Category Archives: Parenting

Brother, can you spare a dime? Or quarter?

  • Me: “So did you and Greg decide to switch chores?”
  • Eric: “No.”
  • Me: “But I’ve seen Greg feeding the pets a lot recently”
  • Eric: “I know.  I give him a quarter to do it.”
  • Me: “But we pay you more than a quarter.”
  • Eric: “I know.”
  • Me: “So you pay him PART of what we pay you, and he does it??”
  • Eric: “Not exactly.  I usually find a quarter he left lying around and just give him the same one again.”

(7/30/12)

Welcome, Day of Sweet Repose

Yes, officially it may be Labor Day.  A day intended to celebrate work and also the symbolic end of summer.  However, for me today is a day to recover from the first week of school, and to mourn the end of summer.

The first week of school is really tough.  Adjusting to rising early, making a good impression on the new teachers, getting all the homework done.  No, not the kids.  ME!

The horrid beeping of the dreaded alarm aside, the first week is full of assignments for the parents.  This early in the year, I’m still trying to give the illusion that I have it all together.  By the end of the year, it is unquestionably apparent that I do not, but I start out each year using slight of hand tricks to cover the truth.

Monday started out well.  I got all 4 of the dreaded “first day packets” filled out.  It even seemed less time consuming this year.  Maybe after 12 years, I’m finally getting it.  I even filled out the “describe your child” sheet for Eric, which I find extremely difficult.  “Five adjectives that best describe your child.”  OK Miss Teacher, do you want me to describe my child or really describe my child?

Abrasive, Combative, Volatile, Obnoxious and Selfish.  No, that’s is how his brothers would describe him.

Argumentative, Whiny, Defiant, Forgetful, Lazy.  No, that’s only when asked to do chores.

Brilliant, Enchanting, Enthusiastic, Responsible, Dazzling.  No, too kiss up.

Kind, Bright, Funny, Happy, Stubborn.  Simple, with a negative thrown in for a reality check.  Bingo.

Truthfully, I don’t remember which adjectives I ended up using.  I know stubborn stayed.  The rest were probably barely legible because I changed my mind so much I almost erased right through the paper.  Immediately I put the paperwork in the kids’ backpacks to be returned the next day.  Put one in the win column.

Eric came home Tuesday with all the papers still in his folder, exactly where I had proudly placed them.  Are you kidding me??  “Teacher, teacher, I did my homework.  I did it all.  I did my best.  But…my dog ate it?  Well, my kid ate it.  Or forgot to turn it in.  Something like that.”  Come on Eric.  Let me look good past the SECOND day of school!

One of my other homework tasks for Eric’s class is to sign his agenda every day.         Simple enough.  Illegible initials in the signature box.  Check.  On Thursday I notice – in bid red letters – a note from the teacher.  A note that was written on TUESDAY.  In addition to not turning in my homework, he didn’t turn in his time capsule.  Apparently I’m not JUST supposed to sign the agenda.  I’m supposed to actually READ it first.  Maybe the teacher needs to add flashing lights and sirens next time.

In the backpack the time capsule went, to be turned in first thing Friday.

Sigh.  First homework assignment 3 days late.

Friday afternoon I notice an envelope on the couch.  That looks similar to that troublesome time capsule envelope.  No way.  Are you kidding me??  No, really.  Someone must be messing with me.

Sigh.  First homework assignment 4 days late.

If it actually gets there tomorrow.

Trying to keep the illusion going this year is going to require some smoke and mirrors. And maybe a rabbit. 

Lost control of the remote control

That awkward moment when you realize the kids have left the room and you are watching Spongebob alone.

And you still don’t change the channel.

  • “No Patrick, they are laughing next to us.” ~Spongebob
  • “It may be stupid, but it’s also dumb.” ~Patrick
  • Sandy: “Patrick, don’t you have to be stupid somewhere else?” Patrick: “Not until 4.”
  • “That’s it.  You just lost your brain priveleges.” ~Plankton
  • “As long as these pants are square and this sponge is Bob, I will not let you down.”~Spongebob
  • “I’m a goofy goober, yeah.  You’re a goofy goober, yeah.  We’re all goofy goobers, yeah.” ~Spongebob and Patrick

See???  It’s good stuff!

Once In Two Blue Moons

Bummer.  I just realized that tonight is the rare second full moon of the month.  The Blue Moon.  I missed out on doing all those things I always say I do once in a…well, you get it.  Now I have to wait 3 more years to do them!

Since I get manicures once in a blue moon, I guess the Caviar Mani isn’t in the cards for me.  I’m sure that trend will be gone by 2015.  On the bright side, I guess I’m also off the hook for cleaning my windows

.I tried explaining what a blue moon is to Greg, but as soon as he heard the words “Blue” and “Moon,” he yelled “So the SMURFS are coming tonight???”  Oh Greg, get your facts straight buddy.  The Smurfs didn’t COME to the Big Apple during a blue moon.  They get to go back to Smurfville tonight.  What Greg?  No, it’s not an actual big apple.  That’s what people call New Yor…oh, nevermind.  I feel like I should come up with a witty explanation.  But I am only clever once in a blue moon.

Since I missed my opportunity tonight, I guess for the next 3 years I need to change the saying to “once in two blue moons.”

Mother Flipping Day

Tonight, I was already on my last nerve when I got cut off not once, but twice within 5 minutes.  So when the lady in the lane next to me saw my turn signal and sped up to prevent me from merging into her lane, I did it.  I gave her the bird.  And I don’t mean the bluebird of happiness.  So there you have it.  I’m a Mother Flipper.

Today had been one of those days.  A nothing-has-gone-right, is-it-over-yet kind of day.  After my “kind gesture,” I was sitting at a stop light behind a pick-up truck that had a brown tarp covering something in the bed.  In my impatient state of mind, I was tailgating so had an up close and personal view of the tarp.  Apparently, one corner of the tarp wasn’t tied down.  When the light turned green, the wind got under the tarp and I swear that corner rose from the dead and turned into a hideous monster with its arms flailing wildly.  The edge of the tarp was even frayed like teeth.  I literally SOL’d (screamed out loud).  As I realized how ridiculous I must have looked, then I LOL’d.  I looked at the tarp again.  I think I may have seen a finger sticking up.  Probably in response to me following too closely.

When I got home, I tripped on a shoe at the front door and as I stumbled forward, I had a vision of me doing a somersault and landing on the floor.  Good thing I didn’t.  Then I would have been a Mother Flipping Flipper.

(Addendum:  Now that I give it some thought…with the mood I was in, perhaps what I thought was a monster was actually my reflection!)_____________________________

The tarp monster:

“We hit bullying hard”

At a school orientation meeting a couple of years ago, during the guidance counselor’s spiel to the parents about the wonderment of middle school, she proclaimed “we hit bullying hard in 6th grade.”  At the time, I was the only one who chuckled out loud at the irony of that statement.  Later in the year though, the erroneousness of the same statement wasn’t funny.

Unbeknownst to me, my own son spent the second half of his 6th grade school year being bullied by a group of classmates.  I like to think I’m pretty involved in my kids’ lives (too involved if you ask them), but had NO clue.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Looking back, maybe I should have given more thought to the fact that he stayed home a lot and didn’t do much with his friends during that time.  But as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.  I just thought he was being a typical tween that gets moody.  It never once crossed my mind that he was being bullied.  I bought into the false perception that kids who are big for their age don’t get bullied.  I was guilty of stereotyping the victim of a bully as a scrawny, small child.  Never considered it could be a 5’8″ eleven year old.

The bullying was mostly verbal, with occasional shoving.  The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is just wrong.  Very wrong.  Words hurt just as much as punches. It wasn’t until the school year was almost over that I received the “come pick me up NOW” text that started the conversation during which I discovered what was wrong.

He said he hadn’t told me sooner because he was afraid I’d go to the guidance counselor.  He didn’t want to be labeled a snitch which would make the situation worse.  I finally was able to drag out a bit of vague information, after promising not to go stomping into the school, demanding punishment for the bullies. It was one of those parenting moments where I truly did not know what to do.  I did not want to betray his trust, but was devastated that he had been silently suffering for months.

Since there were only a few days of school left, I bit my tongue.  I’m surprised I didn’t bite it right off, considering I was also clenching  my teeth in anger.  Fortunately, summer break seemed to heal all (most) wounds (some may never be healed) and the bullying stopped in 7th grade.  As far as I know.  I don’t have the illusion anymore that I know exactly what is happening in my kids’ lives.

On Monday, a horrific incident happened in Maryland.  A 15 year old took a gun to school and shot another student.  As is often the case in situations like this, the boy was bullied.  And as is almost always the case, the student that is fighting for his life was a random target – in this case a special needs student who greeted everyone with a smile – completely uninvolved in the situation.  A lot of people are very quick to judge when something terrible happens.  The parents should have raised the shooter better.  The school should have intervened.  Peers should have seen warning signs.  Bullying is to blame.

I feel a lot of things about this shooting but judgement isn’t one of them.  I feel incredible sadness, and intense fear.  Heartbreak for the victim, his family and everyone involved, including the family of the shooter.  Anxiety that I have two teenagers – plus 2 that will be teenagers before I turn around- and the realization that something like this could happen anywhere, at any time.  But not judgement.  I don’t personally know anyone involved.  Even if I did, I still couldn’t judge.  No one – let me repeat, NO ONE – knows everything about this situation.  So no one can really pass judgement.  You can argue about how the teen dressed or what he posted on Facebook or the parents’ past or how he got the gun or even that he was bullied.  And those may all be valid points .  But the fact remains that the reason this teen decided to take a gun to school and open fire may never be known.  There are many other teens that have a bad family life, that have guns in their home, that don’t dress “the norm,” that post gloomy thoughts.  And, yes, very many that are bullied.  Probably more than we know.  Because they are afraid to tell.  But those other bully victims don’t decide to turn to violence against others like this one did.  There is some part of the story that is missing.  Something beyond the headlines that made the teen make the devastating choice he did.  Something we may never know without getting inside his head.

Don’t point fingers.  But keep that sadness and fear.  Use those emotions for good.  Pray for the victim and his loved ones when you feel sad.  Come up with ideas of how to prevent this in the future when you feel afraid.  Instead of condemning and placing blame, praise those that were heroes in this situation.  The faculty and counselor that got the gun away most likely prevented this from being a worse tragedy than it was.  But it is still a tragedy.  An awful, horrible tragedy.  An unexplainable, unblamable tragedy.

Bullying is an inexcusable act.  It is unacceptable that we live in a world where tweens, teens and even adults live with the feelingof knots  in their stomach because of another person intimidating them.  Even if it isn’t the sole cause for what this teen did, bullying did probably contribute to his downward spiral that ultimately led to his desperate act.  We all need to continue to “hit bullying hard” until it ends.  Completely.  Forever.

______________________________________________

God bless and heal you Daniel Borowy.  May you soon be back at school greeting your classmates with waves and high fives.

Daniel’s friends are making a plea to his favorite singer, Lady Gaga, to come visit him.  Send her a Twitter or Facebook message to help with their cause.  I truly hope that wish comes true.

Punctua-moticon

Gone are the days of the terms “semi-colon,” “colon,” “left parentheses,” and “right parentheses.”
Greg was playing around in Microsoft Word and referred to them as “wink,” “shift eyes,” “shift frown,” and “shift smile.”
😉    🙁    🙂

(From 1/8/12)

There they go, just a walking down the street. Singing Do Wah Diddy Diddy Dum Diddy Do.

This school year, we had a dilemna.  Are Eric and Greg are old enough to walk home from school alone?  After going back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth), we decided yes.  Since we live less than a mile from the school, we do not have bus service.  Up until this point, someone has picked them up every day.  There are walking paths and sidewalks the entire route home and there will be 4-5 kids walking together.  No big deal, right?

Today was the first day of school.  They were very excited about the big walk.  As the day progressed, scenarios went through my head of things going wrong.

  1. What if they forget they are supposed to walk home and stand out in front of the school waiting for me.   The other Moms will think I forgot to pick up my kids on the very first day!  How embarrassing will that be???  Yeah, my first “worry” was what others would think, not safety.  Mom of the year here.
  2. One of the paths goes near a busy road.  What if they are goofing around and go off the path?  What if they get too close to the road with the cars whizzing by??  At least my SECOND worry was safety.  I redeemed myself.  A little.
  3. What if Eric and Greg get in an argument?  They have reached the age that arguments between them usually turn physical.  I pictured them rolling around in the grass, wrestling and punching as their buddies cheered “Fight. Fight. Fight.”
  4. What if they get lost?  They could be wandering through the woods hours later in the dark.  We’ve walked that way many times so that thought was most ridiculous, but it was still a thought.

I finally calmed my fears by deciding to walk half way to meet them.  That was a good compromise for the first day.  I knew they wouldn’t be happy to see me intruding on their “big boy freedom” but that’s ok.

At dismissal time, I strolled out of the house thinking of a good response to the “why are you here, Mom?” question when I met them.  “It’s just such a pretty day, I decided to walk also.”  That wouldn’t really be convincing as I had sweat dripping from the 95 degree heat.  Oh well, stalker Mom it is.

I got half-way to the half-way point when it dawned on me – there are two different ways they could walk home.  We hadn’t discussed which way they were going to walk.  If I picked the wrong path, I would miss them completely and they would go home to an empty house and think Mom didn’t even care enough to be home to see how their first day went.  I turned around and walked back home.  At least they won’t know I was helicopter Mom now.

Twenty minutes after dismissal passes and they still aren’t home. Common sense told me dismissal takes longer than normal on the first day and the kids aren’t going to sprint home, but I still wondered if one of my premonitions had happened.  To the car I go.  I drive to the end of our street and as I turn onto the next street, I see them.  Almost home.  Not on the route I was walking on to meet them, of course.  They were happily walking on the side-walk, grinning from ear to ear.  I thought about slouching down in the seat and backing down the street back to our house so they wouldn’t see me, but it was too late.

They walked over to my car and, as predicted, Eric says “What are you doing?”  I sheepishly respond, “just checking.”  He gave me the one eyebrow raised look that I know too well.  As they are standing in the road by my car talking to me, I realize that THIS moment is probably the LEAST safe moment of their walk.  Way to go Mom.

After the friends go to their houses, Eric and Greg sprint home.  They get to our driveway faster than I can drive there.  They race to see who can get on the video game system the quickest as they yell “we don’t have homework, but YOU do!”

I guess they really are ready to walk home alone.  It’s me that isn’t.

How to Get a Teen to Respond to Your Text Messages

2:16pm Me:  You still need to change the litter pans and mow.

<no response>

2:28pm Me:  We are out of litter so Dad is bringing some on his way home from work.  Go ahead and start mowing to get that off your list.

<no response>

2:46pm Me:  Do you want Chipotle?

2:46pm Jimmy:  Yes.

2:47pm Me:  Oh, well we aren’t going to Chipotle.  I just wanted to make sure you were receiving the other texts from me.