I Hate the Word Hate

I read an article this morning regarding the Westboro Baptist Church holding a protest at the Wilson High School in Washington DC regarding the new principal being gay.  As I read the article and looked at the pictures that went along with it many thoughts came to mind for me.

First of all, no matter what side you stand on in this issue there is something extremely upsetting about children holding signs that use the word hate in it.  HATE.  The Merriam-Webster defines the word hate as:

a :  intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury

b:  extreme dislike or antipathy :  loathing <had a great hate of hard work>

Do kids really hate?  Or do we teach them to hate things?  Liam doesn’t have in his vocabulary the word hate.  I do not use that word nor do I like that word.  However he has told me he doesn’t like tomatoes .  He came to this on his own by trying it (an educated opinion).  On the other hand Liam has also told me he doesn’t like pork chops (which I have never made because I do not like them).  Since Liam has never tried it before I have to assume his aversion to them is because he heard me say I do not like them (a bias opinion).  I can’t help but wonder if these children “hate” a certain sect of people or is it because that is what they have heard so much.  There is something to be said in regards to the saying, “Little pitchers have big ears.”  So much of our children’s reactions and feelings about things are learned from watching how we respond to things.

I really really dislike snakes.  I am scared of them.  However, I have run into the situation twice now while on walks that we came across one.  I don’t want to teach Liam and Ava this fear, so as calmly as I could muster I let Liam and Ava take a look.  We are shaped by our surroundings and the experiences we have.  Without getting into a religious debate because that is not the point of this post, I can’t help but come to the conclusion hate is learned and is that not the opposite of what any religion would want?

I guess my whole point to this is we really need to be cognizant of the message that we are sending our children.  Without throwing out too many cliché lines, our future is based on the children of today and I for one would rather live in a future of tolerance and love than prejudice and hatred.

 

 

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Parenting Through His Eyes

I will never forget the day that Will and I witnessed a child being slapped.  My body was frozen unable to react to what was unfolding before me.  Somehow I rallied and finally was able to calm my then boyfriend now husband down enough to take a deep breath.

First let me explain we were at the West Point annual 1812 concert.  It is a wonderful event full of great music and fireworks.  A couple of blankets in front of us sat a family; mom, dad, and son.  As we sat on our blanket enjoying the beautiful summer day, we were people watching when by chance our eyes landed in the same area.  I have no idea what transpired prior to it, but the father’s reaction was a full force smack across the little boy’s face.

I think I might have literally gasped out loud, however I quickly realized Will was already on his feet; his gut reaction taking over and wanting to do something.  I quickly rose myself and pulled Will’s arm, in the opposite direction to take a small walk.  It was in that very moment I knew exactly what kind of dad Will would be.

From the very beginning I knew Will was good with kids.  In college he was a lifeguard and spent much of his time playing with the children at the local park.  I have to be honest that was one of the things I fell in love with.  It came so naturally and unforced for him.  But now here in that moment at West Point I knew something else very important about him, no matter what he would never hit our child.

A lot of people have different views on what is acceptable discipline for their children; however an act of violence should never be one.  I never understood the theology of getting a child to behave through hitting.  It isn’t respect you are establishing through that, it is fear.  Your child might not do something again but it isn’t because they understand, it is because they are scared.  Some people do not care about the reason as long as the end result is the child does not act up again.  To me it is more important that my child understands why instead of living in fear.

It still haunts me today about that little boy. Was that an isolated incident (I tend not to think so since it was done so publicly)? Should we have done something? I myself at the time was scared to get involved and maybe we should have. I am no perfect parent by any means. I lose my patience and at times have to leave the room to calm down, but I know I will never ever strike my child to get them to listen, understand, or learn. The only lesson a child will learn from hitting is fear and I promise that is not a lesson you want your kids to live with.

 

 

 

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.

 

It’s Ok Not to Go to College

So what I am about to say I think is going to anger some of you, but as my kids get older, if appropriate I might say to them, “It’s ok, you don’t have to go to college.”

I want my kids when they become adults to be happy, successful, and do something they enjoy.  With that being said, college might not be the answer.  As I have mentioned many times in the past I value education. However, I do realize not everyone fits in the same box or mold.  Some career choices a four year degree would not be helpful.  For instance, to become a beautician a BS or BA degree would not be beneficial.

Then there is the other side of it. In today’s high pressure for children to succeed we have forgotten one important thing, not all kids are built for college.  In recent years we have begun to put unrealistic expectations on our children.  Not only does not every profession require a college education, but not every child is built for it.  Today’s standard for education is quite frankly unattainable for some.  In some ways I feel as though we are setting up our children to fail.  To make every child feel like he must go to college when maybe that is an unrealistic road for him to take is not right.  I think it’s very important to push our kids to try hard, however we have lost sight on the fact that not all kid’s definition of success means college.  In doing this, we have set our children up for failure and disappointment instead of finding an appropriate avenue for them that they can achieve at.  Furthermore, we have created a feeling that may reside in our children if they do not go to college it is shameful

I read an article recently that said the freshman college dropout/flunk out rate in the last 10 years has gone up 30%.  Part of it I believe  has to do with social promotion (which is a discussion for another day) but the other part has to do with the fact that nowadays it’s assumed that everyone goes to college whether equipped for it or not. As parents I think part of our job is to help our kids focus on an attainable goal for them. Just as not every kid likes the color red, or likes chocolate cake, not every kid is meant to be a doctor. That in part is what makes the world go around. Our differences are how we learn new things and develop new ideas. If we were all meant to do the same thing then not only would this world be a very boring place but there would be no individual. We need to embrace these differences and help our children achieve what is best for them.

It’s the Little Things That Count

On a daily basis, multiple times a day, I hear Liam say, “Mommy (or Daddy) can I tell you something?”  Our answer is always yes.  Sometimes he tImageells us he is hungry, other times it’s to ask if he can watch a show, and other times it’s to tell us a story.  Regardless we always listen.  Here’s the thing, if our kids know we are listening now they can trust us eventually when they get older and the issues turn from watching Thomas to being tempted to try to smoke.  The things they tell us now may seem small but it isn’t to them and they need to know we care.  I always encourage Liam to talk to me not just because I like to know what he is thinking but because if he gets comfortable doing it now there is a greater chance he will come to me later on when the big issues are happening.

All too often I see parents on their cell phones while with they’re completely ignoring them.  My husband is always saying, “You are missing it.”  You are missing those moments that you can never get back.  Ten years from now it will not matter what level of Candy Crush you got to or who said what on Facebook but it will matter what your kids are thinking and saying.  In today’s technology filled society we all do it.  We all check our emails, update our Facebook statuses, etc. but if you can put down your phone for a minute and see what your kids are up to, you might just learn something.

It’s like creating the foundation and the framework of a house.  If you create a solid foundation and a strong framework, the house will be able to weather the storm.  So often in our busy days listening gets brushed aside, but trust me give them the time.  Not only will you find out entertaining and fascinating things about your kids now, but you are doing the homework for the final exam later on.

 

Three Going on Eight

Every mom has those moments. Those moments when you see something that is upsetting your child and you want to swoop in and make it better. It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does it takes everything in my power to stop and wait. The most recent moment happened this past weekend. We went to the Warwick Valley Winery (Happy Mother’s Day to me) and there were kids everywhere running around. Liam naturally wanted to join in but instead of nearing the group of kids that looked his age he went over to the kids 4 or 5 years older than him. I heard him say, “Come on friends let’s play.” The children were nice but their play was way too sophisticated for Liam and soon he was left in the dust. Sadly he went to a corner and asked to be left alone. It broke my heart at the time, and to be honest as I am typing this the tears are welling in my eyes. The logical part of me knows that there is really nothing wrong here. The truth of the matter is 8 year olds play much differently than 3 year olds; however seeing him so dejected killed me.

Later that afternoon we met a little girl named Willow who was three years old however Liam wanted nothing to do with her. This isn’t the first time I have seen this happen either. For whatever reason, Liam prefers to be around older kids. In the long run I know this isn’t a big deal but right now it seems very much so. I wonder if I waited too long to introduce him to kids his own again. He is always around adults and it wasn’t until this past March that he began school. Liam is a very social child but his wanting to be around older kids concerns me now because he will inevitable be rejected by the older children and have no interest being with the children of his age.

Then there is the other possibility. Liam is perfectly content and happy the way things are. Maybe I am being too sensitive over this. I in no way want to have my feelings influence his behavior. It might be quite possible that Liam’s tendency to want to be around older children will help him in the future.

For now I guess I need to just take a step back and congratulate myself on the fact that I have raised a three year old that is brave and eager to make friends and not worry about the age. After all age is just a number.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the awesome Moms out there. Some of us do it with a partner, others do it alone, but regardless we do it everyday. We hug and kiss our kids, we make and clean up after meals, and make sure all of their daily needs are met. We do the best we can and we do it selflessly. We get excited in seeing our kids grow and accomplish things and we are more thrilled about doing things for them then for ourselves. We work hard and play hard with them. We don’t often think about it but we are truly molding the future.  We encourage our children to try new things and we motivate them not to give up.

I am truly blessed as I have two amazing grandmothers, one outstanding mother, and a wonderful mother-in-law.  I have learned so much about being a mother from these women.  Our first lesson in love comes from the love of a mother.  Celebrate today and enjoy. Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Mothers-Day

There’s Never Enough Time

Last night after work I had to run some errands before I went home. By the time I got home I was tired and hungry. I walked through the door to be greeted by the barking dog, Ava hugging my leg, and Liam yelling, “Mommy you’re home”. I tried to make my way through them to the kitchen to unload all of the things I was carrying and halfway there my husband met me and took it all out of my hands. Almost immediately Ava began crying and made the motion to be picked up, Liam asked if I wanted to play trains with him, and all I was thinking was I have to go to the bathroom.

In the end Ava melted down (it was almost 7:30 bedtime for her), Liam watched Thomas (which he asked me to watch with him), and I am not sure if I ever ate. My husband and I often talk about how there is never enough time to get everything done. Play with the kids, clean the house, take care of the yard, go grocery shopping, etc. I am always about finding balance (maybe it’s the Libra in me) but when it comes to time in a day there is no balance. There quite simply is never enough time.

I always feel like I did not get enough done and did not do enough with the kids. Last night when Liam asked to watch Thomas with him I said no because I had to get a few things done. From the moment I said no I felt guilty, however I had to remind myself of all of the things that I do, do with him. Then I went downstairs to be instantly reminded that the cat litter needed to be changed, which I took care of while my husband began the bedtime process with Liam. By the time the night was over there were still things swarming in my mind of what I need to get gone but just ran out of time.

I am sure I am not the only person who feels this way. Actually I know for a fact I am not. I constantly hear people listing the things they need do but haven’t gotten to. There is also the fact that you need to take time for yourself, hence this blog or for my husband his drumming. It might seem indulgent but if you don’t ever take the time for something for yourself, you are going to burn out and no one wins with that. The truth of the matter is that there is no real balance to this particular not enough time in the day problem. The good news is that we are all in the same boat. So maybe instead of berating ourselves for what we have not gotten done we should congratulate ourselves for what we did do. We got through another day.

What’s so wrong with getting away?

Being a parent at times can burn you out. Its long hours, exhausting work and no paid overtime. However the rewards outweigh all the sleepless nights and tiring tantrums, and that’s why we do it. Even so sometimes we all need a break.

The decision to go away without the kids for me was quite easy. Besides figuring out the logistics of who would take care of the kids to me it was a no-brainer. My husband and I never wanted to become the parents who once their children are out of the house no longer have anything in common with each other. We have gone away twice without our kids for long weekends since they were born. I missed them a lot and checked on them regularly but it was also very nice.

I remember sleeping in to 7:30. My body naturally now just wakes up and has a very hard time falling back asleep; however to lay in bed in the quietness was wonderful.

I read. I read for more than 15 minutes without being interrupted or falling asleep. I actually got to finish two magazines and a book that I had picked up many times before but never got to complete. It was so nice to get lost in a story.

It was nice to reconnect with my husband and be able to have a conversation without being interrupted and inevitable lose our train of thought. A lot of people around us said good for you for getting away but then there were others who were not so supportive. They were actually downright rude. Making comments such as, “How can you leave your kids behind?” and “Aren’t you going to miss them?” and “What if something happens while you are gone, wouldn’t you feel terrible about that?” and my personal favorite, “Why do you need a break?” At the time it really hurt my feelings and I wish I had said something back to them. However I thought maybe I was doing something wrong and used their judgment as a form to judge myself. I pondered about this a lot because these strongly worded comments came from parents themselves who I am sure could use a break.

So here is my challenge to all the parents out there who have the support and have never done it.  Go away, even if it’s to your own home.  Take a long a weekend with your spouse and really enjoy your time together.  Indulge yourself in something just for you because you deserve it.  After all don’t we all need a break once and a while?

Babies vs. Professionals

Within my first 10 minutes of being awake today Liam demanded milk, asked for oatmeal in which he ultimately never ate, and pleaded with his hands clasped together to go downstairs to play with his trains.  Simultaneously, Ava began crying which meant she needed a diaper change, warm milk and something to eat, and on top of that the dog was barking at the door to go out.  Mornings in our house are very busy.  Our “routine” is move as fast as you can to get all of the crying, screaming, and barking to stop as soon as possible.  There are some mornings as I am flying out the door to work I think, “Thank God.”

And then I get to work…

I work in a Law Firm.  A building filled with educated, motivated, hard working professionals, and yet sometimes when I am there I feel like I am at home doing the 10 Minute Morning Sprint.  Without fail there is someone always complaining about something or someone.  There are my superiors who have nothing better to do than monitor my cell phone usage, but rarely notice that I have done everything that they asked of me and beyond.  I complete all my work all while I was speaking with a client on the phone to schedule an appointment and typing an email to another client following up regarding the drafts we sent them last week.

It’s hard for me sometimes to decipher which situation is harder to deal with.  On one hand I have my two wonderful children who I love very much even when they are having their first temper tantrum of the day at 6:05 AM and on the other hand I have my colleagues and bosses who allow me to have a conversation that consists more of “Thomas The Train”, but sometimes whine more then my two year old.

Lately at work our new HR department has been cracking down on everything.  Dress code, internet usage, cell phone violations, lunch breaks, the list goes on.  The morale at work is low and people are quitting every day.  There are days that I am afraid to sneeze in case that would be considered a “Noise Violation” and I would be written up about that.  I think in my head, Liam is probably watching “Paw Patrol” and Ava is napping.  I start wishing I was home and count the minutes till it’s 5:30. Finally when the time has come to clock out I usually have a very frustrating drive home to look forward to.  And then I get home. I walk into what could only be described as a battle scene as my husband tries to catch Liam before he smears his tomato sauce stained face and hands on our furniture.  Ava is none to happy. She is cranky and tired but we try to keep her up till 7:00 in hopes that she might sleep to 6:00 the next morning and Jackson (the dog) has greeted me at the door with a very high pitch, persistent bark.

Yeah I am not sure which is harder, which is better.  Maybe there is no answer to that.  Maybe that’s part of the balancing act, dealing with both worlds.  But at least as I am scrubbing the crayons marks off my son’s walls before I go to bed I can look forward to wearing the cute new Kensie dress I bought for work.