Tuesday, February 28, 2012

These Shoes are Made for Walkin'

Kid-rearing is kinda a weird little juggle of emotions isn't it? When you have one you are so excited for them to do the next milestone. Make her walk at 6 months. Yes, make, and no not really at 6 months. Is she talking yet? Is she doing long-division? Whatever, each milestone is a big deal, right?

Then you have the second and well, let's admit it, it's a constant comparison in your head (well in mine at least it was) of is she doing it at the same pace as the first?

But now we're at our third and final. Well, I didn't think I was that Mommy who didn't want to let the baby-stage end. But turns out ... well I just might be. I remember when my first was born telling my Mom how dumb I thought the saying was, "oh if they could stay little forever." Oh but if they could ...
Isaac is walking. He started full on walking about a week ago. He took his first step on Christmas. But I'm proud to say we didn't overly encourage that after his first. I mean we helped a little, cheered him on when he took some more. But three kids at vertical status ... well that's a lot of little hands at reach level.

But it's more that that really. He's WALKING. Ugh and sigh. That means he'll be outside playing with the others soon enough. And, sigh again, my little snuggle is off an running. I'm not gonna lie, a little bit of me wanted to do what Josh Duhamel did in Life As We Know It with Kathryn Heigl when he pushed the baby down when she started to take her first step. Don't worry, I didn't.

My mom told me, well he's going to walk you know. And yes, I know. But again now I've got to let go of my baby stager mentality and embrace having three KIDS.

It's funny how fast raising kids goes by. Has anyone else seen that Facebook post about embracing that? I love that girl who wrote it. I totally agree with her. Racing the always perpetuating kid-time clock is stressful. Yes, there are times I wish it would slow down, but then again, there are times I wish it would speed up. For example, I'm pretty sure I won't be too sad when I no longer have to change a poopy diaper.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Do You Want to Be Around Your Child?

The other day my cousin texted me something that made methin
k about why Iparent the three the way I do. I've always been close to my cousin (so I hope outing him now won't change that ;). He's a super smart guy, incredibly hard-working and one of my very favorite people in this world.

Here's the set up: He made a comment on my last blog. I texted him and told him to follow me. His reply was something to the effect that his wife would be a better person to do that because he considers himself to be more of a "go against the grain" kind of parent.

Let me stop here for a shameless plea -- I DO need followers. So will you please officially follow me on my blog site? First off, I am hoping someday to get cool products to pass on to my readers and paid advertisers to introduce to my bank account. But secondly, it's just kind of lonely only having one follower. ;) Which ...
is what I pretty much said to him. ;)

Okay, on with the story. So Chris (yes that's his real name) told me that he's a go-against-the-grain-parent. Well the sarcastic side of me wants him to know that he can't be all that go-against-the-grain quite yet since his son is only a few months old. (not much grain to go against) ;)

But, more poignantly, it made me think about his comment itself. Not because of him, or his implication about my blog or parenting, but more so it made me consider why we parent the
way we do. As a first-time parent I remember looking through all the books and learning what "they" said we should do. How "they" said we should discipline. Where "they" said we should take our kids for enrichment. I asked friends what they did, got advice, recalled direction and misdirection from my parents, in-laws, grandparent-in-laws and on and on.

When we started off, we took all this into account. We tried to do it by the book. But today, we roll to our own beat.

So, I kept pondering ... as the years have gone by, why DO I chose to parent my children the way I do? Why HAVE Ben and I decided to discipline the way we do; be crazy anal on what they listen to or see on TV; or ultra-conservative on who the hang out with? Chris's comment made me realize something.

Three kids into this journey, I know that I don't chose to parent my children because of what "they" say. Although, again, I admit my first parenting steps were in that direction. Instead I know we choose to parent the kids the way we do, teaching them love and respect, kindness and appreciation for the good because we want to raise kids who we want to be around.

I definitely believe what Proverbs 22:6 tells us: "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." But I also believe that the way we train our children today, allows for us to enjoy them TODAY. In my opinion, that is, if we are intentional in how we are training them.

Today I gladly follow in my parents footsteps with clothing choices, but it's because I think it's the right way for my children. I recall repeating to Ben something my mom and dad said to me growing up once; if I let her wear holes in her clothes now she'll most likely want to continue that fashion trend as she grows up. But if I put her in clean, conservative, preppy clothes -- more my style -- I have a fighting chance she'll grow an appreciation for the finer things in life and want to strive to achieve her own personal, harder to reach, goals.

Maybe I'm wrong or maybe I'm right. That's not the point. But my choices on what I like my kids to wear, or do, or who they hang around does reflect on their personal perception. I put them in pretty things when I can, and they feel pretty. We talk to them about loving each other and don't accept when they talk ugly to one another because I do not want to raise a child who becomes a grown up who believes it's okay to talk ugly to others.

They don't listen to lyrics about losing a boyfriend because I want my girls to not have it "naturally" ingrained that they even NEED a boyfriend. Let's let them discover that prospect when they are really old enough to have some clue on the subject.
So, here's the thing, I in no way am saying conservative is the only way to go. My definition of that and yours is subjective anyway. Nor am I suggesting that MY way beats any other different way. I'm saying my way, works for my family. It's what we believe and it's also what allows us to rear children who we enjoy being around. I think most of us who are truly in to this parenting thing, raise our kids according to our own personal standards -- not the standards of a "they." And that we probably tend to raise our kids in such a way that aspires to cultivate little creatures who we actually want to be around!

So think about that the next time you question your parenting skills. You probably already know the answer if you go back and ask yourself: If I let her get what she wants when she throws a fit now, will I really want to be around her when she is still throwing a fit at 25?

I'm just sayin' ...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

To Use or Not to Use ...

Your words that is.
We're somewhat on the "conservative" side of the tracks when it comes to what we let our children say. Now this may come as a surprise to some of you who may from time to time have experienced my alter-ego ... that one without children present ... who sometimes lets the "occasional" curse word slip out.

I've always been somewhat intrigued with myself on how I can easily change from "Jenny the Cursing Sailor" to "Mary Poppins" at the sight of a child in or near the room. Not so sure what it says about me ... and this is NOT where you comment folks, but nonetheless, we are pretty strict when it comes to what we let our kids say.

For instance, I think a little child shouldn't say butt. But, yes; butt ... no. Why you ask? Well, b/c it just sounds kinda harsh when your sweet lil' bow-headed one says, "Hey I'm sitting on my butt." or "Mommy, my butt hurts." It just kills the cuteness right off.

I'm not sayin' that our alternate is better. In fact, I'm nearly positive that if she uses tooshie when she's in the 2nd grade she's gonna get beat up. But for now, that's what works for us.

But here's my problem. One of the kiddos went to a play date with a friend recently. When I picked her up, the mom told me the kids were using potty words. Now of course Kindergarten potty words equals "fart." (you just giggled didn't you?) and "poop."

Soooo, on the one hand, if it's something she knows she shouldn't say ... we should probably mention it to her. But on the other hand ... really? It's not that bad. Heck, it's not bad at all. Do I want her to go around saying fart or bootie all the time? No. But when it happens from time to time in the throws of play date fun, well, we can live with it I suppose.

I just don't want it all the time. And my concern is, you let it slip once and well, I don't know about your kids, but that seems to be to them field day on whatever grace you bestowed on them. You know, if you let that slip, then "fart" turns to "poo poo," which turns to "poop" which evolves into "crap" and eventually into "sh&t." Really, we've got to nip the fart-talk in the bud (not butt, we don't say that) ;) because it's like the gateway drug into cussing. Yeah ... pretty scary right? ;)

Moving on ...

So we try to keep the talk clean around here. But the other night, well things got a little heated with the sisters and about two hours after they should have been snoozin' like little angels, my darlings are bellowing from the top of the stairs, "MOOOOOOOO - AAAHHHM!!" Sigh. I get up from my new addiction to the Kardashians to resolve the ever-so-important debate. Which BTW was about whether George Washington wore a wig or not. (thanks upcoming President's Day holiday!) But I digress.

We got the issue resolved but we weren't finished with the drama quite yet. Next complaint lodged: Audrey called Saylah a "bootie spot." Seriously, my first reaction was to laugh. This was not my best choice. That threw the already tired 6-year-old into tears. For which I had to literally bite my lower lip as she continued through her sobs to tell me she did NOT like being called a bootie spot and then I had to try to repair the situation (really so they could go to sleep and I could go back to Kardashians). When interrogated about this offense, Audrey justified her word choice with a "well, I didn't want Saylah to be bossy."

So, I deduce that Audrey did in fact intend to call Say an itty bitty bad toddler word.
You'll have to deduce for yourself what you think a bootie spot is. Me personally, I think it's a preschooler's version of an A-hole.

Oh my ...

Tell Me: What's the worst or funniest word your motor-mouth has ever thrown out there? What did you do?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Baby Don't Break My Heart

Since I've become a mom, I've grown a love for Valentine's Day. Prior to that, I wasn't really such a fan. Although I've been with my husband since we were dating at the "ripe" age of 16, it still doesn't take away the angst that every girl feels about this day and IF she'll be recognized to the greatest extent of her day-dreamy expectations.

The best FB post I saw this year that sums this holiday up in my perspective, came from a teen Girl Scout of mine (who shall remain un-named) who posted, "Might as well bring my own stuffed animal to carry around school all day tomorrow." HA!

But once my girls started realizing the fun and existence of holidays, the day of looove finally took on a new joy for me. Buying trinkets and gadgets, pulling candy out of the candy jar for tot-love-re purposing and making pink heart-shaped cards out of construction paper are right up my alley.
Something happened though with my 4-year-old this year that brought my social-radar knee-jerking into overdrive. Audrey was making her Valentine's cards for her friends at preschool, happily adorning each one with monkey and puppy dog foamie stickers and hand-drawn "hearts." I was impressed by how seriously she selected every detail of these make-shift treasures. "Marlee loves yellow, so I'll use the yellow card. Bradon loves green so I'll use a green crayon." Then, the social bomb; "Sally (this is not her real name) likes blue. Maybe she'll love my card and she'll decide to be my friend."

Sccrreeeeech!!! What?! How does a 4-year-old know someone doesn't want to be her friend? and who is this Sally? Well, she's your normal 4-year-old counter part and quite frankly, the non-friend-wannabe tells her ... bluntly ... "I don't want to be your friend."

Put the claws away fellow mommy-bears. It's okay. It yielded the perfect opportunity for a conversation on friendship, self-concept and individuality.

I started my counter attack on this potential self-concept-crushing-Sally with chatting to Audrey about: "do you want to be Sally's friend?" Then I asked her why and what would make Sally a good friend? I then got to talk to her about what we look for in a friend.
- Is she nice? Does she share? Do you have fun with her when you do play together? (you know the big stuff in life. ;) )

After this I got to lay the groundwork on how it doesn't matter what others think of you, only what you think of yourself. And that not being friends with someone doesn't mean people don't like you, it means that maybe you don't have as much in common. OK, I agree, big concept for a little child, I know. But groundwork is often just that. It's phraseology that hopefully grows as your child does so that eventually it will sound familiar later on down the road (like when they are 12 and major conformists).

So, all in all, I think she was okay. Of course I couldn't resist the urge to
ask her after her party if Sally did in fact like her card. (Guess I can use a reminder in non-people-pleasing.) But I think Audrey was content with the outcome of her Valentine's celebration. Thank goodness, the depth of her love-day requirements equal whether or not she got a lollipop or a sticker from her school friends.

Oh and let's not forget, there are a little social seedling lessons for us grown ups in this encounter too. Perhaps we may forget from time to time that:

1. Not everyone will be friends. Of course we should be kind to everyone, but I'm pretty sure we're not meant to be besties with all of God's creations on earth, all of the time.
2. The honesty of children is humbling. Perhaps it's not the best idea to tell someone as directly as "I don't want to be your friend." but all too often we fake being favorites with someone then gossip behind her back. It dishonors not only the person who you've gossiped about and yourself but also those friends who are your true friends. A child's honesty is a good reminder for us all that any sort of untruth can be more hurtful further down the road.

Happy Valentine's to you all!

~ Jenny

Whatcha Got? Tell the Seedling Community a time when your child did, or did not, want to be friends with someone of a different opinion. What did you do?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rule Follower

It was brought to my attention when I was about 26 by the woman who was a coordinator in my office that I am a "rule follower." Though she wasn't being ugly about it, I'm pretty sure she did not mean it as a compliment. More so, I had no idea. Up until then I kind of prided myself on appearing the goody-two-shoes type and then shocking people when they discovered my "wild" side. Ahhhh, immaturity at its finest.

It took me a few years and a couple of kids before I realized my coordinator was right. I really AM a rule follower. I'm still not so sure how I feel about that. But it definitely explains my propensity to be a perfectionist.

Well for several years ... me and my naive, rule-following self ... we had this parenting thing down. Make them say "please" via sign language before they could talk, remember her please and thank you's when she could finally speak and always say excuse me before talking (or after tooting).

Those first four years were the best. If I do say so myself, I was internally touting my own accolades on my amazing parenting skills. They were reflected quite nicely through my polite daughter. ;)

My world changed when my oldest turned 4. She's a clever little thing and it wasn't long before I realized I needed to up my game. Sure, I can teach them manners. But, I'm not so sure who is the teacher and who is the student in this social game of life. For instance when she asked a fellow preschooler if she would play with her and she gasp! broke the rule and said "no" -- what's a mom to do!? So, this is where our journey (and my blog) begins.

There are countless blogs about raising polite kids. Even more on what to feed them and how to teach them their ABCs and 123s. But this blog ... well, it's going to be my outlet to speak to parents out there who share the turmoils of trying to teach nice kids, that even though not everyone plays by the rules (or even knows them yet!) how to survive in the social jungle of life.

Welcome along as I learn to socialize by seedlings! Wish me luck and send me prayers! ;)

Here's where you come in. Tell me, what was the first experience you had with a social issue with your child that you weren't sure how to handle it? What did you do?