Sunday, June 2, 2013

I would be a much better parent if... weren't for my children.

It is much easier to know how other parents should parent. And it was much easier to imagine how I would parent before I had my children.  Before having children, it was easy to imagine the perfect scenario: This is what I will do, and consequently, this is what they will do. And then I actually had children. As it turns out, you may or may not do what you imagined based on what you and your children are actually capable of doing. You are busier than in your perfect scenario. You are way more tired than in your plan, your kids more active and less compliant than the ones you parented in your head. And consequently, they may or may not do what you imagined either.

There is a LOT of parenting advice out there; books, articles, seminars. I have found that people are very fond of giving unsolicited parenting advice too. But often the advice they give uses their family as a base line, and doesn't leave room for variation. This can make the person receiving the advice feel like they are doing something wrong if their experience doesn't measure up. Or make them feel superior if they think their experience is better. But let me suggest that maybe it's not better...or worse. Just different.

In general, people are all the same. But individually, they are all... well... individual. And individuals are what make up a family. And that makes each family individual as well. There are parents (mom and/or dad) who have different personalities, capabilities, responsibilities, etc. Then there are kids with different personalities, capabilities, activity levels, etc. Consider how the combination of all those different qualities makes each family unique, or... individual.

My brother's daughter was one who would announce that she was tired, go to her bed and sleep. My daughter views going to sleep as just shy of torture. The more tired she is, the more tortured she feels when I tell her it's bedtime and a 'take-no-prisoners' bedtime battle ensues. Both of our daughters go to sleep, but how they get there is a very different experience. So if my brother were to give me advice on bedtime based on his family make up, I would fall short of living up to his experience. He obviously does a better job than me, right? Sure, I could improve my daughter's bedtime experience. But there is nothing I could do to change her into a person who says "I'm tired so I'm going to put myself to bed." instead of one who says "I shall never surrender!"  In this case, it is not the parenting skill that is the difference, but the personality of the child that is.

I'd like to give some unsolicited parenting advice here. My parenting advice is this: Take it all! Listen to all the parenting advice... and then sort it out. Is there anything in that advice that you can apply to improve your parenting?  Use it! Then set aside anything that does not apply to your family and leave it for the family that it does apply to. Don't let it make you feel superior if your parenting surpasses it. You may have more capabilities and/or easier children. On the flip side, do not let it sit on your shoulders as guilt, thinking that your parenting does not measure up. You can only do what you can do. So if you can do better, do it! If you can't do better, then you may already be doing your best parenting. Your kids are blessed to have a parent who is doing their best. Just let parenting advice be what it is. Advice.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I do see you.

My daughter earned a dollar the other day.
She was very excited to go to Walmart with me to see what it would buy.

It bought...
a notepad and pen set.

After we got home, she wrote as many notes as she could think to write,
and then tore them all off and put them in here.

Once or twice a day she brings it to me and tells me to
close my eyes and pick one.

This is what I have picked so far...

The last one is by far my favorite.

I do see you too, honey...
and I love what I see.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pennies for Peace

Taking my three VERY energetic children to Wal-Mart (or any mart for that matter) is a challenge.  By the end of this challenge, I am always ready to throw in the towel.  I have already been through all the challenge hurdles:

Please stop climbing on the cart.
No, I will not buy that for you.
Please put that back.
Please stop running.
Please don't touch that.
Stay on this isle so that I can see you.
I cannot push with you hanging on the cart.
Please come back over here, you are in that person's way.

Multiply that by three kids, then multiply again by every minute we are in the mart, and by the time I reach the checkout lane I am done.  D-O-N-E.

Except I'm not.  I'm not done.  I still have to check out.  I still have to unload the cart onto the conveyer belt, swipe the card, push yes, then no, sign on the line, and get all the sacks into the cart while simultaneously telling each of the three kids:

Please stop climbing on the cart.
No, I will not buy you gum.
I will not buy you toys either.
Please get off that.  You will break it and/or get hurt.
Please stop hooking and unhooking the belt that closes the lane.
The cart will tip over if you hang on it while it's empty.
Please stop twirling the sack turn-table.
Please come back over here, you are in that person's way.

I'm not calling my kids straw or me a camel, but it's enough to threaten what little is left of my patience and tip me over the edge.  In those last few moments when the finish line is so close and I feel closer and closer to the end (the end of my sanity that is), I dig out every penny that I can find in my purse and buy myself just enough time to make it.

I hand over the fistful of pennies to my oldest and send all three kids a few steps away to support the Children's Miracle Network.  Their focus on this kind deed is very short lived (depending on how many pennies I had), but it is just enough time for me to cross the finish line in peace.

Pennies may not buy much these days, but they buy enough for me.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Kidipedia Addendum 1

Addendum 1 to Kidipedia

Kidipedia   noun   kid·i·pe·dia
: a reference listing alphabetically the words and phrases of one language (the one my children speak) and showing their meanings or translations in another language (English).

bemember   verb   be·mem·ber
: to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory    [I bemember when we lived in Korea.]

fighter-fighter   noun   fight·er·fight·er
: one who fights fires

karating   verb   ka·ra·ting
: to make quick or repeated hand strikes and kicks as if employing the Japanese art of self-defense

keyweed   noun   key·weed
: the edible fruit of a Chinese vine having a fuzzy brown skin and slightly tart green flesh

leprecan   noun   lep·re·can
: the smooth thin-shelled nut of the pecan tree   [Look how many leprecans fell from our tree!]

literal   adjective   lit·er·al
: of a size that is less than   [Yours is literal than mine.]

saustrage   noun   saus·trage
: a very large bird that runs very quickly but cannot fly   [Can we go see the saustrages at the zoo?]

tomorning   noun   to·morn·ing
: the time from sunrise to noon of the day after today   [I want donuts for breakfast tomorning!]

worldworm   noun   world·worm
: a long slender worm that lives in damp earth

Friday, February 8, 2013

Stranger Danger

"There are no such things as strangers, only friends we haven't met yet."  ~Unknown

My quite gregarious daughter struggles with the definition of a 'stranger.'  I was asked by a teacher once if Asha would go with a stranger if they had a puppy.  I laughed.  A stranger would not need a puppy, they would simply need to say, "Hi."  We've gone over it with her often, but it is often quite clear that she does not understand the parameters.

She came home from Kindergarten one day last year in Korea and began to tell me about the 'Stranger Danger' lesson that had been taught in class.  She told me all about how strangers don't always look like bad guys, that you should never take gifts or rides from a stranger, and that you should tell your parents or teacher if a stranger tries to talk to you.
I was elated!  Finally!  She gets it!

...or maybe not...

Two days later she was shopping with me outside the Osan Air Base gate.  I was standing just inside a shop door and she was a foot away from me on the outside of the open door.  While I was speaking with the shop owner, my daughter says to me, "Mom, I'm going to go say 'Hi' to this man."  She's pointing to someone just out of my view and turning to go.  "No, Honey."  She protests, "But he wants me to come over there."  I quickly grab her shoulder and turn her to face me.  "Honey, you don't talk to strangers without mom, right?"  She looks at me completely bewildered.  "But Mom, he's not a stranger!  Look!  He's smiling!"

The very scruffy looking old man with missing teeth sitting in the alley is not a stranger because he is smiling at her.

Recently, my daughter learned our phone number.  I was delighted because this could help her if she ever got lost.  She was delighted because she could tell her friends so they could call her.  I was not delighted to discover that she defines 'friends' as the two boys she just met at a McDonald's playground.

Oh, and on the way home from school today, she informed me that her "best song" (favorite song) is the Maybe song.  You know,
Hey, I just met you, And this is crazy,
But here's my number, So call me, maybe?


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shopping at my own garage sale

Reposted blog entry from May 2, 2008

I love garage sales. I have scored some major finds like a playhouse that retails for $500 -I got it for $40. And this toddler car bed that retails for $200. I got it for $1. (not a typo!) I've also gotten a barley used trampoline with enclosure, two park benches, a desk, 3 motorized Fisher Price ride in cars ($5 each!) and various other big items for cheap, cheap, cheap. My latest find, was a 5 piece all-wood bedroom set for Asha. We are getting it painted, but it was in otherwise perfect condition. $250 score!

Photobucket Photobucket
(There's also a hutch, a desk and a long dresser)

But I will confess that I have a problem. No, its not spending money. I usually spend less than $5 on any given day of garage sale-ing and many times come back without having spent any money. My problem is that I'm a hoarder. Which is kinda of ironic since I'm also a bit of a minimalist. I told a friend once that I was having a garage sale and she laughed and said, "What are you going to sell? You don't have anything!" Not true. Even though my house is so empty that I can often hear an echo when I talk in the living room (I'm really not kidding about the echo), my garage is packed with stuff I don't need/want/use.

I blame my parent's for my problem, so lets start there. My dad used to work at a retirement home and whenever there was a funeral, the family would sift through their stuff and toss all the junk. My dad would then sift through the junk and bring his finds home. While my mom hated that my dad brought all this stuff home, she couldn't bear to throw any of it away. So growing up we just moved all of these things that we didn't need/want/use from spot to spot.

Back to my problem...all the stuff that I don't need/want/use any more I can't bear to throw out either. Here's how it goes through my rationale: if I want something like it in the future, then I will have saved money by keeping the one that I had, right? And even though I don't want it, it is perfectly good, so someone else might want it, right? And if they do, they might even pay me money for it! So I store it all in random boxes in the garage for a garage sale that I might get around to one day.

Believe it or not, my "one" day is actually coming this Saturday. I decided to break down and force myself to have the sale to get rid of stuff that I don't want to cart to Hawaii. But as I am picking through boxes marked Garage Sale, I found myself taking things back out! At first it was just innocent, like a few toddler boy clothes that had put in before I knew we were having another boy. But then it started to get ridiculous. I've got a huge box of sweaters from North Dakota that I haven't worn since moving back to California -and will of course not need for another 3 years in Hawaii -and I know they will be sorely out of style after that. But then I think to myself, no one is going to buy these here in semi-sunny I take them out of the sale pile. But there's nothing wrong with them so I can't bear to put them in the trash either. So there they still sit in my garage. Ahh! I was so disgusted with myself that I just closed the garage and came back into the house to see if I could muster up the courage to toss them in an hour or so. I had a whole pile already designated for the sale tomorrow but it seems to be getting smaller.

Now I know a lot of people who have garage sales complain about early bird shoppers who stop by hours before the sale is set to start, but its kinda sad to be the early bird shopper at your own garage sale.

The Long Road to Paradise

(The Air Force stationed our family in Hawaii from the middle of 2008 to the middle of 2011.)

Reposted blog entry from Sept 4, 2008

Now that we're here, we are never leaving. I don't say this because Hawaii is considered to be a paradise, but because of the 8 hour plane ride it took to get here.

A road trip is my idea of fun. Strap the kiddos in and there's no more need to chase them, separate them, or clean up after them (at least until the end of the trip :). They make a lot of noise in such an enclosed space, but since I don't mind and no one else can hear them, its not a problem. The best trips even end up like this...

A plane trip, however, is not my idea of fun and I don't relish the thought of doing it again any time soon. The kids are still in an enclosed space but now its with lots of other people who DO mind their noise. They only have to stay strapped in until we're flying high and I spent the whole trip cleaning up after them. We also don't get to stop every so often to stretch and get out excess energy. The kids didn't misbehave and we even got comments at the end of the trip from fellow travelers telling us how well they did on the plane, but we had to spend the entire trip actively trying to make that happen and that is very tiring. Jet lag was not fun either. my husband and I only took a couple of days to adjust, but Asha took a whole week and Daniel took two weeks! Ugh!

But we are here and it is beautiful. It has been sprinkling on and off for the last week or so and we have seen so many beautiful rainbows. We happened upon the famous beach in Honolulu just as this rainbow was over it. The photo does not do it justice. We could almost see the end of it on either side.

I think I'm going to like it here :)