Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Don’t Forget

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Evan is 5 years and 3 months old.

He refuses to let me cut his hair, even though it is getting long and shaggy and gets stuck in his goggles when he tries to swim. Swimming is the only sport or activity he wants to be signed up for, although he said in the fall he’d like to try football.

Evan loves cereal more than any other food. He would rather eat cereal than ice cream or candy or soda or anything else. Sometimes it’s understandable (who doesn’t love Lucky Charms?) but sometimes it’s something really random, like Honey Bunches of Oats. This week it was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which he had never actually eaten before but INSISTED I buy at the grocery store. He ate 4 bowls between noon and bedtime.

He is a really good helper and will try to do anything you ask, even if he’s not physically capable of doing it. But he is willing to TRY and then ask for help if he needs it. It’s such an amazing grown up skill that even a lot of real grown ups struggle with.

If you ask him to describe himself, he’ll say he’s a ginger and he’s brave.

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Caroline is 3 years and 7 months old.

She thinks all “3″s and “C”s belong to her personally, so when she sees them on signs or in stores she wants to take them home.

All of her toys have basically the same name. Her toy horse is called Horse. Her zebra is named Zebra-Zeeb. A stuffed duck is named Ducky Duck Duck. The only exceptions are her two baby dolls, who are named Baby Memba and Baby Jesus. Obviously.

Caroline calls herself a “curly girl” because people are always commenting on her beautiful hair. Then she finger-twirls her curls because she’s in an invisible contest for the cutest child ever.

Today she told me that “duplicate” is when there is more than one of you, like when you look in the mirror.

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Both children have no fear or strangers or people. They will ask to be friends with anyone and get sad when their “new friends” (aka the girl they met in the waiting room, the bagger at the grocery store, a random guy who held the door at the mall) leave.

They ate 3/4 of a watermelon today. A real full size watermelon.

They are best friends. They often try to kill each other. I hope nothing changes.

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Dance Mom

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Caroline had her first ballet recital on Friday night. She’s taken 13 weeks of classes and she’s only three and half, which means about 75% of the performance was her staring into the wings to watch the teacher and 25% was her screaming the words to “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” with a giant, dramatic point at the audience for every “Texas!!!!!!!”

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That was pretty standard for the entire class, although there were a couple of girls who you can imagine on So You Think You Can Dance in 15 years (or whatever the 2030 equivalent is – So You Managed  To Not Let Technology and Common Core Ruin Your Life And Are Capable Of Expressing Emotion With Your Movement Directly Into Our Brains??). They’ll say things like “I’ve always loved being on the stage” and “I can just feel the music and connect with it naturally.”

Caroline will probably not be that girl. I mean, this is a really early prediction and far be it from me to crush her dreams in any way and if she wanted to spend the next decade in dance classes I will be NOTHING but supportive. But I do not thing dance is going to be her thing.

Dress rehearsal was…long. And a little stressful. The class is through a local town’s parks & rec department but the instructor REALLY wants the kids to do a good job so she can be capital-I Intense. There may have been some yelling because the 3 year olds didn’t have the laces on their ballet shoes tucked in. There was some public scolding about an improper hair clip. The teacher is basically a SAINT for dealing with. like, 100 kids whose parents don’t care enough to pay for fancy dance but want a recital anyway, but even saints lose their shit a little bit right before curtain.

By the end of rehearsal, when all Caroline had left to do was the Hokey Pokey with the rest of the little kid classes, she lost it. She was the kid – the only kid – who ran off stage crying that she wanted her mommy and didn’t like dance anymore. I left Evan to misbehave in the audience while I tried to coax Caroline back on stage.

When I say “coax”, I mean I tried every single thing I could think of that didn’t involve physically dragging her on stage and leaving her there. I told her she needed to be a big girl. I told her she could quit if she wanted to and we could go home. I told her she was being ridiculous. I promised her ice cream if she would JUST STOP freaking out. I told her everyone got scared before they went on stage and it was totally OK and I loved her no matter what. I told her dancing was FUN and she LOVED dancing and why didn’t she want to do some FUN DANCING on the stage?

I don’t really know what my parenting style might be called, but it is definitely not “consistent”. I have no idea what I am doing.

The next night, before the actual performance, she threw a fit again. I was supposed to drop her off with her class back stage but every time I tried to leave her eyes filled with tears. There was an incident with her hair bow (apparently it was on the wrong side and needed to be moved despite the fact that no one had EVER said ANYTHING about WHICH SIDE it needed to be on before WHATEVER I DON’T CARE) and she started crying again. I went back to comfort her (mistake!) and she started the clinging/crying/yet insisting she DID want to dance cycle all over.

I left. I sat in the audience with all my crossables crossed that she at least WENT on stage, even if she just stood there.

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And she did great! Once she was out on the stage under the lights she performed and hammed it up and blew kisses. She loved the applause and the cheering and being the center of attention. She did both routines as perfectly as I could have hoped from a 3 year old. It was adorable.

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But even though it ended well, I’m not sure how I feel about signing her for more classes. I don’t want to be the mom who pushes her kid to perform when she doesn’t want to. I didn’t like snapping at her not to mess up her hair or smush her skirt. I am embarrassed that I was embarrassed when she was upset and even though she knows I am SO proud of her I don’t want her to feel disappointed in herself if she messes up. I loved dance class when I was a kid but never really loved the recital part. To this day I have that nightmare where you show up backstage and realize you have NO idea how the routine goes.

I am probably (definitely) overthinking this. Caroline is 3. If she says she wants to take ballet again in the fall, she can take ballet again in the fall. If she DOESN’T want to do the recital next June, she doesn’t have to do the recital. I do not have to have a philosophical discussion with myself over Intro Ballet or Beginner Tap and whether or not I am turning into a crazy Dance Mom after ONE recital. If you ask Caroline right now if she liked performing she will say “YES!” and shout at you about the stars at night and their largeness and brightness. That’s really what matters. But I think I learned something about myself and my parenting I am not sure I’m totally sure I like what I learned.

Let’s ignore my poor parenting and just squee over how adorable my daughter is instead.

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Adorable cowgirl themed finale costume handmade by me…HAHAHAHAHA NO, I bought it on Etsy. I could have tried to find her some jeans and a bandanna but this was easier to do from the couch.

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I Am A Better Parent When No One Is Watching

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Caroline doesn’t know how to walk. She skips or runs or jumps or hops or flings herself forward in space with no concern for where she will land. Right now she mostly gallops, which often ends in tripping over her own feet while shouting “Mommy I’m galloping like a horse!”

Yesterday on the way to the car for school she galloped herself right onto her face, slamming into our brick walkway hard enough that she reacted with stunned silence instead of immediate tears. I reacted exactly the way you are supposed to, calmly and tenderly, scooping her up to quickly assess the damage without scaring her or focusing on her pain. I collected the things she had dropped and got her into her car seat before I grabbed my well-stocked first aid kit from my purse. I told her I was going to clean off her knee (which luckily was the only injury bad enough to need attention) and wiped it with an antibacterial wipe without ever mentioning that “it might sting a little”. Since I didn’t TELL her it might hurt, she didn’t even notice. I let her pick a bandage (big or little?) and help me unwrap it and stick it over the scrape. Then I suggested maybe her baby doll had gotten a scrape too, so we put a band-aid on Baby’s knee.

The whole thing took maybe 90 extra seconds and no one cried. When we got to preschool, she flung herself out of the car and galloped inside, having completely forgotten her booboo. I looked around my empty car and thought “Man, I wish someone had been recording that. I am an AWESOME parent right now.”

After school we had doctor’s appointments. Two for me – non-stress test and ultrasound – and Evan’s 5 year well-child visit. Both kids were fine through my visits (due 1% to my stern talking-to about how they needed to be quiet and calm and due 99% to the fact that I brought both iPads and the hospital has public wifi) but they were D O N E by the time we got to Evan’s check-up.

When the nurse asked Evan to take off his clothes and put on the paper gown he stomped his foot and said “I DON’T WANT TO”. I bent down to his level and simultaneously bribed and threatened him: “If you can be a good listener during your check-up we will go get ice cream AND cheeseburgers. If you are naughty you will go home and sit in your room with NO iPad.” He glared at me with his arms crossed while the nurse waiting and I wondered what good parents do in this situation.

It went down hill from there.

I lied about his finger poke, saying it didn’t hurt at all (it does and I used to freak out even more than he did when I was little). When he flailed and screamed I held him down and said “KNOCK IT OFF YOU ARE FINE!” instead of being calm and understanding. I did a lot of clenched-teeth hiss-whispering after the nurse left, but none of it worked. When the doctor came in he wouldn’t cooperate, wouldn’t hold still, wouldn’t be quiet. I alternated between standing back and helplessly doing nothing and getting right in his face to threaten/bribe as he cringed.

The whole time I was acutely aware of how I looked, how I came across as a mother, what the whole office staff was thinking about me. What they said when they left the room or after I had dragged the kids out to the car. I am sure none of it was good.

I think it’s that self-conscious awareness that makes me a better mother when I am alone. It’s the opposite of the stereotypical dysfunctional family – we appear to be a mess in public but at home, behind closed doors, I am calm and understanding and loving.

(Don’t get me wrong, we are a yell-y kind of family. There is often yelling. especially when my children have occasional bouts of deafness after being asked to pick up the Legos or go put on their jammies or to PLEASE JUST STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHER.)

But without the scrutiny of strangers to judge my behavior (or more accurately, my children’s behavior) I am more confident in my parenting. When I lose my temper or get to the end of my rope I can regroup and reassess without anyone watching. Of course, it also means I can just IGNORE them when they are horrible, instead of dealing with it. But that also gives me more time to think about what I am doing, instead of reacting with something, ANYTHING to just make them stop.

I’m about ready to move to that commune my friends and I joke about, where we raise goats and co-parent everyone’s kids and no one judges you if your 3 year old throws herself on the ground screaming because you wouldn’t let her bring SEVEN different stuffed animals/dolls to the store. Again.

Although even commune-living would require trips to Target, so I don’t think parenting entirely unjudged is ever possible. I can only dream.

 

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Five Is Not My Favorite

Thursday, May 1st, 2014
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His hair looks lopsided because his hair is lopsided. He trimmed it himself.

Someone at Evan’s school taught him a good way to annoy people is to repeat everything they say. So now he can take anyone in the house from calm to BLIND MURDEROUS RAGE in approximately 6 sentences.

Me: Evan can you please put your shoes on?
Evan: Evan can you please put your shoes on?
Me: Ha ha very funny. Knock it off.
Evan: Ha ha very funny knock it off.
Me: STOP DOING THAT RIGHT NOW.
Evan: Stop doing that right now.
Me: I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL THROW EVERY ONE OF YOUR TOYS IN THE TRASH AND YOU WON’T EVEN SEE AN IPAD FOR A MONTH IF YOU DO THAT EVEN ONE MORE TIME YOUNG MAN.
Evan: I…ok Mommy!
*Skips off oblivious to how close he was to being left at a the fire house*

At least once a week when his bus driver pulls up she has The Look on her face and I mentally add $5 to her end-of-the-year Dunkin Donut gift card. This week he was mad he had to sit next to someone and spent the whole ride home trying to push him out of the seat. They were buckled together, which made the pushing useless, but lead to a fair amount of screaming. “Pre-k bus driver” might be the worst job in the world, but being the parent who is constantly apologizing for their kid’s horrible behavior sucks too.

The other day I asked Evan if he wanted a turkey sandwich for lunch. He said “No thank you”. I made one for Caroline and put everything away. Less than 5 minutes later he was practically climbing the walls, wailing about how he would DIE if he didn’t get a turkey sandwich right now. I’m not even sure what I’m SUPPOSED to do in that situation. It was lunch time, he was definitely hungry. A turkey sandwich is a reasonable lunch request. But he said no! And I told him if he said no he didn’t get another chance! So which is the more important part of parenting here: following through with what I said or feeding my hungry child?

I made him a turkey sandwich.

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Five is basically the same as a teenager, but with way less impulse control and emotional maturity. He has SO MANY FEELINGS and deals with a lot of complicated social situations – friends and best friends and who can sit with who at school and whether or not they wear pink on Wednesdays – but for the very first time. It’s hard to even watch, it must be super hard to try to navigate as a little tiny person.

In the mornings, before he gets on the bus, we sit together on the front steps. Most mornings he still wants to sit on my quickly-disappearing-lap and snuggle a little, which is TOTALLY FINE with me. But it only takes one wrong question (Do you think you’ll have fruit for snack? Isn’t that flower a pretty color? Would you like your very own pony??) for him to go from cute and cuddly to the mayor of Grumpypants Town. I don’t even like driving through Grumpypants Town, let along socializing with its elected officials.

Luckily the times he’s not being impossible he’s amazing and super fun and likes me to play the radio loud in the car so we can both sing along badly. But five is not my favorite.

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Spring Break 2014 (NoVa/Washington DC)

Monday, April 21st, 2014

This was not “Spring Break woo-hoo!” I don’t think I’ve ever been on a woo-hoo kind of Spring Break and I am definitely too old for it now. Plus my pregnant belly would totally get in the way during drunk limbo contests.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t have a wild and crazy trip to visit my parents in Virginia. Going to DC during cherry blossom season? AND while everyone is out of school? AND not bringing a stroller?? I live dangerously.

Before our trip into the city, we tried to make the best of some pretty bad spring weather. Our neighborhood is full of paved paths, playscapes and little creeks, so I had the bright idea to go play outside even though it was raining. I patted myself on the back for packing boots and raincoats, even though patting myself on the back never, ever ends well. After about 5 minutes poking rocks with sticks and looking for frogs it went from sort-of-drizzly to torrential-downpour. It was pretty clear our trickly little creek wasn’t going to stay cute and shallow for long, so we booked it home for some dry clothes and Disney movies.

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The rain cleared out overnight but the sun came with lots of cold wind. I tried to keep the kids entertained inside but they were way too crazy. Bouncing off the furniture crazy. Tantrums over nothing crazy. Make me want to run away and leave them there forever crazy. So we bundled up and walked to the elementary school playground for them to burn off some of the crazy.

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And that brings us to Thursday. THURSDAY. The day I realized just how much my oldest child is like me when it comes to crowds, being hungry, being tired and did I mention crowds? I hate crowds. HATE. And if crowds were bad enough, it was crowds of field trips, big families and strollers. So many strollers.

Personally, I am greatly enjoying having children at an age where we don’t HAVE to have a stroller. No diapers = no diaper bag = purse I can fit enough stuff in but it’s too heavy to carry all day + children who have seemingly endless energy = a math problem that defies all logic but means I didn’t bring a stroller into DC. I’m doomed to rejoin the Stroller Mafia in a few months and I still love/adore/worship/etc my Baby Jogger, but NOT dragging a stroller around makes me want to throw my arms in the air and shout “FREEEEDOOOOOOOOM!” It also makes me instantly intolerant of people with strollers who block aisles and hallways and walking paths and generally get in my damn way. It’s just one of the many ways I am not a very good person.

Luckily we planned our trip pretty well, catching a post-commuter-rush-but-still-early Metro into the city so we got to the Natural History Museum 30 minutes after they opened. All the good exhibits were crowded but not so crowded I couldn’t stand it. The kids got annoyed and hungry pretty fast though, so we went for lunch early. It was an excellent (lucky) choice, since when we LEFT the cafeteria the line to get it went all the way to the back entrance of the museum.

I do owe an apology and possibly an explanation for my child’s behavior during lunch to anyone who happened to be in the Natural History Museum last Thursday. I promise I did not actually beat Evan, spank Evan, hit Evan or torture him in any way. I did not tell him I hated him or he was an accident. I MAY have threatened to leave him with DC police after 20 straight minutes of crying, but at that point it wasn’t so much a threat as something I was actually considering. What caused such a huge disturbance in the force, you may ask? I didn’t let him carry his very own cafeteria tray.

Trust me, that was NOT a hill I was prepared to die on, and if I had known he really wanted a tray he could have had a damn tray. He just didn’t NEED a tray, so when we went through the line I said “No, we can share” and then breezed in to grab our food. By the time I realized he was sobbing silently behind me it was too late to go back for a tray and mine was too full to let him carry it on his own. TRAGEDY.

I made him stand in a corner for a while, but the judgey looks from other people got to me so I planted him in a seat at our table and eventually he calmed down enough that he actually ate most of his food, drank some Cherry Coke (DESPERATE MOTHER IS DESPERATE) and ate a dinosaur cookie. SHOCKINGLY, once he was no long hungry he perked right up and we enjoyed the rest of our visit. The crowds eventually got too bad to fight and the kids kept needing to sit down for breaks, so we left the museum to walk on the mall.

I was too sore already (stupid pregnancy sciatica) to make it to any of the monuments, but as soon as they were out in the fresh air and sunshine the gingers got a second wind and begged to ride the carousel. Their very generous grandmother said yes that I am confident it was the highlight of their day.

Based just on our pictures you can’t tell at all that it wasn’t a super fun trip, which is basically the foundation of blogging, right?

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We only misplaced Creepy Baby ONCE for a few minutes in the rocks & stones hall. Thank God my mom realized it and we found her quickly.

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We drove home Friday to discover E DIDN’T have to work all weekend, the weather in CT was at least as nice as in Virginia and that both children were totally exhausted from our trip. It was a lovely, relaxing Easter weekend with approximately 75% more sleeping and fewer tantrums. Apologies again to everyone in NoVa/DC/especially my parents.

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