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.

 

 

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.

 

In With the New Out With the (Sniff) Old

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Ava 7 Months old
Liam 16 months old
Liam 16 months old

 

It happens several times a year and it never gets easier for me.  I love watching my kids grow and learn new things.  I am excited to be able to do more and more with them.  But every once and a while there is a sharp reminder that my kids are growing up fast!

I remember the first time I sorted through Liam’s drawers to weed out the clothes that didn’t fit him and I found a newborn onesie among the clothes.  There was a small part of me that could not bear to put it in the give away pile and I held onto for a while longer.

Each and every time I go through this process two things happen; (1) Elicit tears come as I remember certain memories when they were wearing those outfits; and (2) Inevitably some clothes will remain in the drawer because I cannot stomach to part with them yet.

Little after Liam’s first birthday I knew I was pregnant with Ava and for a short period of time this purging of clothes was made easier knowing that there was another baby on the way.  But now my “baby” is 20 months old.  I am so proud of both of my kids.  They are truly little sponges learning, speaking, doing new things every day but a small part of me mourns what has past.  Everyone says enjoy these moments and don’t look too far ahead because it goes fast.  There in lies the problem for me.  I truly did enjoy all the moments leading up today (and I know that will continue) so it is hard for me to let one moment go for another moment.  I know each one will bring an amazing experience for both me and them, but in the still of the night when they are both sleeping I go into their rooms and check on them and think, “Wow they have gotten so big.”

So today I have two bags full of clothes that Liam and Ava have outgrown. Giving them away is the best part of the process. Knowing that someone else who needs them will get to use them and maybe just like me will remember good memories as they fold and put the clothes away.

 

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.

 

When parent’s pressure to achieve becomes too much

About a month ago I saw a news segment about a father who pushed his son down a skateboarding ramp because he was taking too long.  The boy was six and the ramp was high and he was scared.  As a parent there are times that we need to gently nudge our children, whether its coaxing them to practice a little more piano or letting go of the bike as a kid learns to ride.  Regardless, there is a line that seems to be crossed more times than not that the coaxing turns nasty and it isn’t fun anymore.

Now I never have skateboarded, I know nothing about it.  However, if I saw my kid was scared, I would have never just pushed him down (this child ultimately fell off the skateboard and hit the bottom on his knees).  I know instead I would have cheered him on saying, “You can do it.”  But at the  end of the day, if he didn’t want to go down I would have never forced him down.  How is pressuring your children and pushing them to the point of being uncomfortable going to establish a trusting relationship, let alone create an eager environment to try that task again?

I can’t help but wonder if these pushy to the point of destructive parents aren’t living vicariously through their children.  They had their chance to be kids and whether it was all of what they wished it to be or not, it’s not their turn anymore.  Now the focus should be on the betterment of their children.  These parents also need to realize that their children’s interests may be similar to theirs or it may be very different.  We need to embrace and encourage those new interests because it really doesn’t matter what you are interested in, its what’s interesting to them, what will motivate them forward.  It’s like the “Little Engine That Could”, if we can teach our kids the “I think I can. I think I can,” mantra, you and the child will be better off than the lesser known but often taught, “I’m scared but I better do it.” mantra.

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?

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.

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.”

Tell It How It Is

There is no mincing words with a toddler.  They say what the mean and they mean what the say.  It’s as adults we become more illusive with our message and have a difficult time being direct.  For my supervisor its even a more difficult thing.

I used to analyze and go over and over in my head what went wrong every time I had a conversation with her.  I would think maybe it’s my body language, what I said, how I said it, and now eight years later I have come up with only one explanation she is a bad communicator.

As adults we often sugar coat topics to make discussions more bearable to handle.  So different from a two year old.  There is no questioning my son’s body language, tone, and message.  It is, “I am mad and you are about to pay for it.”  My supervisor I often feel comes across in a similar way but shockingly I think she is unaware of it.  Unlike my son who is acutely aware of his behavior and what he is trying to express, my boss seems clueless on how she comes off and becomes offended when you become defensive when her demeanor is putting off a very hostile attitude.  It becomes even more difficult because she sometimes gets so worked up she doesn’t even let you finish explaining before the rapid fire questioning begins and if you dare to question her approach she becomes very stern and stubborn; very much like my son right before I at times have to put him in time out.  However there is no timeouts for bosses and what is even more upsetting is that unlike my son who is young and has much to learn about getting along with people and communicating, she is middle aged.  She is not going to change, there is no chance of growth or adapting.  So then it comes to an acceptance on my part.  Just as I accept that Liam might have a temper tantrum or that there might be a timeout today, I must accept that I will never be able to be at ease speaking with my supervisor.  It will never be comfortable and it will always leave me feeling frustrated.  Maybe that is where I can take a lesson from Liam.  Just as he walks out of his timeout and starts fresh all over again maybe I can try to do the same thing with my supervisor after our next “talk”.  If not, at least maybe I can put myself in a temporary timeout.