Tag Archives: parenting magazine

Leaving the Mental Hospital.

12631297_10153509880098860_2696837959808520265_nIt feels like there’s a shift in the tide. My 7-year old paroled mental patient has officially been discharged. It’s fascinating watching her as she’s changing so much, both physically and mentally. She lost her first three teeth within the last month. She tells me while she’s flossing that it’s harder to get in between some teeth now, and I know it’s because her teeth are shifting now that her adult teeth will make an appearance soon.  And then there’s the emotional change. I can’t label it a personality change because she’s still the same dynamo she’s always been since 12 months old, but she’s calmer. She knows she can ask questions and even understand the answers. She appreciates things more, there’s less of the psychotic preschooler, and now she is leaning towards a logical human being who has learned so much.

It’s awesome. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy sharing humor with her, she understands my sarcasm so much more now. One day when she was coming home from school, we were talking about something and she said “oh I’m so stupid!” and I had an immediate mental panic attack – how will I reverse this? What gave her that ridiculous notion? She’ll absorb this for life! AAAGGHHH! I told her she wasn’t stupid at all, and that she is incredibly smart. I gave it little credit (not to feed any negative attention) but the next (and last) time she said that to me, she said the exact same thing in the car, it went like this:

Lilly; “I’m so stupid.”
Me: “I have wings.”
Lilly (utter confusion): “WHAT?!?!?”
Me (very seriously): “I have wings.”
Lilly (baffled) ” . . . ”
Me: “Lilly, you saying you are stupid is as true as me saying I have wings. Do you see wings on me? No? There you go.”

With that, the conversation was shut down and she cracked up laughing. I didn’t need to do a whole reinforcement thing. I didn’t need to delicately tackle a ticking bomb. I knew it was ridiculous moment where she was probably just tired and needed a break. It didn’t need a UN intervention. I love that I can speak with her this way. I’ve learned to diffuse her temper with humor. She can still have her moments, as we all do, but I can usually eliminate them immediately with some odd comment or dry humor. She can’t help herself as she’ll smile or laugh begrudgingly, because she knows exactly what I’m doing, and it’s almost as if she knows I’m not going head-to-head with her so she’ll ratchet everything down 20 notches and just talk to me about whatever it is that’s frustrating her.

c4a50d9c-13e2-4697-a7ef-6ba404a13bb7Last night, as she was getting ready for bed, she told me that she seriously loves me. That’s big words from her. She can do I love you quite frequently now, but when she added in her “seriously” into it, I knew that it meant that at that moment, she utterly, from the bottom of her heart, her gut, her toes, was telling me she loved me to death. Oh what a feeling. This magnificent creature that came from me, whom is entirely a part of me and will be for the rest of my lifetime, was reciprocating what I’ve been feeling for her since her first breath. I’m keeping all her notes of love. I know this is a fleeting time and soon enough, she’ll been a tween wanting nothing to do with me so I’ll take all I can get now. This morning as I woke her for school, she was wearing a fluffy pair of jammies and once I saw that she was awake (but pretending to be asleep), I climbed on top of her, laughing that I’d found the cuddliest new teddy bear and was keeping it forever. She was practically purring with joy.

I love this.  I love her. My word, how she has stolen my heart and soul. Note to other mothers, if you’re not feeling all gooey inside about your child, don’t worry. I’ve had plenty of those days too. So cut yourself some slack. Good things are on the way.

My 4-year old escaped mental patient is making progress. He’s a little ways away from being paroled but he’s doing better. Still plenty of non-logical out bursts or demands that will never be met, but he’s still four years old so he’s got a way to go yet. However, he’s still the cutest little psychotic bundle you’ve ever seen. When he bounces his naked butt around the house because at that moment, he’s “vanilla bunny the boy,” I can’t help but smile wide.

Life is good.

What has happened to Kindergarten?

10708783_10152475639178860_6213760241580596127_oI love our new school. My 6-year-old tornado is doing great there, but I’m still increasingly concerned by the standards that these kids (all kids in any sort of public/charter educational system) have to get to. I love her teacher. She’s a sweetheart and sends home a newsletter every week with updates on what’s going on in the class, things they need, things that’ll be coming up. This week, the newsletter said that next week, the kids would begin spelling tests. In kindergarten???

Am I just out of it? Am I alone in thinking it’s entirely ludicrous that kindergarten has been reduced to this? There’s a list of sight words that the kids are tested on (to read) at the beginning, middle and end of the year. I tried to help out, and I typed our Sight Words so every week, my girl and I go through the list. I add a page every now and then. I thought this was a lot for a kid to have to learn. Where’s the fun here? Now she has to do spelling tests? WTF!

Just this week, we were going over her homework. Mostly, it’s greatly conceptual and I’ve no problem with it. Maybe write a couple of sentences. They’ve been working on math too so they’re doing simple equations such as 6+1=7. Nothing goes above 10. OK. But this week, the homework unit was that I was to write out a few equations such as 4 + = 10 and she was to figure out what x was. Say the hell what????? When did algebra become necessary in kindie and when the hell did abstract algebra factor in here?? How the heck is she supposed to conceptualize that x can stand for any number at all and that it all depends on the equation. For the most part, I just counted with her – if I’ve got 4, how many numbers do I need to get to 10, and then finger count along with her. IT’S KINDERGARTEN!!

I even talked to my 14-year-old niece who fondly remembers kindergarten and then said that things got serious in 1st grade.  I told my niece what my 6-year-old is doing and she was shocked. They never did that in her kindergarten class. Well, I guess the educational system has pushed that crap downwards and now the kindergartener gets to do what used to be for the older grades. It just feels like a bunch of this (especially the x equation, come on!!!) is well beyond her mental capabilities and she’s a smart kid.

Having had my rant, she’s still a happy camper in school. Although, she did ask me this morning if her 100 days of summer is coming up soon. This is because the 100th day of school celebration is this Friday but I think she thought that meant she was getting ready for summer break. Sorry, kid.  She asked me to put together a calendar for her to look at so that she can see when it’ll be summer time. I think that might have more to do with getting up at 7am than the work itself. She still bounces into the car each afternoon and runs into school every morning.So they must be doing something right. Maybe it’s just me that has the problem or maybe she just doesn’t know any different. My youngest, the 3-year-old will be starting VPK in August and it more than likely looks like I’ll be able to get him into the same school she was in. She loved that place so much. He’s started asking if he can go to school and she’s been telling him how much fun preschool was. And while I do think she is happy in her current school, the inference was that kindergarten isn’t as fun as preschool.

And that makes me sad.

How Jason’s Deli ruined my day.

WineActually, they were all really, really nice, thoughtful, caring people who did their very best to soothe my bawling 3-yr old, but in the end, it just backfired on me.

I took the kids for two full hours of open gymnastics this morning to wear their little psychotic asses out. That was awesome. Then I decided to draw out the day a little more and knew everyone was hungry so we headed to Jason’s Deli. Everyone was in a good mood. We ordered our food and took our receipt & plastic table number with us. And then all hell broke loose.

My 3yr old escaped mental patient has a penchant for numbers. Numbers are everything. Today, he decided he didn’t like the table number we were given (32 in case you just have to know) . He wanted a number in the 100’s. As I carry him away screaming, I barely make it to the end of the counter line before three different staff have asked me if he needs a coloring book and crayons. I say ‘sure’ but I know that’s not going to appease the monster. I find a booth table. Another worker comes over to me and tells me to go grab some food from the salad bar for him, anything I want. Again, super sweet. Everyone is trying their best to make him happy and I finally explain what his problem is. Sure enough, they run off and come back with a glorious yellow number – 142. They hand it to him and he thinks it’s Christmas. We sit and have a great meal together. All good.

The manager comes over to us, to check how we are doing and I thank her for the attentiveness of everyone. Really, they were very good. But now I am thinking that the next time we go to Jason’s Deli,  he’s going to demand a specific number and Momma ain’t playin’ that game. I like Jason’s Deli too much to turn every visit into a dramatic affair. They’ve got such great food and the free ice cream is to die for. We’ve had a few near misses there regarding the numbers but I always prepare him that the numbers stay in the restaurant. They don’t come home with us, but I guess I hadn’t prepped my 5yr paroled mental patient because while the manager was talking to me, my daughter piped up, “Can we take this home?” My eyes shot wide open in disbelief and my jaw almost hit the floor.

I respond quickly that we cannot, it belongs to the restaurant, other people need the numbers,  yadda yadda yadda. I finally take a deep breath and relax when the manager says to her, “well, since you asked, then yes you can take it home.” Oh bloody hell. While the excitement is temporary for today, the battle for future visits has ratcheted up a few notches.

Five minutes later, the same manager comes back and says “we can’t have only him having a number,” and hands my daughter number 143. Oh.My.God. I get a sense of foreboding in the pit of my stomach. I know what’s coming and it’s going to be bad. The same sense of doom one has when perhaps walking through land mines. My daughter is squealing with delight, kissing her number. Actually kissing and hugging it.

We leave, and I thank the manager again for her kindness. She was exceptionally kind, all the staff were. But I know that hell is around the corner. The ride home was delightful and I allowed myself a glimpse of hope that maybe this had all worked out. Maybe it wasn’t a disaster after all and that it was worth the crap I’m going to get from the illogical little beasts next time I go there.

But then we get home. And within an hour, my escapee decides that he wants 143, not 142 and the tantrum that ensued was epic. Twenty minutes later, the puffy faced, hyperventilating midget is not letting go of the notion that his number is 143, even though he was specifically given 142.  After he had calmed down, twenty years later, I explained that 143 was his sister’s number but that he could have a turn holding 143. The beast was assuaged but the stage had now been set for a whole afternoon of territorial battles and trying ever so hard to find each other’s buttons. Unfortunately, they succeeded. A lot.

Now that the afternoon has come to a close, neither child gives a flying crap about their number and I’m opening a beer. Lots of them.

Raising Toddlers.

I saw this post and loved it enough to repost. There are few articles that I feel nail it on the head when it comes to small children and this succeeds.

4 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Parenting Toddlers the First Time Around

1. It really is this hard. You’re not doing anything wrong.

“If I could go back, I would say, relax. Tantrums, running away, accidents, lost belongings, mischievous nap times… it’s all a normal part of toddler life. I wasn’t making life harder than necessary. Raising two toddlers really is just that hard.”

Feelings.

Maya-AngelouSomething I am struggling with lately is the epiphany that I have to be the person I want my children to become. I try to demonstrate kindness, caring for others, love, patience, etc. However, more important than the kids seeing me like that with others, is me being that way with them.

Those wonderful characteristics fail me when all hell breaks loose. When every button is expertly pressed, over and over, and I loose my temper. I often wonder, if I can’t be the person I want the kids to be, does that mean I’m a horrible person? I’d like to have a quick answer that we are all imperfect and being imperfect doesn’t equate that someone is horrible. Great. Off the hook. But I don’t want to be a perfect person. I want to be a kind, loving, warm parent and there’s just a lot of times that I am not.

I am hard on myself because it’s the most important job I’ve ever had, and will ever have. I need to shift my mental priorities. Keep working, keep trying. These golden days of two young children will be over soon, and it will break my heart if I don’t surround them in the love and warmth they deserve.

Maya Angelou’s quote has resonated deeply with me and it’s sinking into my parenting a bit. I think back to my childhood memories and yes, mostly I remember a person by how they made me feel. How do I make my children feel? In thinking about parenting from that aspect, I’ve begun to change how I communicate with the kids. Not always, because my temper still can get the better of me, but overall I am improving. A little. It’s surprising how quickly we can lose sight of this. Just having an awareness for their feelings, mentally acknowledging that their heads are full of swirling emotions and some sort of logic (at least to them) will change how you approach them.

How do they feel? How do they feel? Yes, they’ll be sad when a toy breaks or they don’t get what they want. Being mindful of feelings doesn’t involve shielding children from their usual daily crises, but it absolutely creates an awareness of how I interact with them. It’s not about making your child happy or making sure they feel good, it’s communication based on a deep level of respect. How I cope with something is how they’ll cope with it later on. How I talk with them, comfort them, teach them, will turn into their very foundation. It will become their inner voice. It’s getting down to eye level and calmly talking about things. Asking questions and getting answers. Often those little people have more answers than we realize.

Single Moms.

I salute you. I tip my hat to you. I raise you above my shoulders in celebration, because I have no idea how the hell you do it.

My husband has been away for a week, so it’s just been me and the kids. And it’s by the sheer grace of God that they live. There is no break. No one to vent to. No one to field the ever present tantrum to. No one else to do bedtime, breakfast, bathtime, playtime, you name it. Our bedtime events have been nothing short of catastrophic because by the end of the day, I’m a disastrous mound of stress.

nature 2_0In the morning, the hours spread out ahead of me like a looming guillotine. Hours that I have to fill, balance and moderate until the mental patients are asleep. And then we do it all over again the next day. I have a hard time managing even when I know this situation is only temporary. To do this permanently would send me to the same mental institution that my children escaped from.

It astounds me, you astound me, that you do this every single day with no respite. You simply are amazing.

So, back to being a bad parent.

Whether it’s exhaustion or just frustration from two young children (seriously, how does anyone do more than two?), I’ve come close to reaching my limit. It has strangely coincided with my son roaring his way into the Threes. Now, things have morphed to where I am beyond sensitive parenting. I’m past caring what damage I do. Sometimes I just have to shut behaviors down. For example, today my son was joyously jumping up and down that he had peed in the potty. I give him my best ever happy face, a cheek-splitting-smile while telling him how happy I am for him. He bounces his way over to me and then he bites my leg.

What.The.F&*K.

Immediately, I tell him no biting. Instead of being sorry, or even looking sheepish, he defiantly says “I bite Mommy.” Well then, thank you very much. After this behavior, I’m a whole lot less likely to care when he has a tantrum. I wonder if this is nature’s way of pulling me back emotionally. He’s not so endearing when he looks like Dracula.  There is no logic to this three-year old beast. His repeated outbursts of ridiculousness remind me daily that he’s an escaped mental patient.  The constant exposure I have to this has also somewhat numbed me to the screaming (mine and his).

1003716_10151588618398860_619910048_nI will admit that more often than not, the answer to his tantrum is very simple. Sometimes, when I calm down and look straight at him, he will lower the decibel.  And then I close up the issue, whatever it was, by asking him if he wants a hug. Because he always does. He screams and freaks out regularly, because so much of this world is beyond his control. When he is frustrated or angry or sad or simply not getting what he wants, the outpouring of any emotion is a tantrum. As if the intensity of the emotion is too big for his little body and it has to come out somehow. Which leaves him feeling drained and sad, and in need of some loving. That’s where the hugs come in. As a mother, you know when that moment is – when the fight is over and they just need a hug. Sometimes I don’t want to give a hug, but I do it because it lets him know that I am there for him, even if I want to strangle him.  Inevitably, 30 seconds later, he is back to his old happy self, as if nothing ever happened (how do they do this??).

Mother nature has a funny way of working. This struggle may be her design or it may simply be because I am clueless as to what I am doing. I never had the twos- or threes-issue with my daughter (her fours were another matter of affairs!). Either way, it’s kicking my ass.