children, family, humor, motherhood, parenting

1, 2, 3 Strikes You’re Out

I want to give you fair warning.  This post is going to be pretty emotional.  You are going to get a sense of how deeply connected T.Puzzle is to me, his overarching love of school and lastly, Full Speed’s brotherly commitment to look out for T.Puzzle.  It’s all there…enjoy.

In recent months we have been noticing a theme in T.Puzzle’s life.  And that theme is…video games.  He is rather obsessed and talks about gaming constantly.  Even when we have a round of ‘family questions’ at the dinner table, rather miraculously he can loop it back to video games.

Here are some examples:

If you could be anyone in the world for a day, who would you be?

“Someone allowed to play video games all day and night long.”

If you saw your friend steal something, would you turn them in?

“That depends on what it is.  If it’s a cool video game, probably not.  I’d want to play it with him.”

You get the idea.

A couple years back, T.Puzzle was given the task at school to make me a Mother’s Day card.  Here’s the final result, and get those tissues ready… the tears are going to fall…

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I told you it was emotional.  I’ll give you a minute while you collect yourself.

Better?  Good.

Since it’s clear that T.Puzzle loves video games above all else, what’s a mom to do with this sort of intel?  About two weeks ago I put T.Puzzle on an incentive program.  His manners and attitude still often leave much to be desired.  If he happens to forget his manners, roll his eyes at me or give me lip when asked to do a chore, he gets a strike.  If he gets three strikes in a seven day period, he loses gaming privileges for the weekend (the only time he is allowed to play them during the school year).  Naturally, it’s working pretty well.  Except for this past week, he was feeling particularly ornery with his brother and had already used two strikes.  We were on the edge of our seats…would he make it the final stretch without a strike?  He did ok on the last night, but he still had to make it through the morning (the seven day strike period runs Friday after school through Friday morning the following week).   As he trounced into the kitchen this morning I asked, “Do you think you can make it until you go to school without getting another strike?”

“Sure!  But I better leave now!  Gotta go.  Can’t wait to get there!”  This all coming from a kid who is currently appalled that he has perfect attendance.

Of course, this made me laugh.  He is self-aware enough to know that his inabilty to control impulses could land him in third strike territory.

We managed to get through breakfast and the rest of our morning without incident.

T.Puzzle was first out of the garage with his bike as usual.  I turned to Full Speed and said, “Can you believe he actually made it without a third strike?”

“Mom!  He didn’t say goodbye to you!  That’s an automatic strike!”

“Nice try, kid.”

“I’m serious, Mom!  He rode his bike DANGEROUSLY FAST down the driveway.  He’s gotta get a strike for that.”

“Full Speed, it just warms my heart how much you look out for your brother.”

Wonder if he loves him as much as video games?

humor, motherhood, parenting

Your People

Family vacations are stressful.  Why is that?  Maybe because you plan weeks or months in advance and there are expectations that everyone will be cheerful and have fun doing extraordinary and often expensive activities.  So, the pressure is ON.  Have fun OR ELSE!  You throw in an aversion for crowds and noise, put me on a cruise ship full of screaming kids and there isn’t anyone or anything that can save me or whoever ends up in my path.

We were standing by the balcony overlooking the main floor of the ship when T.Puzzle accidentally stepped on my foot.

I snapped.

My temper shorted out and I yelled at him to ‘Quit it!’ or ‘Cut it out!’ or ‘For the love of all that is good and decent in the world, STOP STEPPING ON MY FEET!’

To an outside observer it would seem that it was an innocent mistake by a distracted nine year old boy.  They wouldn’t know the back story of how this said boy steps on my feet religiously.  If he could bottle his accuracy of squashing my toes, this kid would give a trained sniper a run for his money.

The squashed toes were the icing.  The pressure of FUN was getting to me.  I looked at Mad Dog in despair.

He said, “I know with our family we are going to have highs and lows.  While the highs are tremendous, there are days when you are so frustrated that you want to give our children up for adoption (I’m politely paraphrasing this last part).  You have to accept the good with the bad.”

This made me pause.  He was right, of course, but why am I always so ready to fly off the handle with the people I love the most in the world?  I wouldn’t snap at a friend if she stepped on my toes.  I would laugh it off and be on my merry way.

The difference is the amount of shared history.  When you live life with people day in and day out, your truth seeps out whether you like it or not.  You let the ugly flow because on some level you know that these are YOUR PEOPLE.  They love you unconditionally.

If you can be your truest self around someone, and that includes all the stuff you hide from 99.9% of the rest of the population, then you know you feel safe with them.

Every one of us is complicated.  Most of us strive to be our best.

If we are really lucky, we can be our worst, too…

3 times over.

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family, humor, motherhood, parenting

Summer Memories 2015

This summer was the first time my boys ever played organized basketball.  There was a part of me that really dreaded this.  On some level, I knew my boys were going to have some challenges mastering the sport.  I was absolutely right.  They both quickly learned that remembering all the rules, dribbling while in motion and taking a shot with someone twice their size right in their face were all rather impossible.  On a positive note, they both looked absolutely adorable in their uniforms.  So, basically, they always have their looks to fall back on.

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In all seriousness, I knew the season was going to be tough when the first team the boys played was adult-size and had been playing together for six years.  I actually thought it could have been longer than six years as I was pretty sure I had seen their center driving his own car to the game (not really, but I did want to check his birth certificate to verify his supposed under 10 age).  Needless to say, my boys are not so motivated to hoop it up anytime soon.  Long live soccer!!

Over the course of summer, in between basketball practices and games, I got to spend a tremendous amount of time with my guys.  For the most part, I found this time to be truly delightful.  I enjoyed their humor, their company and their energy for life.  It wasn’t all smooth.  There were some classic moments such as these:

  1.  Full Speed and the Situation I took the dogs for a walk and instructed the boys to get themselves ready for soccer camp.  Here is actual text communication sent from Full Speed, “Where are you? We have a situation with the Gatorade bottle.”  Two minutes later I received this text, “The problem is I can’t open the Gatorade.”  Thankfully, this ‘situation’ was quickly resolved but the text cracked me up for the rest of the day.
  2. T.Puzzle’s Hug Aversion  T. Puzzle hates it when I ask him to hug me.  He acts as if he is being sentenced to death and tries all sorts of creative ways to get out of it.  I told him to ask his brother how to handle it.  Full Speed said, “When Mom wants a hug, just man-up and do it.”  Still, to no avail.  I eventually had to take a hard line with him and he will give me hugs but there is still a lot of resistance.  So, it surprised me when he approached me for what seemed like a genuine unsolicited hug.  “Wow, T.Puzzle, that was so nice.”  He looked at me and said, “Dad told me to find you and said I had to hug you, so I did.”  Okay, thanks?
  3. Full Speed’s Independence  When your ten year-old has ‘situations’ with Gatorade bottles, sometimes when you ponder the future, you wonder if he will be able to live independently.  Full Speed was looking in the fridge and he couldn’t find something.  “Mom, where is it?  I can’t find it anywhere!”  I walked over, opened the door and promptly found it in two seconds.  I said in a rather exasperated tone, “I really am going to have to live with you when you are older, aren’t I?”  He replied, “No, Mom, because I’m going to be the one who puts everything away so I will know where stuff is.”  Touche’.
  4. T.Puzzle’s Future Living Arrangements  Since Full Speed has established in his mind that he will be living independently from his parents in the future, he has lots of ideas about how this will happen.  He talks about possible occupations, where he wants to live and hopes I will take care of his dogs when he has to travel.  When I ask T.Puzzle about the future he is often mute on the subject.  Even though he is hug aversive, deep down, he really is attached to me and I think he can’t fathom living anywhere else than where he is right now.  Full Speed’s solution is simple.  T.Puzzle can live with him.  Well, that’s all fine and good, but I’ve noticed Full Speed can be very particular in his ways.  T.Puzzle is a little more free-flowing with life.  “How are you going to live with your brother if he annoys you on a regular basis, Full Speed?”  He answer was simple, “My house, my rules.”


im1.shutterfly-2THE END

children, gratitude, humor, kids, motherhood, parenting

The Goal is LOVE (Happy New Year)

When I began this blog, I didn’t really have any big goals.  I was still grieving the profound loss of my mom, which does and doesn’t get easier, and coping with raising two rambunctious boys.  I started writesforallmommies on a whim and it became a great coping mechanism for me.  It allowed me to connect with others in a way that my very introverted personality sometimes doesn’t allow.

Through the years, I have had posts that click with a reader, friend or relative.  That is the best feeling in the world.  To know that something I wrote resonated and hopefully made them feel less alone.  Let’s be honest, raising children (or life in general) can be very isolating.  We feel judged as much as we judge.  We question ourselves as much as we question others.  We put on a brave front that we know what we are doing, when in fact, we know very little about how our actions will impact the future.  It is frightening and exhilarating and mystifying and lovely all at once.

I recently received an email from a mom thanking me for my support during her daughter’s recent diagnosis of ectopia lentis. This is the same, genetic eye disorder both of my boys have. It is so rare, that it is difficult to find adequate resources on-line or anywhere at all for that matter. This mom is one of three that has contacted me through writesforallmommies.com concerning this matter.

To be able to help these moms cope with the overwhelming feelings that came with this bizarre sounding disorder has been one of the greatest rewards of writing this blog.  I share this with you because if you are going through a particularly rough patch right now, know that it is preparing you to be of service to someone else.  My boys were undiagnosed for a long, long time and not knowing anyone who had gone through the same experience was gut-wrenching.  I know I didn’t completely prevent the feelings of despair for these women, but I eased the way and gave them hope.  My boys are living proof that vision does not define them.  They are awesome, adaptive and remarkable.  No matter what happens with their vision down the road, they will remain awesome, adaptive and remarkable.

You are all those and more, dear reader.

Happy New Year!

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gratitude, humor, kids, motherhood, parenting

Holiday Blessings

ry=480Another year is drawing to a close and I still marvel at all the ways motherhood continues to challenge me and make me grow.  I am grateful to both my boys for always loving me even though I don’t always get things right.  Their perpetual love of life inspires me.  Their perpetual energy?  I’m still trying to get a handle on that.

Full Speed has grown tremendously this year.  His humor is getting more sophisticated and I love that he can crack me up on a regular basis.  As a fourth grader, I’m fairly sure that Santa’s existence is tenuous at best for him, but he keeps holding onto the dream.  I suspect he is doing it as much for me as he is for himself.  That only makes me love him more.

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T.Puzzle has changed dramatically.  He still has threads of empathy woven permanently into his soul, but it surfaces less now.   All he wants to do is play football.  If he’s not playing it, he’s talking about it.  I miss the sweetness of him, but I admire the competitor he’s become.

Which brings me to the new level of interaction my boys have with Mad Dog.  They all live, eat and breathe football.  Even my precious walks to school with the boys are now consumed with serious discussions about stats and standings.

There isn’t much I can do about it.  It would be like my boys asking me not to be a writer.  I can’t ask them to be something they aren’t.  My job is to help them fully realize who they are.  Right now that happens to be fanatical football fans.  Sure it would be nice to have someone to watch romantic comedies with, take long walks in nature and sit with me in silence as we ponder life and existence.

I guess that’s why dogs were created.

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