Tag Archives: Parenting

Saying Thank You… for a real good time.

My family and I just got back from a wonderful, fun-filled, never stressed, not a mean word spoken, everything went perfectly, vacation.  

Anybody ever have one of those?  

Really?  

No, I’m kidding. Kinda.  It was an absolutely fantastic vacation to Colorado even if I tend to “Clark Griswold” the whole trip.  

Super sketchy mountain passes, in a rental, might not be the best place to test your teenage son’s driving skills. At least I know the passenger side brake worked. Along with my yelling skills. (My husband would like to add there’s never ever been any doubt about my yelling skills.)   Luckily he did a great job — because it was nighttime and he was unable to “see” exactly how many feet we would plummet to our deaths if he swerved. “It’s all part of the experience…” 

But we did not plummet to our untimely deaths. Instead this family vacation consisted of only one missed flight and only one major fall. That’s a pretty darn good record in our family. The fall involved my middle son, a mountain bike, a gravel “road” and a wonderfully executed flip. We turned down the offer for Ski Patrol. Nothing like a $3000 bill for some gauze and band-aids. But hey, what kind of vacation would it be if everything went smoothly.    

I can tell you  there were no wheelchairs nor hangovers (though both would’ve come in handy).  Just good ‘ol family fun.  

My husband needs to be a "Flower Photographer".

My husband needs to be a "Flower Photographer".

 

This picture is right before I yelled, "Jason, don't let her touch those!"

 

We used to live in Colorado and we always like to drive by houses and places where we used to live. (That’s a lot of houses and a lot of places because I refuse to bloom where I’m planted.) Anyway, as we winded down some road in some valley looking for one of our old houses, my teenage son remarked, “I just don’t understand how people don’t go crazy living all the way out here.”  

My husband answered: “They do.”  

Then I added: “I did. But I was young and you were in Kindergarten, your brother was 18 months old and I didn’t have any friends near by. Papa worked an hour away Monday thru Friday and I waited tables at the local hole-in-the-wall on the weekends.”  

Ah, my first real taste of depression.  

Treeline

 

Good times. However this particular little house on the side of the mountain holds some really fond memories involving a raging forest fire, no car and an old Christmas tree under the back deck.  

Despite all that, I can honestly say I miss Colorado. Just not the tiny house 30 minutes from the nearest grocery store. Or waiting tables. Or forest fires. Or very little kids who don’t sleep through the night. Or the loneliness. But the mountains, the Sky and the people — I really really miss them.

Coupons and Romance in Aisle 13

I think I have a winner for my Twitter competition. Now if I can just figure out how to use the damn thing…Details coming soon.

It’s Sunday and I’ve straightened the house — so much easier than actually cleaning it and now I feel semi-accomplished. I’m in my work out clothes, so my head’s in the right place. Even if I don’t actually exercise, at least I thought about it enough to get dressed.  Ah, today is turning into one accomplishment after another.

My lovely husband and I just had the previous night off from the kids. And what did we do on a kid-free Saturday? I’m embarrassed to admit it. We cut coupons, went grocery shopping, worked on a business plan, and then watched a steamy foreign film and … well I’ll leave the last part off the internet. It was a good night and now today, I’ve straightened the house…Mission accomplished. Where’s my banner and battleship?

Because currently I’m so utterly boring and I have no drama worth mentioning, I will leave you with some pictures.

A lovely picture from my garden…yeah right.

I kill fake house plants.

This is what I built last weekend, so you can see why today I feel so accomplished. I fluffed couch pillows…

I took a hike through some magical misty woods, until I spotted some weird building off in the distance.

Then I got lost in the plains of South Africa.

Ok, so I didn’t really do any of these things; my husband did…But did I mention I straightened the house?

Here’s to hoping your weekend was as “accomplished” as mine.

Indecisiveness

I want to add a Twitter account, so I can update the world regularly on my awesome parenting advice and world domination. I mean if you could see how well my kids behave, how clean their rooms are and the fact they start every morning, after bringing me breakfast in bed, with:

“Mommy, after we’re done feeding the homeless, what can we do for you today?”

You would understand why you need me in your life — on a daily basis. Moment by increasingly dull moment. Not sure how to parent your kid effectively, read this. Wondering how to talk to your teenager, have no fear, check out this.  Thinking of improving your marriage? Look no further, I have all the answers here. I’m practically an expert on everything and I have the checkbook, the debt, the kids who adore me and the perfect marriage to prove it. Face it, you really can’t go on without me and my “advice”. (See, you didn’t even realize I was giving advice, did you? Don’t worry, neither did I.)

So, help me think of a name for a Twitter account. It can only be 15 letters.  Your spouse, life partner, mother, sister, boss, friend will thank you for it. Or at least I will…

Yeah sure, I’ll talk to him

I got a call from one of my kid’s teachers today. It was the same story I’ve heard many times before. This time it went something like this:

Teacher: “Your son has been told numerous times to come into the class and put away his books. He consistently fails to do it in time; he’s too busy talking.”

Me: “Yes, he told me he had 5 points deducted because he had his book in his lap.”

Teacher: “Yes, it’s supposed to be inside his desk or at his feet.”

Me: “Oh, ok.”

Teacher: “I give them all a couple of minutes to put away their things in the beginning of class, but your son never pays attention to the time.”

So that’s when I tell them in the shortest length possible, I know. I know he’s unable to do anything in the exact time alloted. He daydreams, he fidgets, he creates things with paperclips etc…but never what you ask him to do right that second. Then I apologize and tell them I’ll talk to him. His story is entirely different, but there are still enough similarities to see and sympathize with the frustration he’s feeling.

We can go on and on that it must be our parenting; he must listen and instantly obey. But…he’s not going to. The reason I know this is because his father is the same way.  He doesn’t even hear half of the things going on around him. He, like my son, can observe the tiniest object in  a place no one would ever look and remember its exact placement, but realize the person in front of him is on fire — no way. They could both instantly recognize a tree has lost 3.5 leaves from a certain branch they walked by the other day, but if you asked them to hand you a pair of scissors they will forget by the time they reach the drawer. Meanwhile they’re contemplating where those 3.5 leaves could have gone. And if they did go somewhere it was probably some far off land…

You know, the far off land where only “artsy” people’s minds wander. I imagine it looks something like The Yellow Submarine movie or a Van Gogh painting.

I know it must be annoying if you’re a teacher. I know it is as a mother and as a wife. It’s annoying to me because I am so firmly planted in this world… I’m a complete and total stressed out mess. There is no wandering to a far off land; I’m too busy worrying about the dirt that’s right under my feet.

And you know what? I’ll never be an artist. I’ll never “see” what these people see. I’ll never live in their far off land. And you know what? That Sucks for me.

The more time goes by the more I realize, public school doesn’t teach you anything but the basics and if you’re “special” in any sort of way it’s just something  hopefully you can deal with and still come out of with at least a speck of self-esteem.  Basically, school — you suck.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

So I’ve been at a loss for what to write, besides those great stories that come into my head while I’m falling asleep. Gosh those are good stories, the verbage is so eloquent, everything falls into place and comes out exactly how I mean it.  It’s perfect. Novels, blog entries, the little assignment sent home by one of my children’s teacher asking me to describe my child, man they’re so good. I should get a tape recorder.

But alas, all I have is the dribble that comes out in the daytime.

It’s back to school time here in the South. Yes, the kids have heat advisories warning them to stay inside for recess, but there is air conditioning which is more than our house had for half the summer.  Anyway, even though it’s hot, it’s time to “get it together”. The routines, the bedtimes, the early wake-ups, the homework, the after school activities, the babysitters, the forms (oh my God – why are there so many forms?), dinner at a reasonable time, the homework, did I mention the forms?

It’s a time better suited to cooler weather. Cooler weather tends to make you want to have some routine. Hunker down so to speak (that’s a Florida term for what you do when a hurricane is coming — why I thought it works here, I don’t know). You know you feel the need to get things done, the need to “make it happen”.  Summer is better suited to lazy days at the pool, vacations, sleep-overs, margaritas, water with everything – just not my margaritas. A time when you swear you’re going to start working out everyday and look fabulous in a swimsuit, but not today…Today is for drinking and lying slovenly in a chair by  the pool. Plus it’s too damn hot to work out, I break out in a sweat just reaching over to lift my wine soda out of the cooler.

They’ll close the pool in a week or two, truly signaling the end of summer. The temperature is expected to be in the 80’s; who could possibly swim in that? In a few weeks we’ll start turning on the fireplace to discount the air conditioning which is set at 65. And I’ll start eyeing my boots and scarves, thinking – well, it is awfully chilly in the house…

The routines will start to become, well, routine. We’ll settle in, getting used to the structured days. We’ll think of all we’re going to accomplish this year. I’ll volunteer think about volunteering  for too much and then whine I don’t have any time, spend too much at the grocery store and then think about where to go out to eat every night. I’ll be late to work because someone’s socks are not aligned properly on their toes. It will be another school year, another chance to get it right. Or another chance to really screw it up. But let’s think positive, right now it’s one last chance to spend the weekend in a lawn chair. One last chance to swear off jogging because it’s too darn hot, one last chance to think every night deserves a wine spritzer. One last chance to think eventually the kids will get in bed early.

I know, I know — who am I kidding? I’ll be saying the same thing come December; I’ll just change the type of drink.

A hefty dose of sour, to what is sure to be filled with saccharin.

There’s a little show on Sundays that I like to catch, called “Sunday Morning”, it’s full of  relevant news stories that aren’t made to offend or patronize or having you running for cover, because something sinister is right outside your door but  you must stay tuned until after the weather to discover what that is. It’s kind of like NPR on Valium. So I was psyched that they had a little piece on Erma Bombeck. I always loved Erma Bombeck, though she was before my time and I assume doesn’t have the audience she once did; my mother and grandmother had her books and I really enjoyed reading them. I was a mother at the totally mature age of 19, and was never the Martha Stewart type, so her hilarious stories of non-housekeeping and the boredom and insanity of motherhood struck a chord.

At the end of this piece on Bombeck, CBS showed a poll which stated 79% of mothers feel they have it worse off than their mothers. Ouch, we’ve come a long way baby. Hardly…but how could we feel that way? I’d like to say for starters it’s because kids today just plain suck, but I don’t want to deal with that therapy bill for my children so I’ll refrain. Now, for real, why? It could be our overreaching nature which I discussed here. Or maybe now we must be mothers and work outside the home to either keep up with the Joneses or even more likely, pay the electric bill.  Now, asides from our second full-time job, we are supposed to love motherhood more than anything. It’s supposed to be our sole reason for living. It is supposed to make us feel complete. Our house will be clean, our dinner table full of fresh healthy choices, our children will be stars not only in school but also in sports, our waist size will be small, our boobs huge, our savings fat, our college accounts for our kids even fatter, our style impeccable, our fundraising skills for the PTA exemplary, our success at our full-time paying job noteworthy, our parties legendary, our husbands  “satisfied”,  and us — well, what else could we possibly need besides the yearning to push our children for hours and hours on the swing?

Now while my husband is out-of-town working for Mother’s Day again, my spoiled children will need to be yelled out to clean the kitchen, my youngest will sit  and eat potato chips for breakfast because I their mother didn’t get to the grocery store, I’ll read the text from my father who every year reminds me it’s Mother’s Day (not like I haven’t been a mother for over 16 years, but just in case I forgot) and  I will be in bed seething with jealousy over a sister who chose to forgo that ever-present urge to never sleep soundly again and not have kids.

Happy Mother’s Day, may yours be more fulfilling than mine.

“You guys wanna go see a dead body?”

The other night my husband and I, along with our two younger children, decided to watch a movie together on a Saturday night. After skimming the selections it was a little um…challenging. I had to satisfy myself, my husband, a soon to be 12 year-old boy and my 5 year-old girl. Now, I of course wanted to watch “Up in the Air” but knew this was not quite a family movie. My daughter wanted “Princess and the Frog”, my son just wanted to go on the computer and my husband wanted some Mommy-Daddy time. Then I saw it, “Yes this will be a perfect Rated R family movie, and it’s FREE!”.  A movie seen so many times in my youth I could recite it…“Stand By Me”.  Before you judge, I curse like a sailor on a daily basis so I wasn’t opening up my children to anything they hadn’t heard before. My 5 year-old has a fascination with death,  so I knew the search for a dead body wouldn’t frighten her and I thought my son would enjoy it as much as I did at his age.

It was really interesting seeing the movie again, as an adult with a completely different perspective. I was struck by so many things in the movie.  I had forgotten the movie began with Richard Dreyfuss looking at an article in the paper about his childhood friend’s murder. I was already about to cry because although his real death (River Phoenix) was not murder, life imitating art in this sense was quite tragic.

But I’ll tell you what struck me the most: the kids’ freedom. Their ability to exist and explore. Of course this story is fiction, but in real life my childhood was full of adventure.

This doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. When did we become such a society of helicopter parents? I’m not idealizing the good ol’ days – they were really only golden to white males (middle and upper class white males). Even River Phoenix’s character bemoans his feelings of being trapped and stereotyped in a small town because he’s poor. Today we have a lot more opportunities for growth and the ability “to get out”. But will the next generation have the courage? These children can rarely leave sight of their hovering parents. Don’t start telling me about all the dangers. I refuse to believe that there is a child molester lurking around every corner. If there is, there’s always been one and children today will have no coping skills to fend them off.

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Crime and kidnapping were just as prevalent as it is today, but I still took off on my bike in the morning and didn’t return home until dinner.  I actually remember trips to the store with a note from a friend’s mom to purchase her cigarettes. There were bullies, there were fights, there were broken teeth, bones and skin. There was that time I drove my bike off the dock into a moccasin infested lake.  My friends and I adventured through the woods, backyards which were supposedly off-limits, and sides of curvy  roads with no shoulders. We encountered danger and made it up when it wasn’t there. We rode our bikes across busy streets. We were essentially left alone. We were important to our parents and we knew it, but we also understood we weren’t the only focus of their lives. If there had been a dead body, my friends and I would’ve probably found a way to sneak off and go see it.

All dressed up -- right before we really grew up.

Our adventures as kids helped us navigate our much more difficult and challenging teenage adventures. When a friend’s car was stolen in New York City and we weren’t supposed to be there, our parents said “Hmmm, deal with it.” They didn’t come rushing to save us. Of course back then we could still be kids and teenagers and do stupid things and not ruin our life. Now, if a teenager is caught doing some of the things we did, they would probably be thrown in jail or out of school. The consequences are harsher now; is that why we hover? Is it the constant 24 hour news of all the terrible events of the past day? Did we do too much as children and are frightened our children will do the same? Or is it something as vain as believing our child is a complete reflection of us and everything and anything they do shows our incompetency as parents and individuals?

It’s interesting to ponder and I’m sure this constant hovering, over-scheduling, and over involvement will have its consequences. What those will be, who knows?  But don’t worry, we’ll find a mother to blame…