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.

Looking…

Back…

2012 was not a good blogging year for me.  We had a number of changes occur in our lives which I could have blogged about, but I was wrapped up in living them, not writing them.  So here’s the year in review.

January – tutoring for the year begins.  Had a ton of fun with my students.

February – I decided to try my hand at becoming a health insurance agent.  I took the training and got licensed.  Then I remembered I hate doing sales.  That was a bust.

May – my car got totaled and we replaced it with a newer one.

June – one of our closest couple friends got married.  Kris was best man and Dru was ring bearer.  Much fun was had.

July – HamJam #10 and our decision to move to Michigan.

August – the move to Michigan and Kris’ aunt’s wedding.

September – school starts for.  First time working out off the house FT every day in almost 2 years.  Dry gets to hang out with his papa all day.  Kris begins working from home.

October – Kris’ birthday and our 5th anniversary.

December – lots of birthdays, including Dru’s 3rd.

…Forward

Looking forward to 2013, it also promises to be a busy year.  My sister introduced me to loom knitting, so I’m going to be trying my hand at that.  On top of that, school starts back up on Jan 7th.  It’s crazy how many times I see kids I know at the grocery store now.

Dru is getting bigger and smarter everyday.  Hopefully he’ll be potty trained soon.  He’s almost got peeing fully down, just not pooping.  We’re considering preschool of some kind just to give gin some socialization, but not sure yet where.

Kris should be finishing his degree in the fall and I’ll be going back to further my education at that point.

So big things are in store for this year, and I hope to be better about updating, but I make no promises.

Hope everyone had a happy and healthy year in 2012, and we’ll see you in 2013!

Mourning

How do you explain to a 2.5 year old the concept of death?

While getting ready to go to our dear family friend Terri’s memorial service, I tried to find a way to explain to Dru what was going on.  Then I realized that my sister-in-law had given me the perfect explanation.

Saturday, when Kellie was sitting at the table upset over the news, Dru came up and the following conversation ensued.

Dru: “Aunt Kellie, you’re sad.”

Kellie: “Yes, Dru, I’m sad.”

Dru: “Did you bump your head?”

Kellie: “No, my heart hurts.”

Dru: “Oh, my heart hurts too Aunt Kellie.  Hugs?”

As we were heading out the door, with Dru all dressed in his navy suit for the memorial this evening, he asked where we were going.  I told him we were going to see Uncle Keith and that he would need hugs.  Dru asked if he was sad, and I said yes, like Aunt Kellie, his heart hurts.  He then asked if everyone here’s heart hurt, and I told him yes, because Aunt Terri went away and wasn’t coming back.  He told me he was sad too, and when we got there, gave Keith big hugs.

 

I don’t know if this is the recommended way that we’re supposed to handle death with a toddler, but it seemed to work for him.  It was something he could wrap his brain around, and the empathy he showed was very sweet.  Despite the fact that we’ve had no trouble at bedtime (or in the night) for the past month or so, it took him about an hour and a half to fall asleep tonight.  He kept telling me he was sad and that I needed to come back.  I think he picked up on all the emotions that the many people at the service were feeling.  He was super sweet to those he knew, but you could tell he was picking up on the general sadness.

 

On behalf of our family, Terri, you will be missed and always loved.  You touched many lives, and the turnout today just confirmed that for everyone.

Settling in

So it’s been awhile again.

We’re pretty much all settled in.  We had a heck of a time with the move, and a big shout out to my Dad for being there to bail us out.  So here’s what happened.

We drove up to Michigan and attended Kris’ aunt’s wedding.  Had a ton of fun and took a number of pictures.  Sunday, we left Dru and Sparky with my in-laws and went back to the IL apartment.  We spent Sunday night packing, and Monday around noon picked Dad up at the train.  We then spent the rest of Monday (until we went to dinner at Texas de Brazil!!!!  YUM) packing and all of Tuesday.  Wednesday morning we drove one town south to pick up our moving truck.  Dad had reserved it for us back in June, and we arrived just after 8 to pick it up.  When we got to the location, we couldn’t see a truck at all.  In my desire to be done with the move, I managed to convince myself that they were somehow hiding a 20’+ truck around back.  When we walked in to the generic rental place, the guy behind the counter looked baffled when we said we were there to pick up a truck.  After some (SLOW) searching, he informed us that he had no truck, and didn’t know when the one that was supposed to be ours was going to be back. After a few choice words, Dad called Budget’s rental line.  The rocket scientist he talked to informed him that the reservation does not guarantee equipment, just a price, and that they reserve the right to substitute equivalent equipment.  Looking around the store, we wanted to know how a chocolate fountain and a brad nailer were going to help us in our 200 mile move.

So I got on the horn with Ryder and Dad called Penske.  Ryder apparently doesn’t do one-way moves at all.  So as long as Penske had a truck, they were automatically going to come out ahead of the game.  They did, and we ended up driving 20 minutes north of the apartment to get it, and then back south of the apartment to get the pads and hand truck.  BUT WE GOT THE TRUCK.  FINALLY.

We get back to the apartment around 10:30, two hours later than planned, and start loading.  By the time we were done loading, it was about 9pm.  But we’d packed all the lights and bedding, so we made for MI.  We got to MI around 2:30 (actually made pretty decent time) with only a small scare about 30 miles from the house, because the check engine light in the truck came on.  We stopped and let it sit for a few minutes and drove the last bit in.  The next day, unloading was a lot easier, and we had extra hands to help as well.

Friday, Kris and I decided to go and get our licenses switched over, because mine had expired on my birthday, and so I wasn’t able to drive.  We went down to the Secretary of State (SoS) and were all ready to go.  Upon arriving, we learned that the SoS only takes MasterCard and Discover.  We only carry Visa and AmEx.  So we spent a good amount of time getting that squared away, and finally apply for our licenses.  We couldn’t switch our plates over until we switched our insurance, so that would have to wait for another day.

Now since the Monday after the move, Kris has been working remotely, and it’s going great.  Well, he decides it’s probably a good idea to get a Michigan number for both of our cell phones, so he goes online to Cricket’s website to change the number.  We’d already changed our address.  When he does so, they assign him a new number with the old 224 area code.  So he calls them to find out why.  They explain to him that since they don’t offer monthly service in our area, they can’t assign him a local number.  And since our phones aren’t compatible with the service they do offer in the area (monthly prepaid) they shut off his phone.  When he asks them to turn it back on at the old number so he can finish out the workday, they say he needs to go to the closest Cricket store – in Michigan City, IN – about 2 hours from the house.  So he takes some PTO and goes to Best Buy.  We now have local numbers and Virgin Mobile.

About a week after all this, we get our licenses in the mail.  Everything looks great – except one thing.  They switched our signatures.  So Kris’ signature is on my license, and vice versa.  So we go in after work that week and file for corrections.  The lady at the SoS told us that we didn’t have it as bad as the gentlemen who’d come in earlier with an error on his license.  He’s an older heavily bearded man, and his license had “F” in the gender field.  Since we were there, and had gotten our insurance switched over, we took care of our plates as well.  Yesterday, we finally received our corrected licenses, and we’re all good to go.

Other than Budget and Cricket being stupid, it hasn’t been too bad.  We’re pretty much settled in and Dru is having a couple issues.  He keeps telling us he wants his old house back.  But it’s happening less often.

In positive news, Dru has been sleeping SOOOOO much better here.  Maybe it’s the lack of noise and light outside his window, maybe it’s the lack of stress on Kris and I manifesting, or maybe it’s the Brown Bear, Brown Bear wall decals that my in-laws decorated his room with.  Whichever combination of reasons has brought it about, I’m good with it.

In conclusion – I HATE MOVING.  And Budget sucks.  So does Cricket.

Moving pt 2

So phase 1 of the move is complete – Kris is in his last week working in the office, Dru and I arrived at the in-laws yesterday, and we’re getting all the small stuff taken care of.  Sunday, Kris and I head back to IL to pack up the apartment.  Daddy arrives Monday to help us out, and we’ll have all our crap with us come the end of next week.

Next phase:  find a place we want and can afford.