Tag Archives: kids

Sometimes the wisdom comes from unexpected places

My kids were, in a word, challenging tonight.  Lane was defiant and oblivious to all adult vocalizations, and I hit my breaking point when she fibbed about the whereabouts of the contents of an entire bottle of bubbles she’d been playing with earlier.   Jake is normally my easy-going, happy guy, but tonight was full of evidence that the terrible twos are a-comin’.  In a span of ten minutes he managed to find crayons and write all over the tile floor in the kitchen, and then while Lane and I were cleaning that up (her one redeeming point of the evening when she offered to help and actually helped) he got into the junk drawer in the kitchen, fished out a Sharpie, and wrote all over his left hand and a bit on the carpet in the hallway.  And there was other stuff, but the point of this post isn’t to bitch about my kids.

Mark spent at least a moment or two telling me how he just can’t imagine how I do it…. how these children can be so insanity-rousing, and yet I can, in the next moment, find the energy to be affectionate.  Or more simply, how I don’t go off the deep end and sell them to Gypsies.  Of course he gets the whole loving-them-with-a-fierceness-you-can’t-fathom-until-you’re-there phenomenon, but still.  And I had a hard time expressing it.  I just shrugged and said something like, “You just deal, and then something good happens.”

And then I was reading an article at CNN.com about some meeting that GWB had with some anti-drug people about anti-drug stuff, and the article quoted him talking about the power of prayer in his life, and he ended his thought by saying, “Some days are happy. Some days are not so happy. But every day is joyous.”  Now I’m not into prayer and all that sort of thing, but what he said pretty well sums up being a parent.  I never thought I would quote Bush 43 in an inspiring way, but it truly has been one of those days.

The words we use

I made a conscious decision when my daughter was very little that I was going to use the ‘real’ words for body parts.  We do say ‘boobs’ instead of ‘breasts’ (no real reason why) and ‘bum’ instead of ‘buttocks’ (just because I think ‘bum’ is close enough and I don’t feel like it’s a cutesy euphemism as much as the substitute words for other parts).

My reasons for this are varied.  For Lane, I feel like comfort with her body is a helpful protection against being a victim of sexual abuse.  I think of my own uncomfortable interactions with doctors, where I have had serious trouble seriously using those ‘real’ words for my own body parts.  Overall, though, their bodies are their bodies, and what purpose does having code words for body parts really serve?  I’m sure Lane’s use of words like “penis” in mixed company has raised an eyebrow or two among present adults, but I decided that Lane’s appropriate vocabulary is more important than assuaging their discomfort at perfectly legitimate and appropriate words.

As my kids are getting older and we interact with more families with small kids, it’s becoming glaringly apparent that I am in the minority in having a daughter that knows what labia and penis and scrotum mean.  There are lots of kids out there that have doobers or peters or wieners, and hoohas or girly parts or flowers.

I found this article, which really illustrates the huge range of words families use instead of the ‘official’ words.  It also made me realize my kids have never heard the words “defecating” or “urinating”.  I’m not sure if I’ll go there… maybe when they’re a little older and “pee pee” and “poop” start seeming a little infantile for their vocabularies.

So I bring all this up because I’m just generally curious — what do you say, and why do you say it?

Halloween was good for something

Yes, I probably spent too much money on costumes they only wore a couple of times.

Yes, the kids walked around in a sugar-induced haze for at least a week afterwards.

Yes, I gained a couple pounds because I ate more of their candy than I care to admit.

But since Halloween, my kids’ manners have improved vastly.  As we trick-or-treated, I made sure that Lane said “Thank you!” to every person who gave her something.  It was like pulling teeth the first few houses (she really really hates talking to people she doesn’t know) but after getting a little practice and hearing me say it and faced with the alternative of “We will just go home now if you don’t say Thank you at the next house” she said it, happily, from there forward.

And, it seems, the practice has stuck.  Lane’s saying ‘thank you’ out of habit now, when she hadn’t before.  We still have to work a little harder on ‘please’, but it’s getting there.

And an even cooler, unexpected bonus is that Jake picked up on it, too!  He surprised me completely a day or two after Halloween when I put his lunch down in front of him by looking up at me, smiling a huge smile, and saying “Tank oooo!”  Oh my gosh, my heart just about melted out of my chest.

And so it begins.

Lane’s been bugging me to get her a Barbie.

In an ideal world, she’d have no idea what a Barbie was at this point.  But, she spends a fair amount of time at our neighbor’s house, where her best friend Eli lives, and he has an older sister, Jenny, who has oodles of dolls.  She’s 12, which would normally be well past doll age, but she’s autistic and had outgrown the dolls but now is really into them again for reasons her mom cannot quite figure out.

We went to Target yesterday, as I was diagnosed with a raging urinary tract infection and I like to get my prescriptions filled there because their prescription packaging is way super cool.  (Their bottles for oral suspension liquids are really neat, too.)  We puttered around waiting for the prescriptions and Lane asked, yet again, for a Barbie doll.  I finally acquiesced under a bit of duress and feeling like my bladder got sucker-punched and she got her first Barbie.

I remember hearing about this when it happened, but Barbie’s got a bit of a different body than she did when I was little.  She’s gone from a DD to a C cup, in my estimations.  Her waist isn’t quite so teeny-tiny.  And dare I say, she’s downright bootylicious now.  Her hips may be a little narrower when looking from the front, but Barbie’s got back!

I could wax philosophical about whether I felt Barbie was a detriment to a girl’s body image or self-esteem, but I won’t.  Mostly because I don’t buy that line very much.  I loved my Barbies when I was little, played with them a heck of a lot, and was ecstatic when I got a hand-me-down Ken from my babysitter because then I could act out all manner of crazy soap opera-esque plots with them.  I fondly remember having Western Barbie, who came with a tasseled white jumpsuit and had a button on her back that when you pushed it, she winked.  I’m not quite sure what was so ‘western’ about winking, but I still thought it was cool.

So Lane brought home her first Barbie, and the doll has already been loved a great deal and slept with last night.  Jake’s also taken a keen interest in Barbie: he keeps stealing her when Lane’s not looking and dancing with her.  It’s really quite cute.

Negative first reaction

Have you heard of it?  It’s where a person automatically knee-jerks a “no” answer.

Lane is a classic example of this.  We’re in the process of painting our dining room, through the requisite spackling and taping and tarping and whatnot.  My job has mostly been to help in my free moments, keep the kids out of the way, and to not throw things at my mother in-law when she starts telling me I’m taping & tarping a sliding glass door before I’ve even started doing it.  (Luckily I didn’t have to throw anything, since my father in-law yelled at her to shut up and just let me do it.  Ha ha!)

Anyway, in an attempt to keep the wee ones occupied so I could do something to help, I tried plugging them into the boob tube.  Lane wanted to watch a movie, and I had just gotten in the mail a DVD of Disney Princess Sing-Along songs, which I knew she would LOVE.  Only when I tried to get her to watch it, she started screaming “NO” and crying hysterically because it was new and unknown.  Mean mommy I am, I made her watch the horrifying DVD anyway, and she claimed through the whole thing not to like it.

Now that I’m somewhat incapacitated from the effort it took to regurgitate my body’s weight in bologna this morning (sorry, I said I’d keep that to myself, didn’t I?), and Jake’s equally suffering from this latest affliction, I figured a movie or two this afternoon would be a reasonable way to keep the household subdued so he and I could veg.  (Actually first I tried to pawn her off on the neighbors but they had a soccer game to attend.)  And what movie did Lane pick?  The abhorrent princess sing-along movie.

Frigging pip.

My sprouts

I haven’t written much about the kids lately, what with the utter and total domination a few other men had in my blogging life lately.

Lane started pre-K. It is safe to say that she likes it.  In fact, I think it’s entirely safe to say that she loves it immensely and seems to be a great fit for her.  She took a little time warming up to her teachers (she has two, a main teacher and an assistant — 2 teachers for twelve kids — how’s that for an awesome student:teacher ratio!?), which wasn’t surprising because she will rarely if ever speak to someone new, but this week she started talking to them directly and telling me about them.  She warmed up to all the kids right away, and already seems to have forged some friendships, at least from her point of view.  (I tend to look at these early ‘friendships’ with skepticism, until I have proof the friendship is requited.  When Lane was in day care, another girl must have thought Lane was her best friend and constantly talked to her mom about Lane, and her mom would see me and gabber on about what great friends our daughters were… but Lane never, ever talked about her daughter as a close friend.  Eek… it was awkward.)  Anyway, she looks forward to going, she seems disappointed when the weekend arrives, she freaks out if she thinks we’re going to be late, and she doesn’t show an ounce of separation anxiety when I drop her off every day.  But on the same token, she’s excited to see me when I pick her up and tells me all about stuff she did that day.  It just feels so great and healthy and normal and she just seems so well-adjusted to it all, after only a couple of weeks.

And Jake — he just continues in his complete and total awesomeness.  He’s always happy.  Always.  We went to the playground today, and I had a conversation with another mom that I must have a couple times a day when we’re out and about…

Other person:  He’s so cute!  He’s so happy!

Me:  Thank you!

Other person:  Is he always this happy?

Me:  Yep, he really is.

Other person:  Wow!

Man, it grows tiring having to tell strangers how awesome my kid is.  Eh, no, not really.  I love it.  😀

His communication is growing by leaps and bounds, too.  We’ve lost track of how many words he knows, it’s definitely in the hundreds now.  And he’s packaging them in three word sentences.  We had a stellar family dinner tonight watching Mulan and eating delivered pizza, and after Jake finished the slice of pizza I gave him, he carried his plate over to me, pointed at it, and said, “Want pizza!”

Then there’s his exuberance, his pure joie de vivre, which is just so abounding.  Everything is so fun and exciting for him, it helps to inject a little more enthusiasm for everyone.  My in-laws and Frank’s aunt and uncle are all in the Czech Republic for the month, so we’ve been unburdening their vegetable gardens of any additional vegetative output.  My in-laws’ garden hasn’t been very productive of late; I think my father-in-law sort of let it go a couple weeks before they left on vacation, and it never was doing great before then, either.  But Frank’s uncle’s garden is amazing.  It’s the size of my living room at least, and the dozen tomato plants and half-dozen pepper plants in it are all at least seven feet tall.  I ended up with so many tomatoes after my first haul I had to make a big batch of homemade salsa to use them all (which might I say turned out delicious).  Anyway, the whole point of me telling about all this is because the couple times we’ve gone to pick veggies, the second I put Jake down after taking him out of the car, he makes a beeline toward their garden yelling “APPLE!  APPLE!  APPLE!”  (He thinks that anything remotely resembling an apple is an apple… and apparently anything remotely tasting like an apple, too, since it was up until a week ago that bananas were also apples.  Now they are “nanas”.)

Ahh, they are cute ones.

Selectively embracing research

We’ve been staying with Frank’s parents for the last week and a half while we beat our own new house into shape.  It’s coming along, and I think we’re actually going to sleep there tomorrow night.  Yay!

One thing I’ve noticed about my mother in-law lately is how she only selectively believes “research”.  Mostly, if something goes against the firmly-held superstitions old wives’ tales beliefs she has, then the research is simply dismissed out of hand.  If, however, she gets junk mail that says eating cream cheese is good for your kidneys, then she would find a way to incorporate cream cheese into her next twelve meals, and insist we all eat it too.

I cannot convince her that:

Cold feet do not cause colds. She makes Jake wear slippers every minute he’s in her house, because he might walk on the tile floor in the kitchen and his feet would get cold, and then he’d get sick.  Even when it’s 80 degrees out, like today.

Sitting too close to the TV will not cause brain damage. Maybe a little temporary eye strain, but it will not give you cancer or brain damage.  She firmly suspects being too close to a TV can cause a variety of ills.

Men determine the gender of babies. She understands the basic science, I think.  But she still insists that the mother must have something to do with it, too.  Like with enough will, their cervixes can block out all Y-chromosome sperm or something?

The slippers thing is the most exasperating.  I don’t really fight her on it.  She buys the slippers for my kids, and puts them on their feet.  And it’s not like it’s detrimental for them to have warm feet.  But I never insist that the kids wear them against their will.  But she’s crazy-insistent on it sometimes.  Because, if they got a cold (assuming even for a second that having non-toasty feet is virus-inducing) it would be the Worst Thing Ever.  But then in the next breath will imply I’m overprotective because I insist the kids use car seats (even in Aruba, where they’re not even required so why would I bother?!?) and didn’t want to use the crib they saved from when Frank was a baby, with every modern crib-safety violation on the books.  These are things that could be the difference between life and death, and I’m silly.  But slippers to prevent a sniffle are requisite.  I don’t get it!