Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Coffee With a Side of Reality

Since moving to Texas I've been lucky to make a few new friends.  Some have been through my sister, some have been on my own.  I'm pretty proud of myself to be able to make new friends at this age, because sometimes, it's not easy.

One of my new friends is the mother of a classmate of Claire.  In addition to her Claire-age child, she also has a son who is just one month and a handful of days younger than Zora.  She's super nice and very intelligent.  It's always nice to chat with her when we drop off the kids at school, so I was obliged to accept when she invited me to coffee.

We met at Starbucks and found a nice set of comfy chairs situated around a low table for the babies to walk around/destroy.

Dear patrons of Starbucks,
This is a coffee shop, not a library.  My child does not have to be quiet.  If you want quiet go buy some hipster giant headphones and put some anti-establishment stickers on them.  But, also realize that you can't get more establishment than Starbucks.  You are not ironic in the punk rock kind of way.  Get over yourself.  Thanks.

My friend and I landed on the predictable topic of child development.  It was all me, as it usually is.  I just feel this compulsion to talk about how everyone's kid is doing.  Not because I want to take anything away from anyone as far as kudos go, but because I need reassurance that my children are doing okay.  Even though I have two children, I consider myself a first-time mom because Claire isn't old enough to have taught us what we need to know to raise Zora without a few questions.  We're learning as we go here people.

So, anyway, my friend did her masters work in the area of child development(I know it was actually called something else, but I can't remember now).  She has many friends who are in the field.  A lot of these women work in the field because they have children with special needs.  I was fascinated by what she was saying because now I have a virtual expert in my presence.  What she said though, stopped me in my tracks and shifted my focus.

She said that for her to share her children's milestones, like walking and talking, was unfair to many of her friends.  While they would of course be happy and proud for her and share in her excitement, some of them would never have those milestones.  Their child might never speak a single word, let alone "mommy" or "I love you."  They might never get to have that hug that comes at the end of the run down the hallway.  That's not to devalue what they will experience, but it puts life in perspective, at least for me.

It's another one of those moments we are given from time to time that bring you back to reality.  I say "given" because I think these moments and the people that share them with you are a gift.  A gift sent to remind you that even the smallest thing is important when it comes to raising kids.  The smiles and giggles, the hugs and kisses, the moments.  Those are what matter.  The ABCs and 123s?  They have their place and I couldn't be prouder of Claire and Zora when they learn something new.

There's a middle ground, though, right?  There's something between enjoying every second and not caring and obsessing over achievement?  I'm working to find that balance.  I suppose it depends on how you measure success.  Today success for us equals a baby who took two steps in a row and a big girl who decided it's "unda-weaws" from now on...good luck to her teachers today...tomorrow success might be a new food sampled or a new song learned.  I like this success.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Two in One Week? Don't Get Used to It

I wanted to update everyone since I received so many helpful comments yesterday after the Pushing Incident of 2012. 

Claire had a great day today.  She didn't push a single child at school.  I was so proud, I can't tell you.  This morning Rob and I spent most of breakfast talking to her about sharing and taking turns.  We also played with her laptop and practiced sharing and turn-taking.  I know we're not out of the proverbial woods on this, but it sure was nice to hear she had a great day.

On another note, I've been wanting to share this with you all for awhile but I always forget to get it out of Claire's room before nap (when I blog).

Here's the text of my favorite book to read to my girls.  It's called Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You. (BTW this is not a reprint, it's a quote)

"I wanted you more than you ever will know,
so I sent love to follow wherever you go.

"It's high as you wish it.  It's quick as an elf.
You'll never outgrow stretches itself.

"So climb any mountain...climb up to the sky!
My love will find you.  My love can fly!

"Make a big splash!  Go out on a limb!
My love will find you.  My love can swim!

"It never gets lost, never fades, never ends...
if you're working...or playing...or sitting with friends.

"You can dance 'til you're dizzy...paint 'til you're blue...
There's no place, not one, that my love can't find you.

"And if someday you're lonely,
or someday you're sad,
or you strike out at baseball,
or think you've been bad...
just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair.
That's me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.

"In the green of the the smell of the sea...
in the clouds floating the top of a tree...
in the sound crickets make at the end of the day...
'You are loved.  You are loved.  You are loved,' they all say.

"My love is so high, and so wide and so deep,
it's always right there, even when you're asleep.

"So hold your head high and don't be afraid
to march to the front of your own parade.

"If you're still my small babe or you're all the way grown,
my promise to you is you're never alone.

"You are my angel, my darling, my star...
and my love will find you, wherever you are."

Tillman, N., (2010). Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You.  New York:  Feiwel and Friends

I couldn't have said it better myself.  Now go buy this book because the pictures are amazing and you will tear up every time you read it to your children. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life Lesson: When to ask for advice

I need some advice.  Like actual advice.  Like don't sugar-coat this advice.

Today when I arrived to pick up Claire, I was greeted by an Incident Report.  She had pushed and scratched two children. 

As this was explained to me several feelings washed over me.  First, embarrassment.  Second, sadness. Third, fear.  I was embarrassed because it seems like this is something I should be able to deal with.  I shouldn't have the kid that pushes people.  I'm not violent.  My husband isn't violent.  I felt like a failure as a parent.  I was sad because I don't want Claire to be marked by teachers and other parents as "that kid" and become the outcast.  I don't want people to think that she's anything other than the loving, caring, friendly kid that she is.  I was afraid because what if this is an emotional problem that is going to only get more difficult from here?  Do I need to have her evaluated?  What do I do?

On the way home, I cried on the phone to my husband who is out of town on business this week.  I wanted him to give me the answers.  I wanted someone to tell me, "oh, all you have to do is _____."  This is not reality.

When we pulled into the garage, I turned to Claire, sitting in her seat enjoying her bunny crackers, and said with tears streaming down my face, "it makes Mommy sad when you hurt people at school."  She said, in response, "Mommy crying?"  Then we talked about how hands don't hurt, they help and that we give hugs and kisses with hands.  She will tell you adamantly, "No pushing!  No scratching!"  She'll even show you what to do with hands.  She'll stroke the baby's back and say, "sweet hands." 

So, how do I solve this Rubik's Cub of child development?  I've done my research, I know this is normal 2-year-old behavior.  That doesn't mean I'm just going to stand by while she's becoming the class bully.

It broke my heart today to see her sitting at a table by herself eating her lunch because she was in trouble.  I don't want her to have another day like today.  I certainly don't want her to have a life of isolation.

We do "time out."  We re-direct.  We pay attention when she's playing with other kids (as much as possible) to try to catch the behavior before it starts.  But I'm not Super Mom.  I don't have psychic abilities and I can't predict how things will make her react. 

So, any suggestions are welcomed.  If any part of you just smiled a smug smile of congratulations because your kid never hit, pushed, or bit, get off my blog.  You're an asshole.

While writing this, Pusherman is playing in my head.  But it's not Curtis Mayfield singing it.  It's my brother-in-law, Ryan.  If you know him, he's now singing in your head, too.  You're welcome.