Optimistic

Para la versión en español, bajar 8 párrafos…

Finally, January is here, and renewed hope is amongst us, wishing that this new year will be much better than the year we are just leaving behind. For many of us, 2020 cannot be compared to anything and it has been a major milestone in our lives, so by default 2021 will be better. The question remains though…will it be better?

The optimist in me says yes!!! After such assault the pandemic did to many of us – many of us have been robbed of something – I’m pretty sure we have learned a thing or two.

We have learned to adapt and to live with our families, accepting them just as they are without ifs and buts. We have learned to look ourselves in the mirror and recognise ourselves just as we are. I am certain that no one can say that they did not go from grief to disbelief and from anger to disheartening in a blink of an eye.

We will be able to say that we came out the other end with a sense of renewal and new strategies…I am wondering if we all can admit that this adaptation to the new reality left us exhausted. One way or the other during 2020 we discovered the little inner genie in us and taught us to recreate and reinvent ourselves.

I am hopeful this reinvention, this recreation will have a positive impact in children. We must agree that whilst we were all locked indoors, we were an example and children learn from examples (that’s the reason why “Do as I say but not as I do” never EVER work).

Hopefully children will be stronger and will face live challenges in a different way, because, hopefully, they will realise they have an inner little genie which can help them to get to grips with whatever life throws at them. The children of today are the adults who will have a solid set of moral values, which in turn will give them power to manage unexpected situations thanks to their abilities; the decisions they may take are a direct result of this new conscience.

I am hoping these adults will have a sense of community and solidarity towards other people wherever they may live.

For those who did the “End of Year Balance” and left aside some pending, some write offs and decided to just turn the page to a fresh start rest assured you are transferring some intangible balance: Resilience.

As I said before, I am an optimist at heart.

Optimista

Y finalmente llegó Enero y las ilusiones se renuevan de que este año será mejor que el anterior. Para muchos el año que hemos dejado atrás no tiene punto de comparación ya que seguramente ha sido un hito en nuestras vidas así que seguramente será mucho mejor. La pregunta redundante es… ¿Será mejor?

 Mi lado optimista me dice que sí. Que será mejor ya que después de este asalto que nos ha hecho la pandemia – donde a todos sin excepción nos ha robado algo – seguramente hemos aprendido algo.

Habremos aprendido a adaptarnos a estar con nuestras familias y otras personas con las cuales convivimos tal y como vienen, sin peros ni vueltas. Habremos aprendido a mirarnos al espejo y reconocernos tal y como somos.  No creo que nadie pueda decir que no pasó del dolor a la incredulidad y de la rabia a la desazón en pocos minutos.  Todos podremos decir que hemos salido renovados, con nuevas estrategias …me pregunto si todos podremos admitir que esta adaptación a la realidad nos ha dejado desgastados.

Este año en mayor o menor medida todos hemos descubierto al genio creativo que llevamos dentro, que ha dicho presente a la hora de recrearnos, de reinventarnos.

Me ilusiona pensar que esta reinvención, recreación será transmitida a los mas pequeños. Convengamos que mientras estuvimos todos encerrados hemos dado el ejemplo y a través de este es como los niños aprenden (por eso el Haz lo que yo digo, pero no lo que yo hago NUNCA funciona)

Los niños saldrán fortalecidos y encararán la vida de otra forma. Se darán cuenta de la genialidad que llevan consigo y sus capacidades para enfrentar cualquier situación que la vida les presente, que no es poco. Estos niños de hoy son los que serán adultos con un conjunto de valores morales sólidos, que a su vez les dará una sensación de poder manejar una situación inesperada gracias a sus propias habilidades y las decisiones que tomen serán un resultado directo de esta conciencia.

Con un poco de suerte serán adultos que tengan un sentido de comunidad, de solidaridad hacia los que le rodean y la comunidad en general en donde les toque habitar.

Para los que hicieron el famoso “balance de fin de año” y han dejado de lado una variedad de saldos, un montón de cuentas que no sabían que tenían pendientes y otras tantas cerradas y han decidido comenzar a foja cero con un negativo discreto, seguramente sabrán también que se han hecho de un saldo a favor que no es tangible: Resiliencia.

Como dije antes: Soy optimista.

The Advent wreath

A simple way to explain Advent time , the meaning of the candles and prepare children for Christmas…and it is particularly good if Christmas happens…during the summer season!

One afternoon in November, mum was doing something that looked like a flower arrangement to put on the middle of the table. She had as well 4 or 5 candles, 3 of them were red, one purple and one white. She had some ivy, some pine twigs and some flowers from the garden.

– “What are you doing, mum?” – asked the boy.

– “I am making an Advent wreath”- se answered, whilst arranging the ivy and the pine twigs (the very same ones they collected together earlier that afternoon).

– “And what is Advent?” “Why a wreath?”

– “Advent is – she started – a very old tradition that started in Germany…

– “Where Grandma comes from!!! – interrupted the boy.

– “Yes, where Grandma comes from” – she answered and continued:

“It is an old tradition that comes from Germany, and it reminds us that we are approaching Christmas. In this way, we prepare ourselves for Christmas, lighting up one candle each Sunday, until, finally, on Christmas day, we light up the white candle, the one that goes in the middle, to remind us that Jesus was born”.

– “Ahhh….so that’s what it means?” That’s the reason why you have different colours?”

– Each candle has a meaning. The first candle we lit means Hope. The second one, means Faith. The third one, means Joy….

– “So Joy has a different colour?” – interrupted the boy.

– “Yes” – and she continued – “the fourth candle means Peace. And the last one we lit, the one in the middle, represents the birth of Jesus”.

– “But….Grandmother always had purple candles instead of red ones, like this ones!” – the boy pointed.

– “I know… – said mum. I do not have purple candles, I only have red ones, a White one and a purple one. In any case the idea is to build it and remember what it means”.

– “¿But mum, why are you using ivy, pine, flowers…they are going to die with this hot weather!!”

Mum smiled.  

– Using leaves and twigs and flowers, everything that is green, means life. From where your Grandmother comes from, Christmas time is winter time, so it is very cold, dark and you can hardly see any green…apart from pine trees and some bushes…here it is almost summer…so if the flowers and twigs wither we should go and pick up some fresh ones to replace them!”

– “¿And why a wreath?”

– “Because the first wreath was actually a cartwheel…”

– “Wow” It was huge then!!” – exclaimed the boy.

– “Yes. When this tradition started, it was the only thing they found that would be big enough to accommodate 24 candles, because back then they lit one candle a day….As the tradition went on, people started to twitch and twist so everybody could have their own ring, their own wreath …can you imagine if we had to put together a cartwheel? ¡It would not fit!”

– “Hmmm…. They could have chosen a square…. a rectangle…” – said the boy , pensive.

– “The circle, the ring, has a meaning as well. It means something that is never-ending, that does not have a beginning or an end, like Hope, Faith, Joy, and Peace.”.

– “It is like this” – said the boy. And he gave his mum a hug.

– “Yes, just like  a hug” And she hug him back.

Advent wreath, November 2020, Spain

All you need…

All you need is to get rid of the tendency to define yourself.

Nisargadatta Maharaj

And as well, the need (sometimes desperate!) to define our children. They are as unique as they can come, like the stars. Let them be themselves.

Photo by Marco Milanesi on Pexels.com

Todo lo que necesitas es deshacerte de la tendencia a definirte.

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Y también deshacernos de la necesidad (a veces desesperante!) de definir a los niños. Ellos son únicos, tan únicos como ellos mismos, tan únicos como las estrellas. Dejadlos ser ellos mismos.

Who you gonna call??

I read recently on one of those free magazines you pick up in a supermarket a brief note about children’s holidays and the ever so important “me time” for the parents.

“Me time” it is the most important thing you can ask for particularly when you are a parent and / or carer of a child ; “me time” is necessary if you want to keep your sanity and don’t lose all your marbles not only over the holidays but daily.

I am all up for “me time” and If I don’t make the time for “me” no one else will. I cannot see my son quietly retreating himself to some sort of mischief to give me “me time”.

Anyways, before going into a tangent, this article suggest to call another adult as soon as you have 10 minutes to yourself to catch up and talk about adult things and perhaps vent out your frustration because the child went to bed late because he / she would not put the “iPad” down.

All well, it is true, part of that “me time” involves heavily to contact another adult and talk about adult things instead of Legos, toys and the latest trend on teen fashion. The bit that I do not agree is the one about “vent out about the iPad” and your child not going to bed on time. First, why the child has the “iPad” until that late?

A myriad of reasons spring to my mind and believe me, I can easily back up many of them. But it does not mean I justify them.

“I just came from work and I have to prepare dinner”

“I’m on the phone trying to sort something out for work”

“I need 5 minutes”

“He will not settle if he does not watch TV…modern kids, hey!”

“She has to watch some tv so she can relax after school whilst she has some snacks”

“I don’t want my kid to miss out on tv or technology and be left behind by his peers”

“I have to work”

And the list goes on. And on. And it gets so ingrained into routines, into habits that they are categorised as “normal”. Ask any child and technology (call it phone, iPad, TV, Xbox, etc) will be a part of their routine and when these are missing from this routine, havoc begins until the pacifier in some sort of techie shape comes along.

To clear the air: I am as guilty as charged for my little one relationship with technology. Once I found out about the damage I was provoking to my son with technology, I manage to decrease it and take it to a sort of reasonable 20 to 30 minutes per day; a weekend treat of a movie or following up a series about nature on rainy days. These last two activities are done as a family.

The time that was once used and abused by screen time was changed slowly by my change of attitude towards it. Instead of coming from work and go in a rampant to prepare tea sort out the house and deal with everything else I decided to approach it differently. I made a routine out of coming back home from work.

This routine involves his screen time, play time, homework time (if any) helping around time, bath time, teatime, story time and bedtime. And only after bedtime it was the time for “me time” in between getting ready for the next day, feeding the cat, finishing a thing or two from work and chatting with another adult besides my partner.

Was it easy? NO.

Is it paying off? Yes.

Most importantly, do I still get some “me time”? Yes. And more than 10 minutes…

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A quién vas a llamar?

Hace poco, agarré una de esas revistas gratuitas que los supermercados dan de forma gratuita y encontré en ella una nota acerca de como hacer para tener el famoso “me time” (tiempo personal)durante las vacaciones de los niños.

El “tiempo personal” es la cosa mas importante que un adulto que cuida de niños puede tener si quiere preservar su sanidad y no perder la cordura no solo durante el período de vacaciones, sino también en el dia a dia.

Estoy totalmente de acuerdo con el tiempo personal. Si yo no me hago tiempo para mi tiempo personal nadie lo hará por mi. No puedo imaginar a mi hijo retirándose silenciosamente a hacer alguna travesura con tal de que yo tenga mi tiempo personal.

En fin, antes de irme por una tangente, vuelvo al punto de inicio, el famoso artículo donde se menciona que cuando se dispone de unos 10 minutos sin los niños, llamar a otro adulto para mantener una conversación adulta y hablar de otros temas y desahogar el malestar que le ha provocado el niño en cuestión por haberse ido a la cama tarde por haberse quedado con el “iPad” hasta cualquier hora…

No hay que negar que parte de ese tiempo personal involucra el contacto con otro adulto y conversar acerca de temas que no sean Legos, juguetes y la última moda para dolescentes. Lo que no me termina de cerrar es la parte de que el niño/a se quedó con el “iPad” hasta cualquier hora. Qué hacía el niño/a en cuestión con un “iPad” hasta tan tarde?

Cientos de motivos se me vienen a la cabeza, y creanme cuando digo que las apoyo. Lo que no implica que las justifique.

“Recién llego de trabajar y tengo que preparar la comida”

“Estoy al teléfono solucionando un tema de trabajo”

“Necesito 5 minutos”

“Es que no se tranquiliza si no mira sus programas de TV…chicos de hoy, eh?”

“Es que tiene que mirar un poco de TV asi se relaja un poco después de la escuela, mientras toma una merienda”

“No quiero que mis hijos se pierdan algo que esta en TV y no estén a la par de sus compañeros”

“Tengo que trabajar”

Y la lista es interminable. Y está tan arraigado dentro de la rutina, de los hábitos y costumbres que han ganado la categoría de “normalidad”. Pregunten a cualquier niño y verán que la tecnología (llámese TV, teléfono móvil, iPad, XBox, etc cualquier cosa que tenga una pantalla ) forma parte de su rutina y cuando estas desaparecen de esta rutina, reina el caos hasta que el “chupete” tecnológico se hace presente en alguna de sus formas.

Dejo en claro: Soy tan culpable como cualquier otro padre/madre de la relación que mi hijo generó con la tecnología. Pero, una vez que me informé del tremendo daño que le estaba causando a mi hijo con la tecnología ( llámese TV, teléfono móvil, iPad, XBox, etc cualquier cosa que tenga una pantalla ) logré disminuir la cantidad de tiempo que el pasa frente a una pantalla y reducir ese tiempo a 20 o 30 minutos por día; durante los fines de semana nos damos el gusto de una peli; si afuera llueve demasiado, miramos alguna serie acerca de la naturaleza. Estas últimas dos actividades se hacen de forma familiar.

El tiempo que en su momento era usado (y abusado) con tecnología, lentamente se cambió, pero no por arte de magia sino por un cambio en mi actitud. En vez de llegar del trabajo y entrar en la vorágine de “todo lo que hay que hacer, preparar la cena, y todo lo demás” decidí tomarmelo de forma distinta. Hice del llegar a casa del trabajo, una rutina.

Esta rutina esta compuesta de tiempo de tecnología, seguido de tiempo de juego, tareas (si las hay) baño (mas tiempo de juego), cena, cuento y a la cama. Y recién después de que el niño está en la cama, ahi si, es mi tiempo personal, entre medio de preparar todo para el día siguiente, darle de comer a las mascotas, terminar algo del trabajo, hablar con otro adulto que no sea mi pareja, etc.

Fue fácil? NO.

Está dando resultado? SI.

Lo mas importante: Tengo “tiempo personal” (me time)? Si. Y son mas de 10 minutos….