Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crap in her bookbag

Ok, not actual crap, but I had to write a post about all the junk I found in N's bookbag.

Here's the one and only thing that needs to be in her bookbag:

And here's everything else I found:

6 stuffed and/or plastic animals

2 ponytail holders, 2 barrettes and a headband

4 pens (only one of which belongs to N) and 1 stubby pencil

2 pink shoelaces (not from N's shoes) and some multi-colored string

A wad of tissue, 5 Valentine cards (none of which were N's), 2 rubber bands, a chapstick, a thank you card from a friend, a tongue depressor that used to look like a reindeer, a crystal thing attached to wire, a tiny Bratz-looking doll without feet and a plastic heart thingie, the purpose of which I do not know.  

She is either destined for life on the show Hoarder or a MacGyver in the making.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ain't Miss Behavin'?

No. Miss ain't behavin.
Short version:  Tonight I had my oldest and dearest friend and her boyfriend over for dinner.  N acted like a complete ass.  End of story.

Long version:  Tonight I had my oldest and dearest friend and her boyfriend over for dinner.  As usual when anyone comes to our home who doesn't live here, my kids went a little ape-shit when K and D arrived----bouncing around, being noisy.  You'd think we'd never had a guest in our home.  N was particularly irritating, standing in between me and K so that I had to ask her repeatedly to sit back so I could see them to chat.

N asked if we could listen to her new Alvin & the Chipmunks cds, and I told her we could during dinner.  Quietly--as background music.  She got frustrated because the music was too low, and the adults kept talking (how dare we?).  She started shushing us.  So I got her the portable cd player and let her listen to the headset.  She was ok for awhile.

After we finished eating, N wanted to do a show, so I told her she could dance to one song for K and D and then we'd be moving back into the living room.  She selected "Single Ladies," and both she and G wrestled/danced to it.  As promised, the adults moved into the living room.

N stayed in the dining room sulking.  D talked to her.  I talked to her.  Eventually I had to haul her ass upstairs because she was taking a rude tone, saying things like, "Nobody's coming to watch my show."

Eventually she settled down, but I felt like planting my foot straight up her butt for being an jerk in front of guests.

It drives me batty that she thinks everyone who comes into our home is coming with the sole purpose of giving attention to her.

I know some of this expectation is because for almost 4 years, virtually anyone who did come into our home gave her oodles of attention.  She got very used to receiving undivided adoration.  She had a hard time getting half as much attention when G was born.  Now that she is only getting a third, since M's birth, it makes her come unglued.

I also suspect tiredness played a role.  We have had a crazy-busy week with lots of excitement outside the norm.  She had Girl Scouts on Wednesday night, her birthday dinner with gifts on Thursday, the winter festival at her school last night, and then guests over tonight.  Plus, tomorrow morning is her friend birthday party.

D and I have had to start having "talks" with N before we see Mamaw because she gets her panties in a twist when Mamaw attempts to give any kind of attention to G and M.  N has a hard time sharing her Mamaw (and her Nana, for that matter) with anyone else.  Apparently, she also has a hard time sharing K too.

These talks usually help prevent minimize Veruca Salt behavior.  Wish we would have had the wherewithal to have one tonight prior to our guests arrival.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Six really fine years

My dear sweet 6-year-old daughter,

Sometimes I am absolutely startled by how much you have grown up and how suddenly it happened.  You are, without question, a kid-- a lanky, tall, snaggletoothed kid.  No longer my pudgy little baby with short curly, goldilocks hair.  Every year I find it harder to remember what life felt like before you arrived and made me a momma.

This year has been a big one for you, and for us.  You started kindergarten and have changed in many ways since the hot days of August.  It blows my mind that when you started school those short months ago, you were sounding out words slowly and with difficulty, and now you just breeze through books and write complete sentences.  I love it when you read me your Dear Diare entries from your notebook.  The entries from the past couple days have been about your birthday---

Dear Diare-- It is almost my birtday and I am xisiteed too becose it is comeing up and my mom is going to make cupcakes. 

Dear Diry-- It is almost my birthday and my freind Layla cannot come.  

Dear Diare-- I like prezends and I like dogs but my mom cannot let me have a dog yet becuse I am not old anof so I say mom let me have a dog.

I wish I could participate more in your school activities, but with M being born in October, I simply can't right now.  I feel sad about this, but I hope you know how much I want to be involved.  This is why I ask you lots of questions about your day and what you're learning and reading.  I worry that with caring for your two younger brothers, who are at very needy stages, that I am neglecting you.  I am doing the best that I can to let you know that you are deeply loved.

You have many wonderful qualities, such as being kind to others and being comfy in your own skin (like in picking out the kookiest outfits on the planet and wearing them with great ease).  I am so proud of the little girl you are.  I hope that your kindness, comfort in yourself and kookiness will grow stronger as you mature in time.

I know you will thoroughly enjoy your big birthday party this weekend.  More and more of your school friends have been RSVPing, which makes you even more excited about your 6th birthday, and I really didn't see how that was even possible.  Every day you are counting down!

I look forward to sharing many, many more birthdays with you, Bug.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Anxiety remission....feels a little like grief?

When I began blogging, I was still early on in my recovery.  New to medication.  New to cognitive-behavioral therapy.  New to the diagnosis of OCD and GAD.  I couldn't fathom that there would come a time when I felt normal....whatever my new normal would feel like.

But as my daughter's 6th birthday approaches, I do feel normal.  (And I don't mean to imply it has taken 6 years to get here.....I've just been reflecting lately.)  I've gotten to the point where my OCD and GAD don't define me.  I don't feel compelled to share with every breathing body I come across that I deal with these issues.  I don't feel like I am constantly struggling to get a handle on my negative and catastrophic internal dialogue.

My mood-disorders are in "remission."  I have accepted that there isn't going to be a cure, and I'm ok with that.  My biggest worries early on was that due to medication I wouldn't be able to become pregnant or have a healthy pregnancy/baby, and if I didn't take my meds, I wouldn't survive another postpartum period.  I have done so twice now since 2004 with no problems for me or my sons.

So I'm at a good place now, where I don't really blog that often about my anxiety.  Which makes my blog title seem a little out of place at times.

But having gone through the experience of a nervous breakdown is like experiencing death, in a sense.  Although I have moved on and don't dwell on what happened, I cannot forget it.  At times, I am reminded of how low I got during the fall of 2004, and it scares me.  Just as grief can wash over a person years after the loss of a loved one, the same is true of a breakdown.  The edge dulls, but the scar is still there.

For a long time the autumn of the year was hard for me because it reminded me of that terrible time.  But both my sons were born in autumn (September 2007 and October 2009), so now I have happier memories that overshadow the earlier ones.  It seems that now memories of my breakdown bubble up whenever my daughter's birthday approaches.  At her first birthday, I just barely had my big toe in the waters of therapy and meds, and I nearly cried while singing Happy Birthday to her.  I was thrilled that she was a year old and so sad at the same time.  To this day, I think my relationship with my daughter on my end (internally) is filtered through the lens of my mood-disordered self (which is an entire blog post unto itself).

Which explains my reflections of late.  Her birthday is this coming Thursday.

Friday, February 19, 2010

To do, lists and no birthday goodie bags in my world

Never in a million years would I have dreamed my life would be this busy as a stay-at-home mom.  Most weeks my day-planner is chock full of activities.  

Next week, my schedule looks like this:

Tuesday--hosting baby shower for friend/playdate for G's little playgroup buddies.
Wednesday--visiting with friends (all of us had our babies within 3 weeks of each other).
Thursday--a.m. --taking G to the dentist. 
              --p.m. --taking N's birthday snack to school and then taking her to the       dentist.
Friday-- attending and volunteering at the Winter Festival at N's school.
Sunday-- N's birthday party at My Gym.

And this is just with my oldest in school.  I can't imagine how busy things will be when all 3 of them are in school.  

It has gotten to the point where I have to make lists on top of my lists.  If I don't write it down, it don't get done.  I am nearly ready to start jotting down, "Take a piss" because I often forget and then wonder why it takes me 8 and a half minutes to empty my bladder.  

I have finally written down Toilet Seat in my dayplanner, with the hope that before the broken one completely falls off I will get around to nagging my husband to get a new one.  

This weekend, in preparation for N's birthday party, I have to buy water bottles, Rice Krispy treats for the allergic kids, and solid color dessert plates for the kids to eat on.

But one thing I will NOT be buying is shit for birthday goodie bags.  I HATE, HATE, HATE birthday goodie bags.  There are a number of reasons for this:

1. When a child invites N to his/her birthday, she is always excited to go.  We dig around in our Gift Box so she can pick out something she thinks the child will like. We wrap it, and she makes a card.  The joy of being invited is gift enough for N, so she doesn't need a physical gift from the birthday child.

2. I really don't want anymore plastic crap in my house.  No more tiny little containers of bubbles.  No more stickers or tattoos.  No more pencils or erasers.  No more plastic jewelry.  

3. N doesn't need any candy either, thank you.

Please, for the love of god, save your money and don't buy goodie bags.

At N's very first friend birthday party, when she was 4, I broke down and bought each child a fairly nice 89 cent Barbie cup as well as a Barbie hair scrunchie-type thing.  And the reason I purchased these particular items was because they are functional--a cup out of which to drink and something to put one's hair up.  They have a distinct function other than just cluttering up someone's house.

But I have decided I am not going to do gift bags.  I am breaking ranks and saying "Screw you Dollar Tree and Oriental Trading Company what-nots.  I'm not having it anymore."  

I am sure the world will take notice and shudder. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I am not your jungle gym

Let me go ahead and ask it right now:  Does anyone else's 5-year-old expect his or her parents/grandparents to be human jungle gyms that he/she can climb on all the live-long day?  Or is it just my kid?

N is a bundle of energy, a constant whirling dervish of spazz.  She gets home from school and is on and off the couch, running around the living room, smashing her face into the recliner, chasing her brother, laying upside down with her feet over the back of the couch.

When her grandmothers visit, N hangs on them like a monkey swings on ropes.  She jumps on their backs. Dangles from their necks.  Lays on the floor, inches her legs up their legs, grabs their hands, and then flips over.

I don't know how much of this is that she is 5 (almost 6) and kids this age just act this way.  Or if it's because she behaves so splendidly at school that she has to get her funkies out when she comes home.  Or if it's that she sees her wild-ass 2-year-old brother running on the couch and jumping on things and wants to do it too.

I try to roughhouse with N the way I do with G, but it is difficult because she has legs that go on forever, and she uses said legs to kick whenever I try to tickle her.  And she is so lanky that I inevitably get some bony body part rammed into my hip or thigh or arm.  I hate to say it, but it is more fun and less dangerous to wrestle with the squishy toddler than it is the gangly kindergartener.

Plus, the toddler has never gotten used to having mom all to himself, so he is way less demanding than N, who had all of me for almost 4 years.  That much undivided attention set a precedent that she is in no way ready to let go off.  When I tell N that I need to stop whipping her around to rest, she badgers and badgers me to continue.  She might suggest a different activity, but it always involves me exerting energy that I simply don't have these days.  I guess G just doesn't know to expect much out of me to begin with.  He's happy with whatever little playtime with me that he gets.

Tonight I was spinning the kids on the hardwood floor---holding their hands while they sat on their bottoms, twirling their arms in circles.  I did it any number of times to both N and G but eventually had to stop because.....dammit, I was tired.

I know N just wants to have fun, but I seriously get tired....literally physically tired....trying to be the human playground equipment that she seems to want me to be.

Old age, here I come

I will be 37 this year, but you'd think I was 4 steps from the grave.  Ok, maybe 8 steps.  It is just becoming increasingly apparent to me that I'm not such a spry hot chick anymore (as if I ever was.)

In the summer,  I used to never have to wear sunglasses.  The rays never bothered me.  But when I was pregnant with G in 2007 I had to purchase very dark shades.  I thought it might just be pregnancy, but it didn't go away when the placenta exited.  It is to the point that now it is bothersome to not have my sunglasses on in the snow.  Yes, the reflected light from the whiteness just about does me in.

And then there's the fact that I call everyone under 30 a kid.  Because they are kids.  They look so darn young with their bright eyes and doughy skin.

I posted a new FB profile pic and was a little shocked by the lines on my face.  I'm not ready yet to call them wrinkles.

Of course there is also the fact that I am hearing "new" music via my kindergartener and her Alvin and the Chipmunks songs.  I'd never heard Beyonce's All the Single Ladies, Pink's So What or Corinne Bailey Rae's Put Your Records On, but I have now thanks to the Chipettes.  I fully expected to hear unknown music once my children were teens, but the 5-year-old??  That's just pitiful.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The bedroom experiment, the crib that broke, and it's just Saturday

On Thursday night I had a potentially brilliant idea that came to me when I was nursing M to sleep and D read books to both N and G in her bedroom.  Once I got M to sleep, I figured I'd go get G and get him into his crib, but D had already put both kids to bed.

When I came downstairs I suggested we room N and G together for about 6 months or so, until August when N goes back to school for first grade and M is 10 months old (and will hopefully be in a routine and on a schedule.)

Originally I hadn't wanted to room N and G because I didn't want to disturb N's sleep since she has  school all day.  But a number of factors made me think rooming the two older kids might be a doable option right now.  First of all, they go to bed at the same time each night.  Secondly, they wake up at about the same time each day.  Third, G seems to all of a sudden be a little more mature.  He is talking in more complete sentences.  He is kinda over board books and is much more interested in reading 32 page picture books of Clifford, Curious George and Arthur, which makes reading to them simultaneously much easier and enjoyable.

Anyway, we told N we were gonna try to room her and G together and see what happened.  Two nights now without a bit of trouble getting them down to sleep.  N did tell us she got G out of his crib this morning and read him books in her bed, and then they both fell asleep in her bed, which I cannot prove since I was asleep, but which sounds highly adorable.

So we did all this with the intention of moving M into the smaller bedroom.  I have had sinus drainage and a cough this week, so I think I have been keeping him up with my cough as much as he has been keeping me up with his baby sleep noises and nursing requirements.  This afternoon D started taking down his crib in our room to move.

And then the crib broke.  Two plastic pieces that hold the sliding side up broke in half, rendering the entire bed unsafe and useless.  I called Pottery Barn Kids for replacement parts but have been getting the run-around.  Even if I hadn't, there is no way to get replacement parts TODAY, so D went out to buy a new crib at Wal-Mart.  The cheapest he could find.

The entire evening was spent putting the new crib together.  And then moving the glider into the nursery.  And then moving the boxes that held the new crib downstairs.  And then moving the PBK crib against the wall to wait to see if we can replacement parts.

It is now 8:52 pm, and I am starting my 2nd glass of wine, which explains any run-on sentences and jumbled stream of consciousness blogging.

In addition to all this, the kids and I went to a Valentine' Party this morning, and I hit the library to get books for N and G this afternoon.

Some ice cream and then my ass is in bed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yeah, I don't think I'll teach elementary

For awhile I been considering getting certified to teach elementary-age students.  I am currently certified to teach grades 5-9, but I thought it might be a good idea to branch out to avoid boredom (assuming I ever get back into the classroom).

And so I purposely took my graduate classes (to renew my certificate) in elementary reading.  I really learned a lot in general about helping kids read...even middle schoolers...and was introduced to all sorts of literature that I could use in either an elementary or middle school classroom.

But lately I've been thinking that elementary is probably not for me.

Because my kindergartener drives me frackin' bonkers.
And I thought it was just her.
But after leading last night's Daisy Troop meeting, I think all 5- and 6-year-old girls would drive me bonkers.

In a recent blog, I complained about how N won't sit down at supper.  Or ever.  She is a constant ball of jumping around, saying "Mom, watch this,"  "Look at this,"  "Hey Mom, check this out."

And virtually all the other girls at the meeting were the exact same way.

My experience last night made me remember how I felt after helping out at N's Christmas party at school.  I think I blocked it out because I was so darn fatigued after the fact.  Those kindergarteners just yammered and didn't focus and got up and down and had ants in their drawers.

It makes the moodiness of middle schoolers seem like a walk on the beach.

Although I know I won't handle my own kids' middle school moodiness as easily as I handled my students, back in the day when I wasn't somebody's momma.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

For the record

I did not intentionally become pregnant with M.  I took the birth control pills as prescribed.  I don't know how many times I can say this.

Yes, I did say I wanted 3 kids


In no universe would it ever have been my choice, plan or desire to have a 2-year-old AND a baby.  Never.


I have said at least a couple times how when N started kindergarten and I was back in a school building again, I kinda got the teaching bug. I got the rush that I used to feel when teaching, when planning lessons, when working with kids.

And that feeling was surprising to me.  I didn't expect to feel that way, but it was nice.

It was also nice to have a breather from having both kids underfoot all summer long.  I felt renewed with only having 1 kiddo during most of the day.  I began to think about what life would be like when both kids were in school, and I could either go back to work or volunteer in the kids' classrooms.

So had I not been 8 months pregnant, it is entirely possible I would have said "Forget the idea of 3 kids.  I want Carrie back."


I was 8 months pregnant.

And I did not get pregnant by myself.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The year-long "discussion"

My husband and I have been having a discussion for a year now.  It began a few moments after we stopped crying a year ago when I found out I was pregnant.

This morning another iteration of this discussion occurred.  It went something like this:

Me:  "D, can you move M's crib into my closet this weekend."
(For the last 2 nights, M has slept like utter shit.  Like up at least 5-6 times.  Probably as a result of cutting his two bottom teeth.  Please note my closet is fairly good-sized. Certainly large enough for a crib.  In addition to the teeth, I think I may be going to M when he's just making sleeping sounds, so I'd like for him to be a little further away from my bed.)

D:  "I don't think we ought to get new floors because you'll change your mind about buying another house."
(For the record, I have not said I am even considering wanting another house.  I am totally fine with G and M sharing a bedroom and staying in this house.  And even if we were to put this house up for sale, we'd have to get some kind of new flooring because our floors are crappy looking.  And on top of all that, D and I barely managed to go looking for a new mattress last weekend; how in the hell are we going to search for a new house.  Oh, and how the hell am I going to keep our house "show" worthy when I can only do the bare minimum now.  And finally, how the hell are we going to afford it when I am scraping loose change to try to pay for flooring?)

Me: "I don't want M to be all the way in another room because when I have to traipse to him multiple times a night that will wake me up completely."
(Also, I am not ready for them both to be in the same room because the last thing I want when nursing M in the middle of the night 5 times is to have G awake 5 times too.)

To be perfectly honest, I don't know where the conversation went from here.  I only remember the last two statements:

Me:  "Ok, so how about you start getting up with M?"

D: "I have to go down and get N's breakfast ready."  (Escapes to the kitchen)

I am becoming increasingly frustrated by this conversation for any number of reasons, which I will list below, not in order of importance or significance.

1. We refinanced this summer.  Dumb to move now.

2. We can't afford a significant mortgage increase.  So why bother for 1 extra bedroom?  (And technically, we have a bedroom in the basement with a closet and full bathroom, so once N is a teen, she can go down there.)

3. Well, I guess we could afford a mortgage increase, but that would mean no money for eating out, purchasing Xbox games, and going on vacations.  And I don't want to be house poor.

4. Our house is in the elementary school resides.  If we move, we chance having to switch schools.  And N's school is too fantabulous for us to fuck with moving.

5. We would have to spend a chunk of change to make "improvements" on our house, like new flooring anyway, repaint, etc.  Or we'd have to do it ourselves.  I can barely find time in the day to pee.  D still hasn't painted the spot in the basement that I had my cousin fix this past summer.  I asked that it be painted before M was born.  M will be 4 months old on Sunday.

6. We have 3 kids and toys taking up every inch of space in our house.  If D was being transferred and it was out of our control, I'd manage something to show the house to potential buyers.  But to willingly walk into that nightmare???  No thank you.

7.  The people behind us moved to Georgia last summer, and their house is still for sale.

8. The people behind us have had to lower and lower and lower their asking price.  I'm sorry, but I ain't giving my house away for nothing.

9. Before M was born I read the book, The Millionaire Next Door, and most people who have accumulated sizable wealth stay in the same house.  They don't keep moving on up, like the Jeffersons did.  They build equity, and they pay off their homes.  They don't carry a mortgage until they are 83 years old.  I would like to get this house paid off before N starts college.  So that we can pay for college.

I just can't see any rationale reason for moving.  I have quite enough on my plate right now without taking a big heaping spoonful of relocating.

From now on, when I see this "discussion" coming, I am going to refer my husband to this post.  Save myself some breath.

Stupid is as stupid does

I generally think of myself as pretty darn intelligent, witty and well-read.

But some days, I am a bloody idiot.

Like this afternoon, when I took all 3 kids to the grocery in the rain at 5 o'clock the day before a snowstorm.

Boy oh boy

When moms without sons ask me if it is a different experience from having a girl, I tend to roll my eyes and sigh wearily, "Oh my god, yes."   And to think I will have two little boys running underfoot in a year or so.

G is my imp and will likely be the death of me.  That is unless I die from fatigue as a result of the other boy in the house who keeps me awake all night with teething issues and general 4-month-old shitty sleeper stuff.  

When N was a toddler and would wake in the morning, I could bring her to my bed where we would snuggle, chat and doze a little longer.  When G wakes in the morning, and I bring him into my bed, it is Wrestlemania.  He's flipping, flopping, kicking, turning, hollering, and trying to tackle me.  There is no dozing going on.  

And then there's the constant throwing of toys.  Which is generally preceded by shrieks of frustration.  
There's also the chasing cats and pulling their tails.  Which is generally followed by hissing, and the cats running for their lives to the basement.  Their escape is followed by G trying to break down the basement door in an attempt to get to them.  

G is all energy---rough and tumble.  All boy.  

And I love that he is this way, except that it is exhausting.  On days like today where he is also cranky, it is all I can do not to body slam him into his bed and leave him their for hours.  

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A little of this, and a little of that

Just odds and ends here to post.

1. We are looking to get a pretty chunky refund back, so my new flooring is on BABY!!!  And I grossly underestimated the cost of the flooring.  I was hoping for $3,000 or so.  Double that plus some, and that is the cheapest estimate we got.  But I am determined to get rid of this linoleum and carpet (with so much cat vomit stain I can't even stand it).

2. I know I don't want anymore children, but I am starting to feel all sentimental and baby-pangish what with M cutting 2 teeth in the last week.  He is growing up so much faster than N or G did.  And he's squealing for crying out loud.

3. I have got to get some pics of me nursing M.  With N, I had a zillion pics of her suckling.  With G, a few.  With M, none so far...well, maybe one from when he was first born.  I am trying to remember all the sweetness of him nursing.  Like how as he's nursing, he rubs his forehead with his hand, as if he is rubbing away all the stress of life as he gets his milk and comfort.  And that milk-drunk look, with the milk dribble running down his chin and his body utterly limp.

4. Tonight G zinged D at supper.  When I was doing something to help G, D started to say something to me.  G said, "We talkin," and shot his daddy a serious look.  D didn't get why I thought this was so funny until I mentioned that D is the one who shoots a serious look and says, "We're talking here," whenever N or G interrupt me and D while we are attempting a conversation at dinner.

5. I am starting to do some writing for a local magazine.  No, I don't have much time, but it makes me feel like I'm using my brain.  Which is unusual.  And nice.

6. N is having her 6-year-old birthday at My Gym.  We started filling out the invitations tonight.  She is biting at the bit, and even though we aren't doing it at home, I still somehow have a mountain of shit to do related to her birthday. I guess because she gets to take a treat into school too.

Alright, that's all for now.  I really need to go to bed.  Those darn teeth made M sleep like crap last night.  And therefore mommy slept like crap as well.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Raising children--Part 2

I think in teaching, just as in parenting, a big part of being in any way effective is picking your battles.  And I try to do that.  There are some things I am simply not going to make an issue of.  Like what my kids wear out in public.  As long as their genitalia is covered, nothing raunchy is written on their clothing, and it is all relatively clean, I really don't care if things match.

And as I mentioned in my last post, there are issues that I am definitely going to battle over, such as if the kids are disrespectful.

But then there are the issues where I'm stuck in the middle---they bug me enough that I feel like I should make them an issue, but I have my reasons for not.  And I go back and forth over what to do, what to do.

One of these issues is mealtime.

Every evening N does this Mexican-jumping bean routine during dinner.  She cannot sit still.  She is up and down, on her knees, sitting on the arm of the chair, bouncing around in the chair.  Putzing around to the point that everyone else is done, while she still sits at the table, only occasionally taking a nibble of food.

I find that I am constantly saying, "N, please EAT!!!"  or "SIT DOWN!!"  It drives me nuts.  I have tried using a timer.  I have tried removing her food when D is done with dishes and saying, "The kitchen is closed."

But I always seem to waiver, and here is why.  First, I think to myself that she has to sit and be still and attentive and focused all day at school, so maybe she really does have a hard time sitting still at home and needs to be able to wiggle if she needs to.  Secondly, although I know she won't starve, I just have a difficult time taking food away from a child when she says she is not finished.  Thirdly, she often saves her healthiest food for last, so in order to get her to eat her carrots or grapes (which is very important to me), I find I have to let her dinner continue and continue.

So my inconsistency is a big part of this problem.

Bedtime is another "problem" area for me, primarily because, again, N putzes around with getting on her pajamas, brushing her teeth, and getting into bed.  I feel like I am constantly harping on her.  And I don't want to "punish" her by reading fewer books because reading before bed is a priority to me (importance of reading books in general and having special, quiet time with my kids).  But I keep thinking there has got to be something I can do to motivate her to get ready more efficiently.

So if anyone has any suggestions for mealtime and bedtime, I am open to advice.  Because that is another way teaching/raising children are similar:  you talk to other experienced teachers/parents for ideas on making the bumps more smooth.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Teaching middle schoolers and raising children--Part 1

My friend K and I have begun an online discussion of sorts about discipline.  She and I were both middle school teachers prior to being stay-at-home moms, and I think both of our experiences in the classroom have informed how we raise our kids.

I think I was a very good teacher considering I only did it four years.  My first year was a challenge, as it is for everyone, but I managed to develop an excellent relationship with my students overall.  Part of that was because I read and re-read Harry Wong's The First Days of School.  Whenever I get back to the classroom, it will be one of the first books I turn to as a refresher.

Wong stressed the importance of having a few rules (three to five) and many procedures and routines so kids knew exactly what was expected and exactly how to do it.  He stressed how critical it is to have high and positive expectations for students.  He stressed how critical it is to develop relationships with students.  Reading K's blog about discipline and relating it to her experience as a teacher had me up last night thinking about Wong's book and how I used its teachings in the classroom.

Although I never really considered it until now, I think I try to run my home the way I did my classroom.  In general, I have very few rules.  Probably the biggest rule I stress to my kids is to be respectful of self and others.  I will not tolerate disrespect (sassiness, eye-rolling, hitting, etc).  That doesn't mean my kids aren't disrespectful; it just means there are serious consequences when they behave inappropriately.

And I really try to keep our routines.  On school days, there is no tv before school for anyone (since it is distracting and keeps everyone from moving along with the day).  When N comes home from school at 4:40, she and G can have a snack but nothing after 5:00.  She can watch tv until D comes home at 6:15. but then the tv is off for the night.  We begin bedtime routine between 7:00-7:30---getting into pajamas, brushing teeth and reading books before bed.

I try to lay out my expectations prior to doing something with the kids, such as telling them in the parking lot that we are going to get the 5 things on my list, they must hold onto the grocery cart as we walk through the store (can't run ahead), and if they behave only then will we look at toys for 10 minutes.

I try to use logical consequences for their behavior, although this is sometimes difficult.  When N is sassy and uses a disrespectful tone, she cannot be around me or the family until she is able to speak appropriately.  If G throws a toy, it is taken away until he can play with it without throwing it.   I find that I often have to peruse another favorite book of mine, Love & Logic-Magic, for help on setting logical consequences for the kids' behaviors.

When I was a teacher, I had very few discipline problems because students knew I cared about them and wanted them to learn.  If they had gum, I wasn't going to make a big stink.  I'd just quietly ask them to ditch it.  If they forgot a pencil, I'd give them one or have them ask a friend.  If they paid attention and tried their best, they had my utmost respect, patience and encouragement.  There were many students who were royal shits for other teachers on my team, but who came into my classroom and did exactly what I asked of them.

I hope some of that is what happens in my home with my children.  Of course, it is a different story when it is your own children---different emotions, stronger bonds.  Plus, I am with my same kids all day and all night long, even on weekends, even during the summer, so I am not always at my best.  But I think my children feel loved and respected, and their behavior mostly shows that.