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Sunday, May 28, 2006
Alice Cooper could not possibly have had a 14-year-old in the house when he extolled the virtues of summer vacation in the song “School’s Out?. It•s the only song from the ancient era of rock-and-roll to which my kid knows any of the words. Every year, without fail, he belts it out at the top of his lungs, accompanied by his mother. “Schoooool’s out for sum-mah! Schoooool’s out for-evah!? It•s enough to send chills up and down your spine for so many reasons.
Alex graduated from middle school on Wednesday. I snuck in to watch the all-school assembly in the gym that morning. (Snuck in because ohmigod, how dreadful for your mother to actually show her face in public at the same event.) I got there in time to hear my son’s name called for the Rocky Mountain Talent Search honor roll, and receive the President’s Award for Academic Excellence, along with a whole bunch of other kids. Pretty cool, and I was darn proud of him. My son is smart. Academically gifted and talented is the politically correct phrase I guess. And if he went the extra mile, he would be border-line-freaking-genius. Alex will be going to Palisade High School for the International Baccalaureate program where he will hopefully earn enough credits to skip a whole year of college. But we’ll give that a rest until August 21, the first day of the new school year. Eighty-six days from now. Yes, I counted.
What does one do with a 14 year-old for that long while his mom is at work? I have a strict nobody-in-the-house-without-my-permission-while-I’m-not-home rule. My intent is to avoid a lot of trouble and possibly jail time some day. So, he’s too young to get a real job, too young to drive to it anyways, too old for most camps, and too hormonal to leave alone all day. To his credit he has a couple steady lawn mowing jobs lined up and he baby sits too. Thus far, he’s signed up for lacrosse camp in Denver for a week, and a week or two at dad’s. Would it be wrong the rest of the time to lock him in a closet with food and water? Okay, maybe so. But I’ve heard it’s been done.
Truth be told, I would love to take Alex on vacation somewhere this summer. I offered up Caribbean cruises, trips to the beach in Mexico, a summer cottage in Cape Cod and even a week at a dude ranch. “With just you? Can I take a friend?? seems to be the only response. •Mom, nothing personal, but you don’t know what it’s like to go on vacation with just your mother.? He•s right. We piled two parents and six kids in a station wagon and drove across three states in July with no air conditioning. Poor kid is missing out on that adventure.
So for now, we’ll swap sleepovers, burn through some serious cash at GJ Scores, take my chances at having him become a mall maggot, risk sunburn with long days at the pool, dust off the racket for tennis lessons and count down the days. Because in spite of what Alice says, school can’t really be out for-evah.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, May 26, 2006
The breast vs. the bottle is the great debate among generations of mothers.
(Warning: I’m going to use the word breast a lot so if you find it offensive stop reading for Pete’s sake)
I personally am breastfeeding, but I must admit that I don’t always find the joy that other mom’s rave about. I just know that it is better for my son because it is the natural thing to do and the milk itself is superior to any manufactured product. It just seems to be an obvious fact. In my head, I think of formula the same way I think about bologna; processed food is just bad for us.
Breastfeeding itself is a lot of work, not to mention time-consuming. My family’s schedule revolves entirely around my breasts, which is probably the reason I don’t find it completely enjoyable.
While I’m sitting, there is laundry building up, dinner not being fixed, petunias withering in the sun….I’m a “get er done? kind of person so sitting is just torturous to me.
It got harder once I returned to work.
When I leave I have to take a bottle, my pump, and a backup supply of frozen milk in case of emergency.
I used to eat at lunch, now I feed. After feeding, I pump so babycakes can have an afternoon snack.
I can•t work late or deviate from this schedule in the slightest as my chest will hurt. And, deviating from the schedule will lessen my milk supply. As soon as I get home, I must feed him.
And, it places the sole responsibility for his nutrition on me. His dad can’t really do much to ease the pressure I feel of being the udder (ha ha)
food giver because once again,—a missed feeding effects the milk supply.
I understand why some women give up and choose formula and that’s okay with me. I am in no way a militant breastfeeder. (They are out there though, just google “breastfeeding pictures? and see the results. Some take the issue to a whole new creepy level•&WOW!)
The best part about breastfeeding is just being needed I think. My son is comforted and loved by my breasts. I’ve been forced to slow down, ease up on expectations I place on myself, and just enjoy large blocks of private time with Soren.
Breastfeeding is a huge commitment to your child. One I’ve taken on happily for the most part, but loathe for its inconvenience at times.
Everyone’s experience is different and I’d be happy to compare notes if others would share their stories here as well.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, May 25, 2006
I blinked and my baby turned into a kindergartener. I blinked again and the year is now over.
Before I had a kid of my own, I thought events like pre-school and kindergarten "graduations" were hokey.
That was before I sat with my tissue ready and watched my daughter participate in her kindergarten graduation.
Margaret sang the songs she had practiced with a mixture of genuine gusto and feigned enthusiasm. She covered her mouth and looked embarrassed when one of her silver flip flops fell under the bleachers. She was the only kid that cried.
She was selected to sing a special part in their last song. Margaret stood in front of her class with the microphone and sang along with the rest of the class. There was a break and she began singing alone, singing beautifully.
Then it happened. She forgot the words or saw me getting all teary eyed or she just plain got nervous but she stopped singing and started crying. A teacher's aide rescued her and brought her back to the rest of the class.
She finally recovered her composure once the principal started giving out the awards and diplomas.
Each child received their awards, walked to the front of the stage area, bowed and went back to their places.
Margaret received awards for reading and music, for participating in the Book It program (we spent a lot of time redeeming Pizza Hut coupons this year) and one for being diligent in her homework. The teacher even made a special comment about her reading capabilities.
But after the program was over, Mar told me that she was disappointed with herself because she messed up her song.
She was the most decorated kid in her class and all she felt was disappointment.
Mar and I talked with her wonderful teacher who assured her that a little crying never ruined any singing performance.
I love this woman; every kindergarten teacher should be made from her mold.
ETA: In the above picture, Margaret is in the top row on the far left in the blue. If you look closely she's only wearing one flip flop.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Alex just finished the inaugural Grand Valley lacrosse season and I’ll tell you what – I am a bona fide lacrosse Mom! I’ve spent most weekends in April and May on some of the most beautiful sports fields I’ve ever seen. What an awesomely fun game and what an incredible team of kids and coaches we had! Grand Valley lacrosse (a.k.a. team name “Lizards?) has 22 kids from various middle schools around the valley, including Hotchkiss. They held their very first practice just after spring break. This team really jelled from the start, and had a winning season that included playing teams that had years of experience.
The thing I like best about lacrosse is that the games are short and there are only about two rules • no hitting another player in the head or kidneys with your stick. The thing the kids like best is that the game is a mix of soccer, football and hockey. You get to run, pass, kick, catch and smash into other players.
It was amusing to witness the kids choose nick names for other players. Their goalie was dubbed Buddah, one pretty aggressive player became known as Steroid Stu, and two of the littlest but toughest guys on the team whose jersey numbers are 1 and 2 got the monikers Thing One and Thing Two. They were like little mosquitoes buzzing around and taking out guys easily twice their size.
The last game was played yesterday in Aspen (surrounded by the Maroon Bells and the usual 95,000 square foot Aspen homes). Aspen had enough players to sub in a whole new team about every five minutes. Our kids had to be exhausted but you never knew it. They beat them 11-8. It was a nail-biter for me, and I really did try to tone down my cheering. I apparently cheer a lot. And loudly. And for everything. Alex’s dad told me “You don’t have to cheer for the grass growing.? I happen to think that the grass is an important part of the game. But even Alex had to concede it was worth it. •Mom, we only lost two games and that was when you weren’t there to cheer.? See?!
It can be a hassle driving your kid back and forth to practice 3 or 4 times a week. The cost of the equipment, team fees and gas to drive to games ain•t cheap. But seeing your kid race back to the starting line positively jubilant after scoring a goal is priceless.
Congratulations Grand Valley Lacrosse, and many thanks to the coaches who made it all happen for the kids!
For a Sentinel sports story on the Lizards - go here.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Sunday Margaret attended a birthday party for one of her school chums.
It was a lovely party in a park complete with pony rides. Yes, there was a pony ... how wonderfully charming is that?
But my favorite thing about this party was the favors. Instead of a bag of toys (which the kids love — but really, how many plastic slinkies does one kid need?), they painted small terra cotta pots, in which they planted marigolds. Margaret painted hers in stripes with the dominant color being orange ... very much the same color as the pot itself.
So simple and clever. Something that both Mar and I are very happy to have.
When we arrived at the party and Margaret dashed off to play with her friends, the mom graciously told me that I was welcome to stay or to leave Mar there and that I shouldn't free pressured either way.
This mom is the kind of mom I would like to be: hands on, organized, gracious and welcoming.
I had wondered beforehand what the role of the parent is in these situations. I even called a dear friend for advice, quickly stating the obvious, that I am clueless when it comes to social parenting (and most other kinds of parenting, too. But it seems I should get brownie points for knowing when to ask for help).
So, the gracious mom left it up to me.
Which should I do? Go or stay?
Should I stay to make sure she didn't need me for anything or have a bit of time for myself?
Yeah, I bolted out of there faster than you can say "sugar buzz."
As Mar and I were getting ready to leave the party, the mom told me that Mar had about 15 minutes when she was weepy and wanted me.
I felt terrible.
I should've stayed.
I should have stayed to make sure that Mar was OK. I should have stayed so that the mom didn't have to deal with my weepy kid. I should have stayed because it's what those good moms do.
Instead, I had a glorious hour and a half to myself. I reveled in it. I enjoyed it. Because that's what the bad moms do.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, May 22, 2006
When I named my son after a philosopher, I didn't stop to think what that may do to his personality.
Soren is a very serious little man. He looks at the world around him with a mostly stony face. In most pictures he is in complete thoughtful observation.
But he finally laughed!
(Sigh of relief) Thank goodness. I was starting to think he didn't have a sense of humor; my own being a little off at times.
He finds the voice of Yoda funny. Who would have known he was a Star Wars fan? But, sure enough, a little Yoda voice and some cheek pinching got a couple of bonifide giggles out of the little guy.
It was a week late, but I finally got my Mother's Day present. As predicted, my eyes did well up with pride and joy.
The laughter of babies is the best sound in the whole world!
Friday, May 19, 2006
Last night I went to my first Bunco party. I don’t know if party is the right word but there was plenty of wine, and cheesecake for dessert, so to me that’s a party. For those of you unfamiliar with Bunco, it’s a game where you just basically roll dice and hope for a 6 so you can win prizes. It was fun in a weird way, but one of those gatherings where I’ve always felt there’s way too much estrogen in one room for my comfort level. Honestly, here’s my real issue with this – these ladies are what some people would refer to as Redlands Barbies. Very lovely, sweet women, all of them. But you know what I’m talking about. Starter castles, private school children, high profile husbands, and manicures. So basically, we don’t have a lot in common. Except the estrogen.
Oh, yeah, and children.
Mine does not go to private school. Although there have been times when I have threatened him with that. Or home-schooling. Either one is enough to straighten him out pretty quickly. Anyway, one of the women last night was relating a story about a teacher her son had who was obviously not suited to be a teacher. Bunco Babe was debating whether or not to take her kid out of this teacher’s class. She was even considering putting him back in – gasp! – public school because she didn’t want to upset this teacher. I just don't understand why you would yank your kid out of an entire school because you don’t want to hurt an obviously incompetent teacher’s feelings.
My son had a teacher in second grade who was sarcastic, mean, insulting, and just downright unpleasant to her students. I asked the principal to put my son in another teacher’s class. She did, and he was much happier. The teacher did call me at home to tell me how upset she was by this. Tough. My kid was not the only one having problems with this teacher. One of his classmates, seven years old, mind you, hated her class so much that he got off the bus when it arrived at school and proceeded to walk a mile and a half home, crossing Patterson Road, and then hid in a closet until his mom came home. His mom took him out of that class too.
At any rate, as a mom, or dad, you have got to stick up for your kid in school. Nobody else is going to. There are just some teachers and some kids whose personalities clash. It happens. Your kid is not to blame, and the teacher has a responsibility to try to establish a good rapport with the students. Let me be clear that disrespect should never be tolerated, on either side. I have always told my son this, and I think, to the best of his ability (big disclaimer), he has followed that. He knows dire consequences await if he doesn’t.
To her credit, Bunco Babe did make an effort to understand her son’s teacher’s issues. “You know,? she said, •this teacher is under some kind of stress. Plus, she’s single.? Well that
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
As I've mentioned before, I have a hard time distinguishing between what's right for me and what's right for my daughter.
I've been battling this question. Sometimes I think I get it right; sometimes not.
On Mother's Day, I heard Margaret crying in the bathroom as her dad combed her hair. This is a daily occurence. She hates getting detangled, but in my view, it's got to be done.
If it were up to her, she'd happily walk around with a wild rat's nest. She has thin, fine hair that is prone to tangle and if often adorned with leaves and grass (Mar's a tomboy dressed in pink).
I've threatened to cut her hair if she didn't acquiese to the daily combings more readily. The threat never worked and recently she's begun lately saying, "Good. I want my hair cut like Aleise's."
Ever so slowly, I realized that she had long hair because her dad and I wanted her to have long hair — not because she did.
So, Sunday I brought my scissors into the bathroom and said, "I'm gonna cut it."
Bill said, "No." Mar said, "Yes."
Mar got what she wanted — six inches cut off the bottom while I muttered to myself, "She doesn't like it long. It doesn't look good. She cries when we comb it." over and over again.
She loves it. I think it's cute and her dad can live with it (secretly he's more than pleased with how easy it is to comb in the mornings).
It was the right thing to do. We got it right this time, but what about the harder questions?
When is the right time to let her make her own decisions and when do I step in and guide her?
What is non-negotiable? When should I bend?
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Let’s just get right to the tough subjects. Sex and my 14-year-old son. Not that the two have anything in common yet. Oh please God let that be true.
I mean sex and how to talk about it with your kid. I don’t mean the “birds and the bees?. Did that years ago and I•m pretty darn proud of how we both handled it. I just plowed through the more graphic, technical details and he only said “that’s disgusting? once.
So now that we have the technicalities out of the way, it leaves the really important stuff to talk about. Like why he should never, ever •do it?. (And let me just be clear right up front that the first girl who touches my son in a more than let•s-be-friends kind of way better know how to run a lot faster than a speeding bullet.)
I’ve read several books on how to talk to your kid about sex and why waiting until you’re like at least 35 to have sex is a good idea. But give me a break. The suggested dialogues in these books assume that the kid you’re raising has lived in a cave on some other planet, has never left that cave and never will.
I recently drove my kid to practice where the girls’ sports team was warming up on the adjacent field. My son made some comment about the girls doing his “favorite stretch?. I was momentarily speechless and then launched into a lecture about how God did not put females on this earth for the sole pleasure of males to ogle, and that I fully expect him to treat girls with respect and admiration and how girls really find that kind of comment quite degrading. In return I got the most-often-performed-teenage maneuver, the double eyeball roll. This is where my son rolls his eyeballs not just one time around but twice in disbelief that he could actually be related to someone as completely idiotic as me. And then says, •Not the girls I know.? For crying out loud! That•s a topic for another day. Stay tuned all you mothers of teenage girls!
That was my first experience of my son making an overtly teenage male comment. I discussed it with my S.O. who comforted me be saying only half-jokingly that my son’s only mistake was to make the comment within my earshot. Great.
The struggle to instill in my son the importance on so many levels of waiting a really long time to engage in any and all sexual contact is just beginning and will continue for years to come. For now though, I make it clear that the most important reason of all to avoid sex is that it’s the number one cause of having children.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, May 15, 2006
Just for the sake of getting conversation rolling, I propose the question: “Should babies watch TV??
My initial reaction to this question is indubitably NO and I would assume that would be the popular answer.
But, it appears others would disagree, like subscribers to the new BabyFirstTV. For only $9.99 a month, DirecTV subscribers can order this new channel marketed specifically for babies here
I just finished watching some of the promo video on the website. I gotta say, I think babies WOULD like it. But whether or not they should be watching or if parents should be plunking down their children in front of Nanny Tellie (so momma can have a glass of wine?) remains to be debated.
And, if I had to watch that rainbow horse paint color on clothes for more than 30 seconds I think WOULD have to have a little nip of gin.
According to this article
, Sharon Rechter, executive vice president of the network said •The fact of life is that babies are already watching TV?, and you know I agree with her.
I left my 3-month-old on the living floor with his legs pointed away from the tube just for a second to grab a diaper. When I returned, he had turned his head to a break-neck angle and his eyes were transfixed. Apparently he has a blossoming interest in Drain-O.
But, a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics said that babies under two shouldn•t be watching TV at all.
So, what do you think? If your secret indulgence is popping a Cinderella DVD into your kids’ Barbie TV before bed, I’d like to know. If you think television watching is a deadly sin, tell me why. Or if you just have a suggestion for a nice merlot, well, I’d take that too.