Thursday, April 21, 2011

Always Stay Sweet

When I was younger and my friends and I were always writing notes back and forth (I know it's hard to imagine, spring chickens, but once upon a time there was no such thing as email, Facebook, IM'ing, and texting), we would often sign off with cute little acronyms like L.Y.L.A.S. (Love You Like A Sister) or A.S.S., which stands for Always Stay Sweet.

Always stay sweet. Sounds easy enough. Or maybe too cutesy - what adult wants to be sweet? But truly, what is so wrong with being sweet? When I look up "sweet" in the dictionary, there are many different definitions, but the one I think of when I think of a sweet person is: 
             (from adj.: marked by gentle good humor or                  kindliness
How many of us have been able to retain the sweetness of our youth? Many of us lost that sweetness while we were still youths, and many of us probably could care less about being sweet as adults. How about successful, witty, career-oriented, mature, serious, driven? Do these sound more important nowadays?

As a parent, I actually think sweet is pretty darn important. I think kids need sweet. Yes they need discipline and boundaries and rules too. They need us to help them prepare for the "real world." They need to learn responsibility and the importance of hard work. But all the other important stuff is best learned while someone is sweetly loving them, don't you think? Encouraging them, supporting them, hugging them and rooting for them. We forget what it was like to be so new to the world. We need to remember because our kids need us to remember. I need to remember. My fuse is sometimes regrettably short. I could definitely work on my sweetness. 

I'm so busy, just like every other parent I know. But sometimes I need to stop, forget about all the crap that will be there tomorrow (and the next day...), and listen. Listen when they talk to me, yes. But also listen to how they're talking, and what they're saying to others, and listen to what they're not saying because sometimes that is the most important thing to hear.  It's my job to figure out what they need, even if they don't say it out loud. It's my job to teach them to enjoy life and follow their dreams. It's my job to teach them how to treat their own kids someday, and how I want them to treat my grandchildren is with sweetness. Sometimes I lose my temper and sometimes I'm not as kind as I can be, nor as patient. I'm human, it's going to happen. I don't strive for perfection, but I do strive for the sweetness to outweigh the less than stellar moments; for my kids to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no matter what I love them, and they can trust me and come to me for anything. There are days when I feel like an absolute failure as a parent, but through all my mistakes and lapses in judgment and (I cringe to admit it) yelling, I hope and pray that what my kids know most about me is that I love them with all my heart.

I think we could all use frequent reminders to sweeten up and be nice. Not just parents, either, because it's not only kids who benefit from kindliness. Family, friends, co-workers, customers, neighbors, strangers you pass in the street. Everybody. I've got a few years yet to prepare for parenting teens, but I read this blog post over at Single Dad Laughing that I think is relevant to every single member of the human race. It's specifically about how so many adults treat teenagers with very little respect and kindness, but I think it applies to anyone. It was my reminder today that I need to keep sweetness at the forefront of my mind and heart when I'm dealing with my kids (or, really, with anyone, because we never know how something we say to a stranger is going to affect the rest of their day...or life). Click here to read the post. 

These little people need all the sweetness they can soak up
So whatever is going on in your life, remember to Always Stay Sweet (at least most of the time!).

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