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Want to take a parenting class with me?

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In 20 -ish years of post-college life, I have been busy hiring others to help me improve at my various pursuits. I have taken writing classes (to improve my writing), Spanish classes (to improve my Spanish), running classes (to improve my running) and swimming classes (to improve my swimming). I have hired a triathlon coach and a swimming coach. I have hired someone to clean my apartment, mow my lawn, train my dog (to no avail) and help watch my kids.

Clearly I have no problem seeking outside help. Yet I dragged my feet (and was faced with some eye rolls from friends) when given the opportunity to take a parenting class. Why are we supposed to have some innate parenting knack? Because lame or not, I do not have that knack.

“You’re a great parent,” one said. Then why did I almost bite off my lip this morning to keep from screaming, I wondered. And why does my 5-year old son count to three to get my 4-year old daughter to do something? (Which would be funny if it weren’t so awful.)

A swim coach helped quicken my race times. Perhaps this parenting class will help me quicken my kids’ response times, or lower the time it takes me to erupt. And since I don’t really have any friends  here yet, maybe I’ll find one who isn’t a total whackadoodle at class. I’m almost assured, however, of another blog post.

First class is tonight at 7. I’m cautiously optimistic.

 

Oct 4, 2011

Who is your emergency contact?

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I had been patting myself on the back for being brave (not here , of course)  about the move t0 Ohio, but filling out the school forms tripped me up.   Jake and Jenn are both going to the same school this fall (or today, if you’re in Ohio), and I faced the predictable pile of forms.  I remembered to get the new pediatrician to fill out Jenn’s forms; I remembered to get the health forms sent for Jake from the NY pediatrician, and I dutifully looked up my husband’s office and cel phone numbers (which I am refusing to commit to memory in case this whole bit of nonsense passes and we can return to our 917 numbers).

I was buttoned up, which is not always the case for lame mom. Then I got to the emergency release forms – you know, who can the school call in case of an emergency to pick up your kids if you aren’t reachable. The form said I needed to list someone, not a parent, who is nearby. And at 41 years old, suddenly, I don’t have anyone to put down as my emergency contact. Can I list the stranger who re-did our wood floors? Or the cutie pie who put my groceries in the back of my new car the other day?

I expect I felt as bad as my kids would if nobody came to pick them up from school. So I put down my sister, who is seven hours away by car, because there’s nobody here yet. With the dollar a minute we are charged at school for a late pick-up, I am confident she will drive fast if she gets the call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 22, 2011

Cleveland: 1; Lamemom: 0

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So Cleveland beat me today, on my first day as an Ohioan. We arrived yesterday afternoon so today was the maiden voyage.

In brief:  I made all three children cry, multiple times, and I joined them in tears by 3:3o. I most certainly convinced all the neighbors that I am a fishwife, if they heard me screaming. (And believe me, with one elderly exception, it would be difficult to not hear me screaming.) I ate half a plate of cookies (brought over by a neighbor with her three adorable kids whom she probably didn’t make cry today) and I ate a whole box of buckeyes that I found in the fridge (sounds like a joke but it’s not – they’re chocolate covered peanut butter balls) that another neighbor brought over. (Yes, the women of Rocky River want to keep me post-partum fat, which is why they all bring me treats my kids don’t like.) Oh, and since I’m full of self-pitying misery:  my new, beautiful kitchen stools don’t really match my kitchen; my son’s hands are always in his pants; I can’t find a Spanish speaking babysitter, and my too-young-for-a-midlife-crisis husband just bought a muscle car.

Now as I sit in my kitchen with the whole house asleep,  I’m sure tomorrow will be a better day, if only because the buckeyes are gone. But also because last week I got another dose of get-your-head-out-of-your-ass perspective as I spent four days in the hospital with 5-week old Rainbow, who is now just fine. You see, some times it’s just so easy to only see the trees (in my case:  boxes to be unpacked or friends that I don’t have here) instead of the forest (in my case: I lead a pretty charmed life). Where was this clarity all day?

So tomorrow I will rise above. I might not floss but I will eat a carrot before finishing off the welcome cookies. I’ll try to pause before screaming at my kids. I’ll keep plugging away at unpacking. And maybe tomorrow I can beat Cleveland. I’d even be okay with a tie.

 

Aug 15, 2011

The Rainbow is here!

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When asked several months ago what we should name baby, my kids had two answers: Rainbow (from Jenn; even nicer in Spanish — Arcoiris) and Max (from Jake).  Of course, Rainbow is the name that stuck because it’s silly cute and way less common than Max.

Though Rainbow was due (and scheduled) for later in July, he decided to come on July 1 – a Canada Day surprise for all of us. Fortunately, for my Canadian husband, (who longs for many things he misses from the homeland), Rainbow made up for the lack of a Canada Day celebration. And fortunately for the husband, who has been living in Ohio during the week, he was home a day early for the 4th of July long weekend, so he got to come along to the hospital with me and Rainbow. (Actually, he didn’t come for about two hours after Rainbow and I first got  there, so certain were we that the doctors would smile patronizingly, pat me on the shoulder and send us back home. I even knew what kind of ice cream we were going to buy on the way home. But that’s a story for a different day.)

So Rainbow was born, three weeks early in a tiny hospital 90 miles from our intended hospital. The doctors and nurses were lovely, the room was giant and the food was delicious. We were the only ones on the whole labor and delivery floor for most of our stay, except for one morning when a lady (also from out of town) came in to have twins. (The whole twins’ birth wrecked everything, as I couldn’t get a nurse’s attention that morning to save my life. The babies were early so were transferred to another hospital shortly after.)

In addition to remembering what life with a newborn is like (sweet and awful), I have been busily canceling all of my necessary pre-birth appointments. Apparently, it’s possible to have a baby without a fresh pedicure, nice eyebrows or new blond highlights. Or maybe Rainbow and I are a miracle. Rest assured, I’ll resume my grooming regimen once we return to the city, but nobody has commented on it yet. I expect nobody has been able to look past my new stripper-sized chest to notice that my hair needs color. Fortunately all of these things are only temporary.

Jul 7, 2011

Do two bad choices make a really bad choice? Or is bad just bad?

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I might have hit another low yesterday evening, as far as the nutrition police are concerned. The kids and I went for dinner at our local  (and very delicious, actually) Chirping Chicken. We all got it our way:  fingers for Jake and nuggets for Jenn, fries across the board, corn on the cob and chicken soup to share. We found a table outside and watched the 5pm exodus from the playground across the street.

Our food came and I was feeling pretty good, in part because the mom sitting at the table next to ours with her 3 year old and 1 year old commented that our ages (5 and 3) seem more fun, especially for a dinner out, even at a Chirping Chicken. (Can we deny that she is right? No way.) The kids were eating; I was mentally calculating how many days until I can have a guilt-free beer, and Jenn asked me to help her spread her butter. Lazily, I first suggested that she just dip in her butter and she insisted that she needed it spread. So I helped her.

I was on the third nugget when I realized I was spreading butter on my daughter’s chicken nuggets. Gross out. Who does that? Of course, the butter came for the corn on the cob, which the kids rejected so I ate.  Jenn sees butter as a way to make everything better (Again, can we deny that she is right?) and I’m a helper so we were wiping thick globs of soft-ish butter on her nuggets. I always figure butter on corn or brocoli is a small price to pay, if the kids actually eat the vegetable, but on fried, fake-ish chicken?

Virtually all of my son’s classmates and their parents passed our table and chatted with us as they walked home from the playground. If anybody took note, I can’t imagine what they thought the yellow stuff was all over Jenn’s food. I’ll note that nobody was jumping to arrange any play dates.

The silver lining? That it was actually butter that we globbed all over her food, and not something from a big tub of margarine, because I’m pretty sure it was not until college that I eschewed margarine for real butter, and Miracle Whip for mayo… She’s so sophisticated, my daughter. And she ate almost all the nuggets, which was good enough for what it was.

 

 

Jun 22, 2011

Just like in the movie

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Today on the bus I was chatting with Jenn about my day:  I was headed to meet my friend, also named Jenn. The Jenns had met a couple of times and I was keen to have my daughter Jenn remember my friend Jenn.

Me:  Remember last summer when that lady with the same name as you came to the apartment with her three daughters?

Jenn:  No.

Me:  (Trying again)  Remember when that family met us at our cottage and you and Daddy  took the three little girls tubing?

Jenn:  (No reply, but starting to exhibit some recollection. Or maybe she was imagining the chocolate croissant I had just told her we could buy.)

Me:  Remember the littlest girl who was almost your age and you and your brother wanted her to stay to play? Her name was Charlotte?

Jenn:  Charlotte.

Me:  (Relieved this exercise was almost over, and confident she is about to remember my dear friend. ) Yes!

Jenn:  Like in the movie.

At which point I was no longer dying for Jenn to remember my friend, I had moved on to horror that my daughter thought Charlotte’s Web was a movie and not a book.  I really just wanted to kick the Easter Bunny for bringing the DVD of Charlotte’s Web instead of the book. Stupid bunny. Even if it’s a good one, my kids can’t become literary geniuses watching the movies.

 

 

Note:  Incidentally — my kids LOVED watching Charlotte’s Web. I was all ready for a pair of sobbing disasters, but they were fine. In fact, when I asked them if it had been a little sad, they agreed but pointed out that Charlotte had died but she first laid 514 eggs. Pretty impressive big-picture view, I thought. I was the only sobbing disaster to be found.

 

Filed under Expectations, Parenting
May 17, 2011

Yes Day

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I have been pretty lucky in life and while I believe that we can make our own luck to some extent, sometimes luck is just luck. When I was younger, my friend Cathy could be called on to justify ANY drunk, late night with the “we could get hit by a bus tomorrow so let’s have one more” argument. And as I have gotten older and had kids, and our families have gotten older and we have all been generally unscathed thus far, I have given a lot of thought to the idea that we are just one phone call or doctor’s appointment or walk in the park away from not being so lucky.

Of course, the most recent example of this (that the whole world and I can’t stop reading about) is the Brooklyn family, Elisa and Nathan Bond. They are a mid-thirties couple with a young daughter and they were both diagnosed with serious cancers last month, within a week or so of one another. He was diagnosed first, on Valentine’s Day, so on February 13, their lives were “normal,” or maybe unscathed, too. She started their blog to keep family updated on their newborn baby a year and a half ago and now it chronicles their cancers and treatments and unfortunately, now they can’t go back to that place. (Especially since their plight went viral in the last week or so.)

Last week I was in a taxi with my daughter, headed to the hospital so she could have (what we hoped was) a Spitz mole removed from her leg, and I couldn’t stop thinking, “this might be the day we remember as the last day before X happened.” I don’t really know I thought X might be, but it wasn’t good — deadly cancer, I expect. Fortunately we received a favorable oncology report and, (in spite of a 2 inch incision), all is fine. But maybe we won’t be next time. Or maybe we will. Don’t think that I’m sitting up at night imagining what’s going to “get us” next – (Ok, maybe sometimes – though I’m pregnant, so crazier than usual.) – but wondering if “today is the last normal day” certainly makes me reconsider some of the worries I have or decisions I make.

At dinner last night my son asked when he got to have “Yes Day,” which he learned about in an adorable book by the same name in which a little boy (you guessed it) has a day full of yes-es. Jake ran through what the day would and wouldn’t include for him and it didn’t seem too crazy:  more ice cream than green vegetables, but nothing dangerous. So I think I should plan a Yes Day. Maybe we should all have more Yes Days, (or fun nights out with Cathy), because we don’t really know when we won’t get to have them any more.

Filed under Family, Parenting
Mar 29, 2011

Enjoy vs. ignore

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On the telephone the other night, my sister asked what I was doing and I replied, “I’m just ignoring my kids.” Not that surprising in that after-dinner lull before bedtime preparations begin, but she misheard and thought I said “I’m just enjoying my kids.” I’m sure that would be a normal sentence for lots of people, but my sister almost spat with laughter because it’s, apparently, not a normal sentence for me.  So I didn’t have a moment to tell her my real news, which is that that starting in mid-July, I should have three to ignore (or enjoy) instead of  my present two.

Before you call children’s services (or my mother or mother-in-law), I was ignoring my kids but they were happily playing together. And I was enjoying ignoring them, and I think they were enjoying it, too. It’s way better than yelling at them.

Filed under Parenting
Feb 21, 2011

Feeling small again

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We all stood there in a little bit of awe and disbelief and maybe a tiny bit of horror as we watched the small child read (from notebook paper, not a giant cue card) in Spanish to a group of 75 adults. We were at a family event at the Spanish preschool where our kids go.

We had watched the class of 2-year olds act out a book-related skit for (what felt like) an hour; we had watched the class of 3-year olds sing a (perfectly timed) 1-minute song and then our socks were knocked off with the class of 4-year olds’ skit, including an adorable little boy reading to the room. In Spanish. And then he read in the dark. He was not reading simple phrases like, “Hola. Comment estas?” He was reading sentences and sentences BEAUTIFULLY.  The cranky Spaniard next to me commented that the kid’s Spanish was great and another friend wryly noted that he read better than she could, and she’s 42.

Of course, I couldn’t have been the only one in the room wondering, “What kind of genius is he?” And if I’m being honest, my next thought was, “How’d I get such a dummy?” Because my 5-year old could more likely vomit on command than speak in front of a room of strangers, much less READ in front of a room.

“I’m sure it’s like those little boys in the Little League World Series with questionable birth certificates,” I joked to the parents we were standing with. “He’s probably ten years old – they put in a ringer to help lure prospective students…” See, I was testing the waters.  I sought a sign from them that THEIR kids weren’t brainiac early readers because mine isn’t either. Isn’t that sad? He’s five and I was instantly worried about him keeping up with everybody.

I take spin class at the gym.  I am more competitive than I like to admit and spinning is a perfect outlet for that. The tan, skinny lady on the bike next to me might look better in low-slung jeans but I can chase her down and beat her on whatever imaginary hill I am riding. And no one ever has to know we’re racing.

I think I might need to add more spinning to my week –certainly, to keep me out of mom jeans, but more importantly, to keep me from adding competition to my kids’ lives. They’ll add that soon enough on their own.

(Incidentally, I did a little research:  kids begin reading at all different ages, with the range being 3 – 7, for the most part. Yes, 3 or 4 is early.  But as we know, all kids are different.)

Filed under Kindergarten, Parenting
Jan 31, 2011

Pick me! Pick me!

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Since I was always big and relatively sporty, I wasn’t one of the kids picked last for teams when I was a kid. Last one picked to dance in 6th grade, yes, but not last one picked for dodge ball. (Equally scarring, I expect.)It dawned on me last night at 2am that the best way to conquer any of those didn’t-get-picked demons is to have a kid or two. Because now, I ALWAYS get picked. Actually, I should clarify – I always get picked at night. During the day, if he’s around, Daddy is fun city and definitely wins.

The other night, for example, Jake (coughing like every other child on the Upper West Side) woke up at 2am in need of water. Or something, I don’t remember the specifics but he definitely had cause. So he climbed down from his bunk bed, left his bedroom and walked PAST the unusual light on in the living room where his awake and generally able father was sitting on the couch, probably on his computer reading about Cross Fit (his new obsession) or water skiing (his constant obsession)  – both way better than the online porn he could be cruising. Passing the not-sleeping person in the living room and the kids’ bathroom, (which is FULL of water), Jake appeared at my bed where he stood next my head whispering “MommyMommyMommy” until I opened my eyes to scowl at him before getting him water and getting him back to bed. (Actually we had a quick scuffle about which cup to use and then he got back to bed – my husband sometimes questions my recollection and I know he would want me to point that out.)

But why am I always picked? I’m not that nice. Is it cosmic payback for not really getting picked by the tall boy when I was in 6th grade? (Actually, he did pick me once and we slow-danced to the Police “King of Pain.” Dreamy.) Do the kids pick me to make me feel needed or loved? Are they maternally drawn to me at night because of that first year of night feedings or is picking me at night just a habit, since I’m closer to the door?  Because, really, my husband is definitely the softer of the two of us and the kids would be WAY better served by waking him.  While I might scowl and help Jake get a drink before shuffling him back to bed, my husband might scowl, offer him a bowl of Cheerios and put in the Dora DVD for him.  (I exaggerate, but you get my point.)

I know that very soon the kids won’t want us for anything (except money or car keys), especially not at 2am. And while I’m not ready for that to be the case, I would be okay if they picked Daddy once in a while at 2am. Or for that matter, anybody who is already awake. Like the elevator guy Carlos; he’s awake all night.

Filed under Parenting, Sleep
Jan 26, 2011

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