Thursday, December 26, 2013

Parenting Beyond

Sometimes all you can do is sit with yourself. And think. Sometimes all you can do is be honest and hold yourself accountable. Specifically, for the things you haven't been doing well. That's where I've been lately.

My kid does not have good parents lately. And by "lately" I mean for the last year. (At least.) Reading this blog post by Hands Free Mama the other day really drove home this point for me. And then, when I re-read this post of mine, well, I just felt awful.  I know that I am sometimes a bully to him. I know that both his parents sometimes bully him. It's simply unacceptable. The parent I've become is not the one my son (either of them) deserves, not the one I want them to have.

The whole birth-5yrs age range is one I'm good at. I totally know how to deal with it. Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect at it, because lord knows I'm not. But, I'm knowledgeable and feel pretty competent even in addressing and overcoming the inevitable bumps in the road.

However, since the kid has surpassed that age range, well, I've been grasping at straws, fumbling along, and overall sucking. Now, it's not like that's a completely new realization for me. But, reading that blog post made me really face that what I've been sucking at has serious and long-term implications for my son and for our relationship. And that was like a punch in the gut. And, hopefully, an impetuses to change.

Unfortunately for the kid, baby E was born just before the kid passed out of the range I'm good at. And, had E not come along at that particular point, I might have managed this all better. But he did. And I didn't. So here we are. Two, almost 3 years later, my poor boy with a crappy momma.

Now, I have my moments, when I'm not so bad, moments when I feel like I've hit the nail on the proverbial parenting head, but I feel like those are few and far between. I don't expect perfection - from either of us ("done is better than perfect" is one of my favorite sayings), but I do want to be able to look back at the end of a week and not think, "aw crap" when I review the parent I've been to him. I find myself often frustrated by, impatient with, and overall pissed off by what I*know* are typical behaviors for his age. We're talking, lying, sneakiness, being inconsiderate of others. (Also, please know, these are not behaviors my kid does all the time; most of the time he is such a good, kind, sweet boy. But, when these behaviors do pop up, well, ugh.)

I think my frustration is mostly because I don't know what to do to address those behaviors. I know all about 123 Magic and we use it with varying degrees of success (it works for stopping a behavior already in progress, but not in preventing those behaviors). I know about behavior charts, but, and I'll be honest here, hubby is not on board with these (in that he lacks the consistency to make them work. Which is an issue in and of itself, I admit). Also, I don't find that they again help in the preventing of the behaviors. Lots of techniques we've used work in redirecting him mid-behavior. Not much works (thus far) in preventing.

I don't know where to start. I feel like there are tons of books, blogs, and other resources for the littles, and for the teens. (Funny enough, those are the ages I feel best at, either end of the spectrum.) But, I can't seem to find anything for this age (the kid is 7, almost 8). Perhaps this is the "easy" age for everyone else and I'm just the oddball.

So, here's where you come in. What are your best (concrete!!!) tips for parenting school-aged kids? What books, what blogs, what resources do you suggest? Throw 'em at me. Please.

I will be a better parent this year. It's my I-don't-make-New-Years-resolutions resolution for 2014. And I need you to help me and to hold me accountable.

Today's Lesson: It can be hard to admit you are wrong. It can be hard to admit you need help. Certainly both are also humbling.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Dressing them all up in their Halloween costumes and taking pictures with Santa seemed like such a good idea...

Merry Christmas, all!

Today's Lesson: Some pictures don't turn out like we would have liked. But they certainly tell a story.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Elf (not) on the Shelf

The kid has been asking for weeks about when our own Elf on the Shelf would be showing up at our house. The answer that screams in my head whenever he asks is, "NEVER will one of those creepy-ass, crazy-eyed things come in my house!!!!!!!!!!!". The one that comes out of my mouth is slightly more child-friendly than that. But the kid hasn't been buying it. Apparently there's one in his classroom at school. And several friends have them. So he assumes everyone has (or should have) one. 

And I was getting sick of finding new (nice) ways to explain why there would be no pointy-eared creeper in our house. So, the following letter was born. And delivered to his just hung up stocking on Friday night.

December 13, 2013
Dear Kid,

I hear you've been asking about whether an Elf will be showing up at your house this year. Your Momma and I chatted about it, and we don’t think you and baby E need an Elf to watch and make sure you’re behaving as you should. We believe you have it in your heart to treat others with kindness and love whether anyone is watching you or not. And, in fact, this is my expectation of you all year round, not just at Christmas time.

However, because this is a time of year we try even more than usual to think about and care for others, I have a few challenges for you. First, your Momma told me that she and Poppa have chosen a couple of families who need some extra love and support this year. I’d like you to help her choose gifts for the families. I bet you and baby E can even come up with something extra to do for them to make their Christmas even more special – because you are creative and loving boys.

Second, I’d like you to think of, and then do, at least 1 or 2 acts of kindness for others before Christmas. Some ideas I have are: baking cookies for firemen, making Christmas cards for neighbors, and offering to help your Gram with something. But I know you will have some great ideas, too. I can’t wait to hear about what you come up with and how it goes!

I can’t wait to hear about the loving things you’re doing for others!

Merry Christmas,


So, it went over great. He came running in to tell me about the letter Saturday morning, asking to go shopping with me. And he was even (mostly) patient and helpful at the store. He (sort of) helped me wrap them up. But, and what's most exciting to me, he's been brainstorming ideas of things to do for others, and trying to pin us down on when he can do them. We'll be delivering the gifts to the families in the next week, the boys going with us. And the boys and hubby are going to do some acts of kindness the end of this week (as they're off school starting Wednesday). I'll make sure to let you know what the kid decides to do and how it goes.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we forget to focus on the big picture (the people we want our kids to ultimately be) and get stuck on the small details we find irritating (burping at the dinner table). Also, the only elves welcome in my house are the kind who clean house for free.