Super Effective!

Imagine you're an explorer, traveling through the forests in what appears to be a completely uninhabited corner of the globe… when you break through a wall of grass to the sound of children at play, throwing balls at each other's feet and yelling "It's Super Effective!"

I have to admit, we have a subculture in our home unlike anything I've seen 'on the outside'.  A Family is supposed to be close… and we are, but I never really do anything 'half way'.  When they said "Eat Dinner together" I took that seriously, and we do at the dining room table.  I apply the business principle of 'team building' so consistently that when my son was told he could invite over anyone he wanted, he said "ew, no.  They aren't in our familiy."

This 'closeness' only goes further to alienate ourselves from what is considered normal.  Little things like instantaneously breaking out in the same tune, singing the same wrong lyrics to songs, or singing songs no-one has heard in the last 20 years.  We tell a hundred "had to be there" jokes and probably even speak in our own dialect of something similar to English.  But right now, the biggest thing of all, is how "Super Effective!" everything is.

We were watching a video of a game, the hero does an attack, when it hits the enemy the text comes up and exclaims "Your water attack is super effective!" and from then on, it stuck.  "If he is trying to bore me to death … it's super effective!"

super effective"I studied for a spelling bee." my son said, he smiled "it's Super Effective! I got 2nd place in the whole school."  We cheered him, half on his awesome accomplishment, the other half on excellent use of "It's Super Effective!"

And so, we see, as a culture; we are different, and for the next time you go to brush your teeth, remember; if you're trying to avoid getting cavities by flossing and brushing your teeth … It's Super Effective!

Give a Little Whistle

There once was a man with four children, two of them naturally, easily, and perhaps with some hours of hidden practice learned to whistle.  The other two did not.  One day this man, was walking through the grocery store with three of his children, and … randomly between whistling mentioned a little challenge.

"If either of you two, who cannot Whistle, can whistle by the time we get out of this store, I'll give you $20."  It was a call to action that spoke to their inner vaults.  Before you could say "Scary marionette" everyone was putting their lips together in an attempt to make some noise.

I feel I should walk through the store with a sign "Sorry, I'm not sorry"  We got the expected looks from people who have no patience for life, and didn't expect to see a Father bonding with his kids in the store… but there were also the one or two older women who, spying around the corner in the distance listened in as I explained puckering your lips together and blowing as if your lips were in a soda bottle.  I spied them watching, caught the grand motherly grin.  There was a knowing smile, I could tell she had memories, but also a fondness to see such an exchange with my kids.

Undaunted by the other customers in the store, we flailed on, occasionally one of the two would send out a whistle, exclaiming "I almost have it!!!"  And all the while I carried them along, praising their efforts, whistling in quiet excitement.

Did they succeed?  Yes, absolutely … and no, not yet.

Parenting – A Fine Line

I have truly exceptional kids, which many parents say about their kids.  It's kind of a part of the job.  But mine really are exceptional, from excelling in school, cleaning up after themselves in restaurants, to helping each other out without being asked, they do a great job.  People … are not my kids, and it makes everything just a little more frustrating.

From my management schooling, and professional life, I've learned the value of positive feedback.  So when the children do something that's exceptional, I absolutely take the time to tell them how incredible they are, and encourage that kind of behavior.  

I am blessed, the children are amazing, but even with that, there are still times when they do something worthy of reprimand, or at least guidance.  When it happens, I take the time to let them know what I think, give them a chance to tell me how they could have handled things better, and using the same "wow I'm disappointed in you" tone and actions that my Father used on me, we come together and I walk away with a full sense of their motivation to never do that again.  Then, they never do that again.

This is a pattern that works well with my children, but I hit a dilemma when dealing with people who are not my children.  With my children, I know that they are doing their best, I know what their age level capabilities are, I know what to expect from them, and when they do something something exceptional I can be very genuine in my praise.  But with other adults I'm somewhat at a loss, there are those who do something fantastic, and I can shower them with praise, but there are also those whom do not… and when I cannot, in good conscious, give them any positive reinforcement, I am at a loss.  "Yay you got up today and dressed yourself!" is, at best, feigned excitement when I say it … even to my children, so it's hard to share the same insincerity when dealing with adults. It seems patronizing.  "Good job, you did your job!" 

I think I'll find less frustration with 'adults' if I set my expectations to the floor, below even what I expect from the youngest of my children.  Maybe I'd get the kind of cheerful greeting and fantastic relationship I have with my children if I take pride from their 'exceptional' achievements.  "Excellent work writing your name!" and "That sentence made total sense when you said it!"  

The other day at a pizza place, (it was a cheat meal from the green smoothie shakes) they make the pizza right in front of you.  The lady reaches for a flattened pizza crust, that must have been fresh an hour ago.  I had to ask her to make some new fresh dough for the pizza, despite the dried out crusts she was reaching for.  What I didn't do was then compliment her on her great skill in making a pizza crust that wasn't dried and crusty, I did say thank you, but giving out praise for having to be asked to do the minimum expected of her seemed insincere. (it would have been).  "Wow, you did a really good job of putting together that dough when I asked you to so that we wouldn't have to eat stale and nasty pizza!"  

Kind of wish everyone could be as awesome as my kids.