Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery

A couple of days ago while waiting for Will to get home from work Liam said, “When daddy gets home I am going to do yard work with him.” When Will arrived home he mowed the lawn and Liam was right next to him pushing his plastic Fisher Price mower. It was so precious to watch. After Will was done he went into the garage to put the chain back on his chainsaw. Liam went inside to get his toolbox and alongside Will “helped” him fixed it. It was so heartwarming and touching to watch.

Ava just recently got a new doll in which I noticed at various times during the day she had the doll sitting right next to her, wrapped up in blanket for a nap, and sitting with her during breakfast to eat. It is so cute and funny how quick kids begin imitation play. This kind of reenactment is important for children’s development as this is a part of the learning process of how things work and how things are done.

This all brings me to yesterday in which I read an article about two children suspended for the rest of the school year (3 days) because they turned rulers into play guns. On one hand I can understand the school’s thinking on this. Considering since the Sandy Hook shooting there have been 74 more school shootings, the zero tolerance method needs to be put in place. As I mentioned above children learn things through imitation and it is not just from parents but from their peers and television. I am sure these young children were just playing and had no intention of ill will towards anyone, however I also doubt these children truly grasped the idea what pointing those rulers and yelling bang bang at each other meant (the kids were in first grade). I am not pinning all school shootings on children pretending to play with guns because I believe there is much bigger problem at hand (mental illness, etc) however there needs to be some responsibility on our part. Sadly kids do not realize the true impact of their actions or how grave the consequences can be.

On the other hand I don’t believe “giving detention to the whole class when only a few kids were misbehaving,” is an ok approach either. “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.” I remember vividly when I was in fourth grade I was suppose to go on a class trip the circus. Two days before the class trip we had a substitute and several kids misbehaved. When the teacher came back the day before the class trip she canceled our trip as punishment for the bad behavior. More recently at work our HR department has come up with a lot of stringent rules regarding our dress code, cell phone usage, Internet usage, how long are breaks can be, because some people have a hard time deciphering what is appropriate and not appropriate. I’m so tired of being lumped in with all the bad kids.

The key is responsibility. If parents are responsible and behave properly they will teach children the correct way of behaving. The kids will automatically imitate the responsible and good behavior. I grew up in a household that had guns and to this day I would not know how to gain access to it. My father was extremely responsible and respectful in knowing the gravity of what the power guns can possess. I used firearms as an example for this post however; my intention was more to use it as an illustration and less of political statement. Just recently I noticed Liam shaking his finger at me when he got really upset and I realize he got that from me. I love watching Liam and Ava as they get older and learn new things. But it’s also fun to see how they try to be like my husband and I. I know we are not perfect by any means. I’m sure they will pick up some bad habits along the way. But if we can at least instill some sense of responsibility in them that is one thing I will be very comfortable with then imitating.

To Swear or Not to Swear

Liam the other day had built his Thomas track on our couch having one half of the side hanging off (this was to reenact a Thomas episode he saw where the train was hanging off a cliff).  As he pushed Thomas along the track, the track broke, and Thomas fell to the ground.  Liam’s first reaction was to say, “What the heck happened.”  I was taken back by him saying that and then immediately knew where he got it from.  Me.  Although there is nothing terrible about him saying that, it made me slightly uneasy and was a quick reminder how much he is always listening and remembering.

I remember several years ago a person retelling a “funny” story to me in which it ended with her child’s first word being sh*t.  At the time I didn’t think this story was too funny and today I still don’t.  I never found it amusing, but more appalling for little children to use curse words (and sometimes with hand gestures).  Here is my problem with it.  Most likely a three year old who is cursing, is only imitating what he/she has heard.  However a three year old does not grasp (1) what it means, and (2) when it is an appropriate time to use it.  The other problem is I find expletives to be rude.  A lot of times using those words have strong connotations and if not used in front of an appropriate audience you can come across as being impolite.

I in general do not swear a lot however a year ago I was cutting potato on a mandolin.  One of the slices got stuck and as I was trying to pull it out, my one finger ran across the blade and took off the tip of it.  In sheer pain I said, “Oh Sh*t!”  All the way to the emergency room while my husband was driving and I was trying not to pass out, I could hear Liam repeating that over and over again.  Thankful by the time grandma and grandpa got there he had forgotten about it and has not said it since then (nor has he heard it).

Young children who curse and do not realize what they are saying or the impact of their words could unintentionally offend someone.  A simple statement of expression that one might think is harmless and use in the privacy of their home (What the f**k?) could be quite offensive to someone else. With children not understanding the effect of their words, feelings could be hurt.  On the other hand, how a child behaves and how they speak is considered a direct reflection on the parents.  When someone hears a young child swearing besides finding it jarring, many tend to look at the parents as immature and not at all classy. With the parents not creating the proper impression for their children they are unintentionally creating the implication that the children have poor behavior. Excessive swearing can come across as a lack of vocabulary and uneducated.  If the parent had more of an extensive vocabulary he/she could better express themselves instead of using four -five lettered words.

With all this being said, what does it boil down to?  Think before you speak.  Children are listening and ready to repeat.  If you are not comfortable with your children using expletives in the company of others, you shouldn’t be either.





Two Children and a Headache

There is nothing worse then being home with two kids and a headache.  In the past there have been times I have showed up to work with headaches, bad colds, and just not feeling well.  My co-workers would ask, “Why are you here?”  My reply is always the same, “It’s easier being here then at home.”

The truth is being at home is hard when you are feeling good, when you are sick, it is unbearable.  When you are sick and at work people tend to leave you alone because (1) they know you probably don’t feel very sociable, and (2) they do not want to catch your germs.  But at home there is no lenience, no break, and no timeout.  Your kids still need breakfast, and baths, and running around outside and it really doesn’t matter if you feel like you have been just run over by an 18 wheeler.  Their little minds and legs are still running.

On top of it all even if I do get to veg out a little bit, I quickly guilt ridden myself into getting up and doing something with them because I feel bad.  Last week I was home with them and I had a headache.  I was lying on my bed and the kids were being quiet in Liam’s room (which is never a good sign) and instead of enjoying the couple of moments of quietness I pushed myself to get up and do something with them because I didn’t want them to be bored. It is times like those when I think, “Man I wish I was at work.” I could just type away at my computer and not have to worry about anyone crying, getting hurt, needing anything from me.

And then it happened. Liam asked, “Mommy why are closing your eyes?” I told him my head hurt and I was trying to make it feel better. He climbed on my lap and kissed my forehead. I smiled and melted all over. My head still hurt but I didn’t care anymore.


Trials and Tribulations of a Three Year Old

Its only 9:16 AM and my husband and I have already weathered an epic meltdown from our son.  At times frustrating and at times almost amusing, I am exhausted and so is he.  What makes matters worse is my daughter at times feeds off it as well and deteriorates to a puddle of nothingness as well.

Observing these meltdowns it’s obvious that his little body is battling his emotions versus what he wants.  Most of the time his emotions over take him and it is our job to calm him down enough to get him back on track.  In the middle of this particular breakdown at one point he didn’t want mommy or daddy and told us to go away.  The rejection from a three year old stings especially when it’s your son and you want to comfort him.  I have to remind myself the rational side of him is not winning the battle right now.  It’s also hard at times when these meltdowns occur to stay come and not get swept away with it as well.  It would be all too easy at times to lose my patience and have my own breakdown but that would not serve anyone very well.

In the end we prevailed and now he is calmly drinking milk and watching Thomas and I am just thankful that peace has been restored once again.

Why are we not letting our kids be kids?

I was talking to a woman today while waiting on the deli line at the grocery store and we began talking about our children.  I mentioned that Liam was in preschool.  Our conversation evolved from that and at one point I mentioned how excited I am to take our children to Sesame Place this summer.  It was at that point the woman looked at me in horror.  My first reaction was maybe I am misreading this and then she simply stated, “Anna is spending the summer in enrichment classes.”  Our conversation ended there.

Let me take a moment to give you a small background on me.  I am a daughter of a teacher, a sister of a teacher, and a wife of a teacher.  I graduated college with a BA in Media Studies and English.  I value education.  I think education is very important and should not be an entitlement but there for everyone.  With that said is there not a time where we can let our kids just be kids?  Shouldn’t they have the chance to use their imaginations?  How about play in the mud and dare I say get dirty?  I fear that we are creating a future where our children are not going to know how to play.  That might not seem like such a travesty but without playing we do not expand our imaginations.  And an imagination can create and think up some miraculous things.

As I stated above I am surrounded by teachers and although I am not one I do think I have some understanding of the pressure and rigor that our teachers and students are put through.  Putting the new common core standards aside I feel as though we are creating a generation of test anxiety children who truly believe that anything less than an A is unacceptable and anything less than a B is failing.  Why are we doing this to them?  Is it because we wished we had done better in school?  Or is that we hope for more opportunities for our children?  Even if it is the latter at what cost is it worth it?

Every night my husband and I read to our children.  Every game is a counting, color, shapes, etc learning experience however we also have time to just play.  To pretend, to dream, to make believe.  We cannot lose sight on these important aspects because we are not raising robots we are raising children that I would have to believe we want to be happy.  There is a time and place for everyhing but just remember there is also time to be silly and free.

Another One Bites the Dust

I have worked at my job for eight years but as I have mentioned in past posts this year has been especially difficult.  In the past year one of the partners of the Firm whom I worked closely with left, two attorneys in my department, my sister-in-law whom I had the privilege to work with, and now my good friend, commiserating pal, gave her notice this week.  Its hard not to feel a little deserted.

I am happy for these people as they have gone to better and happier situations, however I can’t help but want to have a pity party for myself.  It was in my moment of wallowing I thought of my son.  The other day he was upset that he was not getting his way ( 8:00 AM and requesting a lollipop) and  sulked and walked away.  Besides feeling slightly guilty (As I always do.  Gotta love mommy guilt) I was also slightly annoyed with him.  Why should he get so upset and sulk over it? He should just get over it.

That’s when it hit me.  We all have our pity parties.  Big or small it doesn’t matter.  Its our moment to let ourselves feel bad over whatever it is.  If I should be entitled to have my pity party he should too.  Its funny how a three year old can be a mirror to our own lives.  Liam was just feeling sad that he was told no.  He really wanted that lollipop, and although as the song from the Rolling Stones says, “You can’t always get what you want.”  I need to remind him and myself, “But if you try sometime you will find you get what you need.”