“Knock On Wood”

I always hear Moms at preschool, Moms at school, Moms at the doctor’s office, Moms at the stores, Moms, Moms, Moms EVERYWHERE saying positive statements about their kids and I often wonder are they struck with the same twisted fate I am….do their positive statements come back to ‘bite them in the ass’ like mine always seem to do?  Is this just another cruel joke played on us Moms or it is just another cruel joke played on me?

Now I certainly am not a person who brags.  I am proud of my children but I do not brag…I just wasn’t raised to boast and draw attention to myself or the people around me in that type of fashion.  I typically don’t comment on my children in reference to others children unless they ask.  However, it seems like any time I am having a conversation when I can say something positive about one of my children…they always prove me wrong forcing me to shove my big foot in my mouth.   These are a few of the incidences I am referring to:

Friend:  “My girls fight like cats, they hit and punch – I don’t know what to do.  Are your boys like that?”

Me:  “Well, fortunately they don’t really fight.  They don’t always get along, but I can’t really say that they get physical with each other.”

Scenario no more than 20 minutes later:  My oldest son is shoving my younger one onto the bed yelling for him to give him his Bionicle — while the little one is ready to take a bite out of the older ones arm.

Friend 2:  “I’m having such a tough time with putting the baby down at bedtime.  She just screams and cries and I can’t leave the room until I rock her to sleep.  Is your baby like that?”

Me:  “Once in a while she’s tough, but generally speaking she’s a pretty good sleeper that can put herself to sleep.”

Scenario that evening and the next weeks following:  Baby screaming constantly at bedtime.  Can’t put her down awake and have to rock her to sleep and sneak out when she’s finally drifted off.

Friend 3:  “My Tommy has been having tantrums where he’ll just scream to get what he wants and I am ready to scream myself.  Did you ever have to deal with that kind of a tantrum?”

Me:  “Well, my kids get mad, don’t get me wrong – but they really don’t have temper tantrums.  They may not like something and they let me know but not by having a tantrum.  They usually just say they don’t want to do something or they don’t like it.”

Scenario at preschool:  My child didn’t get to finish an art project in the time allotted so he threw himself down on the floor and when the teacher told him to get up he said no.

I could keep going but I’m sure you get the point.  Now, my question is why can’t I ever say anything positive about my children without them proving me wrong?  It’s gotten to the point where I have to premise every positive thing I say with, “knock on wood.”  And you know what…………I’m always knocking.

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No Drama For This Mama

No parent likes when their child gets sick.  Not only do we worry about how the child is feeling but also how seriously sick they are or might become; if/when the other children will get the illness;  what medicine may help themmother feel better, faster and…. how long the entire dynamic of the household will be thrown off.  By now I’ve learned that one of my children has an odd symptom associated with every sickness he seems to acquire….extreme drama.  His theatrics have a way of throwing our family off course.

This past week I dealt with my younger son having a fever, cough, sore throat, and general malaise.  He, I must say, is generally a trooper and this time was no different.  He knows when he doesn’t feel good that his body is telling him to rest.  He stays in bed a few days, with very little complaining and very little requests.  He’s a very easy to please patient….he pretty much just asks us to shut the door and let him sleep.

By the end of the week my sick son was back to his old “piratey” self, dressing up as a bucaneer ready to sail the seven seas.  It was when my older son got off the bus that I knew we were about to embark on another medical misadventure.  Maybe it was the dragging of his bag, the forlorn look on his face, his droopy eyes or the, “you need to feel sorry for me because I’m not feeling well,” gaze that alerted me that the drama in our infirmary was about to begin.

Now, I feel for my children when they hurt…every parent does, but I’ve got to tell you that the whining and theatrics that go along with the illness or pain could win this kid an academy award.   He woke up the other night with the croup and stridor (labored breathing).   While standing in a steamy bathroom, still all worked-up, he says – or should I say – sings — “am I going to diiiieeeee……..I can’t breathe, why is this happening to meeeeeeeeeeeeee OOOHHHHHHHH?”  Don’t get me wrong, I understand how frightening it must be for a kid to feel like he can’t breathe and I truly sympathized with him –  even his question was legitimate….to him I’m sure it did feel like he really couldn’t breathe.  It’s the way he sings his words and the jog in place that he does that adds the drama to the event.

I reassured my son that he was going to be fine.  I explained what was happening to him and the reason why he felt like he couldn’t breathe.  I thought he seemed a little more calmed down.  Then he vibrates an operatic voice, “what do you know about this anyway?”  Again, very dramatic.  I explained that the fact that his lips and fingernails weren’t blue was a good sign that he would be alright and that he would get through this….he wouldn’t die.   After the ‘steam room’ we bundled up (it was very cold) and headed outside.  This may sound barbaric but there is a medical explanation for it.  Apparently the cold air helps the inflammation in the airways go down so it becomes easier to breathe (it only has to be for a few minutes and it does seem to work).  Once again my son sings his words to me, through tears, “what are you trying to do – kill me?”  At this point I had had enough of the theatrics and knew it was best for both he and I to call it a night.

The next few days my husband and I become my son’s servants who he apparently beckons by clapping his hands.  He writes on a notepad, in dramatic fashion, that he can’t talk but needs a drink.  Twenty minutes later I hear a clap…..I’m being summoned……………again.  This time he points to the drink I had gotten him earlier, at the foot of his bed….two feet away from him.  Half hour later….more clapping………….this time he requests a popsicle.   Another twenty minutes goes by and more clapping…..he wants a blanket…..more clapping — he doesn’t want a blanket, etc. etc. etc.

See how the whole household is altered by the event of one sick child?  I anxiously wait for the minute I see some spark of recovery that will allow my son to exit center stage and help us all to return to our normal life…..bringing this soap opera to an end.

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Hope We Get An “A”

Would you like to know the way I spent this past weekend?  Well, I ended up doing helping my eight year old do a report and project on Louis Armstrong.  Since it is Black History month the teacher at my son’s private school required them to write a report, make a memory box and display board.  Now, I don’t remember at eight years old ever having to do something this involved.  At eight I think we were just starting to read, but alas this is the way things are now…we expect our youngsters to be years ahead in some respects then get upset when they act their age.  Anyway, the project was assigned a few weeks ago and like any eight year old boy, my son waited until this weekend to put it together.  Needless, to say I learned a lot about Louis this weekend.

Now I have always been the kind of person that when an assignment is given to me (for work, school, volunteering, etc.) I don’t wait around to do the assignment because it literally eats away at me.  If I don’t start the project right away I get very nervous and feel ‘under the gun.’  Ahhhh….to be eight……..apparently this is not a trait my son and I share.  I told him a week ago to start reading up about Armstrong.  He did this in about two minutes in a book that had a tiny paragraph devoted to the singer/trumpet player/dancer.  I asked him what he learned and I think his words were something to the effect, “he sings jazz.”  I asked him if he jotted any notes down and he looked dumbfounded.  “What do you mean notes?”  This is when I asked him if his teacher had gone over just how to do this project.  I mean it’s one thing to tell a kid what they need to do, but if the kids have no idea what you’re talking about then how are they going to do it?

I spent the next few hours with my son finding all kinds of information on the internet, listening and watching some videos on YouTube, and trying to devise our report.  Isn’t this something the teacher should be doing?  I knew I had one of two options….1.) I could let him do it on his own entirely and he would learn by trial and error (and witness a project that would make me cringe from the lack of neatness)…or 2.) I could pretty much walk him through the process showing him how I would do it so he had a better understanding the next time how to do it all on his own.  I, of course, chose the latter.

By nature I am an extremely neat and orderly person.   I am especially so when it comes to putting a display together.  When I went to school for Interior Design my boards and projects were one of the neatest in the class, if I must say so myself.  I can’t tell you the worry that overcame me when I thought of how my eight-year-old would put together his display board and memory box.  The report he did pretty well, albeit, I interjected some key points that otherwise he would have passed by…but he’s eight.  The memory box and display board I held my breath on.  We went to a craft store to try to find anything that would represent Louis Armstrong.  When we got home I worked with my son on how to lay everything out and put the pieces in the box so it looked organized….all the while he had his Bionicle in his hand acting like it was flying.  That was enough for one night.

The next night we worked on the display board.  This is a tri-fold display board….oh goody – more pictures and pages to line up neatly without getting glue all over.  My son and I looked on the internet for pictures of Armstrong, his house, his records, etc….again, all the while my son is flying his Bionicle on some sort of ship and dancing to the music playing on my ipod.   When it was actually time to adhere everything to the board and put his lettering on I really had to muster up the guts to let him do it.  Anyone who knows me has to knows how difficult this would be for me.

I drew guide lines on the board so my son knew where to place the pictures.  He actually did a very good job.  I was impressed.  Now had the lines not been there I’m sure it would have been a different story, as I can attest to by the lettering placed on the back of his board.  It kind of looks like his letters dropped off a cliff………but he’s eight.   So he takes his project to school and I’m more excited than him to find out how his rates next to his classmates.  And you know what he tells me? “Mine isn’t nearly as nice as my friends.  They made really neat memory boxes.”  I’m thinking how can this be?  So I inquire as to what makes them so nice and he tells me how one has a basketball in it and one has a whistle made out of clay.  And this is when it dawns on me…….he thinks the projects that his friends did (probably more on their own than with the help of their parent), no doubt, not as neat, are better than what he did…..and I say to myself, “I should have let him do it all on his own….he would have been happier with it.”  Oh well, as a parent you certainly live and you learn. I just hope we he gets an “A”.

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The Pee In The Pot – Part II

You may have read my last post, The Pee In The Pot, this is a follow-up to my husband’s side of the story, My Aim is Perfect….I Think.

First of all, can you see why I wrote The Thin Line Between Love and Hateman-sittingI believe I stated in that post that my husband, although a wonderful person in so many ways, is also a stubborn, have-to-be right, overly confident man who can drive me to say extreme words.  This is just one case in point.

I can’t believe he uses our boys as a scapegoat for his indiscretions, publicly no less.   Do the boys sometimes miss the bowl or pee on the ring?………..absolutely (they’re BOYS).  But as my sweet, little five year old (are you reading this Hubby?— our FIVE YEAR OLD) came to tell me the other day:

“Mommy I’m sorry I made a mess, but I cleaned it up.”

Not privy (no pun intended) as to what mess he was referring to,  I said, “what mess, Honey?”

“The mess on the potty, but I took a wipe and cleaned it.”

“That’s a good boy.  Accidents happen.  Good job cleaning it up.”

Later I took a look to see how well my five year old cleaned up and I couldn’t find anything.  See, this is the way it should be with my thirty-six year old.

I believe my husband stated that if he does make a mess he cleans it up.  PLEASE!  If that is cleaning up, I’d hate to see what he considers a mess.  Generally my husband is a very neat and clean person,  so  I truly believe that he thinks it couldn’t possibly be him…..it has to be someone else.  Ladies, this is what I live with.  This characteristic of my husband infuriates me.  What he says and thinks is the way it must be.  If he thinks he didn’t do it then he didn’t do it…no discussion, that’s just the way it MUST be.  Why can’t he just say, “you know, it could be me….I’m sorry if it happens…and I’ll try to clean up if I see it.”  This would be sufficient enough to drop the debate, but no, he keeps it going by his, ‘I’m so great that I don’t make mistakes’ attitude.  I just want to scream!!!

The simple fact that he says that he doesn’t use my bathroom more now is completely absurd.  This just shows you how his sense of reality is utterly warped when something has been brought to his attention that isn’t gold.  Whenever I have any criticism, not necessarily of him, but of something that he may have done, his sense of reality makes me realize that MEN REALLY ARE FROM MARS (my man, at least).

Now, have I suggested he sit down on the pot rather than stand?  You betcha!!  If he can’t control his hose and aim a little better then all this could be easily resolved by sitting his butt down.  I don’t see it as peeing like a girl, I see it more as a way to insure that he won’t be blamed any longer for something he thinks he doesn’t do.  If it were me,  I’d do it just to prove my innocence.  Apparently his dignity is more at stake……………………….MEN!!

P.S. – The discussion has been closed.  Nothing will change, and I’ll still be steaming about it next week, but it’s done for now.

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The Pee In The Pot

One of the most annoying things I have to live with is threepee males that can’t keep their pee in the pot.  Although extremely irritating, it is more understandable coming from my two little guys.   They are so caught up in their  play that they don’t even really want to stop what they’re doing to pee, let alone take the time to aim in the right direction so as not to cause a flood on the floor.  The “leader of the pack,”  AKA – Daddy, however,…I hold more accountable.   He thinks he has an alibi now that he has two other males to blame his mess on…but believe me, I’m not buying it.

When I first started complaining about the pee around the bottom of the toilet (near the anchor caps) my husband was shocked that I thought it may be him.  He emphatically denied any involvement in the mysterious “pee” caper.  He quickly offered up the idea that it may be one of the boys.  Not being well educated in the male species’ peeing habits, especially little boys, I figured it was a possible explanation…but it was not going to stop me from investigating further.

We have two bathrooms, one which I immediately declared mine and one that is for all of us.  That’s not to say that I do not let anyone else use “my bathroom,” it’s just simply the place where all my “girlie” stuff resides.  My bathroom is right outside my sons’ room so it is customary for the boys to use it most of the time.  The other bathroom is on the next floor, right outside our bedroom.  My husband primarily uses the bathroom outside our bedroom.  The kids really only use this bathroom when they are getting ready for bed at night.

For the longest time I would find pee around the the anchor caps of the toilet primarily used by my husband but since the boys may have used that toilet in the evenings, during their nightly rituals, I could not definitively say that it was him.  I sure as heck brought it to his attention numerous times, but he would always use the “blame it on the kids” excuse.  Recently, due to my husband working more from home, and having his office right off  “my bathroom,” he frequents “my” toilet more often.  Guess what?  I have found pee around the anchor caps of that toilet now more often than the bathroom outside our bedroom.  What other conclusion am I to draw?  It must be HIM — “the leader of the pack”.

All this wouldn’t be such a big deal if…A) he would just admit it’s him, and B) CLEAN IT UP HIMSELF.  Cleaning a toilet in itself is at the top of my list of “most disgusting jobs that I have,” let alone if there is more disgust added to it than necessary.  Nobody likes cleaning up other people’s bodily fluids, but we Moms sign on to do that for our children…let me repeat that……..FOR OUR CHILDREN.  Now my husband, whom I do consider my fourth child at times (and this is just one of the reasons why), actually is not a child so I expect that when he pees he takes a look to discover if in fact he has “backsplashed” as he likes to admit COULD possibly happen.  If by his surprise he does discover that he in fact is the culprit then…HE SHOULD CLEAN IT UP or better yet……..JUST PEE IN THE POT!!toiletseat

This debate has been going on now for about the past three years.  This is another time that I expect my husband to READ MY MIND.  I shouldn’t have to tell him to clean up a mess if he makes one.  If he knows this is an issue, and I’ve made it abundantly clear that it is, why then does he not get a disinfectant wipe (they are sitting right next to the toilet) and clean up any mess he sees ?  I mean we all know it can’t be coming from me (it’s physically impossible),  so why am I the one who gets to clean it up?

*DISCLAIMER*  This article is based on opinions from the author and doesn’t necessarily represent facts (as per my husband).

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Unschooling?…That’s Crazy!

I recently submitted a post about home schooling and I thought this might be a nice tangent from it.  It shows usunschool where our world is headed.  Supposedly there’s a hot topic in the blogosphere about  an unconventional parenting choice called “unschooling.”  What is unschooling you may ask.  Apparently, as REDBOOK magazine states, ‘it is a way of learning that allows the child’s interests to dictate what he does each day, whether it’s reading a book on dinosaurs or simply digging in the yard.’  No set curriculum is followed, in fact there is no curriculum at all.  This is LUDICROUS!  Even my eight-year-old son said, “I like that idea (of course, what eight year old boy wouldn’t?), but that’s CRAZY!”  If a child can see it for what it is, why then can’t the adults?

I’m imagining what unschooling would be like with my eight-year-old son.  Although Legos teach him to design, create, and build I have a hard time with the idea that he would actually be learning substantial math skills.  And although he enjoys reading books like Harry Potter I find it hard to believe he would be learning the past and perfect tense of verbs (unless someone pointed it out to him).  The whole idea of schooling is that the child needs to learn.  Yes, I do believe children learn many things on their own, by doing, but come on…they don’t know what they need to learn unless they are taught.

When I heard about this unconventional way of home schooling it rather infuriated me.  I did home school my oldest son when he was in Kindergarten and believe me if I would have just let him learn from play I’m sure he’d be a renowned sculptor of Playdoh but, really, as a parent would I have felt like I did my overall best for him?  This gives home schooling parents a bad name.  As if home schooling weren’t  negatively viewed by society already?

They actually make a manual for this?

They actually make a manual for this?

When I read some of the comments by the parents who ‘unschool’ I was outraged to hear how selfish their motives are.  One woman indicated that ‘unschooling’ to her meant that she didn’t have to worry about bedtimes and her family could go out on the town any night of the week.  She continued to say that it allowed her to decide how to spend her child’s days and with whom.  This all sounds rather self-centered and it’s not teaching a child that there are schedules that need to be followed in life.  I’m sure when that child grows up and enters the “real world” his boss is going to love the freedom his employee shows by never starting work on time.

Actually, after thinking about this more, the parent really is teaching their child.  They are teaching them to be self-centered, irresponsible, and care free individuals.  The whole point of schooling is not only to teach the basics of Math, Reading, English, Science, etc. but to teach humans, from a young age, that there are responsibilities, schedules, and directions that need to be followed.

Like most things, I think this unconventional way of schooling is yet another way to ‘push the envelope’.  But what about the children?  They look to their parents for guidance and if they aren’t being guided and are guiding themselves, how are they possibly learning what they need to be well-educated, well-rounded, responsible grown-ups?  Home schooling wasn’t meant to just let kids run loose and teach themselves…..as my eight year old said….”THAT’S CRAZY!” (Check out the FAQ page).

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“Hang Up Your Nursing Bra”

Prior to having children, I never pictured myself as the type of person to breastfeed.  I always looked at those women as being “nature freaks” and relentless in their strong ‘au naturale’ beliefs.  I am a woman who is quite endowed and just the thought of trying to get a baby to work with the two bags on my chest seemed more like an act of torture for both the baby and myself than any act of bonding.  As like so many other thoughts I had before my children, my views changed.   The wonderful thing about nursing is that it is a personal choice between you and your baby.  The two of you choose to take the plunge and enjoy the “Dairy Queen” you become.  The two of you choose to exclusively nurse or not, the two of you decide when, where, and for how long you continue to nurse.  It’s an experience that only the two of you share.

Just like any newly expectant couple, my husband and I went to all the child birth classes, CPR classes, and breastfeeding classes that are typically offered.  It was at the breastfeeding class that I started to actually rethink my naive ideas about nursing.  When they stressed how good it is for the baby’s immune system and brain development, I was sold.  I remember saying to my husband, ‘I think I want to give that a try.’  I’m sure he raised his eyebrows in approval knowing that he’d be able to catch a glimpse of my huge cantaloupes several times a day if I did…..men.

They had told us in our classes how easy it would be to nurse because “the baby sees the breast as a bullseye and will go directly to it.”  I thought, honey, there’s no missing these bullseyes…..it should be a piece of cake.  Well, guess what?….IT WAS NOT EASY.  It was quite difficult maneuvering my huge breasts and holding a newborn (remember, I was a brand new Mom).  I honestly had no idea what I was doing and from the looks of it neither did my son.  Still, we kept trying.   I resorted to pumping and feeding him with a bottle while in the hospital.   Once I was home I continued to put my boy to my breast but we still couldn’t figure it out.  I called lactation consultants and they gave me advice as to what to try.  I pumped and finger fed him.  I would have a very thin hose, connected to a bottle, taped to my pinkie finger that would allow my son to suck and draw milk out the hose-like straw.  I then was to work up to taping the hose to my breast so it would allow him to get milk quick and easily from it — positive reinforcement, sort of like Pavlov’s dog.  Nothing that I tried really worked.  Maybe it was my inexperience, lack of confidence, and exhaustion that made it difficult for us…but we were getting no where except frustrated.

I was so stressed out about not being able to nurse that I was driving myself, and everyone else around me, crazy.  Finally, my mother and husband tried to convince me just to pump and let someone else feed my son while I got some much needed rest.  Not one to throw in the towel easily, I resisted, but ultimately went with the idea. Over the months I tried to nurse my son, but we never really did it.  I think he got too used to the bottle…and so did I.  I did pump for 11 months and he got breast milk 99.5% of the time.  It was a lot of work pumping but I was determined for him to get the essentials of  breastmilk.  I always regretted not trying harder with nursing him but vowed that when and if I had another child I would try again.

When my second son was born and I put him to my breast he showed interest.  I knew we could learn how to nurse.  In the beginning it was difficult because his tongue muscles were weak and he couldn’t even suck a bottle easily.  Then I had a wonderful nurse who really worked with us and taught me to stroke my son’s tongue with the nip of the bottle.  This would teach him to curve his tongue and get a good suck going.  I brought him home from the hospital on a bottle but I was more than willing to keep trying to nurse him.  There was a lot of screaming, so much so that I thought I was smothering him with my boobs or something.  It wasn’t the tranquil, peaceful experience I pictured.  It was a lot of hard work and worrying, but luckily I had a friend that gave a lot of support.  Without her help I would have ripped my hair out in frustration.  Ultimately we learned and I nursed my second son for close to 11 months.

Around 11 months, my son just didn’t show any more interest in nursing and I knew we were finished with it.  I remember feeling sad about it.  It had created a bond between us.  It was a challenge that both of us met.  It was an experience only the two of us shared.  My sentimental feelings surprised me.  I never expected to feel a sense of loss or sadness over weaning.  Our experience taught me a lot about my son and a lot about myself. I am grateful we shared that together.

When my daughter was born I had the easiest time nursing her.  I don’t know if it was confidence on my part or her personality, or a combination of both but we were nursing right away.   I always planned to nurse all my children for at least 12 months.  Because my daughter is the last child we planned to have, I figured I would nurse as long as I could.  I knew this was the last time I would ever get this wonderful opportunity.

Nursing truly is an experience exclusively between you and your baby.  To know that you have nourished your baby with the best there is to give her and to watch her grow and thrive from your nourishment is a wonderful feeling.  When she looks up at you while nursing with a loving stare or laughs with your breast in her mouth a memory is made, a bond is strengthened, a mother and child are one.  This experience is one that should only be ended when the two parties involved decide it should end.  Since it’s a shared experience between you and your baby, only you and your baby should decide when it’s time for you to hang up your nursing bra.

Sadly, my nursing journey with my daughter was ended…by someone other than my daughter and I.  A few days after Christmas I had en eardrum rupture and needed to go to the ER (it was a weekend).  A physically short, curt, and smug ER doctor saw me for a total of 30 seconds and explained what I would need to do.  He was going to prescribe two antibiotics and pain medication.  I informed him that I was nursing and asked if he could find medications that would be safe and not pass through my breastmilk.  He was out the door, in the hallway, and proceeded to tell me no antibiotic is safe for nursing.  He asked, quickly, how old my child was and I told him she just turned 12 months.  He looked at me, judgingly, and says, “yeah, you may want to stop nursing now, it’s about time.”  I was steaming.  Who did this egotistical, short, balding man think he was?  But you know what they say….short man, big ego.  I guess when you’re a short man you need to feel big in some way and I guess it made him feel good to judge us.

I didn’t like what he told me but I did rationally think about it.  I had met my goal of nursing my daughter for 12 months.  I was down to nursing only first thing in the morning and before bedtime.  I figured the morning feeding would be easy enough to cut out as long as I got her breakfast as soon as she woke.  The bedtime feeding I was more concerned about…that was “our” time.

I needed to take the medication so I really didn’t have much of a choice.  Thankfully, my daughter was fine with it.  More fine with it than I was….it was time and she was ready.  I resent the fact that the choice was not ours to make but some cocky doctor who by my experience with him probably never bonded with anyone but himself.

I am thankful that I was able to experience the world of nursing.  I am happy and proud that my babies and I took the journey and found moments that only we will share.

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