Tag Archive | Mom.me

Do You Want To Raise A Resilient Kid?

photo (43)

 

I want my kids to be resilient.  I want them to bounce back after losing a competitive round of Candy Land or roll with the disappointment when their favorite popsicle flavor is not available.  When I think of all the things that they will face in their lives– acne, spelling bees, heartache, identity theft– it seems like best thing I could give them is the tools to face the great ups and downs that are inevitably coming.

But how? How do you teach your kids to dig deep and dust themselves off?  Certainly I hope I model that, but I’m still looking for other ways to reinforce to them that in the face of disappointment, the best course is to face it head-on and then keep going.

Recently, Sadie surprised me by showing me that resilience doesn’t always look like redoubling your efforts at the same task.  Sometimes, getting on with it, looks like changing course and following the bliss of another path.

 

Click here for my new post on Mom.Me about how Sadie abandoned jump ropes for soccer balls and taught me something I needed to know.

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Would You Do It? Pose For a Painting In Your Birthday Suit?

I’m daring in lots of ways.  Not in the jump-out-of-an-airplane way, but in plenty of ways that allow me to keep my feet on the ground.  Top of my list of daring maneuvers is having kids– letting their gestations and births and subsequent physicality wreak whatever havoc on my body as comes to pass.  To me, that’s braver than jumping out of an airplane because having kids lasts a whole lot longer than the time it takes to float back to solid ground.  (Though, I’d have to be drugged with a fistful of “roofies” before I’d consent to skydiving.)

Before I had kids, I did brave stuff too.  Getting into recovery– that ain’t for the chicken-hearted.  Giving up caffeine– now that’s not for the timid either.  Going to law school.  Traveling abroad alone.  On-line dating.  When I think back on those things, I have the urge to pat younger me on the back and say, “You’ve got spunk, little lady.”

Image credit: Joyce Polance, artist, www.joycepolance.com

Image credit: Joyce Polance, artist, http://www.joycepolance.com

 

I also once posed au natural for an artist who was doing a series of pieces on the Holocaust.  For someone who can’t draw a credible stick figure, the chance to help create art was compelling.  And also a little vain– I’d just run the Chicago marathon and thought, “Well, if I don’t bear it all now, when would I? I’ll never have a body this tight again.”

I think that was a true enough statement.  However, I’ve been rethinking my motives for posing.  And, I’ll just cut to the chase: I’m thinking I might do it again even though…. Even though my body has been altered by gravity, childbirth, and plenty of chocolate ice cream and salty carbs.  Even though I’ve looked better.  Even though I can’t wear a forgiving black ensemble when the artist needs a naked body.

There are lots of reasons not to do it.  But the reasons to go for it are winning out.

To read more about my round-trip journey to contributing my body to the art world, please click HERE.

I Shared The Books of My Childhood With My Kids, But They Cried and Begged Me to Stop

All whipped up in a froth of nostalgia, I started sharing my favorite childhood things with my kids.  I pictured them embracing their history through the “antique” items that represented my youth.  Because they already know Blue Baby, they were right to be cautious about stuff from Mommy’s childhood.

How can my kids resist the toys from my childhood?

How can my kids resist the toys from my childhood?

But still, they’d come around on Blue Baby, so I assumed they would see beneath the scars of love and overuse to embrace the “new” toys I was introducing them to.

What actually happened is that they not only rejected half of the relics, but some of them actually seemed to distress and traumatize them.  The themes of the books I loved were troubling to their modern sensibilities.  Apparently, my kids don’t like stories about poachers or near-death-by-drowning or the arrogance of “Man” vis-a-vis the animal kingdom.  Where in the world did these radical children come from?  Commies.

It shouldn’t have hurt my feelings, but I confess I felt dissed.  Then I felt ridiculous when I heard myself saying, “Just ignore the part where Babar’s mom was murdered! Wait till you see him get married. It’s the coolest!”

Fine.  Your American Girl dolls are fancier than Blue Baby; your muddled and incomprehensible Dora stories are better than Babar.  I just hope I live long enough to meet my grandchildren and roll out the crap my kids think is so freaking awesome and timeless.  I will have the last laugh here, even if I have to live to 90 to get it.

To read about how my children reacted as we plowed through Babar, Curious George, and other classics from my 1970’s childhood, click here.

Sad To Hear Hate On My Kids’ Lips

Lots of stuff has happened in my parenting before I was ready.  Examples? Teeth on my nursing babies.  Repeating curse words after hearing Mommy say them all the time once.  Getting in trouble during dance class for “not paying attention.” 

Those little surprises have kept me on my toes from Day 1, and I am learning to roll with them.   Except for the ones that involve my pre-kindergarten children acting like teenagers.  No one told me that eye rolling and looks that convey Mom, you are so STUPID would start so soon.  And I don’t like it.  On the one hand, I have a daughter who is scared to get into a swimming pool, but thirty minutes later she can tell me how lame it is that I don’t know all the words to The Green Grass Grows All Around.

And who’s the genius who taught my kids to throw around the word “HATE”?  You know what I have for that person? I have a standing invitation for that person to come to my house and hang out with my kids from the hours of 5-7 PM on the days when neither of them naps, but both have been slipped some super sugary snack.  Yeah, come on over and spend some time in the darkest rung of hell, then let’s talk about the appropriate vocabulary for preschoolers.  (For a few more choice thoughts about being a hater in my house, click here.)

To cope, I am taking shelter in rage and indignation that my children think it’s ok to say that they “hate” Willie Nelson’s music (unforgiveable offense) or that they “hate” what I cook for dinner (understandable, but still not cool). 

But really, I’m sad.  I don’t want to hear about hate, and I don’t want it directed at me (or Willie), even though I am committed to supporting them in expressing their anger. 

To my ears, there’s something particularly hurtful and cutting about the word “hate.”  And while I am sure there is plenty in their little worlds to hate (see, e.g., eating my “cooking”, having to brush their teeth every night, being stuck in the car with only 7 Willie Nelson CDs, etc.), I was still hoping that we had some hate-free years ahead of us.

But we don’t.  So here are some synonyms I’ve offered them:

VERBS: abhor, scorn, digust, loathe, resent, repulsed, repelled, object to, revile

What about you? Do your young children say they hate you? Does it pierce your very soul?

Feel Better About Your Mothering– Watch Say Yes To The Dress

 

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Struggling to feel like a “good enough” mother? I have a tip.  Get a pen and write this down: Watch two episodes of Say Yes To The Dress back to back and then VOILA! You will feel like the greatest mother who ever drew breath on this planet.

I had the opportunity to see two episodes of this show at the gym.  Sure, I could have averted my eyes and ignored the closed-captioned crawl at the bottom. Maybe I could have read Moby Dick on my iPhone, if I could only get past all that whaling.  I didn’t have to watch it.  Except I did.  I found myself on a treadmill with nothing else to look at and I’d forgotten my earphones so I couldn’t get my sweat on with my own jams.

The premise of the show is palatable: brides some with their entourage to a fancy store in NYC and we watch as they travel that precarious road to finding The Dress.  A subtext of the show is Wwtch how emotionally stunted mothers ruin their daughters’ hopes and dreams.  From my sample size of episodes (2), I draw the following conclusions:

  • The more botoxed the mother is, the lower the self-esteem of the daughter.
  • The most toxic combination is the super-thin mother and “heavier set” daughter who just lost 100lbs but you can totally tell it’s not enough for the mom.
  • Some brides have to contend with the one-two punch: “Opinionated” mother and “Set-in-her-ways” grandmother– Let’s say a silent prayer for those brides.
  • Second most toxic combination: Mothers with specific ideas of how the dress should be who also insist on a $1000 budget.

The upside of that torture was twofold: 1) I didn’t notice how uncomfortable it was to run a few miles after HALLOWEEN CANDY indulgence, and 2) I felt like the greatest mom in the world.  I’d never act like those fools on that show.  I mean, for one thing, I have no plans to ever get botoxed, which makes me feel so far ahead of the game.

Programming note: One of the brides featured was a 24-year old cancer patient (cervical) named Margo who was planning to get married after her chemo.  I teared up watching her describe the dress she wanted, which she hoped would “make her feel beautiful even though” she didn’t have hair.  She and her twin sister and her mom looked like lovely people clinging to each other through a challenging time.  I loved the dress she chose– and almost lost it when they showed a montage of pictures of her and her fiancé.  I almost thought this show isn’t that bad as I luxuriated in all the warm feelings swirling inside.

Then?  Right at the end of the show, a graphic appeared.  “In Memory of Margo– 1988-2012.”  And that, my friends, was when I lost it completely. I cried enough tears to equal about half the candy I’ve stolen from my kids.

In other parenting news, I’ve decided to STOP princess bashing in front of my daughter.  Because guess what? She likes princesses and my eye rolling and belittling it is making me feel like I’m headed to a future as one of the moms I spent an hour hating in Say Yes To The Dress.   Read more on that here.

The “F” Word Can Suck It

Remember when your kids first started to acquire words, and it was all so terribly fascinating that you wrote them down, one by one, in their baby books?

Then there were words that your kids acquired that make you shudder in that micro-second before they actually said them, but when you knew they were going to. My least favorite is the “F” word.  Not THE “F” word– I’d give my left nostril to hear one of my kids pop off an “oh fuck” instead of having to listen to how something isn’t FAIR.

Image credit: forbes.com

Image credit: forbes.com

It’s the new hot word in my house.  That’s not fair is like a song lyric that my kids can’t get out of their heads. (Digression: Simon has taken to singing, at the top of his filled-to-capacity lungs, “My name is Elder Price / And I would like to share with you the most amazing book.”  About 1/3 of this city now thinks I took my 2-year old to see a profane musical about the Mormon faith, when all I did was show him the Tony-award spoof on that song.  Please consider: his favorite place to sing is at his Jewish day school. Someone please slip a chocolate-covered roofie in my drink before I die of shame.)

Just this evening Sadie sulked like a teenager asked to come home from prom at 8:30 PM.  “It’s not fair, Mommy, I never get to stick a hair pin in the electric socket.”  No, honey, you don’t.  Naturally, her little brother mimics everything she does.  So, he stomped his little foot and told me it wasn’t fair that I wouldn’t let him juggle with the carving knives.

Their lives are replete with unfairness.

And on these weeks when Jeff is traveling, and I have had two solo days back to back, I draw on every nano-second of meditation I’ve ever done to prevent my baser self from going off on them.  You know, from matching their “F” word with my own “F” word– as in “shut the fuck up, you first-world ingrates.”  Sometimes I want go all NPR on them and remind them that they can talk to me about unfairness when they end up in a hostage situation at a mall in Kenya.  Or when they get conscripted into a guerrilla army.  Or when the wake up one day and find that they no longer live within walking distance of a Target where they can purchase any bit of bullshit they want, including string cheese or a comforter.

Until then, they have been advised to reframe their arguments such that they strenuously avoid the use of the term “fair” as it relates to their perception of their current circumstances.  Because I will be that mom that makes them do community service at a local orphanage or forces them to hang out with helicopter parents at the park so they will truly know how good they have it.

For more on fairness, check out my concerns about whether it’s fair that my son gets to nurse for 33 months (and counting), while my daughter only got 10 months of the nip.  Click here for my latest post on Mom.Me.

Stinky Kids: Bad Hygeine or Neglect?

neglected

I’m tempted to write a dozen disclaimers about how I do not condone jumping to conclusions about other parents or assuming the worst about them.  I won’t offer the disclaimers because (1) they’re boring, (2) you wouldn’t believe them anyway and (3) I’m more focused on the instances where it may be in a kid’s best interest for nonparents to be judgmental. Or discerning.  Or suspicious.  Or concerned. Or nosy.

I’m talking about those instances where you observe something in children that you know reasonably well– something that seems off.  At first you can’t decide if you are just being Judge McJudgerson or if it is something that should be explained away with “well, some families do things differently than ours.”

For example, how do you know if a family simply has different hygiene standards or if the kids are being neglected?

This inquiry was sparked by my observations of some neighborhood kids that were part of a playgroup with my kids.  To this day, I don’t know if my concerns about their situation (showing up borderline filthy and reeking of human body odor) was an offensive and arrogant insistence that other people bathe their children as often as I do, (which, in all honesty, probably isn’t nearly often enough) or if it was compassionate engagement.  (For more on this, please check out my recent post on Mom.Me.)

I have no idea.

I suspect it’s not the last time I face this quandary.  What do you do when a family’s decisions are so different from your own, but you’re not sure if a child’s safety and welfare are at stake?  Maybe it’s all a matter of taste? But then again, what if it’s not?