Family life

Positive parenting: Focusing on the good stuff

Even after a rough weekend, Tracy Chappell tries to clean the slate and start fresh with her girls.

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Avery preps for her first night in net. Photo: Tracy Chappell

Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005.

The last few days have marked some big-little moments in my kids’ lives: a first sleepover; a lost tooth; a first time playing goalie; a first goal (luckily the last two weren’t by the same girl!).

There were also some not-so-great moments: a nasty round of backtalk; defiance; a fight between my kids that included a kick that led to the aforementioned lost tooth.

But for this blog, and for this week, and for the year ahead, I’m going to try to focus on that first paragraph and the tone of celebration it brings with it. It’s natural to feel frustrated and angry at times when you’re a parent, and it’s good to vent when you need to, but sometimes, I recognize that I’m getting pulled too deeply into that emotional black hole, stressing and fretting over all that is wrong, instead of channeling my energy into appreciating all that is good. As we all know, as parents, we set the tone, and our energy sends a ripple effect through our homes and our children every day. I’ve had to ask myself what kind of energy I’ve been injecting into our lives, because I want it to be the good kind. I want to carry that with me wherever I am, but especially at home — they deserve the best of me, most of all.

So let me tell you about some great things that my kids did this week. My-five-year old, Avery, went to her very first non-family sleepover with her Sparks group. A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined her doing this without my hand firmly on the small of her back, giving her a shove. I worried that that was the only way my second-born would ever do anything adventurous, or without me — by sheer you’ll-thank-me-for-this-later force. But I was wrong. Maybe it’s because she has a big sister who recently went camping for two nights with her Brownie troupe, or maybe it’s just because she’s growing and evolving in her own right, but Avery counted down the days until her sleepover with giddy joy, packing her special things and checking items off her list, kissing me goodbye Friday evening with a big, brave, beautiful smile — and not a hint of of trepidation. When I picked her up, she said she wants to go to the overnight camp I never even considered sending her to. Another one of my babies, taking flight. I’m a proud mama.

Avery also had her first turn in net at hockey last night. Every girl has the chance to try playing goalie for a game and, to my surprise, Avery’s hand shot up when the coach asked who wanted to be goalie the next week. “I was scared to be goalie last year, but now that I’m five, I’m not scared anymore,” she told me. This seems to be the sentiment of Avery’s year. She practised in the basement, and tried really hard, and did a great job.

Her big sister, Anna, got her first goal of the season last night. Anna plays defence, so she’s never put much emphasis on getting goals (“It’s my job to stop the puck, not get goals,” she’ll tell you). But the last few weeks, she’s started doing some rushes — taking the puck from her end and carrying it all the way to the other end — and getting a few shots on net. Last night, one of those shots paid off. I may have been working late and missed this historic event (by mere minutes!), but Anna doesn’t know that. She was thrilled. We were so excited. Even better, it was the game-winning goal in a season that has only seen one other win for her team (though it’s almost always close). Anna’s skills and love of the game have taken off this year, and now that she’s in Novice, her games are incredibly exciting. I may be turning into a hockey mom in emotion, instead of just in name.

When I congratulated her on her goal afterwards, she said, “Thanks! I can’t wait to hear how Avery did in goal tonight,” and it touched my heart. We had a rough weekend behaviour-wise, including that “accidental” kick that knocked her sister’s tooth out (it was already wiggly) while they were tussling over something, so the fact that she was thinking of her sister in a moment of her own glory felt really good.

I’m putting that behaviour stuff behind me and just focusing on these great sentiments and accomplishments, and all the love and courage and determination that surrounded all of them. I’ve got two incredible daughters, and figuratively lifting them up to reach their goals is my most important job.

This sounds like a New Year’s resolution post, but there’s no time like the present, right? And nothing like a new month — and an approaching holiday season — to serve as a reminder that we can always clean the slate, and be better.

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