One of the many things nobody tells you about becoming a parent is that if you want your child to develop self-discipline, good habits and a positive attitude—you probably have to do it first.
For me, this left a lot of room for improvement. I guess that’s the beauty of parenthood, though. It makes you want to be a better person. So as my kids grew, so did I. They took their first steps, and I took a few of my own.
When I was younger, every bad day had the potential to at least feel like the end of the world. What do you expect? I was an actress. Drama was my life. But I wanted my kids to be happy-go-lucky and capable of finding the positive in any experience. I knew I had to show them how to find the bright side, so I began looking for it as well.
I soon found out it’s not always easy to locate that silver lining. But as the years passed, I learned to put things in perspective and find a reason to be grateful, no matter what went on around me. Life is usually what you make of it.
In the past few weeks I’ve found new and interesting opportunities to get this lesson across—including earthquakes, tornado watches and hurricanes.
I faced each challenge with a smile, and my kids followed suit. Occasionally, my son has even been responsible for turning my mood around. But my daughter still had the tendency to get a bit frustrated with her circumstances, if they didn’t live up to her standards. Maybe it's a girl thing.
When I’d pick her up from school, she’d hop in the back seat and the tirade would begin—an endless list of who was annoying whom, and why it annoyed her. She was stressed. I’d have to guide her through to keep her focused on the positive and appreciative of the good things in her day. It was exhausting, and even though I knew she was much better than last year, we had our ups and downs. Sometimes I wondered if I was making much of an impact.
But last week I got a sure sign—a glimmer that we were continuing to make progress. I asked her outright, “So, how was your day?”
She replied, matter-of-factly, “Well, it didn’t make me wanna vomit.”
Um, I guess that's the bright side ... baby steps.
Taryn Grimes-Herbert is a screenwriter, performer and the author of the I’ve Got character-building book series for children, and was 2010’s Woman of Achievement in the Arts Honoree for Orange County, NY. Calling upon her professional acting experience on Broadway, film and television, she speaks out and takes her books into classrooms hoping to help kids build character, develop empathy and learn to create a positive future through creative dramatics activities.