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  When I was growing up, one of the worst insults that could be hurled at a child (or his parents) was that he was a spoiled brat. It was a phrase that wasn't used very often, but when it was, it stung. No one wanted to hear the perception that a child was spoiled. Now, we hardly hear the phrase, but maybe it's because so many children are spoiled. Has the phrase decreased as the problem increased? Out of curiosity, I looked up the meaning of "spoil." Here, it means "to harm the character of a child by being too lenient or indulgent." That's convicting. It's hard to parent, and it's particularly hard to parent when we have long-term goals but face pressing, short-term issues. When a child is squalling because he wants a piece of candy, it's so much easier to give him the candy to keep the peace. When he is complaining because all of his friends have the latest, expensive whatever-it-is, it's so much easier to give in to make him happy with you. When the house is dirty, it's just easier to clean it yourself than to teach him and then insist that he do his part. It's easier to spoil the child, and maybe that's why we're doing...


  Life right now is hectic. The male child is playing football, the mini-me is doing gymnastics, and the husband is traveling nonstop. We are always on the road or in the gym or at a practice. Dinner together means eating chicken nuggets in the car, and the few minutes we have at home consist of me loudly repeating, "Get your homework done. Pack your lunch. Bring me your dirty clothes. Let me sign your agenda. Get in the shower. Use soap and wash those feet." I find myself speaking in commands and issuing orders like a drill sergeant. Anybody else feel this way?   Here's what I keep reminding myself: this is a season. These are activities my children have chosen and love, and the discipline it takes for them (and us) is a good thing. They are learning responsibility, time management, being dedicated, and working as a team. I am learning self-control and management skills that will be useful when I am CEO of a major company one day. :) This season will end soon. And if I'm honest, I don't want it to end because it will mean these children will have moved out and these childhood days will have come to an...


  She burrowed underneath the bright pink comforter, pulling the princess pillow over her face as she hid her pooling tears. “Mommy, should I join the competition team?” Ah. This again. She loves to flip and leap, cutting cartwheels across the den, contorting her body on the trampoline, and walking the beam on planks of the hardwood floor. She loves it, but last year she stayed a level below her ability because she didn’t want to compete - didn’t want to perform in front of people. My girl loves gymnastics, but others’ judgment and watching eyes strike terror in her heart. I wonder where she gets it. definesworth After being encouraged again to join the competition team, she had a decision to make. Should she join and compete this year or stay where she was? "What if I get a low score?" she whispered. Her muffled voice made its way through the pillow to my ears, and the underlying message of her question went straight to my heart. Her little-girl voice asked what my big-girl heart feels: "What if I'm not good enough?"

  I've been to some pretty crazy Clemson football games in my day. For 36 years, more if you count the time I spent in utero, I've been going to Death Valley and watching the Tigers compete against all number of opponents. I've seen wins and losses, and I've seen coaches come and go. I've tailgated early and tailgated late, and I've eaten way more than my fair share of junk food. Clemson football is a way of life in my family, and yes, I love and understand the sport. I've seen some pretty crazy games and taken part in some pretty crazy days. Like, for example, this one. Clemson versus Notre Dame, October 2015. Pouring rain, thanks to the remnants of Hurrican Joaquin. Notre Dame scored with seconds left in the 4th quarter to come within two points. They went for the 2 point conversion and were denied. A goal-line stand meant another Clemson win! Instant classic and a game I'll always remember because this is how we looked. Then there's this one. Clemson versus Alabama for the National Championship, January 2016. 4th quarter, tied at 24. Alabama turned a gutsy on-side kick into a touchdown and went up 31-24. Clemson answered with a field goal, 31-27. Alabama scored again,...