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The Whine Frequency

My budding toddler has begun to emit a sound that now wins the highest honor for most intolerable and grating sound in my brain. It is known as a whine to you and the whine frequency is maddening to me.

Fiona has delivered me to Dante’s whatever level of hell for mothers. I now know that in fact girls are more dramatic and they instinctively come up with the concept of fake crying by 18 months. It would almost be impressive if it weren’t so upsetting.

Fiona in the sun on the Whine Frequency on shalavee.com

You see, mother’s have a special programming chip in their brains for their child’s cries. They can hear a whimper from their child across a room crowded with chattering chimpanzees. This is a biological programming chip that keeps people alive until they can keep themselves alive.

Fiona covering her face  on the Whine Frequency on shalavee.com

But now, the integrity of the cry is being corrupted. She is no longer in danger or pain most of the time when she emits this frequency that is so high and raw, it’s worse than any chalkboard or Styrofoam squeak anywhere. Because my brain immediately responds to the distress and instantly I also know there’s nothing wrong. It’s a false alarm every time. Fiona's profile on the Whine Frequency on shalavee.com

I would love to jam earplugs in my ears all day. But there’s that one tiny chance that she’ll actually hurt herself by climbing onto the windowsill and then fall off and thrust her tiny teeth through her lip. And so I live in the perpetual irritated state of toddler girl whiney-dom. Don’t forget the added older brother factor which increases the whine’s occurrence just because it’s fun to poke her. Please kill me now.

Reading Restraints

He came home from school and told me he was reading the Hunger Games. Had been talking about how his friend had read it and he was going to check it out. And he had. I was a little skeptical. Thought it may be over his head. So I asked the librarian.

Miss Amanda knows my kid. Her daughter’s a lot like Eamon in his reading voraciousness. And we traded stories about how both our children had teachers this year who want to hold them back in their reading levels. We discussed how we feel about that. We concurred that we have to defer to the ruling of the teachers, however much we may disagree with their practices, and encourage our children to do anything to woo the teacher’s good opinion, such as making vocabulary lists on their own. Eamon playing the piano on shalavee.com

We also agreed that all children need encouragement to pursue whatever their interest and curiosities are in learning as these may lead to more. More knowledge is never a bad thing. I think Manga, a pictorial action adventure book like the comic books of yore, is a gateway book in a good way.  Pictures and words become intertwined and suddenly Eamon will be drawing epic battles for days. 

Miss Amanda showed me Common Sense Media dot Org, an unbiased go-to website for checking out the content and appropriateness of any type of media for Eamon, be it movies, books, or video games. I love a good tool. And thanks to Miss Amanda, I’ve got a go-to place when I’m feeling not so in the know about his media input. Because I may have been hip and in the know 20 years ago, but now I’m “Granny know nothing”. S’up?Eamon on Shalavee.com

When we walked out of the library, speedily heading for home to avoid the impending rain, Eamon had about 15 books in the bottom of the stroller. And with a really satisfied look on his face, he said, if I don’t read them, I’ll just check them out again. My kid’s a reader, no matter what level he’s told he should be on, he’ s excited to read. And last week, he was even writing a book. That’s more than I’m aspiring to do these days I assure you.

The School Cafeteria

(A treat fro your from two years ago. A piece I’d hoped to have published and never got around to submitting so here it is for your reading pleasure instead.)

Twice this year, I have taken the “opportunity” to have lunch with my kid. I twitch at this memory and the thought of  the incredible quantities of food that are being tossed into the trashcans. I experienced an overwhelming sense of loss. Needless to say, my visit was both a jarring and eye opening experience both times.

Last year, my son was in the first grade and lunched with the fifth graders. So when the megaphone got pulled out, I figured it was the older kids that were to blame. Near enough to middle school, I knew there was trouble a-brewing with this demographic.

But this year, the attempt to quell the “chaos” with a prison-like loudspeaker system commanding quiet from a room half-full of seven year-olds was employed multiple times in the limited lunch time period.  My husband and I recalled that our grade school lunchroom was just as loud. But as long as food wasn’t flying and children weren’t running, that’s a school lunchroom’s MO.

As for the food, thanks to people I actually know, there has been a true effort to make the cafeteria offerings a little more nutritious. They admit they can’t go all Jamie Oliver’s Food Nation on the system but I did see hummus on the menu. And if the children are hungry, they will eat the food that is in front of them. But on the occasion I was visiting the school last, it was holiday time. Despite the teachers attempt to not spoil their lunch, the kids hunger was quelled prior to lunch by those class parties.

Now sitting in the school cafeteria, I looked at the kid across from me and queried him on his indifference to his food. He said, even though he wasn’t hungry, if he was in the daily bought lunch program, the lunch women were required to put the complete lunch on his tray.  So a main, a snack side, a fruit or veg, and a drink would all be piled onto his plate. Even if he was just going to stare at it. In Union terms, an opportunity to eat was being provided.

As I watched all these loud children ignoring the majority of the food in front of them, I asked one of the lunchroom patrollers/teachers about the state of waste that I saw occurring. He said that they’d at least instituted a policy were pre-wrapped food could be brought up and trades could be made. The kid next to me took advantage of this and had at least two portions of pineapple. But I watched tray after tray of packaged and uneaten food go into the trash.

I then commented to the janitor at the amazing amount of wasted food I now saw actually physically being dumped into the trash cans. And this was only the second grade. There were many more lunchtimes yet to happen. Daily. Statewide. I then asked if he had any idea whether people were dumpster diving behind the school. He probably thought it an odd question but  I assume they are. He said surely the trash services picked them up quickly enough. Were the bins locked?

When I had asked the grocery store produce guy this question as he filled a huge trash can full of wilty vegetables, he said that he knew people not only dumpster dove for the produce, but sold it as well. Just because you can’t see it, hunger is still everywhere. And he added, they used to give the damaged pet food bags to the pet charities until they found out that people were purposefully sabotaging the food bags. And that was the end of that. Idiots.

The system is more than flawed. Mandatory feeding rules and regulations dictate what big brother thinks our children need in their bellies while feeding them within the scant hurried half hour of lunch when they’re not hungry, denies real bodily desires and needs to be met. And the waste factor is really disturbing and health regulations shut any other possibilities down.

I nod and smile when my kid asked me if I’ll come back to school again. I didn’t even mention the part where he completely ignored me during his lunch to show off to his buddies. I ended up making small talk with the kids around me. They are entertaining but I think I’ll skip the lunch visit and enjoy the academic classes before or afterwards instead. Or make my husband visit instead.

Summertime and the Fourth of July

Again, it’s hot high Summer. The Fourth is always muggy nasty here in Maryland. But I’m looking forward to spending time with some dear friends this weekend. People who know and love me just for me. My ‘touch base’ people.

Inspired to find pictures that represented the Summer Holiday, I began to go through my online program. Hours later, I have more pictures than I need. And I was reminded of what Summer is made of.

 

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fishing

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Ferry family

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Eamon breaks in Tyla's new kayak

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Eamon and Noah

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The Fourth of July and Summertime is made of family, playgrounds, pools and oceans, soccer and strawberries, sitting with your cat, steam engine tractor shows, vacations, crab feasts and crabbing, watermelons, and corn.

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The missing tooth

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Learning how to ride your bike, playing with your baby sister, catching fireflies, sky blue snowcones and UTZ potato chips, amusement park rides, boardwalk fries and the beach, arcades, face painting, Plein Air painting, bowling, fishing, parks, fairs, Summerfest here in Caroline County, and the fireworks.

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Ferryboats, camps, crabbing, frolicking, put put golf, and losing your first tooth. It’s about innocence and fun and sun burns and bug bites. It’s about life on the earth with glee and wonder. So if you need a life boost, choose one activity and dive into it with all the gusto you can muster. I think you’ll be surprised at the happy hangover you can get from actively engaging in the ritual that is Summertime.

I had forgotten all these wonderful memories even happened until I went through these pictures. And I am inspired and amazed at how much living you can cram into a year much less a Summer. It goes fast so grab it as it’s going by.

Mothering In Thirds

A third of the time, I feel like I did a good job with the choices I made in a day mothering my children. A third of the time I feel like a crappy mother who made crappy choices regarding my children. And a third of the time, I have no time to consider the quality of work I’ve done as a mother because I’m too busy hustling to keep up with all the necessaries like feeding and bathing my children.

She'll be a writer too from mothering in Thirds on Shalavee.com

Last week I was a little hormonal and Fiona got a fever. There’s nothing to test you and your compassion and stamina like a baby with a fever. She had it for two days and still wasn’t right for another couple. Fall out includes not eating, excessive clinginess, and general feeling like the boat is sinking and you have nothing to bail with but a smile and a prayer.

When they cry, we leap to our feet knowing that surely our failure to do so will cost us an unknown price in the future.

And then a week later, she’s a happy-go-lucky independent eating toddler. Last week bad mother feeling. This week, Great Mother. 

Tuckahoe Park in Mothering in Thirds for Shalavee.com

At least I don’t feel bad all the time? I’m in Good Mother mode and especially proud of myself when I’ve identified a problem and created a plan for the solution. Standing up in the crib? I know what to do. Daycare clingy-ness? You may be part of the problem. And taking time to take care of my stuff allows me to feel so much happier and I can be present with both children. Because the big guy gets the shaft sometimes.

Eamon and Daddy playing with the new apple laptop on Mothering in thirds from Shalavee.com

The last third is just survival mode. Where ideally I’ve anticipated all that needs to be done, packed and planned for it, and am in auto mode to get us where we need to be on time. But sometimes it’s just putting out fires and trying not to yell. Survival Mom mode. Everyone stays alive and deadlines are made and opportunities to eat (OTEs) are not forgotten.

But sometimes at night, when I get to unplug, I have the blissful moments where I forget I’m anybody but me. Not Good or bad Mom. Just Shalagh. Poking at pictures on Instagram, wishing I had time enough to read and really escape. There’s a fourth part and she’s the gal who I was before I was Mommy and the person who has become better because I became Mommy.

Soon enough, I’ll be happy being too busy just being me. This will eventually happen after my kids no longer need me. At least I’m hoping I’ll be ready for the business of being busy when they’re ready to be independent. And part of me will be the better Mother for letting them fly away to their new homes. I’ll be proud of my accomplishments, forgive myself my moments of Mommy humanity, and be glad I recognized their and my needs in the process.

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