDING-DIRTY-HAIRY-WANNABE over to your house for protection!

Part of me was tempted to show my kids a picture of present day Macaulay Culkin, but I figured that might be as traumatic and disheartening as the whole Santa thing. Some secrets are better left untold. (OK that was mean…heaven knows I don’t look half as cute as I did when I was 9. Sorry, Mac.)

When it was all said and done, I could tell by the smiles on my kids’ faces that they enjoyed the movie as much today as I did back in 1990. I encourage you to try this little experiment with your own kids, nieces/nephews, or other little humans and report back in the comments.

Written by Heidi Woodard