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.

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.

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.

Guessing

I’m a history nut.  It’s my passion, my interest, and I love learning about it.  So I tend to look for tv shows regarding my particular interest areas (ancient and medieval cultures, specifically religion in those cultures).  I used to love The History Channel, but lately, I’ve been extremely angered by their programming.  It seems that all they play is about aliens.  And there is no actual evidence to support their suppositions, just the stupid hair guy from the meme, who has no actual background in any field of history, and yet, the History Channel treats him like an expert. 

I want to know why they’ve gotten so LAZY.  Because that’s what this is.  Instead of doing the work and researching and whatnot, they’re just like “hey, I’m not sure why this is what it is, must’ve been aliens!”  Because apparently, if you can’t figure something out, no one human could have come up with it.  Clearly, modern thinkers are the most advanced thinkers ever, and they are the yardstick by which we should measure the thought processes of ancient peoples.  There is apparently no chance that other cultures think differently or had different ways of doing things that we can’t think of…

Since when is it okay within any research field to look at some evidence and then just say “hm, what’s the most ridiculous explanation I can come up with?  ALIENS!  Yes, let’s go with that.  I don’t care that I can’t support it.”

This is not okay.  It’s making the entire field look like a freaking joke, and it makes me extremely angry.  Kris has now barred me from watching shows that involve alien theories of history as a focus, because I get loud and yell things at the tv that Dru shouldn’t hear.

My sister, who is training to be a bio archaeologist (think Bones for really old bones) feels just as angry about this stupidity, so since we’re visiting my family right now, my dad is torturing us by threatening to turn on those shows.  It gets a bit dangerous for him.

Why are we letting this continue?  It’s along the same lines as the honey boo boo crap.  I’ve been seeing the commercials for a sniff card event which you actively have to search out and pay for.

So I guess my real question is…WHY ARE WE GLORIFYING LAZINESS AND STUPIDITY!?

Do we really want the movie Idiocracy to come true?

Judging

So, Kris is currently away in North Carolina for work, as well as to apartment hunt for the move in early August.  Of course, for me, not only does this mean getting the bed all to myself, but it also means that I can watch all those movies that Kris hates when I watch.  Whenever I watch movies that make me blubber like an idiot, or sputter with rage, poor Kris always has to bring me back to normal, so I try and watch those movies only when he’s not around, sparing him from having to deal with me.

In this vein, I recently watched :”Snow Falling on Cedars” for the first time in years.  I had watched it when it first came out, and remembered being upset over the way that things were handled (not by the film, but in a historical sense), but looking back as an adult with everything that has been going on politically in the past decade or so, it made me even more ragey (yes, that’s now a word).  There are a number of wonderful bits in this movie.  One of my favorites is the closing arguments delivered by the defense attorney.

Here’s my rant…we, as Americans, pride ourselves on being the bastion of democracy and equality in the world. I’m not going to go off on my tangent about the fact that we’re not really a democracy at all right now.  Someone remind me of that later, please.  Anyway, despite this blaring contention of equality, we have a really crappy history of inequality.  Everyone knows about the race issues that arose from slavery and the Civil Right’s Movement, but very few people talk about or seem to remember our other atrocities.

As much as I am not a fan of Bill Clinton in many ways, he was the first member of our government to apologize for what we did to Japanese Americans during World War II.  The FIRST.  In 1993, half a century after the fact.  That is deplorable.  We took citizens and their property, placed them in “internment camps” based solely on the fact that they were different.  All the while, we were fighting against the Third Reich, claiming to be fighting for freedom.  And guess what guys, internment camps was simply a different way of saying concentration camps (but no, we couldn’t, and still can’t, use that term, because that’s what the Nazis did, and the Nazis were BAD).  Well, sorry to hit you with the ugly truth, but America we were BAD too.*

I realize that there were people at the time (and since) who spoke out against this as unjust, un-American, and whatnot, but unfortunately, they were hugely overborne by the silent masses who stood by.  Or by the vocal and horrible masses who pushed for and encouraged these acts.

We did it to the Native Americans, we did it to the Japanese, we went on a psychotic hunt for Communists in the 1950s.  And now we’re doing it to Muslims, Middle Eastern people, and anyone who seems to disagree with the government.

Why is it that we, as a people who supposedly value truth, freedom, and equality, are constantly letting fear and hatred form national policy?

The saying “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (whatever its provenance) holds true here.  If we consider our hypocrisy throughout our entire history, we must start to consider how other countries (both allies and not) view us.  We are a country that proclaims equality and freedom, and yet was the last Western country to outlaw slavery.  We are a country that flaunts its freedoms in the faces of others, yet continually reelect politicians who take away our freedoms.

Who are we as a nation?  Shouldn’t we be judging ourselves first, instead of other countries for their issues?  Let’s fix ourselves before we try to fix others.  Let’s stop doing nothing, and actively start making the world a better place for our children.  A more compassionate and open-minded place.

 

*Note, I just looked this up, and apparently the process was started with the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, but no formal public apology was made at that time.  Also, that act specifically excluded any foreign-born Japanese prisoners from receiving any restitution.  So the process was formalized and concluded in 1993.  But still.

Changing

Today, a number of my friends, and other people across the country, changed their Facebook profile photos and statuses to reflect their support of equal marriage rights.

I am all for equal rights for everything, marriage or otherwise.

Here’s my issue however…how many of you who are posting these kinds of activism messages on Facebook actually get out there and do your part in your community?  I know a number of you do, and that’s awesome, but for those of you who don’t, why not?  Facebook is a wonderful way to share your feelings, lives, and photos with friends, but for the most part, the people you are friends with are going to have a similar life outlook to you.  So it’s not surprising to me that many of my friends support equal rights, because they are my friends, and I like to associate with people who support similar issues.

But, in the real world, off the internet, and off of Facebook, are you proudly touting that same message?  Did you vote this past election season?  If you did, did you research your candidates fully, or just choose based on what party you thought you supported?  Do you write to your elected officials when a vote is approaching?  I’ve been writing to my elected officials for years.  I still remember a while back writing to our State Rep when we were still in Massachusetts.  The State House had recently begun to consider a breed ban, and I thought it was a bad idea.  So I wrote to our local Rep.  I had no idea where he stood on breed specific legislation (BSL), because it wasn’t something that had come up during his campaign, but I felt strongly about the issue.  Well, shortly thereafter, I received a letter back from his office (maybe it was even from him personally, I can’t remember) stating that he also was against BSL and would not support any legislation along those lines.  That added a point in his favor when the next election came around in my book.  I’ve done it for other issues as well.  I don’t usually get a response to my letters, but I know that I feel more active that I’ve sent them.  Because I know that my voice is being sent to my elected official.  And then I pay attention to how they vote on the issues that are important to me.  Any politician can say they’re pro- or anti- an issue, but they can’t deny a voting record.  So if an issue is truly important to you, educate yourself!

Know your local, state and federal laws on any subject you deem important enough to stand up for.  And then do it more than on the internet.  If you feel that gay rights is a hugely important issue, donate your time to a local group that supports gay rights.  If you feel that gun rights are important, go to a demonstration.  Whatever your issue, put your body where your mouth is.

Your physical presence (monetary as well, though I know that’s not always possible) is infinitely more effective than your Facebook presence.  If you want to change the world, don’t just sit behind your keyboard and talk about it, do it.

And yes, I know this blog seems to be doing just that, but at least I can say I’m actively involved in supporting issues important to me. :-p

Testing

So here comes another political rant…

So we were just sitting around and discussing Nancy Pelosi’s most recent foul up regarding the Constitution.  Apparently, over the weekend, she gave an interview where she confused the first and second Amendments.  And this is not the first time she’s shown a complete lack of knowledge of the basics of our system.

Unfortunately, she’s not the only one who is so woefully ignorant.  And even scarier, many of those people are in positions of power within the government.  Part of the oath all members of Congress swear is to uphold and defend the Constitution.  How can we expect, or trust them to do that if they don’t know what it is?

So here’s my newest proposal…all elected officials have to pass the citizenship test that we expect others to pass to become citizens.  If it’s important enough for new citizens to have to know the information contained in the test, I would think it would be even more important for anyone directly affecting the policies under the Constitution to also have to know what is involved in it. And I think it should be an ongoing thing…like a driver’s exam.  Every other term, they have to pass the citizenship test to be eligible to make the ballot.  We already require them to submit a sufficient numbers of signatures, so why not submit a passing grade on a citizenship test as well?

I think it would make for more responsible and educated representatives, as well as for avoiding looking like complete morons to the rest of the world when the House Minority Leader can’t even make coherent arguments using the Amendments as backup.  It’s disgraceful and she (and we) should be embarrassed.