Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Parenting in the Gray Areas

Confession: Most of the time I feel like I am totally winging it.

This week what has me particularly confused is what is acceptable and what is unacceptable when it comes to middle school boys and girls interacting together. It's no surprise, given that I have 3 almost 14-year-olds in the house that this issue would come up. Although it's always come up. I have boys and girl that are the same age. ALL of their parties have had boys and girls. ALL of their outings have had boys and girls. And, mostly, I have to say that I view taking an interest in the opposite sex as a good thing. It is, if you look on developmental charts, an actual developmental milestone. Like walking, or saying two letter sentences, or learning to go potty on the potty (by the way, watch for my next post on potty regression...grrrr!) I wouldn't stop my kids from learning how to read when they were ready, so why on earth would I [try to] stop them from taking an interest in the opposite sex when they were ready. To be sure it is alot like giving a toddler a loaded gun, which is where the gray areas come in. How do I allow my kids the space to grow up but still keep a tight enough rein so they aren't put in situations where they won't be able to make good choices?

Take this weekend as a for instance:

On Friday, Jonathan and Trisha went to the movies with a mixed group of friends. On Sunday, Jonathan and Trisha went bowling with a mixed group that included their "boyfriend" and "girlfriend". To be honest, there was very little difference between the two outings. Both included rowdy boys and rowdy girls. Both included lots of hugging and flirting. Both included me creeping in the background (or the foreground...whatever...) If I put up video of the two nights and asked you to pick which one included the "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", I think you wouldn't be able to. So, how can I say it's OK to go out with friends but not OK to go out with a "boyfriend"? Either way I am creeping in the background (or the foreground...whatver...) And, to be frank, I feel much better about this sort of situation than I will about some loser who can't wait to get his hands on my daughter, picking her up in his car and driving away without me coming along! At least this gives me SOME opportunity to see how they handle themselves and some opportunity to provide feedback.

Here's what I have figured out on the topic:

1) It doesn't matter what my pastor, best friend, or mom does. No one has raised my kids and Rob and I have to make the decisions regarding what works best for them.

2) Acceptable: boys and girls coming over to my house and playing outside with constant adult supervision. Unacceptable: Boys and girls being up in a bedroom together with the door closed.

Pretty much I'm still trying to figure out everything else in between.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hollister ~ A Metaphor for Life

This past weekend I spent some time doing I something I tend to do often-shopping. And, it seems more often than not, whenever I go shopping I end up at Hollister.

If you've never been to Hollister, let me tell you about it. It's dark. And, by dark I mean that it is hard for me to read the size labels and the price tags. It smells overwhelmingly like cologne. And, by it smells, I mean I need to dose up on Zyrtec before I go in there. It has really, really loud music. And, by really, really loud music, I mean like what it sounds like in my car when Jessie's Girl comes on the radio. And, it has pictures of scantily clad men and women on the walls. And by pictures of scantily clad people, I mean...well, I bet you know what I mean.

The first time I went to Hollister, I swear I had never felt so old in my life. In fact, I'm pretty sure that those things are probably well researched tactics to get moms to spend money. I don't really care what Trisha picks out. And, If I could see the price tags, I wouldn't really care what things cost, just get me out of this loud, stinky place. I thought no place could be worse than Hollister. Then, I went to The Children's Place.

Suddenly Hollister wasn't so bad.

I mean at Hollister, the loud music drowns out any whiny children that might be there. At Hollister, there are chairs you can sit in while the people you are with shop. At Hollister, no one asks me if I want to give my email for coupons, my phone number for mailings. No one asks me if I want to open a credit card or take a survey. They just ring up my stuff and let me pay and leave.

And, isn't that kinda just like life.

Sometimes it's smelly. Sometimes it's loud. Sometimes it's dark. And if I focus on that, life doesn't seem like a great place. But, if I focus on the good things about life, it makes it seem a whole lot better.

Ah...gee, thanks, Hollister!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Things I learned from Mom

I think there are phases in a mother-daughter relationship. Right? I mean when you're little, your mom is your everything. And, then you get a little older, like maybe 13 or 14, and your mom magically become some sort of idiot with whom you have to endure. Then you become a young adult and you start to sort of pick at everything she did and imagine how you are going to do everything different.

Finally, one day, you become a mom yourself and you realize just what it is exactly that your mom did for you, how much she loves you and you finally understand the sacrifices she made. So, today, I have a list of things I learned from my mom. Of course, this is in no way an exhaustive list...just what I am thinking of today.

1. Linda will cringe, but I learned it's important to be involved in your children's lives. My mom was picture lady, PTA president, girl scout leader, team mom, and party organizer for us.

2. A glass of wine after a long day can really be a lovely way to have a more relaxed evening :)

3. Spend money on things that allow you to have fun with the people you love. Whether it's the extra room in the condo every year in Florida so people can visit, or buying a house with a big enough back yard so that every one in the family can play, she never skimps when it comes to having fun with loved ones.

4. A woman can be a great mom whether she stays home full time or whether she works outside the home. My mom did both throughout the course of my life. It taught me that either choice is good. It also taught me that it's OK to want and need stimulation from a job outside of the home.

5. The value of a person is not in how they look, but in who they are. As a girl who has struggled with her weight all.of.her.life., my mom has had to tell me over and over and over again that beauty is not what you look like, it's who you are. I needed that reminder again just a few months ago. I guess I still need my mom :)

6. If someone in your family needs you, then you are there. No questions asked. There has never been a time that I needed my mom and she wasn't there. When I was getting married and was about to walk down the aisle, she was the first who stood up. When the triplets were born, I came out of post-op and she was the first face I saw. When Jaden had multiple, unplanned surgeries, she's been there. I don't think she's missed a single funeral or graduation party or wedding of anyone in our large extended family. Being a part of a family means being there. Period.

There are many, many more of course. This is just a few.

So, mom, I hope Dad and T'Rone spoil you today...you deserve it. Thanks the blood, sweat and tears you've invested into my life. I love you!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Did you just say stupid? Oh no you didn't!

Hayleigh said the word "stupid" yesterday. It's true. She has older siblings. You know those kids with the "older siblings" ~ always way ahead of their time! I have to admit though, I am a little confused on how to react.

With the older kids, there was NO saying stupid. There was no saying shut up. One of the kids dropped an I-bomb (idiot) once and was chewing on a bar of soap faster than you could say, "Holy Overreaction, Batman!" Those, my friends, were very, very bad words.

Then they went to school.

I think we were about oh, 3 days into Kindergarten before someone called Trisha stupid. She was shocked that such foul language was allowed in this institution of learning and she was shocked that someone would direct that sort of foul language at her. And, she was shocked that no one in charge really seemed to care. To this day, Trisha does not like that girl. When I ask her why she doesn't hang out with her, Trisha will say, "remember, she called my stupid in Kindergarten." Never mind she's been called much worse by people she still hangs around. That's HOW shocking it was!

Then there was what we will refer to as "The Middle Finger Incident".

Another student told Trisha and Jonathan that they could not stick up their middle finger. Not knowing there was anything wrong with that and thinking this was purely a challenge of physical aptitude, Trisha and Jonathan gave this student ye ole double bird and said with pride, "See! Yes we can!". Just when they were marvelling at their feat of physical aptitude, just when they were thinking they were magical...maybe even biwinning...the bus driver looked up to see why everyone was gasping. And, well, I am sure you can imagine the rest of the story.

All this to say sometimes I wonder if I adequately prepared my children for the world. I wonder if teaching them not to use foul language, to be kind, to let others be first, to not promote yourself, to not tear others down...I wonder sometimes if that put them at a disadvantage. The world is a cruel game. School is, often times, a cruel game. How do I teach my children to be both a kind, caring, moral person, and still make sure they have enough chutzpah to survive? Maybe saying something is stupid isn't the end of the world.

Of course, maybe it is. What do I know? I am just the I**** mom who is STILL trying to figure it all out!