Thursday, February 24, 2011

Guess what?

Gossip. It is not a good thing. And my kids are at an age when they hear a lot of stuff and believe pretty much all of it. Wait, I take that back, they don't believe stuff I say, but they will believe what the kids on the bus tell them. Bobby kicked the school nurse in the leg. Really? Yes, really. How do you know? Because Maddie told me. Really? Well, how does Maddie know? Because she knows. Yes, well how does she know? Did she see Bobby kick the nurse? No. So, she doesn't really know if that's what happened. It's the truth. It did happen. How can you be sure? Because Maddie said so. When you are a mom of school age kids, this is the kind of conversation you have pretty much every day. And it's 10 times worse when your kid is around her friends. Just yesterday, I had three kids in the car and they were going on an on about some mess in the bathroom and they were saying they knew who made it and swore up and down that it was this specific child responsible for the mess. I'm telling you, one kid says something and the rest of them believe it. That poor kid could have been out sick yesterday and he'd still get the blame for the mess. I started to wonder how to teach the girls about gossiping. When does it cross the line from normal childish conversation to harmful and hurtful. To them, they are just stating the facts - Charles made a mess in the bathroom. To me, I picture poor Charles, shunned by his peers, sitting alone at the lunch table with people snickering behind his back, pointing at the kid who made the mess in the bathroom. He'll always be known as messy Charlie. He will never be in the "in" crowd. He won't have a date to prom. Or, I smile at the thought of messy Charlie embracing the title - even if he didn't make the mess, he will take the blame and say "Yeah, that's right. It was me. I made the mess. I am the biggest slob in the world. I am Mess Man!" And then all the kids cheer and hoist Charles up on their shoulders and parade his across the blacktop. Okay, wait, I got carried away and totally forgot what I was talking about. Oh, right, gossip. I know I expect too much from my kids. How can I ask them not to gossip when I do it too? If some mom gets on my nerves, of course I share that fact with a friend. Oh, I hear that teacher is getting transferred to another school. Oh yeah, that guy is so flirty with the pretty soccer coach. (PS - I'm making these up. I don't know of any teacher transfers or flirty soccer dads). I'm just saying that it's a fine line. I want my kids to engage in the fun and interesting conversations of youth. I guess I just want them to be the kind of people who, when they hear something negative about someone else, they don't believe it. They shrug off silly news of someone's elementary school escapades. They know that something isn't true and listen to the right things instead of the wrong things. They become a person known for not believing and engaging in gossip. Because, sooner or later, they will be the target of it anyway. So I'm making a mental note - if I don't have something nice to say about someone, I'll make sure to keep my mouth shut (especially in front of my kids!)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The monster I created

I've never read the book, Frankenstein or seen the movie, but I can pretty much figure out the story. Scientist creates a monster and then monster acts like a monster. Kind of like kids. I'm not saying kids are monsters - even though sometimes they do act like them! I'm saying that we create our kids. We make them what they are. Is your child demanding? Will he eat nothing but chicken nuggets smothered in ketchup and only wear white socks on Tuesdays and not move from the car until you unbuckle the seatbelt and not pick up the Pokemon cards that he threw on the floor yesterday because he's waiting for you to do it? Do you pick them up? Do you unbuckle the seatbelt? Do you wash the white socks on Tuesday and stop at the grocery to restock the ketchup in the pantry? You've created that "monster". To me, one of the biggest mistakes parents make is expecting their children to be a certain way and then not giving them the tools to learn how to be that way. Do you want your child to dress themselves every morning but then get exasperated when they take too long and do it for them? Do you want them to try new flavors and stop being picky eaters but then continue to change the menu depending on their mood or whim? They are children. How can we keep expecting them to know the right thing to do and to do it all the time? How can we wish for them to be well behaved and obedient and sweet and happy and nice and all of that good stuff if we're not that way? As a parent, you are always on display. Your child is always watching you. They hear you gossiping on the phone. They see you roll your eyes at your husband. They hear the curse you mutter at the driver who cut you off. They are always watching. And you might not believe it, but most times they will do what you do. If they see you doing it, they think it's okay. So let them catch you being good. Let them see you using the best manners possible or saying a kind word to someone when you really feel like saying something else. Let them see you being honest and fair. Let them see you sharing. So, really, you have to figure out how to be a better person if you want to be a better parent. It's a process. Just keep working on it.


Kids will always squeeze a juice box or spill a full water bottle – take the first sip.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Letting myself go

Let's face it, I'm no beauty queen. But, I'm fine with the way I look and what God gave me. I thought about that this morning when my oldest asked me to smooth out the cowlick in her hair and then asked if people could shave off their cowlicks. Hmm. I have about four of them in my hair and don't really think about them anymore. I did when I was younger - especially with bangs. Have you ever tried to brush down bangs when you have two cowlicks on either side of your forehead? It's nearly impossible. My daughter is nearly 9 - definitely at an age when you start to be cognizant of your looks and your clothes and your hair. It was easy for me as a kid - throw on a uniform and go to school. I sometimes remembered to brush my teeth and run a comb through my hair. As I got older, I didn't care all that much about my looks. Well, I did, but I cared more about sleep. I would rather roll out of bed at 8 to get to school by 8:15 than be like the girl who woke up at 5 to do her hair every day or to carry makeup to school and touch it up during every class. I'm telling you, lazy girls are the ones who made it cool to wear pajama pants to the mall and those horribly sloppy ponytails. Unfortunately, people do judge you by the way you look. And there is something to be said about the way you present yourself to the world. There is a woman I admire who is always put together. I've never seen her without makeup or her hair neatly coiffed. Sure, she is pretty, but I think a lot of her beauty comes from inside of her. I have another friend who, until yesterday, I had never seen without a ponytail. I almost wanted to tell her to put her hair up! I've never been the kind of person who thinks you have to dress up and wear make up to be attractive to a man. If you don't like the way I look at 3 in the morning, then you don't deserve to look at me when I'm all gussied up either. But, I'm realizing that I should make a little bit of an effort. I swear, if I put on a necklace or change my earrings, my kids think it's a holiday. They have never once seen me wear a high heel. At least I've started putting on makeup to go to work. I don't really accessorize or anything - let's not get too crazy. I'm just not wired that way. I can't be all put together. I don't go into a store to buy an outfit. I buy a shirt. I buy pants. If they match, that's an outfit. My girls the other day were looking at vests and scarves and all of this other stuff and I'm standing in the store wishing I could be anywhere else - wishing I enjoyed the art of creating a fashion masterpiece the way some women do. I would just rather throw on a pair of jeans and be done with it all. I guess this, like many things in the life of a mother with two daughters, is a test. I might not do too well on it - maybe like a C. Can I write a paper on belts and shoes for extra credit?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Party pooper

There's a birthday party coming up. One of the kids in your child's class is throwing a bash at the nearby bowling alley/arcade/roller rink/ceramics store/bear stuffing joint, whatever. And then, no invitation. Oh no. Secretly, you want to jump for joy because you don't really like the kid or you have something else planned that Saturday or you don't feel like shelling out the dough for yet another gift or all of the above. But, you can't be happy because your child feels disappointed. She might feel excluded or left out. Gone are those pre-school days when you had to either give every child an invitation or none at all. Some kids stop having parties. Sometimes, you invite fewer kids as you get older. And then there are times when you just don't get the invite. I have to admit, there have been instances when I've taken it a bit personally. The mom I was friends with since our kids were infants doesn't put my kids on the invite list for her child's party. You think you should get the invite - even if the kids don't play together all that much anymore. You think, 'well, I invited her son to my son's party so it should be reciprocated.' But, you've got to hold that stiff upper lip. You've got to show your kids that it's okay to not get invited to each and every party ever held. And, parents, it's okay to not respond yes to every party. I used to do that. I used to feel bad if my kids didn't go to every party. Not that they would be missing out. I just always wanted the birthday child to feel that everyone liked him enough to take the time out to attend his special day. I guess this is one of the many trials of having daughters - I bet boys don't give a hoot about parties!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pay Attention!

We tell our kids all the time to pay attention, don't we? We want them to focus on one thing and do what they're supposed to and pay attention. Instead, their thoughts drift, their minds wander and their attention is diverted by a myriad of things. This morning, we're walking out the door to church and I look at my child and ask where her coat is. She says she forgot. So I tell her to go and get it. She does. Then, I ask where her shoes are. She doesn't know. She's only got one and thinks the dog stole the other. Okay, go look for it. She comes back with no shoe, but she has a bracelet she found on the dining room table. How did you see the bracelet if you were looking for your shoe? Well, I was looking under the table for my shoe and then I saw the bracelet. Well, where is your shoe? I don't know. Okay, let's go find it. So, we walk up the steps. She stops to look in the mirror. She stops to fiddle with something in the living room. She finds the shoe. Then she's got to get socks. I just don't get it. You know you need to get dressed. You know all the steps. You know what is required and you know what articles of clothing you need. Why does it take so long? Because you lack any sort of focus and pay no attention to the things you are supposed to do. You will pay all your attention to things that mean very little and spend time doing absolutely nothing. I'm so not a fan of the ADD diagnosis. I think it's ridiculous to say a child has a disorder because they can't focus on one thing. Are you kidding? Do you know a kid who would rather focus on a math problem than on a video game or something equally entertaining? Kids can't focus. There are way too many things going on in the world for a child to focus. There's a spider on the ceiling. There's a new Power Rangers commercial on. There's a cookie hidden somewhere in the pantry. There's just too much to expect a child to pay attention to the boring stuff in life. Oh, and let's not forget to practice what we preach. Do you pay enough attention to your child? Sure, sometimes you'd rather pay attention to Facebook or Dr. Phil or folding the laundry, but are you missing a valuable opportunity. When you ignore your child saying "Mom" five thousand times while you're standing on line in Target reading a magazine or checking your texts, don't expect that kid to jump to it when you call his name. Dads should especially pay attention to their kids. Sit with them for 15 minutes while they do their homework - and actually watch what they do. Talk to them at dinner about their day. Listen and pay attention. Because if you don't, someone else will - and you might not be too happy with that person. What if it's the wrong kind of person, or TV show or drug or computer pal that captures your child's attention? You can control what you give your attention to. If you let the wrong things capture your attention, you've got to do something to take your focus off the bad and put it on the good.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


What are your kids afraid of? The dark? That's a pretty easy one. I think it's less that they are afraid of the dark than the unknown and unseen. Because, really, if you think about it, the "boogey man" could be under their bed during the day too! Do you ever wonder why kids are afraid of things? Like, I think kids are afraid of dogs because they might have had a bad experience or learned it from an adult. If you're afraid to touch a reptile, chances are your kids will be too, right? Really, it's got to come from us. Usually, kids are ready for any kind of adventure - leaping before they look. I've tried to make a point of not showing fear in front of my kids. Granted, there are plenty of things in life that can evoke fear, but I don't think it should rule your thoughts. I don't think you should be afraid to try anything new just because it's different and you don't know what the outcome will be. I remember when I was a kid, we used to get Chinese takeout from Moon's on South Broadway. Oh, I loved that place and would get Moo Goo Gai Pan every time we went there. Well, one day, my dad told me I couldn't get it. He said I would never know if I liked anything else if I never tried anything else and he made me get something new. I was afraid. I liked my food. I trusted it. That Moo Goo made me feel safe. So, I got sweet and sour chicken. Well, if you're waiting for the epiphany, it's not coming. I didn't like it at all. Personally, I don't think pickles should be hot. But, I did end up learning that I needed to try new things and I always do. I encourage my kids to do the same. I don't want them to be afraid. My oldest says she's afraid of bridges because she thinks they'll collapse. I don't know where she gets it. I take her on roller coasters and water slides. I'll bring her rock climbing or cliff diving - whatever she wants to do, because even if I am afraid, I will not let the fear stop me from doing things. Now, my kids might be a different story. They do have some fears - major ones. For instance, I know they are afraid of the laundry hamper. They won't go near it! They, and their diryt clothes, avoid it at all costs!