Attempting to Understand My Child

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Don’t you just think that this motherhood stuff is hard? This parenting stuff is hard? I do. Not just the waking up at 5am, which I am currently doing thanks to my two youngest kids, but the even more so the stuff you deal with that doesn’t immediately come with a name. My 10-yr-old is the most difficult for me to parent. He pushes my limits, tests all my patience, and knows exactly how to rile me up. It has taken so much time and reflection, mostly after I have blown up, for me to get to where I am better able to see the storm before it starts. I am better able to know what is setting him off or making him anxious, and sometimes even when I see it coming the attitude that comes with it is enough for me to ignore everything I have learned.

Yesterday was like that. He was supposed to stay after school for Run Club. I wasn’t waiting for him, but it happened that we were still at the school playing on the playground with siblings when he came ambling out 20 minutes after school had let out. He forgot. He had gotten in trouble and had to stay after school which caused him to forget. When I asked about all of it he just broke down. Eye-rolling, sighing, throwing himself on the ground, yelling at me. His whole day was horrible, the worst ever, I didn’t even care, I was mean, he didn’t want to talk to a mean person, I hated him, he hated me, and he was just going to go home. I ended up walking him into the school to see if the Run Club had left yet and they had. I had previously told him he had to basically suck it up and get his stuff together, which further confirmed for him that whatever was bothering him didn’t matter to me. This time I tried to reach him by saying I knew he was anxious about going late but it would be ok and I would go with him. This didn’t help. More anger was thrown my way. I responded, “Well, I don’t care what you want to do. You are going, and if you don’t do it because you are in Run Club you are doing it because I said so, and I am going watch you the whole time to ensure you are doing the laps.”  As you can imagine he didn’t care for this at all. In the end he went.

It was after he got home and we tried again that I found out what had been bothering him the whole time. He had standardized testing and didn’t know how to do the math problems. He only completed 2 before he was sent to finish in the principal’s office, and he only completed one more before time was up. This stressed him out, made him anxious and nervous about the 2nd portion of the test. In his mind he had already made it harder, and he hadn’t even started it yet. He tried to begin the second part of the test early (which is why he had to stay after school) and again he only completed a couple problems before he was sent out to try and finish in another room. Again he didn’t finish. He feared he failed and would get in trouble for failing, and he felt defeated. So I gave him hug. It was all he needed.  I couldn’t make it better. I am not sure I had the words other than- ‘Yeah, that does suck, I am sorry.’ I could hug him though. So I did. Later that evening his dad took him out to play tennis, and he came home smiling. Hidden behind all the anger and frustration and hateful words was just a kid who needed to know his parents were still there for him even when the it felt like the world was against him.

I need some Monday Motivation

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I woke up today because my 5yo decided at 6:30am he was hungry. It wasn’t a simple kid coming into your room kindly asking that you make him breakfast, no it was a kid on the other side of the house, screaming and yelling with some crying thrown in for good measure, demanding that I make him breakfast. After ignoring this for 5 minutes and it not stopping I did what any sane mother would do I told him to shut the hell up and go back to bed. Too bad though because everyone in this house was now awake, I was grumpy as fuck, and they all wanted stuff. Thank you 5yo.

I wish I could say things got better, but they didn’t. The same 5yo poured himself a glass of milk, which is awesome, but half of the gallon ended up on the floor. I had make coffee because there was none, by the time I got around to it, cold. What?! Fine. More whining, more crying, more demanding things. I sort of lost it  because it was only 7:30am at this point. I am pretty sure I yelled, “When did you decide you were in charge around here? Last I checked I am the one that pushed you out of MY vagina so that makes me the person in charge.” I got some looks.

Luckily, today is my exercise day because I needed to sweat out these early morning demons. I felt totally recharged, invigorated, and ready to be nice to all my kids. Working out really is like a miracle drug. This lasted until I heard multiple kids whine about how they want electronics right now! Where is the iPad? Where is the laptop? They are also hungry, which is a valid point because we don’t really have any food, but the catch is that my husband took my bank card because someone stole his information and he has to go to the bank in person to request a new one. I open some pretzels and hummus and tell them they are just going to have to deal. In the end though I decided to be nice and order a pizza. Dinner will be a different story, but cheese quesadillas are looking pretty promising right now. I am also guessing my alone time this evening will be a trip to the grocery store.

People, it is like 45, misty, dreary, it is only 12:30, and I am great need of wine and a nap. This Spring Break is gonna suck! Not making a trip to Kentucky this year seems like a pretty bad idea at this point. I ordered some yard games like Kan Jam and ladder golf, but I am not sure the weather is going to cooperate. It looks like this afternoon is going to be a movie fest. I hope they actually sit still and pay attention. Pray for me please- it is going to be a long week.

Brown to Blond and Cops In Between

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A few months back I bought a box and dyed my hair brown. I don’t normally box dye my hair, but I have before and figured why not? It turned out fine. However, my happy hair color is blond. So with sunny days and better weather coming our way, I decided to start the process of professionally having it turned back to blond. It will take a few trips spaced out over a few months to get it the blond I like while maintaining my hair’s integrity, but I am on my way.

The appointment was going to be 2.5 hours long so I brought a book, my phone, and a method to pay. Armed with these necessities I walked into the salon. I chatted about the crazy weather, going downtown, food, and then it was time for me to sit and let that color process. I started reading my book, and then I noticed my method to pay was gone! Like gone! I get down on hands and knees and crawl around the salon. I stand up and take the cushion off the seat. I had someone go check by the station where I had been sitting. Nothing. Oh my! I asked if I could go walk up and down the street, but sadly this might not make my hair do what it’s supposed to do. Kindly though, the receptionist offered and went looking up and down the street. She came back empty handed. Oh, woe is me. Now I have to figure out how to pay and cancel my card which is all kinds of suck. Nothing more to do I open my book and begin to read. 5 minutes later I see my husband stroll into the salon, open his wallet, and hand my card! I am amazed. How did he even find that? How did he get to the salon?

It turns out that my card was turned into the fire station. The fire station called the police, the police looked up my information, and drove it to our house. What?! I am all kinds of in love with our town now. The fact that someone turned it in and didn’t swipe it is amazing! The fact that the fire station and police tag teamed to find me and got my card to my husband in like an hour’s time is impressive. Then my lovely husband, who was already staying at home with the kids and no car, ran  (and he really did because he was super sweaty and red faced) to the salon to get my card to me so I could pay for this blond adventure is astounding! *The kids were napping, the oldest was on guard duty, and we live like a mile or less from salon- so don’t fret about that. So if I was feeling bad about the state of our country or people this revived my spirit.

Never Underestimate the Power of Napkin Notes

 

My oldest son is a 4th grader these days, but way back when he was in kindergarten, he came home one day wondering why I didn’t write him notes in his lunch box. Well, because why? He couldn’t even read yet. So fine, I did with a combination of pictures (I am no artist) and words. I started doing it here and there, never consistently. I noticed when there wasn’t a note in his lunchbox he would ask about it, so I started doing it more. Another thing I began to notice was that if there was no note, the napkin would not be in his lunchbox after school, but if there was then the napkin would always in his lunchbox he didn’t throw them away.

Taking the lead from him I decided that part of my back to school activities would include writing a month or so worth of notes and storing them in the pantry ahead of time because I don’t always remember in the morning rush. A few examples: Have a Great Day, I Love You, I am Proud of You, and You are Awesome. Add a few corny jokes like: What is a pirate’s favorite letter? (Arr) Why was six afraid of seven? (Because 7 ate 9) and What animal cheats on exams? ( A cheetah).  As the year goes on they become more geared toward a specific mood, class outing, field trip, or something that has happened at home.

 

Once he entered 4th grade I thought maybe he would get embarrassed to be seen with notes from his mom, so I didn’t really do it. One day he asked me why I stopped writing him notes. He told me he loved them, they made him think of me, they made him feel special, and they were important to him. Wow. From that moment on I knew that no matter what I would always write him notes, even if when he is a teenager, they are hidden in his coat pocket.

 

I have two kids in elementary school and one in preschool, and they all love mom’s notes. I may not draw excellent pictures, my handwriting is pretty terrible, sometimes the marker bleeds, sometimes it is a simple I love you!, but they know I took the time, and it matters to them. Every mom shows their love in different ways, and for me, this way works.

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Parents + Logistics = Duh

Most of my mornings start off with my 9-year-old immediately picking a fight with my 5-year-old. He knows just the right buttons to push: calling him tedious, telling him he is annoying, loudly yelling at him to eat with his mouth closed, and these are just a few examples, and the 5-year-old responds with whining and the wonderful yell/whine combination which drives me up the wall, and thus begins the first moments of my day. In an attempt to stop this we have done the whole yell at them to just shut up (oddly, that didn’t work), we have sent kids back upstairs to restart the day, we have taken away electronics(this didn’t fair well because once taken away they feel they have nothing else to lose), we have made them say sorry and hug it out, and all for nothing. Every morning it is still the same. So after some pondering we have decided to a new approach, yet again. This may fail miserably, but one day we are bound to hit upon something that works (I hope). My 9-year-old loves stuffed animals, his bed is a stuffed animal menagerie so if the morning starts out with him picking a fight then the 5-year-old is allowed to pick 3 stuffed animals and for one week they are his. The 5-year-old is actually quite responsible and serious in most matters, one thing he won’t tolerate is being late for school. Well, now if the whining starts up then he goes upstairs for 15 minutes and if it happens that he is late for school a time or two so be it, perhaps the fear of being late will put this kid in check. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Once I get kids out the door I have to run errands, and one errand that has become too familiar is going to the Apple Store. Our dear computer has gone bust. They have tried one thing, then they tried another, and now we are trying a third. Luckily, the Apple Store has iPad stations for tiny kids like mine. They love them. When they hear me say we have to go the Apple store they are pumped-even the 1-year-old starts chanting: iPads iPads iPads. So thank you for small things that make errands you don’t want to do a bit easier.

 

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Of course, when you are out doing errands sometimes kids have to pee. Most of the time a bathroom is nearby, but there are times when it isn’t all too convenient for a kid to pee. I have found during these moments I love having mostly boys because they have peed in parking lots, parking garages, behind trees, and into an empty water bottle (just make sure you screw the lid back on).  Plus, if they refuse these options you know they didn’t really need to go.

In just an ordinary day I have to use so many different skills to survive living with and going out in public with my kids. I am now a pro in crisis management, logistics, creative thinking, adaptability, problem solving, and handling pressure. Parents really are a kick ass group of people.