First, I’m sorry I haven’t written anything on this blog in over a month. I took over the company blog and the two seemed to interfere (ever so slightly) with each other. But, I should be back on track, now. The thing is, I’ve been busy, with work, and the holidays (from Halloween to New Years is just an absolute whirlwind of activity, as any mom/dad/or responsible adult supervisor will tell you). Kyra’s first year of school has been wonderful, but it has been difficult, too. Working around her schedule, trying to be there for her field trips and extra-curricular activities, plus working outside of home and trying to keep up with the house and the meals and the laundry has been fairly overwhelming.

I’m not here to make excuses. I’m just here to write. Our topic today; the holidays and the pressures applied on all parents. It’s hard. Between the bills and the parties and the presents; we definitely don’t have it easy. I love Thanksgiving, and the meals are always wonderful and the family is sort of comfortably exhausting. I love Christmas. There’s nothing like seeing my daughter’s face light up at the evidence under the tree and on his cookie plate, that Santa Claus has paid her another visit. This year, however, we’re going to be struggling a little. It puts a lot of stress on her father and on me; on our relationship in general.

It’s something all of us go through. Yeah, we may be having money trouble and times will get hard for a bit of rocky road, but it’s nothing we’ve never handled before, and nothing we can’t handle again. Times may be tough, but they could be tougher. My daughter could have been on a playground in Syria this morning, for example. And then, watching ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ with her tomorrow night wouldn’t even cross my mind right now. She can walk. She can talk. Shoot; she’s even learning how to play chess.

Okay, so maybe I can’t watch a hockey game, and maybe the rent’s going to be a couple of days late this month. But maybe, just maybe, that little Christmas tree atop all her presents, next to the stocking bigger than she is, will bring the Christmas smile to her lips that sets us free and makes us forget about the whole past couple of months. Maybe Santa saves us grown-ups, too.

Hug your kid. Hold him/her tight and remember what it’s really all about. And then, smile that big Christmas smile…like you were still a little kid, too.

What’s In a Name?

Of course, there is the famous Shakespeare quote. To quote someone else, however, has always indicated that you are not clever enough to think for yourself. So, I steer away from it when I can.

In my research, I found a lot of pure bologna, some half-hatched notions, and a pinch of intelligence. It may not be a recipe for the very best blog, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try, anyway.

My name was rather unique and even a bit old-fashioned when I was young; believe it, or not. Now (thanks to Ms. Roberts, I presume) it has moved up significantly on the ‘popular names for girls’ list. I’ve always been a rather odd individual, too…I’m not gonna lie. However, one case hardly counts as any bit more than circumstantial proof one way or the other. There does seem to be a slight correlation between names and personalities, but I can’t in good conscience consider them much more than coincidental.

My cultural learnings to make benefit the glorious nation of Web information, thereby, are this:

Until scientific (OBJECTIVE) research can effectively prove otherwise, a name is nothing more than what people call you. Just keep watching out for those sticks and stones.

Sweet Revenge

I’ve wondered, often, at the acts of grandparents.

If you are a Mum or a Dad; you completely understand. If you are a kid or a Grandperson…you already know. I remember, when I was younger, how badass it was to go hang out at grandma’ s house. I also know that my daughter LOVES to see her folks’ folks. Yes; part of it is the presents, part of it is the candy, but mostly; it’s just the payback…

That’s right; Mums and Dads. They’re in on it together. Everything you ever did to your own parents is reflected in your children and they (as grandparents) have every right to reward now, what they fought, yesteryear. Say what you will…I hate it, too. But life, it seems, like any ridiculous drunken frat boy will tell you, requires our own particular brand of hazing. We pay our dues, love their faults, and then (finally!) get to make fun of them with their kids.

I am rubbing my palms together like the evil villain in a terribly made and low-budgeted science fiction movie (or, a kindergartner trying to melt a crayon with pure friction). Aha!!! Revenge!!! I can hardly wait, and she’s only four.

Born to lie??

Well, I know that there are a lot  of professional liars out there. Politicians, for example, are one big sham after another. Anyone who tries to make everyone happy all of the time has to be a liar, otherwise it simply can’t be done. But remember, all of you out there, your lies always catch up with you, eventually.

This topic came to me the other day, when my four-year-old told me (what I’ve since learned is) a “defensive” lie. She didn’t want to get in trouble. I did my research and found that this is a common problem. As I thought more about the subject, however, I remembered that she has lied to me before, but I let the little ones go, back then. I figured that this was a natural part of childhood and I ignored it in the hopes that she would lie less if I didn’t warrant them much attention. As she gets older, I realize that this is absurd. Why should lying be a natural part of childhood? Because they see so many adults do it? Or is it ingrained? I would love to understand the neuroscience of it, and I promise there will be a follow-up, as soon as I do some research. I wanted to get the emotional part of it off of my chest and help other parents deal with the urge their four-year-olds probably feel to lie and make up stories.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
― Mark Twain

This is one of my favorite quotes. Period. It’s so succinct.

I’ve learned that children (especially around this age) make up crazy, fantastic stories rather often. I also found a couple of wonderful solutions from a seasoned mother of six. It’s difficult for kids, at this age, to distinguish reality from fantasy. When this occurs and they tell a ridicullous story as though it were true, you have a couple of options. It’s important not to be too harsh; let them know better without making them feel like they’re crazy. You can join in. If your child says s/he saw a bear on the racetrack when s/he was driving his/her race car (real life example, by the way), you can say something like, “Oh, yeah, me too. He was big and fluffy and yellow…”. It forces them to face the fact that they made it up, even if they do start to wonder about your sanity. Or, you can gently redirect, by injecting bits of reality into the fantasy. Using the same story, you can ask something like, “Oh my gosh, did the bear jump off the racetrack when he saw you?”.

With defensive lies, the best thing to do is to sit down with your child and make him/her admit to the misdeed. It’s the most positive and effective way to correct the behavior.

I, honestly, wish we were hard-wired not to lie. But, then again, I’m pretty damn lofty, that way.

Well, here I am…

…sitting on a deck in the damn Southeastern heat, hoping someone reads this stuff, if only for the justification of my torture. The lengths I go to, to find a semi-quiet, quasi-distracting, pleasant atmosphere devoid of Stewie-type demands for “Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama…” well, you know the rest. It used to be one of my ringtones when she was still little, before she could actually say the word. Now, I think if that was my ringtone, I’d throw my fucking phone through a window.

It’s not that I don’t love my daughter. I do. I just need a break every now and again. It’s bad enough that I feel guilty every single instance I take my time folding clothes at the laundromat, just to be gone a couple minutes longer. When I leave the house, I hug her about forty-seven times. I hate to leave…but it’s better for our relationship sometimes. Even as young as she still is, it’s hard to get along with her sometimes. I can imagine how rough it was for my own Dad, raising four of us by himself, with only me to babysit. And he just couldn’t trust anyone else with us, for fear of an unseemly situation.

I, too, trust very few people with my baby. Her Dad, my Dad, my Mom. That’s about it. I trust her paternal Grandma, but she’s all the way in South Carolina. That makes it harder for me to ever get out and about on my own. I miss her when she’s not with me. I love the way she talks, with all the animation of a Disney character on a wicked sugar-high. It makes me laugh just to see her smile her coy, little grin. She told her first joke when she was just barely a year old, for goodness’ sake. When there’s a difficult day, though, it quickly becomes impossible for our two thunderous personalities not to clash.

My daughter’s so stubborn, the expression should be changed. With her replacing the mule. You could sit there and tell a mule who didn’t want to move, “Damn you! You’re as stubborn as a Kyra!”

And yes, I do. I absolutely love my daughter.

On turning 30…

I honestly didn’t think I’d be this depressed about it. I mourned the day I turned twenty-five. Something about being a grown-up just struck me as sad. I never wanted to grow up although, I suppose, I’d already been forced into premature adulthood by my parents, anyhow. By not being the Mom and Dad they should have been, they ensured that I would step in, for  them. Making it official, however, on my twenty-fifth really sucked.

I don’t think it’s quite the same, this year. I think that I merely hoped to have accomplished so much more. So, it’s not as tough that I am a grown-up, as much as it bothers me that I’m now a grown-up who has done very little with her life. In fact, if it weren’t for my daughter, I would count myself an adult who’d done nothing with her life. Quite luckily, and not only for that reason, I have her.

As much as she keeps me young, I feel my life slipping away, unseen. Publication is still a distant dream on a dwindling horizon and all I have done is to have made an amazing little person. Then again, maybe that’s all I am supposed to have done. Perhaps she is all I am here for, and that is all I can ask for, to do well by her. In that case, I would be considered, so far, a wonderful success story.

The Darnedest Things, Indeed!

Objectively (and abstractedly, I might add), I know that I can’t censor/monitor/manipulate the many and diverse influences in my daughter’s life. Generally, I wouldn’t want to, anyhow (well, most of the time). It’s a notion that comes up and gooses you, the day the F-word, used appropriately and coupled with “idiot” comes out of your three-year-old’s mouth. We recently relocated and a lot has changed in her life. We are at a different daycare in a strange town, with a weird, new group of friends. And I don’t mean for “weird” to hold any sort of negative connotation. I am weird and damn proud of it. Kyra is also a bit of an eccentric, so the people are actually so normal/bland/sane that it’s odd from the other side. That’s all.

Amongst her new group of peers is a child who displays very clear signs of Tourette’s Syndrome and far worse symptoms of parents in deep denial. Were they able to see what was bothering the poor child, he could be in less pain and properly treated, but they refuse, even, to acknowledge it. This boy has rubbed off on my daughter to the point that she sees similar outbursts as funny. She’s always been a young comedienne and I fear that this will (at her tender age) effect her filter for (mostly) “acceptable social behavior”. I do walk a line between really dorky/goofy/slightly vulgar and completely “acceptable social behavior”, because I tend to say what’s on my mind. Mine, however, is not a terribly sick mind. Yes, I like my dirty jokes, and innuendo cracks me up, but it’s pretty innocuous and fairly Jr. High in nature, so I tend to get away with it.

My daughter has taken to imitating the compulsiveness of this boy’s behavior, inadvertently borrowing (if you will) a serious psychological disorder. It concerns me, and I’ll tell you, I don’t scare easily. In fact, ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ is one of my favorite books (I’m not going to give away the allusion, either, so don’t wait for it: just go read the thing). When a child who’s hurting is made to continue suffering because his/her parents don’t want to deal with what they (must) know, it hurts my heart. When my daughter brings home the long-reaching psychological repercussions of that, we’ve got a problem. It feels like Fate, or God, or whatever the Universe needs me to heed, reaching out to me on behalf of that poor little guy. Because, I think, It knows I can do nothing but help him.

And believe me, I will.

Happy Mothers’ Day

I was working on one of my impossible projects and just stopped. I felt compelled to write something for all of the moms out there, widely unappreciated, except for this one day. For all of the women with the strength, compassion, courage, and fortitude to be a mom, here you are…

To all the beautiful women

who’ve sported swollen ankles and bursting bellies,

broken water and bloody mess,

we salute you.

To all the wonderful women

who’ve worn vomit and stood the night watch,

full of 3am poop,

we stand with you.

To all the exceptional women

who’ve fought and loved,

lived and died,

held onto us, only to have to

let go,

Blessed be

Our mothers.

gone fishin…

I keep seeing all the Mothers’ Day commercials for jewelry stores; touching, heart-warming, typical chick stuff; making me  frustrated with the stereotype. I don’t want chocolates, or flowers, or necklaces. I want to spend some time on a lake with my daughter, fishing and goofing off.

Her dad isn’t around to help her make me pancakes on Sunday morning and I wouldn’t change that. But his bed is made and that’s his own business. I don’t expect a boatload of fancy, nor do I particularly care for it. The last time I got to go fishing was almost six years ago. I don’t want to go to brunch, or have a mother-daughter tea party after church. I just want to watch the sun rise, catch some fish, show my daughter how to clean them, and eat our fresh lunch.

Is that so much to ask?

So many words; so little time…

I have several projects going, forgive me, please, reader(s). I think I’ll take some time today to talk about manipulation. It’s interesting how early we learn it, how many of us hang onto it, and how we use it.

I’m not a psychiatrist (not even close), just an avid observer of Wo/Man. I am also a daycare teacher and a mother, so I see it firsthand, in very small children. My daughter tries to get me to laugh whenever I’m frustrated with her and children crave attention, so they sometimes act out. That’s all normal and something we kind of just accept as a fact of life, particularly considering a young child’s narcissistic viewpoint of his/her world. In fact, to a two or three-year-old, it literally seems just that. His/her world, with the rest of us just kinda here for entertainment and snacks and such.

Kyra’s getting older, so she’s not as bad about it now, but she used to go crazy if I was on the phone, or the computer. I couldn’t close the door to the bathroom for about a year and a half, there. She would do absolutely anything to get my attention and, eventually, I’d have to stop doing whatever it was that otherwise occupied me to save her from herself and these daring stunts to vie for my time. It was all-consuming. She didn’t do it with her Dad, because she didn’t get away with it. She couldn’t quite get the rise out of him that she got out of me, so she gave up.

It’s the same thing at daycare. I don’t know if I’m a little softer than I should be, or if it’s because I’m just sort of a big kid most of the time, but those kids try things with me that they wouldn’t dream of doing if certain other teachers were in there. And they know the difference, too, because they watch out for those teachers while they’re pulling their tricks. They know what time so-and-so comes in and tone it down. It’s hilarious. I mean, a lot of times it makes me want to pull my hair out; I’m not gonna lie. It’s still funny when I sit back at the end of the day.

What’s not funny is when they never outgrow it. That’s dangerous. It’s when manipulation turns into a broken person on the other end. I’ve always been pretty straightforward because my dad respected that and I don’t like to mess with people’s feelings. It’s important to notice, when your child begins to outgrow that selfish tendency to get their own way at any cost. It definitely needs to be shed with toddlerhood.

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