Seriously, Shut Up Already…

2013-01-29 09.05.47No, not you. I hope my headline didn’t offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities. Shhh. Come closer. I have a secret…Ready? “Shut up” is a bad word. So is “duh.” Shocked? According to my daughters both these words/phrase belong on the “do not say” list. Unfortunately, for my brain and mouth especially on the that first one, I forget its status as a bad word regularly.

I understand these words can be disrespectful and down-right rude, but sometimes a good, loud, “shut up” is called for and no other words will do the trick. This is almost surely the case when a migraine has plagued me for two days and the shrill, screeching, screaming of two young girls pierces through my temples and makes me want to hide under the bed. My repeated, “please be quiet,” goes unheard.

“Do you know what quiet means?” I’ll ask forlorn. No response comes from the loud ones that don’t stop talking ever. “It means no talking, humming, singing, chatting, tapping, laughing, giggling or making noises of any kind.” Both nod their heads in understanding. Still seconds later bickering, squabbling and squealing start back up. This is where the good “shut up” comes into play and can procure the desired silence I crave. Stunned looks creep across their faces as one will whisper, “Well, you don’t have to yell,” and the other will point out that “shut up” is a bad word.

How these random words became stigmatized as “bad” I do not know. My youngest is curious about various bad words and gestures.

“Why is my middle finger bad?” she asks.

“It just is,” I tell her.

“But why? What does it mean?”

“The same thing as the f-word.”

“What’s the f-word?”

“Something not nice,” I evade.

“Who made it bad?” she continues to question.

“I don’t know.” My headache starts to get worse.

“What happens if I stick my middle finger up?”

“Just don’t, OK?”

“But why…”

It’s at this point in the conversation, I truly want to scream, “shut up already,” but self-control restrains me. So I change tactics…

“Who wants ice cream?”

The excited squeals from the backseat surely cause hearing damage, but at least the 20 questions have stopped as I put my blinker on and turn into the DQ.

Poof! Problems Be Gone!

a-to-z-letters-pWhen the crazies take over my children and I’m about to lose it myself, I need a time out. While my kids burst into tears in anticipation of a dreaded time-out, I beg for one. Please, please, please send me to my room for the rest of the night! No television or video games for the rest of the week? All right! Grounded for a month? Bring it on! Go ahead and punish me:)

Actually instead of the typical scenario where I end up screaming at the kids and feeling horrible about losing my temper later, I’ve taken to giving myself a time-out to just take a deep breath and step away until I can get my emotions under control again. A couple weeks ago my youngest flipped out at dance class because her tap shoes hurt her feet. We tried on various pairs of used taps for sale at the dance studio, but none would suffice. She started throwing a huge tantrum and all the other mom’s were staring at us. I gave my daughter a choice of either wearing the taps she had and participating in her class or putting her tennis shoes back on so we could home. She flipped out even more and lay in the middle of the floor screaming about how she needed new shoes.

After trying to unsuccessfully reason with her (there was no where nearby that sold new tap shoes and class started ten mintues ago) I felt ready to explode. I told her I needed a time-out and went outside to sit on the steps. A few minutes later both daughters joined me outside. The tantrum-thrower still going at it in full force. I sent my oldest back inside to get her shoes and we walked to the car. She still wouldn’t put her shoes on so she walked in her stocking feet, sobbing about need new taps all the way.

The next week with tap shoes that fit perfectly she happily danced with her class. One of the women that worked at the dance studio told me that she admired how I’d handled the tap-shoe situation last week. She said instead of walking out she probably would have hauled her into the bathroom for a spanking. The thought did cross my mind briefly. I felt proud of myself though for not losing my cool.

Everyone needs time to chill out when problems seem overwhelming. Emotions get the best of us at one time or another. My girls especially get caught up in all-consuming dramas when things don’t go their way. About a month ago we created a “peace corner” AKA “Australia” in our living room. We named it “Australia” as that’s what my youngest’s kindergarten teacher named a similar corner in her classroom. I’m not sure why they call it “Australia,” but I’m guessing it has to do with Judith Viorst’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. If you’ve never read the book, the main character has a really bad day and after each bad thing that happens to him, he wants to run away to Australia.

Australia
Australia

Our “Australia” peace corner has bean bag chairs, pillows, stuffed animals, an iPod player with ear buds, a little water fountain, books, markers, papers and other quiet items in it. Now when one of the girls gets upset, they go chill to Australia until they calm themselves down. The new rule is if you’re crying and sobbing and carrying on about how unfair the world is or because you touched something that might make you sick, then you have to be in the peace corner. For the most part, the peace corner’s doing its job. We’ve had one or two incidents where both girls wanted to be in Australia at the same time and one morning where my youngest got mad and threw the bean bag chair across the room.  All in all though, the girls enjoy chilling out and regrouping in their safe, chill-out corner. Peace out!

 

Mathematical Genius (Not!)

a-to-z-letters-mThe thought of quadratic equations, cosines, square roots, exponents, proofs and all that other numeric nonsense makes me queasy.  So does fifth grade math homework. I can’t remember how to find the common denominator let alone the median or the mean. If it weren’t for Google and a sister who does have a mathematical mind (she majored in accounting – the very thought of which gives me chills) my daughter would flounder with her math homework alone. Luckily her teacher also has a policy that if my daughter tries to do the homework and her parents aren’t able to help out (and my sister isn’t home!) all I have to do is sign next to the problem and all is good. I have to admit I’ve had to sign off a few times.

To be fair, I don’t think it’s all my fault. I mean the directions on those worksheets are pretty vague and I really think they’re changing the math rules on me somehow as I don’t remember solving problems the same way when I was a kid and definitely not in fifth grade. I shudder at the thought of high school math homework! If I had my way they’d ban math from schools along with physical education (but that’s another blog post).

OK, banning math may be going a little too far. After all certain mathematical knowledge is quite useful. So I propose that schools stop teaching all that high brow math (unless the kid wants to be a mathematician someday) that I have NEVER used since I learned it in high school and college and then promptly forgot as soon as I took the final exam and instead focus on real-life math. 

Here’s an English major’s idea of a good, real-life math curriculum.

  • Basic Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division – These are the foundations of math and I concede that we must know them inside and out.
  • Percents – We also need to know how to figure out how much money you need if the cute shoes you want to buy are regularly $79.00 and are on sale for 20% off. To make it more complex, throw in figuring sales tax at 7.5%. Another good one is how to figure out the tip when you go out to eat or get your nails done. I use this math all the time!
  • Basic Measurements – Accurate measurements are important so that when you order new carpet for the bedroom, there’s enough to cover the entire floor! It’s also important if you want to rearrange your furniture. You want to know the couch is going to fit on the opposite wall without blocking the door before you move it there!
  • Time, Distance and Estimates –  When my alarm clock rings, I need to know that  if my office is 30 miles away from home and I drive an average of 60 miles per hour will I make it for an 8:00 AM meeting if I leave  at 7:40 AM? Not when two trains going opposite directions are going to meet! Come on, that extra ten minutes of sleep is essential.
  • Fractions and Decimals – While not my favorite mathematical concepts, I’ve found knowing about fractions to be very helpful especially when my recipe calls for 3/4 of a cup of flour and I can only find my 1/4 measuring cup.
  • Money Matters – I wish I’d learned more about interest rates on loans and credit cards, how to budget and how to save and invest when I was in school instead of how to balance an equation. You could even include how to balance your check book for extra credit! My financial status today would be much better if I had.

I’m sure other math concepts are important and essential to our everyday life as well, but my word-based mind is starting to get weary thinking about all this numeric junk. If you can think of anymore, please share them in the comments below!

My June Bug

a-to-z-letters-jRain, sleet and wind swirl outside my window this dark April night. The warmth of June’s just a hopeful dream. But, as my daughters and I brainstormed “J” words that I could blog upon, my oldest hit on June – her favorite month. Being one of my favorite months as well, I settled on the subject of my J blog post for the tenth day of the A to Z blog challenge.

What’s so special about June? June brings with it the first day of summer, the longest day of the year, lightning bugs, flip-flops, lemonade and long evening walks to the park. But most importantly, eleven-years ago on the 17th of this coming June, my beautiful first-born daughter made an early entrance into this world and I became a mother – the best and hardest job I’ve ever had.

I can remember the day as if it were yesterday. She wasn’t due until July 25th, yet I spent the day before her birth-cleaning the house, doing laundry and packing my hospital bag – just in case. I’m one of those people who always likes to be prepared. I’d invited my parents over supper to celebrate Father’s Day. It was a warm beautiful evening and we’d just finished eating when I felt something “weird” down “there.” I went to bathroom and my waterbroke a’la Niagra Falls.

“It’s too early,” I worried as my mom helped lie down in the back seat of the car and timed my contractions. We sped to the hospital 45 minutes away with my Dad following behind us. In the ER the nurse confirmed via the “wet towel test” that indeed my water had broken and I was in labor.

“It’s a full moon,” they concluded when they took me to the last open room on the OB floor.

The doctor explained that they weren’t going to stop my labor as most 34 weekers did quite well.. I was still terrified. Because she was a preemie, they took me to the OR and two pushes later at 5:39 AM she arrived. I didn’t get to hold her. The doctor showed her to me briefly and handed her over to the neonatologists. What seemed like an eternity passed. They wrapped her and put her in an incubator. I wouldn’t actually get to hold her until almost two hours later. Relief and happiness flooded me when they finally placed my baby girl in my arms.Jun17_02Emily

I cried hard when they released me, two days later, without my baby. Having problems with the “suck-swallow-breathe” response, she spent a long two weeks in the NICU. She came home on a heart monitor, but I was grateful for it and the peace of mind it brought with it.

And now looking at the young girl who is almost as tall as I am, it’s hard to believe she was ever that 4 lb 15 ounce little peanut. She’s beautiful on the inside and out. She’s kind and compassionate toward others. She’s smart, sassy and sensitive. She’s creative and crafty. She likes to dance, ride bikes, write stories, read books, and eat ice cream. She hates scary movies (I wonder where she got that from) and thunderstorms. She’s my daughter and I love her.

Give Me Some Of That Energy!

a-to-z-letters-e“Come on, let’s race Mom! Ready, set, go!”

The girls are off and all I see is a blur of their long hair flying behind them and their legs stretching across the grass to our destination. I’m not even going to try to win and I slow down to a walk and watch and smile. I sit on the park bench and watch them swing and slide and cross the monkey bars. Where do that get their energy? I wonder. Thirty minutes later they’re racing back to the van.

Back at home the dance and twirl and jump off the couch. I lay on the couch and really want to get my hand on their elusive energy. I day dream about all things I could get done in a day if I had a quarter of their energy. My mind wanders and ponders the nature of energy (which could be why I don’t get everything done I need!). What is energy? This invisible force that makes my children laugh and run, lights up my house and powers the engine in my van? It is a mystery to me. I’m sure it really can’t be contained in one of those little bottles of “energy drink” they sell at the gas station. Although, there are days when I might be willing to give it a try!

According to Dictionary.com, energy is “The strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity” or “A feeling of possessing such strength and vitality.” The physicist’s definition at Northwestern say energy is “the ability to do work, and work is moving something against a force, like gravity.”

Ok, it’s still a mystery to me what energy actual consists of. I just know my girls have more of it than I do! I’m sure if I ate better, sleep more and exercised consistently, I’d have more of that wonderful elixir, but I just don’t have the energy:)  What I need now is motivation!

What about you? Do you have a lot of energy?

My Dear Daughters

a-to-z-letters-dAs I tossed around all the “D” topics I could write about on this fourth day of the A to Z blogging challenge, it dawned on me that my favorite “D” topic in all the world is my two dear, daring, dramatic, dancer, distinct, dreamer, doer, darling daughters.

I am a truly blessed mother. Back in the day, before motherhood I’d heard people tell me how much I would love my children one day. I couldn’t fathom the love I have for them back then. But it is true, my love overflows for them.Sure I may yell and complain when they spill an entire carton of cottage cheese upside down on the bathroom floor or refuse to eat the supper I made or leave their toys where I can trip on them or bicker with each other over what show to watch in the end I love them more than I can express. They are so much more than just their short-comings and so am I. My daughters make my life brighter each and every day. Whether the the sun is shining and everyone is smiling or dreary clouds hang above and I’m feeling depressed, thinking about them and the little things they do always brings a smile to my lips — like the way my oldest daughter comforts and protects her little sister who is afraid to go to school or the smile on youngest daughter’s face as she realizes she can read a book all by herself. I feel their joys and accomplishments as well as their pain and suffering. Through their tears and smiles or mine, we always seem to find find our loving arms around each other. We are all learning, growing and living.

I am so proud to be their mother and with God’s grace and guidance I hope some day as they look back on their childhoods that they will be proud to have me as their mother. I’ve heard it said I’ll love my grandchildren even more than I love my children, right now I don’t see how that is possible, but time will tell.

 

Does Perpetuating The Easter Bunny’s Existence Make Me A Liar?

A Cute Little Bunny With Some Eggs
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In two short days yet another holiday/occasion with a mythical being attached to it will be upon me. I can’t help but wonder who’s bright idea it was back in the day to make up these magical beings…the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Leprechauns…. What were they thinking? How did they weave the stories behind them that have gotten millions of adults and children to believe in them and keep them going?

I know my opinion probably is not one of the most popular in the world, but I really wish these imaginary beings didn’t exist. Yes, I love to see the joy on my children’s faces as they come down the stairs to find the presents under the tree, an Easter basket overflowing with candy or a crisp dollar bill under their pillows. The wonder of believing in the magic of these wonderful gift-bearing creatures brings happiness? Right?

The thing is their existence always puts me in an awkward quandary. Inevitably, my little one will start with the questions. “How does the Easter Bunny get in our house? How does he carry the basket? Where does he get all the eggs?” I struggle to answer her questions. At least with Santa the “stories” go way back and the layers of mythology are deep. So answers to her questions are more readily on the tip of my tongue. I’ll admit I’m a pretty bad liar especially on the fly.

My oldest daughter was the first to figure out that I was the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I remember her asking me, “Mommy are you the Easter Bunny?”

“What do you think?” I replied.

She solemnly nodded her head.

“Are you disappointed?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I’m relieved. It kind of creeped me out thinking about that bunny being in our house.”

She made sense. If Santa and the Easter Bunny can get into our house while she slept, what prevented the bad guys and monsters from getting in too? My daughter has always had a hard time falling asleep – afraid someone could get in. I assured her monsters, vampires, warewolves, etc. are made up and didn’t existence. In her mind, if the Easter Bunny could get in so could the wicked witch.

A couple of days later, she asked if I were Santa too. By the end of the week she knew the secret of the Tooth Fairy as well. I told her not to tell her friends or the other kids so as not to spoil the secret for them. She agreed. However, a week or so later my sister called to tell me my daughter had spilled the beans to her cousins.

“Sorry,” I told my sis. “She asked and I couldn’t lie any more.”

That said my youngest is still a believer. It will be a relief when she too figures it all out. I know it won’t be long as she’s a smart one. What worries me though, is that she’ll then jump to the conclusion that Jesus and God aren’t real either. After all you can’t see them either. You are just expected to have faith and believe in their existence, just as when we are children we are called to believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny only to find out they are not real. That are parents were duping us all along.  But I do have faith in God, in answered prayers, in miracles. Its just that these other ‘fake’ beings seem to muddy everything. Sure I can be the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy, but I am definitely not up the part of God. I want my children to believe the things I tell them and so perpetuating the existence of these magical beings is hard for me. I want them to trust me.

It’s a little late now though to go against the grain. I went along with the ‘crowd’ and played the part this long. I believed in the Easter Bunny as a child and I still have faith in God; I feel His presence every time I look into my child’s eyes. I know my children will have that faith too. I will make sure of it.

What do you think? Is the Easter Bunny a bad rabbit?