children, humor, kids, motherhood, parenting

Stomach Trouble

DSC_8522There’s something about raising stubbornly defiant boys that leaves you a little scarred.  Yes, they’ve matured and yes, there has been tremendous growth in their public behavior.  However, T.Puzzle is still testing the waters of maturity.  He absolutely has improved a lot behavior wise and because of this, my trust in his choices is tentatively growing.  This trust is shaky and it doesn’t take much for me to jump to the worst conclusions.

Today, when his basketball camp coach pulled me aside, my heart froze just a little.  In a matter of seconds my mind raced to a myriad of scenarios.  Maybe he finally injured someone in his rather ungraceful attempts to steal the ball.   Maybe he lost control and karate kicked an instructor in the leg.  Maybe he screamed, cried and threw the mother of all tantrums.

No.   It wasn’t any of these.  He claimed his stomach hurt and needed to sit out a drill or two (my guess is they were ones he didn’t really like anyway.).

I rejoiced.  Yay!  My son has gastrointestinal issues!

After I regained composure, I felt slightly guilty that I was so pleased he felt unwell.  Thankfully, the guilt was as fleeting as T.Puzzle’s imagined stomach upset.

children, family, humor, motherhood, parenting

Two. That’s All Folks!

T.Puzzle and Full Speed getting ready for a surrey bike ride when we lived near Milwaukee a few years ago.

Agreeing to disagree on a variety of issues is a cornerstone of marriage.  There are compromises on things big and small.  As long as both involved feel they ‘win’ at least some of the time, life can run fairly smoothly.  It’s when it comes to the bigger ticket items that you both have to be completely on the same page.  For instance, the number of kids you plan to bring into the world, if any at all for that matter, must be as close as possible.  This number can change and shift as unforeseen circumstance arrive.  Initially, Mad Dog and I had talked about having a big family.  As pregnancy turned out to be one of my least favorite states of being and as Full Speed and T.Puzzle evolved into their strong-willed, glorious selves, I was quickly convinced two kids was more than enough.  Recently, Mad Dog has been pondering the possible expansion of our brood.  I think I could be open to this notion down the road, say when I’m about 90 years old and don’t remember who or where I am.  I’m sorry, but my boys have worn me out.  I believe I am only beginning to safely tread the waters of motherhood and even so, I still feel regularly challenged beyond my normal capacity.

Fortunately for me, two recent events have diminished Mad Dog’s inkling for family expansion.  First, we had lunch with friends that we hadn’t seen in a very long time and finally met their two, extremely adorable boys.  We met at a restaurant and I was flooded with memories as their very active nearly three year-old motored about the perimeter of the table and their nine month old baby insisted he needed to be held during the entire meal (to be honest, if I was that cute, I would insist on it, too).  As we talked with our friends, the little conversation we could manage over the normal hustle and bustle of raising small children, the more I appreciated my spirited boys who at least are able to independently eat a meal.  Mad Dog appreciated this, too.  This was a relief to me.

The second event was T.Puzzle’s recent surgery (he is doing fantastic by the way).  In the first days post-surgery, I had given him pain meds throughout the day and night at regular intervals.   I don’t do well with sleep deprivation (putting it mildly).  This is why the newborn phase was and never will be, my shining moment in motherhood.  Somehow, Mad Dog does not remember this.  He claims to only remember the good.  Seeing my cranky face at the end of this week managed to bring it all back into focus.  Who knew being cranky could work so much in my favor?

I think I dodged a bullet.  At least, I sure hope I did.

children, family, kids, motherhood, parenting, potty training

From One Mom to Another

If you are out their struggling to make sense of your child’s behavior, you are not alone.  If you were to tell me how hard it has been for you to get your child to be potty-trained, eat vegetables, ride a bike, etc., I would empathize.  I wouldn’t be the type to tell you how easy it was for me to teach those skills to my kids and tell you the miraculous way in which I did so in under five minutes.

I’m not that Mom.

I’m the Mom that would listen.  I’m the Mom that wouldn’t judge you because I’ve been there.  In fact, I’m still there.  All you would need to see is me in the pool ‘teaching’ and ‘encouraging’ Full Speed to expand his swimming skills.  It would take you under a minute to see his stubborn face emerge, frustration creep over my face and understand the only thing learned in the pool that day is that I’m a terrible swim instructor.

I get it.

I get that you’ve tried every angle, every bribe you possibly can to get your child to comply with the life skill you are attempting to teach.  I get that you stress about it late at night and wonder what other Moms must think of you.  I know I especially experienced a lot of angst over potty training my boys.  All the ‘helpful’ suggestions from friends who had easily potty-trained their kids failed miserably for me.  Eventually I learned it is less about the methods and more about the DNA of your kid.  Even if you are equipped with top-notch advice and researched hours of the best solutions to your issue, if your kid is hard-core stubborn, most things are not going to work.

I am also the Mom that has faith in you.  All I can offer you is a spin on the current parenting challenge you are facing.  Focus less on what they are not doing and think about it more in terms of why they aren’t doing it.  It is all a matter of power and control.  So, maybe your kid isn’t the first one to ride a bike without training wheels, in the long run, when they learn won’t matter.  What you will come to appreciate (hopefully!) is that fire inside them that fights tooth and nail against your wishes will be one of their greatest assets as they move forward in the world.  I’d put money on them that they will be huge successes in anything they choose to be or do in this world.

I’m here to tell you that your kid, in all their feisty glory, is well on their way to being a strong, independent, amazing person.   A chip off the old block indeed, Mom.

children, family, humor, kids, motherhood, parenting

Parenting is a Kick

No matter how long I raise boys, there are aspects of them that I will never understand.  The physicality in which they move through life is fascinating to me.  

Why is it necessary to karate chop each other while brushing teeth?  Why is tackling a part of getting into the car?   Why is furniture considered a jungle gym? 

All I can do is make some rules about safety, hope they follow at least enough to prevent harm and accept that my house resembles a three-ring circus more often than not.

This morning, as I have been working hard with T.Puzzle to control himself while brushing teeth, I saw a rogue high kick escape from his leg.

“Hands and feet to yourself!” I implored.  “No kicking!”

“I didn’t kick him, Mom.  I missed,” he replied.  His tone indicated that by missing his brother’s face with his foot, that he was the epitome of decorum.

So, the morning was saved.  I’d like to say I owe it all to my incredible parenting skills.  Mostly, I owe it all to T.Puzzle’s terrible aim.

children, humor, kids, motherhood, parenting

The Manners Game

How do you teach your children manners?  My methods thus far have been modeling the manners I would want from my boys, and repetitive reminders to say ‘please, thank you, sir/ma’am’, hold doors for others, etc. I am officially over the repetitive reminding.  I’ve probably been over it since early 2010.  Since I don’t have a creative alternative I’m kind of stuck with what I got.  Until…

I brilliantly came up with a pebble/reward system for every time the boys use good manners in public without a reminder.  If they each fill a jar to the rim they earn a special privilege.  I especially wanted them to focus on speaking respectfully to adults.  Nothing pains me more than when a lovely elderly person asks the boys how they are doing, and the boys respond with a silly dance followed by a fall to the ground in a very unbecoming slapstick sort of way.   I was feeling good about my newly minted reward system and happy the boys showed extreme enthusiasm.  Until…

First stop was the gym.  I was headed to workout and went to drop the boys in the kid zone.  They went up to every adult in a 200 foot radius and said, “How are you doing today, ma’am/sir?”  They said, “Thank you, ma’am!” or “Thank you sir!”  if a woman or man glanced at them even in the slightest of ways (honestly, they were hard to ignore with the manners spectacular they were displaying).    They said, “You’re welcome, sir!  How are you doing today, sir?” to each other about 157 times and then tried to hold the door for every single person in the tri-county area.

At this rate I now officially owe them 497 pebbles a piece and counting. 

It’s time to tweak the rules, don’t you think?