Holding

Dru’s first day of Kindergarten was today.  He’s been excited for a while, and woke up this morning bright and cheerful and excited about the day.  He was very helpful and ready to go 10 minutes early.  We were so excited for him, and (of course) a little sad, but mostly excited.  And very happy that he has an internal drive and love of learning which many people (young and old) have lost somewhere along the way.

Of course it was emotional…my little boy is hitting a big milestone, but I promised myself not to be the mom holding him back, passing on any anxiety or worry.  I wouldn’t cry and upset him.  And I didn’t.  He cried a bit, mostly nerves I think, since he couldn’t stop talking about his day once we picked him up.  Yet it made me think, as parents, what are we imparting to our children.  We want to hold on to them as long as possible, but those parents who hover and interfere constantly make me angry and sad all at once.  I’m angry that as a society we encourage a culture of fear that makes parents feel a visceral desire to constantly be alert for any and all dangers.  When Dru is at a playground, I’m the mom sitting on a bench, chatting or reading while he plays.  Other parents are walking their (same age) kids over bridges and encouraging them to come down slides, because they have no innate sense that they can do it themselves.  If Mom or Dad is always there ready to catch them, why should they learn to take the leap?  Now, that’s not to say that I think my 4.5 year old should be allowed to jump into the pool unattended (let’s be reasonable here folks), but we need to let our kids build their self-esteem.  And the only way to do that is themselves…we can’t do it for them by always making sure they succeed.  Kids are smart, they can feel the difference between when they accomplish something – opening the cereal box…even if it gets all over the kitchen – and when someone else does it for them, and then tells them they’ve done a good job.  Self-esteem is aptly labeled…it needs to come from inside yourself.  I’m sad for these kids (and parents) because where are they going to be in 5, 10, 20 years?  What happens when that child is an adult, and they go in for a job interview and don’t get the job?  Mom or Dad can’t come to the rescue then…and we’re seeing the effects of this already.

I saw it in the schools, and I see it in the kids that are around everywhere…”I’m awesome/smart/pretty/etc. so I DESERVE this.”  NO.

When I worked as a trainer in a restaurant in New Orleans, one of our managers always used to tell us to hold a 10 over every trainee’s head.  We used to laugh, and make fun of it (still sometimes it’ll come up as a joke), but thinking about it now, I see it.  We should hold that high standard over everyone…strive for excellence.  Instead, we’re saying, as a culture, that since not everyone can reach a 10 – let’s bring that standard down to a 7, or give people a boost to start from a 4.

We’re only hurting ourselves.  As a culture, and a nation, we used to be the leader in education and STEM industries.  We’re nowhere near that now.  Some people want to blame the teachers, some want to blame the politicians.  We need to hold ourselves responsible.  Teachers and politicians aren’t in our homes or raising our kids (though unfortunately, in some cases, teachers are given that task as well).  We blame them when something horrible happens, or we fail to meet a standard, but we never look at what we’re saying as a culture.  As a culture, we glorify and idolize celebrities who do nothing more than make fools of themselves.  We ridicule those who seek to improve themselves as “stuck-up” or elitist.  Yet we still want to claim that we’re the greatest in the world.

If we’re not striving for and pursuing excellence in everything we do, what right do we have to claim excellence?  NONE.  As a nation, as parents, as individuals, we need to be holding 10’s over everyone.  Yes, some people will fall short.  Not everyone is good at everything.  I SUCK at higher math and yard work.  I know this about myself.  Hold yourself and those around you to a higher standard.  Hold your elected officials to a higher standard.  If everyone does that, we’ll meet it – we’ll have no choice but to do that.

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Living

Well, it’s July again, so I apologize for the rambling philosophical nature of this post in advance.

Lately, as I approach my 30th birthday, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Cristina (if you don’t know that story, you can read it here).  It’s been over 20 years, but that childhood friendship still lingers.  I wonder what my life (and hers) would have been like if she’d still been around.  We were a lot like sisters in many ways – we fought, we played, and we planned.  After she died, I had a girl I considered a best friend for a few years until we drifted apart, and then I became best friends with the person who was my Maid of Honor and is also an extra sister to me.

And then my thoughts stray to Dru…who will be that friend (or friends) for him as he grows.  We’ve moved him around a ton since he was born.  He had a buddy at his first daycare in Illinois that he loved, but now can’t remember.  When we were in Michigan, it was mostly older cousins…and now, with him having been in a few different places since arriving in North Carolina, he still doesn’t have that bond.  He starts Kindergarten next month, so I’m hopeful that he’ll find that person that he can plan with and be stupid with and develop secret nicknames with.  And he’s a social kid, so I believe he will, but that friendship is going to be different from the ones that we had as kids.

The world is so different, and sometimes I wonder if our children will thank us for putting so much of their lives out there (or for that matter, the kids who do it to themselves now, do they/can they really grasp what the internet is going to mean for their futures?)  When we were kids, the joke was always to avoid Daddy and a couple of other people if you didn’t want your picture taken doing something, because they were the ones who had cameras at family events…but now, where’s the escape for the stupidity of childhood that (THANK GOD) wasn’t documented by the minute when we were kids?  God knows there are no pictures of how my leg looked when I decided to show my Grandma that I knew better than her (I was 11 after all) and could walk on the loose board laid across the framework of the decking, even though I was dripping water out of the pool.  My right leg looked horrifying after slipping in between two of the framing boards and scraping down one side.  But there are no pictures of that embarrassing incident.  Now, my friends would have taken them and they’d be on Facebook, or instagram, or there’d be a video on YouTube…forever cementing that moment for visual reference.

But are we actually gaining anything this way?  I have very few photos and video of my time with Cristina, but the memories are there.  I have memories with other friends of things that we would never dare now, knowing it would end up on the internet for all to see.  I know I’m as guilty as most other parents out there, but still I wonder…

That’s probably why lately I’ve been less likely to post pictures and whatnot online of Dru…I’ve been trying to stay busy making memories instead of photo ops.

Worrying

I almost titled this post failing…because that’s how I’ve been feeling lately – like I’m failing.

Work has been going great, we had great news that Dru was accepted into the pre-K room at daycare, and that he was going to be going into early Kindergarten in the fall (he misses the normal cutoff by 2 weeks). Then, about a month ago, Dru’s behavior started going downhill. Kris was off for a week because a friend was coming in to town, and he was getting ready for a business trip the following week. That Thursday, Dru got sent home from daycare for being a banshee at resting time and jumping on other kids’ cots. Ok, he’s four, we punished him and moved on.

Kris left for Germany on a Saturday, Dru was NOT happy when he realized he was NOT going with Daddy on the plane, but we moved on. Good day at daycare Monday – and then Tuesday, resting time, he hit the teacher when she tried to get him to calm down at resting time. This time, I had to leave work to get him, and he was VERY contrite. We made a list of ways to behave better, and he wrote an apology to his teacher. Had a decent day Wednesday. Thursday, I pick him up to find out he’d gotten in trouble for pushing another kid on the playground – but I didn’t get a call, because they suspect that the child (and another boy, both larger than Dru) had trapped him and wouldn’t let him go down the slide. Seeing as I want my child to stand up to bullies, we talked about not using our hands and asking for help from a teacher and moved on. Good day Friday. Daddy came home Saturday, good day and good day Sunday. Things are looking up.

Monday, he had a decent day (a bit of not listening when time to switch activities, but again, he’s four, it’s a known issue). Tuesday, we get a call that he decided to go Incredible Hulk on the classroom at resting time (anyone seeing a pattern here?) and was throwing furniture. Oh, and by the way, he can’t come back Wednesday. Kris brings him home, I stay home on Wednesday. Through much talking (and removal of fun) he starts talking about resting time, and how he’s scared of the two boys that we know about from before, because they were firing him. When asked to explain firing, he makes finger guns and shooting noises. He also tells me that they do it to him all the time when the teacher isn’t looking. Now because he’s four, I know I have to consider the source, so I take him to his Pediatrician to make sure that he doesn’t have an ear infection or something (which historically has caused extremes in behavior for him). Everything checks out, but it appears he has seasonal allergies (you’re welcome kiddo) and that we can try giving him a kids Claritin to help with that.

At the suggestion of my awesome Mother-in-law, we make a social story to plan out how he will react in the future to situations which make him “nervous” (his word) or angry. Thursday morning, we talk with the teacher and the center director about the other boys (for the second time, mentioning the finger guns) and request that at resting time, they send him to his cot with a book (he loves reading, we hope this will stave off a psychotic break on both his and my part). As I’m about to walk into a meeting, we get a call that he’s losing his mind again (and it’s nap time). I ask the assistant director what’s going on, and she tells me that she’s managed to calm him down by removing him from the room and then putting him back in with a book after he calmed down. When asked if he was given a book at the start of resting/nap time, she said he hadn’t been “not what we do”. I told her that since he was calm, I wasn’t going to come get him, and I would appreciate if they gave him a book pre-emptively going forward, as we’d discussed that morning. That night, we had dinner with an old family friend and her daughters and daughter’s fiance since she was in town. Dru did awesome at dinner. At this point, the only time he’s losing his mind is at resting time, in that room.

Friday, he had a great day. His teacher made special note of it, told us he deserved a special reward for being so good. Her special rewards was getting to be Star Student the next week. He was extremely excited. He had a booklet to fill out, we spent a couple of hours this weekend getting it ready. I had a tutoring session on Saturday morning at the library, he came with and was wonderful. He even got to get a library card of his own and pick out a book to take to class to read as Star Student (the Tuesday activity).

Yesterday, we dropped him off at daycare and he was extremely excited. After lunch (at resting time) we again got a call that he was being sent home because he hit a teacher. Come to find out, they did not send him to his cot with a book, and he was near the boys who have been giving him trouble. Oh, and here’s the kicker – he can’t come back all week.

Thankfully, Kris was able to work that out and stay home. When he got to daycare, Dru was still losing his mind, and Kris wasn’t able to get the whole story. After work, I dropped in to get more details and found out the above information. So I told the director that we were going to have to look into other centers, because something or someone was triggering this behavior . Kris went today and we decided on a new place, which thankfully has an opening for him starting in 2 weeks (we’re off next week for a much-needed vacation, so this works out well).

Now through all this, I keep having these awful feelings that I’m failing as a parent – either I’m not seeing a situation which is emotionally harming my child in enough time to protect him well, or I’m failing to see that he’s a raging terror of a child, and I’m becoming that mother who excuses everything her child does as someone else’s fault. I don’t want to be either person. And I’m sure the emotional toll this is taking on Kris and I can’t be helping Dru – thus the spiral.

It’s even more frustrating, because he’s usually so good, and we know he’s smart – already reading and doing basic addition – so I think we sometimes forget that he’s only four.  Plus, as both sets of parents have told us, we’ve been pretty lucky – he’s held up well to almost all of the changes (and there have been many) that have occurred in his short life and was a relatively low maintenance kid…maybe this is payback…

So we’re REALLY looking forward to our week off next week and starting fresh the week after.

Wow, that was long, sorry guys.

I think this picture of Dru sums up my feelings lately:
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Yes, I know it’s old, but I have to focus on the cute right now…forgive me.

So we’re trying to figure out a good solution for his behavior – he needs to know this is not okay, but we also need to know what’s causing it – if it’s bullying or whatnot, he needs to know we’re on his side. If he’s just decided to go batcrap crazy, he needs to stop. If it’s medical, I need to get him help. But he’s four, so he’s not exactly a reliable source of information. Especially when his usual answer is “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”.

GRRRRRRRRRRRR

Okay, I think it’s bedtime.

Spreading

So,

Despite all good intentions, I’ve once again been away from blogging for an extended period of time.  We’re mostly settled in to the new place, I’m working, Dru’s making friends and doing well at daycare, and Kris is doing well in his new job.  

But October always is a busy month for us anyway.  It’s Kris’ birthday, a number of family member and close friend birthdays happen, and our anniversary.  Now that Dru’s big enough, he had 2 birthday parties to attend, and there’s Halloween tomorrow, of course.  But it’s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month and World Series Season, so everything seems to be happening at once.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month arouses mixed feelings for me.  I don’t think we should need a month to push awareness of this – I don’t think you can turn around without bumping into someone whose life has been changed by Breast Cancer.  My maternal grandmother had breast cancer in the 80’s and wore a prosthesis the rest of her life (except when she forgot it in hilariously random places).  My mother-in-law’s dear friend lost a battle with breast cancer last year, and her family is still learning to cope with her absence.  Needless to say, I don’t know that there’s anyone out there anymore who ISN’T aware of breast cancer.  I appreciate the walks, and the fundraising push, but I don’t know that we should be focusing on awareness so much as Prevention, and I know that there is a larger push for prevention awareness now than there used to be.  

I know that it’s not fun to think about having to check yourself, but all of us, men and women, need to be getting checked regularly for all cancers – if you’re eligible for a cancer screening, whether breast, colon, prostate, etc, PLEASE get checked.  And for those checks you can do at home – especially breast checks – do them!  Get your partner involved, they have a vested interest in keeping you healthy as well!  It was something that we, as girls, were briefly taught how to do the self-exams, I think I even received a little door hanger thing showing me the steps.  However you get the info, use it.  And if you find something odd, don’t wait, talk to your doctor.  I’d much rather be embarrassed because I had a clogged milk duct then find out I ignored a serious problem because I was afraid of being paranoid (that’s a fun paradox isn’t it).

As for the World Series, well it kind of ties in, doesn’t it?  The past few years, the World Series has been doing a Stand Up To Cancer Push, and actually, that’s a bit more towards what inspired this post.  One of my oldest friends has an uncle who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year.  Recently, a group of students at the High School where he taught (in Troy, MO) started a fundraising and awareness campaign in his honor.  It’s trending on Twitter, they’ve got pictures and signs from the World Series (GO RED SOX!) and it’s becoming a huge thing.  I think it’s great that social media is being used to help this man and his family.  It’s always been my belief that social media can be a great tool, even if it’s used usually as a way to overshare pictures of hamburgers or thoughts about kittens.  

So, even though October is almost over, let’s continue spreading awareness and prevention.

 

#TheMixMovement

Drowning

in a sea of boxes…

That has been our life for the past month or so.

We hit North Carolina early in August, and the movers arrived about a week after we did. Unfortunately for my sanity, we have the amount of stuff to fill a 1600 sqft apartment with 2 garages, and only have a 1200 sqft apartment. Needless to say, it’s been a bit cramped. We were loathe to rent a storage unit, not knowing how much stuff we’d need to store, and what my new job would be (or pay). But we lucked out. I start my new job on Monday, Dru starts his new daycare at the same time (though he went for a test day today), and we rented an unattached garage in the complex to put our overflow in (and maybe even a car! GASP).

So this means that soon (SOON!!!) we will be able to close our closet door, and sit in the dining room without staring at cardboard. I’m very excited.

On the daycare front though, I have a couple of complaints.

1) When did daycares start having entire weeks off???? You’re not really a school people, you can’t close for the entire week of Christmas!

2) Why don’t they post their fees online? I mean, this is not a case of “if it’s not listed, you can’t afford it” (though in some cases it is). Every single place down here does this. It’s a set rate based on age and FT/PT status, so why can’t they post the same sheet they hand you on your tour? I ended up having to call about 20 different centers before narrowing the list to a few within our price range, then further narrowing to those that weren’t closed ALL THE TIME, then taking tours of the last couple left. We’ve settled on a very nice facility, and if you need a place in the Cary area, I’d be happy to let you know which one it is. But really. I did not need to waste both mine and the center staff’s time calling places that wanted $2000 a month in daycare costs! If it had been posted online, I would have been able to say “No thank you crazy people, NEXT!” Instead, I had to enter a contact request, wait for someone to call me back, then…they want to give you the spiel before they’ll tell you the price. Guess what people, at that price, unless he gets to stay 24/7 and I don’t need a bedroom for him, it isn’t happening. I could have saved everyone a lot of time (and them from having to hear my exclamation of disgusted horror) if they would just post their stupid pricing schedule online.

In other ranting news:

Dear Fred Thompson: Oh how the mighty have fallen, from a long acting career, to a run for President, to selling reverse mortgage schemes to vulnerable old people on TV…You poor man. If you hadn’t run for President, you’d have enough money to retire, and not have to debase yourself promoting that horrible product.

Dear Insurance Companies Ad Agencies: Get off your gender role crap. The nagging wife making the dumb husband get insurance, and him being too stupid to do it without being handheld is degrading to both sexes and frankly, it’s annoying.

Dear Ad Agencies in general: For the most part, your ads suck. Get on that.

I’m sure there’s more, but Dru decided to try and rupture my eardrums with the sounds of an angry pterodactyl while descending into rage-filled psychosis this evening, so the headache forming on the left side of my head is telling me to run away into my bed.

Parenting

This time of year we’re all encouraged to think about our parents.  Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are at the forefront of advertising campaigns, but as Kris and I were talking about the other day, there is a huge disparity in the messages.

For Mother’s Day, all the commercials are centered on appreciating Mom and buying her expensive jewelry.  For Father’s Day, the message seems to be centered on buying Dad a grill or making sure that he gets a new tie.

Why the disparity?  Don’t fathers deserve to be appreciated and respected in the same level as mothers?  We are constantly reminded in society today that we have a problem of absentee parents, most particularly fathers.  Why aren’t we addressing the issue as a society then?  Instead of focusing on thanking good parents once a year and buying them things that haves no real meaning, let’s try celebrating the everyday things.

Growing up, I had many arguments with my parents.  But I never doubted that they loved me.  Of course I questioned their choices, I was a kid, and that’s what they do.  But I remember many times where something would have me thinking the world was ending, and Mom or Dad would comfort me and eventually I would realize that they were right and that life does, in fact, go on.

As a parent myself, I now can understand many of the decisions my parents made, and can also hear my parents coming out of my mouth.  Sometimes I feel an overwhelming urge to strangle my son, and Kris will step in to save his life, or vice verse.  There were days when we were in Illinois, and Dru was having all his sleep issues, when I would call my Dad to talk me into a calmer state of mind.

Parenting is not easy solo, I have great respect for those who are single parents for whatever reason.  But why as a society do we not chastise and shun parents who refuse to take an active and caring role in their children’s lives?  Obviously, some people are never meant to be parents, and there are those who shouldn’t be around children.  As for those who have no reason to not be a part of their child’s lives, why aren’t we holding them accountable?  When did it become acceptable to be an absentee parent?

I don’t know how to fix it, but advertising isn’t helping with their unequal messages toward the importance and roles of the parents.  Any suggestions?

Snowing

So a few large storms have made their way across the country in the past week or so, giving our area it’s first real snow.  Dru is wicked excited.  We had a minor snowfall a bit ago and the first thing he wanted to do was to go make snow angels. 

Here’s the issue, when we moved, I packed all the snow stuff in one box – my big winter coat, both his snow suits, and probably a couple of Kris’ coats as well.  But when looking through the plethora of unpacked boxes, I CANNOT find them.  I’ve looked in all the boxes large enough to hold them that aren’t marked kitchen…so now Kris and I have to go through every box and find them, because I love that coat and I don’t think Dru’s going to wait much longer to make his snow angel.

And yes, I could just buy new for us, but I don’t want to.  My inherent inability to spend my own money makes me determined to find them, or to tear apart every box trying!