theorangeinkblot

Looking at life through orange colored glasses…

Archive for the tag “parenting”

Please Stop Expressing your Condolences that I have a Teenage Daughter.

I met a new neighbor yesterday.  Upon hearing that I have a teenage daughter, she replied, “I’m sorry.”

This happens quite frequently.  Someone asks me how old my children are and when I mention my teenage daughter the response is often, “My condolences,” or “I’m sorry,” or “Can I get you a glass of wine?”

I’m writing this today to ask of you: please stop expressing your condolences that I have a teenage daughter. I’m not the least bit sorry or upset about it.

Yes, she sometimes rolls her eyes or uses “that tone.” Occasionally, when I ask her to help me to unload the dishwasher she replies, “No thanks, I’m good.” My daughter some times does these things, but these things do not define her. Look past the occasional eye rolls, dramatic interludes, and the ear buds that seem to have taken up permanent residence in her ears and you will see that my teenage daughter is not someone who needs apologizing for.  She is, in fact, nothing short of amazing.

Diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in first grade, my now 14-year-old is one of the bravest and strongest people I know.  Every morning, she gets out of bed knowing that at some point during the day she will need to battle an inner demon and she knows there is a chance she won’t win.  Yet, every morning, she gathers her courage, puts on her emotional armor, and goes to school.  Do you remember middle school? Not exactly a nurturing haven of emotional safety nets (even at her tiny private school there is a fair amount of middle school drama and kids who say mean things).  Nevertheless, she persists.

My teenage daughter is fierce.  She is a self-proclaimed feminist and social justice warrior who is forging her own path in the world.  She has relevant and informed opinions about issues impacting our town, our country, and our planet. She will stand up for people if she thinks they are being treated unfairly – even if they are someone my daughter considers to be, in her words, “a butt.”

My teenage daughter is developing a strong sense of self. She has no interest in wearing something because someone else is wearing it and, so far, she thinks peer pressure is “stupid.” She is authentic and real and won’t apologize for being an independent thinker or outspoken young lady.  She is unapologetically her own person and we encourage her to be just that.

My teenage daughter is interesting.  She reads books and asks questions and is curious about the world.  And yes, occasionally, halfway through my answer to a question she has just posed to me she will completely stop listening. She is, after all, still a teenager.  She is still learning.  But I’m an adult and I’m still learning too.  Sometimes, I roll my eyes and use “that tone,” and overreact to a frustrating but inconsequential situation.  Where do you suppose they learn that behavior to begin with?

It seems to me that women already apologize far more than necessary, sometimes, merely for existing.  Do we really need to exacerbate that problem by apologizing for teenage girls even being a thing? Again, I can’t speak for anybody else’s teenage daughter but I suspect that if you look past the eye rolls, and the obnoxious tone of voice and the drama that sometimes accompanies them you will find that there is a lot of complex, beautiful, and amazing stuff going on right under the surface.

So, if I mention that I have a teenage daughter, ask me how she’s doing or what she’s involved with or what her opinion is on a $15 minimum wage (she does actually have an opinion on that) but please, do not apologize.

 

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It’s Not About You

To my daughter’s teacher,

I was very upset after our meeting yesterday.  I tried not to show it because I don’t want to undermine your authority in front of my daughter, but I was, and remain, very upset.  This is the third time I have come to you this year sharing with you that my eleven year old daughter, who struggles with anxiety and depression, is not getting the emotional support she needs in your classroom.  It is the third time I have come to you and it is the third time I have been met with defensiveness, excuses, and what feels like a complete lack of empathy on your part.

When I say my daughter needs more emotional support it means I need you to provide an environment that is nurturing and safe.  An environment in which she does not feel judged or punished for behavior that is often outside of her control.  My daughter has an emotional disability.  She will sometimes have outbursts, tantrums, or cry when she is feeling frustrated.  She may stamp her feet or exhibit other behaviors that seem inappropriate for a sixth grader.  Yesterday, at our meeting I watched you firmly point your finger into the table and tell her that stamping her feet in your classroom is not okay.  That her behavior is not appropriate for a sixth grader.  Your response did not feel safe or nurturing. It felt punitive.

My daughter is not a typical sixth grader.  Her brain works differently than that of a typical sixth grader.  Why do you think it is realistic to to expect her to act like a typical sixth grader.  My daughter is bright and capable but often lacks the emotional maturity to take a step back from her anxiety and frustration to choose an appropriate behavior to deal with those feelings.  Perhaps, in your role as teacher, instead of slamming your finger into the table and telling her how inappropriate her behavior is, you could instead validate that she is feeling anxious and frustrated and help guide her to a more appropriate response.  You say that my daughter knows the resources that are available to her and only has to ask to be able to use them.  I am telling you that she sometimes lacks the capacity to ask and needs additional support and help to find her way.

I feel like we would not be having this conversation if my child had a physical disability like the student you had last year who was visually impaired.  I’m sure you had to make some adjustments to the way you taught and presented material to compensate for the student not being able to see.  I’m sure you didn’t call that student up to the front of the class and ask her to point out the blue line indicating the Mississippi River on a U.S. map.  I’m guessing you made adjustments to your expectations and had no problems modifying assignments for that student so that her disability could be accommodated.  I am guessing that if her parents came to you frustrated about something that had happened during their daughter’s school day that you didn’t tell them that you have 22 other kids in your class to worry about like you repeatedly told me at our meeting yesterday.

My daughter’s disability is not that different from a physical disability.  Her disability sometimes requires that you provide additional support, flexibility, and modification of assignments or a change in your teaching or disciplinary style to meet her needs.  She is not trying to be difficult or get away with not doing work.  She is easily overwhelmed and has trouble asking for what she needs so while she learns how to do that I’m asking you to meet her part way and proactively provide her with a little more structure and support even when it’s not obvious to you that she’s struggling because sometimes her disability is invisible.

You said it’s hard for you to not take it personally when my daughter announces as she approaches the classroom in the morning that she does not want to shake your hand, as you ask each student to do each day.  I’m asking you to try to not take it personally.  It’s not about you.  It is about what my daughter needs to do to feel like she has some control over her day.

I watched you argue back and forth with my daughter yesterday about how many feet she was from your classroom door when she said she didn’t want to shake your hand.  Why does it matter?  Is it so important for you to be right? What I am trying to help you understand is that my child is trying to advocate for herself and tell you that she is uncomfortable shaking your hand.  She is still learning the most appropriate way to do that and you have an opportunity to help her with that goal.  Arguing with her about whether or not she yelled it from ten feet down the hallway or at the classroom door does not move her forward in that area.

I keep coming back to my daughter needing to feel more emotionally supported in your classroom.  Here’s what she really needs from you.  She needs for you to wake up tomorrow morning and imagine what it would feel like to start your day feeling completely terrified that something awful is going to happen to your wife and baby while you are at work.  Imagine that you believed in your heart of hearts that in order for them to be safe you had to stay home but because you have to provide for your family, staying home is not an option.  Imagine that it takes so much energy and courage every morning just to get in your car and drive to work that by the time you get there you are completely exhausted on top of still being terrified.  Now imagine that you go to one of your colleagues and confide in them how you are feeling and your colleague tells you that you are not acting like a teacher should act and that you need to just pull it together which makes you feel even worse.  Imagine that at some point during the day you sneak a minute to call your wife because you need to feel reassured that she is okay.  Imagine that people tell you that if you just tried harder you could stop these behaviors. Imagine that you just don’t know how you will make it through another minute of feeling this way.  Imagine that this is only a small part of the anxiety you feel every day.

Now imagine you have to handle all of this emotional turmoil as an eleven year old who does not have the emotional maturity to deal with all of these feelings, even on medication.  How would you want your teacher to talk to you if you were my daughter?  Would you want your teacher to pound his finger into the table and tell you that you are not acting like a normal eleven year old?  My daughter is not a “normal” eleven year old and that’s what we need  you to understand.  She needs you to be empathetic and kind and to help provide the structure and guidance she needs on the days that she simply cannot get there herself.

I know your job is hard.  I know you have 23 students who all require your attention.  I know that you cannot stop everything and only focus on my child.  I am not asking you to do that.  I am asking you to think about the words you use when you speak to her because she is using those words to judge whether or not you are a safe person for her.  I am asking you to put yourself in her shoes and imagine how you would want your teacher to respond to you.  I am asking you to put your ego aside, let your defenses down and consider how you can best support my child.  It’s not about you.

Defining Success when it Comes to our Children

Kids around the country are headed back to school and it won’t be long before they bring home their first graded assignment or progress report.  As a parent, it is difficult to not to set expectations or benchmarks for our children to reach in school.  We all want our kids to do well, work hard, and be successful.   Sometimes though, I worry about the things that parents say to their children when they don’t meet the goals or expectations we have set for them.

This past June, the mom of a 5th grader at my daughters’ school told me she was disappointed in her daughter for receiving a “low” math grade.  On a grading scale from 1 to 4 with 4 being the highest, her daughter had received a 3.  I asked the mom why she was disappointed and she answered that because math was her daughter’s best subject she expected her to get 4’s.  On top of that, upon seeing the report card, she said to her daughter, “I’m not mad at you, but I am disappointed in you.”

This is not the first parent I have heard say this to their child and it makes me cringe every time.   Sometimes it is about grades, sometimes it is about sports or something else that their child is involved with.  The comment might take the form of, “if my child had just put a little more effort into what they were doing, they could have made varsity.”  I want to ask these parents, how exactly has your child disappointed you?  Is it because it was enough for your child to be having fun and enjoying the experience of playing on a team without feeling the need to be the best?  By not immediately understanding the material that was presented to them in class?  By not putting 100% of their effort into everything they do every single day?   Because they are not perfect?

In my opinion, we send our kids a very dangerous message when we tell them that by not meeting our expectations of them that they have disappointed us.  We may think that we are motivating them to do better or pushing them to reach their “full” potential.  I fear that instead we are telling them that our being NOT disappointed in them is dependent on them reaching expectations that are fully unrealistic.  That their worth is dependent on us being able to brag to our neighbor at the bus stop that our child received the highest of grades.  That our love for them is in any way conditional.  I don’t want my children to feel that just because they are good at something it means that they have to be perfect at it.

Through these comments we also teach them that it is not enough to learn for learning’s sake-  That playing just because it is fun is not reason enough.  

I think that as parents we need to ask ourselves-  What kind of child am I trying to raise?  Is it my goal to raise a child who always gets A’s in the subject areas she is strongest in?  A child who makes the travel soccer team?   A child who needs to be constantly striving for perfection?  A child who is doing things only to please her parents?

This summer, my daughter signed up for a drawing class.  By the third class in she had decided that she really wasn’t enjoying it.  At all.  There were only three classes remaining.  I thought about telling her that she had to stick it out because she shouldn’t be a quitter, that she should finish what she started, that she had made a commitment and she should always honor her commitments.  I felt disappointed that the class hadn’t worked out because I had hoped it would be a really positive experience for her.  But on the car ride home, when she asked me if I was mad at her or disappointed in her that she had dropped out of the class I told her no.  I told her I was proud of her.  I was proud of her for trying something new and then recognizing that it was not a good fit.  I was proud of her for vocalizing that she wanted to remove herself from an environment that was not positive for her.  This was not a failed art class.  This was a successful setting of boundaries- of not being willing to be unhappy simply for the sake of feeling like she had to do her best.

How many of us stick with things that make us miserable because we feel like we have a responsibility to do so.  How many of us stay at jobs that we hate longer than we should; in relationships that are unhealthy because we made a commitment.  How many of us wish that we had the courage to just walk away from things in our life that our making us unhappy.  

There are plenty of things that we have no control over.  Obviously, my kids have to go to school.  I want them to do well.  But more than I want them to do well, I want them to be happy.  I want them to not spend time worrying about whether or not they are disappointing me but to take notice of the things they are really interested in so they can discover what they feel passionate about.  It’s entirely possible that what they like the best will not be what they get the highest grades in and I don’t want them to believe for one second that they cannot pursue passions because they have not met certain standards or that they have to excel in an area simply because it comes easily to them.  

I want my children to set their own goals and choose their own definition of success.  My goal for them is only that they be happy and well adjusted.  I want them to feel loved unconditionally and to know that the grades they receive on a test or a report card are in no way a definition of who they are as a person.  I want them to be proud of themselves based on the expectations and goals that they set for themselves- not because they have met a standard I have set for them.

They Have to Be Carefully Taught

A lot has been written and said in the days since George Zimmerman was acquitted of shooting and killing Trayvon Martin.  I have been reading and listening to a lot of it- voices from all sides weighing in on why the jury made the right or wrong decision; network analysis of the trial; interviews with a jury member; blog entries; the presidential address, etc.  I have heard people blame “bad” Florida laws and say that the killing of Trayvon Martin had nothing to do with race.  I have been listening, and reading, and thinking but have remained decidedly quiet on the topic.

Now, I’m ready to share what I’ve been thinking about.  I want to say too that what I am sharing is merely my opinion, my thoughts – not specifically about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, but about race in general and why so many people are so uncomfortable talking about it, especially in mixed company.  I want to raise the issue of how we talk (or don’t talk) to our children about race and how dangerous our silence is.  You are welcome to agree or respectfully disagree with me and maybe we can even have a productive, honest conversation about a very important subject matter that is not going away any time soon.

This past week I have been reading, Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children, the 2009 non-fiction book written by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  Especially in light of everything that is being written and said about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman I found myself fascinated by Chapter three, “Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race.”  The authors cite a 2007 study in the Journal of Marriage and Family which found, “that out of 17,000 families with kindergartners, 45% said they’d never, or almost never, discussed race issues with their children.”  However, when broken down by race, the number of white parents who said that they “never, or almost never” talked about race with their kids was 75%- almost three times the number of nonwhite parents who answered the question the same way (pgs.51-52).

The chapter also discusses another study, conducted in 2006 by a doctoral student named Birgitte Vittrup from the University of Texas who specifically recruited Caucasian families with children ages 5-7, to research whether or not watching children’s videos with multicultural story lines have any beneficial effect on children’s racial attitudes.  One group in the study was not given any videos to watch but was asked to raise the issue of “racial equality” with their children for five consecutive nights.  Five of the families in this group left the study altogether.  Two of the families told Vittrup that they did not want to point out skin color to their children (pages 48-49).  The reasons that the other families dropped out of the study were not provided but there is an underlying assumption that their reasons were similar to the other families who withdrew.

I have been thinking about these studies.  I was surprised by the statistics and the anecdotes in this chapter.  Could it be that parents are worried that talking to their kids openly and honestly about race, that by bringing up the subject of skin color, it could cause their children to become racist? To me, the idea that by not talking to our children about race they will not notice or think about race (whether positively or negatively) echoes the largely non-proven argument that by talking to kids about sex and birth control they will be more promiscuous.     As a Caucasian parent, I thought I was having the right kinds of conversations about race with my children.  We talk frequently about everyone being equal despite race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, etc.  I tell them to not judge a book by its cover, and that skin color should not be criteria used to choose friends.  We have talked about the Civil Rights movement and slavery and about brave people of all backgrounds who fight for equality.  All this is okay- I don’t think they are bad things to talk about.  But I am realizing that it is not enough.

I have believed for a long time that children have to be carefully taught to hate.  But it is not enough to simply refrain from using derogatory terms or sing the praises of Martin Luther King, Jr.  I think that for some Caucasians talking about race forces us to admit that we are not where we thought we were on this issue.  That we don’t know as much as we should know and that we are not doing as much as we should be doing to move our nation forward.  There is a discomfort in acknowledging that there is a disproportionate percentage of minorities who are socio-economically disadvantaged and that our criminal justice system works largely in favor of light skinned people with financial means.  Most people do not like to think of themselves as racist in anyway.  But I will be the first to admit that my being a progressive and open minded person does not mean that I do not have work to do.  I have been one of those Caucasian moms who sit around a table with other Caucasian moms and talks about how lovely it is that our children are “blind” to the skin color of their classmates.  As if “color blindness” is really the ideal or as if we actually have any idea as to what is actually going on inside our children’s heads.

I was reminded of this a few nights ago while reading to my daughter.  We were reading the story of a Jewish family many years ago living in a shtetl somewhere in Eastern Europe or Russia.  There is a picture in the book of a little boy entering his school house and the question posed to me by my five year old was not, “why aren’t there any girls?” but instead, “why is everybody white?”  (So much for color blind.)  I was surprised that she asked this question, but I was excited too because it gave me an opportunity to raise the issue of race in a different way than I had in the past.  I started out by talking about how some countries, some cities, some towns, are more diverse than others and that there are places in the world where the majority of the people have similar skin tones.  Then, I took it a step further.  We talked about how sometimes people don’t get to choose where they live.  For centuries, Jews were pushed into little geographic areas because the rest of the population didn’t want to live among them because they were different.  I told her that this still happens today with lots of groups of people, sometimes based on skin color, for the same reason.  We discussed how sometimes people are afraid or uncomfortable around people who look differently from themselves, or have different religious beliefs.  I asked her to share with me what she already knew about this kind of thing.  My five year old daughter told me that she knew that there was a time in our country that it was against the law for people of different skin colors to be friends or marry each other and that it wasn’t right.  Then she said that she knew there will still places around the world where people did not have equal rights and that this wasn’t right either.  She also told me that she was glad we lived in a town where everybody did not look the same.

This conversation still may not have been perfect but it was definitely a step in the right direction.  I learned that my child is thinking about these issues and that she is observing everything that is going on around her.  She is trying to make sense of the world and figure out how she fits in.  We have to do more than just not teach our children to hate.  We have to take advantage of teachable moments, we have to let our children hear us speaking out in the face of injustice, we need to answer their questions as honestly and thoughtfully as we can and we need to ask them how they feel about these issues.

We also have to ask ourselves why we do not want to talk about this.  What is making us uncomfortable?  What is holding us back?  We have to ask ourselves what our silence tells our children- what permission are we giving them to not care if we give the impression that we don’t care.

There’s more to be said- so I’m going to end this by saying, to be continued.  I need to regroup and think some more about all of it first.  In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts.  We need to be talking about this if we hope to make any progress at all.

The Best Day Ever…

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by us standing in our own sunshine.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Back in March of this year, I wrote a post called ‘The Year of Meryl” (see full post here http://wp.me/p1ZHOE-7B) in which I proclaimed that starting in September of 2012, with both children on the same school schedule for the first time ever, I was reclaiming my life, my time, my purpose.   I was going to strive for balance between the things I have to do (i.e. chores and errands) and the things I want to do (such as write, exercise, and think deeply about important issues).  More importantly, my plan included doing the things I want to do without feeling like a “time thief”- stealing five minutes here, and five minutes there in order to fit in those meaningful activities.  I envisioned myself saying goodbye to chaos and ushering in a new era in which I had time to do housework, get fit, be social, and think intellectually.  ‘The Year of Meryl’ was meant to be a time to rediscover what is meaningful to me- not me the mother or me the wife, but the me who was once a musician, a political advocate, a traveler, an educator. And I thought the universe was just going to hand it to me on a silver platter.

Not so much.

On the first day of school, I loaded my kids onto the school bus, watched the bus drive away, and did a little happy dance, even while other moms dabbed melancholy tears from their eyes.  I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary that day, but the feeling of freedom I had for the rest of that day made me positively giddy.  The giddy feeling lasted until that afternoon when my 4th grader got off the bus, walked into the house, and burst into hysterical tears.  My nine year old has been dealing with an anxiety disorder on and off for the last few years and had been pretty well managing it for the prior 9 months.  But something about the first day of school this year, brought her anxiety back full throttle and it threw the household into something of a crisis mode.  My primary job the past few months has been to reconnect my older daughter with the resources that were helpful and necessary in managing her anxiety the last time it tried to take over her head and her life.

September and October were jam packed with meetings with teachers, school administrators, private psychologists and a psychiatrist (during those same hours that I was going to be writing, exercising, and thinking deeply).  For two months it meant using all of my super mom (and my husband’s super dad) powers to even get my daughter out of bed and to school in the morning, and then wondering all day if I was going to get a call from the school that she had experienced another anxiety attack.  It meant helping her to battle the worry monsters at night until she finally (far beyond bedtime) fell asleep.  It meant trying to not take it personally as my scared, angry, and frustrated child took most of her emotional turmoil out on me because on some level (I hope) she knew that my love is unconditional.  It meant extra hugs and snuggles for my younger daughter who felt a little neglected by all the attention that big sister was getting.

Where did this leave me?  Too tired to think deeply.  Stealing time to fit in exercise and writing.

I could say ‘The Year of Meryl’ got off to a rocky start, but if I am being really honest with myself that’s not really true.  It’s just that it was naive to think that just because my kids are both away from the house at the same time, that the time without them is any more mine as it was last year or the year before that.

Or maybe the better way to think of it is that the time without them is JUST as much mine as it’s always been.  I’ve just never thought to fight for it before.

Whether or not you have children, life is busy and something is always there to pull you away from the things you love.  In the past, I have just resigned myself to the idea that my life is no longer my own and figured  I had no control over it.  I let what was happening with my daughter completely take over my own life which I have now learned is not necessary.  Just because my nine year old may feel anxious and sad and angry does not mean that I also have to be feeling anxious and sad and angry.  My first success in ‘The Year of Meryl’ has been learning the lesson that it is okay to decide to be happy even if people around me are not.  I can take care of my sad, anxious, and angry child without being sad, anxious, and angry myself.  

It took me a couple of months to figure this out and in part I have learned how from my 5 year old.  My 5 year old wakes up every morning and says, “Today is going to be the best day ever.”  It doesn’t really matter what is scheduled for the day.  There is no reason for her to believe she is going to have a bad day, so she assumes she is going to have a great one.  And she does- pretty much every day.  Her kindergarten teacher called me one day in late October to share that my little girl had fallen on the playground, landed on her face, and her lip had started bleeding.  He went over to make sure she was okay but she just stood up, brushed herself off and said, “these things happen sometimes.”  He told me that in that moment he thought yes, that’s true but for a five year old to think that way is pretty impressive.

Her days are not perfect.  Like everyone, my five year old faces her own version of adversity throughout the day.  She just doesn’t let it bother her or keep her from having the best day ever.  I decided to try to be more like my five year old.  On October 31st I made the last minute decision to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the month of November.  Participants are tasked to write 50,000 words in 30 days giving them a jump start on that novel they have always wanted to write.  I wasn’t sure I could do it- in fact before I even started I was rationalizing to my husband why I wouldn’t be able to complete it, but at least I could try.  I woke up on November 1st and decided I was going to write 1667 words that day.  Somehow, I found time for it that day, and every day in November.  Nothing else in my life had changed except my attitude.  Proving to myself that I could accomplish a goal I had set for myself despite the other things in my life that I was dealing with was huge.  The writing I was doing (while mediocre at best-it’s hard to write for quality when you are writing primarily for quantity) completely energized me.   I started waking up happier.  When waking up my older daughter for school (a task which was arduous at best) instead of pleading, threatening, and physically dragging her I simply turned on some upbeat music and danced around her room.  Her little sister would join me and eventually big sister couldn’t resist joining us for our early morning dance parties.  Are there still some rough mornings? Of course.  I just don’t let them dictate the rest of my day anymore.

Learning this lesson was not part of my original plan for ‘The Year of Meryl’ but sometimes the Universe knows what we need better than we do.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go have the best day ever.

The World According to Rachel, Part 3: Wide Awake

The following is a reprint from a short-lived blog I started when my youngest daughter was about 18 months old.  It is written from what I imagined her point of view would be.  If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, you can check it out at: http://wp.me/p1ZHOE-8W or check my recent posts…

Usually, I am a pretty good sleeper. But one night last week I woke up while it was still dark out and I wasn’t even tired. I was feeling a little lonely, so I decided to call for mommy, because she is my favorite one to play with. I called, “mommy” really loud and drawn out and then I waited. I didn’t hear any footsteps, so I called again, “mommy” as loud as I could. Still nothing. Since I am a stubborn little bugger (this is what mommy calls me sometimes) I decided to keep trying. I stood up in my crib and started shaking the side as hard as I could- RATTLE, RATTLE, RATTLE. I thought this would work for sure because mommy had just read an article about a crib recall where the sliding crib wall could separate from the crib and smush the innocent little baby, but mommy STILL didn’t come. Talk about stubborn. Then I had a great idea, so I started yelling, “I’m stuck, I’m stuck!!” I don’t know if mommy believed me, but right after that I heard footsteps and I knew that she was on her way.

Unfortunately, when mommy came into the room, she did not look happy to see me. She said in a very soft but serious voice- “Rachel, it is 3:30 in the morning.”

Oh good, I thought. It is morning!!

Mommy kept talking, “It is not play time, it is sleep time. I will sit with you in your chair and help you fall back to sleep, but we are NOT going into the living room and we are NOT playing. Got it?”

Mommy sounded sort of grouchy, so I just said, “got it, mommy.” Then she picked me up out of my crib and put me on her lap in the rocking chair. She still looked grouchy and I wanted her to smile, so after we had rocked for a minute or two I looked up at mommy and said, “nice to meet you, mommy!” And it worked! Mommy smiled and said, “nice to meet you too Rachel, now go to sleep.”

Mommy started singing to me all my bed time songs, such as: Never Surrender, Faithfully, and Wind Beneath My Wings. Just as I started to doze off, that dumb dog who lives next door started barking. At least, I think his name is “that dumb dog.” That’s what my daddy usually calls him. But I think he must have a few different names because daddy also calls him “that little yappy dog,” “the furry rat,” and some other names that a two year old is not supposed to repeat. So, I opened my eyes and said, “woof-woof” and started to laugh.

This time, mommy didn’t laugh. Instead, she started saying something I didn’t understand about “God granting her the serenity to accept the things she cannot change”… so I just closed my eyes and tried to fall back to sleep. I guess I did because when I woke up, I was back in my crib and it was light out and when I called for mommy she came right away. It’s nice when mommy keeps me company at night, but she is much more smiley during the day. Maybe next time, I’ll call for daddy and see how that goes.Image

The World According to Rachel, Part 2: Hide and Seek

The following is a reprint from a short-lived blog I started when my youngest daughter was about 18 months old.  It is written from what I imagined her point of view would be.  If you missed Part 1, you can check it out at: http://wp.me/p1ZHOE-8W

Hide and Seek is a very fun game. The best part is you can hide anything! Last week, I decided to play Hide and Seek with my shoes. My timing was perfect! Right after I hid them, mommy came into the living room and said, “Rachel, let’s find your shoes- it is time to go in the car to get your sister from after school art class.” I thought, “yay, mommy is IT- she has to find my shoes all by herself.”

Mommy said, “Where are your shoes, they were just here ten minutes ago?”

I said, “I don’t know.” (When you are playing hide and seek you are not supposed to tell the seeker where the hider is.)

First mommy looked under the couch (lots of stuff likes to hide under the couch). Then, mommy looked under the TV cabinet. Then she started walking around the house very fast looking everywhere for my shoes. I am SO good at Hide and Seek. Then mommy said that we were going to be late so I would have to wear different shoes and she brought over some strappy sandals that give my feet ouchies. I was very mad because I wanted to keep playing Hide and Seek so I laid down on the floor and started screaming. Then, while I was laying there, my sneaky mommy stuck those ouchy sandals on my feet and picked me up right off the floor. Next time, I have to remember to hide those ouchy sandals.

When we got to the school we had to sit in the car for a little while because there were no more parking spaces. I thought mommy might want to talk to pass the time so I kept shouting things like- “NO CAR,” “OUT, OUT, OUT,” and “ALL DONE..” Mommy didn’t listen. She just said something I didn’t understand about how I should quiet down because there were faraway kids in refugee camps that would trade places with me in a second. Finally, we picked up my sister and went back home but mommy did not want to play hide and seek anymore.

You will be happy to know that mommy did find my shoes two days later by accident when she opened up a cabinet while looking for her keys (please don’t tell mommy that it was me playing hide and seek with her keys). And now, I think my toys are playing Hide and Seek with me. I can’t find that Play Doh anywhere!!! I’ll have to remember to ask mommy about that tonight in the middle of the night when I wake her up. Then, I’ll write again and tell you all about it.

The World According to Rachel: Play Doh (reprint)

My summer schedule is kicking my butt and writing has taken a back seat to other things.  So, I’m cheating this time and reprinting something I wrote about 3 years ago when my youngest daughter was about to turn 2.  Anyone with a 2 year old knows what a challenging time it can be.  As I rode the terrible 2 roller coaster, I tried to imagine what my daughter might write if she could keep a diary/blog.  This is what I came up with… If you like it, then maybe I’ll cheat again next week ;).

The World According To Rachel
(also called: Why mommy will at some point go back to working outside the home.)

Play Doh

Today, mommy showed me a new toy called Play Doh. I loved it. Play Doh is squishy and can be shaped into anything. I asked mommy to make me Ming-Ming, Tuck, and Linny from my favorite TV show, ‘The Wonder Pets.’ Mommy made Ming-Ming look just like a duck, and Tuck looked pretty much like a turtle, but Linny did not look like a guinea pig at all so I asked her to do it again. Linny still did not look like a guinea pig but I didn’t want to hurt mommy’s feelings so I just pretended that it looked good. Mommy showed me how to make a snake, and also a pancake. We were having so much fun and laughing a lot. She didn’t even freak out when I tasted it (play doh does not taste very good in case you were wondering).

Then, I discovered that you can take two lumps of play doh and squish them together. To make it more fun, I said “squish, squish, squish” while I pushed the blue play doh into the pink play doh. Mommy said, “lets not mix all the colors” ( sometimes mommy can be really anal about that stuff- I think I heard her say it’s because she’s a Myers-Brigg  ‘J’). I mixed the colors anyway because it was so much fun. Then, mommy walked away from the table for a minute (she should really know better). When she came back, I had ripped up all the play doh into little pieces and thrown them on the floor- and then, because it made such a good noise, I threw all the play doh toys on the floor too. CRASH!!

Mommy gave a big sigh and got down on the floor. She was muttering something real low, but I couldn’t quite hear what it was. It had something to do with not giving up her career so she could stay home and pick cat hair and cheerio crumbs out of little lumps of play doh. I wish she had told me we could add things to the play doh!! Then mommy said it was time to clean up and she started putting the play doh away. That made me very sad and I started to cry. Mommy said “sorry kiddo, but you made a huge mess and it’s time to clean up.” That made me angry so I threw myself down on the floor and screamed a little. When I looked up, mommy wasn’t even in the room anymore.

I found her in my room getting things ready for my nap. You know what? I was a little tired. How does she know these things? Mommy and I have so much fun together. Next time, I will tell you about how I played hide and seek with my shoes and we were almost late to pick Sarah up from art class.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but my kids appear to be immune…

Why is it when I make suggestions,

My kids always respond with questions.

When I say, “Come stand by me.” They respond with “Why?”

When I suggest a piece of fruit, They ask, “can I have pie?”

The questions keep on coming

Every hour of every day.

Sometimes it feels like questions,

Is all they have to say, like…

 

Are we there yet?

Why’s my tongue wet?

Do you want to make a bet?

Can you explain the national debt?

 

Why do you say I’ve had enough?

Why is elbow skin so rough?

Why is 3rd grade math so tough?

Why can’t I run ‘round in the buff?

 

Will we ever own a yacht?

Do I have to get a shot?

Could you wipe away my snot?

Do you think my forehead’s hot?

 

Do you wish you were a kid?

Did you see what my sister did?

Why does the toilet have a lid?

Can I go on e-Bay and bid?

 

Can you buy me, give me, take me?

Will you give me my own house key?

Why did daddy grow a goatee?

Do you think that I’m a cutie?

 

See how my nice my skin is glistening?

Does my hair need more conditioning?

Can I start theatre auditioning?

Mommy, are you even listening?

 

Sometimes the answer’s plainly yes,

Other times I just don’t know.

If I’m stuck, I have the choice of:

‘just because’ or ‘no.’

 

Some of their questions make me laugh

Some of them make me sigh,

Some of their inquiries make me shake my head

and wonder why?

 

It seems to me that parents should get an answer key,

cliff notes, or a cheat sheet, to unlock these mysteries.

But alas, having children does not come with a plan,

so I’ll keep fielding questions like only mommy can.

I’m Mommy and I Know It… (Everyone else has done a take off of the LMFAO song, I figured I’d might as well too)

Image

When I walk on by, you’ll probably hear me humming a lullaby
I rock to the beat
of itsy bitsy spider when my playgroup meets.
Yeah
This is how I jam
ABC’s and Mary had a Little Lamb
Goodnight Moon and Sam I Am, Catching funny moments on the video cam.

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I put my right foot in.  I take my right foot out.
I do the hokey pokey and I turn myself about.

I got spit up on my shirt and I ain’t afraid to show it (show it, show it, show it, show it)

I’m mommy and I know it.

I’m mommy and I know it.

Yeah
When we’re at the mall, kid’s throwing tantrums- it’s a sprawl and bawl
When we’re at the beach, kid strips down and starts to streak (what?)

This is how I roll, Taking deep breaths so I’m in control.

I need more grown-ups but I’m not nervous. I can stay connected if I have cell

service (what).

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I put my right foot in.  I take my right foot out.

I do the hokey pokey and I turn myself about.

I got spit up on my shirt and I ain’t afraid to show it (show it, show it, show it)

I’m mommy and I know it.

I’m mommy and I know it.

Check it out,

Check it out

Wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, yeah!
Wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, yeah!
Wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, yeah!
Wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, yeah, yeah!

I watch the Wiggles, man,
I watch the Wiggles, man,
Yeah
I’m mommy and I know it

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I’m mommy and I know it.

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