Helpful hints and tempting tidbits on how to really screw up your offspring

What? You thought you couldn't possibly damage your child in just a few, short years...Ohhhh, I beg to differ.

Friday, June 13, 2014

An Open Letter to a Parent

Though I've been away for so long and haven't blogged, I wanted to share something I wrote recently.  It's a culmination of feelings, emotions and well, stuff.  It's how it feels to be me.

Dear Parent,
It's come to my attention that you've made a request to the school. You don't want my son in your child's classroom next year. You think my boy is a problem. You think he's a distraction. You don't want your child around him. My guy is a bad influence.
I get it. I do. I see things from your perspective. You don't know my guy. You've never had the chance to get to know him. No one has explained him to you. You don't know about his special needs. They've just let you go on judging him and silently thanking God that your child isn't like mine.
Here, take my shoes. Walk in them for just a day. See my boy through my eyes. See his desperate desire to be loved. Feel his constant need to be reassured. He needs your constant approval. Try to help him fit in. Help him cope when he knows he's doing wrong but can't make his body do right. Hold him tight when he cries because he doesn't like himself or how others perceive him. Feel his struggle to behave the way society expects him to. See the light begin to go out in his eyes as he starts to realize he's different. Be there when a person of authority in his life shames him. Try to keep it together when his little spirit is broken.
Feel the frustration I feel when others don't know him like I do. Try to fix him. Remember each and every special need he has. Feel the constant worry that you're doing it wrong. Don't yell...even when his disability infuriates you. Be a constant model of good behavior. Apologize profusely to the parents of those he's wronged. Try to change their minds about him.
Remind him everyday how to be a friend, how to make a friend and how to keep a friend. Remind him to control himself and that his choices have consequences. Whatever you do, don't mess up. Endure the constant worry about making mistakes and missteps. Don't mar the work that's been done. You'll never forgive yourself.
Be sure to always wear your armor. There's lots of fighting to do. Fighting for your child's good. Fighting to be sure he gets the education he deserves. Fighting those who, though it's their job, won't fight for him. You'll have to be his warrior.
Always have your thinking cap on. You'll need to do research, read journals, send emails, contact experts. You'll need to know laws and statutes and codes. You'll need to know who to contact, who to ask for help and who to avoid. You'll need to be an expert when it comes to special education, too.
Be sure to have plenty of funds available for specialists that aren't covered by your insurance. You're going to see doctors...and more doctors...and more doctors, until you find one that really wants to help. You'll need to decide whether or not to medicate your baby. It's gut-wrenching but you're going to have to watch your boy be poked and prodded and tested and questioned. None of which he'll understand.
You'll get to hear all the whispers about how your child is out of control and how you need to show him who's in charge, need to give him a good spanking or teach him a lesson. Listen politely and take into consideration every bit of unsolicited advice no matter how far-fetched. You wouldn't want to offend anyone. Be ready to educate those that don't know about his disability but have lots of opinions about how to handle him.
You're going to ugly-cry. A lot. Have your tissues ready. You'll need a lot of tissues. Tissues for the days that you just can't keep it together anymore. For the the big, fat, proud tears you cry when you guy has a breakthrough. You'll cry about everything. About how dirty your house is. About how you forgot to feed the dogs. About how you're not fighting hard enough for your boy. About how he has to work so hard to learn the simple things that are supposed to come naturally. You'll cry because he's starting to notice that he's not the same as the other kids and you'll cry because he doesn't know how incredible he is.
Don't forget to keep your marriage strong and take care of the rest of your family while you do all of the above. Don't let anyone slip through the cracks. Forget about yourself, there's no time for that. You're going to lose friends. It's ok though because you're also going to gain some amazing new friends.
It's not all bad. In fact, a lot of your life will be immeasurably amazing. You're going to have days when you feel so lucky and so proud. But it's never going to be easy.
No? You don't like my shoes? Hmmm. That's ok. I'll gladly take them back. They aren't always comfortable and they aren't always in style but they're mine. Walking in them has made me who I am and I'm proud of my shoes.

Before you return to your own comfortable shoes I ask just this: The next time you begin to judge a child who's not like yours or to criticize or question his parent, please remember how it felt to walk in my shoes.
A Special Needs Mom

Friday, June 24, 2011

The More the Merrier? PSSSHHHHHH....Not So Much!

There are two issues of excess going on in my house right now.  I'll lay them out one at a time for you. This way you can get a firm, well-illustrated grasp on both situations.

Lets start with the less repulsive affair.  It has to do with The Big One and his...uhhhhh.......expressitivity. 

How could this be a bad thing, you ponder?  Let me break it down for you....

The boy's little peepers open each morning and as if connected by an imaginary string,  his mouth opens simultaneously.  He begins to talk.  About everything.  About nothing.  About little kid stuff.  About things he probably shouldn't know about.  And then there are the questions.  Oh, sweet Jesus the questions.  Questions about life.  About him.  About his sister.  About things he definitely already knows the answers to.  About things I'm not willing to answer until he's much, much older.

He has always been talkative but it's getting ridiculous.  It's becoming insufferable.  To listen to his much too loud albeit sweet voice from morning 'til night is in a word- EXHAUSTING.

"GOOD MORNING MOMMY!"  I hear before I even open his door. (He heard me coming)

And as the door is opening:

"Mama, did you know that Darth Mater can defeat Luke Skywalker? Did you know that, Mommy? Well, he can.  He can use his light saver. His light saver is red.  It's not blue like Luke's. That's because Darth Mater is a bad guy and Luke is a good guy.  Darth Moll is a bad guy too. I'm scared of Darth Moll.  That's why I don't want to have to fight him at the Jedi Training Academy at Disneyland.  What day are we going to Disneyland?  Are Papa and Grobin going?  Is my cousin coming?  Are we going to stay 'til late at night?  I like to stay up late at night.  That means I'm a big boy because little boys can't stay up late.  When I was a baby I went to sleep early because babies need more sleep because they're growing.  Do I grow every night when I'm asleep or just on the weekends?....."

See what I'm saying?  Nonstop jabber.  Questions.  No breaths in between.  No momentary pauses.  Just constant diarrhea of the mouth.  I don't know how to stop it or even curb it a little.  Sssshhhhusshhhhing and "PLEASE be quiet for a minute." just don't do the trick. I've tried BIG pieces of bubble gum, peanut butter and other things that one might think would keep a mouth busy.  To no avail.

So, what do I do?  Ignore him?  That seems cruel to me.  I don't want his little psyche affected for the rest of his life because his mommy didn't listen to him.

I enrolled both kids in swimming lessons for the summer.  What a nice way to get some exercise and learn to swim.  Class one began with The Big One introducing himself to his teacher.

"My names 'The Big One' and I'm four and a half years old.  This is my sister and she's only two and half.  We came swimming in this pool on Saturday with our Mommy and Daddy. I can touch the bottom but my sister can't.  Can you touch the bottom?  Are you a grown up?  Is this your job? ...."

The class went on for 30 minutes and he talked  the.entire.time.  Yes, they went under water.  And he emerged sputtering....but talking.  Talented, huh?

I absolutely adore his love for life. His need for knowledge.  His interest in everything.  I just need a teeny weeny bit of silence.

I think I'll type the next part of my post in the bathroom with the fan on...and my earplugs in.

Now for The Little One.  Let me begin by advising you the following depiction is DEEEE-SCUSTING!  It's graphic and real and nasty.  It involves copious amounts of ummm.... excrement.

My dear, sweet Little One is in the end stages of potty training.  Whoever said that girls are easier to potty train had never met our little angel.  The pee pee part of training has been fairly uneventful.  Once she got it, she got it.  No accidents to speak of.  She still wears her little Pull Up at night but otherwise she's good.

Thank God for that Pull Up!

My kids are nothing if not scheduled.  They both like structure and routine.  This even goes as far as potty times.  They're very predictable.  Somehow, some way The Little One has gotten herself on a nighttime poo schedule.

But she has that Pull Up on, right?  Right.  But that poor little Pull Up only holds so much.

Three mornings in the past week I've been greeted by the undeniable smell of sewage creeping under The Little One's door. Coincidentally, three mornings this week I've thrown her pajamas directly into the trash can.  Nuff said?

So, Thursday the poop meter hit a dangerous high.  I entered the sewer room to actual doo-doo on the floor. And not just a little...  How could this be?  Well, apparently, her poor Pull Up was so overloaded that she decided to just drop trou and let loose on the floor.  Classy, huh?  That's my girl.  Such a lady.

"Shit."  I muttered appropriately.  Followed by a defeated sigh. I mean, what can I do?  Yell at her?


Yeah.  That's not gonna do it.

We've talked to her on more than one occasion about letting Mommy and Daddy know when she has to go.  I'd happily trade the occasional midnight poop call for the daily carpet cleaning.

Plus, she's so cute about it all.  The fateful poop-on-the-floor day she said, "Well Mommy.  Poo came outta my diaper this time."  Her matter of factness helped me take it all with a grain of salt.  I love how she is such a girly girl.  Loving pink and purple and unicorns and princesses and babies and Barbies.  But she's not too much of a girl to shit on her bedroom floor.  Nice.

So, back to the soiled carpet. I dutifully retrieve my crap cleaning supplies and get to scrubbing.

And from the hallway I hear,

"Mommy, are you cleaning poo?  Did Lulu poop on the floor?  Dogs poop on the floor.  Remember when Charlie was smaller and she pooped on the floor?  Dogs are supposed to poop outside but Charlie didn't know that.  Can we play outside today?  I don't think it's going to rain.  Rain comes from clouds....."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 to drink

My husband and I are human beings. As far as I recall, we produced human children.

Why is it then, that whenever I am operating a vehicle my children morph into wild animals?

I consider myself a champion to even attempt to schlepp my little darlings to any public place.  Every now and then I wake in the morning delusional and auspicious with some crazy plan.  It usually involves the park, the mall or a certain, B-list amusement park.  I dream (foolishly) that we will have memory-making, scrapbook-worthy, good times.  That we will skip together, holding hands and giggling carelessly while unicorns trot by and gnomes sing nursery rhymes.

These dreams must be residuals from my higher younger days.  Reality usually kicks in the minute I put my key in the ignition.

I suffer the ridicule of driving a minivan.  I don't do it for fun or out of obligation.  I do it so my kids can't reach each other. The anguish of driving a fat, dumpy, mom mobile had been tolerable until recently.  Alas, these people are healthy, little fellows and despite my pleads,  have continued to sprout. Though once seemingly yards apart,  their arms now reach just far enough to pinch, punch or pilfer toys.  Their long, grasshoppery legs are long enough and bendy enough to deliver a sweet (seated), roundhouse kick.

"Momeeeeee!  Her foot is in my cupholder!"

"WAHHHHHHHHHH!  He's squeeeeeeezing me!"

"BWAAHHHHH!!!  He took my Doraaaaaaa!"

The assault can also be delivered non physically.

"She's looking at me!!"

"STOP SINGING!  Mama, she won't stop singing!"

"You're a BAD boy.  You're not gonna get treats today!"

...and one of my faves:
"I'm not your FRIEND!!"

The Big One is always bent because "She's staring at me!"  He loves to take this time to remind her that she's a baby and he's not.  That she shouldn't kick Mama's he's pummeling the passenger seat with his size 10s.  The Little One apparently applies butter to her hands before she boards the ship as she cannot hold on to anything once the wheels start turning.

"Mama!  Mama! Mama!  I dwopped my baby.  Get herrrrrrrrr!"

"Uh, uh uh uhhhhhhhhhh!  I dwopped my cup!  I dwopped my CUUUUUUUP!!"


There are some times that they are civil to each other. They try their damnedest to speak quietly so Mama can't hear them. They employ this time to try out some new vocabulary.  

I need a police-style, sound proof partition to shield my ears from their pre-school vernacular. The words that fall from their cherub-like mouths would make a sailor blush.  The constant barrage of  potty words makes me feel unclean.  Where do they hear these words?

I should prepare a Pre-School Potty Mouth Dictionary

Farty Head- One who's skull reeks of flatulence

Poopy Face- Having a likeness to excrement

Booty Licker- One with a propensity to taste hindquarters

Barfer- One who vomits often

I suppose I'm still kind of pre-schooler virgin. In time, God willing,  my ears will grow insensitive to the vulgarity, altercations, rivalry, brawls, thievery and overall bedlam.

Or I will stash a bottle of vodka and a pair of earplugs in my glove compartment.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oh Yeah...And Then There's Me.

I've given you the low down on everyone in my family.  I suppose now I should talk a bit about yours truly.  Great.

I am so fancy and multi-faceted I just don't know where to begin.

Let's start with my teenage years.  I was super cool and knew everything.  I stayed out past curfew and pushed every little button I could.  I smoked ciggies and drank beer.  Watch out!  I was a rebel.  I had a hot mouth and talked my share of trash to my parents- specifically to my mom.

Sound like anyone I've written about?  Mmmmm Hmmmm.  My mom wished these kids on me.  I distinctively remember her words:  "I hope you have children JUST LIKE YOU!"

OMG.  I totally did.

So, back to me.

All I've ever dreamed of being was a wife and mother.  Here I am living my dream and I suck at it.  I don't keep my house clean. I constantly lose my children and animals in the piles of laundry littering my house.  I'm not a chef.  I don't enjoy cooking and we eat a consistently rotating menu of about 10 meals-  most of which contain hot dogs or tater tots. My people do love fruits and veggies, though.   I don't set a good example for my kids.  I don't react to their antics with fluff and sugar- I yell.   I punish them with chores and time outs  instead of hugging them and lovingly explaining their shortcomings. I don't always like them (I DO always love them).  As much as  I'd love to tackle a fancy craft project each day with my little darlings, I more often find myself cleaning dried snot off the couch or scrubbing blue barf out of t-shirts.  I go to sleep at night upset with myself thinking of all the things I could be enjoying and how quickly this time goes by.  But....then the dawn breaks and I'm jostled awake by my little darling, The Big One screeching, "Mommy, get me out of my room NOW!"  Ahhhhh, bliss.

No one told me that my lack of patience would be so greatly exacerbated by giving birth.  Parenting is a constant exercise in patience.  But what about those of us who hate exercise?

That brings me to my next facet...body image.  It's been a constant force in my life.  And not a cool, "May the force be with you." kind of force.  It's force that's made me binge, starve, over exercise, under exercise and constantly critique myself.  Even thin as a rail I wasn't good enough.  At some point I must have subconsciously given up and decided that I'm just gonna be a blob.  My body is not my friend.  And that's just the body image part.  My body has also worked against me in ventures involving fertility. Isn't that what a woman's body is made to do? Procreate? My body begs to differ.  We endured two years of  tests, drugs, surgery and procedures but we finally won!  Success!  Pregnancy.  Ohhhh but my body couldn't let that be the end of it.  My pregnancies were not without complications.  More injections, restrictions, bed rest and finally an emergency C-section (both times!)  Thanks Body.  You're awesome.

Ok.  So there's that.

I'm also a photographer.  I've loved taking pictures as long as I can remember.  My passion has grown since giving birth to the two most beautiful subjects.  I could never do it for a living but taking pictures makes me really happy.  Really happy.

I've moved away from California twice in my life.  The first time I left I moved to Seattle.  After 4 consecutive months of rain I called my mom and begged her to bring a raft and  rescue me!  The second time I left California was due to the suckfest our economy was going through.  Working in the mortgage biz wasn't really working for me anymore.  We'd heard good things about Austin so off we went.  It was definitely an adventure.  We had The Little One while we were there which was exciting.  But alas, Texas is not California and I just couldn't hang.  We came home last February and I've never been more happy.

I'm generally a fun, happy kinda gal. Being myself means being a cut-up, laughing a lot and goofing around.  I wish I could be myself with my kids. I wish I wasn't "Mean Mama" so much.  I aspire to be Fun Mama.  Happy Mama. Good Mama. I don't know why I feel like letting go with them equals them not learning to behave.  I want them to be good people so badly that I'm forgetting to teach them to be fun people.  Each night I pray to the Gods of parenting that I'm not raising a couple of sociopaths.

Good and bad, I am who I am.  I'm on a journey to improve myself that I fear will never end.  I have my ups and downs.  I have kind of a 'take it or leave it' personality and am grateful to those who've chosen to 'take it'.  There are even a few parts of me that I hope my kids inherit.  I try to teach them and mold them but mostly I try not to ruin them.

So, yeah.  That's me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Saving Grace- "The Good One"

Each day in this house is a challenge in one way or another.  You've met "The Big One" and learned of his antics. You've been introduced to "The Little One" and her dramatic talents.  I've deemed myself  "The Screwer Upper" so you can imagine my stellar parenting skills.  Then there's "The Good One".  Aka: Daddy.

The Good One is just that.  The level headed one.  The fair one.  The calm one.  The fun one.  The silly one.  The one who brings home the bacon.  He's my lobster.  Without him I would surely be straight jacketed, rhythmically rocking back and fourth in a heavily padded room.  He's saved me, offered me alcohol, calmed me, supported me and unconditionally loved me on many, many occasions. I love him dearly.  He is the peanut butter to my jelly.  Oh, don't get me wrong.  He has his faults. I mean, what man actually hits the toilet every time. But whereas his are faults mine are full-on incriminations.

What?  You don't believe a person could possibly be so unequaled?  Hmph.  Listen to this...

The Big One and I recently took a trip together.  I had this crazed fantasy that we could spend some nice, quality time together and I could reestablish my reasoning for becoming a parent.  No, I hadn't been drinking.  I just have this fairytale continuously running in my head.  Fast forward to night 3 of our trip.  The Big One, running on merely hours of sleep is STILL awake at midnight!  I am running on slightly less rest but still have the juice to whisper-yell at my guy.  "GO. TO. SLEEP!", I bellow.  "But I'm thirstyyyyyy and I'm not even exhausted yet-uh!" he argues.  I begin my usual list of DS tomorrow, nap tomorrow...and then a big one (which is met with much less disgust than I had hoped), "You go to sleep or we are going to go home tomorrow!"  (Yes, I was actually going to follow through on that one.  I was that over it).  Finally, though looking forward to some alone time,  I lay down next to him to police his sleep.  I sat there and began to sob. (Hmmm, me, cry?  How unusual.)   What is wrong with this child?  What 4-year-old can be awake for 18 straight hours and not fall immediately asleep?  My 4-year old, that's who.  As I lay there still and silent I text The Good One and try to let go of some of my anguish.  He suggests that maybe everyone is over tired.  I cry harder.  He apologizes for my misery and wishes he could help.  He says he'll speak with The Big One in the morning.  I remind him that our first born is more intelligent than to to think that a threat from 850 miles away will be actualized.  He's out of answers.  I love his support of my overly dramatic sentiment but remind him again (yeah, we've been here before) that helping me find answers as to our son's behavior would be the best way to help me.

The rest of our trip was fun and relatively uneventful. Fast forward to our homecoming.  Kisses.  Hugs.  "I missed you"'s.  Good times.   I ask The Good One for a recap of his time with The Little One.  Blah, blah...Happy Meal.  Blah, blah huge bubble bath.  Blah, blah pancakes for dinner.  Blah, blah Legoland.  Blah, blah bookstore to find parenting books.


My husband read a book?  Wha?

Yes, my friends.  My man listens and actually acts.  He is currently reading a book about dealing with difficult children.  A book we don't already own.  One that I haven't read. (I think it's the only one left that I haven't read).

He is amazing.  He makes me better.  He is all that I am not.

And, he's all mine.  *sticking out tongue*

Sunday, March 20, 2011

And Now....For Your Dramatic Entertainment... The Little One!

Meet The Little One.  Aka: Lulu, Lu, Peach, Pretty Girl, Pickle, Pixie, Lulu Magoogoo, get the picture.  

Perhaps all  these "Stage Names" have contributed to her dramatic gift.  The Little One is our girl.  A girl in nearly every sense of the word.  She reminds us daily that her favorite colors are  pink and purple.   She adores  dresses and ruffles and  bows and sparkles.  She loves to dance and sing and  pretend.  Our  fireplace hearth is her stage.  She's been known to say things like, "I wish I had hearts in my eyes." She is bright and cheery and darling....and theatrical!! Like, face in the hands faking it  crying. On an almost daily basis she is someone new.  "I'm Aunt Nikki.", "I'm Dora.", "I'm Mama and I'm in charge."  The girl oozes drama. Everything is a big deal.  Is the world coming to an end? Nope,  The Little One's sippy cup has plummeted to the ground.  Have the Locusts come? On the contrary, Mama had the audacity to try and help her with her shoes.  Drama.

The Little One  is smart but not in the same brainy way her brother is.  She's not manipulative but she knows how to utilize her strengths to get what she wants.  And, she knows who to work: Daddy, Papa and PeePaw.   At the drop of a hat  this girl can turn on the waterworks. Shoulders shaking- sobbing.   As she weeps she slyly migrates towards her victim whomever she's deemed most likely to pity her.  It's actually really  funny to watch.  She's already quite adept at working the Little Sister angle.  From another room she will  start to fuss,  "Bubba hiiiiiiit meeeeeee." I peek away  from  whatever I'm  doing to find The Big One in a completely different  room!  Really? We try not to play into it too often. The Good One is admittedly more of a sucker than I am. It's cute now but in time will be little more than irritating.

This girl adores her brother.  So much so  that she has  taken a liking  to many of his sassy-isms.   "I'm not your fwiend."  "Don't sing MY song."  "I wanna make a deal."  While I try not to compare my children too often  I do  find  their differences intriguing.  Their intellect is different, their sass has  totally different intent, their social interactions are like night and day.  I don't worry that The Little One will react impulsively or aggressively.  But I do worry about her lack of judgement and fear of NOTHING.  (except the remote control Big Foot!)

I feel guilty a lot when it comes to  matters of The Little One.  I worry that she doesn't get enough quality attention from us.  Her brother is a full time job.  He demands  most  of our time and for that I feel bad for her.  I feel badly that I haven't spent as much time reading to her, teaching her and nurturing her.  I know this is probably a fairly common feeling in cases of subsequent children but  it's a valid feeling nonetheless.  I'm ruining this one in totally different ways.  I coddle her.  I spoil  her.  I encourage her love of shoes.

This is all new to me.  The Big One, strangely enough, was an angel at age two.  He was dear and sweet and attentive.  This Little One is the opposite!  She is wiggly and remiss and evasive.  She begs to watch Dora and watches attentively for maybe 3 minutes.  She cases the house looking for things to get into.  If something is harmful you can bet she'll find it.

In one of my recent, harsh, self-judging sessions I realized that I parent The Little One completely differently.  I let things slide with her that I would never allow with The Big One. Discipline has much more of an effect on her so I threaten more and act less.  We are so focused on pointing out positive behaviors with The Big One that I often find myself slack in doing the same for The Little One.  I realize that parenting must be tailored to each child but I have a strong compulsion to balance the scales. .  If one gets, the other gets.  In that arena I am competing for gold...I'm ruining them both!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Kicking Butt and Calling Names- Meet The Big One

Let  me introduce you to The Big One.

 A few politically correct adjectives to describe him:

  • Wicked  intelligent
  • Cute as a button
  • Animated
  • Articulate
  • Sprightly
  • Affectionate
  • Chatty
  • Witty
  • Opinionated
  • Hands-on
  • Creative
  • Well spoken
  • Loving
  • Protective
  • Caring

    Now, a few alternate descriptions:
    • Wicked  intelligent  He is quite adept at knowing when to capitalize on his brainpower and when to let it lie.
    • Cute as a button  His darling face is the only thing that's kept him alive on many occasions
    • Animated  Forceful and excitable 
    • Articulate  Eager to point out shortcomings and share his thoughts on how to improve
    • Sprightly  Hyper
    • Affectionate  Has a propensity for TIGHT, squeezing hugs and bearish pats on the back
    • Chatty   This. Kid. Talks. Nonstop.  From  the minute he wakes until he goes to  sleep at night. 
    • Witty  Usually has some little quip or wisecrack to add to any conversation
    • Opinionated  Oh, you didn't want ask for his opinion?  Too bad.  You got it of charge. 
    • Hands-on    The World Wrestling Federation could take some pointers from this boy
    • Creative  Has a bazillion schemes ideas that behoove him in some way or another. 
    • Well spoken   Forms grammatically correct sentences and thoughts that would rival any teenager.  E.g. "Actually Mama, instead of taking a nap I'd prefer to play with my toys in a quiet manner." (Yes,  those words came from his sassy little mouth). 
    • Loving  At any given point in the day that he feels he hasn't gotten sufficient attention he will randomly declare his love for one of us and deliver a cavalcade of unsolicited physical attention hugs and kisses
    • Protective Will go to great lengths to defend the honor of his precious sister though, in reality is most likely using his creativity  (see above) to pummel someone in  a hands-on (see above) way.
    • Caring Cares about toys, treats, games and fun things in general.  

    Don't let my sarcastic if not slightly skewed description of The Big One put you off.  He really is a smart, charming, funny, sweet boy.  He definitely has his faults and drives me to drink most some days.  He also brings me to tears on a regular basis just by exhibiting his tenacity, happy spirit or even his raw vulnerability.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself reduced to a complete ball of mush over such seemingly insignificant things-  things that normal kids do every day.

    Let me paint a picture for you. A few mornings ago I awoke to the sounds of squeals and giggles.  A cheerful way to wake up, no?  In some instances, yes.  But in this particular instance the squeals were evil and the giggles were LOUD. I hesitantly walked  down  the stairs to find  The Big One at the kitchen  table with a Play-Doh set that had been  hidden in the garage.  Next to him, to my complete horror sat a steak  knife.   His awesome  Play-Doh  plan had been  foiled by a pesky cellophane wrapper.   Hmmmm, what to do?  Crafty as ever, he got his stool from  the bathroom, reached up onto the kitchen counter and chose a knife from the block.  He had sliced open the wrapper and thankfully none of  his appendages,  then proceeded to happily create. When I happened upon this crime scene I was LIVID!  His  innocent, impish look infuriated me further. Through blinking (most likely blazing)  eyes I started to scream..."WHAT THE  H..."  I stopped myself mid sentence.  See, I go to therapy.  I know yelling is not a successful parenting tactic. I know that it only escalates already tumultuous situations.  I know.  I KNOW, GAWD!  My mind is racing with expletives and plans of torturous consequences as I continue....


    "I didn't want to wake you and The Little One up so I decided to get this Play-Doh out and entertain myself",  he says logically.

    Seething, I send him to his room.   I count to ten...thousand.  Ok, I'm calm.

    Luckily, the day before we  had agreed  upon the next consequence for bad choices.   He had the opportunity to choose and had settled on all day in his room.  Even I felt this was a bit harsh for a 4 year old but he'd  made the decision on his own so I let  it fly.  Fast forward to the end of the day and he had indeed spent  nearly the entire day in his room.

    I'm getting to my point, I swear.

    The next morning, while free of Play-Doh  incidents, was challenging nonetheless.  He was oppositional and sassy. Evey answer I had for him was the wrong  answer and would send him  into a huffing, grunting rage. By the time we pulled up in front of his school I was already dreading the pick up. It would more than likely include his (poor) teacher's report of the day's mischief.  One of his peers would without  doubt be going home the proud owner of  my child's dental impressions. (Yes, he still busts out the biting card  from time to time.)   His name would surely be on the red, frowny  face  section of The Daily Behavior chart.  I know, I exude positivity, don't I?  But these scenarios are things we're used to dealing with.

    Ok. So, I walk into his classroom  with my emotional armor on.  I'm ready to be tough.  Through the sea of little people I see his sparkly,  little eyes.  He's beaming.  Before I could even get to him he jumped  up and shouted,   "Mama!!  I had a DAZZLING day!!!"

    What the....?

    Dazzling?   An addition to his vocabulary?  Cool.  It never dawned on me that he might be serious.

    Turns out there is an  illustrious blue (aka: Dazzling) section on the Daily Behavior chart.   And there, all by itself in that beautiful blue section, was my guy's name.  The angels sang!  A beautiful light shone from above!  And, to my great surprise I stood there stunned, crying like a little girl.

    It's HUGE victories like these that keep me trying every day.  Trying to help him be the boy I know he can be. Trying to understand that he's still a baby. Trying to remind myself  that all  these exasperating traits that he owns at age four will make him a strong, successful, responsible man. Trying not to completely ruin him.  Trying to help myself  be the Mama I want to and hope I can be.  These shining  moments are usually pretty few and far between but when they do show up the sun shines and the birdies sing...and  Mama cries.