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A huge thank you – it’s a community thing

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” ~Herman Melville

I’ve always been a very independent person, capable of juggling and getting things done on my own. Then I had children. When you have children, even if you have a helpful husband and helpful parents like mine, you find that you need others– you need community.

I’ve known this for a while and I’m so blessed that I’m part of one. It’s sometimes difficult for me to ask others for help, and because of my work schedule I can’t always reciprocate and return the favors, I feel guilty, but when something happens and people step up for you without you having to ask, it’s like a huge warm hug.

In a quirky accident at my son’s soccer game this weekend, (my husband was at work so it was just me), my daughter tripped, fell and cut her knee open on the metal edge of a sun umbrella (a large one, not the smaller rain deterrent version).

I did not see her fall, so when she first hobbled over to me, crying and bleeding, my initial reaction was to stop the blood. I grabbed wet wipes, sat her down and applied pressure. Another mom immediately came over and said gently, we have to look and see how deep it is.

I’m not the queasy at the sight of blood sort, nor am I a panic in stressful situation person, but I admit that my instinct was to stop the blood. And that is as far as I got. It didn’t occur to me that it could be dangerously deep or need medical attention that I could not provide.

I’m thankful for the mom I know, who was a step ahead of me, grabbing her first aid kit and reminding me to check out the wound.

As my daughter’s pain and fear rose to higher levels and my arms and words didn’t sooth her, I’m thankful for the other mom I know, who came over and acted as the master of distraction, creatively taking my daughter’s mind off her knee, long enough for a dad I know to come over and help clean and dress the wound.

It turns out that the cut, while not deep, was wide and on the part of her knee that bends, so she did in fact need three stitches.

I’m also eternally grateful for those friends of mine, my community, who offered to go with me to the emergency room, but who understood that I needed to go alone because I needed them to stay at the game and cheer on my son, and watch over him. I’m eternally grateful for all of them banding together, taking my son to dinner and saving two spots at the table for my daughter and I, who, after two hours in the emergency room, really needed food.

And I’m eternally grateful for their concern the next day, for them needing to know if she was ok, if she was in pain, if the bleeding had stopped, as if she was their own child.

After the craziness of the weekend, my sense of community was reinforced this morning, when I had another scheduling issue with two different summer programs (one soccer, one VBS) in two different locations but starting at the same time. I was reluctant to just drop my son off, but a dad who is part of my community, said he’d keep an eye on him for me and another mom gave him a ride back to his school camp when soccer was done. And took him for hamburgers. And sent me a picture. The silly face he is making means he is happy. Which makes me happy.FullSizeRenderI’m thankfulfor these freindships,  that I’m part of a community, and that they are part of mine.

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Homebound

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. ~Frederick Buechner

I love that my son is so honest and that he talks to me. I don’t always love what he tells me. Like about the two boys who got in trouble at school for “using their middle fingers” at lunch. He also stated that Boy A didn’t know what it meant but he was sure Boy B did.

I almost asked him if he knew what it meant but didn’t because his younger sister was there. I really need to follow up on that.

A few weeks ago we were invited to a party for his friend. His friend that his sister adores. We had a conflict which resulted in me taking him to the party and my husband taking our daughter to the LA Kings hockey game. Little Miss was a wreck. She wanted to go to the party. I told her it was for boys and in between her sobs she said “but you’re a girl”. She wasn’t buying the it’s a mom/boy party. I tried bribing her with the pink Barbie storage case on wheels she wants for her birthday. She said she’d wait until her birthday to get it. In the end, she wailed as Fussypants and I left for the party. Husband gave me stink eye. Of course, she was fine after we left and had great fun with her dad at the hockey game. She also reminded me that I owed her the pink Barbie storage case on wheels.

As we drove away, Fussypants said from the back seat, “I hope she grows up soon and stops crying when she can’t be with you all the time”. Then added, “Because I know it’s hard on you”. I love my boy. My intuitive, sensitive boy.

A little while later he asked me an odd question. “Mommy, why, in the movies, do some people go away to college and move out of their house?”

I answered with “Well, going to college is a big adventure and a privilege and some people choose schools that are farther away so they find new places to live, either on campus or with friends”. He made a sad face so I continued with “part of my job as a mom is to help you be able to be on your own and self-sufficient. Going to college is a new experience and you can meet new people and learn new things”.

Again with the sad face. So I caved and told him that if he wants to go to a school near us and live at home that’s fine. He brightened into a huge smile.

Later that evening I had to break the news to my husband that I may have inadvertently given our son permission to live at home until he’s 40.

MZK_2013

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The age of…

The kids had a dentist appointment last week and if making your sister cry a gazillion times in the short drive over was an Olympic sport, my son would win gold. He was unusually hard on her. We’ve entered the age of everything she does bugs him and he never takes the high road. He can’t let anything go. And she can ruin his day merely by repeating the same thing several times (admittedly, I lack patience with this as well). On this particular day, Little Miss, who, for some reason thought she was getting a shot, was more vulnerable than normal so Fussypants decided to mime and mimic her every action, delivering his final blow by drawing a picture of what he thought she looked like.
FPK_by_MZKSeeing this “ugly” picture of herself sent her 3 year old (and already dramatically honed) emotions over the edge. Of course, I was driving so couldn’t do much about it. Ok, I did laugh when he flung the picture up to the front seat but I did it subtly. I had one child manically laughing and one manically crying when we arrived. My head was pounding.

Do I even have to justify why I sent my young children back with the hygienist alone,  to get their teeth cleaned without me? No? I didn’t think so. The serene minutes I had to myself in that pleasant lobby were bliss.

Thankfully Despicable Me 2 was on the TV, which got the kids to sit still and because they were in separate chairs they couldn’t see/touch/talk to each other so it was quiet, gloriously quiet.

When both kids had clean chompers and were locked and loaded in the car with balloons and a toy (my childhood dentist was nice but not the play date kind of nice my kid’s dentist is) we headed home.

Fussypants was quiet on the way home, but I figured he had tapped out his pick on my sister reservoir. Then I noticed him looking at me in the mirror. When my eyes caught his, he said, “Mommy? Can I tell you something?”

He’s my curious child, and the most honest one. He often tells me everything so I wasn’t worried. But it wasn’t what I thought. Apparently my son, my popular at school, all the kids want to play with him son, had his first experience with teasing and being ganged up on during recess. It wasn’t anything terrible and he wasn’t bullied but for him, it wasn’t fun. Four boys, three of which he counts as “best friends”, teased and laughed at him for falling asleep on cute Grace’s shoulder on the bus on the way back from a field trip in Kindergarten. Yes, he was teased about something that happened in October of 2012.

I asked him how he felt, if it upset him, what he said to them. I told him they were just envious because they all have a crush on Grace. He was matter of fact about it and said it didn’t really bother him. He thought it was silly since it happened so long ago. The boy who started it has an older brother, so I’m not surprised. I’ve seen the difference between first grade and third and there is plenty of teasing, I’m better than you, and one-upmanship. What bothered him the most is that the other boys joined in, two of which weren’t even in his Kindergarten class when it happened. I got the feeling he felt betrayed, and had his feelings hurt by that betrayal but he didn’t have the words to really express that’s what he was feeling.

And I found it difficult to know the right words needed to soothe my child because this was such a minor thing. If it were something worse, I would have sprang into action but a couple of kids laughing about a nothing that happened over a year ago? Do you tell them to ignore it? Defend themselves? Tease the boys back? Let him know his friends that went along with it maybe didn’t know better? Or worse, they did and aren’t really good friends? I don’t know what is right in that situation. So I asked him what he did.

He opted to mostly ignore it, telling them that they were silly, it was Kindergarten. He said a teacher overheard the boys laughing and upon learning what they were laughing about, told them the same thing. It was a long time ago, so who cares. I don’t know if that is the right thing to say either but I’m proud of my son for standing up to them in the sense that he didn’t resort to their level and tease them back. He didn’t get angry, he didn’t cry. But I’m sad for him as he loses a little more of the true innocence of being a child. It won’t get easier, as kids get older and their individual personalities develop, so does the peer pressures and cliques, their reactions, interests and the importance of others opinions. I’m also sad for him that the boys he bonds with the most weren’t there for him. In a big picture way, I know they didn’t mean it, but I’ve seen my son around similar situations (but not the one being teased) and he’s never turned on a friend. Now he might, if he thinks it’ll take the spotlight off him.

It makes more sense to me now, the relentless picking he did on his sister on the way to the dentist. Part of it is being the big brother, but part of it was something he could control. He could tease instead of being teased. And maybe I need to be better at looking past some of the noise , to see if there is something else going on.

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

 

 

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Mother’s Day Gift

Two days before Mother’s Day and I did something really dumb. Fussypants asked me this morning if I could walk him into class today, because he had a gift for me. I said sure, and he said, no I mean really walk into my classroom, come all the way in. I have a surprise.

So I did and was given a brightly decorated for me,  by my son, bag. His teacher told me to be careful with it, because what was inside was breakable. My son, beaming, gave me a kiss and said Happy Mother’s Day Mama!

bag

With a full heart and a big smile, I tenderly carried it to the car. Little Miss had chosen this morning to accessorize with all her princess bling, and as I was getting her into her car seat , she dropped a bracelet and ring into the street. I set my precious gift on top of the mommy buggy, picked up the dropped jewels, secured Little Miss into her car seat and promptly drove away.

Because I was in front of the school I was not driving very fast but it was fast enough to fling my beautiful Mother’s Day present crashing to the ground. My gift, made for me by my son, which I hadn’t even opened yet. I heard it happen, stopped and retrieved it. As soon as I picked it up I knew it was broken.

gift

My heart has hurt all day. And I’ve shed some tears. But I am married to a man who keeps a well-stocked garage so I am confident there is super glue in there somewhere that may fix this beautiful art. I am not confident that it will work but I have to try. I don’t even know how to tell my son I broke this.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mamas. Hug your precious gifts close.

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To Pee or Not To Pee

When I had my first child, I read all the books, even What to Expect The Toddler Years but my firstborn was 3.5 when I had my second child and for two years after that (it seems) all I read was medicine labels and newspaper headlines so file this under Just Another Thing I Missed in the Parenting Handbook.

Bedwetting. Not baby diaper leaking bedwetting or potty training bedwetting but a 45 lb SIX YEAR OLD BOY who has been dry through the night for over two years suddenly bedwetting. Said six year old boy also inherited his mother’s ginormous bladder so, we are talking a lot of pee.

In the past week and a half, Fussypants (the aforementioned age six year old) has wet the bed four times. It’s usually around 4am, though once it happened closer to 6am. And when he realizes he’s done it, he SCREAMS for me down the hall. The first time he did that, I woke up with such a start that I thought someone was in his room trying to cart him away through the window. As unpleasant as bedwettinng and the clean-up involved is, being awoken from a deep sleep like that is worse. And when I told my husband that our son had wet the bed, he mumbled “sucks for you” as he rolled over and fell back to sleep. The joys of motherhood.

The good news is that bedwetting in a previously dry through the night child is not completely uncommon. According to my Google search, 13% of all six years olds suffer some sort of nocturnal enuresis  (it even has a fancy unpronounceable name). In my son’s case, it’s considered secondary nocturnal enuresis (children who are dry for at least 6 months start bedwetting again ).

The bad news is, the cause is either unknown, emotional,  a change in sleep patterns or physical. My Google search also informed me that if his sudden nighttime pee-fest is physical, it could be because of something awful, “physical causes are rare, but may include lower spinal cord lesions, birth defects of the genitourinary tract, infections of the urinary tract, or diabetes.” Awesome.

At this point, I’m fairly sure it’s not physical or emotional. Nothing in our routine or life has changed, he is healthy, and is not having accidents any other time of the day. But he is a very deep sleeper. And even if he uses the toilet right before going to bed, there is still a chance he won’t wake up in time, if he needs to whiz.

So for now, our next step is to limit his fluid intake at night. I told him this morning he needed to drink plenty of liquids today because after dinner he was cut-off. He didn’t like that, but I’m sure he likes waking up wet even less.

And Hunky Hubby and I have made sure that we are not embarrassing him (until he’s a teenager and his gal pal runs across this blog post) or punishing him. We are treating it as something that just sometimes happens, a normal part of growing up and it won’t last forever (God help us). Hopefully that reassurance and limiting his evening liquids will get him back on track.

If not, Google tells me that there are bedwetting alarms (because that sounds pleasant) and a prescription medication (pleasant, I again say with sarcasm) that we can look into.

And don’t think it didn’t occur to me that this is Fate’s little joke because I was gloating about how well Little Miss was doing with her potty-training. I get Universe, you are bigger than me.

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Subtlety, or not…

Subtlety is not a trait most children practice, so I’m not sure why I’m surprised by this, but it did make me laugh. We’ve been LA Kings season ticket holders since 2000. We are loyal fans, sticking by our team through it all, year after year, quietly shouldering the lowest of the lows, when they are not playing well or making the playoffs.

So this is a good year for us, with them being the Western Conference Champions and heading to the Stanley Cup finals.

Being extra proud of my team, I asked hunky hubby to put a Kings sticker on the Mommy Buggy. I had one on the first Mommy Buggy but after the accident I guess we just never got around to putting a Kings sticker on Mommy Buggy 2. Excited at a) anything that has to do with the Kings and b) anything that has to do with stickers, my son said he would help daddy pick one out. To give you a little perspective, Fussypants is a huge hockey fan and an even bigger Kings fan. His name was inspired by a former Kings captain, he attended his first game when he was 16 days old, he took his Kings hockey stick on vacation to Costa Rica when he was 22 months old and in almost every picture I have of him, he is either wearing his Kings jersey or has his hockey stick.

Fussypants at his first Kings game, before he even had his nickname!

Now, I’ve never really been one to advertise products. I’m not a walking billboard, I don’t wear many clothes with logos on them, nor do I go out of my way to endorse any specific product. I prefer to be more subtle, if you will. A funny aside on brandishing logos…once, in the 90s when it was cool, I was wearing a pair of Juicy sweats that had the Juicy label large and in charge on the bum. My nomadic sister-in-law, who resides mostly in Alaska, didn’t realize Juicy was a brand and thought I was commenting on the state of my derriere. But back to being subtle. I trusted my boys to pick a sticker for the mommy buggy and mistakenly assumed they’d choose a small Kings logo or the word Kings. Not the case. They went all out, choosing the boldest statement they could.

LA Kings, your 2012 Western Conference Champs

Fussypants proudly told me that he “choosed” it himself, so that’s that. And I couldn’t be more proud. Go Kings Go!

 

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Letters For You

I have the privilege of participating in my dear friend Tonya’s Letters for You series today. Tonya, who writes beautifully at Letters For Lucas, is an inspiration and a lifeline, and I am thrilled to be part of something so sentimental and special.

Check out my letter to my husband, who I couldn’t fathom doing this parenting thing without, here: Letters For You

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Wordful Wednesday: injuries but not on my watch

I went out of town (Sundance Film Festival, it was awesome and I’ll post pictures and recap later) and while I was gone I got a phone call from my kid’s school. Little Miss had bumped her head while playing with a friend and had a red mark on her forehead but was otherwise fine. Ok, great, not much I could do being that I was in Utah and all. A few hours later, the school called again to inform me that Fussypants had a mark under his eye, the teacher hadn’t seen what happened and he said it didn’t hurt but they deduced that a friend must have bumped him while playing outside. Again, relief, as I was in freaking UTAH. My folks were picking the kids up that day, so I told them what to expect so they would not be alarmed and sure enough, my mom called to let me know that Fussypants did indeed have a shiner and Little Miss did indeed have a red mark on her forehead. But Fussypants let me know that her hair covered it so you couldn’t really see it.

When I got home on Sunday, hunky hubby told me that Little Miss had taken a digger and cut her lip. Fussypants informed me there was blood.

On Monday, we figured that we’d better get Little Miss a passport and renew Fussypant’s (his expired on his 5th birthday) so we could take them with us on our Mexico vacation in March, being a family vacation and all.

After I had the photos taken, I realized they will, for the next five years, look like prizefighters with the cut lip and black eye.

Awesome.

In these pics, the shiner and cut lip are hard to see (circled), but in the real pics, you can tell!

Written for Wordful Wednesday. Play along here: Parenting BY Dummies

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Turning FIVE & getting to be “only-child” for a few hours

Fussypants is five years old. Yesterday was his birthday. I still can’t believe it. Five. 5, cinco, 5, fünf.

Crap.

Am I old enough to have an almost Kindergartner?

Ok, don’t answer that.

He had an amazing birthday, mostly because he was so excited to be 5. Seriously excited. Beyond seriously excited. I could have thrown mud at him and he’d still have had a good day. He told me that “5 is his favorite number and now he gets to be it”.

Isn’t that funny?

I started a tradition on his first birthday, of filling up his crib with balloons, then his room when he moved out of the crib. He woke up an hour earlier than normal and squealed in delight when he saw the balloons. I love that I can make him happy with something as simple as using my excess hot air (and I gave myself a headrush rush too. Bonus).

Taken at 6:33 am, because someone was too excited to sleep in, even though it was a holiday.

We had a hockey game the night of his birthday and he politely requested that his baby sister stay with Nana and Grandpa instead of going to the game so that he could sit on my lap, “because his sister never lets him sit on my lap” (such a little thing, to sit on mommy’s lap. I guess I need to be better at making one-on-one time with him).

My parents (the Nana and Grandpa of the aforementioned Nana and Grandpa) are amazing and didn’t hesitate to say Little Miss could spend the night with them. Seriously, beyond amazing. So we obliged his request and just the three of us went to the game. He had so much fun with my hubby and I because we could each hold a hand and lift him in the air (again, such a little thing but made him so happy). He very much enjoyed that all our attention was focused on him.

Getting hot chocolate before the hockey game. Nana gave him the sticker on his hat.

He was on a birthday high almost until midnight. The game went into overtime, then a shootout and by the time we got home and got him to bed it was close to 11pm. But it’s all good because he enjoyed every minute of his birthday. And in the wisdom of like mother, like son, he pulled the “it’s my birthday” phrase out several times. “I’m wearing sweatpants to the hockey game, because it’s my birthday”. “I’m having a corn dog and fries for lunch, because it’s my birthday”.

I Love It.

I’m a fan of birthdays because if you were never born, you’d never live so why not make the most of the YOUR day? And why just the day? Why not celebrate all week, or even all month? Birthdays are a season, are they not?

So, along that vein, I had a special treat for Fussypants this morning. I had bought a cake and a #5 candle but we didn’t get around to having any because of the hockey game, so I sang to him this morning and he blew out the candle and made a wish.

Yes, he got to eat a tiny piece for breakfast.

And at school today he got to wear an awesome dinosaur crown his teacher made for him and we brought cupcakes to share, since school was closed yesterday and I would have kept him home anyway because nobody should have to go to school on their birthday.

The cupcakes almost caused an issue but we sorted it out. He really wanted cupcakes with Lightning McQueen and Dinoco rings on them but the store (school policy, no homemade food for birthdays) didn’t have them so he settled for Thor rings. There were three different rings on the cupcakes and he told me he really wanted the hammer. So I said that he should get that one then and he said, “We are not allowed to throw a fit, we get what we get”. Clearly there has been cupcake infighting issues in the past in his classroom.

I can only hope he witnessed the fit, and wasn’t the one throwing it. 

So I told his teacher about his desire for the hammer ring, and she assured me the birthday boy would get first pick. Phew.

Due to the fact that the date of his birthday is kind of crappy, and the closest weekend this time around happened to be New Year’s Eve and New Years Day, we are not having his party until next Saturday. So he kind of gets to celebrate all week, because at school tomorrow they go to Chapel and that’s when they’ll sing Happy Birthday and he’ll get to pick a birthday bear or necklace (or so he tells me).

See, Birthday Season.

Fussypants says a lot of things that make me laugh but yesterday he said two things that made it into his Quotables book, so I’ll share. While walking into the hockey game he exclaimed, “Dude, someone just gave me a flat tire and I didn’t even know them” and when driving home he told us of this very elaborate play date he wants me to set-up with some of his buddies, to play street hockey. He was so detailed in the events that will transpire that I asked him, “Have you really thought this through or are you making it up on the fly?” and he responded, “I’m making it through”.

That’s my boy. My 5 year old boy. Making it through.

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Making lemonade

I had a maddening mommy moment today.

Yesterday another mom texted me to verify that it was “feast” day (where the parents all bring a food item so the kids can have a special lunch party and we don’t have to pack our kids a lunch) at the preschool because she didn’t make her son a lunch. I told her it wasn’t until Wednesday and Thursday, so she had to scramble to catch her hubby at home so he could pack a lunch for their kid.

So I get to the school today, confident in my knowledge that it is feast day, with no lunch packed for Fussypants and overhear one of the teachers telling another parent that it’s not a “feast” party it’s a “snack” party.

WTF?

So I say,” Really? Because that wasn’t my understanding and I know another mom who didn’t pack her son a lunch either” (but she hadn’t brought her kid to school yet so I had no back up). And the teacher says in the most condescending way, “If you didn’t need to bring Fussypants a lunch, then we would have put up a note”.

Well la-de-da and FU too. By the way, I only thought that, I didn’t say it. It’s a Christian preschool so I kept my mouth shut. For once.

Now out of the three teachers in my son’s room, she is my least favorite. We’ve just never made a connection, probably because she doesn’t engage and is more like a greeter than a teacher, “Hi, have a nice day, see you tomorrow” is really the most I ever hear from her. She never talks to me about my son, like the other two teachers do. And when I ask her questions about him she answers in really short sentences. It’s painful.

So now I’m really ticked off. One of my main duties as a parent is to make sure my child is fed and he has no flipping lunch. And the teacher made me feel like an a-hole for not knowing.

I’m already late for work but I race to the store to buy him lunchables and apples and a drink. I also bought a bag of frozen peas to keep it all cold because there is no fridge (and made a mental note to let Fussypants know he didn’t have to eat those for lunch – because he would have had a fit if he thought he had to eat an entire bag of peas). And a bottle of wine. For me. For later.

As I’m paying, the check-out kid cards me. Which gets my attention. Because I’m 41. And stressed. Which adds years to your face.

When he looked at my ID, he says, “Wow, you don’t look anywhere near 41″.

Bonus. Even though life had given me lemons that morning, my day got a little better. Just like that.

Sometimes, it’s all about making lemonade.

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