Archives for September 2006

Talkin’ About My Generation?

In the past few days, if one thing has become more clear to me, it’s that I am from the wrong generation. Hubby and I both must be, because the other day, we were having a pow-wow, and we were both just flabbergasted at the difference between kids these days, and kids back when we were kids. I know that makes me sound totally archaic (Hello? I’m not even 30 yet! Just a few more short weeks!), but I really wonder what made things change over the years.

When I was a kid, my mom would say “freeze” and I’d stop in my tracks. She would give a look and it would just ooze of the authority and instill that feeling in me that, “Whoa – I better quit while I’m ahead.” There was a clear distinction between right and wrong, and when I crossed that line, there were always consequences.

I know, that may sound like my mother was some sort of dictator. She wasn’t. She was a strong parent, though. My mom had a way of finding out when I’d done something I shouldn’t have – and boy, I’d suffer (getting grounded a few too many times over the years). When I was 15, a friend and I went out, and her mom drove us (oh the joys of life pre-drivers-license). Her mom was late picking us up, and therefore, I got home three minutes past my midnight curfew. I was grounded on the spot – no excuses were accepted. Later, mom lifted the punishment realizing it wasn’t my fault. I always had that fear, “If I break the rules, if I act out – I’ll get caught.” My mom wasn’t one to physically punish (I only remember one occasion of being spanked when I was a kid) – but she’d lecture and you’d know she meant business. She was a parent, not a friend.

Parents these days seem all too concerned with being buddies with their kids. Being fair. Negotiating with their kids instead of speaking with authority and teaching children that respecting elders is their job. Parents tend to advocate for their kids too much, perhaps.

As parents, while it is our job to protect and nurture our children, to do so at the expense of teaching them how to be responsible, respectable, contributing members of our society is a big mistake. When we teach our kids to question other members of authority because we don’t want precious Timmy to be “picked on” by a coach. Or telling the teacher that it’s just not fair that little Suzy had her name put on the board for speaking out of turn.

While there are definitely times when we need to speak up, it just seems like the values systems I was brought up with when I was a kid just aren’t being taught anymore. Kids are being taught that it’s okay to blame shift and not acknowledge when they’ve done wrong. They’ve been taught to make excuses, point fingers, and how to cry and complain about how it is so unjust that they are being treated this way.

I am seeing it with Stepson and it is really making me frustrated. At ten, he has a collection of tee-shirts that place blame on others. They are intended to be flip, cute – but to see a troubled child, whose teachers consistently say, “Stepson needs to learn to take responsibility for his actions,” wearing a shirt that says, Okay, I admit it – HE did it!”, well, it’s aggravating, to say the least. Not only do I not find it humorous, the mixed message that it sends is not helping matters at all.

Stepson got booted from his soccer team this week for letting his mouth run away with him. When I heard the story, I was both mortified and appalled. Then, I found out his mother was wanting to get a lawyer involved, was going to raise a stink at the board meeting. Here is a child who time and time again refuses to accept responsibility for his actions – and his mother is essentially saying, “The problem isn’t YOU, dear. It’s all these OTHER people. They’re the ones who have messed up.”

Hubby and I are stunned. Since when is it so hard to let your children learn from their mistakes? While we don’t spank our girls, we fully intend to raise decent kids who will become decent adults. If that means at times they don’t like us very much, we’ll know we’re on the right track. Discipline is not a four-letter word, and neither is responsibility. It’s really sad to see a generation of kids being raised this way.

Maybe I’m sensitive to it this week. It’s been one of “those weeks”. Maybe not. But I definitely feel like we owe it to our kids to raise them with as much love and guidance as we can. One of the ways we teach our kids is through our behaviors – to model what it is that we expect of them, and of ourselves. Parenthood isn’t easy. Raising kids – well, it’s pretty darn hard. But it’s the most important job we’ll ever do… and we can’t afford to mess it up.

And They’re Off!

Big time milestones for my twirly-girlies, as they keep growing up and expanding their horizons – physically for one kiddo, academically for the other.

Pumpkin is DEFINITELY mobile. She can now stand up from a sitting position without having to grab onto anything or pull herself up. She plants her hands on the floor and up she goes. She’s definitely walking a great deal more, having gathered her confidence and built those skills. She walks so fast! It’s still somewhat of a novelty for her, though – you can tell because she likes to do laps around the first floor, circling the living room to the dining room, into the kitchen, down the hall and back to the living room. Repeatedly. She laughs quite a bit while she’s doing it. I think she’s proud of herself.

The Princess is becoming a writing fool! Though she’s been writing her name for quite some time, she can now write a with the first letter upper case, and the rest lower case (versus all upper case). Last night, while she was procrastinating going to bed, she wrote the whole alphabet! Hubby and I were surprised to say the least – we knew she knew the alphabet, but to write it all in order – well, gosh! We ooh’ed and aah’ed, then said, “Okay smarty-pants, NOW it’s bedtime!” Her preschool teacher adores her, and the director of the preschool told me this morning that they will soon be working on sight words: My kid could be “reading” soon!

Ah, the joys of being a proud mommy. I have never been one to mourn the stages my daughters leave behind as they get older. Maybe it’s because I find each new stage to be even more amazing and enjoyable as the one before. My little girls are growing up!

A Stumble Down Memory Lane

Today, Stepson had a soccer game. Last year, I managed to avoid going to many of the games because Pumpkin was so young, and I was still nursing, and I didn’t want to have to deal with having to breastfeed her in front of a bunch of elementary school soccer players and their parents (I never did get comfortable with that whole nursing in public thing). Today was the first game Hubby and I had attended in quite some time – and it was brutal. Stepson’s team lost, 7-1. And they deserved the loss, as most of the team seemed afraid of the ball. The coach continually cried, “GREEN TEAM! SPREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAD OUT!” and “GREEN TEAM! COVER THE FIELD!” to no avail. Instead, the boys clustered around the ball (which the other team maintained control of for most of the game) and then never dared tried to kick it.

As I was standing there watching the massacre, The Princess slurping on a juice box, Pumpkin toddling all over, I saw my former high school math teachers. Her son happened to be on Stepson’s team.

She was, in this previous life, my trigonometry teacher, pre-calculus teacher, my advisor for AP Calculus (Which didn’t go well, by the way), and my cheerleading coach. Having spent several years in her classroom, she was one of my favorite teachers. Of course, I’m not a math purist. Hubby and one of his friends still laugh when they remember back then, how she was a terrible math teacher. Maybe I wasn’t a fantastic math student – or my standards were not the same as theirs, because I really liked her.

Though it’s been twelve years since I’ve been in her classroom, she still remembered to ask after my mother, and my brother, and how life has been and how am I. In fact, when she saw me, she didn’t even struggle to conjure my name – she immediately smiled, “Hi Sarah!”

I know, it’s goofy to think that chatting with a former teacher would be a bright spot in the day, but it was. And no, I never became a math star or anything even remotely close to it (I ended up with a B in Calculus I in college, and then proceeded to bomb Calc II miserably), so I wouldn’t say I am smarter or that she inspired me to write theorems or be all “sine this” and “cosine that”. But she was a neat lady, and it was a fun few minutes.

It’s odd to see the people who were once authority figures now – the field is leveled somewhat. Instead, we were just two parents at a kid’s soccer game. I’ll probably see her at Stepson’s games for the rest of the season. When you think of how many students have passed through her classroom over the past decade plus, that she remembered me was a bit of a boost in an otherwise ugly morning.

And The Tooth Will Be Staying

Last Thursday, the girls and I were walking down our hallway on the way to the stairs to go down to the main level of our house. I was carrying Pumpkin, and The Princess dodged in front of us. I took a step to avoid stepping into her… and Pumpkin and I tripped and fell like a ton of bricks. With Pumpkin in my arms, I struggled to take the bulk of the impact, not wanting her to hit a wall, or hit the floor. She hit the floor a bit with her butt and started crying. Figuring she was crying from the shock of it all, rather than an injury (because I thought the Pamper took the hit), I was cuddling her, and then noticed blood running out of her mouth.

Turns out that one of the two tiny little teeth she has (she only has the two bottom ones still) jabbed into her top gum when we fell. Oy.

As she wouldn’t let me open her mouth to look at the wound, I took her to the doctor’s office. While we were there, we saw a guy who is NOT our normal doctor who pooh-poohed the cut, but then said, “But her tooth is loose, so it might fall out.”

I started crying. I know, I know – it’s just a baby tooth – but really, when you think about it, would YOU want your kid to lose 50% of her teeth? See, when I put it that way, it sounds really horrible, doesn’t it? Freaked out, I called my dentist on the drive home and he said to watch the tooth, feed her soft foods only, and if it changes color, the tooth is dead, and bring her to a pediatric dentist, because she’d likely need help having it extracted.

That did NOT ease my mind.

Today, The Princess had an appointment with her pediatric dentist who was able to squeeze in Pumpkin for a peek at her toofers. Though she squirmed and fussed, Pumpkin did let the dentist take a peek, and the dentist said the tooth is not even loose anymore, and that she’s 99% sure that it will stay put. She further eased my mind by telling me that Pumpkin picked a great time to injure herself, because her teeth will never be stronger than they are now. Who knew.

So, the tooth is where it is for now. Pumpkin can eat crunchy foods again (which is awesome because she’s working on some of those upper teeth and she loves those hard zwieback things). Sure, I spent $51 for the dentist to poke in her mouth for three minutes – but it was well worth every penny.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I have friends who swear that summer is the greatest – hot weather, days at the beach, tank tops and flip flops. I have friends who swear that winter is the greatest – snow, skiing, Christmas, mugs of hot chocolate. But, I’ve always been more of a middle-of-the-roader, myself. Spring and fall are the seasons I truly enjoy, and fall is my favorite by far.

This year, as we tiptoe into fall, already we’ve had over a week of what I like to call “cheap weather”. Cheap weather means it’s not so hot that I have to turn on the air conditioning, not so cold I have to turn my heat on. I can just open the windows and feel the breezes blowing through the house. The weather cooling also means I can take a break from wearing shorts (and shaving my legs daily!), and start wearing longer pants – and so I am revisiting my closet and finding clothes I had forgotten about in the past few months.

Fall happens to be when my birthday occurs (a month from yesterday! I am now less than a month from the big 3-0). I am thrilled and giddy about my upcoming birthday – I am not worried about growing older, nor am I afraid of the number. My mother, who turned 55 this summer, is still childlike in her anticipation of her birthday – so I suspect I come by it honestly.

College football is in full swing now, as well – and my beloved Wolverines are now ranked sixth after trouncing Notre Dame yesterday. While I’m not an ESPN hound like Hubby, having spent a few years in Ann Arbor, I still bleed maize and blue. Looking forward to taking in a game this season, and seeing the campus again (“Hail to the Victors!”).

Fall also brings the return of some of my classic television shows from the summer hiatus. I know, I’m such a couch potato, I should be 300 pounds – but I’ll be darned if I am not just counting the days until Thursday so I can see what happens next for Meredith and McDreamy (that would be Grey’s Anatomy, for the few people who aren’t yet watching this show!). Not only that, but in a few weeks, the winner will be chosen on Project Runway. Yes, that’s exciting stuff.

In the fall, I can begin to start my days with a mug of cocoa. My daily walks are more brisk and the chill in the air makes me move faster, and leaves my cheeks tingling with the cold. In the fall, I start making my list of what to buy for Christmas (yes – I’ve started my list – and I already know EVERYTHING The Princess is getting this year). I can cook some of my favorite comfort foods that I refuse to make in the hot weather (beef stews, chicken and dumplings).

The leaves will turn and the days will shorten. It will get easier to put the girls to bed, as the sunlight isn’t shining in their windows at bedtime at this time of year. What is not to like about that?

The pace of daily life seems to slow down – with the shorter days, it doesn’t feel as much like we’re cramming so much into each span of daylight. I spent a good chunk of my day today curled up on the couch with a book (“Happiness Sold Separately” by Lolly Winston, in case you were looking for a good read). In the heat of summer, something about slowing down to a crawl seems wasteful – but in the fall? The days demand it.

Sigh. Only a few short months of it, but I love it.

Hail to the Victors

University of Michigan: 47
Notre Dame: 21

Gooooo Blue!

You Know It’s Been a Bad Day When….

… the highlight of your day is finding that the grape popsicle you pulled out of the freezer was really a chocolate Fudgsicle.

All Fun and Games ‘Til the Big Kid Lands On Your Head

When The Princess was an infant, I returned to work full time eight weeks after her birth. From the beginning, almost, she has been in daycare, surrounded by other children. Consequently, I’ve never had to worry about her socially, because she’s growing up learning to play, share, and get along with other kids.

Now that I’m home, and Pumpkin is home with me every day, one thing I’ve worried about is how she will learn to interact with other children, and if she will be as good at it as her older sister is. Granted, Pumpkin does have the advantage of having an older sibling around 24/7 (almost) to play with and interact with, so I know she’s getting some exposure to how things work – taking turns, sharing, compromise – however, I still worry.

So, today we attended a playgroup sponsored by the local school district’s learning center. It was my first time going, and to be honest, I was pretty nervous. I’m not an outgoing person, and I find it hard in a room full of people to go up and start a conversation with a person/people I don’t know. But, I wasn’t going there so I could make friends, I was going so Pumpkin could play – so I wasn’t too concerned with my social ineptitude!

It took Pumpkin some time to ease away from me and go into the circle and play. The theme today had to do with “Things that Go” (cars, trains, planes), so she happily sat down with some trucks and ‘vroom’ed” them around a bit. When an older child came up and wanted to play with something Pumpkin had, I saw how The Princess has her somewhat “trained”: Pumpkin handed over the toy to the older girl without a fuss. She didn’t seem to mind, just happily picked things up, moved them around. We even sat at a table and she colored with some crayons for a bit.

She was having a good time, until we were picking up the toys and getting ready for circle time. A boy, he looked to be almost two, was toddling around, and lost his balance. Before I could do anything about it, he had basically fallen on Pumpkin’s noggin. After sobbing for several minutes, she calmed down enough to listen to the coordinator read a story, but she was nowhere near ready to sit back down with the older kids. We took leave quietly before the Cheese-Its were passed around.

Will we go back? Most likely. It was a learning experience for us both. Hopefully, next time we can leave without any injuries.

Little Conservationist

After having to change Pumpkin’s THIRD (yes, third!) dirty dirty diaper of the day, The Princess said to me, “MOM! Quit wasting diapers! You’re using waaaaaaaaay too many!”

I Will Always Remember

It seems like we are a generation built on “Where were you when…?” In my life, as I approach thirty, there have been several historic moments that have become such a part of the daily scenery, or etched in our memories always. Where were you when the Challenger exploded? I was sitting in a fourth grade class room in California, when the principal came in to break the news. Where were you when the OJ verdict was read? I was on the North Campus at U of M, where the profs let us out of class early to hear the verdict read live on TV. Where were you when Columbine happened? I was travelling down PCH on a business trip with a co-worker who happened to be from Littleton, and who spent several hours trying to make sure that his daughter, a high school student, was okay.

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

I vividly remember that morning, like most people, I’m sure. I was at work. My company had built a new office, and our cubicle set up was still a bit odd to us – we sat in pods, four of us in one row, four behind us in another row, with filing cabinets and meeting tables in the middle for team projects. After the first plane hit, I remember my boss walking down the middle of the pod and telling us, “A plane flew into the World Trade Center in New York.” No one had any idea at the time the extent of what would follow. We all assumed it was an accident.

My co-workers and I then started reading the news websites, such as CNN or MSNBC – so when the second plane hit the other tower, and we realized that, no it wasn’t an accident, we were stunned. I remember that day trying to access the news sites was hard – they had such a high volume of people trying to get online to read about what was happening, the pages were slow to appear, if at all.

We gave up on work. My coworkers and I gathered in the company cafeteria, engrossed in the live coverage unfolding before our eyes on the television. I remember hugging a co-worker as she sobbed when the second tower collapsed. The whole day, we watched TV in a numb state, in disbelief.

At the end of the day, we went to our homes to find school events cancelled, government offices closed, and major public areas, such as malls, closed as well.

I remember how blue the sky was.

It’s amazing – without actually having been personally touched by the events – I knew no one on the planes, no one in the Towers or the Pentagon – the events touched me. The events of this date, five years ago, have changed the country we were, and now we’ve become something else.

No doubt, the world can be a scary place. Having always been afraid of flying, I am no less scared post 9/11. But, the world is full of goodness and grace and people who make differences in lives, and people who love and innocence and wonderment and all of that – it’s still there. We are definitely a changed nation – but we’re enduring, and we’re strong.

Two weeks after September 11, 2001, I found out that I was pregnant for The Princess. No doubt that she was probably conceived a few days before 9/11. Realizing the kind of world I was bringing a child into was tough – the wounds had not yet scabbed over. All of the sudden, I began looking at things through the eyes of a parent. I wish I could say that the lives of my children will always be carefree and untouched, but I know this generation will grow up with a vocabulary that I didn’t have to know as a kid – words like “red alert” and “terrorism”. But, I hope that despite that, my children don’t live their lives in fear, and instead realize how truly blessed we are each day.