April Quote

“the time has come” the walrus said,

“to talk of many things:

of shoes – and ships –

and sealing way –

of cabbages – and kings –

and why the sea is boiling hot

and whether pigs have wings”

– lewis carroll

Did you see Alice in Wonderland?  I am a HUGE Tim Burton fan.  I remember sitting in the Moorestown Mall Cinema back in high school waiting for Edward Scissorhands to start.  My friend leaned across to me and said something along the lines of – Tim Burton is a GENIUS!  That was before I really knew who Tim Burton was.  Now – I agree he is a creative genius.     Huh.     Perhaps I work with too many technical engineers.

A asked to see the movie in the theater – instead we let her watch a version from the 70s via streaming Netflix.  Wow.  Think Mr. Burton’s was trippy?  Try watching a movie from the 70s with those kinds of special effects and that kind of acting.  If today’s Alice is a journey into an altered imagination when sober – the one from the 70s would require a glass of wine (or 5) to get through it.

I digress.

Lately I have been enjoying young adult literature – for more reasons than it’s a quick read for a busy mom.  It’s exciting to think that very soon A will read the books I read as a kid – or some I haven’t.  (note – the some I haven’t is the ONLY reason I’ll read the Twilight series, if she asks me to)  I’ve started to reread Madeleine L’Engle, John D. Fitzgerald and Judy Blume. It’s kinda exciting to revisit books I read as a kid and haven’t picked up since then.  Those that had such an influence on me. 

We started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to her a few weeks ago.  She is in love with this book.  She tells us she can’t wait to begin reading all the others as soon as possible.  Uh, in due time my child…  Last week on a family vacation to Florida, she spent nearly every ride in the backseat with Grandma conducting Witch Class.  They came up with some pretty good spells.  My favorite being the Freezing Spell.  You need to do that magic thing and say “Froze!!!”  If the witch ever decides to relief that poor frozen person, the witch needs to shout “UF!”  The adults cracked up every time, I think Grandma was afraid of rearranging those letters, as were the parents.

And the fun continues.

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Little Annoyances. Maybe some not so little.

I was paging back through my posts from last January.  Today is the 25th of Jan 2010.  I didn’t write on Jan 25, 2009 last year.  The book ends on either side was an OCD post about children’s messy rooms and losing my mind.  um, memory.  Today I feel like I’m losing my mind.

I told someone recently that I want to let go of a few things in the house and not be all OCD.  I used the kitchen sink as an example.  Seeing dirty dishes, clean to be put away, or recycling – it makes me twitch. 

Yeah……  on second thought, that isn’t going to be the one. 

I’m really doing my best to let A have her room her way.  I’m really trying people, I really am.  She’s back to sleeping in her “tent” on the floor.  Her perfectly good twin bed is piled with clothes (clean and dirty), books and random papers.  It looks like her closet threw up all over the floor.  I am not kidding – the door is open and toys are spilling out onto the carpet.  She constantly loses one of a pair, the connector of whatever toys, 2 pieces of a puzzle.  She sometimes gets really upset about it, to which I respond if you put that thing away like I asked it wouldn’t be lost right now.  Oh – and the multiple glasses of water – OMG the water!  (by the way – I am aware I wrote about this before, it persists)

Part of my current anguish stems from New Year’s.  I went in her room about 9am.  Norman came by around 11:30 to ask what I was doing and now the whole agenda of the day had changed.  And you know what, I was barely through half of the cleaning I wanted to do!  I was able to trash a bunch of stuff that just needed to go.  A joined me at some point and was doing a good job of putting things where I directed her.  We were also able to select a nice sized bag of toys for charity.  She did poke around inquiring about missing stuff.  The only thing I dug out of the trash were a bazillion folded up mini post-it notes.  She went into explaining their purpose in her round-about 6 2/3 year old way.  Cannot tell you what it was, I stopped listening at some point.

I never got back into the room that day to complete my task.

Every time I enter the room now I resist with all my might to start putting things away.  Lost library books should not be my problem to fix.  Misplaced reading lights are not my responsibility.  Scratched CDs floating about the room is not my deal when they start skipping.  Water spills on dolls, blankets and paper with marker drawings are hers to clean up.

How am I doing?  Is this step big enough?  How long until someone is knocking at my door telling me it’s time to let go of another OCD “problem”?

 

p.s. – if anyone out there knows how to get an original drawing done with a Sharpie off of a wood dresser, please let me know.

things my daughter says

It’s fun to watch as your kidlet develops more of their personality and sense of humor.  Living with two, sarcastic, (former) East Coast parents is setting quite the stage for A.  Here are some gems…

Stage:  School lunch.  Parent helper in the classroom.  We had pieces of vanilla/chocolate chip cake in the freezer to pop into her lunch box from time to time, when we’re feeling generous…
Helper – wow A, that sure looks like a good treat!  What is that?
A – My daddy calls it cake.

Stage:  Woodland Park Zoo, somewhere along a path.  Black crow on the fence.  Norman has affectionately named two crows that hang out by our house Fred & Ethel.  We like to joke that they follow us around.
Me – Hey A, look, Fred came with us to the zoo today!
A – (exasperated) No Mommmmm….that’s Ethel.  Jeez!

A – Why do you even say Maybe?!  Maybe always means No!!
Me – (no response)

Stage: Dinner time. Norman and I are having our “adult” conversation after A has already been excused.  She has been playing around with a loose tooth for a few days.  A comes running downstairs mumble-screaming…
A – People!!  Hello people!  People look at this!!
A is holding a small bloody tooth in her hand, slobbering, with a big-ass cheesy grin

Stage: Picking up A from the YMCA talking about the new year, 2010.
A – How do you say the year?  Like, is it 2-0-1-0?  Or something else.
Me – Typically people would say either twenty-ten or two-thousand ten.
A – Wow.  So, what happens when it’s two-zero-nine-nine?  What’s the next year?
Me – That would be 21-hundred, or two-thousand-one-hundred.  But people will more likely say 21-hundred
A – Will I be alive then?
Me – You could be, you would be pretty old, but you could be.  Not me and Daddy though, we won’t be around then.
A – So then, what happens at two-nine-nine-nine?  What’s the next year?
Me – That would be the year three-thousand.
A – NO WAY!  That’s like – infinity!  It just keeps going?
Me – Yes, the years keep ticking by, at some point, the year will have 5 numbers in it instead of 4.
A – So will I be alive in the year 3000?
Me – I don’t think so.  You would be almost a thousand years old.  Unless there is some crazy science-technology thing sometime soon, you won’t be alive then.
A – Good!

I should write these down more often.

Patience is not my virtue

Yesterday, A and I went out for errands – library, grocery shopping, playing in water fountains, etc.  In the middle of this, lunch needed to happen.  So we went to a local place in Redmond, diner-like, breakfast all day, you know the type.

I’m tired.  More importantly hungry. Probably 15 minutes past my safe zone – nerves are shot, eyes sinking into my skull, trying to think clearly enough to order food fast for both of us.  A likes to get the french toast and egg.  No surprise, this is what she orders.  Few minutes later, food delivered.

A decides she wants to pour the syrup from the jar into the little bowl the jar was delivered in.  All is fine until she stops pouring and starts inspecting the jar, turning it in her hand.  I tell her to put the syrup down right away.  She looks at me with that devious face.  Right NOW! as I point my finger exactly on the table where she should place the jar.  But no….she wants to lick off the spot of syrup she found on her wrist. Can you see it coming?  She turns her wrist to lick, the jar goes from vertical, past horizontal, quickly towards the 180 degree angle.  Syrup pours down her arm and onto her dress.  “A!  I told you to put the syrup down.  You don’t listen to me, and now you have syrup all over you!”

And the reality of the 6 year old sitting across from me kicks in. 

She’s 6!  I am way to hard on this kid.  I am a horrible mother.
(have you heard this tape before?)

We go about lunch and grocery shopping.  We get home, unpack and start doing puzzles together. 

Side note – we both love puzzles. I think we could spend all day in the dining room doing puzzles together.  She’s mastered the 300 piece, it might be time for the 500

I look at her “A?”

“Yes?”

“I wanted to apologize for snapping at you at the restaurant.  I was very frustrated that you were not listening to me and that resulted in the accident.  I lost my temper and I’m sorry.”

“That’s OK Mommy.”

“I should not have lost my temper.  I’ll try to better next time.”

“I know Mommy, it’s OK.”  She smiles that smile of love and goes back to her puzzle.

Can I please crawl under a rock now?  Could I feel any more worse?  We are fire and ice.  Such the typical mother/daughter dynamic.  Have I mentioned she’s 6?  Feel like I really have my work cut out for me here.  Time to commit.

Mama Bear educates on“true” friends

I live on a small street, only 4 houses.  Only one other family has kids, younger than A.  Another is a single family, seems-to-be-renting-rooms-and-is-that-in-our-bylaws?  The last is an older couple, kids grown, grandkids come to visit.  And of course us!

One of the mentioned grandkids is a few years older than A.  I think she is 9?  Old enough that A is taken by her age and will do almost anything the girl asks.  When they were both younger, it was innocent.  Riding bikes, playing hopscotch, tag…all seemed OK. 

Now it’s a different game. 

Last weekend, A was in quiet time and talking out her window to this girl.  Who, in our parental opinion, was not respecting the request that A was in quiet time and to come back later.  She stayed on the side walk, responding to A (not initiating questions mind you), and blatantly ignoring Norman.  Who was in the driveway.  And telling A to go back to quiet time and not respond to this girl.  One would think this girl would get the picture and come back later.  How would you respond if you heard a friend’s Dad say, “A, you are in quiet time and should not be talking to your friend.  If you continue talking with her, you will lose privileges!”  If I overheard that, I would be outta there at lightening speed.  But maybe that’s just me and time spent in South Jersey. 

Later that afternoon, A asked if she could go outside and play with this girl.  I told her yes, and was explicit that when mom or dad call her in, she comes right away.  None of that lolly-gagging she usually engages in.  She agreed.

Norman and I were talking in the living room about a variety of household items.  He went to start dinner.  I stood up, look out my front window, and what do I see?  This girl, standing in the street with A.  Like any sane adult, we don’t let A play in the street.  She won’t even chase a ball into the street.  Come on! 

Anger flames after the earlier incident at the window.  So I start towards the door ready to sternly tell A to get her butt inside.  I get to the front door and what do I see then?  Appears A is crying, looking at her legs.  This other little girl is lifting up her dress looking at her legs.  WTF?!?!  I open the door.  Now it’s very apparent that A is crying, screaming and in pain.  I go over to them and ask what happened.

“My friend wanted us to run down the hill.  When I started down the hill I ran through pricklies. I have thorns all over and in me Mommy!”  I look at her legs and see long scratches, blood, multiple tiny thorns sticking out.  OMG – I tell A we are going inside so we can get them out.  I don’t even acknowledge this other kid.

In the kitchen, Norman has to hold A in his lap to get her to sit still and calm down.  I’m inspecting her legs with a tweezers and pulling out all the thorns.  I pulled out at least 10, likely there were more.  A is screaming, more from the fear of pain than actually experiencing it.  While I’m taking them out, we ask her the story.

Come to find out that after A ran through the thorny bush, this little girl didn’t want to stop playing.  Or tell an adult.  She told A that they could keep going and not to worry about what happened.  That she wasn’t really hurt.  That her mom and dad didn’t need to come outside.  I can totally see the calm face, not fear of getting in trouble, but crazy control freak bending A to her will.

Again – I say – WTF????

We got A all cleaned up, bactine wash, ice.  Made her dinner.  All sat down to watch a show.  Getting her off to bed early for more sleep.  Thankfully she crashed, rather busy day for A.

Once back downstairs, the fire inside roared.  I was so angry at this kid.  So irritated at her mother and grandparents.  Where is this kid’s common sense?  Forget that – decency!  Where is the decency?!  Norman just let me go off.  He’s never liked this kid. I didn’t even get an I Told You So.

The next day we talked to A about good friends who care for you, like to play, and know when to stop.  We gave examples (more than prickly bushes) when this other girl didn’t have A’s safety or best interests in mind.  We gave even more examples of the friends that are really true friends.  A said she is unlikely going to play with this girl anymore. (yay!)

This past Saturday I saw this girl on her bike circling in front of the house.  A didn’t know she was there.  I gave that Parental Look.  The one that says – Stay the hell away from my kid!  You are no longer welcome!

School trips

Last week I helped out with A’s classroom trip to Mukilteo Beach.  Kindergartens searching tide pools for little critters from their last few weeks of lessons.  Also, an overview of the lighthouse and a trip up to the top.  I had a lot of fun.  It appears that the kids did too. 

I was thinking how she will never have the school trip experiences I did if  we remain in Washington.  NO, there aren’t any plans to move.  Sure, there’s lots more nature for her out here.  Hiking or snow or the Pike Place Market.  Lots of fun outings and learning opportunities.

You wondering what my trips were like?  I certainly didn’t appreciate them back then.  If *every* year of elementary school you went and saw the Liberty Bell, it may lose it’s specialness and appeal as well.  Or Independence Hall, Ben Franklin’s house – or the  Franklin Institute for that matter!  How many kids get a chance to walk through a human heart and see all it’s wonders?  (side note – I was seriously afraid of that exhibit until I was a teenager)

Yes, growing up outside of Philly gave my brother and I lots of opportunities to see first hand much of our nation’s history and development.  Maybe it lent to him being somewhat of a history buff.  Maybe it challenged me in a way art museums do not – the analyzer that I am.  Who knows?!

Luckily, we still have family in the area.  I’ll have to make it a point that she visits those fabulous places and understands the history multiple times as a child.  Not just that one-time visit to Philadelphia on a Family Vacation.

Add to To Do list – other learning opportunities, that aren’t local, I want to expose to my child.

Resolution

I’ve been somewhat avoiding this space, and somewhat not. I’ve been formulating how I would come back here after an overwhelming (for me anyway) response to my last post.  A few things came up for me around this.

I got SO many wonderful responses from friends, acquaintances and even Norman’s friends – I get this parenting thing is universal.  That my story can be so similar to what happened to somebody yesterday, or 20 years ago.  In the moment, it feels so lonely.  My impression is most parents have that this only happens to me moment.  So – thank you, everyone, for taking the time to say Breathe and You Did Good and That Seems So Hard and I Have One Just Like That…it really made a difference for me.

I recently saw Heather Armstrong read from her recent book.  One of the audience questions was around taking things personally.  She’s pretty out there – in a sense that little is censored (from what she talks about).  I kept thinking those first few days – I couldn’t do that.  I don’t have the thick skin to tell the haters to fuck off and their words don’t matter.  Let me clarify.  For topics so close to heart like nearly having a parental breakdown, too close.  For any of my various rants, political stances, personal missions – absolutely – in the face of that I could give the big old F-You finger to any ignorant, narrow minded responses.

To finish the story, Sunday I was too spent to talk to A about Saturday night.  Monday was my “night off” from house and family and I went to see Wolverine – X-Men Origins.  It was OK.  I wasn’t a reader, I’m not an uber fan.  I liked the previous movies.  Don’t get me wrong, seeing Hugh Jackman’s physique and naked ass were fun – and maybe Star Trek set a really high bar for the rest of the summer movie season…anyhoo…

Tuesday night.  I told Norman I wanted some alone time with A to talk about the other night.  We had a good family night, dinner, games, etc.  At night time, after stories, I laid down with A.  Told her we needed to have some girl talk.  I asked her why things got so escalated, what could we do differently, was there anything she wanted to say to me?  It all stemmed from the treatment of guests.  That I was willing and ready to read her story before the little friend, it sent her over the edge (after the 90 minutes of back and forth).  So we talked about the difference between rules and guidelines.  That guests fall into the guideline category.  Yes, I would prefer she defer to them first.  If Mommy says we can change that up, it’s OK.  It’s not a rule.  She seemed to have such a sense of relief.  We had a good talk about the difference between a Rule and a Guideline.  I know she is still processing.  I know one day she will look at me with that face and ask – Is this a rule or a guideline?  Ah – that kid o’mine!

On the screaming Kill Me! part.  What made her so incredibly upset that it seemed like the logical course?  That I’m not going to divulge here – it’s a very personal discussion and something Norman and I have talked about how to approach and resolve.  Just be rest-assured that I’m taking care of my kid.  After all – I’m a good mom – so why wouldn’t I?

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