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?

Change Your Mind, Not Yourself (Happy Mother’s Day)

I recently was scrolling through a woman’s magazine on my iPad.  I quickly became discouraged as page after page advertised or extolled all the ways I needed to improve my external appearance.   It seems I have too many spots, wrinkles and imperfections to be considered truly beautiful by this magazine’s stringent and impossible standards.  I started to get really mad.  Mad at myself for all my flaws and mad at this magazine for pressuring me to be perfect.  Eventually I realized that I couldn’t really be mad at the magazine.  It is only perpetuating the insane ideals we as a whole have bought into.  What really, can any of us do about it?  We are helpless to the passage of time and the changes our faces and bodies will inevitably go through.  No amount of cream, lotion or potion will stop this.

Since I can’t change society or the external pressures we face, all I can do is change my mind about my own standard of beauty.  I started to think about the people in my life that were and are beautiful to me.  First and foremost, there was my Mom.  While she was living, she was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing.  She had the lightest blue eyes that always hinted at the wry humor hidden within them and she had this megawatt smile that could light up a room.  Hmmm,… she wasn’t a supermodel and she still did age through the years yet she was gorgeous to me.

My Beautiful Mom
My Beautiful Mom

On this Mother’s Day, I would like us all to entertain the possibility that maybe how we look on the outside has nothing to do with real beauty.  Let’s try to honor ourselves by how we love instead of how we look.

My wish for today is that when my boys look back at this time in our lives, they will recall a Mom who loved as much as she was loved and above all else, was perfectly beautiful just as she was.

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Mom’s Best Advice

I L-O-V-E this kid!Last week T.Puzzle’s teacher approached me for a conference.  The thing about conferences is that they usually doesn’t consist of the teacher listing all the ways your kid is truly outstanding.  As I entered the school building for the impending conference, I had a feeling she wouldn’t share anything with me that I didn’t on some level, already know.  Basically, he speeds through everything, oversimplifies and isn’t interested in expounding on anything, ever.  Pretty typical stuff for a kindergartener, but as his classmates are slowing down and answering questions in more detail, he is fine to zip through his schoolwork at a breakneck pace (Full Speed, Jr., anyone?). There’s not much to be done except encourage him to slow down as he does tasks at home and try to prompt more than one-word answers from him (Mad Dog, Jr., anyone?).

The hardest part of this conference day is that all I really wanted to do was call my Mom to talk about it.  She was always the perfect combination of empathic listener with a good dose of pragmatism.  She had a way of putting things in perspective while taking into consideration my extremely sensitive nature.

I miss that.

I miss her.

Of course she is on the forefront of my mind as Mother’s Day approaches.  All I can do is remember a conversation I had with her shortly before she passed.  She told me l knew her well enough that if I ever needed her advice when she was gone, I could imagine what she would tell me and I’d be exactly right.

So?  What would she tell me?  That T.Puzzle is brilliant, charming and handsome.  She’d tell me that he’s an extremely active boy who would rather play soccer than sit still, write sentences or answer questions.  She would tell me that I’m a great Mom and it’s only kindergarten.  She’d tell me to focus on the good stuff the teacher said like how T.Puzzle is respectful to his classmates and his teachers.  She’d tell me that when he’s CEO of a Fortune 500 company or president of the United States, that how he behaved in kindergarten won’t matter.  It matters only to his future first grade teacher and first grade is months away.  A lot can change over a summer and be patient.  It will all work out just fine.

Thanks, Mom.  I needed that.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Here is a Mother’s Day letter written by Full Speed.  It is probably one of the best letters ever and I’m not just saying that because I’m his Mom (oh, yes I am!).

I would like to thank all of you for continuing to read my adventures in motherhood.  I started this blog to document the ups and downs of raising my two, spirited boys.  Over time, it has become a great way to help me cope with the craziness of my life.  Now, I continue to write it simply because I love to write and because I hope it brings humor and light to those who read it.  So, basically I’m saying, I hope it helps you with problems you’ve never heard about. 

On this Mother’s Day, regardless if you have children or not, I hope you have people in your own life who celebrate how amazing you are today and every day.

Mother’s Day

I’m not too keen on celebrating Mother’s Day this year since I no longer have a mother. To counteract my sad little funk I thought I would share a couple of fun pics of my Mom.

This first photo is of her enjoying our last, big family trip to Disney World. The background is dark because we were in the tunnels of ‘It’s a Small World’. She’s smiling because my boys were so into it and because she was happy. Happy to have so many loved ones in one place.

The second is a fun photo of her by a Ben and Jerry’s sign. Ice cream, hot dogs and baseball were possibly the only things she loved almost as much as her family. You could always keep her happy with a turtle sundae or a cone filled with butter pecan.

So, today is Mother’s Day. If you are a Mom I celebrate you for doing one of the hardest jobs in the world. If you still have a Mom, give her a call, a card or a present of thanks. Enjoy your day!