Sunday, November 30, 2008
Despite the lingering "growing boy" odor, the frustrating build-up of trash and food debris, several cups half-filled with old milk, and the significant peril of a major Lego injury, cleaning Jack's room is one of the more fun cleaning jobs in my house. This is not just because Jack comes flying in to his room and proclaims how he loves his room looking like "this!", but it is truly a fascinating (and sometimes joyous) experience.

The first task is to open the window and remove all offending items (trash, cups, dirty laundry, etc). Once that is complete, I can move on to the fun part....seeing what the toys are up to.

Everywhere I turn, I find toys in various staged scenes. GI Joe fighting with a Transformer or dinosaur. Playmobil knights defending their castle which is being invaded by Ben 10 aliens. A piece of paper with a lake drawn on it with Lightening McQueen and Mater going for a swim. Lego Indiana Jones in an intergalactic battle with Darth Vadar. Stickers placed in strategic locations on the walls. Books open for reference. Blanket tents. Yarn zip wires strung across the furniture for the GI Joes and Luke Skywalkers. Secret hide outs. Rocks. Sticks. Straws.

I'm guessing cleaning his room will not always be this fun. However, when I do it now, I actually feel like we might be doing ok. He's got a great imagination. Keeps himself busy and engaged. And, most of all, his play seems happy.

I really wish there was a good way to capture the feeling of discovering the scenes acted out in the privacy of his own room at 5:30 in the morning, but I don't want him to know I'm watching. He might stop. I'll just have to settle for the memory on this one.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I was thinking that there is definitely a different level of appreciation in our house in regards to the kids. It isn't that we don't both appreciate or find joy in them, but my theory is that primary care givers get a greater variety in the quality of parent-child interaction. (E.g the primary care giver gets more of the crappy hours, therefore less of the joy.) Not only that but the "lesser around" primary care giver gets the ardent farewells and the joyous returns each day and the novelty of the time together.

The big problem is that this stinks! I don't like to be frustrated, loud, and grumpy about the kiddos. I don't want to complain or be negative about them. I love them limitlessly and don't want to feel any negativity around them. But all good things are hard earned, I guess.

Who appreciates the kids more in your house? Is this just my household or am I experiencing normal parental angst?
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Being a child is hard. There's so much to learn and the bar is set quite high. It's no surprise really that few of us come out of childhood unscathed and I'm wondering if it has something to do with the strange, paradoxical expectation that we want our children to be both normal and unique. Interestingly, the trip through adulthood seems to be about fighting this paradox as well. Some of us want to be more "normal" while others of us want to be more "unique".

We spend a lot of time as parents asking ourselves, each other, our doctors, our teachers, and everyone in between if a behavior is "normal". Along side that is the hope and expectation that our children are treated as unique individuals and identified as special amongst their peers. For example, we want our "normal" children to get "straight As" in school. Is that possible? By definition, an "A" is awarded to excellent work. Not "normal" work.

Not that this is a news flash, but we live in a VERY competitive culture. The normal/unique paradox is almost the catalyst of this cultural issue. It is the classic battle between nature and nurture. The drive to survive and blend-in against the social expectation that we are more than we may be able to be. Living constantly in the disappointment of ourselves. It's no wonder self-esteem in children is at an all-time low. It makes me wonder if "acting out" a way to satisfy this mysterious expectation.

And what about all those children who can never be "normal"...those who are living a more dramatically unique life because they were given to us that way? How do they fit in to this picture?

I honestly don't know what the solution is, if there even is one. I'm just troubled by the issue and wanted to shine some light on it. As a typical parent, of course I want my child to be normal in "all the right ways" and unique in "all the right ways", but more than anything I'd like to find a way to reconcile the conflict. It's may easier if we're normal, but can be more fun if we're unique.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I'll just start by saying I have my moments. In these moments (which are few and far between....right?) I've been known to drop a few etymological bombs, especially in those moments of extreme parental exhaustion or frustration.

The problem is that my 5-year old was also dropping the same bombs. Perfectly targeted, I might add. (He's nothing if he's not smart! I'm so proud.)

Surprisingly, this does not always make for a good laugh (especially when they are used appropriately), so I was trying to figure out a way to undo the 5-years of programming that I mistakenly instilled in my beautiful, young son. I'd tried a few things....not reacting, ignoring, time outs, rationalizing, yelling (minus the bombs), etc...but with no success.

But one evening, I was half-watching an odd TV show called "Dexter" where the main character is basically a sociopathic serial killer whose day job is a crime scene technician. (As you can imagine, he's quite good.) There was a brief scene in the show that tickled my consciousness.

A young "tween" boy swore in front of the sociopath, Dexter, (while he was pretending to be normal with the boy). Dexter responded by saying, "Hey, grown-up words are for grown-ups. OK?" To which the boy readily agreed and they moved on.

I rolled my eyes, chuckled at the simplicity of it, said "if it were only so simple," and, then, I, too, moved on.

So, a few days later, I overheard my son giving my 2-year old daughter an Etymology lesson and reflexively spouted the only phrase I could think of to make it stop: "Grown-up words are for grown-ups." My son paused, said "OK", and moved on.

That was the last time he dropped any bombs of any significance. Once I caught a potential bomb being released and mentioned the "grown-up words for grown-ups" platitude and it stopped. Immediately.

Go figure. Thanks, Dexter.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

After weeks of struggling with this project, I've finally committed to a working job description for mothering. Surprisingly it is very, very simple. Interestingly enough, taking this journey has also shed a tiny bit of light on my husband's commitment to his job which I generally respect, but, frankly, I have always found hard to understand.

I decided to limit my work to mothering only so my description does not include the significant part of my life dedicated my to marriage. I think caring for my spouse and caring for my kids may appear similar on the surface, but are in fact very different. (And I'm guessing that is a bone of contention is most marriages.)

So here goes:

To be a mother requires a commitment to equal parts nurturing, protecting, and defending the body and soul of my children with unconditional love at all times.

Body and soul encompasses:

  • Self-esteem and emotional health (including fostering independence,
    connectedness, confidence, and sensitivity)
  • Physical health (including nutrition, wellness, and hygiene)
  • Intellectual health and development (including fostering problems solving and creativity)
  • Social conscience and moral health
  • Social skill development
  • And probably many other components along the way.
Monday, November 17, 2008
One of the worst parts multi-child parenting is conversations like this:

ME: (on the phone) "Yes, I need to make a peds appointment, please?"
SON: "Mommy, where's my cat?"
ME: "Mason 1111....Jack, over there. And, in the future please refer to my new law before asking me to find something again....fever.....cough.....snotty nose"
SON: "Mom-mee! She's not there!"
ME: "...5 days...101...Jack, you didn't look."
SON: "Emma! You took my cat! Where is she?!"
DAUGHTER: Scream...Punch...Crying
SON: "Mommy! Emma punched me."
ME: "9:20....Jack, you yelled at her....Emma, no punching. Time out!....15 minutes early, ok...."
SON: "Mommy, my cat?!"
DAUGHTER: "I'm thirsty!"
ME: "Is that with the pediatrician?...Jack! Over there!...Hold on, Emma...No, leave your diaper on!"
SON: "Emma! Give me my cat! Mommy, Emma threw my cat!"
DAUGHTER: "I want juice!!!!!"
ME: "Jack, quiet. She is giving it to you!...Emma, say 'please!'...No! Not on the floor! Use the potty...Thanks. Have a nice day."
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
And the winner is Emma...103.9! A close race, but the victor is the 2-year old with an immune system of a 82-year old.

The first place prize is a gold-plated sippy cup trophey with an 6 oz. bottle of Children's Motrin. Photos will be held in the winner's crib.
Friday, November 7, 2008
It is after seconds of careful consideration that I am hearby submitting my resignation as the Household Lost Object Locator. I have decided that I am no longer qualified for the aforementioned position and am going to seek employment doing something more closely related to my skills, perhaps Laundry Sock Locator or TV Remote Supervisor.

I'm hoping that my resignation will help motivate our Household Congress to approve my proposed Object Orientation Law which works to address the common household problem of missing items.

Phrases banned by the new law include:

  • Do you know where
  • I can't find my....
  • But I looked for it!
  • I don't know where I saw it last.
  • Any another other similar or relating phraseology

Behaviors banned by the new law include:

  • Sulking
  • Crying
  • Whining
  • Moaning
  • Tantruming
  • Wandering around looking lost

Thank you for the opportunity to serve. I will be happy to provide limited on-the-job training to any person hired to fill the position.

Monday, November 3, 2008
As I prepare to have my life disturbed by these words yet again, my anxiety level begins to rise. Not only do these words mean that parenting is about to get harder due to distrupted sleep and family routines, but also they are a reminder than I'm basically unfit. Physically and mentally.

It's like I'm the target of some psychotic cosmic joke (or should I say nightmare) in which I'm living in a Cult for the Unfit where the loud speakers constantly remind you that you need to exercise, exercise, exercise.

If I'm lucky enough to sleep through the noise, I'm rarely lucky enough to ignore the message that it pumps in to my psyche. Many a time I've woken-up in a cold, anxious sweat with an overwhelming urge to get straight to the gym...only to realize that the gym is closed for an exercsie!!!!!!

Get a free hit counter here.