A little too much Beverly Goldberg?

I love Beverly Goldberg.  I feel like I am the modern-day Beverly Goldberg wanna-be. I grew up in the 80’s, I love big hair (although, try as I might, my hair is too fine to give me that fantastic big-hair look), I love big hair rock bands, I love colorful sweaters with padded shoulders (I do still own one, that I purchased circa 1989), I love pastel colors, and floofy skirts.

And I love my kids.  Almost as much as Beverly Goldberg loves hers.

And you know what I mean by that.

My problem is getting close to that line….and crossing it…when it comes to Nosy-Mother-Syndrome.

For years I have heard and read articles on “make sure you communicate with your children…..know where they are….who their friends are…..who they are with…..build a relationship with your kids so there will be mutual trust.”   For the most part, hubby and I have succeeded in developing fantastic relationships with our boys.  We have always eaten dinner as a family (unless hubby is traveling or we luck out and go on a date night).  On weekends, I cook up nice “fancy” breakfasts that we all eat together. We’ve gone on vacation trips together and seen things and hung out together….instead of shipping them off to a vacation “kiddie camp”.  We go out to dinner as a family once a week. And for 98% of the time, both parents are at each child’s sporting event.   We ask them about school, we (ok….I) can sense when something isn’t “right.” And they talk to us. It’s great.

But we have now entered the teen-age years with the twins. And they have mobile communication devices. With social media apps.  Parenting has become a whole lot more sophisticated in terms of technology, and keeping up with it.

I remember the teen-age years.  A teen-ager wants (and needs?) to be left alone to sort out feelings and friendships. A teen-ager doesn’t want to have a clingy mom hanging on or spying or questioning every move.  Teen-agers typically push parents away.

Luckily there hasn’t been any pushing or shoving away YET.  There’s been some “MOOOOOOMMMMMMM, leave me alone.” And I can handle that.  But I want to continue to stay involved and have the lines of communication open, but without crossing the boundaries.

For example, T-man has been texting with a girl for several weeks.  I am *dying* to know what they write about (and I know T-man well enough that it is all clean, and platonic, and most likely bordering BORING). But I want to know.  So I have to think back 20+ years and remember that my mom (for the most part….that I know of or can remember) respected my privacy by not listening on the other phone or reading my diary.

As for M-Man, he’s a lot more secretive and sneakier.  He is always on the verge of pushing boundaries or acting slightly suspicious. I feel the need to  Spot-check his device for inappropriate stuff or breaking rules–and I have caught him on 2 occasions with breaking rules.

So for now I have to continue  trusting my kids, keep talking with them, keep trying to be the “cool mom” ……without crossing the Beverly Goldberg line.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Electronic Devices

I have decided that I have a love/hate relationship with electronics…..especially actually when it comes to my kids.

Up until recently, my kids have not been video-game junkies. They have had Leap Frog game consoles, then we got a Wii, then Nintendo DS.  The Leap Frog and the DS were primarily used for car rides and restaurant trips.  Isn’t it nice to go out to dinner and have the waitress say “What well behaved children you have!”…..only to secretly thank the Japanese for their technology. At home, they have always had a nice mix of TV, books, games, creative play (LEGO, manhunt, pirates, etc), sports.  And some “gaming” thrown in too.  I was never worried or concerned about over-excessive thumb use.

Until recently.

This past Christmas, Santa was so kind to bring each of the big boys an iPod Touch each.

And it has been non-stop thumb work-outs. I’ve tried to set limits.  One hour per day.

They would wake up and play, and then I’d say “OK, one hour is up”…..one would complain that he only played for 1/2 hour (because he woke up later), so I would have to keep track of another 30 minutes. And then they’d go to school, do their homework, and whip out their iPods and start playing again, and get away with it, because I’m busy making dinner….they are quiet….and I forgot about the mornings One-Hour Rule.

And then I would have Little Guy complain “But I didn’t play for an hour!!”…..and sometimes he is allowed to play his bro’s IPT (as it is referred to at our house)…..but sorry, Little Guy…..I consider standing over your bro’s shoulder and staring at the video screen for two hours pretty much the same as actually playing.

And now summer vaca has rolled around.  The first three weeks of their vacation has been pretty tiring (IMO….perhaps it’s just Mommy-Guilt). First week was basketball camp in 90 deg temps, 2nd week was non-stop 5 hrs of flag football camp, and last week was full day (8:30am-4:30pm) YMCA camp.  On top of that, they had soccer team tryouts, Wed. night Summer Basketball, two nights of fireworks, parties with friends.  Seeing how tired my 3 fellas were, I thought being a couch-butt wouldn’t be a bad thing. I  allowed them to play their electronic devices (the DS’s came back into action too….as well as their computer MINECRAFT game). And then I noticed….from 6am til bedtime (while not in camp) all 3 kidlets were on an electronic device.

But then, I realized that it’s summer.  Being stuck inside should be a winter thing.  I asked, requested, cajoled, instructed, and then finally DEMANDED they go outside.  It was as if I was asking them to enter Hades. And the temps aren’t scorching like they are in the rest of the country.  Mid 80’s at best. They would go out for 10 minutes, and come back inside for more thumb workouts. I hope this isn’t the redefined “summer vacation.”  Where are my creative, energetic kids?

Yesterday, we thought it might be a nice day to take the boat out—Hubby’s foot has been doing much better—we gave the kids a choice —go boating or spend the day playing video games (this was a test from Hubby).  T-Man answered….”Dad, we could have the best of both worlds–play video games for the 2 hr car ride up and 2 hr car ride back, and be in the boat during the day.” M-Man (my outdoors guy) ACTUALLY said he rather stay home because he can’t get wi-fi in the car!  The look of disappointment on Hubby’s face was indescribable.

So I have taken away all electronic devices for the entire week.

The car ride up to the lake? One hour of playing car games as a FAMILY, and one hour of reading.  One the way home–one hour of talking about what a great day we had, and one hour of reading/talking/playing. Absolutely fabulous.

This week’s VBS camp is only half-day, 9am-12pm.  Plenty of time to enjoy the fabulous 80 deg, sunny weather we will have this week OUTSIDE PLAYING.

Right now, as I type this….on my electronic device….I can hear the TV on in the other room…but I also hear them creatively role-playing. It is awesome.

I think we’re going to have a great week around here. And in the mean-time, I think the VP is going to have to re-work the Electonic Device Policy.

Mommy Fail

Everyone knows that being a Mommy is quite possibly one of the hardest jobs.  The rules change, there is no manual, unexpected things happen. We all try our hardest, but sometimes come up short.

One area which I have come up terribly short this year is Little Guy’s Birthday. It’s in the middle of February.  Every year I feel like Little Guy is gipped in some way.  It’s too close after Christmas, I have 3 January Birthdays to deal with first,  the ho-hum cold dreary days of February aren’t very motivating, and then I”m usually focused on planning a short little ski get-away for February break.  Very low on my priority list is Little Guys’ Birthday.  And this year, because of M-Man’s broken arm…..we don’t even have a present for Little Guy!  (but he is SO hard to buy for as he only plays with what his brothers have or sports….and we really don’t need any more balls in this house!)

HOW TERRIBLE OF ME!!!  He is such a ray of sunshine, such a happy guy, and his Bday takes a back seat!!

Luckily for me, he is also very low key. He has *never* asked for a huge party at an (expensive) venue with his whole class.  He’s very content and pleased-as-punch to just invite 3 or 4 of his closest mates for a little get-together.  This year’s fete was a sleep-over, where I invited his friends 2 days before. And can I tell you? They had the BEST time building Lego, playing video games, and playing football in the front yard.

And…..the Birthday cake….I was inspired by fellow blogger who tried to make a LEGO cake for her son’s Birthday.  I’m not a great baker.  (if you have a good memory, you’ll remember I really don’t like to bake.) But because I strive to be a good mommy, and I know good mommy’s make beautiful cakes for their children’s Birthday, I have on occassion tried to create for my own kids.

For T&M’s 7th Birthday, we were living in England, and the boys wanted a Knight-themed party, so I built a castle.

And for Little Guy’s 3rd Birthday, when he was going NUTS over tractors, I ordered a Tractor cake pan from the US and  spent HOURS decorating the Famous Tractor Cake:

This year’s attempt at the LEGO brick cake…..well…..take a look and feel free to comment (NOT)

But the beauty of it is, the kids don’t care. Little Guy loved it…..and he had a great 7th Birthday!!  His smile takes away this Mommy Fail.

And on a side note, I’ve already got NEXT year’s party all planned….and I will call the Baker!  Cheers, all!

This Sucks. (or does it?)

Language. It’s an interesting thing.  After the kidlets drove away in the big yellow school bus this morning, my neighbor and I discussed language–and how some words have different meanings in different languages, and how some English words have different interpretations as well. This conversation is actually an on-going conversation about kids/language/school….and the word SUCKS.

Several weeks ago, T-man got into some major trouble at school. apparently, he said “this sucks” out-loud during computer class. The teacher heard him, took him out to the hallway, lectured him on using PROFANITY in her classroom, took him to the principal’s office for another lecture on profanity, and sent a note home for both Hubby and I to sign.

As with everything that goes on with our kids, we ask questions. I ask lots of questions–to get the entire story, as well as to see if the story changes. According to T, the comment was not directed at the teacher (she was standing in another part of the classroom) nor at the assignment.  His computer was very slow to boot up (or some other technical glitch was occurring), and he said at the computer “this sucks.”  I totally believed his story.

I signed the note for the teacher, but I also sent her an email.  I wrote:

 I do not consider “this sucks” to be profanity.  I used the phrase as a kid, I use it as an adult, Hubby uses the phrase….even my proper mother says “this sucks” when something displeases her.  Maybe it was inappropriate–T-man could definitely have used better word choices, such as ” this stinks”, “bummer,” “my computer isn’t working”….or better yet, not said anything at all. But I disagree that it was profanity.  As a matter of fact, T-man (during the tongue-lashing he received) didn’t know what the word “profanity” meant!  However, I do know that my boys do know “profane” or “swear” words–and they definitely do know better than to use any of them in front of adults.

The day that this transpired, I posted the question of “Do you consider “this sucks” to be profanity?” on FB.  It started a very informative, lively, and frank discussion. I received 22 comments from friends–and they ranged from a few “Yes, that is not allowed to be said in my house” to “At least he didn’t drop the F-bomb”  to “You should hear how High School kids talk” to “No, that is part of everyday language.”

Sadly, in today’s society, so many “swear” words are being used so non-chalantly. Have you watched TV lately? I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard the word “Bitch” on TV…..during daytime or primetime.  Also, someone told me that “this sucks” is a common term on iCarly  (just shows you how much I pay attention).  But I did catch a Tide commercial the other day—a parent of triplets were folding clothes. At the end of the commercial, the mom (obviously tired of doing laundry) says “this sucks.”

But now let’s talk about another use of the word “sucks.”  What prompted my neighbor to re-visit the discussion on the word today was that a boy in her daughter’s 4th grade class told her (J-the daughter) to “suck this.”  And recently, I heard one of my boys say “suck me” as well.  Do these kids even know what they are saying? IMO, this is profane use of the word “suck.”  Interesting how “this sucks” doesn’t bother me, but “suck this” or “suck me” does bother me.  How do I explain to my kids why one is OK and the other isn’t? Why can they say “I”m going to take a poo”, but it irks me when they say “I’m going to take a crap”?  M-man has actually caught on to my modified-F-word.  Instead of dropping the F-bomb, I say “fudge.” And now M-man does too. But of course, I know what his intent is (because I see him catching himself before he drops an F-bomb in front of his mom).

Language…..what interesting dilemmas it poses for us parents.

The Scream

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Image Detail

Do I feel better? No, not really. Life at Thomas Inc has been……..grossly overwhelming as of late. I have been a ball of tears, screaming at my kids, screaming at my Hubby, waiting for the next shoe to drop. Headaches, stomach aches, grinding teeth, heavy heart.  It’s been mainly caused by having to deal with  one of my son’s “transition” issues on returning back to school. His impulsiveness and lack of organization, as well as his lackadaisical attitude, all compound the issues.  All while dealing with it alone as Hubby is traveling for 2 weeks.

I’m not one who asks for help.  For whatever reason, my inner voice has always believed in “My problem, I solve it/deal with it.” It’s my kid, my issue. Just like when the twins were babies, and I was having trouble dealing with baby times two…it was my primary responsibility to care for them. Who else would understand? As a matter of fact, I am feeling so much like I did back then, that I might just call my doctor to see about getting some more happy pills so that I can somehow cope better.

I have spent the last 11 days analyzing “Where did I go wrong?” “What could I have done differently?” “Would have it mattered?”

The answers I came up with, was that I did everything to the best of my ability. Some things I cannot control or change. Nature probably beat out nurture on this one. I can only continue to love him, support him, and help him in any way that I can.

I have a great amount of new respect for those single parents out there.  Wow—Kudos to you for doing it on your own. This “solo-parenting for a short while” is not new to me. Hubby has traveled once a month for 9 years now. Granted, this is only the 3rd or 4th time he’s done a 2 week trip. But, man, I’ve never had to deal with the multitude of issues/feelings that I am dealing with now. It’s been a very long, depressing 2 weeks.

Happy Campers

It’s that time of year again, folks.  Finding camps and activities for the young ‘uns during the summer months.

It’s CRAZY, man!

I remember when we lived in England, this very well-trained American starting researching summer options in APRIL. I came up with nothing, nada, zilch.  Why? you ask.  School doesn’t get out until mid-July, so the summer camp/activity people in the UK don’t start printing and sending out material until the end of June. That means you only have 4 weeks or less to get a spot for your child in the activity you/he/she wishes to participate in.

BUT NOT HERE!!!  It’s May 9th, and I feel like I’m behind. Do we go with the very low priced Recreation Department programs (the ones that my kids have done year after year…..), the High School sponsored sports camps, or the “semi-professional” sports camps? Should they go all day or half-day? Do any of them conflict with our trips or other summer plans? Am I going to be dropping one kid on this side of town, and the other on the opposite side of town? What will I do with Little Guy while the twins are at Basketball camp? Oh no, I forgot about tennis lessons. T-Man wants to do Football camp, but M-Man doesn’t, and Little Guy is too young.

SIGH.

It’s enough to pull my hair out. I printed out blank calendars for June, July and August. I used colored pencils to come up with different scenarios.   I spent the afternoon filling out registration forms and photocopying immunization and physical records.

I just want everyone to have fun.  I’ll let you know when I get there!

Lost and Found Identity–Part 3

I have spent part of the morning re-reading many posts, trying to recall what I have written and the tone of the posts. I have talked about work-life balance as a SAHM, kids driving me nuts, kids making me happy, kids making me laugh, teaching my kids, protecting and helping my kids, and most recently, my need and desire to return to the workforce.

As with Part 2, I feel the need to clarify some statements I’ve made throughout this blog. It’s about my role as MOM.

Many, many years ago, I very much looked forward to having children and being a mom. Many people thought I would make a great mom due to my happy, bubbly nature, my kindness, my strong sense of family. I knew I wasn’t very crafty, but I thought there would be so much more I could offer my kids—I loved learning, and reading, and traveling, and sports, playing games, being silly. Ya, I would be a cool mom.

But I never planned on being a Stay-at-Home Mom.  My immigrant parents enforced studying, good grades, becoming a successful professional….all so I would have a better life than they did. I also grew up in the 1980’s, where it was portrayed that “women CAN have it all”…..a career, a family, a happy life. That was going to be me—Superwoman.

My “original” plan (and hubby was on board) was that I would stay at home with our baby for 6 months, then Day Care, and I would return to work. 

However, what I envisioned did not necessarily translate to reality.  I’m not sure if there is one specific event/thing that I can “blame.” Perhaps, it is a combination of many factors. Having a set of twins as my first children played a very large role. It was simply overwhelming for me to take care of two infants, and I didn’t know to ask for help…..or didn’t want to….. Damn independence and pride. Then, Post-Partum Depression set in.  The stress and anxiety of having infant twins brought me down to such a low-level that I didn’t know existed, and that low-level prevented me from enjoying my children. It was a vicious, vicious circle.  Instead of being a happy, proud mom of two wonderfully happy and healthy boys, I resented their existence because my imperfections as a mother made me miserably sad. And I didn’t feel like I could leave them in the care of others. No joy.

As I got help and climbed out of that hole, I worked at being a good mom. There were more happy days, but I often felt outnumbered and underpowered to handle TWO at the same time.  But as they became older and bigger, and walking and talking, they did become easier. Yes, we encountered the terrible 2’s, and the tyrannical 3’s, but we all survived. Talking with other parents, it could have been a LOT LOT worse.

Right when the twins entered preschool and I felt more comfortable going out with girlfriends or having date-night with Hubby, I became pregnant with Little Guy.  And I was OK with that. I always looked at Little Guy as my way of proving to me (and the world) that I could be a GOOD Mommy.  He was such a good, easy, fun baby and toddler. It was great to experience a different side of motherhood.  A relief, really.

The Twins are nearly 10 now and Little Guy just turned 6. Despite some downs, there have been many “ups.” I will pat myself on the back (something I normally don’t do in regards to the job of Parenthood) and say they I’ve done a pretty good job raising my boys. They are happy, healthy, smart, well-adjusted, well-liked, out-going, friendly, helpful (mainly outside of the home), great guys.

And because of my ‘succesful’ accomplishment of raising 3 boys and running Thomas Inc., Hubby has trouble understanding why I am sometimes unhappy or feel “unfulfilled.”  In the back of his head, he believes that because his mom was happy as a SAHM, then I should be too. Some people are just cut out to be Stay-at-Home-Moms. But as I just explained, it wasn’t how I was brought up or part of my plan. After devoting 10 years to my family, it might be time to figure out “Who I Am” outside of the Mommy-Wifey role.

A friend recommended a book “Back on the Career Track: A Guide for SAHMs Who Want to Return to Work” by Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin. I’m only on Chapter 3—but this book puts into words what has been in my head for many, many years!  If I could get hubby to read some excerpts, maybe he will start to understand. I’ll go into some of it in my next post…..