Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Epic Parenting Fails: Nailed It!

Anyone who has ever tried to be a good parent feels like this at some point:

I have ruined my child forever and have surely sentenced them to a lifetime of therapy.

Personally, I don't know too many people who are in therapy thanks to their own parents.  And I have to believe that the older generation felt they were failing us too.  Guilt goes hand-in-hand with parenting.  Because there's no manual.  No flow chart to tell you exactly what to do in each situation.  A friend who went to a parenting class and came away with a wealth of knowledge admitted that when she found herself in a challenging situation, all of the proper responses vanished and she was reduced to yelling.  Haven't we all been there?

Sorry, I don't have any advice for you fellow parents.  You're in the wrong place if that's what you're looking for.  What I do have are funny examples of my own parenting fails.  Stories that my boys can print out for future therapy appointments.

  • I used to do my boys' laundry routinely until they started signing up to wash their own clothes for money. We call it an "optional chore" but really it's just bribery.  I know it.  Anyway, I've fallen out of the habit of collecting dirty clothes; but they don't always sign up to tackle the stinky underwear either.  Recently, laundry piled up and Logan admitted that he's been re-wearing his stiff, stinky, graying socks all week because nobody would provide him with clean clothes.  Picture him begging, like Oliver, with a smudged face - or feet rather: "Please mummy, I want some clean garments."
  • Everyone likes to sleep in on the weekends, right?  It's nearly impossible when you are a parent because your kids wake up before you, demanding food and activities.  Or, if it's still quiet when you get up you know that they are up to no good and they're most likely hanging from the exposed wiring of the highest light fixture.  I lucked out and enjoyed a few blissful late-mornings (after 8 seems late when you have a toddler).  My boys were out of their rooms, playing together, the pets were still alive, and the mess seemed minimal.  I'd sigh with relief and head to the coffee maker.  About a year ago Zack informed me, "You know how we used to wake up earlier than you guys sometimes?  Well, if we were hungry I would get us some dry dog food and we'd eat that."  Wow.  My neglect had turned them into hobos in their own house.  I guess I should be happy that my oldest shared the kibbles with his younger brother.
  • My husband and I had a date night planned but couldn't find a sitter for the evening.  (Settle down, we didn't leave our little ones unsupervised.)  We researched a child care drop-off site online and convinced our boys it would be fun.  They were too young to stay home alone, but probably too old for this place.  But the online pictures showed some video games, an air hockey table, and movies to keep them occupied for the next few hours.  Turns out the pictures were of their other location - the one with the fun stuff.  This one had a miniature bouncy house, a dress-up corner, and drooly youngsters playing with old blocks.  Eh, they'd be fine.  We paid extra for the "dinner option" and found out later they were each given 2 bagel bites.  And maybe some water.  By the way, while they were trapped, we enjoyed multiple rounds of tasty tapas and mojitos.  My boys still won't let us forget it.
  • I dragged my kids with me to an outdoor wine fest one weekend.  My friends were there, and had been "tasting" wine for the past two days.  I told my boys that there was a kids' area with bounce houses and tasty treats - which there was.  The problem was, I got there at 4:30 on a Sunday evening and the event finished at 6, so by the time we were finally headed that way the bouncy houses were mounds of whooshing, deflating plastic.  And my empty promises were the only things full of hot air.  Someone in my party bought the boys a snow cone (it wasn't even me, making up for the letdown).  We all walked to a friend's condo where my boys begged to go swimming.  I let them go in the pool with their shorts on (seeing as we had not brought swimsuits).  As it grew later I realized we still had to walk a ways to the car and drive home - remember, it was Sunday and they had school the next day.  I gathered my soggy boys and we set off on the trail that I was sure would eventually lead to my car.  It didn't quite go in the right direction and as the sun was setting and we turned around to retrace our steps one of them moaned, "I sure hope we don't get eaten by a mountain lion!"  I couldn't even tell them that their fear was unfounded because there truly are mountain lions in that area.
Well, kids, I think that is enough of storytime.  You get the message.  Don't call Child Protective Services.  My boys are well-fed, mostly clean, generally looked-after kids.  

My point is, sometimes you forget to make dinner, you call the kids by the pets' names, swear in front of them, forget things they need for school that they've asked you for a million times.  We've all yelled some inane thing in the midst of frustration, and threatened to take away their whole room or drop the kids off on the moon.  You know, the usual.  Kids go through phases and we learn along the way.  We create our own user manuals and sometimes they need rewrites and extensive editing. Just don't beat yourself up too much.  

Sometimes you can look back and laugh... and occasionally your kids will even join you in that moment.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

They Told Me This Would Happen

I am sitting in a state of shock.  I'm not quite sure how this happened so suddenly.

As of today I have a teenager.


Everyone told me as I held a tiny baby, "Make sure you enjoy every day.  Take lots of pictures because he will be grown up before you know it."  I nodded politely thinking that I had plenty of time.  Of course I would remember all of the important milestones.  They were etched in my brain.  No need to run to the baby book to write things down - how would I ever possibly forget this stuff?

I mean, his first tooth came in right before... well, it was some holiday or other.  (Counting on fingers, trying to guess what month it might have been).  OK, so maybe the exact date is a little bit fuzzy. But certainly I'll remember every detail of his childhood likes and dislikes.  Right?  Oh, why didn't I take more videos so I could hear his little voice and see his diaper waddle and the sweet way he would pat the dog with his sticky, pudgy hands?

But I cherish the memories I have.  And many make me laugh - now.  Maybe not when I was sleep deprived.

He used to throw his bottle or plate when he was done eating.  Sometimes over the rail to the sunken living room couch below.  On more than one occasion he knocked warmed baby food meat off of his highchair to splatter all over the kitchen (gag). But man, did that kid love Lil' Smokies.  We could not feed him enough tiny weiners (OK, that doesn't sound right, but you know what I meant).

We used to go to the park frequently and the Ice Cream truck would inevitably show up, with its tinny music blaring from the speakers.  Kids would run to the parking lot for frozen goodness, but we kept my son in the dark for a while.  He had no idea what the van was all about and we were thrilled with his lack of knowledge.  He just liked the songs.  He would joyfully announce, "Music truck!" when he'd hear it, only... he had a problem saying "music" so it came out "Mucous truck!"  Not quite what you want to think of before shelling out money for a giant astro pop.  And then we'd distract him when the kids came back to the playground slurping their melty Spongebobs-on-a-stick.

He loved the "cozy car" at preschool.  You know, the tiny plastic push vehicle - predecessor of today's Smart cars?  He played in that thing as long as you would let him, but being that there was only one, you'd have to pry his body out of it so other preschoolers could have a turn.  I'm not sure he learned very much that year at the play-based school other than "sharing sucks" and "how to make revving engine sounds".  He hated any tactile activities that got his hands gooey.  No finger painting or shaving cream fun for this boy.  It's ironic then that he wouldn't use a fork until he was about 4 years old.  He shoveled handfuls of pasta (and lil' smokies, remember) into his mouth with glee - and just try to wipe his hands or face.  Yeah, right.

He loved Teletubbies - so help me.  And, though I hate to admit it, we took him to see Barney and the Wiggles live.  Oh, the things you endure for your children.  Thankfully he moved on to the Justice League and was infatuated with Transformers for a while.  I've watched Disney movies and all the Star Wars movies countless times with him (even the godawful episodes I-III).  Now he watches some of the "classic" 80s movies with me that I watched when I was his age and I love to hear his heartfelt, unrestrained laugh when something tickles his funny bone like it did mine.

He loves music and reading and sometimes I like to spy on him when he's in his own world and doesn't know I'm looking.   I think, "I made this beautiful creature".

He recorded his phone's voicemail greeting two years ago before it deepened into a man's voice.  Although I know he's going to need to change it soon, I love to call just to hear what he used to sound like.    But you can't keep them little forever.  I feel proud of the person he is today, so I guess I can pat myself on the back and take credit for some of it.  Who cares when baby teeth erupted if you have a mature, caring, self-assured individual at the end of the day.

Of course, I'm just starting this teenager journey so I may have a different take on it soon.

Happy Birthday to the boy who will always be my little baby.

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