Sunday, October 25, 2009

Words of Love

There are certain words, specific phrases that make the world a better place (at least the one I live in).


-uttered at anytime by your child--even when it's said just to get something (and nothing replaces the first time)

I'm thinking of you.

-spoken by someone you know that loves you and is actually thinking of you

Here you go . . .

-offered by a dear friend who recognizes that you need help, knows that you do not want to owe anyone, but sees that you will likely implode if someone does not step in soon

I'll take care of it.

-said by your loving partner when he sees that you have given what you can, desperately need to recoup, and need him to be the strong one for a little while

These are the kind of words that are wonderful to hear, especially if you happen to come down with the flu which develops into a lung infection and you're out of commission for a week. At least I think they would be. :-)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Tooth's Final Tale (blog followup)

A few people have asked me, "So how did that terrible tooth end up coming out?"
So here goes. . .

When I picked up my daughter from school--the same day I was sure her teacher was going to do the final dirty work-- my daughter was smiling. As she flashed her pearly whites, you couldn't help but see that sucker was still hanging on. It defied gravity. Are you kidding me? I turned it over to you, teach! I was letting you sub in, remember?! As the she buckled my daughter in the backseat she smiled and said, "I told her to try biting into an apple when she gets home." WHAT?!?!?!? Like I hadn't tried that. For weeks I had already offered taffy, gum, steak, apples, oranges, kumquats, pomegranates, melting tar. That's the best you got?

Wait, wait. I couldn't be critical of this wonderful woman. She was trying to actually educate a group of blooming, busy beavers all day long. I am sure she tried to get the tooth out in her own way and with very limited time. Ball's back in my court.

When we got home from school I decided that I would not make the dangling tooth a big deal. Until after dinner. I announced that the tooth HAD to come out before bedtime. So there we were, teeth brushed, pjs on. Of course I had tried to assist with the teeth cleaning part. "The perfect time to loosen that sucker up just a little more," I reminded her. But she didn't want my help, of course.

My daughter had tried to postpone the event all evening. But it was here, nothing else left to do but read our bedtime books. "Sweetheart, I told you it's gonna come out tonight. So are you going to pull it or am I?"

With a touch of indignance and a lot of spunk and a hint of fear, she announced, "Okay, okay, I'll do it myself." And she grabbed ahold of the offending object and with one big tug, it was out. Squeals, jubilation, dancing, and hugs. I think we were both thinking the same thing Hhhmmm, now that wasn't so hard, was it?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Still of the Night

It was 3:00 in the morning when I heard the first odd noise eeking from the monitor-my enemy, my best friend. I lied there listening, trying to convince myself that my son was just having a dream and must be talking to himself. Oh, he'll just put himself back to sleep, right? Please, oh please, put yourself back to sleep. Then the sounds turned to weird whimpers. What if he's having a BAD dream! He needs me! My eyes pop open, and I make the familiar nightly race up the stairs to my son's bedside. I snuggled next to him, rubbing his back and telling him to just go back to sleep. While I tried to comfort him, I stared up at the ceiling wondering when this would end. Not just my son's possible frightening dream, but me flying up the staircase during the night, pretty regularly for my three-year-old, but still not an unusual occurrence for our newly six-year-old. When will I sleep through the night?

Where did I do wrong? Did we co-sleep with our babies too long? I was warned by many: relatives, friends with children, friends without children, well-meaning comments from near strangers at the grocery store, park, gym, you name it. Did my kids nurse too much? Oh, don't get me started on the unsolicited advice on that topic. (Do you know where I live?!?) Why didn't I let them cry it out? I read the literature, heard the testimonials, watched the videos. Couldn't do it. But did I really have to be at their bedsides as soon as the first peep was made? Honestly, for me I had done pretty well to pause this evening and wait, oh, about 12 seconds before scrambling up to tend to my son. Perhaps that wasn't enough wait time, huh, Dr. Ferber?

So just as I was about to search my soul and figure out where I went wrong to have such night-dependent children. The exact second I was on the verge to come to terms with, analyze, and possibly solve one of my parenting shortcomings. . . my son's murmurings got even stranger. He's not talking in his sleep. It's not a nightmare. As I listened and watched he was sleeping fitfully. Then it hit me. He's getting sick. No fever--yet--but I knew it was coming. I scooped him up and headed downstairs and rocked him in a chair. As the minutes slipped by he was in fact burning up. He woke up and gave me a quizzical face. I'm no Nostradamus, but I recognized the look. I knew what was going to happen next. I yelled from the living room to my husband to come help. Then the puking began. The skyrocketing temperature, the chills, the aches, the coughing soon followed.

How is it that when your child gets sick the whole world stops? Nothing else matters. No previously scheduled appointments, no penciled-in commitments will take place. Most emails go unreturned. You're lucky to check voicemail, and you only answer phone calls from family and the doctor. And that To Do list in my daily planner that I check religiously throughout the day is no longer "really have to do" stuff anymore. Everything else becomes unimportant.

I am relieved to say that we found out later that morning at the pediatrician's office that our little boy did not have one of the hysteria-inducing flus going around, just a "regular, old virus." He slept much of the day and soon signs of returning health were evident. Fortunately it appears to have been a pretty quick, down and really dirty bug. My mommy mental freeze has almost melted, and I have mostly returned to my everyday life.

Last night when I was putting my son to bed, something struck me-maybe, just maybe my unpopular nighttime parenting method paid off the other night. After all, I was able to catch him before he was alone and sick and throwing up in bed. I even got the OTC meds in his system to start the relief a little sooner. Hey, perhaps it's okay that I am so quick to answer my children's nocturnal chirps echoing from the monitor. Maybe it's not completely terrible when I dash up to my kid's room at the slightest sound. Oh no! Stop! It's this kind of rationale that only encourages my enabling behavior! This thinking is precisely how I cycle back into our current nighttime routine! What am I doing?!

As things turn back to normal (whatever that is) and my son fully regains his health, I plan to use this time to figure out how to reduce my sundown sprints. Perhaps it will hit me next time I am cuddled next to his sister. . .

Thursday, October 8, 2009

View from the Sidelines

I admit it. I took the coward's way out this morning. Just dropped my daughter off at school . . . with a dangling top front tooth. It won't make it through the day-unless she refuses to eat her snack (but she won't deny her mid-morning granola bar), and there is no way she'll not eat her mini pack of candy corns that she'll be surprised to find in her lunch bag. That sucker's gonna pop out at school sometime today after she bites into one of her tasty treats, I know it! That's the last card I had left to play.

I asked myself, am I a wimp? Have I lost my mothering edge? Why did my mighty power of persuasion not work? Why did I fail to convince her to get that tooth out before she went to school today? I don't get sick at the sight of blood. I don't have an aversion to wobbly, tiny tooth roots. Okay, I admit it! I didn't want to make her her cry about it again. So I gave up at the first hint of a lip quiver at 7:oo a.m.

Last night I tried it all. First, the loving approach. "You can do it sweetheart. Just one little tug and the tooth fairy will come tonight." To the supportive method. "You are amazing and brave. Just one tug, and you can do it!" To the logic angle. "It's going to fall out soon. Why not just pull the tooth now?" To a matter-of-fact explanation. "Sometimes things that are worthwhile might cause a little pain." To mild fear tactics. "You better get it out so you don't swallow it tonight in your sleep." And then of course, the tough love approach. "Come on, suck it up. It's just a tooth! You've done this before!"

After having the first five teeth basically fall out on their own, my daughter thinks this is how it's supposed to happen. Before going to sleep, she tells me that the loose tooth DECIDES when it's ready. We should not MAKE IT come out. Maybe she's right.

When I called her teacher this morning (praying to get her voice mail, which of course I did NOT), I had to explain to her live that I just couldn't do it this morning. I asked her to keep an eye out and see what she could do about the flopping fang. I swear I heard her snicker. After teaching so many children over the years (including her own), she's gotten this call more than once, I could tell. "We'll see what we can do." I felt like such a loser right then. The WE meant her and my child. I was out of the equation. I couldn't pull the trigger, so now another tougher, better player was going to start in my parenting position. Oh well . . . maybe next time.

Why do we hate to see our children cry? In this particular case, even when it doesn't seem like a really big deal? The tears would have been brief. She would have gotten over it. I don't know. Maybe it's because as parents we know that there is sadness and suffering out there. We want to protect our kids from that, but we know we cannot shield them from the many disappointments and pain life brings. We know our kids are going to cry many, many times in their lives. Today I guess I just wanted to see it happen one less.

As the day has gone along, my feelings of failure and frustration have turned to hope and excitement. I can't wait to pick up my daughter from school today. I can already picture her happy, tear-free face, holding her tooth in a special baggy provided by her understanding teacher, my temporary replacement. I should just count myself blessed that there's another loving, experienced grown-up who is willing to help me dry my daughter's tears and take one for the team.

Monday, October 5, 2009

No More Ed Scissorhands, Please

When I picked my daughter up from the car rider line she had her regular happy-to-see-you-smile. She buckled up and started immediately into her animated rundown of the day's activities. We were about halfway home when she nonchalantly mentioned the hole in her pants. The intro to this little anecdote particularly caught my attention. "What do you mean you have a hole in your pants? You didn't this morning, did you?" I questioned.

I looked up in the rear view mirror to catch her glance. "Oh," she realized this part of her day would need further clarification. She went on to tell me that one of her neighbors at the blue table used his scissors and cut her pants, but not her. I remained calm, assuming it had been a random accident by a fumble-fingered child during craft time, perhaps she was trying to hold something on her lap as he used those little, blunt scissors the kindergartners are allowed to have. But she went on to give me specifics, such as it happened during snack time, and the boy had sneaked out (the now in my mind sharp) sheers when the teacher wasn't looking. Okay, the full inquisition was on. Who was this kid? A boy. Did your teacher see any of this? No. Did you report it? Yes. Do you know his parents? No. Is this juvenile delinquent mean to you every day? Sometimes. Does this guy have a criminal record? Most likely. Are you going to end up dating this dude in 10 years? Duh, of course. (So, I didn't ask all of those questions, but I knew the answers.)

Soon we were home from school, and she and her little brother shared an afternoon snack. As the kids munched on milk and Teddy Grahams, I could see that my forgiving daughter was long over the incident, but I was still seething from the vision I had of this little scoundrel with huge hedge clippers slashing my angelic darling's Gap capris.

I called my level-headed neighbor who also has a kindergartner at the school. What would she do? Why wasn't there a note in my daughter's backpack detailing the incident? Why had the teacher not called? After all, school had been out for five minutes! As I spoke, I tried to disguise my mama bear, protective growl. My friend told me to calm down (guess I wasn't hiding my feelings so well), then we discussed the many explanations of how this could have happened.

After talking at length about the situation with my husband (and a little more to my daughter before bedtime), I couldn't help wondering Is my daughter safe at kindergarten? Should I have home-schooled? What's wrong with kids these days? Am I teaching my children to be assertive? The questioning went on through my mind all evening.

Turns out, this boy did cut her pants, the teacher was not aware it happened (and profusely apologized and "dealt" with the him-who knows?), my daughter had mentioned that she had a hole in her pants but neglected to fully share how it happened. She was moved to the orange table which thrilled her since her newest friend sits there too (and "orange is prettier anyway"). I was so glad that I was relatively composed and well-rehearsed before I got the full explanation.

Then came the flashback to when I was a young teacher (long before I had been blessed with children of my own). I recalled a possibly-suppressed memory of the day a parent of a sweet seventh grader came into my classroom very calmly and asked, "Can you tell me how my daughter got a gluestick caught in her hair during social studies class yesterday?" Now I know just how lucky I am that she also had a merciful daughter, kind neighbor, and patient husband to talk to. Either that or she was just not fully in touch with her inner bear.