Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

I believe that besides teaching my kids to have empathy, be kind, get good grades and learn disciplined working habits I must also teach them to always look for the magic in life.

Any parent that has more than one child is aware of how different siblings can be. Siblings that are raised with the same parent or two parents can have very unique personalities. I have one child that is naturally very adventurous, thrives in a crowd, hates being at home for more than one day and enjoys trying any new food as long as it’s vegetarian. Arielle. My son Kai on the other hand, can spend days at home creating songs on Cubase 5, refuses to even try any new food and enjoys being with his friends but then craves time alone. When presented with going anywhere or trying a new activity Arielle will easily go along and Kai will want details about exactly what we are doing and want to know if he has to go.

Basically, I have a natural extrovert and a natural introvert. I saw this early on when Arielle was three and had no problem talking to strangers. The first time Kai was invited to a birthday party for a classmate in Kindergarten, I remember walking up to the front door, Kai grabbing my hand and telling me he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go. It was at that moment that I knew… my son was just like me.

I have been blessed to have been surrounded with extroverts for many years. They have helped bring me out of my shell and continue to challenge me with new activities… activities with lots of people I don’t know. My husband Eric and my friend E. have learned the perfect balance of knowing when to try to push me into trying something new and when to let me be. When they get me out of the house especially late at night, I hear, “I’m so proud of you for coming out with us. I’m very impressed.” Pretty cool really, having friends and a husband who will see me for who I am and encourage me to stretch my boundaries. In return I get to see more of the magic in life. Magic that I wouldn’t see if I stayed in my sweats continuing my nightly routine of reading, writing or watching a movie.

This is why when an opportunity presented itself for me to help Kai stretch his boundaries, I knew I had to take it.

Cell Phone/iPod Destruction:

There was time I watched a pair of iPod headphones sail across my windshield and get stuck in my wipers for a quick second before they took a swan dive into the Gulf of Mexico. Then there was the time I heard the words, “It really wasn’t my fault. I was pushed into the pool and my phone was in my backpack attached to my wheelchair.” And… “I didn’t realize my iPod was in between the two books when I dropped them on my bedroom floor.” All Arielle. For awhile she was known as the technology destroyer.

We were fortunate enough to get through at least six months without any incident and then came spring break. The day began with me finding oatmeal spilled on our living room floor. Sitting on my counter was a bowl and inside the bowl was oatmeal and Kai’s new iPhone. Apparently, Kai forgot his cell phone was in his pocket when he jumped into our pool. The oatmeal was his second attempt at absorbing the water. His first try was with the only rice we had in the house. A package of Mexican rice with taco flavoring. That explained the little red chilies covering the touch screen.

I chose to ignore the cell phone situation and simply have hope that between the Mexican rice and oatmeal somehow the cell phone would survive. It was a weekend. Eric was home. He works with technology every day. I figured this was his department.

Later that night, Arielle had some friends over. Eric and I hid upstairs and watched Contagion giving the teens their privacy. Well, I watched Contagion and Eric snored. Just as I’m starting to freak out at the number of times a person touches their face during the course of a day – if you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about, I hear a chorus of hyenas downstairs. I couldn’t even hear my movie.

Like a good parent I turned up the volume and let the teens have their laughter without interrupting. The next morning I asked what the sudden abnormally loud outburst was about.

One of Arielle’s friends had used our bathroom. She was dressed in her swimsuit. Somehow her cell phone slipped from her side and dropped into the toilet just as she had flushed. Horrified she watched it go down. Then she came out into our living room and announced that she had flushed her cell phone; thus the hyena laughter. But wait it gets better. One of Arielle’s other friends… a daughter of a science teacher – yells, “get the plunger!”

They all crowd into the tiny bathroom and plunge away. Up comes the cell phone. Someone screams as another someone reaches in to grab it. They clean it off and unlike Kai’s iPhone, it works.

Back to the magic of life and my introvert:

After several hours in plain rice it was obvious Kai’s new phone was kaput. I called AT&T, thankful I had learned my lesson with child number one, and bought the insurance plan which included water damage. Well, even with insurance they told me it was going to cost me another $200.00 to replace Kai’s phone.

What’s a parent to do? Simply shell out $200.00? What message is that sending? We wanted Kai to earn the money for the phone. Instead of simply giving him household chores we discussed having him do community volunteer work and then realized we had an opportunity to help Kai stretch is comfort zone and perhaps we could motivate him to try things he normally would be against. Like eating a half cup of vegetables or a spinach salad. Reading a book that Eric and I enjoyed. Singing to a song he composed. (He plays but never sings.) Running two miles a day. Eric and I made a list of activities that would get Kai outside his comfort zone and force him to try new activities or food. And yes, we would pay him for it. Why, because he is our very strong-willed child who has the passion to practice or write his music for hours but when that passion is focused on something he doesn’t want to do it takes extreme gentleness and guidance and communicating to help him work through his not wanting to do it. I call it keeping the passion focused in the right direction and we’ve been talking about this aspect of his personality since he was about ten.

I know all about the introvert wall that must be broken through in order for me to step into an unknown world. A world I may not be comfortable in and there lies the fear. I want to help Kai learn that life contains magic and if he stays inside a box surrounded by walls his comfort could turn to complacency and lead to extreme negativity. And there’s no magic in negativity only a dull existence. That’s what Roald Dahl meant . Those who can’t see outside their walls, can’t see the magic.

Comments to "Swimming with Cell Phones"

  1. Elena Shidel

    March 18, 2012

    Great Blog! Thank goodness there are so many different personalities in our world. 🙂

  2. kdrausin

    March 22, 2012

    Thank you:)

  3. Pingback: Life’s a Beach… and Then You Fly! | Parenting with a Dash of Inspiration

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