Category: Parenting

13

Dear Fish,

You are now, officially, 13 years old. Well then, we have a teenager!

I’m not going to cry.

Ok, maybe a little.

Fish 13-1

Part of me wants to live in denial because, how can MY baby be 13 already? That makes me… Well, let’s just say that makes me older than 13 and leave it at that. Most of me is excited. As much as I tease you, I know there is really is no stopping this process and I wouldn’t want to anyway. You are growing into a most wonderful human bean. The kind of human bean who makes me laugh and think and keeps me on my toes.

You are now a third degree brown belt in karate and you have moved up to the Junior classes. You are most definitely holding your own with your peers as well as your older classmates. Several of your instructors have commented on the ease with which you have risen to the new challenges. You were recently invited to join the STORM (Special Team of Role Models) program where you have begun weapons training with a bow staff. You’ve accomplished all of that in just under a year and a half of studying karate. GO GIRL!!

Fish 13-2

After three years in pain, you were diagnosed with food sensitivities earlier this year. The diagnosis drastically changed what you are able eat. It hasn’t been “fun”, but you’ve taken these changes in stride, trying all kinds of new foods and generally trying to make the best of it. You are slowly returning to cooking for yourself and for others. You still make a gawd-awful mess in the kitchen and your Dad and I continue to educate you on the fine are of cleaning up after yourself.

You continue to thrive in middle school. You have encountered the social challenges that are so much a part of being in middle school and worked hard to learn from the situations. You are getting better at using the tools necessary to your success as a person with a visual impairment, but thankfully you refuse to let you condition hold you back from the things you want to do.

Fish 13-3

You enjoy family time, sometimes. But, as expected, you spend many hours behind closed doors. You’d never tell him, but you love your brother ferociously despite the fact that he can drive you bananas. It’s my understanding that is part of his job description.

You are in that awkward stage where you are too old for little kid games, but the little kids still consider you one of them. This raises a challenge when you are “in-charge” but everyone is adapting. You are anxious to be part of the grown-up world, but not quite ready for all that entails and frankly, the grown-ups aren’t quite ready for you to be a grown up yet either :). It doesn’t mean we don’t think you can handle it, it means we want you to enjoy childhood for as long as you can. There is no magic in being a grown-up. It appears cool because we are able to do things and make decisions that you would like to, but with those activities and decisions comes responsibilities that can be overwhelming. You are incredibly responsible for your age and for that I am grateful. Just remember, it’s our job to guide you through the process of learning to balance the privileges and the responsibilities so you grow into a self-sufficient human being. Be patient, and enjoy your unencumbered life while you can.

Fish 13-4

You are endlessly curious and as a result, very knowledgeable about many things. If you want to know something you’ll work to find the answer. If you find it, you’ll share the results. If you don’t you’ll search out someone who can give you the information you need.

I love your giggly, kissy side. I love that we share similar tastes in music. You listen to and, appreciate some of mine and I like some of yours. I never would have expected to add pop stations to my favorites in the car, but I have. Sometimes the the lyrics make me cringe, but often, they launch important conversations about, sex, drugs, alcohol, choices and self respect.

Fish 13-5

I enjoy the time that we get to spend together just you and I. I am grateful that you trust your thoughts to me. I hope that will continue. I try to answer you questions as honestly as I can even if I know the answer I have isn’t always the answer you want. Life is hard like that. Part of me wants to make it easy for you, but most of me knows that’s not the best path. I’m not perfect, but truthfully, I’m not aiming for perfect. I’m aiming for honest and real. It’s taken me a long time to realize that there is no such thing as perfection. I’ve learned that what matters is giving your best and respecting that we all have limits. I will always encourage you to go above and beyond, but learning to say “I’ve done my best and can’t do anymore” is as valuable as persistence.

Fish 13-6

Our mother/daughter relationship isn’t without it’s challenges, we are after all, both human but I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far of saying “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.” when the situation warrants.

A teenager, wow! I’m so excited to see what is in store for you. You are exploring who you are and figuring out who you want to be and it is fun to watch and support you as you work it out.

Love you Fish. Happy Birthday.

Mom

How I Cut My Laundry in Half

'laundry' photo (c) 2009, Martijn van Exel - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ Does anyone actually “like” doing laundry? I suppose there must be someone out there who enjoys sorting, lugging, washing, drying, more sorting, and more lugging, I just know it’s not me. I’ll take a daily trip to the grocery store over weekly laundry any day.

Still, knowing how to wash and dry clothes is a skill that is required to live independently as a successful adult. I can remember getting to college and watching some of my classmates pondering the coin operated washers and dryers as though they were some of life’s greatest mysteries. Oh, the shock when they pulled blush colored socks out of the same load as the new maroon sweatshirt emblazoned with the school insignia. Oh wait, silk isn’t washable? What happened to my wool sweater?

I figure it is better for them to practice on their childhood clothes. A Star Wars shirt is replaceable at a low cost. The dry clean only blouse that goes with the interview suit not so much. Of course I hope to educate my daughter in the beauty of machine washable fabrics, but that’s another blog post. We aren’t moving to a nudest colony (can you imagine how much sun screen we’d go through?), so the kids need know how to do their own laundry.

My list if laundry directions for the kids. In October, I handed over responsibility for their laundry to them. I had a meeting on this particular day, so I left instructions and made sure Mim knew that he was to be as equally active in this chore as his sister.

It’s been a few weeks and a few laundry cycles and so far, things appear to be going well. They sort their clothes and then alternate who is responsible for which load. Teamwork for the win! I am enjoying my lighter work load and while I won’t go so far as to say they are “enjoying” their new responsibilities, the clothes are getting clean. The part about folding and PUTTING THE CLOTHES AWAY might need a little tweaking. I found a pile of clean clothes on the floor by Mim’s door this morning. *Sigh* Baby steps. Baby steps.

Eventually they’ll need to learn to iron. I may need to hire a tutor for that lesson, cuz mama don’t iron except under EXTREME duress.

Hmmm, *racks brain for ironing tutor*. Oh GRAMMMY!

What chores are your children responsible for?

Boys and Guns

'Gun' photo (c) 2011, Pedro Alonso - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ Mim is 8 and recently, his focus has switched from Lightening McQueen and Cars to Luke Sky Walker, Star Wars and Nerf guns.

The dog does her part to discourage the Nerf guns by nibbling on any foam bullets that get left on the floor (I take them from her before she swallows them), but it’s not even the shooting that he’s that enamored of. It’s more about holding the gun, cocking it. He has a Nerf rifle (a gift given to him by a family member with my permission) and the other day, I watched him cock it by dropping it to his side, like some macho military hero. Oh dear Lord I’m raising a Terminator!

Before you jump down my throat. I’m not anti-gun. I’m anti-careless gun use. We don’t have a gun in the house, but that doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t have a gun it yours. So long as guns are cared for and treated with respect, I’m fine with them.

Respect is the issue I’m struggling with. How do I teach Mim to respect guns and their power. I don’t want to restrict his imaginary play by saying “No guns”, but I want to inform it. I understand the feeling of power when you hold a gun. He’s 8, he has so few opportunities to be all powerful and in control, he should be able to do so in his imaginative play. At the same time, imaginative play is where kids work out the issues they are struggling to grasp. It’s where they role play and try on different personas. It is were they practice being citizens of our society. I need him to understand that real guns come with responsibilities and if you aren’t responsible with a gun, there can be real and dire consequences. How do I do that in an age appropriate way?

I also worry in today’s bully aware society that a child who plays at pretending to shoot a gun and says “I’m going to kill you.” could land in real trouble. Mim is not a malicious kid, but he is not always as aware of the feelings of those around him as he could be. At times, he’s downright oblivious. I’d hate for some other child to be scared of him or worse take his play as a serious threat.

There is so much gun violence on TV and in video games. I don’t believe either is inherently bad, but like anything too much exposure to fantasy without any comprehension of reality is unhealthy and counterproductive to functioning as a successful individual in society.

I welcome feedback on this issue so long as it is respectful. You are entitled to your opinion, just as I am to mine. I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right and vice versa. The underlying question I am trying to address is how do I foster a healthy respect for guns in a manor that is age appropriate for an 8 year old and going forward? Be warned, I will delete comments I believe to be inflammatory. It’s my blog, I can do that 🙂

We are ready for Halloween Part 1 – The Jedi

My Little Jedi in costume.As I’ve mentioned previously, Halloween is a big deal ’round these parts. This year Mim wanted to be a Luke Skywalker.  I looked at buying a costume, but $35 for a piece of crap that likely wouldn’t last the month just doesn’t work for me.  Fish helped him find a picture of which iteration of Master Skywalker he wanted to emulate and I plotted a way to create it out of items we have or could acquire at a relatively low cost. It is important to note here that I am in no way, no how crafty.  Basically, I can use tape and operate a stapler.  This had to be easy.

Black jeans and a slightly oversized black shirt would provide the base.  For accessories, we needed a cape, boots, a belt and a light saber. The light saber was solved by an $8 purchase at the fair.  Fish was tasked with creating the boots and the belt out of duck tape and brown, paper grocery bags and some velcro.  For the cape, I went to Goodwill and bought a brown, mens, extra-large, hooded sweatshirt. The plan was to slice it right up the middle and use double sided tape to finish the edges, but Grammy stepped in and stitched the seams.

Light Saber $8

Gorilla Tape (couldn’t find Duck tape in Black) $8

Hoodie $10

Black Shirt $5

Boys black jeans $14

Total Cost $45

So, I actually spent $10 more than the pre-made costume, BUT, the jeans aren’t modified in any way, so he can wear those to school.  He needs to wear the costume at least 3 times (maybe 4) and I’m confident even with his rough and tumble ways the clothing will hold up.  The light saber, is iffy, but for the month of October, the light saber is ONLY for use with the Halloween costume.

He was pleased with the outcome and in the end, that’s truly all that matters.

 

Real

Fish, her second halloween (as a bunny) with Blankie

“You were Real to the Boy,” the Fairy said, “because he loved you. Now, you shall be Real to every one.”

– Nursery Magic Fairy, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

When my daughter was an infant, my mother-in-law gave her Bear and my dear friend Jeanne gave her a purple Comfort Silkie Blankie. Fish took to them almost instantly and the two traveled everywhere with us. B&B were a team. I wasn’t able to locate another bear, but we bought several more Blankies and rotated them regularly so they wore relatively evenly. This way if one were lost, (GOD FORBID), Blankie would not be gone for good (and Mom & Dad could still sleep at night). For most of the first two years of her life, Fish thought there was only one Blankie. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she discovered the Blankie stash. It was like Christmas. She grabbed them all and snuggled them close.

After a while, Fish settled on one specific Blankie for comfort. Thankfully by then she was able to keep track of Blankie herself and the world did not come to a screeching halt if Blankie could not be immediately located. Blankie’s importance has definitely diminished over the years, but she remains part of Fish’s inner circle of confidants. We kept the others (down to two from a high of four) in a drawer “just in case”.

Lately, poor Blankie has been showing her age. Her flannel side is thread bear and has disintegrated in to long shreds. Her tag (probably her most important part) is literally hanging on by a thread*. She’s had to stay home a few times for fear of not surviving camping or air travel. Still she perseveres and provides much needed comfort. She’s a trooper!

Three pictures horizontally, Fish with "rag" and a less worn Blankie, The Real Blankie and Bear, and the tag litterally hanging on by a thread.

Bear too is showing her age, she’s lumpy and has required several nose jobs over the years (props to Grammy and her mad sewing skills), but she has been Blankie’s faithful nurse and companion and she too is a member of the inner circle. I’m grateful to them both for their service. Not many would tolerate being smooshed under a feverish child, being drenched in vomit or stuffed into a small backpack to travel on adventures. Still, they provide comfort and keep secrets and are to be lauded for their efforts.

Someday, they too will be Real.

*Right after I wrote this, the thread broke and Blankie and her tag were separated forever.

“I now sleep with one of the replacements.  I’ll never give up the old one until she’s a few threads held together by nothing but love.” – Fish

Pedal, Pedal, Pedal!

To: Jeff Elrick, It’s Ability Pediatric Physical Therapy Center

From: A Proud Mom

Dear Jeff:

A year ago, my son Mim, could not ride a two wheeler. He was afraid of falling and we were both very frustrated. His vision and some coordination issue weren’t helping either. He spent three mornings with you and your wonderful staff at Bike Camp and when we parted ways, he was wobbly, but he was on his way.

Last week he and I rode 6.2 miles, a circuitous route from our home to his school and back. His starts and stops are still a little rough, but he improves a little every time we ride. Most importantly, his confidence is through the roof.

This is all your fault!

Thanks so much!

Lee

 

Eight

Mim & His Sensei, Football from Fish, Drawing race tracks, Getting ready to bounce, Riding NHMS, Mater MaskDear Mim,

Today we celebrate your 8th birthday with your friends. On the day you actually turned eight (three weeks ago), we started off the day at karate where with cupcakes for you and Mr. H. Jr. Pretty cool that your sensei’s birthday is the same day as yours!! Later that day you chose the 99 Restaurant for your birthday dinner. This time of year is always crazy busy as we wrap up school and scouts. I didn’t get a chance to write a post for you on your birthday. That doesn’t mean your birthday isn’t one of the most important days of the year to me. Although the delay wasn’t intentional, I was secretly pleased when you asked if I was going to write a blog post for you.

Seven was a good year for you. You worked hard at karate, participating in a tournament and moving up 5 belt ranks. As we close out your first year, Mr. H. has decided you may be ready to move up to the Dragon Warrior level. He has challenged you to control your body and focus during classes and you have been making an good effort to meet that challenge.

Second grade was a good year for you. Mrs. C was supportive and we identified some issues around focus an attention that are impacting your writing and we have taken steps to address some of the challenges. You’ve grown socially too. Mrs. P. commented on how much your playground behavior has improved.

You had a great year with Boy Scouts. You completed all the requirements for the Wolves and have moved on to being a Bear. Your smile and energy was a huge asset while selling popcorn. You worked with Dad and created a Pinewood Derby car you could be proud of and soon you’ll be going to overnight camp with your pack!

This year you tested your wings a little. Mom and Dad were gone for a week celebrating their anniversary and you stay at home with Grammy & Grandpa and then five months later, you spent a week in Florida with Grammy and Grandpa. The story goes that you literally fell asleep in your dinner one night, but you most definitely had a great time and were on your best behavior.

Lightening McQueen is still a favorite, but all things sports (especially football) have held your attention as well. The Patriots made the SuperBowl we even stayed up to watch the first half (too bad they lost). If I can’t find you, I look for the iPad. If I can’t find the iPad, I know you are off in a corner reading. This happens frequently.

You are still a morning person. Some mornings, you wake up a little earlier and come down to snuggle with me on the couch. You read while I journal and then we get into the morning routine. You weren’t much of a snuggler as a baby, but you’ve come to it later in life and I LOVE it.

You are full of energy, exuberance and questions. You’ve made great strides socially. You are starting to understand that there are times when focus and sitting still are important. Those are not easy tasks for you, but you are rising to the challenge and making an effort.

I have a feeling 8 is going to be big year for you. I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Happy Birthday!

Love,

Mommy