Thursday, November 3, 2011

Alone, but in the same boat

The other day Zoey climbed in bed with us at 4:00am.  Nothing unusual there, happens all the time.  But on this particular early morning she brought a book with her.  This was no cute little board book, picture book or even a Junie B. Jones.  No, she brought in a thick paperback and when Greg tried to take it away from her (thinking it was the book from my bedside table), she threw a fit.  Turns out it wasn't Clash of Kings, it was Your Baby's First Year - one of those doctor's office freebies I got while pregnant with her.

What is she trying to tell us?  Even though she's out of her first year, is she saying we need to some further training in our parenting?  I think probably so.  That's the message I'm getting from the big kid, too. 

No one tells you how isolating parenting is.  Occasionally you see a parent in public with a kid having a giant meltdown.  I'm not talking about babies or even toddlers - everyone knows that's the way it goes with the wee ones - I'm talking about the big kids, the ones who should know better, the ones that have reached an age of reason.  For the most part, though, these things usually happen at home behind closed doors and you never remember when you're in the thick of it that you saw the same thing happen to someone else at the park or the mall.  You always think, "Why is this happening to me?  Why am I the only one with a kid who does this?  Why am I the only one who has no idea how to handle these situations with care and patience and magic?"

Yesterday during the midst of a meltdown from the big kid, she yelled something that I remembered a friend telling me her kid said when he was having meltdowns sometimes.  It was a bit of a comfort to know I wasn't alone, someone else had experienced this exact thing before me and they made it through intact.  That was my first thought but it was quickly followed by "I have to ask her how she deals with it, how she makes it better, how she turns the situation around."  She laughed at me when I told her I hoped she had an answer for me.  Of course, I'm not the only one who doesn't know all the answers or how to do it "right."  A friend commented on the blog, "Wendi, thanks for being so honest. We all need to hear that we are not alone in this crazy parenting thing we got ourselves into."  

That is an amazing comfort to hear.  Too bad it isn't followed by some practical, completely concrete and proven methods to deal with all this crazy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Statistics don't lie, but they leave things out

There is tons of information out there about the benefits of family dinners.  It's more likely that the family consumes healthier foods, more fruits and veggies, less fried foods and soda.  Young girls are less likely to have eating disorders.  Children are more likely to feel like their parents are proud of them, less likely to use drugs and more likely to get good grades.  This sounds fantastic.  But something you never see are the statistics about the effects of family dinners on the parents.  I'm sure this is because no good could come from studying it.

Our family dinners always involve at least one person crying about what's being served, at least two people fighting over who gets to lay out the forks versus the napkins, at least one person making a massive mess, at least two people telling very animated stories at one time, at least two people who cannot remain seated more than 90 seconds at a time, at least one person crying because they fell out of their chair, at least two people begging for dessert before any real food has been consumed, at least two people bickering loudly and at least one grown-up reaching their breaking point. 

There are times when all I can do is take my plate and fork, go to the kitchen and stand at the counter finishing my dinner because I just cannot take it anymore.  Since we have family dinners almost every night I feel sure my kids are going to be incredibly healthy, well-adjusted adult people someday but I fear I'll be drooling in my rocking chair on the porch of some state-run mental institution well before that ever happens.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Someday I'm going to miss this, right?

Lately being a good and tolerant parent has been very trying.  My oldest daughter is exasperating and exhausting.  She works hard at ruining every situation she is a part of.  Yesterday I took the three girls to the Second Sunday Market on Main St, as soon as we stepped out of the car Lorelei announced she was bored.  We stayed long enough for me to get some bread, let the little girls look at the water and listen to a multitude of complaints.

We piled back in the car and I took everyone to Meadowbrook Park where I had to force Lorelei to get out of the car.  She then spent the entire 45 minutes we were there closely following me and repeating, "Can we go home now? Can we go home now? Can we go home now? Can we go home now?"  I ignored her, gave no response.  I just continued to follow the little girls around making sure they weren't trying too many daredevil stunts (I did wonder what other parents were thinking of us, though).  Then she changed tactics and started bullying Violet, doing things to put her in danger on the monkey bars.  I was forced to acknowledge her behavior and sent her to sit on a bench.  Shortly after that we decided to go home for lunch - I was completely mentally and physically exhausted by the whole outing.

All that came on the heels of a giant meltdown that happened Friday night, nearly resulting in cancelling her plans for Saturday.  I gave her the opportunity to earn back the outing with her friend on Saturday and she did, but barely.  We were being very generous - it's so hard when another family is involved in the punishment, you don't want to also punish them by cancelling.  I was talking to her friend's mom (who was seeing similar behavior from her kid) and we both agreed that we really hoped it was some sort of early hormonal thing rearing its head and not the fact that we have rotten kids.  (We know we don't because each of us can report that the other's kid always behaves marvelously when they are away from their parents.)

There are a few nuggets from my childhood that surface every once in a while when I'm in the midst of some crazy parenting nightmare that make me think I'm being punished for all the terrible things I did to my parents.  I remember my father telling me when I was a kid, probably just a little older than Lorelei is now, "Just because you're in a bad mood doesn't mean you have to put every one else in a bad mood."  That is exactly how I feel.  I'm struggling with how to not let her tantrums affect my good mood. 

And then there's the bathing problem.  She refuses to bathe.  I'm going to have to start buying her deodorant so she doesn't start offending passing strangers.  Sigh. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I did not fall off the face of the earth.

I've been avoiding the blog lately.  The thing that has been looming largest in my life lately is not something I can write about publicly and it's been blocking out every other thought that I have when I have a moment to sit at the computer.  It's very frustrating.  So, to get out of the funk, I'm going to tell a few funny Violet stories.

I've mentioned before about Violet's penchant for fabulously clashing outfits and how I've given up on trying to guide her choices.  On the first semi-chilly day of fall Violet chose to wear a multicolored flowered skirt, multicolored striped leggings and a solid colored shirt (I was just relieved that we didn't have three different patterns) to school.  That same day I saw a little girl from a different class wearing something similar - patterned tights, patterned skirt, patterned shirt AND mismatched shoes!!  Her mother was taking a photo of her outside of the school.  I was overjoyed - someone else had a kid with quirky fashion sense.  After school we were hanging out on the playground and I was telling a mom friend about my joy at seeing this other little girl.  She laughed and said, "Oh - today was 'mismatch day' for that class!" 

One recent afternoon Violet was talking to Cinderella on her toy cell phone.  We were in the front yard waiting on Lorelei's bus and I wasn't really paying attention to her "conversation."  Until I heard her say something about the Prince's pointy red penis.  WHAT?!  Turns out this had been a topic of conversation with a neighbor kid who'd noticed our new kitten's pointy red penis.  I told her that it isn't really polite to talk about people's private parts, to which she replied, "Mo-om, it isn't even real."  I didn't ask if she was talking about penises in general or just the pretend Prince's penis. 

Costco has had Halloween costumes out for a while now and early last month Violet saw a mermaid costume (generic, but she thinks it's Ariel).  She fell in love with it and I just couldn't resist making her totally happy, so I bought it.  It is adorable (see photo) and the best $18 I've spent in a long time - or so I thought.  The headband that came with it is too small and squeeze's her head too much.  It's a cute headband, but really, it's totally unnecessary for a mermaid to have a headband, right?  Wrong.  Violet says that since the headband is too small she cannot be Ariel for Halloween.  Another $18 down the toilet.

Hopefully I'll be better about posting.  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 16, 2011

No justice no peace

Violet started preschool this week and I discovered what I've been missing all summer  - some kid-free moments during daylight hours when I still have enough energy to function.   Monday was a shortened day and involved me staying there the whole time for orientation, but Wednesday she started in earnest.  Granted the "full" day is only 2.5 hours, but Zoey naps and I have the WHOLE time to myself.

I feel like a new person, I feel like I am probably not going to drown.  I feel like my house might be semi-clean again someday soon.  And I might be able to blog a bit more often. 

If you are my Facebook friend you may have seen my post about Violet's library book, "How to Get Married by Me, the Bride."  The first few lines in the book go like this:
When you want to get married, first you have to find someone you can marry.  You can marry your best friend or your teacher or your pet or your daddy.
Children's books are so weird sometimes - another book she picked out on the same trip was "The Wicked Big Toddlah."  It's about a giant baby born in Maine.  But I digress - back to the marriage stuff.  Violet is obsessed with getting married and being a mommy.

Earlier this week, she asked me when she was going to get married.  I told her it would probably be best if she went to elementary school first - and then middle school, high school and college - but after that she could get married.  She shouted "Hooray!" then asked why she had to go to so much school.  I explained that there was a lot of stuff to learn and when she went to college she could learn about the kind of job she wanted to do - whether that was being a doctor or working at the aquarium or whatever.

She added, "Or being a Mommy?"  Hmmm, sure, honey.  "I'm going to go to college to have a baby!"  Oh, great.  When I told Greg about this conversation he said, "Well, I guess we're off the hook for 3 years of college tuition."

This morning she asked me if her kids will like pasta (something she has arbitrarily decided she now intensely likes, even though it used to be her favorite).  I told her that if there is any justice in the world, then no, they would not like pasta.  Greg said that means they definitely would like pasta.  Her response, "Mama, is there no justice?"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A punch to the cups

While checking out at Target recently Violet was chatting with the grandmotherly clerk, going on and on about how her friend, Daniel, was five and he was going to start kindergarten, but she was going to go to four-year-old preschool - all very compelling stuff.  Then she switched to, "And my sister hits me."

The clerk glanced over at Lorelei, the bigger kid, and said, "Well, someday you'll be big and you'll be able to get her back."  I chuckled, pointed to little Zoey and said, "Oh no, she's talking about this one." The poor lady looked a little appalled and really had nothing to say about that.

Our Zoey's got a mean streak.  There doesn't even need to be any specific provocation.  You'd understand, if not condone it, if the littlest was fighting sibling injustice with her fists but she's more of a random acts of violence kind of girl.  The other day she threw her sippy cup on the dining room like she was spiking a football.  I told her "we don't throw our cups on the floor, please go pick it up."  With balled fists she said, "No!" then marched over and kicked the cup.

"Zoey, pick up the cup."

She shouted, "No!" and followed up with a punch to the cup.

"Zoey Alexandra, pick up the cup right now."

"No! I hit you!" And she did.

I'd like to say I handled it firmly, but gently and set Zoey on a course toward a peaceful, non-violent protest kind of future, but instead I giggled. She's probably gonna start punching more than cups.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's only just begun.

Summer ended with a bang - missing the first day of school thanks to Irene.  I know, technically summer isn't over, but school has finally begun - so I'm calling it the end.  And now the craziness begins. 

I swear I am not one of those parents who over-commits her kids.  I wasn't thinking clearly when I signed Lorelei up for soccer.  I loved playing soccer when I was a kid, LOVED it, I was super excited when she finally started showing interest in it and asked to play.  I did a little research, asked around and then signed her up for SAC's Rec U10 team.  My only reservation was that I had no idea when her practices or games would be before registering - she also takes ballet and jazz/tap.  Of course I now know that five of the ten soccer games begin at the exact minute that her ballet class ends on Saturday mornings - the only other day that ballet class is offered is on the day she has soccer practice.  ARGH.

And to complicate things a bit more, Nutcracker rehearsals for the production her dance school puts on every November start at the beginning of October...also on Saturday afternoons.  In the past her rehearsals have always been on Friday evenings, I didn't even think to factor that in.  Two of the eight soccer games coincide with those rehearsals - if you miss too many rehearsals, you don't get to be in the show.  I know what you're thinking - "Just don't do the Nutcracker this year."  I would love that.  This will be her seventh Nutcracker.  I used to really enjoy the Nutcracker, up until about five years ago.  Now I hate it.  But Lorelei loves it, I can imagine the meltdown that might happen during that conversation would get ugly.  Double and triple ARGH.

I have no idea what we are going to do.  I guess discover a system of teleportation or depend on magic. That's a solid plan, right?

I had hoped to sign the little girls up for gymnastics, but I think I'll put that off for at least a couple of weeks to make sure I can maintain my sanity.  Thankfully they can take those classes during the day and simultaneously, so we would only have to be in one place at one time.