Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Unsolicited YW advice: Part 1

Sooooo, I have a lot of unsolicited advice to give about YW (meaning teen girls at church), and if there's one things blogs are for, it's spouting unsolicited advice!  Am I right or am I right?
I've been in YW non-stop since we moved to the great Midwest and while our crowd may be different from yours (we have less than a dozen YW and don't split up by age group or have advisors), I have a sneaky feeling YW everywhere have a lot in common.  And it always bums me out when I hear from friends who aren't having great experiences serving in YW...it is such an awesome opportunity to work with such a great age group, and I love the crap out of our little crowd so much that I really want other people to love it like I do.  This topic has popped up a lot lately with my real-life friends and e-friends and such, and surprise, surprise, I have a bunch to say.

So, let me climb aboard my e-soapbox and share a few grouchy tidbits...

Gurrbonzo's Grouchy Bits of Advice for YW Leaders: Part 1

(1) It's not about you!  My own experience in YW was really, really lame.  We moved to a new ward when I was 9th gradeish and there were like forty girls my age, I felt like I had nothing in common with any of them, I felt grouchy and misunderstood, square peg in a round hole, whatever you want to say about it.  Guess what?  My YW now aren't me.  They aren't a 2012 version of me, either.  And my favorite rants or topics or teen baggage AREN'T THEIR PROBLEM.  So resist the urge to teach and preach what your former self would have needed/wanted and instead, look around and see if you can figure out what these actual girls are interested in or in need of.  They aren't us; they're them.

(2)  On a related note, be the grown up.  We aren't their peers.  That's a weird feeling because when you chat with teens, it comes back fast.  I remember so vividly so much about being that age.  Once a few years ago, an 8th grade YW was chatting with me at an activity and out of nowhere snapped my bra.  Seriously.  I almost died.  I was tempted to laugh but then I realized that can't happen.  So I just said, "Sweetie, I'm a grown up.  Totally inappropriate. Never do that again."  And then we started talking about something else.  She was a little startled but it hasn't happened again and now we have a great relationship.

It's a tough balance, and I don't mean they should salute you and curtsy or that you need to be super distant, but you're the adult and they are teens. Even if you're not that much older than they are, keep in mind you aren't peers.

(3) Stop talking about clothes.  Just stop.  I don't want to hear any more from either side of the modesty debate.  I am totally over that conversation and for teen girls to get the message that looks aren't everything, we've gotta talk about stuff that's more interesting and important.  If, say, what the kid is wearing at an activity is TOTALLY out of control, take her aside and privately say something like, "Throw a shirt on that covers up a little more.  I'll run you home and you can get one, then let's grab a slurpee and we'll be back in time for the closing prayer."  Don't make it any more than it is.  

(4) Get off their cases.  Peers, parents, media, church, everyone has so much to say about what teen girls should or shouldn't wear, what they should or shouldn't do, what they should or shouldn't say.  What they need more than anything is our love and our trust and our examples.  My job isn't to nag; they have the whole planet for that.  My job is to show them what a happy, healthy woman is like and to high five and hug as needed.  They are aching for our love and for our examples.  Show them how it's done.

(5) Go to their stuff.  I know this is hard depending on schedules, etc., but it's my favorite.  For example, a few of our YW are in jazz band and we go to their awesome performances all the time.  My kids love it, and I know the YW and their friends, and they are (most of the time) excited to see me, and it's good and fun and normal.

I got a mean farmer tan from the last JV soccer game I went to, but it was totally worth it. My kids played on the playground and my dear YW was thrilled to see us.  I didn't bombard her or even talk to her after because she was booked, but I waved and my four-year-old shouted, "Go Lucy!" and I think that's enough.  If anyone in YW had given a teensy shit about what I was up to at that age, I think it would have meant a lot to me.  (Wait, it's not about me...d'oh...still, most of the time they love it.)

(6) Let them do stuff.  For example, we had a whole lesson on how to give a lesson (I'll post it if you want to check it out), and then we've started having YW teach once a month.  This won't work for every group but for ours, it has ROCKED.  They can count it for Personal Progress and it is honestly beautiful to see.  The first few months were a little rocky (e.g., we had a few ten minute lessons...bahahaha) but the last year or so, everyone's really gotten into it. The YW make especially great comments when one of them is leading the discussion, and it seems to provide decent experience so they are braver the next time they have to do something, and they're more supportive when an adult is teaching bc they know what's it like to be on that end.

Last year, we were talking as a ward about what talks from General Conference we should use for lessons, and everyone was excited about Elder Cook's "LDS Women Are Incredible!" talk.  Now, say what you will about the talk, but I had to chime in:  if LDS women are incredible, how about...wait for it...a talk by an LDS woman?  Annnnd we used Sylvia Allred's RS talk for the lesson.  If something's important, stop talking about how important it is and just let the importance shine.  See what I'm saying? We've gotta stop telling them they're awesome and start giving them opportunities to be awesome, whether through teaching or service or whatever.

(7) Let them botch it once in a while.  That's the logical extension of letting them do stuff.  They need the chance to fail.  That's scary for adults like me that like to do everything themselves, but it's like teaching your kid to make her bed. Yeah, it's easier for us to just make the bed, but getting the bed made isn't the point; teaching them to make the bed is the point.

Last year, I asked a girl to do a musical number for our Night of Excellence.  She said yes, we reminded her a few times, and that day she laughed about how she hadn't prepared anything.  I was tempted to take her off the program but then I caught myself and realized you know, she committed to do it, let's see what happens.  She traipsed through a painful version of a song and it was awful and awkward and I'd bet a lot of money she won't be unprepared again. (Won't work for everyone but for her personality it was a great lesson.)  Let them fail.   Otherwise, they grow up thinking someone else will fix everything, and I've got some bad news: someone else won't.  Bahahahaha.

(8) Don't go to every activity.  You'll lose your mind and it's not fair to your family.  Let your counselors or whoever go to stuff (or if you're an advisor or counselor, let the YW president know when you want to swap dates).  It took me a year or two to figure it out, but everyone doesn't have to go to everything.  We make sure two adults are at a Wednesday activity and then call it good, and split it up so that one person doesn't have to go too many times in a row.  I spent all of Sunday on YW stuff (morning meeting, evening fireside) so you know what that means?  I'm not going on Wednesday, and I feel great about it.

Annnnd that's it for now.  What do you think?  Agree? Disagree?  Anything to add?  Part 2 coming soon.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

is there a less dated version of booyah I should be saying?

Alooooha!  No need for concern.  I know occasionally people think I die when I don't blog for, oh, months and months, but I recently realized something...I think the more cool stuff I have going on, the less I blog.  Truly.  So, instead  of wondering if I'm okay when I don't blog, you should be alarmed if I start blogging five times a week or something.  Deal?  I'm slammed in all the best ways!  In many ways, I think it's still March, because things have been in mega-high gear around here since then.  A little whirlwind is pretty healthy... 

Anyway, hope you're doing awesome, internets! Remember when I said change was afoot because I felt like I was in my groove?  Welp, I called it.  A dream job fell out of the sky (and while I shan't reveal the details to the world-wide web, if you care that much you probably already know :)). 

In my hip and fabulous single and dating days (as opposed to my hip and fabulous married and dating days...bahaha), I often complained that the glorious trifecta of hot boy seemed to be missing.  All I want, I'd pine adorably, is a fellow who likes three things:

(1) Me
(2) Fun
(3) Churchy church.

I could find dudes who liked me and church but were bllllaaaand as could be; I could find dudes who liked me and fun but not church, and I could find dudes who liked church and fun but not me.  (Spoiler alert: I eventually hit the jackpot, though some of those items have shifted in importance...just go with it.)


Similarly, I feel like with jobs, I've been wanting something that would:

(1) use my talents/brain
(2) pay reasonably well
(3) be abnormally flexible

And it seemed like there were jobs that were interesting and paid well but had zero flexibility, would be flexible and pay reasonably well but my brain would turn to mush, and that were interesting and flexible but didn't pay well.  See what I mean?  So, another paying job wasn't on the top of my to-do list (you may recall I've had a pretty sweet part-time gig for a while now that's been great) as I chased our cute kiddos around.  Annnnnd then my husband thought about going back for round 2 of grad school, and at precisely the moment I began realizing going from 1.5 incomes to .5 incomes would be tricky, BAM, a cool job with all three criteria fell out of the sky and into my lap, so we can, you know, LIVE as my hub hits the books again for another few years.

Whew!  So I've been busy navigating this new world of kids and a flexible full-time job and a half, and I dig it, and I marvel at God's generosity. 

Remember this kid?  She's four, now, and it turns out four is a blast (and we had a kickass Wordgirl party...honestly, whoever thought up Wordgirl deserves a giant smooch.  Lady Redundant Woman?  Sigh.). Remember this, when our other sweet daughter was born?  She's almost two and a half and she is such a clever sneak.  Two and four are such great, cuddly ages and they are each other's dearest friends.  Just had to mention that.

In kind of other news, and on a similar to my last post note, which was four months ago so you don't remember anyway, I had a heart-to-heart with a buddy recently about whether you feel like you're half-assing everything if you do too many things (and that's a real danger), and I am proud of myself as I slowly start to realize that as I enter a busier-than-normal season of life, I can full-ass things in smaller doses.  Make sense?  Like, I honestly do my darndest to be a good YW president.  I feel so much love and concern for our little gang and feel like I do a decent job most of the time, but guess what?  I'm not at everything.  I can't be, and that's a fact.  But when I go, I try to be all in.  Similarly, I need more help with childcare now than I used to, and that's a fact.  But when I'm with my kiddos (which is still the vast majority of the time), I try to be all in.  And at work I am learning to delegate.  This is a pain for those of us who like to be in charge of stuff because we think we'd do it better ourselves, but sometimes, delegating stuff is the biggest present to ourselves.  Am I right or am I right?  Annnnd it's only taken me almost thirty years to figure out!  Bahahaha!  Life lesson: you can avoid a lot of big fat headaches by anticipating them, sharing the responsibility, and not being a martyr.  YEAH!

Annnnnnd that's what's on my mind today.  What's new with you?