Monday, August 30, 2010

If You Always Thought Your Mom Liked Your Sibling Best, You May Be Right

The Tornado - formerly known here at The Circus as The Six Year Old, turned seven today.
Here's why it's hard NOT to have a slight inclination to play favorites at my house:

After dinner and just before cake, the Viking gets a hair across his ass about something and begins to throw a fit and then, because he has yet to really grasp who he's dealing with, throws a sippy cup at me. Time Out, cherub. You suck, you lose. My inner Soup Nazi, barks "NO CAKE FOR YOU!" in my head.
There are candles and we sing... and the Tornado wishes the Viking out of Time Out, so "he can share my cake..."  I KNOW... I know. Line up your daughters, now folks.

Five minutes later the Viking is sitting in my lap shoveling frosting and crumbs into his cake-hole. I'm over the sippy cup incident so I playfully ask, "Who's a mess?"
My child turned around, looked at me and then smeared a gooey hand across my chest and gleefully giggled, "You!"
You can clearly understand why there might be a preference here, right?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back in the Saddle but No Snotbots* to Wrangle for 2 more weeks...

But first... I just have to share this:

The Tornado has been waiting for two years to get on a soccer team and has begged me since his birthday party on Saturday to try on his shin guards...

I came out back tonight just in time to see him hand the Viking (who was grinning from ear to ear) a stick to whack his pads with. Tomorrow, he's going to be totally pissed and utterly bewildered when he gets nailed in the leg and doesn't remember inviting this abuse. I know one thing, for sure... The Viking won't forget. But, I'll be at work and THAT will be Daddy's problem.

Day 2 back at work today and although I left the house for a training yesterday with two different shoes on, and I may have permanently damaged my hearing by unplugging the carbon monoxide detector while underneath the METAL desk, I think my back-to-work transition is going to be as smooth as silk.

By 11:00 each morning during the summer the Viking has yelling at me for things like putting the wrong spread on his bagel or not putting the right color top on the sippy cup - a difficult task to manage with a little booger who doesn't identify colors correctly... Can't you just see me? Unshowered, my face looks like a punching bag because I was up until 3 watching bad reality t.v. and posting all kinds of nonsense on the Internet - "This IS the yellow one!!!! See?!? YEL-LOW!"

Today, when I got home there was yelling too - "MAMAAAAA!" and jiggly cheeks as the Viking ran to greet me at the door. I didn't even mind fielding the Tornado's incessant "Can we go somewhere?" question because I hadn't already had to answer it 394 times prior. Home is great, but work is good too.
The snotbots arrive for their first day in 14 more calendar days - let's see what hijinx and havoc ensue...
 *The term "Snotbots" has been pilfered for my own use from my smart and funny friend and colleague. She not only has a great vocabulary, but she also brings me fancy duct tape. I like her.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I just had a moment like this one myself recently and I was graced with the presence of mind to let it sink in and marinate there for a bit...

The Six Year Old was two and had gotten tangled up in his t-shirt before bed... tears, stamping feet, and yet he wouldn't accept any help. It was simultaneously painful and hilarious to watch.

Let me share here, that I don't do anything unless I know I'm good at it - yep... I'm THAT kid. Always have been. No sports for me, and after 7th grade art - no drawing, either. Some poor bastard, whose name I still remember, wondered out loud why I wasn't getting the shading right on my rendering of an apple. Let's just say I bet he still remembers my name, too.

The technical piece of getting this blog to look the way I want it to has been an experience in head banging and hair pulling. HTML code looks like it may as well be a launch sequence for the space shuttle, to me. Recently, I sat down, determined to make a badge for my blog and spent the better part of an hour ( a long time for me to sit and focus on any ONE thing ) and messed around on Photobucket until I got the image I wanted. I then followed the relatively simple instructions on a tutorial page I finally found and.... fucked it up. No image showed in my side bar. Just meaningless code... I'm pretending I'm not a total failure and am preferring to believe that perhaps someone clicked on it and launched a small, experimental shuttle somewhere near Kuala Lumpur. Firmly resolved to try again and get it right, I took an A.D.D. detour and decided to check one of my new favorite blogs first, and lo and behold, Shelbi at A Mother's Musings, Mishaps and Milestones has my badge! On her page! But wait... that's not the type I used. And where's the damn border?
Hmmm... Another long story too late to be short, Shelbi, in an act of kindness and support made me a badge and put it on her blog! I am so grateful for the help and I love the look of the badge - THANK YOU, Shelbi!

(Please note: This is in no way a criticism! Just a great insight... I'm happy for both the badge and the thoughts it has provoked)
But... my next thought was, "Oh... this is how it feels when we do things for kids instead of encouraging their efforts." The thought was accompanied by the sound of the wind going out of my sails.. just a little bit. Kids are forever coming up against things they can't or aren't allowed to do and although there are rules at preschool, it is a place of "You CAN..." When we do it, or "fix it" for them, their efforts and perceived abilities are squashed... For example - Please!! If your child has struggled to put on her own shoes and finally appears in the your line of sight with shoes ON, but on the wrong feet - SHUT UP! If they are clearly not hurting her - and you should ask, congratulate her and be on your way. NEXT time is the time to do a mini lesson on how to tell which shoe goes where. Kids are confident and happy when they feel powerful, and their power comes from feelings and experiences that inform them, "Yes I can... I did that. Because I'm me, and I fucking rock." Seize every opportunity to foster these feelings in your children. I think it's what keeps them off drugs, but seriously? Don't e-mail me later if your "confident" teenager gets busted huffing glue... As per my last "What kind of Crazy are you passing on to your children?" post, I'm going to be just barely treading water myself, as ages 8, 9, 10 and so on take turns kicking my ass.

The truth is that I was going to try one more time and then shoot Shelbi an e-mail anyway begging her to teach me how to do the HTML crap for my badge. Another of life's great lessons is learning when to humbly accept help. Thanks again, Shelbi :-)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What will 20 Years and a Couch Reveal?

My kids have been acting incredibly normal since I've started blogging about them so there wasn't much to think about recently with the exception of this:

Has anyone else noticed that the "quick code" for MOM on your cell phone is 666??? Hmmm... Spooky. Upon discovering this I chuckled and then started to wonder... about my relationship with my own mom, about the ups and downs of this motherhood gig, and about one of my favorite sayings: "If it's not one thing, it's your mother." I find that as I grow as a parent I either do things exactly the way I was raised or exactly the opposite as I was raised. There's no middle of the road. Does it ever paralyze you with fear when you stop and realize that whatever you say, whatever you do, whoever you bring into their lives and how you treat them or let them treat you is internalized by your children and becomes a part of who they are? ACK!

So my question is: What particular brand of Crazy I am passing on to my children?  I am the enforcer at my house, mostly because my husband works nights and is with the children less than I am. But it is in no small part because if their up-bringing was left up to him alone, they wouldn't know what a trash can or a laundry basket was and their skin would have a permanent orange tinge from whatever it is that makes Beefaroni that color. Totally. Unacceptable. So I am the rule maker (Daddy seconds all motions and is great at backing me up, but somehow always comes out smelling like roses) and I am also the deliver-er of consequences. I am the shrieking maniac that loses her shit when you bounce the ball anywhere but outside. I am the one the Six Year Old hates from time to time and says doesn't "understand" him. For my own mom, it was a sticky floor that made her shit kittens. Even now when I hear that familiar "ccchhht" if my flip flop happens to tread through some day-old juice puddle or I discover a Popsicle grave yard under the table, my heart beats a little bit faster and I scurry for the Wet Jet.

So now I'm wondering what 20 years and a couch will reveal that I've done to my own kids. This job is not pass or fail. Make no mistake, this post is not me boo-hooing that I'm a bad mother - I am confident that I am a fantastic mom and unless you smoke crack instead of buying milk, or abuse your children you should have every confidence in your own maternal fantastic-ness... Says ME. But also embrace the inevitability that you WILL fuck up your kids... living with yourself depends on the degree to which you do it.

My mother has the ability to drive me over the edge faster than anyone on the planet with just her tone of voice... She likes to end monologues about issues we have with lines like "well, of course no one else wants to listen to what I have to say. Why should you be any different..." grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... "Let me help you off that crucifix, Ma. You're getting blood all over the carpet."

I am grateful everyday for my mother. She is my moral compass and while her advice is not always appreciated on delivery, it is always sound. Her sense of social responsibility and generosity are the little voices that live inside me encouraging me to do for and give to others. That being said, I am also grateful everyday that I have two boys and that I will never have to sustain a relationship with another female like the one I have with my mother. As I sit here I'm remembering the evening my mother and I went shopping for my first bra, and I am forced to wonder what my boys will reflect on later and say, "When I have my own kids, I will NEVER ____________ !"

Growing up I was always chunky and by fourth grade had developed "chubby boobies." I knew that I had developed breasts ahead of my classmates because I was fat, not because of some awesome mega-boob gene that I could learn to love later. One morning I was stretching in the hall way - we were all getting ready to go out to church, when suddenly my father exclaims to my mother as though I were not right in front of them, “My God, dear, it’s about time she should be wearing a bra, isn’t it?” The word horrified had no tangible meaning for me until that very moment. I said a prayer at church that day asking God to make my dad grow boobs.

Several days later I had warmed up to the idea and begged my mom to take me out to get a bra. We headed out to Bradlees and I was filled with a certain understanding that this should be a special milestone for mom and me... wa-waaaaaah (game show "you lose" sound). Enter disappointment and the beginning of "You don't understand me!" I was imagining little strappy numbers with eyelet lace and tiny pink rosettes. What I ended up with is something close to what I could only guess military issue looks like. I can remember wandering up and down the bra aisles, suddenly enchanted by the silky, lacey textures, and then realizing at the same time that one: I was not in charge of this mission, and two: I was definitely in trouble because she was foraging through the boxed Playtex Cross-Your-Heart granny bras. We bought two of the ugliest bras ever made that day. One beige and one white. Now when I think about them, the images conjured in my head are that of a bull-dog faced Nurse Ratchet type named Helga… Translation: this is what fat girls wear. Pretty bras are for the pretty girls. Years later there would be massive credit card debt and a law firm calling me to collect $567.38 charged to Victoria's Secret.

We make mistakes and misunderstand... we blow some of the milestones and never even realize it. I am still too close to it to figure out what sort of damage I'm doing every day. Guess I'll know in 30 years when there's a tell-all book or God help me, a blog. We're not perfect and I don't know about you, but I never claimed to be. And miracle of miracles, our kids still love us despite it all. I love you, mom.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Award?!? Moi???

Tina at The Floundering SAHM passed on the Versatile Blogger Award to me! I never get any kind of award! This is fantastically exciting... and I appreciate the confidence, Tina. Thank you!  My hats are already getting too small...

The rules are:
Thank the person who gave you the award.

List 7 things about yourself.

Pass on the award to bloggers you've recently discovered.
Seven Things About Me:
  1. I get choked up at school assemblies... What?! Shut up...
  2. I love naps, but I wish I loved exercise, instead.
  3. I drink one cup of coffee a day: Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters Toasted Coconut Cream
  4. When I was in second grade my brother chipped my front tooth with a hairbrush
  5. I love the smell of my children's sweaty toes
  6. I love to get a pedicure
  7. Blogging is my new guilty pleasure
I would love to nominate some people for this award, but fifteen (according to official rules) is more than I could scrape up. I've only just lost my blog cherry a few weeks ago, you see. So I am officially awarding the following brilliant bloggers:

 Have fun with this ladies!
flipflopmama a.k.a. The SassMaster

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Circus is Coming to Town... 2 weeks and counting

Ms. "Ring Master Sass" is gearing up for opening day, poppets! Crossing my fingers for the reunion of the preschool teaching team equivalent of Magic and Bird, busting out my duct tape (no.. it isn't really for taping kids to chairs), scouring tag sales for things we can play with that are too big to cram up your nose, squirreling away toilet paper rolls, stocking up on tequila and trying to figure out what the fuck to tell my doctor in order to score myself a 'scrip for Xanax.

2 weeks and counting until I go back to muck out the classroom and to sit through "I-Wish-I-Had-A-Spoon-To-Scoop-My-Brain-Out-Through-My-Eye-Hole" required trainings. Despite the fact that my time with my littlest, very lastest baby (!!) and my husband will be cut down severely and that by December 1st I'll be ready to start culturing Strep throat and 24-Hour Flu lollipops, I am actually excited to go back.

I write about the grumbly stuff like bratty kids and crazy families, because it's funny but that's really just a small part of the day. The truth is that at preschool, something amazing happens everyday. It's usually nothing that I planned to happen, which is why I'm all done with that crap. No more lesson plans - the kids create the day in my classroom. Sometimes that means we all figure out how to make a ramp that makes the cars go the farthest in block area, or we all rip up paper to make beds for the dinosaurs because someone was worried they were cold. (This actually happened last year and even though I showed them pictures and described how blazing hot it was on Earth during the time of the dinosaurs, I met with blank stares before they asked: "What kind of stuff do you have to make blankets with?") Sometimes it means all we use all day is different kinds of tape and we tape the shit out of anything that doesn't run away from us. (THAT was an excellent day... 12 preschoolers can use 4 rolls of masking tape and 2  1/2 rolls of colored duct tape in 4 hours - FYI.)
Sometimes it means we find out from the first-hand experience of a classmate that Elmer's glue is not, in fact, a good substitute for hair gel... on Picture Day.

Whatever it will mean this year, I'm ready...  Almost! If any of my local readers have yogurt containers that look like the ones I hope to post a picture of below, please let me know and I'll find a way to collect them.
We're going to make some kick ass drums be-dazzled with duct tape...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Here We Go Again...

My return from SAHMland (StayAtHomeMom) is immenent... 3 week countdown started today. As this time rolls around every year, I never know whether I want to burst out the door leaving nothing but the tail end of a maniacal laugh hanging at the door, or to barricade myself in the livingroom with my kids, a pile of books and several boxes of Nutty Bars. My tiny paycheck would not be hard to give up, but then that's what pays for the books and the Nutty Bars. Sigh.... So today I started thinking about the new school year and about all the cherubs who will file through my door and try run my circus just like they do at home. How many times have I wanted to hang a "Welcome to Pre-K Boot Camp: We hope you wore your big kid undies today" sign on the bulletin board? Too many to count. Posts will no doubt pick up in the first few weeks of September as those are always the most interesting. Stay tuned!

My mother said to me early on, when the Six Year Old was still drooling all over himself, that as soon as our children are born we begin the process of givng them over to the world. I was a little indignant at the time and felt that after fifty-five hours of labor and seven stitches, "my baby" was mine and the world would have him when I said it would be so...  I thought it was her way of saying I was being too overprotective and controlling. My blood boiled at her suggestion that "the world" would be any part of the marvelous human being I was setting out to shape. At the very least, I thought she meant I was hogging him and the rest of the world was being denied the opportunity bask in his delightfulness as I did everyday. I was a friggin idiot.

What she meant was that we are responsible for the people we turn loose into the world. Their contact with the rest of humanity is inevitable and our actions, our choices dictate what those experiences will be like for both our children and those interacting with them. We are responsible for creating citizens of the world... people who can function without melting down at the first sign of disappointment, people who choose to raise others up instead of tearing them down, people who accept responsibility for a mistake and seek ways to make amends... This should be the focus in families and it is most definitely the focus of my preschool classroom.

Each September I size up 12 - 15 new citizens of the world and find that more than a few have terrorist capabilities. I will no doubt find something delightful and worth cherishing in each and every child, and it is in fact the classroom terrorists who often draw me in right away. (I suspect this may be because I was a bit of shit when I was about four years old, as well.) The statistics are totally behind this, as in 10 years and what I'm ball-parking to be about 150 children, there have only been about 5 I'd never want to see again.

What preschoolers need to know and will find out during the first week of school:
We will play! We will learn (while we're playing)! We will laugh! We will cry (it's inevitable). We will hurt, we will heal... We will try, we will fail. We will try again and we will fail again... We will make friends and we will find out we don't like some things about some people. We will tell them. They will cry. We will cry. We'll work it out. We will try again and find out we are AWESOME!! We will have big feelings and we will figure out together what to do with them. There will be big voices sometimes... We will learn to listen to the big voices and the small ones. There will be messes. There will be "have-to's." We may not like the "have-to's" but we will still be required to do them. We will find out there are all kinds great of things we can do by ourselves. And I will be there to encourage you and help you figure it out. My name is not "mommy" at preschool, although by April I will hear that several times an hour until it's time to go home. I am not going to do it for you... even if it's hard, but I will sit with you, as you come to understand that YOU CAN. You will hear my angry voice, and my laugh, and see my smile and see my WTF face more than once a day... Because I have all the same feelings you do. And P.S. it's my job to be impervious to all the bullshit you feed your parents. Welcome! You can! You will! And believe me when I tell you that if it isn't safe or kind, YOU WON'T. Let's have fun!

Parents, the above is written for your benefit too, but here's your Need To Know list 2010 -2011:
  • ALWAYS say "goodbye" - sneaking out is dirty pool, and not appreciated by your child or his teacher. Give a 2 minute warning, ONE hug or kiss and a confident "I'll see you soon."  and then hit the bricks. You can call from the parking lot, or ask the teacher to call you when your child is calm.
  • After week 1, allow your child to hang up his backpack and get undressed by himself. He doesn't need you to do it anymore. We work hard to foster independence because it makes kids feel good and powerful and proud. You don't want to be that mom cutting up her daughter's steak at the rehearsal dinner, right??
  • Mommies and daddies of "Princesses", please note: Dress shoes and high heeled flip flops = chin-chopping, concussion-creating, tooth-loosening, America's Funniest Videos-style wipe outs. Save the effin tap shoes and patten leathers for dance class. And yes, I will think you're a total idiot if you bring her in with dress shoes on and say you couldn't get her to take them off...
  • No preschooler on the planet needs a friggin umbrella. If it rains, we stay in. Please leave your eye-poking, classroom distraction in your car.
And lastly:
  • Your child is the center of YOUR world... as it should be. Here, our focus is COMMUNITY. We will enjoy the unique qualities your child brings to the GROUP and celebrate our classroom family in many ways. That being said, this is a classroom not a fucking Chuck E. Cheese. We'll sing for your kid and make a crown on his birthday. Save your cake and pinata for the backyard.
Please note: My opinions are my own. I do not claim to speak for all preschool teachers... just the ones NOT on anti-psychotic medications.