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Rose and Thorn

A friend introduced me to a game called Rose and Thorn, which is where you basically lost the best and worst parts of your day. I always liked it because it allows you to vent your bad part while happily reminding yourself of the good part of your day. Sometimes, you have an awful day, and the universe seems to drop something great down as a consolation prize. Other times, your day is wonderful but then there’s something to take you down a peg or two. Feel free to post yours in the comments! Today, I’ll share mine.

Roses: my daughter attended a birthday party and while that was taking place, I got to relax and enjoy good coffee and a donut with some of the moms whose company I enjoy. I came home and managed to accomplish some yard work. My husband also offered to do a tattoo for me on his day off. Woohoo! I topped off the day with an invite from the neighbor to go have dinner at her house. She makes the most amazing empanadas! Good company, many laughs were had, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Thorn: before I get into this, note that when your day is going fabulous, sometimes the universe will drop a tiny turd on the day to keep things balanced. Today, I learned what hell is. I stepped in dog shit while wearing FLIP FLOPS. This prompted me to recoil, shriek in horror loudly while pointing at my now surely diseased foot and scream “kill it with fire!”. I bleached my own foot while wretching. Even now, hours later as I lay in my bed, I feel like one foot has shitcooties on it.

Balance. It’s all about balance.

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Letting Kids Fly, But Not By Helicopter

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Ahh, vacation.  It’s my first day back from a weekend trip to visit family, and I already need another vacation.  Not because of the family, we had a fantastic time, but because I came back from a Saturday and Sunday away to a shitstorm of work to do.  I digrmyess, however.  Every year, my step mother’s sister throws an annual weekend up at her house.  Since my dad married into the family, they also include me, my husband and kids.  The weekend is filled with laughter, days spent at the lake, and lots of food and beer.  It’s always a fun weekend.  This year, I think we had 16 or more.

Saturday, while lounging at the lake, watching the kids play in the swimming areas and in the sand, I got into a conversation with my…let me see if I get this right….step cousin’s wife.  We were talking about our kids, and how they are growing up so fast, the usual.  She lives in Brooklyn NY, and she overheard her son tell me how excited he was for school this year because at his school, the kids are allowed to leave the school and go out for lunch unattended.  I was completely fascinated by this revelation, and his mom (I’ll refer to her as E) filled me me.  Apparently, starting in 4th grade, the kids are allowed to leave the school building and can go for lunch.  Completely unattended.  In Brooklyn.  I was a bit amazed that the school, never mind the parents, would ever go for such an idea.  I live in relatively small town suburbia, and parents here are CRAZY intense.  Helicopter parenting is mostly the norm, if not encouraged.  Parents direct every aspect of their children’s lives, friends, interests and activities.  Kids are placed into a LOT of activities because the general thought is that they must be active ALL the time.  They must be kept busy.  I have friends who have their kids in about 6 activities a week.  It looks exhausting, not only for the kids, but for the parents who have to drive to (and most attend) as well.  The idea that this school in NY would allow kids as young as 10 to just leave the building mid day and roam to a local restaurant unattended was something I struggled to fathom, but I was intrigued.

For those of you who follow my blog, you may remember I wrote a while back about how I was trying to let me kids have more freedoms, more independence, and promote a sense of self responsibility and good decision making skills.  It went swimmingly, until we had a falter when my daughter forgot to communicate she was going to a friend’s a few houses down and I couldn’t find her.  After that we had to place new rules and explain the communication process.  Things have been going really well, except that it got so hot the kids haven’t really wanted to venture outside too much, never mind riding bikes etc.  Hopefully, we will work on things more in the fall.

As we talked, E explained that the school allows the kids to leave, unattended for lunch, mostly due to a problem with overcrowding in the school.  There really isn’t enough room in the cafeteria.  She said the kids have a radius that they can go to, about 2-3 blocks, and their are crossing guards at the intersections (and to make sure the kids don’t go outside of the “zone”.  On those blocks, there are a bunch of restaurants the kids can choose from, they bring their own money, and buy lunch.  I thought about how this would fly where I live and giggled, because it never would.  After hearing the layout of their school’s plan, it seemed like quite a good one.  The kids have choice, are given responsibility, there are crossing guards to keep them in the general vicinity, and frankly, it was a great way to keep local businesses afloat.  E explained also that the principal is a very strong leader, explains the process to the kids very clearly, and they are fully aware that one misstep means they lose the privilege.  They haven’t had any issues, because the kids take the privilege so seriously, they don’t want to lose it.  Also, with the volume of people in the area, parents feel that the kids are far safer than wandering in the suburbs.

I explained to her my realization earlier in the year that there were so many things I knew how to do at a young age that my children have never learned, simply because they have never had to learn it.  Road safety, because I am always there to walk them across the road, for example.  All those little things, that really are big things, because I am always there to do it for them.  She said she had had the exact same realization, and it really bothered her.  The interesting thing was that with one of us living in the city, and one in the suburbs, we each had a different set of skills we realized we had never taught our kids because we’d always been there to do it for them. Also, the kids needed different skills based on their location.  For my kids, bike riding was more important, but for her kids, there wasn’t much of a good place for her kids to ride.  For her kids, navigating their neighborhood during rush hour was more important than for my kids, who don’t see a lot of traffic in our area.

Both of us have decided a change is in order, and we are working to give our kids more flexibility, responsibility, and more LIFE skills they can do without us.  While the skill sets may be different based on where we live and the needs that arrive from that, the mentality is the same. Our parents let us learn the hard way, on our own quite a bit, and it taught us good, solid lessons.  We weren’t hovered over and coddled.  We were treated as little people who had to learn to live in a complicated world.  I see moms on social media claiming their kids are never out of their sight, that they do EVERYTHING for their kids, and that they keep their kids in activities and busy every minute of the day.  Know what that tells me?  Those kids likely won’t be able to entertain themselves if someone isn’t telling them how.  Those kids will miss many an important life lesson.  Independence and self discovery is important!  If someone does everything for you, how do you learn to do it yourself?

I recalled the conversation I had with the police officer who came that day my daughter left for her friend’s without telling me where she was going.  I was honestly really, really frightened and questioned my decision to let her do more on her own. (And trust, there were the people who had to make nasty comments about what happened, but you know what? 0 craps given.)  The officer told me that I was doing a GOOD thing.  That kids should be outside playing.  He also said that one thing he runs into all the time are kids of helicopter parents.  He said these parents hover over their child’s every move, thinking they are doing the right thing.  He said that he sees the end result of that, where if a parent goes to the store and runs 10 minutes late back, the kids (old enough to stay home themselves) the kids freak out because they don’t know how to cope for a few moments outside of expectation when the parents aren’t there.  He sees a lot of kids without some basic life skills, because they have never been taught them or had to learn them.  When I recounted this to E she thought it was really interesting, and we discussed how true this probably is.

Statistically, we are at a time of lower crime, but more ways to communicate it.  Our kids in some ways are probably safer than we were when we were younger.  Yet parents are more protective and are helicoptering.  I have seen parents call their grown children out of work.  I have seen parents doing laundry for grown children.  How did we get here, where we are so focused on our children that we have stifled them?

One of the greatest feelings I had as a kid was the feeling of being trusted with responsibility.  I felt so grown up, and appreciative of any new independence, that I worked hard to keep the privilege.  As a kid, I flew overseas by myself!  I traveled 3000+ miles myself, with some oversite from the airline.  I arrived, got my bags, and found my ride.  I navigated airports like a pro.  When I traveled with my parents, they had me tell them where to go, what our next steps were, etc.  In time, I learned my way around our frequented airports, knew how to travel responsibly, and became comfortable that I could manage travelling on my own.  If I got separated from my parents, I knew I had a plan to stay safe and find help.  I knew road safety on my bike. I knew how to speak to adults, how to navigate my corner of the world, and even another area of the world.  I walked comfortably across town at 12 years old in a town overseas.  It saddens me that after being pushed to hover over my kids, I have neglected to teach them some life skills, not for not wanting to, but for not thinking of them.  Why? Because I handled everything for them.  The more I talk to people, the more I notice parents having the same revelations.  This year, I am going to teach my kids the process of navigating an airport and how to travel safely.  Time to let them fly, just not by helicopter parenting.

Yelling at Strangers

I am so tired, I feel that shit deep in my bones.  After a busy work week, with plenty of added jobs, I also had my daughter’s birthday party to prepare for.  In the past we have had her family party at our house or my sister in law’s house (they have a big house with lots of space and a pool, which they have generously offered to us to use for the party many years).  This year, I decided to keep everything super simple.  No theme, no extensive decorations, no tons of planning.  I’ve done it all in the past and I usually end up exhausted.  Frankly, my daughter doesn’t care about all that stuff anyway.  She simply wants a day with her family, playing with kids, opening gifts, and ice cream cake.  She REALLY wanted an ice cream cake, which I found out later on.  This year, I stepped outside my comfort zone and rented a pavilion at the beach. Our town allows you to rent out a pavilion at a reasonable fee.  This spoke to me.  Laid back, beach day, with sun, sand, water, and a playground close by to keep everyone entertained.  I pictured getting leis for the people coming, keeping the food cookout style, and I would simply jump on the grill and it would be a relaxing day for all.

I booked the pavilion, and figured all was well, until my anxiety popped up.  I had this unshakable feeling that we would arrive to set up only to have strangers at the pavilion, and I would be forced into getting someone from the rec dept to have them leave.  I asked the woman at the rec dept what would happen if that situation occurred.  She said “go to the gate and they will have someone come over and sort it.”  Ok, sounded decent, and I tried to not worry.

Then the weather turned. A scan at the Weather Channel app was a rollercoaster of emotion.  I also realized they have likely no idea what the upcoming weather would be.  The weather changed day to day, varying from horrible thunderstorms to partly sunny and warm with a nice breeze.  Each day was a new adventure as far as the meteorologists were concerned. Every day I waffled between seeing we’d have a lovely beach day or a monsoon.

The day before the party, (THE DAY BEFORE!) my phone rings.  When I heard the woman on the other end say she was calling from the rec dept, I KNEW something was wrong.

“So, there is an issue…..we made a huge error on our end…….DOUBLE BOOK………we want to make it right….other alternatives……heading to the beach now to see what can be done…..”

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I offer to meet them at the beach, and headed off with daughter in tow.

I arrive at the beach and meet up with two women from the rec department.  They honestly couldn’t have been nicer, and were up front with the fact someone had booked the pavilion in June for a gender reveal party and somewhere there was a mix up.  The pregnant woman who booked it had come in freaking out and irate after hearing about the issue.  I can tell they were nervous about speaking with me but were grateful when I kept calm about it.  They offered a different area, said they would set up tents etc, and offered a few options.  The wind that day was coming off the water so hard it was blowing my hair straight up in the air.  I looked at them and said “Look, if the wind is anything like this tomorrow, which it likely will be with storms coming at night….a tent is going to LAUNCH”.  After all was said and done, the options they gave me didn’t feel right and likely would have been a nightmare.  My other brother in law graciously extended an offer for us to have it at his house since they have a large deck and lots of open space.

I excused myself and stepped aside to talk quietly with my daughter.  She said she would be perfectly happy wherever her party was held When she saw me look upset the plans had been all turned upside down, she whispered in my ear “mama, it’s not your fault.  I appreciate all your hard work, but please don’t be sad, it’s OK!”

I’m not crying. I swear.

I walked back and told the women my daughter was ok with us moving the party and the other woman could have the space.  One of the women leaned over and told my daughter how kind and special that was, and how nicely she and I were taking a bad situation and making the best of it. I was promised a full refund, but that I would need to bring the parking passes I had prepaid for all the guests in to get refunded for those.  I wasn’t happy I’d have to retrieve them all, but agreed I would try to bring them in.

I headed off to get my daughter an ice cream cake, which I found out she had really wanted (but would have been impossible at the beach). I let her pick the flavors, the design,etc, and I had a very happy little girl.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: The party was a success, we all had a great time, and my daughter was thrilled.

Yesterday I took the passes I had and went to the rec center.  It was my daughter’s actual birthday and we had a lot of stuff planned.  I was still recovering from all the work involved for the party and I felt that extreme tiredness in my SOUL.  One of the women I had spoken with at the beach was at the counter and smiled when she saw me. She wished my daughter a happy birthday and handed over a huge bottle of bubbles for my daughter as a gift and as a thank your for being so understanding.  I thanked her and explained I didn’t have two of the passes, but could they let it slide due to the circumstances? She said she’d have to clear it with the other woman, but felt she would probably say yes, because we had been so gracious about the error and so lovely to work with.

Just then, another lady who works there and who I have watched berate another employee there in front of me chimed in and started getting loud with the woman helping me. “WHY WOULD YOU EVEN SAY THAT? WHY WOULD YOU SAY SHE PROBABLY WOULD?” The woman helping me looked extremely uncomfortable.

Not today, Satan,

Not today.

“HEY! DON’T YOU YELL AT HER!”  I shouted.  “This office made a mistake, and could have ruined my daughter’s birthday party.  These two women have been honest about the error, tried to make it right, and are trying to rectify the situation in a positive manner, which is the ONLY reason I have not created a big issue here.  This is not the first time I have seen you berate your coworkers, so why don’t you sit there and go back to your paperwork and make sure this situation doesn’t happen again?”

She huffed.

“GO HUFF IF YOU WANT BUT DON’T YOU BELITTLE HER!”

Yeah.  I became that person.  I became the woman yelling at a stranger over a partition wall because I hate seeing nice people given crap for something when they are just trying to do the right thing.

The woman getting yelled by Grumpy St Bitterbritches is always super sweet and friendly to me.  The last time I went to the office to get the parking passes I watched the other employee belittle another woman who worked there, get sarcastic with a town resident, and make a sarcastic comment to another.

Not today.

I can let a lot slide if people are honest and apologetic.  Accidents happen, mistakes can be made.  A sincere apology without excuses goes a LONG way with me.  My daughter and I had been very accommodating all things considered, which the 2 women we spoke to at the beach were clearly grateful for.  I am sure they saw it was a birthday party for us and a gender reveal party for the pregnant lady and thought it was going to be miserable for them either way because of the mistake.  Instead, it went relatively smooth.  They knew I wasn’t thrilled, but I was honestly kind of ok with it.

To be honest, everything was less stressful for me in the end.  No worries about weather (we had everything outside but moved inside later on so we missed the rain).  I had a fridge, freezer, and everything I needed at my fingertips.  My daughter had the cake she desperately wanted, and a good time was had.  I got to invite more people.  At the end of the day, things fell into place.  Plus, I am getting refunded the money I spent.

But don’t test me, bitter lady in the back of the rec office.

Mama don’t play that.

 

 

She Can Do It All, Until She Can’t

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I grew up the daughter of parents who never made me feel I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl.  I was taught I was equal to men, could hold my own, and to be fiercely independent.  I lived in a two parent household, and my parents stayed happily married until my mother died.  Of course, there were some stereotypical roles that fell into place.  My mother was a stay at home mom, and my dad worked to support the family.  My mother cleaned the house to spotless perfection and looked after me, dinner was on the table each night at 6, and she was the arranger of all the plans.  My mom was the glue that seemed to hold us all together.  My father traveled extensively for work, sometimes even for weeks at a time, and my mother was always the figure in the home who held down the fort.

With that being said, my mother always made it clear that she had been the primary breadwinner before we moved to the US.  I knew she stopped working to look after me, and also because it made more sense financially.  She always told me to make sure I was ok on my own if I ever needed to be, and to make sure I always had my name on the house, cars, and other assets as well as my husband.  She’d had friends who had gotten divorced and ended up screwed because they hadn’t looked out for themselves as well.  In other words, while my parents lived in many ways an old fashioned set up, I was always taught to be a modern, independent woman who could look after herself, and why that was so important. I also learned that I could be a good wife, a good mom, and that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do just because I was a girl.  Women in today’s society are told we can have it all, the career, the family, the home, and all that comes with us.

We can.  Many women do.  But sometimes, it’s really hard.  Like, really, really hard.

I hesitated to write this, because it’s hard to be vulnerable.  Usually when I admit a vulnerability, it gets thrown back at me.  That being said, I am who I am, and unapologetically so.  I own my mistakes, I own who I am, both on my best and worst days.  The other week someone tried a jab at my parenting when I “lost” my daughter.  (More on that in a future blog). Yet still, I owned it. At the end of the day, I am bluntly, without apology, or explanation, myself.  With me, you know what you are getting.  My filter isn’t very good, and my face will say my thoughts anyway.

So with all the things.  The work, the parenting, the house, the jobs, the peopling, the endless obligations that have stacked up….it’s gotten to be a bit much to manage on my own. My husband is always supportive of me in everything I do, but he works long hours and our schedules are opposite, so much of the stuff around the house and scheduling the kids falls to me.  I am trying to hold all the pieces together of the life puzzle and I ran out of hands.  I’m left tired and drained.  They always say on a plane to put your oxygen mask on first so you can help others.  I have been doing the reverse and I ran out of air. The more I couldn’t focus on a few things, the more everything started to spiral where it got to be just a bit more to manage.

This week I hit a wall.  I’ve only had it happen a few times in my life, but this week was one of them.  This week something snapped.  The year of yes came to a crashing end and I just wanted to say no. I looked around and for all I was doing, it just wasn’t amounting to what it should.

And I stopped.

I cried a little, I’ll admit it.

And then I did what I hate doing the most.

I asked for help.

I hate asking for help. I always think it’s an imposition.  It feels like I am failing at something, and I sort of hate that.  The funny thing is, I always encourage others to ask for help, and always am willing to help others.  I suppose we are always hardest on ourselves, right?

I’ve suffered from depression since I was a teen.  I went through some very bad times with it, went on medication, until I finally got it under control.  The fact is, I will likely always have it, but for the most part I rarely suffer these days.  I haven’t been on meds for it for years, but I do stay very mindful of when it feels that it’s starting up.  Yesterday I realized I need to stop and breath.  I looked around, and realized I needed to ask for help to ease the burden of things for a little while.  I called my dad and said I wanted to come visit and have a mini vacation.

I had an honest chat with my family and the response was amazing. I said I am overwhelmed, and they stepped up to ask how in turn they could each help. That’s family. Even the little things stack up to help.  This morning, my husband offered to run the kids to camp and returned home with a coffee for me.  He called from work to check in, just to make sure I am ok.  He knows that usually, I keep it all together, but when I am struggling, he is there to check in…just to make sure I am hanging in there and to see if I need anything.  The reminder that he is there to back me up and lift me up if I fall is a great source of comfort.

The next week or so is going to be busy.  Much to plan, to do, and to coordinate.  That being said, I will be pausing to breathe more, saying no when I get overwhelmed, and asking for help if I need it.  I will try me best to take care of me a bit better than I have been.  Maybe I’ll even use that gift certificate for a massage my aunt sent me.  Seems like a perfect time to use it.  Rest and recharge amongst the chaos, so I can minimize the chaos.

Yesterday, when I felt my worst, I looked around at ALL the THINGS that needed doing, and I felt like a failure.  My mom had always made things seem so effortless.  I look back and realize how much I took for granted.  I realize I looked at her and she made it all seem so darned easy.  I came home from school to find my laundry done, the house clean, a meal on the table, and I never really comprehended the amount of work that went into making all of that happen.  I also realized she would have told me that while she was a stay at home mom, I work full time.  I have less time for some of the things than she had. I know she would have reminded me of the times when she seemed short with me or stressed that she too struggled with getting it all done.  She would also remind me that sometimes, you just have to go and take a nap and figure it out later.

When you grow up and you watch your mom do it all, you think you can too.  There is a big push on social media and the media in general to be the mom who can be perfect.  Everyone portrays themselves to be super moms.  They post and pin and they present the perfect outside image.  Their immaculate houses, their vacations, their endless smiles.  The fact is, I’m sure there’s a lot of women who feel they too need to pause, take a deep breath, and escape from it all for a few.  To not have ALL the THINGS in their heads and to do lists every moment.  So I’m waving to those ladies, from my yard that needs weeding, my house that needs cleaning, surrounded by all the jobs I need to do but have no time to do them in because there’s only so many hours in a day. I hear you. I see you. I’m one of you too.

 

Let Them Be Chickens

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So, it’s official.  I am officially on the PTSA board of our school as of today.  I am still wondering if I have done the right thing, and also just what I have gotten myself into. My default is to jump in with both feet, and have already been brainstorming some fundraising ideas.  I was told to relax, hold back, and take a “let’s see” approach.  That’s not really my style.  On one hand, I am chaos personified.  I’m the mom screeching into the parking lot at the last minute, but I get there.  I am the mom who gets it done, even if it doesn’t look pretty.  There is some method to my madness, and I usually need at least a baseline plan in place to keep the stress levels down.  I’m not very structured, but I need a basic idea of a plan to get started.  At the moment, I’m floundering and I feel dazed.  I’m not a fan. I will therefore sit back, and try very hard not to think too much about things.  It just won’t be easy.  I’m more of a doer than a not think about it type of gal.

After getting voted in, I was chatting with a mom friend about the changes, about summer, after school care next year for her daughter, and she asked how I manage to work from home when the kids are home.  She was surprised by my answer.

“Well, the older one will play video games or read and entertain himself pretty quietly, and the younger one plays outside or with the neighbor kids.  I’m trying this whole “free range parenting” thing out.”

She looked stunned.  The video game comment gave her pause and a raised eyebrow.  The free range parenting comment made her appear quite surprised.

The fact is, my son is an old soul.  He is extremely smart (way smarter that me, to be honest).  He’s responsible, a rule follower, and very mature.  (Not like me).  He gets great grades and is respectful and kind.  That, along with some chores, is his “job”.  As long as he is doing his job, and his grades are good, I don’t sweat the small stuff.  I let him play video games with his friends after school.  Sure, I keep the time down to a decent amount, but I let him play.  It’s a form of socialization, and he enjoys it.  It’s also sparked an interest in coding, which could be good for him.  He accompanied me to the apple store and jumped into a coding class there.  The instructor was very impressed with his knowledge and demeanor.  I may take him for more.  Currently, my son and his bike have disappeared down to the school to go hang out on the field/playground with his friends.  He has his sister’s ipod which has wifi, so he can text me if he needs me.  I’m only a few minute drive away.

The little one looks most forward to racing outside each day.  I can see her from my home office window.  I can call to her.  We have a system, and it works.  She never leaves the front of the house without telling me where she is going.  There are also a group of great kids in the neighborhood that she plays with.  The parents know each other, watch out for the kids, and text each other when kids are on route from one house to another.  It’s working.  I now have a happier child, who enjoys being outdoors and playing with friends.

For years, I have struggled with balance.  Work vs home, fairness  with the kids, and a constant battle of how their childhood is vs mine was.  When my son got older, my daughter was still 4 years younger, so it was easier to keep them both inside.  With my work schedule, there wasn’t any time to just hang with the neighbor kids.  Growing up, I raced home, did homework, and jumped on my bike.  I rode the back roads about a mile from my house to my best friends, and we would go back and forth between our houses, playing, riding, laughing, and making memories.  I did this when I was about 8 or nine.  My parents trusted me to do right, to call when I arrived, and to do be responsible.  And you know what?  I WAS.  I DID.  I called, and I was responsible.  I knew quite clearly that bad behavior, or not doing as I should would eliminate my freedoms.  Looking back, I believe my mom would drive the neighborhood to make sure I was safe and keep an eye on what I was up to.  I fell off my bike once and she was there in minutes, without a phone call.  (no cell phones when I was a kid, folks!).  Nowadays kids have technology at their fingertips.  Luckily they have ipods and the neighborhood is a wifi hotspot, so they can text me if they need me.  That’s more than I had as a kid.

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The fact is, kids were kids, but in many ways, we were more grown up than today’s kids.  We had more freedoms and we learned to handle those freedoms appropriately.  We learned responsibility.  We had street sense.  The small freedoms I received made me feel more grown up, and I behaved better.  Why? Because I didn’t want to lose the privileges I had been given!  Cause and effect is an important learning tool.

It occurred to me one day my kids might not really know how to cross the street safely.  As in, which lane cars drive in, where to look, how to listen for cars, how to double check.  I was horrified.  The fact was though I was always with them and guided them. I started teaching them more street sense.  How to manage if I wasn’t there.  How to be safe, and to help their friends be safe. I started taking them on bike rides, to learn the layout of the neighborhood, where cross walks are, and how to read the traffic signals.  It’s an ongoing lesson, but an important one.  I keep an eye on them, but I am allowing more freedom and choices their way as they get older.

I notice other parents doing the same more than before.  Maybe I’m just more in tune with it because giving the kids so much freedom is a bit daunting at first. The fact is, I am raising future adults.  I have to balance teaching them a healthy dose of reality (ie. stranger danger, car safety, etc) vs teaching them to be independent and responsible.  I need to teach them that outside is where magic happens.  Healthy habits, spending time in nature is good not only for the body, but for the soul.  Not to mention, they sleep AMAZINGLY now.

I’ll still be nervous.  I’ll still keep an eye on them when they don’t know I am watching.  At the end of the day though, this free range parenting, allowing the kids more freedom and responsibility has thus far been a good thing.  The better they do, the better I will do. There are parents allowing their kids to navigate the city by themselves, take the subways, etc.  I’m not there yet.  We’re keeping with the neighborhood and going from there.

 

She’s a Bleeder! A Hungry Bleeder! And on the PTA?

Posted on

I should have known.

The moment on Sunday morning, when my husband laid next to me in bed and said “I’ll have to see if the fridge is cold”, that it was going to be that kind of week.  At first I looked over at him and lowered my glasses…thinking his statement was similar to “I’ll have to see if a rock is hard”.  But then…realization kicked in.  My eyes widened, my mouth opened.  “The fridge is broken?!?  Oh NOOOO!”

Look.  I’m not a monster, but I’m a (relatively) healthy woman with curves.  I like food.  To be honest, I didn’t realize how much time the fridge and I spent together in a day until it died.  I make dinners, snacks (husband does school lunches), but I go in the fridge a lot.  Suddenly, there was a freezer that worked, but strangely, no fridge.

We spent Sunday going form store to store looking for a fridge.  Do we get a cheapo fridge to tied us over for a while until we eventually got something we loved?  Do we get what we love?  Do we get that sweet ass fridge that was wicked expensive but you could knock twice on the window and it would light up a drinks compartment?  Our budget set the tone.  We ended up with a great fridge that had what we wanted, lots of space, and no water dispenser.  Why? Because we didn’t want the hassle of getting someone to hook it up.  Do you know how hard it can be to find a fridge without a water dispenser?  No easy feat.  The only issue? It won’t be delivered until Saturday, so I’m using a bar fridge for a few days.  I feel like I am back in college but there is no tapioca pudding in there.

To add insult to injury, I also got sick.  Effectively, when I breath, it CRACKLES.  If you need to imagine yourself by a roaring, crackling fire, just have me come stand there and breath.  The crackling is no joke.  My voice is wrecked too, which means I fluctuate between Herman Munster and some high pitched squeaky baby voice.  Interesting, considering that I teach classes online.  Every day is a surprise!  I never know what sound will emit from my head.

Something else I wasn’t expecting to emit from my head was blood. I was sitting in my office when I realized I got my first nosebleed.  I ran to the bathroom, leaving a blood trail.  Then, I coughed. I coughed so violently, blood went EVERYWHERE.  Now I look like I got punched in the face, there is crime scene looking blood splatter, and I don’t really know what to do, so I start wiping it up, while i’m bleeding. Then I hear my daughter so I shove paper in my nose and frantically start cleaning before she sees it.  She comes down just as I am getting up a big plop of blood on the counter, and seems amazed I have never had a nosebleed (She gets them somewhat often).  I start to feel the cough coming, so I jam my face in a wad of toilet paper to catch the spray of blood while I hack and wretch violently.  Of course once one of these coughs starts, it just won’t stop.

“You should probably sleep with an ice pack and a bucket” she says, kisses my shoulder, and heads up to bed.

I just cleaned up the blood trail in my office.

I hate blood, by the way.  Hork.

Nosebleeds can be kind of scary but mostly are kind of funny.  What makes the body just go…”ok, bleed through one of those front smeller holes!” And one size of your nose just becomes a disaster?

But again, I digress.

Our school district is under complete chaos.  I’ll write more about it probably tomorrow, after I’ve rested and mulled it over.  Tonight, however, I am left with decisions.

Y’all, they asked me to consider being one of the PTA moms.

ME.

You know that scene from Bad Moms when Mila Kunis is trying to get the kids to school, and the dog ends up having to go to the vet, coffee is spilling, life is chaos, etc?  That’s my life.  Only I’m chubbier, drive an SUV, can’t walk in heels anymore and need more coffee to survive. In other words…I’m the antithesis of the stereotypical PTA ladies.  Hell, I’m not even a lady.  I’m the mom who accidentally drops an F bomb without realizing it (and then honestly not caring that much).  I am the mom who makes it to the functions, just in time, screeching in to the parking lot and running in the door while rubbing lipstick off my tooth with my finger (because I’m British and have a snaggletooth…the struggle is real, y’all). That being said, I make it.  I’m calmer now, and I’ve got this two kids deal in control much more of the time. I’m a full time working mom, with two kids, a husband with an opposite schedule, and I do what I can. I do my BEST.  Sometimes my best sure doesn’t add up the way I want it to, but my best is what I’ve got.

The PTA moms find me to be ok.  I’m that mom they warn their friends about before meeting me, but they seem to like me.  I’m the mom that took on coaching the boys soccer team when nobody else wanted to step up.  I make it work in my own way. My kids are polite, well behaved, so they know I must be doing something decent.  I think I have a reputation for being direct and honest. I say what I think, but I look at both sides of things.

But PTA? With my already having no time self?  I dunno.  Part of me wants to be a part of something great for the school, especially during a tough time the district is going through.  I want to show my daughter and son I can do it. Maybe I want something warm and fuzzy to melt my cold little heart.  Plus, I’m kind of honored they want me to consider it.

I have some things to mull over.

Right after I clean up those blood spatters I just noticed on my floor.

 

Little Assholes and The First Ride

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bikeSometimes. kids are little assholes.  As parents, our jobs, should we do it successfully, is to not raise little assholes, but it has to be said, some parents are failing mightily.

Let me explain.

This is the year I have been giving the kids a bit more leeway and independence.  I let them play out in the neighborhood more, my son goes on bike rides with his friend who lives around the corner.  Now that they are a bit older, it’s time to trust them more, and I know they will keep an eye on each other.  I can watch them out the window, or from the front stoop, but they are feeling more responsible and independent.  Part of this was their age, but a big part was knowing at even the little one’s age I was always out playing or riding bikes with friends.  I went out right after homework and stayed outside until the street lights came on.  I had no cell phone.  I was fine.  It taught me responsibility, street smarts, and I got fresh air.  My friends and I all looked out for each other.  It made for a good childhood.

My children, on the other hand, haven’t had as much of that.  With my work schedule, they got home close to dinner time.  After homework, it was already starting to get dark.  I was nervous about them being outside while I was cooking.  There weren’t too many kids on the street.  The result? Too much screen time, not enough fresh air.  Another result? My daughter is almost 8 and couldn’t ride a bike without training wheels.  This never bothered me, and it didn’t bother her either.  That is, it didn’t bother her until the asshole neighbor kid started commenting on it. Then of course, the other kids had to tell the tale of when they learned how to ride a bike. I watched my daughter’s face crumble a bit, then tighten with resolve.

That night, I knew.  I grabbed a wrench and took her training wheels off.

The next day, I took her outside and started showing her how to balance on her bike.  She was nervous, but I could see strains of confidence beginning to appear. Just when I thought we were almost where I could start teaching her to use the pedals, the asshole kid came up.  He started again with the brag.  Not even a humble brag, but a full on, almost neener neener kind of brag.  I tried to be an adult.  I told him she was learning, and it would be more helpful if he cheered her on.  I said “let’s keep it positive!”.

He persisted in his assholish behavior.  I told him to go home.

At that point, I picked up her bike and wrangled it in my car.  “Hop in” I told her, “we’re gonna learn how to ride that bike!”  I drove down to an office park, knowing on a Saturday it would be a ghost town.  We got down to business, practicing balancing.  There was some whining. Some self doubt appeared for both of us.  And then, just like that, her feet hit the pedals.  Remember that scene in Forrest Gump when the braces come off and you see that sudden realization and determination in his face?  That was the same look she had.  Within 10 minutes, she was whizzing around the parking lot.

I clapped.  I cheered.  I danced.  I teared up a little.

I was just so damned proud.  I was proud of her for sticking with it.  I was proud of her grace when that kid was giving her balls.  And, if I’m honest, I’m proud I was able to teach her.  Riding a bike for a kid is a big deal.  I always figured I’d never be able to teach them, and that my husband would be the one to do it.  Yet I managed to teach both kids, and I think they’ll remember it was something I was able to do for them.  Kids remember our successes.  They remember (and sometimes land in therapy because of) our failures.  We don’t get an instruction manual.  We’re winging it every day as parents.  So that little success of “I can do it! I can teach her how to ride that bike!” was LIFE for me in that moment.

Parenting is just like writing a novel.  There are characters and stories, twists and turns, heroes and villains, successes and failures. We as parents work tirelessly, endlessly on our greatest works of art.  Our kids.  We love them, nurture them, and hope that their story will have more smiles than tears, more success that failures.  We are just one character of many in their story, but we play very important parts to that story.

When we got home, she hopped on her bike, and rode is smoothly down the sidewalks and back.  The kid who had given her a hard time came by and was shocked to see her riding without training wheels.  The other kids in the neighborhood also looked surprised.  “You learned to ride that in one day?” he asked her.

Yep, my mama taught me how.”

Best sentence I’ve heard in a long time.