Wednesday, September 3, 2014

On the Next Dr. Phil, The Infrequently Intrigued: The Story of the Micromanaged Childhood

Teaching eleven year olds how to use combination lockers is like teaching a dog to shake with his right paw...but the dog is missing his right paw...

For the love of Sweet Baby Jesus (SBJ for short), please teach your children how to operate a combination lock before they come to middle school. Also, please monitor their ability to use a clock that has hands. 

Each year, I watch *adorable* sixth graders come into school unable to open a locker, organize their junk in their lockers, tell time, tie their shoes, write their assignments down without being reminded, bring their materials from class to class....etc... They are teachable, but have lost interest in becoming independent. I've noticed that they require more coaxing and more explanation as to why they MUST learn things, instead of just being naturally curious and motivated to do so.  

What have we done?

Well, IMHO, we've enabled. We've helicoptered. We've circled around them since they were itty bitty bambinos, preventing them from falling and eliminating every POTENTIAL danger, encapsulating them to PROVIDE the best life possible. And we've stunted the HELL out of their curiosity, requiring all of their life lessons to be meaningful and perfect, Pinterest-worthy, then Status update-worthy. They get older and then expect knowledge on a platter, plated like it's from a five-star effing restaurant. They don't know how to dig into something that intrigues them, because they are difficult to impress and therefore are infrequently intrigued! Oh, but it's "our fault, not theirs." 

You know what else we've done? We've done a lot of "meh. They'll learn that when they're ready..." and "oh, well, s/he doesn't understand that, because it's not her/his strength." Um, hello. Those are called excuses. Yep! And they start when we have toddlers that freak out in the grocery store, stripping random food products off the shelves and throwing them at innocent bystanders ("He's overtired. It's naptime!") and in middle school ("She can't memorize her multiplication facts, because she's just like me and WE struggle at math.") We make a shit-ton of excuses for our kids because we feel that their performance is directly tied to our success as parents. It's not. Granted, good parents have great probability of having awesome kids. But guess what, shitty parents have good kids too (fingers crossed for my two)!  It's our job to provide our kids with the ideas and principles of ownership and responsibility. We need to stop making excuses, and we need to stop accepting them to pad our impressions of ourselves as parents.  

I want my kids to be curious, and to find a passion that intrigues them. I want them to make mistakes, and learn from them. They can get hurt (please SBJ don't let it involve their teeth, though. Broken and mangled teeth freak me out. There, I said it. Can't happen to my two, now, can it?), but I hope if they get hurt they correct their error in judgement. A rice-cake life that is bland, but safe, is NOT what I want for my kids. They better be curious, they better WANT to conquer a combination lock because it's a rite of passage to being in junior high, and for Big Ben's sake, they better know how to read a damn analog clock by age 11. Or else....

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Of Course the Summer Polar Vortex is This Week...

Let's discuss Mother Nature. She's a ridiculously indecisive, moody WENCH.

We do not vacation thattt often, but we do try to do one big trip a year, usually to the beach, and one small trip over the summer.  The last three years, we have ROYALLY struck out on the weather. Instead of boring you with three years worth of vacays, I'll go back 1.5 years.  Halfsies only to keep your attention...

Last February, we went to Disney. You know, the World? Large, people-sized creepy characters wandering around, completely mute? <SN: I heard that they now say phrases and the phrases are remote controlled. Slightly less creepy, NOT!> Anyway, I packed for seasonable weather. Capris, short sleeves, sundresses, shorts, bathing suits, etc.. I made sure each family member wore a wintery outfit, and we packed a wintery outfit and extra sweatshirts.

It was cold. Like 30s and 40s at night, 50s and if you were GeeDee lucky, 60 by 2pm. We froze. But we made the best of it, because it was supposed to be the happiest damn place on Earth, and the fact that we vacationed during Florida's first notable experience with the Polar Vortex was not going to deter our happiness, for ChriDisney's sake.

Fast forward six months to August: We go camping with my in-laws to an outdoor water park for 5 nights. It's AUGUST. Summer. Not late August, early August. Watermelon, swimming, HEAT?! Yeah, not that week.  It was *maybe* 65 degrees for most of the days we were there, and then one day it was in the low 70s. The glorious trip to the water park was complete with a blue-lipped toddler, a shrinkage-affected 6 year old (just a guess!) and 2 ear infections because "moooooooom, I'm not cold..." meant "I'd rather freeze my tots off and go down that slide than wrap up in that towel."  Did I mention that the park was working on the heating element for their water that week and that the water wasn't heated BECAUSE IT SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BE IN AUGUST?

...And now we are at vacation attempt number 3.  A Myrtle Beach vacation in mid April. Risky, to begin with, but a chance that we were willing to take because of the wicked chilly winter we had in New York.  It should have been between 65-72 degrees, according to averages.  Even the low temps were in the low 50s, according to averages. Yup. You guessed it, the Polar Vortex just happened to make it's way down to South-Freekin-Carolina in time for day 2 of our vacation, and lasted the whole week. We enjoyed one seasonably warm day before temps dropped into the LOW 50s for the rest of the trip. Awesome.

Flashback: remember that camping trip to the water park that was a chilly fail last summer?  Well, in our brilliance, we changed that trip from August to what is *supposed* to be the hottest week of the year. This next week in July, is traditionally, the creme de la creme in terms of heat! I started looking at the forecast wayyyy in advance and saw the temps in the low 70s. I was like "naaa. That'll change." It did! The highest temp is the day we get there, 74 degrees. It's supposed to rain until we leave, and the high temperatures on two of the days is in the mid 60s. Sounds like outdoor-water-park-weather to me! I'm packing the Motrin for the ear infection as we speak.

So, I've decided that I'm changing my name to Elsa. I'm clearly the issue, and I'm having a difficult time "Let(ting) It Go." You can call me Queen (Bee). See what I did there? A Frozen reference AND a Lorde, "Royals" reference? Hmph. Probably not even worth a chuckle. Weak material, I'll keep working... 

So, I guess the question is, who wants to take me on vacation? Anyone? Bueller?! :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Vacation for the Teachermom

I love my kids. I can confidently say that they are funny, adorable, and pretty darn smart. They get along better than most, but certainly have their squabbles-which are usually cleared up pretty rapidly. I also love my job the most in July and August, because I don't have to go to it.  (For those of you immediately ready to hate on teachers, it's not too late to go back to school if you're green with envy. In fact, I dare you to. It's not all rainbows, lollypops, and glue sticks. That's a whole different post for a different day....) Anyway, my vacations are always when my kids are off from school/daycare, which means that I don't get time off unless my kids are off. To let you into how this works, I've compiled a list of how summer vacation goes for the "teachermom":
  1. Teachermom will listen to everyone count down the days until summer vacation, not because friends and family are happy for teachermom getting a vacation, but because friends and family will be either envious of vacation, or anxious about having to deal with school-aged children that are home for the summer.
  2. Upon the last day of school, teachermom will have a butt load of laundry to catch up on and will spend the first week (or two) catching up on the chores and housework that has not been completed by Rosie Jetson (because that wench of a robot is a slacker).
  3. Teachermom will spend 1/3 of her summer pay on stupid stuff that is necessary, but not fun, therefore resulting in budgeting that could get her a master's of accounting instead of a master's in education. Teachermom will think about how to implement a Ponzi-scheme, but will realize that it's more of a hassle than it's worth and chances are her friends are too poor to invest... (being that most of them are other teachers)
  4. The first day of vacation, teachermom will realize that her children's constant stimulation at school/daycare has set the bar higher than a pole vaulter at the Olympics, and that she will most certainly disappoint her children--causing them emotional duress, and resulting in them needing therapy. Teachermom's children will repeat "I'm bored" at least 45 times in 3 hours, which pushes Teachermom off the edge. Teachermom will say something like "I'll give you a reason to be bored..."
  5. Teachermom will open a large bottle of wine.
  6. Teachermom will think about how much easier it was to be working, and will say a prayer for the people that get paid to emotionally and academically stimulate her children during the school year. Teachermom will snicker, hoping that her schoolchildren's parents are responding similarly to this predicament.
  7. Repeat 5
  8. Upon venting to other teachermoms, Teachermom will realize that all teachermoms go through a transition from teachermom to stayathomemom.  She will vent with her girlfriends, sharing battle stories about how horrible of a stayathomemom they are, embracing strength in numbers, knowing that they are not alone.
  9. Repeat number 5.
  10. Teachermom will spend the rest of July pinning on Pinterest, and preparing for next year's classroom, avoiding looking at the calendar because August 1st is looming.
  11. August 1st arrives, and teachermom refers back to number 5.
  12. Teachermom will go into classroom several times to set up classroom and get things ready, but will be annoyed because she feels like she just took stuff down and that putting it back up 6 weeks later seems like it is a waste of time. She will take her children with her to the classroom and spend so much time trying to get them to stop playing with her teacherstuff that the whole visit turns into a wash.
  13. Teachermom will clothes shop for her children going back to school, and will buy herself one or two things as well. She will buy school supplies for her biological kids, but spend 3 times as much on her school kids--which is ironic because her summer pay was gone by the last week in July (so much for budgeting). Teachermom will repeat number 5, multiple times during the last two weeks in August.
That pretty much sums up the summer of a Teachermom. Anyone have any parenting advice to offer up? I'll take it into consideration after referring back to number 5....

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Need To Write

I need to write.

I need to write, like people (that shall remain nameless) need to drink. It's an outlet. It's a source of therapy, even when I'm not venting. When I craft these blog posts, or write emails (I was going to say letters, but who even does that anymore? How much are stamps these days?), I spell check, edit, and rewrite sentences with the attention that a new mother gives her first born. (Notice I didn't say second born. And God help all of you third-born children and beyond. You were probably raised by wolves or some other caring mammal that lived near your house, because your parents were probably *all done* with that thing called "parenting" by the you came around---#apologies #truthhurts).

Anyway, writing comes easy to me. When I am feeling angry, I want to write. When I am feeling happy, I want to write. Frustrated? Get me my laptop--I need to write. Interestingly enough, I don't have a journal. Journaling has always made me feel ridiculous. I mean, who am I, Anne Frank? What do I possibly have to write about that I'd want to read about in the future? Journaling: NOT FOR ME.  However, when I have something to say that I know is going to make someone laugh or smile, I'd rather write a witty Facebook status than call the 25 people that I know will get a kick out of it....and for you social media haters, that does NOT mean that I don't know how to communicate traditionally or that I am ADDICTED to social media, but it means that I recognize the therapeutic effect that Facebook has on us, and that I am happy to contribute to numbing someone's down time by writing something that might bring a laugh or two to a friend that needs it. We've all been down the road of Facebook scrolling without even reading the statuses that are in front of us...and if you haven't, I'm sorry that I just outed myself for possibly not reading your posts.....

Today, I need to write. I need to write because I really don't want to pick up my house. I'd rather be sitting right here, right now, crafting this post than spend this moment putting my dinner dishes in the dishwasher, putting away two loads of laundry, or even getting my kids ready for bedtime. Writing this, RIGHT NOW, is an intimate moment where I am digging in my own mind for just the right words about how I am feeling. So, just so we're clear: I'm feeling, hmm, lazy. I'm also feeling unmotivated. I do not feel like putting laundry away, while mentally preparing next week's grocery list (because multi-tasking and getting a little bit of everything done without focusing on one thing at a time--therefore, not completing anything is how I roll, anyone else with me?). So, while writing this, I am not answering the annoying adorable questions that my two little ones constantly ask me over and over again ("Can we have breakfast for dinner tomorrow?" "Did you find my purple dress up shoe?" "Can I buy this app for the iPad?" "Why does the dog poop there all the time?"). My focus, currently, is on my thoughts, and my feelings, because one cannot write while thinking of other things. You can try, but you'd end up with something like this:

What is life really about? Is it about damn, do we have italian dressing? Crap. Stay focused. Where was I? 

What is life really about? Is it about, finding ourselvWHY THE HELL IS THE WATER IN THE BATHROOM ON? *Girl child* SHUT THE WATER OFF IN THE BATHROOM. WHY MUST THAT BATHROOM ALWAYS LOOK LIKE A WATER MAIN BROKE IN THERE? please. tell. me. that. you. did. NOT. put. soap. in. your. dry. hair. UGH! STRIP DOWN. I GUESS IT'S BATH TIME.  

Yeah. That's pretty much what happens if you try to write while multi-tasking and not being committed to fifteen minutes of uninterrupted thought-processing.

Tonight, I needed to write. But, I think I'm ready to put the laundry away now, so I should probably go do that. Do we have italian dressing? No. We do not.... We also need bleach. That bathroom is gross....STAY FOCUSED. LAUNDRYLAUNDRYLAUNDRY.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

If You Are That Mom, Please Stop.

If you are the mom that makes everything crafty that shows up on the kidspiration board on Pinterest, please stop. You are making your kid rely on you to entertain them and you are making the rest of us feel guilty about checking Facebook with our kids plopped in front of the TV. 

If you are the mom that makes bento-box lunches for your kids, your husband, and your hamster and those lunches are healthy, colorful, and turn your kid’s lunch into an effin’ art project, please stop. Your kid is probably craving stale, frozen-in-the-middle chicken nuggets that have been MICROWAVED (*gasp!*). Besides, your kid probably steals the Cheetos out of the lunch of the kid sitting next to him/her, while your 45 minute Bento-box-Mona-Lisa gets chucked out with fifth grade retainers.

If you are the mom that says “Oh, excuse the mess” after cleaning the house for HOURS like Oprah was on her way over, please stop, and come over to my house and then continue.

If you are the mom that has a toddler yet leaves your table set all the time, please stop. Your kid needs a place to color, and quite honestly, that just tells me that you use paper plates all the time. (#youknowitstrue

If you are the mom at the playground, judging the other moms at the playground (or the mom at the computer judging the moms that make bento-box lunches) please stop. We all feel inferior from time to time. That’s not the opportunity to pounce on another’s weakness. It’s the time to reflect and appreciate all that we have that is good in our lives and to be thankful.

Hey, “that mom,” thanks for trying so hard, but promise me you’ll only do those things above if you really want to, ok? Doing them because you think you should is not a good enough reason...and your kids will sense that. I suck at crafts, I pack lunches that have way too much sugar, my house is messy, and I tend to be a tichy-bit judgemental, however, I LOVE tucking my kids into bed, and eating dinner together as a family. I’m not perfect, but I admit that and I hope I pass on my tolerance of imperfection to my children. I do what I want with and for my kids, and not what I think I *should* be doing.

My motto: Eff Perfection. Now, let me check who’s pretending to be awesome on Facebook...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rainbows and Lollipops

 My kids went to bed at a reasonable hour last night, and I woke up with my clothes ironed, my lunch packed, and a cup of coffee in hand...the result of this good fortune? A great start to my day which allowed me to see the rainbows and lollipops in my life....

Let's shine some of this happy light on my career: I love teaching. I really do. There is NOTHING like knowing that you hold some type of knowledge and are directly responsible for transferring it to someone that needs to understand it. And when you know you've NAILED a lesson, there is an energy that you and the kids have that is completely indescribable! True story!

I have one student in particular that LIGHTS UP MY LIFE every day. He tries SO hard and doesn't always understand things, which makes when he does "get it" SUPER special. If we were playing hide and go seek, I'd find him first just so he could help me find the others because THAT'S how much I enjoy his company. Actually, if he ever comes up missing, I may have taken him home with me. I won't write him off on my taxes, so it'll be totally legit. I promise. This one student reminds me that I need to be thankful for everything I have, because even though he comes from a supportive home, his family has extreme financial limitations. Yet, he comes in every day with a smile, and a positive attitude--which is more than most adults (umm, *raise hand* GUILTY) will give you these days. 

This specific student reinforces that it's not how much money we have, what we look like, or how smart we are--it's about how much effort we give things and how positive our attitude is. I hope that I've taught him a boatload this year, but I'm thankful for this eleven year old and the life lesson he's taught me

Holy effin' estrogen. Where is all this warm and fuzziness coming from? What the hell is that about?! Did someone slip some Oprah in my coffee? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Skinny Thoughts

Exercise means sweat and sweating when it is cold out is just wrong.  Because it's cold out.  And you're sweating. BRRRRR.

See, this is why I can't exercise today. Because it's cold out. And tomorrow, it'll be Thursday.  I don't like to exercise on Thursday because I might be sore for the weekend.  That's no fun...

Is cooking and cleaning up the kitchen exercise?  OOh! Cleaning on My Fitness Pal is exercise.  I'm 103 calories over my calorie target for the day.  How many minutes of cleaning eats 103 calories...24 minutes, WELL LOOK AT THAT! I JUST CLEANED MY KITCHEN FOR 24 MINUTES.  boom.  Under calorie goal.  

I wish it was warmer in here.  I should bake cookies. The house will smell nice and it'll warm up the place.  I like cookie dough.  How many calories are in cookie dough? Crap. I'm going to be cleaning my kitchen for a lonnnnng time.  Stupid cookies.