Whip of Fools

We have made it.  Stella has survived Summer Camp Season 2017.  For the next 2.5 weeks, she will be with one of her parents or grandparents.  Togetherness.  Oh yeah.

The particular camp she just finished culminated every week with a “talent show.”  Y’all.  It was so awful.  Those things are without a doubt the most painful things I have sat through as a parent thus far. 


For the most part, these were nerd kids.  This was not a group you would see featured on Fame or Glee.  With a few glaring exceptions, none of these children needed to be allowed anywhere near a stage.  Add in a handful of young, “hip” counselors who enjoy introducing kids to unfamiliar and horrible pop music and you have a new level of hell that Dante himself would be horrified by.


The first week, Stella “sang.”  Despite my misgivings, that was probably the least-awful “talent” she chose to exhibit.  She composed an original song.  It was very short.  Hence the “least-awful” part.   The next two weeks she chose to be a “dancer.”  Her “dancing” made Elaine Benes look like Anna freaking Pavlova.  

Her first week “dancing,” she performed to some horrendous song about a cheerleader.  Yesterday it was to something about whipping a nae nae.  Y’all, this shit made me feel like Archie Bunker.  What does it mean?  What the living hell is a nae nae?


My daughter is amazing and she is talented.  Her talents are not something you can package and put on a stage.  It doesn’t help that she refuses to take artistic direction.  She will/would not consider suggestions such as actually attempting any sort of choreography.  As such, I was the only parent in the room not taking pictures or videos.  My dad would beg me each week to send him a video.  I refused.  I wanted no evidence of these “talent shows.”  

I know.  I’m an asshole.  And I’m already scheming about next year.  We may be learning some magic tricks before next summer.  If I find a sparkly top hat, I can probably sell it to her.  Just please, glob, no dancing or singing or naeing.

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Scatterday

I’m in an odd place today.  Maybe it’s the delay of breakfast and caffeine earlier.  I had to do one of those health screening things this morning where you go in fasting.  This old gal is in pretty good shape.  BP, sugar, cholesterol all good.  Even my liver enzymes were in the solid green range.  So obviously I can drink wine with impunity.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Will picked up an old typewriter at the Take Apart Store. But rather than take it apart, they’ve been “typing” and fighting over it.

Stella right after I busted her for shoving her little brother out of the way. Jackassery, I tell you.

I think part of it is this summer thing.  The wheels are starting to come off the cart at this point.  Poor Stella is just done.  I knew the camp-hopping was going to get to her and it has.  Even though she’s in a familiar place this week, she’s starting to fall apart a bit.  She’s tired of holding her shit together.  My mom gut is in knots.  We were going to send her to yet another camp – just one more – next week, but I just can’t.  She just can’t.  I never had to do what I’m expecting her to do.  Neither did Will.  We weren’t expected to adapt to a new place, staff, and group of kids every single week when we were 6 years old.

Stella isn’t so great at articulating how she feels about things, but I can tell she’s anxious.  She asks me quite often what is next, then what after that, and then what about school.  I can tell she gets agitated during these discussions.

Will and I aren’t on the same parental page, or at least it doesn’t feel like it.  He’s more of a tough love kind of parent.  I’m more mama bear.  I want to protect my kid.  I want her to have fun and be happy and comfortable.  I don’t want to send her into situations where she’s more than likely going to fall on her face – where the expectations aren’t reasonable.  He thinks she needs to learn to adapt – to toughen up.  I agree, but adaptation by nature is a slow process.  That extra bit of conflict doesn’t help the way I’m feeling about it.  Maybe it’s naive, but I would love to have him just say “it’s ok, we’ll handle this,” and help me figure out what the hell we can do.

And my brain hurts, y’all.  I’m so tired of the schedule-wrangling, trying to figure out where she can be and how the Dude fits in, and who can fill in or be available as back-up.  What is plan B? Shit, what is plan D?  What about work?  Can I take her to work so I don’t burn up my leave?  How long can I reasonably expect her to keep her shit together at my office before she starts bothering people?  How long before my boss gets pissed?  I feel very alone with most of this.

Felix’s favorite seat in the house.

But hey.  We’re having a tea party at work on Friday.  It was my idea.  We’re all mad here.  May as well embrace that shit, oui?

Stella has been taking swimming lessons, which is good as the girl is absolutely fearless around water.  She’s doing awesome.  This past weekend, I was working on a crossword while she had her lesson.  I would glance down for the briefest of seconds and *boom* she’d have back-paddled halfway down the pool.  I felt a lot of gratitude at that moment – that A) she’s fearless, although to be fair, that can be a double-edged sword, and B) that there are people out there that are gifted in whatever discipline and are willing and able to teach others.  As her mom, I like to think I can teach my kid just about everything she needs to know (for now), but I gotta be honest: while I know how to swim, it’s ugly.

Felix getting a crash course on the balance beam at a recent birthday party

Peonies.  I want some.  I think they’re beautiful but apparently it gets too damn hot here for them to grow well.

Clearly I need more caffeine.

And we’re all just dyeing over here…

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Jekyll and Hide

I know, I know.  It’s been said to death: this parenting thing isn’t easy.  Sure, there are cute moments, and wine, and funny stories about poop, and wine, and precious memories, and wine.  But some days, you just don’t wanna do it.  I had one of those days on Saturday.

Y’all, I was bitchy.  For no apparent reason, bitchy.  It was that out of left field just because it was my turn to be bitchy bitchy.  I had zero patience.  None were spared.  I don’t even remember what all we did, and no, it’s not the wine.  I refrained from refreshing myself until at least 7:00 PM, seeing as how I had to take Felix to a birthday party.  I was disgruntled.  I was cross.  I am was burnt out.   I was mean, cantankerous, and pissed off.

And then I was appropriately guilty for being that way.

Sunday, for whatever reason, I woke up a different person.  I was kind, creative, and inspired.  I was patient and good.  The only thing I was missing was a big poofy ballgown, a giant tiara, a magic wand, and a name change to Glinda.  We dyed our hair.  We giggled over Snapchat filters.  We had a tea party.  There was a swimming lesson for Stella.  I don’t think I  yelled at them even once.  Wait.  I lie.  I yelled at them a bit at bedtime because dagnabbit I was watching Game of Thrones.

I definitely like myself better as a mom when I’m the good witch.  I know as parents we have to be the bad witch sometimes.  I just don’t like it when it doesn’t make sense.

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The Hair Tonight

It’s been a combination of lack of time and inspiration – why I haven’t been posting much, that is.  It’s the same old song every summer.  It’s too hot.  We don’t have a travel budget.  My daughter doesn’t do the lack of structure due to lack of school so well.  Granted, we’ve not had any terrible weeks since the debacle of art camp, but still.  I can tell she’s burnt out – that’s she’s weary of keeping her shit together.  So am I, for that matter.  I do my best to make stuff as fun as possible, but after 7-8 weeks, I’m tapped out.  I need a break.  I want to see movies – Wonder Woman, Spider Man.  I want to see something different, something new.  I want to breathe different air.  There just hasn’t been any opportunity, and it’s hard not to be bitter about that sometimes.

I’ve become one of those people who just hates a whole season.  I always shake my head at those who claim to hate Xmas or **shudders** Halloween.  But I trump them all with a hatred for an entire 3 months of the calendar year.  I’d love to get to where I love summer one day.  Maybe we, too, can travel and do fun whimsical things.  Maybe it won’t be a source of major anxiety.  Just not now.

Sorry. Whining done.

Shut up, Mom. No one is listening. Especially Felix.

Let’s see.  What’s been happening.  We’ve entertained a couple of times, which was a nice departure for us.  Both times went very well.  Both kids are taking swimming lessons.  I have no idea if my son is learning anything, as his happen when he’s at playschool and there’s no one to provide feedback.  For all I know, they took our $360 dollars and are just dunking him in the pool long enough for him to get wet and pick up that chlorine smell.  And yes, of course I ask my son about his lessons.  He usually responds with something about machines or minerals.

My job continues to be a job.  I was on the road the other day and saw a rainbow as well as a flock of spoonbills.  They are notable for being the only other pink non-flamingo bird I know of.  It’s a  trip seeing them in the air.  I would have photographed it all but I was driving and stuff.

I did take this picture – just not of a rainbow or spoonbills.

Something occurred to me today: our last full payment to my son’s playschool will be paid in the next day or so.  That’s huge.  That’s like one of those milestones like getting out of diapers or losing your first tooth.  Of course as with anything like that, the money has already been spent a dozen different ways in our  minds: home improvement/repairs, landscaping (so that our yard no longer resembles the Heart of Darkness), a new vehicle for my husband (as his car has less metal in it than one of Felix’s HotWheels cars), TRAVEL.

Sorry.  I was almost whining again.

To send you all forth into the weekend, I leave you glimpses of my first effort as a mother at coloring my daughter’s hair.  We went for “mermaid.”  I did ok, but learned a lot.  Next time will be better.  I wanted to dye the Dude, but he’s feeling very protective of his shaggy head at the moment.  He’s digging the “homeless” look.

Have a good weekend, y’all.  I’ll try to get my shit back together.

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Dude Awakening

Dear Future Felix (since I wrote to your sister last time),

How are you?  It’s been a quiet yet busy summer, I suppose.  We don’t have any vacation plans, so everything is local.  While all the vacation pictures other folks are posting online are killing me, you’re oblivious.  You go to your school, hang with the friends and teachers you’ve grown to love over the past 3 years, and now take swimming lessons during the days.  You know soon you’ll go to “big school” with Stella.  I have no idea how you’re going to react to that when the time comes.

I have really mixed feelings about all that.  I love your current school, and technically we could have let you stay another year.  But holy moly we’re about to save a ton of money.  It will be like getting an extra paycheck every month.  We’re not rich.  When your dad and I bought our house, we had all kinds of ideas for home improvement.  Then I got knocked up.  Then I got knocked up again.  And while you and your sister are amazing – my best work ever, I must say – you have taken lots of time and other resources over the past 6 1/2 years.  So yeah, our house looks like shit.  And back to the school thing – you and your sister will once again be at the same place.  You have no idea how convenient that is for your dad and me.

And I think you need it, honestly.  You are so freaking smart – every bit as smart as your sister.  But your brain works very differently.  You are my builder, my engineer.  Your mind is never quiet.  Neither is your mouth, but that’s another matter entirely.  Your imagination is the size of a football field.  But you are so far stubbornly refusing to learn your ABCs.  By  now, Stella was reading – a lot.  You?  I think you know more than you’re letting on, but you need to be challenged.  While it breaks my mom heart to think of you having to sit at a little table and wear those wretched depressing uniforms and not getting to  just play freely nearly as much, I think you’d start to get very bored if I left you where you are for another year.  So change is coming.  Lots of it.

Dude, I know I’m going to get lots of notes home and calls from the school this fall.  You simply cannot stop talking.  I have never met a child that talks as much as you do.  I don’t know how you can possibly think of that much to say.  And I’m your favorite audience.  I think it’s your way of processing what’s happening in your world.  You keep a running commentary going about whatever it is you’re thinking about.  And you ask a lot of questions.  Stella never did that.  You will ask me about a subject – tornadoes, sea cucumbers,  snakes, the circulatory system have all been favorites lately – and demand that I tell you more and more until my knowledge is exhausted and we get somewhere with wifi so I can look more shit up on YouTube.  Then you talk to me about it for hours.  You may be a Jeopardy champion one day, with all the random shit you’re absorbing.

I do want you to know something: as much as you wear my ass – and my ears – out sometimes, I am grateful every day that you’re here, mine, and that you are the way you are.  Your sister is amazing.  She’s brilliant.  She’s beautiful.  But she can break my heart and make me worry unlike any other.  You are my funny little dude.  Holy shit, are you funny.  You don’t even try to be.  You are my comic relief, and there have been days I would not have weathered nearly as well or gracefully without it.  Your latest?  You have claimed ownership of both of the goofy cactus pillows Stella insisted on buying at Michael’s one day.  Every night after I recite Wynken, Blynken, and Nod to you, you make me wedge them against either side of your head before I leave the room.  You look like a botanic male version of Princess Leia.  Who knows why?

Every night

I know you won’t always call me your MyMom or tell me that I’m your best friend.  That last part would be a bit creepy later on, anyway.  But no matter how big you get, you will always be my little bitty dude.  

One last thing.  Forgive me for all the chicken wings.  This was the week I discovered how easy they were to make in the oven from scratch, and since you and your sister both scarfed them down – leaving none for your father – we’ll probably be eating them a lot for a while.  Hurry up and learn to cook.

Love,

MyMom

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Shame Old Song

Dear Future Stella,

We’ve had a rough week.  This was art camp week.  It was supposed to be easy.  You love art.  You were familiar with the facility.  You knew a handful of the kids in the group already.  You had done art camps before – albeit run by different a organization – and had a ball.  And it’s art camp, right?  Stress free, easy peasy.

It was not.  You were written up the first day – arguing with a boy, they said.  They said it “nearly came to blows.”  I was dumbfounded.  You don’t even get rough like that with Felix, and glob knows he asks for it sometimes.  “Is there anything else going on we should know about?”  I hated her tone.  It was the bitchy, pseudo-concerned tone.  Fuck that tone.  Well, she has ADHD, you know, and each week she’s having to adjust to a new camp, staff, location.  It’s a lot for someone like her.  Tomorrow will be better, I said.  The second day, was not better.  You were being sort of restrained when I pulled up.  You  kids were all outside.  You were “trying to jump on the concrete block.”  I didn’t see what the big deal was, but they didn’t want anyone to get hurt.  But you had been  yelling.  All day.  Yelling.  I was flabbergasted.  You hadn’t acted that way in over a year.  What the hell?  And we had talked about all of it going into that day.  You would make better choices.  You wouldn’t act like a jerk-face.

I was embarrassed.  Why couldn’t you just do what you were supposed to do?  Why were you making me look like an asshole mom who doesn’t raise her children properly?

“Do you think it’s that ADHD again?”

I wanted to slap her.  Maybe she had brain fog.  Maybe she really did think that ADHD just fades and disappears like a rash.  What a  moron.  Why yes.  It is the ADHD.  Something is clearly triggering her, and she’s responding emotionally.  She did complain about the noise and I advised her to tell an adult and see if it was possible to go somewhere quiet for a bit to reset.  Did she do that?

Well yes, but they were in the middle of a project and they simply didn’t have the staff to accommodate that.

That’s ok.  Tomorrow is a new day, right?  Better choices.

Day 3 things fell apart.  I was called shortly before 2:00 to pick you up.  You had been written up 5 times.  You were a distraction to all the other children.  You had climbed into the garbage can and knocked it over (WTF??).  I immediately called your father to get you now.  His office was just right around the corner – same building.  He could keep you quiet and safe until I could make my way there.  Your father was angry.  I was shocked and angry and sad and scared.  This was not supposed to be happening.  And holy shit you had another week scheduled at the same camp later in the summer.  What the hell would we do?

I drove home that day trying to understand.  That’s my thing. I can make peace with something if I can understand the nuts and bolts, the whys.  I sent you to your room with instructions not to come out until you could answer that question.  Why did you behave so badly at camp?  What went wrong?  You came out a while later and quietly told me you just couldn’t control your body.  Well there you go.  Dammit.

I read these posts from ADD/ADHD moms, who trumpet that in their opinion, their child’s condition is a gift.  It’s not a disorder.  It makes them special and wonderful.  I have very mixed emotions about these posts.  On one hand, these women must be saints.  They must have a capacity for compassion and acceptance that I’m lacking.  On the other hand, I think they’re fucking idiots.  I look at the looming spectre of summer camps for years to come, the planning, the expense, the desire to give you good summers with fun AND enrichment, always knowing that it could all implode at any moment, and holy shit I don’t have much of a backup. 504 plan meetings.  Visits to your pediatrician every 3 months so we can keep your meds going.   It’s exhausting.  It makes me sad.  It makes me very angry.  At those moments, ADHD is the ugliest damn thing I can think of.  It causes behavior in you that can cloud all of your wonderful qualities.  People won’t know – or believe – that you get straight A’s and read at such a high level.  They won’t see how funny and sweet you can be.

And I have these thoughts and I hate myself for them.  I hate having weeks like this one, where I feel like all I’ve done is berate you or comment on negative things.  I don’t want you to feel less.  I want you to know you are loved and supported.  I don’t want you to think back and remember me as the bitchy mom and you as a fuck-up.

I also want you to know that what happened at art camp was not your fault – not entirely.  Hell, not even 25% from what I can tell.  When your dad came to get you that afternoon, he had to sign all 5 of your behavior reports.  He emailed me copies.  The most common phrases I saw on nearly all of them involved “not sitting in her seat and completing her art,” or “not listening to directions.”  One even used the word “MULTIPLE,” all in caps, just like that.  Was this art camp or an SAT prep course?  And hello?  ADHD?  At that moment I felt that calm quiet that can accompany white hot rage.  Fuck. Those. Bitches.  This was a damn Stepford camp.  You were “suspended” from activities for Thursday, including missing the field trip.  But you would go back to that place over my dead rotting corpse.

I called your dad and unloaded.  I was furious.  I was Mama Bear.  My rage only grew the next day, when I got a message from my friend.  Her son was in camp with you.  He had told his mother some of the things going down.  The staff yelled at all the kids.  A lot.  They told the kids that they were the “worst camp group” they’d ever had, that they would lose their field trip if they didn’t shape up.  And they called the time out area “The Dump.”  They would put kids in The Dump.  They put you -my daughter- in The Dump.  That’s why you were climbing in the goddamn garbage can.  Those twisted despicable women are the ones that gave you the idea – made you feel like you belonged with trash – not knowing or caring how very  literal you are.  So no wonder.  No wonder you were losing your shit.

There will be some blood, once we sort out getting you shifted into another camp later this summer.  We also have to proceed a bit more carefully than I would like since your father works for the same organization.  If not, that whole damn place would be a smoking crater.  But we will handle it.  The director will hear about how inappropriate those women were, how they clearly had no training in handling a kid with ADHD – not an exotic diagnosis in this day and age- appropriately and compassionately.  Hell, they probably couldn’t spell it.

I also promise that I do and will continue to do my best.  I don’t always pull it off.  Some days you don’t make it easy.  But I promise I will try my hardest to understand, to find different ways to reach you when you seem unreachable.  I promise that for every time I have to fuss at you about something, that I will find something to praise you for as well.  Lastly, I promise that as your mother I will eviscerate any asshole I catch trying to make you feel like less.

You are very precious to me, ADHD and all.  Now pick up your dirty clothes and make your bed.

Love,

Mom

I daresay she had more fun at my office than at art camp. That’s sad.

 

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For Goodness Shakes

As a mom, I find myself cleaning up all kinds of bullshit messes.  I often find myself wondering aloud how neither of my children seem to have managed to learn how to successfully eat yet.  The amount of food and drink I find spilled on my floor on a daily basis is really pretty astonishing.  But while this is common, I don’t usually think much of it, or at least not until something incredibly horrible and messy happens – something that penetrates my mom/mess-cleaner veneer.

Don’t let the formal attire fool you…

Until Wednesday, if you had asked me what the worst nonbiological mess was that I had ever tackled, I would have readily said the red Kool-Aid mix I spilled all over the interior of my refrigerator.  That was pretty horrible.  I’m not going to lie.  But the release that occurred on Wednesday surpassed the red Kool-Aid mix.  It was a chocolate McDonald’s milkshake.

To set the stage, I had agreed to swing through the drive-through since Stella had had a wonderful day at camp.  And in the name of honesty, I didn’t feel like cooking.  Will and I are just over halfway done with our latest Whole 30, so it’s easy for us to eat “our food” while the kids eat tasty regular stuff.   Fast forward to an hour later, and my kids were mostly done eating.  Jackassery began to ensue.  I heard an impact.  Something had hit the floor.  There was a secondary timbre to the sound, that of rupturing plastic.  Sure enough, while engaging in jackassery, an elbow knocked a 2/3 full chocolate shake to the floor.  Y’all, it exploded like an F’ing bomb.  There was a lake of chocolate on the floor, plus associated spatter.   Sticky rivulets of semi-frozen chocolate shrapnel ran down the cabinets, walls, pantry, and refrigerator.  It was like Dexter visited a malt shop.  It was awful.

THIS is what I need at my house, I swear.

I went mad monkey Mom and bellowed at them both to leave the kitchen, banishing them to Stella’s room (where the jackassery continued, lest you think me a big old meanie fun sponge).  Of course, the whole thing wouldn’t have been so bad had I not spent the previous 15 minutes shrieking at them to “calm down use your inside voice get on your stools will you please finish eating before playing sit down stop rough-housing stop hitting each other sit down NOW keep your hands to yourselves I don’t care who kicked who first just sit down and eat for crying out loud.”

It made me pine for McDonalds’ good old days- those of the fried cherry pies, styrofoam containers, and the waxed paper cups they would put the shakes in instead of their designer wanna-be Starbucks Frappuccino cups; they may not have been as glamorously “McCafé” but they would have simply gone splat upon impact vs. exploding like an unpoked potato in a microwave.

 

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Law and Hoarder

You know how your stomach sinks when you’re at work and your kid’s school calls?  You see that number flash on the caller ID and your mind starts making manouvers: if you have to leave at that exact moment, what about the meetings, the report you’re supposed to review?  How and when will you pick up the other kid if it’s a bad virus? Those that have had to drive somewhere with a puking kid, one hand on the wheel and the other helping the puker hold a bowl under their chin, praying your upholstery doesn’t get hosed with smelliness know what I’m talking about.  

But maybe your kid just hit their head?  I mean, may glob strike you down for suggesting it, but you know by law (at least for the little ones) the school must contact you if a kid has suffered some sort of blow to the head or face.  I’ve gotten those calls.  It’s always been “so-and-so fell and hit the back of their head/got bitten on the cheek/was struck with a plastic doodad toy when kid A was playing space tornado.”  As a parent, I expressed the appropriate level of sorrow, concern, and most importantly, relief that my spawn is intact and well.  

You can move on with your day with those calls.  Puking/fever/rash calls mean you are screwed for at least 48 hours.  Your child is a big old bag of germs on those occasions -even more than usual- so they are expelled until fit for reintroduction to GenPop.  We parents all get why.  I’ve inwardly wished  vile things upon parents who didn’t isolate their own little darling carrier monkeys thereby exposing mine to whatever horrendous germ is going around.  But those calls – the “bad ones” – cause sphincter-tightening panic and a flurry of schedule and life reorganization unlike any other.

Anyway (Sorry.  Apparently I’m wordy today.) I got one of those school calls yesterday.  It was Felix’s teacher.  Oh shit.  “Is everything ok??”  What a stupid thing to ask.  These folks don’t call you to chat.  “Felix had a bit of an accident.”  Relief flooded my body.  Only a noggin bump.  “Is he ok?”  See?  Injecting that -for reals- parental concern.  “He fell off the top of the beehive (this wooden play structure the school has) and landed on a wheelbarrow wheel.  He landed on his face.”  Oh shit.  That sounds not good. “Well is he ok???”  Maybe a fever or puking would’ve been the better call this time ’round. “He’s fine.  I’m trying to hold ice on it, but he’s getting really upset because the other kids are trying to take the pile of stuff he’s collected while I’m seeing to his face.”  

Relief.

“So my son is more worried about his hoard than his face?” “Yes.  But he’ll have a pretty big bump on his cheek.”

We all have to have priorities.  Even you, Felix.

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Eat, Pink, and Be Merry

Summer continues.  Stella started a new week at camp Monday.  She did great the first 2 weeks of zoo camp.  This week she started something completely new and different.  I was pretty nervous her first day; we had never been to this venue, and chances were the kids would all be strangers to her with a 2 weeks’ head start establishing friendships.  She had some minor issues the first day – speaking in whinese, mostly – but I appreciate the way the staff handled it.  I’m hoping we’re in for smooth sailing the rest of the summer.

I recently started her off in martial arts -taekwondo – at a local park. It’s close enough to walk to if it ever stops raining, and I can even bring the Dude with me to hang out and play while Stella does her thing.  Extracurriculars with the whole ADHD thing are tricky.  It doesn’t help that these activities inevitably and by necessity fall at the end of a day, after a kid has already kept his/her shit together at school/camp and is ready to let it all hang out, not to mention it’s usually a different group of kids, equally spent and behaving less-than-optimally.

Stella has always been a rough-and-tumble physical kid.  I’m not sure she has much aptitude in any specific area, though.  We did one year of dance.  She loved the stage, the costume, the flowers, but candidly she kind of stunk at the actual dancing part.  But at 4 years old, she was little and cute enough to totally pull it off. Sports are out of the question.  If you ask her about sports, she’ll practically start making vomit noises.  She has less than no interest in signing up for a sport – she’s vehemently opposed to them.  As the world’s current expert on Stella, I can also say that I’m not sure she’s cut out to be a team player.  Hell, she comes by that honestly.

She was so happy with her flowers, I could’ve cried.

During my immersion into the world of ADHD literature, I kept seeing that music and martial arts lessons were highly recommended for children in this population – to trigger certain parts of their brains and to increase self-control and regulation.  The park by our house was offering both piano and taekwondo.  I offered both to Stella.  At $22 a month, I was even prepared to let her try both.  It’s summer and we don’t have homework to fool with, so why not, yes?

I honestly figured she’d jump at piano.  She plays the one at Oui Oui’s house (albeit poorly) and has an app on her phone that she tinkers with.  She refused.  No piano.  No way.  Not doing it.  Why?  She might hit a wrong key.  Taekwondo it would be.

She’s had 2 lessons so far.  The first lesson she did so well.  This past lesson she was a bit of a spazz.  She doesn’t really get what she’s doing yet.  I’m going to print some things for Ms. Literal to read, and hopefully that will cement it.  I think if she can wrap her head around that, this may be a really good thing for her – maybe even better than Girl Scouts (not that we’re dropping that).

She’s the only girl in with about 7 boys.  You can tell they don’t necessarily dig having her around.  She’s unfazed.  She’s also about 6″ taller than all but 2.  They better watch out. She’ll be kicking their pipsqueak asses soon enough.  During one sparring session it became evident she has no clue what “low blow” means.  I guess I should explain that to her.  But not around Felix.  He is fixated enough on his penis.

But there’s a problem.  She’s positively incensed that there is no pink  belt.  There’s black, white, yellow, red, purple.  Why not pink, dammit?  She was all up in her sensei’s face about that.  If she continues to work hard, I may buy her the white uniform.  I may “accidentally” wash it with something red.

My little ass-kicker

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Funs and Roses

I posted a blog on Saturday – a silly post – about how my son was finding lots of delight in his body and was somewhat inappropriately exhibiting himself.  And it was funny.  It is funny.  A short while later, I was surfing Facebook.  I don’t know why.  I usually end up disgusted and sad and turning it off.  Someone had posted a year-old link about that asshat Brock Turner. That post got me thinking – and no, this isn’t a post about Brock Turner, inappropriate sentencing, sexual assault, alcohol issues, or anything of the like.  It’s about parenting in an era of Brock Turners, or, more specifically, an era of in-your-face social media and other all-access 24-hour no-holds-barred no-expectation-of-privacy-or-dignity “coverage” of absolutely f’ing everything.

I can remember last summer when the Brock Turner thing played out.  There was this massive call-to-arms to parents everywhere to talk to your children.  No male child should think he has a right to a woman’s body (duh).  No woman should think this is ok (duh).  That numerous studies had indicated that a huge percentage of women had somehow been harassed sexually and this was not ok.  And y’all, it’s not.  Obviously.  But dammit we had to talk to our kids – lots of talks – serious talks – NOW.

The same kind of thing plays out now every time someone does something awful, whether the core issue is deemed one of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, who you voted for, if you eat GMO foods, or whether you prefer Charmin to Scott toilet paper.  It’s all public.  It’s smeared absolutely everywhere.  And parents must have these important discussions or otherwise fail at parenting in every. Single. Case.  If you don’t have these discussions with your children, you are perpetuating the problem!!!!!

Disclaimer here: I am by no means saying abuse for the above-referenced offenses should be tolerated.  Just read on and see.

I am raising 2 kids – one female, one male.  As such,  I’ll get to experience both versions of puberty as a parent.  I’ll get to help them navigate all of the above in some capacity or another. If my daughter is ever the victim of any kid being an ass to her for her gender, I expect her to gutter-stomp the offender – first intellectually and then physically if that is necessary.  If I think my son is harassing a girl for being female he’ll be grounded until the door to his bedroom rots (What’s the half-life for oak?).

But y’all, when I was a kid (and no Paleozoic jokes, please), it was enough to be taught not to be an asshole – to be nice, polite, and respectful. And by damned, if you didn’t have anything nice to say, you sat on that shit until you got home and were by yourself.  You kept unkind words to yourself, much less any other body part.  I don’t remember my mom having to have discussions with me about every little thing.  I just knew how to behave.  I knew what was expected of me.  It was not necessary for my mother to parse out every little meaning and sub-meaning and beat me over my wee head with it.

Stella, not preparing to grafitti anything and not being an asshole

I encourage my kids to ask questions.  We already have some pretty interesting discussions (vs. discussions).  It all evolves relatively organically, in a way that’s driven by their curiosity.  They ask -and subsequently learn – about things when they are ready to investigate it.  We talk about why you can’t tie a 1/2″ piece of string into a bow, why the boy at camp last week only had one hand (and why hollering about it when I arrived for pick-up was not a kind thing to do), why some people don’t have enough to eat or a place to live, that some people go to church on Sundays and we don’t and that’s ok, and that babies grow in tummies, and all other manner of topics.  In the middle three, the underlying message is that you shall always be kind – that people are people, no matter the circumstances.  In short, thou shalt not be an asshole.  Every unfortunate event in the news does not require justice meted out by Facebook, Twitter, and every other armchair judge/jury/psychologist.  Never every unfortunate event needs to be a thing.

Kids, helping mom chop veg, not being assholes

I guess that’s where my beef comes in.  As a parent, I get so damn sick of the advice, no matter how well-intentioned.  You  know what?  If I want to give my kids ice cream, or Red Dye # 89b, or a Happy Meal from time to time, that’s my business.  It won’t make them assholes.  If I find my kids kicking each other, they will both go to time out because they are being temporary assholes.    I love that if one of my kids is hurting -physically or emotionally – that the other will forget whatever bullshit they were just kicking each other over and try to comfort their sibling.

Tea partying, not being assholes

I work full-time, raise 2 kids, run a household, and try to find a precious few moments to be a wife and an individual.  I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to pick up on every hot topic that social media dictates requires discussion.  I want to enjoy my children as much as possible, dammit.  I don’t want to browbeat them more than is absolutely required.  I fuss at them about enough already.  I want them to remember their mom was kind, if not a little crazy/intense from time to time, and taught them not to be assholes.  That’s enough, as far as I’m concerned.  Discussion terminated.

 

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