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Thursday, September 7, 2006
Here’s the thing.
Denial can be your friend. Ignorance sometimes truly is bliss. And things that you don’t know about are things that you don’t need to deal with.
But dang, sooner or later you’re gonna find out that your kid is doing things, saying things or behaving in ways that are not acceptable to you. And when you find out, you have to deal with it.
I hate that part.
Discipline is constant. Discipline is eternal. Discipline never gives up. (Is that in the bible somewhere?)
I’m not talking punishment. That’s a whole different topic. I’m talking the constant vigilance that comes with being a parent. Especially a single parent. (Did I get any sympathy points with that one? Mmmm, didn’t think so.)
I like one of Webster’s definitions of discipline: behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control.
So discipline involves patrolling the fine line between respecting privacy boundaries and knowing at all times what your kid is doing and with whom he’s doing it. It’s about sticking your nose where your kid would just as soon you never stick it, and being able to smell if there’s anything amiss. And when something doesn’t pass the sniff test, you need to instill behavior in accord with rules of conduct. You need to train and control – in a good way.
That’s the part I hate. I’m the mom. I’m the milk and cookies girl. I don’t want to do the discipline thing! I like the sand around my head! I don’t want to start yet another conversation with, “Alex, I’d like to talk about . . . . “ or, “Alex, we’ve had this conversation before . . . “ or, “Alex, how many times do I have to tell you . . . “.
But because I’m a good parent - yes Alex, I am - I must do the discipline thing. Constantly. Eternally. Without ever giving up. But I’m so tired of it! Why can’t they just get it the first time and blindly obey, dangitall?
Even though I’m a good parent, I don’t think I’m the best disciplinarian. I have good intentions, but sometimes lack the follow-through. I’d rather hang out with my friend Dee Nial. She’s just so easy to get along with.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
“YOUR son is so spoiled,? the phone conversation started.
Soren is definitely a Daddy•s boy.
Right now there is nobody in this world funnier, smarter, or taller than his Dad. I’m really just Daddy’s sidekick who happens to feed him.
And Daddy is just as smitten with his little boy.
We spent a night at Trapper’s Lake Lodge
to celebrate our wedding anniversary. An undisclosed location near the lake was the site for our elopement last year.
Our cabin was clean and cozy. The lodge cuisine was good home cooking. Being the only baby guest, Soren was oohed and ogled over. He milked it by flirting with waitress and offering a big (still toothless)
grin to everyone we met.
We celebrated the anniversary with a HUGE hike to Wall Lake. It is five miles straight up a mountain, then of course five miles straight down which isn’t any easier. Marty had to entice me with promises of cheeseburgers and hot tub as rewards. “They’re called the Flat Tops Richie…just get up this next part and it’ll be flat.? Phew...ok.
Daddy carried Soren the entire way. Not in a snuggly or a backpack, but right in his arms. He now weighs 15 pounds and he wiggles!
But Daddy didn•t care. He just trudged along, stopping every so often to wait for panting Mommy to catch up. When they stopped, Daddy showed Soren the burned trees, let him feel the bark, taste the wild raspberries, showed him the stinky horse poop, and chatted nonstop.
Soren loved it and listened with rapt attention. He’d interject a screech or razz.
Daddy would make up songs and dance up the trail. “No baby no cry…?
At the lake, the baby was finally given to me to feed and change. I offered to carry the butterball through the flat meadow because I knew he had to be a heavy burden.
Daddy walked ahead on the narrow horse trail, turning around like a giant monkey grunting and scratching his armpits every so often as we walked. Each time Soren would laugh hysterically.
Dad would turn into a giant crab pinching his belly with clicking crustacean noises. And the nonstop chatter of the two pals continued.
When my arms were breaking off, I gave the baby back to dad and tried my own funny business. I was the monkey mom saying oooggaa oooggaa in my best monkey voice.
They both looked at me patiently but with no smiles. Apparently, moms don•t make funny monkeys.
Daddy would proudly show the baby off each time we met someone on the trail, bragging about his age and beaming when he was told how much they look alike.
Soren had to take a few catnaps on the long walk. As I was puffing along to catch up, I watched Marty unconsciously smooth his white blond hair with a kiss nestling the baby’s head into the curve of his neck.
I made a good decision marrying that man. I know exactly why Soren and I love him so much.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
They keep coming faster and faster, these milestones.
Sunday Margaret learned to ride a two-wheeler.
And boy, am I exhausted.
At first it took both Bill and I holding on and jogging while Margaret tried to gain some control over the pink, Barbie bicycle that Santa brought two Christmas's ago. The girl seemed to be completely lacking in balance.
But as we ran and she veered and shimmied, she eventually started gaining some control.
Then we learned that it only took one of us to hold the seat and keep her from running to trees and fences — and believe me, it was a good thing, too, because we were getting worn out.
So we took turns running up and down the block holding the seat upon which my baby sat.
Then she was doing it, she was riding her bike and I was letting go.
The instant it happened I started to get that feeling, that one I get whenever Margaret reaches one of those milestones.
I immediately got a little misty-eyed and I was excited and just a touch sad. But then she wobbled and rode through the neighbor’s flowerbed and I lurched to grab a hold once again.
We laughed together at her crooked riding and she tried again.
By dusk, I was running behind her just to make myself feel better. She was doing it all by herself.
Monday's holiday began early for us as Margaret was anxious to eat her breakfast and ride her bike.
I put on my running shoes ... but I didn't need them. She was quickly leaving me in the dust. By noon she was riding around the block sans parents.
As she rode up to me, she said, "I'm so proud of myself. I can ride a two-wheeler all by myself!"
I'm proud, too.
Saturday, September 2, 2006
It’s Friday at 5:53 a.m.
It’s still dark out and dawn won’t break for at least another half hour.
Alex and I are in his bathroom. I am armed with several paint brushes and two tubes of paint. Alex is perched on the toilet seat (lids down, of course).
I carefully dip my brush in the first color of paint and with a semi-steady hand begin applying it to the right half of his face. As I get to the spot under his nostrils, his nose twitches and I warn him not to sneeze.
He checks the first half of his painted face in the mirror, then gives me approval to begin the second half. Carefully, as I keep an eye on the clock, I begin the second color. I am mostly successful at not smearing the two colors down the center axis of his mug.
“OK. Now let’s hit it with the blow dryer.? I said solemnly.
This is not some pre-dawn Native American warrior ritual.
It•s school spirit day and I am decorating Alex’s face with Palisade High School colors of maroon and white.
After the first layer of goo dries, I paint PHS in white on the maroon side, and a pretty decent looking Bulldog mascot paw print in maroon on the white side.
We have one minute left before we have to leave for the bus. A couple quick touch-ups. He gazes at his bad self in the mirror.
Then he convincingly says the three little words that make it worthwhile to rise extra early to do this.
“Mom, you rock!?
Yes, I do.
And he•s gonna have one hell of a time washing that stuff off.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, September 1, 2006
"Do you want a biewberry waffle for breakfast?" I asked Margaret the other morning. Then we grinned at each other.
'Biewberry' is how our little 4-year-old neighbor pronounced "blueberry."
Instead of correcting her or continuing to pronounce the word correctly ourselves, we adopted the baby-speak for that juicy, little fruit.
We've done that over and over again, adopted the baby-speak pronunciation of a word instead of actually teaching the correct way to say something.
Bill and I both still say "goss," despite the fact that Margaret left that mispronunciation for "gross" behind years ago.
You can still hear us say things like, "I like lellow" — a quote from my then-4-year-old niece (who's now 9 — gasp!) when she was proclaiming her affection for the color yellow.
And as Margaret is growing and experiencing new things, her vocabulary is expanding along with it. We've been continuously surprised by the sophistication of her language.
Perhaps that's why we were so delighted the other day when Margaret authoritatively stated, "My friend at school is black-toast intolerant ... she can't have milk."
Black-toast intolerant! Really what 6-year-old who doesn't have an allergy to milk knows the word lactose?
But oh man, did we laugh about that one ... too much, however. She became angry in that she thought we were making fun of her (OK and we might have been a little, but "black-toast intolerant," it's such a beautifully perfect substitution for a word that didn't exist in her world before a week ago).
Of course, that didn't stop me from repeating her grammatic gaff to everyone I've talked to since — that was until I was telling a friend on the phone and I got smacked in the back with a pink, pokey ball. When I turned around, Margaret sheepishly said, "Oops, it slipped." Followed by, "Where's my biewberry waffle?"
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Azure at 1-1/2.
Jack Swanwick is getting a jump on Halloween. Isn't he the cutest Pooh around?
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, August 31, 2006
I bought some Gerber baby food
for our recent camping trip. I know…I know. I said I would avoid buying commercial foods but the convenience and nonperishable qualities seemed unmatched when facing three days of cooler storage.
Upon returning, there was still a jar of chicken and gravy left which I popped open for the EDL. As I’m feeding this thick meaty sludge to the baby, my cat, Kenny, suddenly appeared from his closet hideout and began rubbing my legs frantically. He could smell it a mile away and SO wanted some.
I dished up a dollop…then another…and before I knew it there was more in Kenny’s tummy than the baby's.
Kenny has cost a small fortune. He crawled up half dead on our downtown doorstep one winter. He spent a couple of years frightened in kitty rehab under our couch and is now a finely adjusted pet. I even include him on our answering machine..."You've reach the Ashcraft's, Marty, Richie, Soren, and their cat Kenny..."
Last Christmas, he had surgery for hyperthyroidism…then a few weeks later another surgery for bladder cancer. He now has half a bladder shaped like a hot dog. Poor Kenny Kinkaid. It is apparent that he is on his last life. He’s been starving all summer refusing to eat but the most essential wee bit of soft or hard cat food. This makes me really sad.
That being the situation, I’ll feed this cat just about anything. Seeing him lap up that meaty goo makes us very happy pet owners.
I tried to make him a healthy version by boiling and blending a chicken breast. He liked it but didn’t dive in with nearly the zest he does for Gerber.
So, my plan to save money by making my own baby food has been foiled by the damn cat.
Yesterday, Soren and I trudged up to the corner store to buy 12 tiny jars of various meat products at a cost of .82 cents apiece. That’s per ounce and on sale! Talk about gas prices.
I was horrified wondering what the clerk must think as I deposit the jars like a little rock collection all over her counter and then reach down to adjust the tie-dye hat on Soren’s head.
I overzealously explained that I have a very hungry cat that needs this potted meat so she wouldn’t think Soren was on the Atkins baby diet. She smiled flatly because she obviously didn’t believe me nor care.
Yes, Robin, there is irony in every day and very normal lives. I guess those baby food companies are going to worm their way into my cupboard after all.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
It happens every school year. Kids go off in the morning on the first day and return that afternoon with 4,982 forms for mom to fill out.
There’s the Rules of the Bus
form. The Medical History
form. The Free Lunch
form. The Can You Help in the Classroom?
form. The Parental Custody
form. The Who to Call in Case of Nuclear or Biological Weapons Attack
form. And then the Expectations in My Class
forms from every teacher.
Good grief. It’s way too much homework for me. I’m a firm believer in spreading the joy, so a couple years ago I asked Alex to help fill in the blanks to the best of his ability and then turn the forms over to me to complete and sign. He was happy to do this, and within the hour had them on the table for me to finish up.
I started reviewing and somewhat automatically signing off, when one particular form caught my eye. It’s the one where they ask the usual name, address and phone number, and then ask you to select your race and ethnic background from a series of boxes. The choices are along the lines of Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, African American and so on.
My son had carefully drawn another little square and wrote next to it: American.
And then he had made a big black X
in that box.
I asked him, “Al, what made you do that??
•Well, I’m an American. I didn’t see that choice there, so I wrote it in.?
I thought it was so cool and I was really proud of him for recognizing this. My son is a mix of almost all of the above choices, and as such, does not fit entirely into one box or another. What kid in America does anymore? And more importantly • why doesn’t the school district recognize this and adjust their form?!
So now when we get this form to fill out we have a little fun with it. My son has been Romanian-Australian, Indonesian-Liberian and Brazilian-Tlingit.
We’re probably wreaking havoc with the school district’s computer system, but some things are bigger than the little box you’re supposed to fit in.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I have a bad mom confession to make: I almost dropped my kid…on his head.
It gives me a newfound respect for poor Britney.
Last week I was lounging on the couch while Soren got himself a little “boobie action?. He was nearly asleep and I was totally engrossed with Grey•s Anatomy
It’s the first medical drama I have ever liked. It is less about bleeding patients and more about the private lives of the interns. There’s just something about it that sucks me into a suspension of disbelief. This particular episode featured a patient who was suffering from…um…well, let’s just call it “little deaths? and leave it at that.
So, needless to say I was totally engrossed by the subject matter when suddenly SoJo flung himself backward across the Boppy
. He had so much power behind that fling that he continued to roll from sheer momentum and was heading straight for the floor.
An exaggerated intake of breath reserved for only the most horrific situations escaped me. In that split second, I reached out and grabbed my baby by the leg and torso, holding his perfect unblemished face two inches from the carpet. I just held him upside down for a second because I was absolutely stunned.
I actually caught him.
I•m stilled amazed. It’s not like people say, “That Richie, she has catlike reflexes!? I pretty much never catch anything much less in a split second.
I know he•ll eventually be sporting black eyes and skinned knees. But, I’d like to be the kind of mom who doesn’t drop her kids on the head. I’m not trying to be mom of the year…I’m just trying to master the basics here.
I feel terribly guilty for it, but when relating the story to my girlfriends they all laughed at my “oops? moment. Seems these incidents just come with the mommy job. Everyone had a story to counterpoint mine and often it ended with a baby indeed knocked on the head. So, I should forgive myself, but still•&..I’m sure Britney would understand.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, August 28, 2006
Today I’m going to write about something that normally falls into Lynn’s realm — raising a teenager.
When I married my husband almost 7 years ago, I became a stepmother to a then 9-year-old boy … now a 15-year-old (almost 16) manboy.
A while back, my band started a myspace page to network with other bands and for promotional use. We linked our page to other bands' and to people that were interested in keeping track of our band.
A couple of months ago I learned that Sean had his own myspace page. I didn’t think much of it. I knew that a lot of kids had pages and used them to chat with their friends in cyber world.
Recently I started really looking at his page.
I did not like what I saw (ahem ... understatement). Actually, I was really freaked out about it. Being the step parent to a teen is tricky (I can only imagine what it's going to be like when Margaret becomes a teenager ... Heaven have mercy on me).
I mean, he's got two loving parents who have done a fine job raising this boy. He's a great kid who gets great grades, does excellent in school and doesn't get into trouble ... for the most part.
I see my role as an ancillary one. I provide encouragement and support, but in our household I'm the disclipinarian and he learned early on that I am a might unpleasant (cough ... understatement) when things are not to my liking. Being a smart kid, he found that doing the few things that I ask is way easier then dealing with my wrath.
But I'd also like to think that we're friends on a certain level. I'm not one of those parents who needs to be one of the guys in lieu of being an authority figure. But he's got a mom, so I've had to carve another niche for myself.
So when I saw his myspace page, I decided I would be the one to act. Embracing the tecnology, I sent him a message on his account telling him that even though myspace is mostly populated by teens, that the rest of the cyber world could, indeed, see what he was putting out there.
Do kids really think that we, uber-dorky parents, can't figure out how to find their pages ... especially when they leave them open on their computers?
I suggested that he might want to rethink the message he was trying to send via his page.
I was surprised at the reponse I got from him.
He was thoughtful and honest.
When I asked him to do me the favor of removing some objectionable banners from his page, he did so quickly and wasn't even the hint upset that I'd looked at his page and hoped he'd make changes.
He acted in a mature manner. He not only granted my favor but did so sans drama.
I also talked to him about the benefits of being a teen (like not having to pay a mortgage or gas bill) and how despite many teens' desire to grow up too quickly, that this was a time to savor.
I am just thrilled at his reponse to my parently meddling, but more importantly, we've opened a dialogue that probably wouldn't have been otherwise.
And now when I gush about how great he's doing in school and what a handsome young man he's become, I can add that he's mature and responsible to the list as well.
But I'm going to keep monitoring his page. It's not a trust issue, it's for the reason that teens are impressionable and prone to gross lapses in judgment and if I can head off a problem before it starts then we're all better for it.