Monday, July 25, 2016

Bad Mommy on parade???

   It can be a real minefield.  When you are around what you perceive to be "bad parenting", how do you handle it? I took our girl to our local Chik Fil A for lunch after her CCD program as a sort of reward.  Someone posted on social media that they were having a chicken giveaway so being the cheapskate that I am I thought it would be a good day to take my kid to lunch.  Unfortunately for me, half of Gloucester County had the same idea.  The place was mobbed.  The promotion was for a free entree for every customer who showed up dressed as a cow.  That was the one half of the promotion I missed.
  We lucked out and found a good seat in full view of the play place.  I managed to get us settled and waited in line to order food.  If people took voting as seriously as free chicken I'd feel much better about the upcoming election but I digress.  Fortunately, I looked down and found a cow spot sticker on the floor.  I put it on my shirt just for the heck of it, not expecting anything. When I got to the register,  Playing dumb, I asked the cashier if there was some kind of party at the restaurant.  The guy was nice enough to tell me I was supposed to dress like a cow and gave me a free sandwich just for a stupid sticker!
   When you order a kids meal rather than giving you a toy, they give you a book.  As a mom, I always thought this was great.  As it turned out,  my daughter really didn't need another book, especially one that was written for younger kids.  Oddly enough, there was an older girl sitting across from us who was waiting for her mom.  She was older and after talking briefly, we could tell she had "special needs".  My girl decided that she didn't need her book and gave it to the older girl who was sitting there and chatting.  Every once in a while, she surprises me and makes me proud of her.  It's really disconcerting!
   The other girl's family came and joined her and my daughter decided to go to the "play place".  This   "other girl" also had a little brother who (we discovered later) also had issues.  He also chose to use the play place.  This boy was overweight and younger than my daughter.  A short tine later my girl came out crying saying the kid kicked her in the stomach. Assessing how bad she is hurt is one of the hardest things I run into as a mom.  Half the time we refer to it as "injuring her hambone" depending on the amount of attention Meryl St reep's boo-boo is getting.  While I want her to be able to shake things off, I also want to make sure I don't downplay something serious.  Nobody ever clutched their chest and yelled for an accountant.
   Evidently, its older sister must have told the manager because an employee came by and offered her a bag of ice.  In the meantime, the nasty boy had apparently been bothering two other kids.  The little beast emerged from the play place, refused to apologize and threw a hissy fit when he was denied ice cream!  I saw the mother take her kids up front.  Oher mothers were looking on and  commenting.  "She's not getting him ice cream is she??!!"  Fortunately, the family left shortly afterward without dessert.
  The manager came over to us and asked us what happened and if my girl was ok.  I let her know everything was fine.  To the restaurant's credit, the manager took our information and offered my girl a free ice cream cone, which she gladly took.  It's been very rare in my experience to see fast food places give a rats ass about their customers despite the litigious world we live in.  These "play places" are hard.  They are offered for the convenience of the customers, they are not free childcare!  As the parent of a one and only, it's not easy to back off the helicopter.  Oddly enough, the best parenting advice I ever got came from probably one of the worst parents (in retrospect) I've ever met, my father. He once told me "You guys didn't come with instructions!".
   That, in a nutshell, is it.  The advice that covers everything.  My problem is my brain and the drop shoot effect I seem to suffer from.  My friends know all too well what a sarcastic critter I am and diplomacy is not one of my strong suits.  According to my spouse,  I am aptly named, Barb.  How do you avoid judging someone when the situation looks so bad others are commenting?  Doubt has been removed, one would think, about what you're seeing.  Worse than that, as one who overthinks everything, I worry about what kind of impression this is making on my kid.
   Young as she is, it didn't take long for my little Judge Judy to make comments.  "He was mean! He shouldn't have done that! He's supposed to know better.  That was not nice. He was bothering other kids, too!"  I found myself reminding my own daughter that it's not our place to teach him how to behave.  That's his mommy's job.  It appears that judgements are about as easy to avoid as germs!  This is not the first time I've been "caught by surprise" in these parenting situations.  I'd say it's pretty much a way of life.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

motivational ranter

   It's a Saturday evening and we're watching the news. Funny thing is that one of the featured stories is really close to what I wanted to write about.  That subject is motivation.  During the summer my daughter has no homework.  Typical of seven year olds she also has an incredibly short attention span.  During the school year, when she did have homework, it was a never ending battle.  What espicially frustrated mommy was that this kid spent more effort trying to weasel out of homework than she would have just to do her damn homework.
  One of the biggest issues we had was with writing.  Her teacher was an amazing woman who really got involved with her kids and didn't bury them with homework.  You'd think we were asking our girl to rip out her eyeballs or learn nuclear physics over 4 measley sentences!  Every night at home was too much fun for humans.  I could only imagine how she was behaving in class.  By the end of second grade I bought the teacher a gift card to a liquor store.
   All of this is just the latest in a never ending battle for raising a competant human.  This brings me to one of my biggest parenting gripes.  I am ungodly frustrated by the fact that it is seemingly impossible to get this gorgeous, brilliant human being I gave birth to to just do what the hell I ask without some kind of bribery involved.  One of my problems is my age.  I grew up in the pre-behavior chart era.  My "motivation" started with dealing with an angry Polish woman and the reward was not getting the s**t beaten out of me.  Flash forward to today and now I have to figure out what to reward my squirrely princess with so she'll do her math!  Incidentally, the news report I mentioned profiled a program in California that pays kids money to stay out of trouble.  I can only imagine what my folks would have said about that, after they stopped laughing.
   Rewarding kids for doing what's expected seems to be everywhere.  I recently read a book called Mean Mommies Rule by D. Schipani.  I wish I had read it earlier.  I think it would have been much more helpful than those what to expect books by a mile.  The author details her attempts to raise her kids to be independent functioning humans who are responsible for their own happiness.  It talks about hearkening back to an earlier era of when kids had chores because they were family members and people didn't have the luxury of materiality.  It appears that we loved our daughter a little "too much" in some respects.  I am finding that to "reverse some of my mistakes" is going to be a long slow process but my daughter is not the only stubborn person in the family.
  I am holding onto the fact that our girl is still only seven. She is older than I would have liked to be figuring this stuff out although things could be worse.  Our little girl is not an out of control beast but there are definitely areas we need to work on.  Part of my problem is that being a bit isolated means I don't have a good handle on what is age appropriate for certain behaviors.  How old should she be to do the wash, for example.
  There were things about my childhood I wish were different, no question. However, there's too much about today's environment that makes me wish I had a time machine.  Anti bullying campaigns drive me nuts.  I get the impression that parents are expecting the schools to help raise their kids.  It's true that it really does take a village but rather than pressuring schools to fix bullying shouldn't people be raising their kids not to be assholes in the first place??!!  Again, my dinosaur brain goes back to the days when there was a grapevine and people were honest.  If someone else's mom saw you do something stupid, unless you ran faster than a phone call, you were in trouble when you got home.  The grownups rarely questioned the accuracy of another parent's report, either.
 I admit I don't recommend spanking - I just completely understand it.  Everyone reacts to discipline differently.  I grew up a nervous kid.  $3000 worth of therapy and several hundred milligrams of prozac later and everyone is fine is not how I want to raise my daughter.  Doing the hard work of parenting is way more complicated than spanking to get your way and moving on.  Making someone understand the why of how things have to be can be draining to say the least.  I will probably looking for the happy medium until my kid is thirty.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Mother's Day

     Recently it was Mother's Day and it was a very rainy one.  It was also the weekend of our daughter's First Holy Communion.  This is a big deal for Catholics and our girl was very excited.  Mom mom took her shopping and as funny as it seemed, she fell in love with one dress and we couldn't talk her into another one.  It reminded me of that moment when you try on a wedding dress and you realize when you find "the one".  Weird since she's only seven.  I have plenty of time to worry about big things like that but flashforwards are easy when you see your second grader in a white dress.
   We were lucky in that our group was scheduled for an 11:30 mass.  This was great for mommy since we know what a freaking basket of sunshine I can be early in the morning and the little apple in question didn't roll fall from my tree either.  However, another stronger genetic anomally made me shovel my butt out of bed earlier - the urge to bargain hunt.  That same morning there was a consignment sale at our local middle school.  I also happen to sell with these people in the fall so I was familiar with the type of merchandise they would have for sale.
   Being an only child, our girl doesn't want for much but I always figure it's worth a prowl because I enjoy the thrill of the hunt.  It also helped that I didn't desparately need stuff so I could relax a little.    That takes some stress away from worrying about someone else beating me to something I needed.  For a shocking change I was early to the sale.  I had to double check to make sure I was in the right place but after a few minutes a line began to build.
  I found a few good things and tried to keep it moving so I could get back in time.  The last thing I needed was people freaking out on me the day of First Holy Communion because mommy was shopping.  As soon as I got home I finished getting dressed and we got our girl ready.  She looked wonderful and even remembered most of what her teachers told her for the mass.  Even my sister in law and niece from Audubon showed up which was really nice considering how busy they are.  We survived lunch with french fries and ketchup with her dress intact.
  The next day was Sunday, Mother's Day and there was supposed to be a May crowning of Mary right after mass.  First Holy Communion kids were invited to come back in their outfits and participate in the procession.  It was also my mother's birthday so we were double whammied.  I was able to come up with a few small gifts for mom and after mass we went to breakfast at a local diner.  It was nice and low key.  It was after we returned home and mom left that I thought maybe I would get a Mother's Day.  Fat chance.
  The very creature that made me a mother in the first place wanted nothing to do with me and pitched an oscar winning hissy fit.  She complained loudly that no one was available to play and why was there no holiday devoted to kids??!!  As we say at our house A plus for hutzpah.
 It was at this point that mommy was fed up.  I had already been stressed out due to someone's behavior that week to begin with.  This was just the cherry on top of the crap sundae.
 Daddy, who is usually oblivious, came to the rescue.  He sent me upstairs for a nap while he dealt with princess hemorrhoid.  After my rest I was even able to go out to a local music store and shop.  What made that fun for me was boxes and boxes of cds of every conceivable type and they were all $1 each!  I almost closed the place.  In the meantime, my spouse did laundry and hung it outside, made sure I had flowers and a few gifts to open and even made dinner.  He destroyed my kitchen but he made dinner and it was obvious he was trying hard.
  Frankenbunny, on the other hand, wasn't done yet.  After the evening's bath, her majesty refused to get out of the bathtub and dry herself.  Mommy lost it.  I picked her up and threw her naked, wet miserable butt in her room and closed the door.  Happy fucking Mother's Day to me.  I think it was Roseann Barr who said this was why some animals eat their young.