Sunday, January 22, 2012

I pulled a fleshy, clammy, bitten-on, hotdog chunk out of my Pack-A-Be pocket---thank you Toddleator.

The Firstborn daughter, speaking to an African-American woman today regarding this woman's dislike of chocolate, says in a sweet matter-of-fact way, "you're chocolate colored, so you don't need any more chocolate anyway!"

The little one runs around "nahkeee!" (naked!) this evening, mimicking a book "I not coot!" ("I'm not cute")

The bigger one's confidence and articulate conversation are a common compliment.

We have a lovely weekend.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Atomic Melt Down Gymnast-style

It finally happened, as I knew it would.  F had an utter and complete melt down during her team practice last night.  An atomic tantrum for all to hear, such that her Coach kicked her out of practice for the remaining 45 minutes or so.  Rightly, Miss Coach E worked as much as she could with The Firstborn, but given several chances finally had to resort to separating her from the group.

When I arrived to retrieve her at the regular time, F told me of her poor behavior, and Coach took me aside to give me the blow by blow.  Apparently it started with whining and unusual fear around a skill that F already knows, it escalated to crying and louder whining, then hollering and screaming, finally culminating with cursing and screaming for the whole gym to hear (albeit she'd already been removed from practice at that point).

I'm so proud.

That is in heavy {sarc} font, I'm not proud.  I'm rather embarrassed, except when I remember that she's only 5.5 years old, a passionate perfectionist already, and had already been "on" all day at the National Western Stock Show.  I also remember that her behavior is hers and hers alone.  Yes, I'm responsible partly, because I'm her Momma, but only to a degree.  I do my best to model appropriate expressions of anger and frustration (I've grown a long way in the past few years), there's a point where I end and she begins, however.  My biggest lesson as a parent, and what I realized early with this first daughter, was how to apologize for my behavior.  To make sure she knows that I am not perfect, I make mistakes, and I make amends.  The tough part comes with carrying through the living amends---that the apologetic words don't end up meaningless.  Ah, there's the rub.

So, to those who were in the gym last night and might think I'm a bad mother because my daughter has a terrible temper, I say, "Examine yourself first before judging."

To the Rising Tigers' Coaches, E & C, I say a loving "Thank You." 
Thank You for your patience and understanding.  It's a big deal to ensure that children feel safe to emote, even if it's ugly.  
Thank You for not shaming her, eventually Miss Monkey will learn what is appropriate and what isn't (pray sooner than later).  
Thank You for being an example of compassion and Thank You for not taking it personally.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why I hate The Lion King

Yes, I've seen the whole movie.  My little sister watched it non-stop for a year or so as a small child.  And now I have kids.  I know I can't protect them from everything, most especially I'm aware that I cannot control what they'll see at Kids Club.  The young girls employed there know how I feel about children's movies.  If the screen must be on, I hope they put some thought into what the littles are absorbing.

The Lion King's entire plot is based on a murder.  It doesn't matter that the whole thing comes around in the "circle of life" in a glowing rainbows & bubblegum pure Disney style. There would be no story if Uncle Scar hadn't committed fratricide.

If this was a story using real people, or kids, instead of cute friendly lions, would it be appropriate for little kids?

No.  At most it might be all right for young adults.

I appreciate the classic Shakespearean drama story line, but find little value in the "circle of life" afterthought when I've had to accept murder as the main driver of the plot.  The true circle of life doesn't include murder or betrayal.  Most disturbing to me is that it seems most parents will overlook this and feed kids' minds (more subtly, their souls) with this crap.  Several years ago, that Disney thought that it was okay to show kids their worst fear, loss of a parent, is disgusting and terrible.

And if one's mind immediately goes to the "I watched it and I'm okay" or "that's just the way it is", please re-examine.  If it doesn't add value, or teach a Truth about our human lives, or worse if the message is so garbled by complication and drama---why add it into an already jam-packed media life?

I want to set the an example of simplicity and ease with life, and it really can be simple when we allow it.  Keep it simple with kids, it's easier on me and on them.  We cannot complain about what we get out of our children if we are un-conscious about what we're feeding these little beings' minds and souls.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

L&L Report

The Toddleator has been brought into the "Uh-Oh, bedroom-time, you-can-come-back-when-you-can-be-sweet/friendly/gentle" song. If she doesn't like what I'm saying, screams over and over in obvious defiance as I'm talking, it's "Uh-Oh".  If she's not listening to my request of "stop" usually related to safety or mitigation of messes, it's ""Uh-Oh".  If there's excessive hitting, it's "Uh-Oh."  Throwing or spitting food, it's "uh-oh."  Recently she's been really pushing her limits, and I have to remember 1) not to warn her over and over, 2) not to lose my cool--it's too entertaining.  

One day this week, a little trip outside I used "All those who listen to mommy can stay outside longer."  Incredibly, she processed the info and came right back to me.  Sometimes it takes a solid 5 seconds before my direction has been filtered through her ears, into the head, trickled down through her body to the toes, then back up to the brain to be's the processing time I've also got to remember.  Toddlers don't think as quickly as adults or bigger kids, they're still forming all those neural pathways. So, it's my discretion whether she's being defiant or the information hasn't percolated enough yet.

Darth Siddius--yes I'm aware it should be Sidious, but really prefer our spelling 'cause it's too close to the word insidious, and didn't want to prematurely label him Kitten of Doom.  Anyway, Darth Siddius has proven quite a test of listening for the Younger of The Two.  We find ourselves in almost constant verbal cycle of "put the kitten down please...that hurts touch kitty please...all done kitten," repeat, repeat, repeat.  I've noticed that if he really doesn't want to play he'll run away from her, if he does and plays too rough then she'll run away from him (in tears of course).  They will eventually work out some balance.  It's highly unusual for small children to really hurt an animal, especially if the animal in question can squirm, scratch, and bite enough to defend itself if in discomfort.  The Firstborn learned her lesson with Porter...eventually.

Miss Monkey's tantrums have definitely subsided from the early changing-of-method fireworks.  
She hates when I reply, "Maybe so" when she says "This is/You're stupid!"  She'll yell at me, "Stop saying 'Maybe so'!"  *win*

As she's stomping and screaming up the stairs, "Hey, could you be a bit louder?  I think the neighbors missed that one."  She screams, "No!"  *win* ---also works in public.

When she curses, and she does say something like, "I think she is/you are sh*t!" lately only while already in her room.  "Oh, thanks for your creativity, you can come out when you're sweet."  One day on an errand to the bank, this came back on her, she wanted a lollipop.  "Oh, you know, sweet things don't come out of your mouth, sweet things don't go in."  It was doubly sad when baby sister did get a lolly.  *win*

At my last Love & Logic Class I asked if it's permissible to keep a notebook of poor decisions awaiting consequences.  I found it difficult to keep track of delayed consequences, i.e. refusing to contribute to household one day might mean not going to the park a couple of days later, my memory mayn't be that great in some circumstances.  So I started the notebook and decided I needed clarify to Miss Monkey it's purpose, and since then haven't have to use it at all. *win*

I love that when she wants something at the store, I simply ask if she brought her wallet.  Today all I had to do was utter a quiet, "uuoohhhhhhh" and the immediate look I received was a *win* and then total compliance.

My favorite phrases lately:
"How do you think this is going to work out for you?"
"I think that's a pretty poor decision, pretty sure it'll work out poorly for you."

Happy Momma here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mommy to Mommy

Hungry?  cranky mommy.
Angry?  irritable mommy.
Lonely?  snappish, tired mommy.
Ill? worthless mommy, not-a-thing gets done and kids watch a lot of movies.
Tired?  cranky-snappish-irritable mommy.
Hormonal and missed a few workouts?  downright homicidal mommy.

I find myself wandering the kitchen in circles cleaning spots and repetitively opening the fridge or eyeballing the pantry contents, I'm hungry, a state I can remedy quickly (and gratefully).
Lonely can be subversive, it's difficult to identify right away. Easily remedied with a phone call or two, possibly a face-to-face with other mommies.
Illness is something only time will cure though, and the household screen serves as a right-good sedative for small people.

Sleepiness is one thing I cannot remedy, not immediately anyway.  It's not as if I can simply go take a nap whenever I might need to, and I certainly can not sleep in.  Fatigue is a related but different creature.  Fatigue creeps in when I'm over-scheduling, stretching myself too thin with additional responsibility volunteering or activities.  Fatigue can overcome more slowly, more insidiously, and sometimes lead into a depression.

Anger is an issue that is also remedied with phone-a-friend venting session---usually.  Other times I find that it isn't anger at all, but rage.  Rage, for me, is directly proportional to lack of self-care.  If I've become to lax around my spiritual, emotional, and physical fitness---or hindered in my care, as with illness---I trip directly to rage when pushed.  Which segues into homicidal mommy, easily linked also to hormones.

Lock jaw, teeth gritting, eyes bulging, colorless thin lips ready to chomp on sweet tear-stained cheeks. It's sometimes barely restrained and connected directly with a learned stoicism, a stoicism bordering on dangerous martyrdom.  When I'm operating from a spiritual and emotional deficit I become "not-so-great-leaning-toward-terrible" mommy.  Sometime these little people demand so much from me, I become so drained that I have nothing left to give.  As sad as it is to admit I sometimes can not bring myself to hug my Littles for deeper fear I might hurt them, it's real.  This confounding ambivalence drives me to balance my personal needs with what my children and family need of me.  When any-mom's needs are not met, reactions are skewed and explode sideways harming innocent bystanders.  That's been my experience.  I've come to realize that emotions are just as intoxicating as other less legal options.  It might feel really good to let fly all sorts of Terrible and Horrendous, sometime I barely realize it's happening until it's too late. But after, there is more emptiness, and I find guilt and much despair.  Growth evidence as I no longer pretend that nothing happened. In my new form I am better at admitting my mistakes and apologizing.  Without changed behavior, apologies mean nothing.   Reacting to poor behavior with more poor behavior isn't loving.  I've nothing to lose by responding while in a thinking state and if I can't find my "thinking state" I may come back to the problem later.

To counteract the cycle, I pray, I meditate, I exercise, I connect and person.  
I become still, and  know.

It's challenging to alter the pattern, to break the chain, to change the legacy.  It can feel insurmountable, but I am living here in this moment, not all moments at once.  I need only this one moment to begin all moments following.

Pray? graceful mommy full of ease.
Meditate?  peaceful, thoughtful mommy.
Exercise? joyful mommy.
Connection & Belonging? loving mommy.

I am.

edited to add:  my palms sweat and tingle with the real-ness of this post, rigorous honesty is uncomfortable as is putting myself out 'there'

House Arrest

Or rather self-imposed quarantine.  It started with the Younger of The Two (Toddleator E) with a nose running as a faucet, culminated a couple days later with a 104.9 F in the Elder of The Two (Miss Monkey), then me, of course, in the fray with some wicked head congestion.

I have not driven my car in 5 days, but gave it a once-over clearing kid-detritus.  We've been inside for almost a week straight.  Save a few moments outside to re-arranged garbage & recycles, or check the mail, then a brief outdoor "bonfire" build with Miss Monkey while the weather has been unseasonably warm (as is the habit of weather fronts here, beautiful then freezing & snow).  Not my chosen way to start a New Year, but at least I can say we're over it, and it won't be returning.  Is it consequence from stretching so thin prior to Christmas?

So, it's day 5 and we're finally all free of fever, I wonder how I'll keep my sanity if we don't get out and do something, even if it is a menial errand.  I hear pleasant play interspersed with squealing wails of frustration or hurt feelings.  Parts of me kind of enjoy the forced quiet and slow down of illness (shh! don't tell Perfect Mommy Club).  It feels when the Littles do return to normal that they are ++active, as if they're making up for lost time.

Christmas Kitten, Darth Kittius(Siddius), has been brought fully into the fold.  Porter mostly tolerates kitten's surprise pounces, and Toddleator E "hohlps" him by squeeze-carrying him until he struggles free.  We certainly can't head to the gym or hang out with buddies the way we all sound, horking up gunk and sneezing out the goo.  It simply wouldn't be kind to others around us.

At least I've saved on gas.