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Kindergarten Homework

With our enthusiastic “Go get’em” faces on, we waved our son onto the number 14 bus bound for Kindergarten. Maybe September allergies made my husband’s eyes water or maybe it was his relief that our child survived being stuck at home with me for the past 5 years. I contained my giddiness as I snapped that fateful picture of him waving back from the bus steps. We were each about to learn what going to school and developing new systems meant to us.Kindergarten Homework

The little guy loved school. Early in the year, I paid a visit to him and his 17 pint-sized classmates in their new classroom. I wanted to meet his teacher and to gather context for my son’s random, and sometimes jarring, disclosures of daily happenings. I’d been told she ran her classroom as smoothly as a Barney episode and I agreed after seeing her in action. She was generous with her praise and commendably judicious with a spastic group of five-year-olds. I felt my heart burst for all their sweetness and hardships. I wanted to wipe the pizza sauce off their faces and tie all their dirty untied shoelaces. And then I had to leave. Better her than me.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

Why was I surprised when the ridiculous quantity of paper began to flood our house? We got monthly activity schedules and cafeteria menus earnestly printed on green and pink papers followed by the “homework” sheets for the math and reading “clubs”. After a twenty-year hiatus, I had “homework” because it would take a herculean effort for my five-year-old son to list ten books we read in any given month plus their authors. Instead, he drew pictures for two books he liked. His reward was tattoos and bookmarks. I was rewarded with the return of these same drawings caught up in the paper river flowing from his “Dolphin” folder.

I absolutely loved my son’s drawings of primitive smiling suns and the stick people who suddenly had on pants because one of his bossy girlfriends proclaimed them necessary, although his stick figures soon returned to their original nakedness. And, of course, I liked the pictures where I was a part of the action. Sadly, only five percent of the rest of the book bag busyness consisted of these. Instead, I got glued, cut, colored, and constructed things of all sorts randomly based on holidays or nursery rhymes. Paper dolls tenuously perched on Popsicle sticks, sticker books, cereal cemented to construction paper, and drawings from his classmates. These barged into our home and tumbled out of his green backpack onto the kitchen table, sofa, and floor. And each and every loving one of these papers was suddenly and forever my responsibility.  

If I had kept every one of these suckers, in twenty years I’d have ended up on one of those hoarding shows, walking between mountains of papers and being buried alive under them. And, left up to my son, each little scrap of paper he’d ever put pen, crayon, scissors, or marker to was precious enough to keep forever. So, I smiled and nodded as I placed everything in the basket on top of the refrigerator, the paper avalanche repository. I had a secret stealth plan called The Purge, the goal of which was to land all the papers worth keeping into an out-of-sight place in an orderly fashion because the opposite of an overwhelming landslide is doable chunks.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

The three-step Purge system started with the placement of the papers in the basket atop the fridge. I then stealthily moved them to a drawer upstairs and, after being sorted essential from non, they would go into a portfolio in a closet. My theory was that if you were to mark the start and end of the monthly paper ocean with a ribbon marker in the basket, after a week I feel pretty sure the child would have forgotten about that hunk of stuff between the markers. There’s an official month of paper stuff to sort then. But out of sight means out of mind; I couldn’t let the child become an obstacle to The Purge.

Only when I was alone in the house, did I attempt to ruthlessly sort and cull this mess for the essence of my child. Parental wisdom must fight that guilty voice. One drawing of trees and kitties and a page of E’s are great but twenty of them are not. Into a paper recycle bag went the extras plus that which does not at all show the talents and charms of my child. I felt guilt-free when I pitched the gigantic paper penny, nothing against my man Abraham. And while I may have been kind and offered my in-laws the opportunity to take from the bag any art they may have liked, then Hi Ho Hi Ho off to the grey recycling container it went.

The final step was to create the holder for everything I’d culled. For his daycare artwork, I’d made a giant cardboard pita pocket portfolio and taped up the edges. It worked out nicely. Poster-board would work with packing tape seams. Certain well-known crafty people have made these attractive with fabric covered foam core and ribbon ties. I saved the pretty for later after I’ve mastered the simple de-clutter. This was the trench-work for the kindergarten homework clutter attack and it was all about biting off only as much as I could chew.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

I visited his classroom again that year. His lovely teacher and I spoke about educational mandates. All the busy work is still proof to the parents and legislators that the children are learning. And conversely, the clubs’ homework proves the parents are working with and reading to their children. She said if she had her way, there would be two recesses for her kindergartners (and 7 years later she would finally get that when she taught my daughter in Pre-K). Maybe there are too many cooks in the educational kitchen substantiating the price of their ingredients, but they’ll never pay this magnificent teacher enough. In fact, she’d been saving his “special” work from his year in a scrapbook she gave us parents at the end of the year. Why was I doing any of this when she’d had it covered? 

None the wiser for his mother’s devious deeds, my busy-brained boy continued to be overly stimulated as he dumped out his paper laden book bag. One day in March, he came home excitedly talking about Rosa Parks and Harriet “Tubb-s-man”. Apparently, he’d learned a lot about civil unrest and the Underground Railroad for black history month. They sang freedom songs, made paper buses, and discussed the mistreatment of the slaves. I was a little thrown by the sudden candidness of the subject and I commenced with a serious “discussion” about the ramifications of slavery and the inherent rights of all human beings to their freedom. After a long thoughtful silence, he said “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s play slaves!” Nothing new there.

(This piece of creative non-fiction was one of the very first as I began to write on-line and Published on Divine Caroline, a writing site that gave me reason to write. I then began this blog a year later but never republished it here. This Kindergarten Homework’s grand edited revival.)

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

 

My Children are the Bully and the Terrorist

It’s conflicting to be a parent. They are of me but not mine. I need to be open and honest for them to trust me. But I need to keep a safe distance when they have to work out who they are because sometimes, that work is at my expense. Frankly, my children will bully me to get their needs met. They’ll be disrespectful but only to me. It’s business, not personal. They’re working themselves out and I’ve got the bruises to prove it.

My son’s a bully when he wants more screen time or when he needs food because he’s suddenly starving. And my daughter is a terrorist. It may be emotional terrorism but its exhausting just the same. I wrote about suffering from post traumatic toddler disorder here. She actually cries at me when she has a need. It can be manipulative and it’s part of her survival arsenal.

For me, there’s such a fine balance between being available for them constantly and being vulnerable to burn out. Unless my children are physically not in the house with me, I am never off duty. And they are very entitled to have their needs met. I do draw a line when their needs are encroaching on my needs. But even Miss Sassafras still busts in the bathroom while I’m on the potty despite my protests.

Last week I made a new “chores, expectations, and rewards” chart for my son. The holidays had him spoiled with the amount of screen time he was getting. And without boundaries, he had begun to come at me, pestering me and continually asking me for more time like a true junkie until he hoped I relented.

These new boundaries are now on paper and not up to me. He has an allotted amount of time and if he runs over, it eats into the next play time. He can earn more time by additional chores. But currently the only option for more screen time is raking and he hates that.My Children are the bully and the terrorist on Shalavee.com

Dinner prep in the kitchen is often the worst time for me to be bullied and terrorized. My son, after unplugging, suddenly found himself excruciatingly hungry and badgered me so badly that he was banned from the kitchen. And the rest of the night, my husband had to do negotiations to get my son to apologize to me. Fiona has been known to come at me while my hands are covered with dinner prep badgering me for fruit roll-ups and then crying at me when I deny her. Hunger can make people do crazy mean things.

I understand our collective humanity and how our inner toddlers have needs that they need fulfilled right freaking now. It is survival in process. But I also know that I am the last boundary standing between them and those needs sometimes. I try very hard to not take their disrespect personally but I would do myself and them an injustice if I didn’t stand my ground on what methods are acceptable to get your needs met. The battle will continue I fear but hopefully, in the end, I’ll win the war of raising nice children.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter orPinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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The Gift of Empowerment

The sound of my whining children is like a mosquito circling my head. But instead of swatting the bug/child, I realize that they always think that they are never going to get their way, get their needs met, or be able to negotiate for themselves. Just as you have to tell them that all movies are make-believe and any movie I allow them to see will always end well, you have to tell them they are allowed to ask for their needs to be met. They don’t know they’re entitled yet to positively ask for what they need. They don’t know their entitlement to empowerment. I have to stop and say,”If you don’t think you want to do that chore now or you’d prefer juice over milk, how about if you say, ‘Hey Mom , can I do that after dinner? or Mom I’d like juice with my dinner instead of milk, is that OK?’ ” And I have them repeat it back to me in that mental voice. Fiona on Shalavee.com

Somehow I am running a dictatorship that I didn’t realize I was running. And I’d rather have them try to reason for what they want than bully me or whine at me yet they just don’t know that’s allowed. Hard to believe that our liberal egalitarian selves have yet to raise insta-empowered children but there you have it.They need to be taught their entitlement to choices and boundaries.

There are no givens in life and it certainly ain’t fair but there is plenty of reasoning if we allow for it. I’d rather raise a child who would stand up for themselves in a reasonable fashion I could respect then a back-talker who’s resentful all the time. It’s just seems I’m on an upward hill to climb to show them empowerment without whining or sass. But the one guarantee I can make is that I will model this behavior of standing up by not allowing them to be disrespectful to me. Lead by that example as I’d wished I’d learned sooner.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter orPinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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Trust Fund Addition Mission

I went on a goodwill mission today and took my son to the movies. He’s moving into that tween zone of growing up. He’s pushing his boundaries out, sometimes even bullying me to get what he wants, much like his little toddler sister. And funds are pretty much depleted in our trust fund.

It was four years ago I made mention of this concept in a post called Trust Deposits. Remember the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? One of the concepts I culled from that book was about the trust accounts you build between you and the people you are in relationships with. Your children and your spouses as well as your coworkers or your neighbors. You pay into the account with kindness and good will so that when your relationship takes a bump, you can draw from the surplus between you without effecting the relationship. Trust Fund Deposit on Shalavee.com

Seems my son and I are going through another phase where I’m trying to be kind but am feeling agitated. My son isn’t recognizing these deposits are necessary. And I’m beginning to not feel great about us. It happens. So today I took him to the movies trying to fatten up the trust fund. We ate at Subway and then saw Zootopia at the movies. It was nice and more of that kinda thing will need to happen in upcoming years to keep plugging the holes where my trust has leaked out with his ignoring me moments. But I’d rather try to continue to build good will than keep feeling mad and frustrated, wouldn’t you?

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

The Value and Truth About Choices

I got to thinking about our human tendency to not want to be told what to do. Those who trust in their lives and make choices easily were lucky enough to have their caregivers make the right choices for them. So that they were then able to make the right choices for themselves.

The two year-old refuses to do what I ask. She has no self-control and she’s frightened of that. She needs my control, wants me to prove she’s worth it. Even if she doesn’t seem to be scared, she is still a wild beast in need of help taming herself. She needs my commands to be unquestionable. Some are sometimes negotiable but in the end, the adults are always driving. She is always a little better when she comes out of the Thinking Chair.

Fiona's ink on the value and truth about choices on shalavee.com

The ten year-old doesn’t want to eat his breakfast. Or his lunch. Or his dinner. Wants to show he has power over his choices and his body. He pretends he doesn’t hear you. He seems lazy, making bad choices. He still wants/needs me to make it clear that there are no other choices. Because once he just accepts life’s necessities, he can get on to the more important choices he needs to make about his happiness and success and love. He is still hoping he means enough to me for me to reprimand him.

Fiona looking it up on the value and truth about choices on shalavee.com

The teen, the one who doesn’t have a parent in his face continuing to create boundaries for him? He’s now sure he’s not worth it. He makes his contrary choices just to see what authorities will do. To see if they can disprove what he already knows. That he sucks and is still not worth being cared for, taught self-restraint and self-care, being made to believe he matters. He has now become the world’s problem. His dance with questioning authority may eventually be everyone’s problem.

Me and my kids on the vlue and truth about choices on shalavee.com

Now as parents to ourselves, we do have a choice. To take it easy or to go work on it. Refusing to do what we need to do, what we know is right for us, isn’t really a choice though. Our inner child is watching how we treat them. For instance, going to the grocery store lets our inner child know their basic needs are worth caring for.  Ignoring our mental and physical needs to be healthy says we are not worth loving. Sometimes we have to do stuff we don’t like. Like limiting our calorie intake. But we are also smart enough parents to reward ourselves for a job well done. A reward means so much more when it’s earned. We get to choose that too.

Every choice is really easier when we think of a bigger picture of love and care. One that takes care of us, those we love, and then the greater world. When our true choices appear to us, we are happier and clearer people who raise happy clear little people.

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