Tag Archives: parenting

Why Are There So Many Clueless Parents In The World And Why Am I In The Minority?

So…..Disney nut that I am, I follow quite a few Disney fan sites on Facebook. And as we blog, this very moment, there is a great debate going on about the appropriateness of revealing a surprise trip to Disney for her daughter’s birthday.

The Facts:

  1. Her daughter wanted a slumber party to celebrate her birthday. (No age was given, but slumber party age….I’m thinking between 10-13)
  2. Her parents are giving her a trip to Disney to be taken later in the year.
  3. They want to stage a scavenger hunt to be done at the party with prizes for everyone but her daughter will receive the trip to Disney as HER prize.
  4. A friend of the mom felt it was “cruel” to give this gift in front of the other children.
  5. The mom is now conflicted but feels a trip to Disney is no different than her child opening up any other gift at the party.
  6. Mom is asking opinions so she can decide when to give her daughter their Disney gift.

My Thoughts:

  1. A slumber party is a great way to celebrate a birthday.
  2. A trip to Disney is a fantastic birthday gift.
  3. A scavenger hunt is a fun way to keep the kids occupied. Gifts at the end? Wonderful. But for her daughter to receive such an extravagant gift in comparison to the other children? Ridiculous.
  4. You go, friend!
  5. Mom, if you’re conflicted than maybe you should re-think this plan. How in the world do you compare a trip to Disney World and an American Girl Crafts Pencil Toppers Sewing Kit? Seriously?
  6. The fact that you’re conflicted means,  in your gut, you know this is wrong. Stop asking strangers for parenting advice.

I realize everyone doesn’t behave exactly as I would like. I realize it takes all kinds to create this crazy world in which we live. But I’d like to think that the majority of us out there have a decent, kind and compassionate playbook that we follow in order to conduct our day to day living.

It seems I am wrong.

I am in the minority with my response…..

“Just my two cents, although it looks like the decision has been made.. I don’t think opening gifts in front of the guests is an issue if the gifts are in line with what the other guests brought. I think it gets a little muddled when extravagant gifts are paraded in front of the guests. And that’s what a trip to Disney (or a car for a 16th birthday) would be like for some. We have our kids open gifts from their guests in front of the guests. But gifts from family, which tend to be more expensive, are opened privately, with family.”

I had to throw in the “or a car for a 16th birthday” because so many of the responses asked, “How different is it to give your child a car for graduation or a 16th birthday?”

Really?

  1. You would really parade a hugely expensive gift, like a car, in front of your child’s peers? Who are you? And why is YOUR self-worth wrapped up in what you buy your child?  And……
  2. Parents actually buy their kids cars for birthdays? (My kids are in for a rude awakening!) What ever happened to earning the privilege and showing some financial responsibility?

I was, very clearly, in the minority. Most of the parents out there (granted, most of them are huge Disney addicts) thought a trip to Disney was a wonderful surprise and should be flaunted in front of her peers.

Disgusting.

And don’t get me wrong. I am not jealous that this parent is able to give her child a trip to Disney or a car for her graduation. I am able to give my children multiple trips to Disney (and I do) and cars for their birthdays AND graduation (which I don’t. Sorry, kids).

A collage of selfies taken on multiple trips to Walt Disney World.

A collage of selfies taken on multiple trips to Walt Disney World.

 

A collage of cars I will not be buying my children for the 16th birthday or graduation. (Sorry, kids!)

A collage of cars I will not be buying my children for the 16th birthday or graduation. (Sorry, kids!)

The money and the haves vs. the have nots is not the issue.

The issue is the grand-standing.

And no one saw this but me and a handful of others who were willing to speak out.

The majority said, “Go for it!” and “Everyone is so friggin’ offended over EVERYTHING that happens these days!”  and (said more forcefully) ” I’D GIVE HER THE GIFT AS PLANNED. IF THEY DONT LIKE IT TOUGH!!!”

Really? If they don’t like it, tough?

I’m not a socialist. I don’t believe everyone should get an equal share of every pie. I realize that my kids see some of their friends getting cars and trips for presents while others get video games and baseball mitts and books.

Don’t worry.

I get that.

What I don’t get is this need to flaunt expensive gifts in front of others who might have parents without the means to shower them with the same type of gift. Or, forget the means, maybe their parents believe their child should work for something of value instead of being handed expensive items.

And we wonder where this sense of entitlement is coming from with kids these days.

There are other comments along the lines of: We should be teaching our children to be happy for other’s successes in life, not be jealous of what they have.

And I agree with THAT, too. But successes in life should include best time in the swim meet, great grade on the test, graduating from school, promotion at work. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be happy that she’s going to Disney World. Yay! Go her! I’m saying that…….well, it doesn’t matter what I say. No one’s reading this far and quite a few disagree with  me.

In the time it took me to craft this post the original poster has read all the recommendations and come to this conclusion:

“Many feel that if even one person may have their feelings hurt, or be offended, than it is too high a price to pay and should not be done, yet there are others who think learning what I call life lessons early on is the best way to go about it and I fall into the last catagory. We’re going ahead, as planned!”

Life lessons? Really?

What life lesson is that?

That there are people in the world who don’t give a rat’s ass about modesty, humility and kindness? That there are people in this world that love to gloat and crow and boast? That some parents are just a bundle of insecurity and need to showboat in order to prove to the world how much they “love” their daughter with the expensive gifts they give?

Is that the lesson?

Then you go right ahead.

Lesson away.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under parenting, Soapbox, Uncategorized

Teach Your Children Well

Most people who stumble upon or actually choose to peek in on my blog are moms. Almost all are parents who want to raise healthy, happy, well adjusted children. You find practical advice on head lice (it’s still my #1 seller! Go figure!) or find solace in my anecdotes. Or, in laughing at me, you sit a little straighter, knowing you can top Jane in parenting ability.

Now, I’ve never claimed to be a parenting authority.

But I know someone who is.

Madeline Levine, PhD., author of Teach Your Children Well: Parenting For Authentic Success, uses “cutting edge research and thirty years of clinical experience” to help us be the parents we want to be. The best kind of cheerleader for our children. Encouraging, supportive, and nurturing. Her book shows us that superficial success is not what shapes an authentic self.

I am familiar with Ms. Levine’s book The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating A Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids.  I found it so interesting, I decided (since I’m not eligible for the giveaway – and I’m cheap) to request her newest book from our library. There’s a waiting list. Out of the 7 copies, all are checked out with a wait list. Looks like Amazon.com is going to squeeze a book out of me this month. Yep. I don’t want to wait. She’s that good.

Harper Collins has graciously offered a free book (read: GIVEAWAY!) for a reader of my blog. Simply comment below and share a proud mommy/daddy moment, a learning (aka bad mommy/daddy) moment, or simply respond with “I want a free book!” Any comment will do. I’m not picky.

Comment before 12:00pm, EST on Monday, August 13th 2012 and a random winner – from the U.S. or Canada – will be chosen. (Yes. Your fate lies in the sticky fingers of one of my sons.)

Good luck!

Thanks for reading!

And have a happy parenting day full of highs and short on lows!

Update: And the winner is……..Naptime Writing! I guess your two entries increased your odds just the right amount. That and the fact that my son rolled your lucky number on the dice. Congratulations! And thanks, too, to TKW, Robin, Velva, Rudrip and Cool Joe for playing.

7 Comments

Filed under children, Motherhood, parenting

Pinch Me. College Age Daughter Actually Wants To Come Home For A Visit.

“Mom, they cancelled my shift on Saturday. I don’t have to work until Wednesday,” #1daughter whined over the phone.

Boy, this is a switch, I thought. The realities of college expenses are finally sinking in.

I’m dying to ask her to come home, spend some time with us before the boys start school, but I want to be the “cool mom.” I want to be the mom who gives her daughter the space and independence she needs to become a functioning, healthy adult.

So, I bite my tongue. I ask about weekend plans, instead. I suggest biking or checking out the pilates class at the school fitness center.

Silence.

I joke, “If you were a little closer you could come home for a few free meals.” (Okay. I’m not really joking but I’ve run out of suggestions.)

“Really?!” she says excitedly.

“Of course!”

“Okay! I’ll pack a few things and call you as soon as I’m on the road!”

Click.

 

Four hours later my angel was home. Teasing her brothers and taking them out for frozen yogurt. Watching the Olympics with her mom. Late night B-movies with her dad.

Given a few free days and my daughter actually wanted to come home and spend them with us.

What a relief. Maybe I am doing something right.

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Filed under Adult Children, Motherhood, parenting

Before I Was A Mom…

 

…crying children were like nails on a chalkboard. Now? I frantically search until I find the source to make sure a parent is there taking care of the distraught little one.

…I slept as late as I wanted to on the weekends, which wasn’t very late, but still. I slept until I wanted to get up. Now? Wake up call in our house is 6am. Every day. Every. Single. Day.

…my husband and I could have a little romp in the hay, mid-afternoon, take a little nap afterwards and do it all over again. Now? We have to schedule time. And then keep/remember/have the energy for “the date.” Afterwards we say, “Mmmmm. That was nice. Let’s not wait 3 months for the next time, k?”

…having the money to go out was no big deal. We did what we felt like. When we felt like it. Now? We have to tack on $40-50 more to the budget for the babysitter. Ouch!

…I always remembered to shave my legs. Now? Please don’t look!

…I had seen every single Best Picture nominee for the Academy Awards. Printed out my ballots and threw a big bash so we could eat popcorn and Twizzlers and comment on the tuxes, dresses, and  speeches. Now? Do they still have those awards shows? After our nightly Curious George episode our tv is off.

…I loved my husband. Now? I adore, cherish, am continually amazed by, LOVE my husband. He is such a wonderful father.

…hugs were nice. Now? Hugs are sticky, slimy, sweet smelling, cozy little wonders all day long.

…my skin was fresh with not a wrinkle in sight. Now? I’ve earned every single “laugh line” quite honestly. My children set me into a fit of giggles at least once a day.

…I wondered how I was going to make a difference in the world. Now? I’m shaping the future with my bare hands.

(Sorry for the re-run. My sister is in town (for 10 days!) and she doesn’t even know I blog. And I’m not telling her now. So, I’m going to be a bit scarce. I’ll try to sneak online but in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite posts. Enjoy your week!)

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Filed under children, Moms, Motherhood

Blame Game Or Personal Responsibility. I Choose Personal Responsibility.

This is information that bears repeating. Those beautifully colored laundry packets are tempting to young children who think they might be a tasty treat. Keep them away from children. If you need more information, click here.

But seriously. Did anyone really need to click the above link?

Cleaning products are dangerous to ingest and should be kept away from children. 

End of story.

Right?

No.

On my morning news I saw a woman, indignant. Sure, there are warning labels on the packaging but toddlers can’t read. (?!) She feels the detergent industry should take it a step further and make the actual packets childproof.

Now, I don’t happen to use these handy little packets. I pour my detergent in the machine the good ol’ fashioned way. But if the packets were actually childproof how would they dissolve in your machine and clean your clothes? And here’s a thought. How about keeping your cleaning supplies away from your children?

Just a thought.

We are losing our grasp on personal responsibility each and every day. A news reporter felt her opinions on this subject were newsworthy and valuable to the viewers at large. Heck, he probably thought the laundry companies should take note.

I disagree.

When I was about 2 years old I ingested Drano. (Which might explain some things, you may be thinking, but that’s for another blog post.) My mother was horrified. I remember her nails digging into my armpits and I remember water splashing onto  my face. Luckily, there was no permanent damage.

And yes, my mother was horrified.

With herself.

She was unloading groceries, pregnant with my sister and thinking about getting dinner started. She set all the cleaning supplies that she had purchased by the stairs, ready to be transported to the basement cabinet that was higher than I could reach. Then, she started to pull things out for dinner. While she was distracted, however, I saw pretty blue crystals and thought they might taste yummy. They didn’t.

My mother was terrified but thought quickly. She raced me to the tub and cleaned out what she could. She then called poison control. They gave her advice and as far as I know, no further action was needed. Apparently, I hadn’t ingested enough. Thank goodness Drano tastes yucky.

After the terror subsided, my mother was embarrassed. And angry. With herself. She didn’t blame the company for making the crystals blue and pretty. She didn’t blame them for not having a childproof cap. She chastised herself for not keeping a closer eye on me and for leaving Drano within my reach.

Personal responsibility.

Just a thought.

 

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Filed under parenting, Soapbox

Parenting Is Blind Trial And Error. I’m Just Crossing My Fingers We Get It Right.

One of the toughest challenges about raising two boys who are a mere 10 months apart in age has been protecting their self esteem. I’m sure other parents have similar struggles with their children who have a larger gap between them. And I know I’m not alone in the Irish twin department. But that doesn’t make my predicament any less problematic.

#1son (age 8) = strong verbal skills, excellent baseball player, great tennis player, kind, thoughtful, hard working, eager to do chores ALWAYS (how did I get so lucky?), conscientiousness, responsible.

#2son (almost 8) = a memory like an elephant about EVERYTHING, a wiz at mental math (he can do computations in his head quicker than me and that’s sayin’ something because I’m a little bit of a math nerd), excellent speller, strong swimmer, a little comedian, excellent cuddler.

#2son outshines #1son in academics. There are days when I dare say that #2son is off the charts bright. (Keep in mind, this IS his mother writing this.)  His teacher has hinted that pushing him up a grade might be in his future. Although, I’d never do that, for many reasons, but one very big reason is that he would then be in his older brother’s grade.

Hence, my problem.

In a household when academic achievement is far more valued than athletic pursuits, how do I balance the praise? I’m glad #1son loves his sports. I’m glad he’s good at them. But I don’t want to highlight his athletic achievements. Yet, #2son brings home amazing grades, and #1son knows it. So, we hesitate showcasing A’s and 100’s on the refrigerator.

It’s like walking a tightrope in this house some days.

I have a fish that can swim but can’t climb trees. Then, I have a squirrel who leaps from tree to tree but can’t swim.

We do our best to focus the praise on kindness, compassion and doing for others. But sometimes I feel their individual strengths get lost somehow.

Sigh.

Parenting is such blind trial and error. We’re doing our best with each child’s achievement and setback. With each child’s accomplishment and failure. I just hope, fingers crossed, that we’re responding in the best possible way that creates happy, confident, amazing young men.

Make that toes crossed, too.

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Filed under parenting

Thank You, Mom. For Saving My Life. Again.

The first time, we were hiking. On a trail we know and love but hasn’t been properly maintained. We won’t be hiking it again until the boys are older, due to the dangers that lurk, but we didn’t know this at the time.

A narrow portion of the trail with a steep drop-off.  Tree roots underfoot. A broken railing.

“Stay to the right. As close as you can,” my husband cautioned.

There was no talking. Only concentration. And then it happened. My not-so-graceful 7-year-old stumbled and tumbled over the edge. With reflexes of a Jedi, I grabbed his flailing arm. He dangled for a moment in mid-air and I yanked him toward me.

His eyes wide with fear, he said, “Mom! You saved my life!” And then tears started to well up. In both of our eyes.

…..

Yesterday. Giggling in the TV room. I walked in. Two little boys, cuddled on the couch together. One boy at each end, sharing a blanket.

As soon as I walked into the room both boys hid under the blanket. I knew something was up. I yanked the blanket off them. Their little legs were buried in Starburst wrappers. An entire bag, gone. All before 9am. Breakfast of champions.

I couldn’t help but laugh. It was a comical scene. Two little boys, sneaking candy for breakfast. Succeeding – at least until Mom walks into the room. I’m a horrible disciplinarian and I own it. With my laughter, they begin laughing, too.

And then it happened. #2son started choking.

Any first aid training I’ve ever had started racing through my mind. As long as he’s coughing, it’s OK. Don’t do anything. But the Heimlich maneuver. I know how to do it for an infant. I know how to do it for an adult. But a 7-year-old? Will I crush him? What if I don’t do it hard enough. Ok. Calm. If it gets to that point have #1son call 911.

“Can you walk?”

Eyes wide with fear he nods, yes.

“Go into the bathroom,” I direct him. I don’t know why I want him in the bathroom. I suppose because I’m envisioning squeezing the guts out of him and anticipating his vomit and offending candy all over the place. After all, I just vacuumed.

“It’s OK,” I tell him. “Keep coughing. It WILL come out.”

I don’t know how I’m staying calm. Three minutes, I remind myself. Only three minutes without oxygen. How fast can the ambulance get here?

And then it happens. He can’t cough. He looks at me, afraid, and his skin is starting to turn colors.

I shout, “Open your mouth. Wide! Wider!”

I jam my hand in his mouth and yank on a enormous gob of chewed Starburst. It’s stuck on his back teeth and blocking his airway. The coughing starts again and the huge blob lands in the sink.

He grabs me around my middle, holding me for dear life. I hold him exactly the same way.

“Thanks, Mom. For saving my life again.”

Again?

Oh. That’s right. Two months ago, on our hike.

“I hope I’m here, every single time, to save your life.” And I hug him even closer.

…..

When things like this happen. When I hear of the teenager playing hockey, who in a freak accident, is now paralyzed. When a child dies in a bicycle accident. I just want to wrap my children in bubble wrap. Or keep them at home and pad the rooms. Feed them liquids and finely diced solid food. Make wearing bicycle helmets a prerequisite for leaving the house.

But I can’t. Life is full of risk. In order to fully live, we must take risks. Every single day. Small risks. Big risks. Calculated risks. Split-second risks.

We can’t live in a bubble. And our children shouldn’t either.

But, dag gum it, I’m going to be there, every step of the way, with hands at the ready.

To save his life.

If I can.

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, children, Growing Up, Lessons Learned