Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Belated

For the past 2 months-2 MONTHS-Coen has had his Birthday Thank You cards sitting at his spot at the dinner table.  He pushes them aside and pretends they're not there, eats his meals around them, puts his backpack on top of them when he gets home from school, etc.  It doesn't seem to bother him that he's insanely belated on this simple task but now that we've reached an embarrassingly late point I had to get tough.  Sort of tough, I actually did all the work for him.  All he had to do now was copy word for word what I had written onto his Thank You cards.  He wrote one and had this reaction.  Full-on meltdown.  Glasses off, tears flowing...the works.  After every.single.card. THIS occurred. 

So it took a full week to write 12 cards between his tantrums and my losing patience (and my mind) but today he finished!  He proudly handed me the cards, asked me if I could write all the envelopes-well played-and I started shuffling through the pile.  Some cards he just ran out of room and stopped the card in mid-sentence, some were tear-stained and some were completely illegible but my favorite card said this:
  Dear Wallet,  (side note: he doesn't have a friend named Wallet)
Thank you for the Lego Move Book and Lego Book
and for coing to my farting.
 from Coen 

...He wins, I quit!  Your cards will be mailed tomorrow.  And if this is how Thank You cards go I can't WAIT for 2nd Grade- I can only hope his teacher accepts belated homework.



Monday, March 31, 2014

Dear School Board

Dear School Board,
    Last week I attended your board-approved Sex-Ed video you deemed appropriate for 4th graders.  I was prepared for a video that taught our children about their growing bodies, I was not prepared for a video that would rob my child of the last of the innocence he still maintains and pollute his mind with images and words he does not yet comprehend and leave him full of questions and confusion.  You tried to sell the movie to us (the parents) with cartoon penises and the "made by Disney" name but all 7 (yes, only 7 parents from the ENTIRE 4th grade showed up to watch this video, 4 boys Moms and 3 girls Moms) were left with bigger questions than even our children would be-do we or do we not allow our children-CHILDREN-to leap into this next phase of their life?  Once we do there's no erasing it and there's no going back.  I assume so few parents showed up only because they trust the school board will do what is best for their child but what these parents failed to witness was (cover your eyes kids) an entire video of naked cartoon boys and the throwing around of words such as sexual arousal, erection (complete with picture of an erection under bed covers), ejaculation, sperm and baby-making and ended with a scantily-clad woman seductively dancing-this is the point one of the moms shouted out, "Well that's completely inappropriate!" and I would have said the same if my mouth wasn't hanging open in shock.  These are our 10 year olds, half of them still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy (including mine) and we're introducing them to sex?  Sadly, I understand this topic needs to be addressed much sooner than it did when I was younger but when my child found out he would be watching a video on his growing body he told me he knew the time would come when he would have to learn about hair growing on his chest.  That is what he assumed the video would be about, that's, foolishly,  somewhat what I assumed as well.  I took a picture of the video showing a naked cartoon boy that said the words "broad shoulders" above his head.  I showed my little boy this example of the video he would be watching, he turned 5 shades of red and declared he would not be watching this video.  He spent days panicking about the thought of having to sit there and endure the awkwardness of those 20 minutes that would change his life and he had no idea that it was so, SO much worse than he even anticipated.  I must admit that I only attended the viewing of the boys movie so my opinion of the girls movie (which occurred today) can only be shared by what my son and his friends witnessed following the showing of that video.  The girls were described as returning to class as ghostly white, refusing to speak, one girl told the boys they would never want to see what she just saw, 4 girls in my son's class went to the nurse and another girl in another 4th grade class vomited.  By these descriptions I'm assuming the girls movie fared equally inappropriate to what the boys will soon witness.  While I agree that some kids may be ready for this next step in their lives and some kids may already know everything about this quickly approaching new phase of their lives, some kids aren't ready.  That's where you've failed to do your job, you lumped all kids into one gigantic category of sexually-ready and went with it.  While I do appreciate the brief warning, I don't appreciate your poor judgment.  Our kids are young once, only once, and mine is not ready!  You may have taken it upon yourself to deem him ready but I've decided to do this on my terms, my way and by my standards.  While the other children sit in class on Wednesday watching a video they may or may not be ready for my little boy will be hanging out with his Dad, having fun, bonding and talking about his growing and changing body!  After informing the teacher and the school principal of my intentions I was relieved to receive an email back from my 10 year olds teacher informing me her Mom did the same thing for her when she was in the 4th grade.  When I feel my child is ready to venture into this new phase of his life I will deal with it, I will answer his questions and I will teach him what he needs to know.  It is not your job to decide when the magic of Christmas comes to an end for him, it's not your job to educate him on your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), it's not your job to enforce rules based on what he eats, wears, how he plays and the way I parent and it's certainly not your job to decide when my child is ready to become an adult.  Thanks for wanting to help but I've got this one!
Sincerely,
MOM  

Friday, March 21, 2014

WONDER

A few weeks ago I took my 10 year old bookworm, Spencer, to the bookstore.  Spencer is a little History buff.  He has read every "Who Was"and "What Is" book (FYI: these are Childrens History books) in his school's library.  His teacher and principal have teamed up to foster his love of reading and his love of History by creating a "Spencer's reading section" in a special area of the reading room.  They search for books to try to find those he hasn't yet read and incorporate them into his reading section and have challenged him to read 100 books by the end of the year.  If he completes this task he will be rewarded by a special dinner with the school principal-they have a great bond and talk all things books.  
    So I took him to the bookstore where he quickly scooped up 8 more History books he hadn't read and 2 comic books.  Then he spotted this book on the shelf in the middle of the Children's book section...Wonder.  
  It was the last one on the shelf and he immediately raced over to put the comic books back begging for this book he had heard so much about.  Completely out of the loop on what this book was about I picked it up and started reading a bit about a 10 year old boy named Auggie born with a facial deformity.  His parents had decided it was time for him to venture out into the world by going to school for the first time in his life-middle school!  It's about his struggles and his triumphs-I was sold!  I made a deal with Spencer that he could get the comic books also but we had to share this book. 
    The next day I dropped the boys off at school with Wonder clutched in Spencer's hand and the principal immediately stopped him the second he jumped out of the car and smiled as she said, "that's my favorite book!".  Spencer spent his free time at school and his free time at home reading this 300+ page book in just a few days.  I told him not to tell me anything and we would talk about it once I finished.  Last night (or this morning), at 1 a.m., I finished.  I couldn't stop the tears (and I NEVER cry reading a book)-it was that fantastic!  
     This morning Spencer and I talked about Wonder and here's the perspective of a 10 year old (I recorded our conversation so I wouldn't forget).
  
Me: What did you learn from the book?

Spencer: I learned that you should never judge a person just by how they look and you should always give them a chance to be their friend.

Me: Do you think adults can learn something from this book?

Spencer: Yes, even though any person may look different than other people everyone should still treat them normal. (Spoiler) Because some of the parents are the ones who took Auggie's picture out of the class picture just because his face was deformed.

Me: Would you talk to a person and/or befriend a person who looks different than you?

Spencer: I would try to be friends with them unless they were really wild because then that might not work out.  But I wouldn't let anyone, even my friends, pick on someone who looks different.

Me: Would you recommend this book to your friends?

Spencer: Yes, because it teaches us that we can be nice and be friends with someone who is different from us.

After I asked Spencer these questions he told me this was his new favorite book (gasp!  It's not even a History book) and I wholeheartedly agree.  Every child, over the age of 9, should own this book and every adult should do themselves a favor and read it as well.  How we, as adults, treat others and handle situations will be mimicked by our children. We need to be better, do better and fill our kids full of humility, compassion, kindness and love for others, reminding them (and ourselves) to look past the outer layer-our hearts are where we truly shine!         
"You can't exactly blend in when you were born to stand out."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

And I Watched

I found a bench in the center of the park where I would be able to keep track of my kids-rock wall, climbing tree, swings, playground, baseball field...every "Hey Mom, Watch Me!" was easily accessible for my eyes to dart from place to place to place.  I watched my kids make friends in a way that adults rarely do.  If their friends aren't at the park that day they find a different friend to chase, play ball and climb trees with.  But with the good comes the bad.  The playground terror that will occasionally latch itself onto one of my children.  I used to be the kind of Mom who immediately rushed to my child's defense in this situation (and in weak moments I'm still that Mom) but I'm evolving and learning to let my kids fight their own battles, as long as that particular battle doesn't seem too out of their control.  All was going great and then you showed up... and you were THAT kind of Mom.  
I sat on my bench talking to the sweet Mom next to me about Tic Tacs and yoga pants when out of the corner of my eye I watched as my child was knocked to the ground.  Conversation stopped and I waited...I glanced over at you with your table of Moms and realized you saw it too but you did nothing.      My child got up, glared and walked away so I did nothing.  Then the terror in the yellow dress, towering at least a head over my 4 year old, came back for more.  Your child grabbed the back of my child's shirt and I still watched (on the edge of my seat, mind you, but I didn't budge).  And I watched my child's mouth drop open as your child proceeded to scream every mean name using the "forbidden" words my child knows never to utter.  Still you sat there with your friends just letting your daughter fight it out in the ring with a much younger, non-competitor.  I secretly sat there wishing my little girl would pull out her feisty fists but she was really just trying to play with the other non-terrors.  I watched as your child chased mine up a ladder and blocked her in at the bridge and I watched as she called some of her friends to get in on the action.  I looked over at you as you also saw it go down and my weak moment began to kick in.  I stood up ready to take on you and your terror BUT then I watched as my little girl's 7 year old big brother ran across the bridge, grabbed his sister and defended her.  I watched him call your daughter out for the bully she was and I watched him block her from getting near my daughter.  I watched as his new friends stood next to him and dared your child to try to climb that ladder.  I saw you look at me and wait for me to do something, that's why I looked over and smiled.  And I watched as you finally got up, shot me another fabulous dirty look, grab your daughter and head for the parking lot. I guess that's just the kind of Mom I am-a proud one!           

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Because I'm Tired...And It's O.K.

For the first 8 years of being a Mom I was the first person awake in my household, I worked out, got the kids dressed (in clothes where the bottoms actually matched the tops), made them a warm & healthy breakfast, I made a list of things to accomplish that day & activities/crafts/outings to occupy my kids (during this time was when I also monitored that 30 minutes of TV I allowed them to watch of an "appropriate" kid show), I cleaned the house during rest/nap time, worked with the kids on their numbers, letters, shapes, Spanish & German lessons, listened only to Little People & Lullaby CDs throughout the day about animals and playing nice with your friends and executed a well thought out dinner...and that's exhausting!  
I'm sitting here drinking my 2nd, 3rd? cup of hot tea and reading my latest TMZ news on the computer trying to force myself out of sleep mode while my 4 year old is sitting at the table coloring in marker, real un-washable marker on a (now) marked-up wooden kitchen table, singing Lady Gaga while my boys watch Food Network and discuss the meaning of the middle finger.  The kids ate cereal, I woke up late and none of my kids have brushed hair or matching clothing-since I allow the boys to dress themselves (with occasional power of Veto over too many clashing Neons) and, over this insanely extended Christmas break of day 42? (feels like it anyway) the amount of homework I've encouraged is none but the amount of Television and/or Wii playing has skyrocketed to a new high (they broke my timer anyway).  As my husband was leaving for work he asked what we were having for dinner?  Answer: Uh, I guess I'll think about that around 4! 
I look on Facebook, and quit Facebook for a week, because I couldn't stand the competition!  Every Mommy wants to be (or seem like) the perfect Mommy planning the perfect holiday excursions with their children and actually ENJOYING these zero degree snow days being stuck in the house with fighting children.  I only rejoined FB after a few friends convinced me that I'd be missing out on the latest news aka who ran how far, who loves their kids more, whose kid just learned their 5th language, how blessed & successful everyone is but really I rejoined so I can stay in touch with the friends who give me clarity, advice, adult conversation & laughter.  And the friends who really get it and get me.  Also, while I'm being honest, I Pinterest for the artistic photographs, make-up tips and shoes, not really for the creative but healthy kid-friendly recipes or crafts-we eat hotdogs, frozen pizzas & McDonalds around here now. 
Somewhere along the way, in my past, my panic attacks became an everyday occurrence, my irritation grew and I got tired of trying to be perfect.  After many, many visits to doctors I was advised to STOP the madness and start focusing on me for a change.  I was too exhausted to enjoy my life, I was simply living it the way I thought a Mom was supposed to live her life for her children.  I'm seeing this pattern repeat itself in so many friends I care about.  Just in case you haven't been told yet, it's o.k. to stop being perfect, to stop entertaining your children & planning every waking second of their lives to make their lives more enjoyable than your own, to stop with the constant laundry and the freaking juicing of veggies (what is this nasty trend?) to make your kids more healthy-personally I find a dino gummy vitamin works just as well.  If you want this life, by all means, have a blast (and please avoid judging others who don't live up to your expectations) but it's not for me and that was the scariest thing I have ever had to admit.  I suck as a "perfect" mom but I ROCK as an imperfect Mom and it's o.k.!  
I enjoy my kids more (instead of trying to constantly entertain them-they're actually pretty entertaining on their own), I learn from them & with them, I listen more than I demand, I play games/toys when asked but never feel like I have to, I allow them freedoms I never allowed before, we listen to REAL songs on the radio (Hadley has never even heard a Little People's CD but she can sing almost every song from any Pop or Country radio station-and she'll kick me off the karaoke mic in a heartbeat if Taylor Swift pops up), we go on spur of the moment adventures wherever and whenever we feel like it, we plan very little (and I love that 2 of my kids have inherited my love of spontaneity and all 3 have inherited my sarcasm), I never know what time it is because I don't believe in wearing a watch and rarely do I care, we laugh more, we sing more & we dance always-much to the dismay of my oldest, who discourages public dancing, but laughs at us anyway.  Life is more enjoyable being imperfect for the kids and for me...and if I get tired I turn on a movie for them (usually something of the Superhero variety) and I rest.  And it's o.k.  
"Life is too short to be anything but happy".