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.

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.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Well, Hello There!


    I think I may be the only person I know who doesn't  blog.  The thought had never really crossed my mind until very recently.  The hilarity that ensues in my household on a daily basis is deserving of a sitcom;  canned laughter  and all. My  mom is forever reminding me to "Write that down.  You'll want to remember it."  So, this is the manner in which I have decided to put pen to paper.

    The theme in my life as of late has been what a top quality mom I am.  Friends are always quick to remind me that no mom  is perfect.   I am always quick to remind them that that saying was invented to make craptastic moms  like me feel better.  No one is perfect.  Duh. But, in the race to be the best, if slightly imperfect mom...I'm running backwards.  I have the innate ability to screw up just about every aspect of the child rearing arena.   No pity, please.   My self deprecating banter is just that.  A way for me to vent.   I know I love my kids.  I know I would catch a grenade for them. (You like that hip, musical reference?) I am also aware of my flaws and shortcomings as a mother.  Instead of beating myself up (too much) about it I choose to go forth with  honesty and  humor.

    Care to join me?