These are letters to Jack, my son, and my daughter, Audrey. You have given me the gift of motherhood. This is just a little gift back. I want to share my experiences with you of your childhood from my perspective of watching you grow - of being your Mom.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I don't understand.
We don't watch racing.
Neither of us has never shown any interest in racing whatsoever.
I mean - it might be exciting if it was a loooooong track and you drove around ONCE (because then you could mark the progress and keep track of it), but how can someone sit and watch cars drive around in circles over and over again for like 150 times and be on the edge of their seat the whole time?!? Is he going to pull ahead? How can you tell? How do you know the guy pulling ahead of the other guy isn't on lap three instead of three hundred like the other car? I don't understand the pace cars when the pit stops happen. Don't pit stops HAVE to happen and if someone makes it without one, shouldn't they be able to drive like a bat out of hell without pace cars for that period? I don't understand. It's their risk to take, isn't it? Shouldn't they be able to reap the full benefit of that risk? I just don't get it.
I don't think your Daddy does either. He can appreciate cars with certain looks that I would call tough and masculine and will sometimes point one out to me as we drive along and say that he'd like that car someday, but I've never walked into a room to see him guiltily change the channel quickly while I'm able to catch a glimpse of bumper before it moves to ESPN or something else.
Now, I have had a hint to your love of cars because you've been obsessed with the movie Cars for over a year and it hasn't died a quick death like most of the other things you temporarily become obsessed with.
The other day I was casually channel flipping and made the mistake of entering the sports channels where I landed on a program and couldn't make out what it was about so I paused. Just as I realized that this was a racing channel and fumbled with the remote to try to turn the channel before you noticed, I looked over and it was too late. You were staring at the television as though you were in a trance with your jaw unhinged, hanging open and a thin line of drool already extending towards the floor.
Now we have Nascar. In. My. Home.
I think I threw up a little in my mouth just then.
And now you ask to watch pretend racing (your movie Cars) and real racing. And you also have taken up this as a fun pasttime (which is kind of cute....):
Ugh, though. NASCAR?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Interestingly enough, just yesterday I was asked by a co-worker to read his term paper in his Child Psychology class.
Eons ago (12 years ago – good lord) I got my undergraduate degree in Psychology. At the time, I had lofty ideas about becoming a guidance counselor at a grade school or high school. Turns out that you need to have your Masters in order to get a job like that, especially in the public school system. I wasn’t that ambitious at the time or committed to the idea, so I didn’t pursue it.
Anyway, my co-worker must have thought that I would be a good reference point because of my degree and so I read his paper. It had an interesting effect on me. It was written in professional language and obviously by someone that didn’t have kids himself, because it was much more black and white, do things this way and not this way - than a parent could probably produce.
But it got me thinking from the perspective of a parent about acting out and what triggers it. Why some children act out more than others and what social and environmental factors might contribute to that….
I think I gave my co-worker far more feedback than he was prepared for because he kept saying “well….yeah, but I can’t have a paper that’s a thousand pages long, Bridget….”
The paper specifically was focused on teenage rebellion and acting out and how inevitable it is.
I started to think about the first flaw in the logic of the paper right there. That rebellion and acting out is confined to the teen years and not slowly developing over the course of a child's development just as everything else evolves through this process, too. The child that refuses to eat BECAUSE it’s dinner time and then cries like he’s starving for a snack when it’s time to go to sleep. Is that child not demonstrating rebellion and acting out at the age of two that will eventually evolve into the child trying to sneak out of the house at night while the parents are asleep?
Is it inevitable? Or not? What drives a child to act out? Is it possible that this is a way of communicating to us as parents that we are not doing something completely right? Maybe we aren’t hearing something that the child is trying to communicate - whether that message is they feel they are prepared to be treated with more trust and given more freedom of choice than we are allowing? Maybe the message is that they desperately want some more clear lines of direction, more obvious rules that they can adhere to than have been provided up to that point?
This was the first thing that jumped out at me from the pages of my co-workers paper.
I also thought about myself and how, to this day, I’ll be struck by an urge to do something that I know is wrong and may not be able to resist it. The urge to blog when I’m being paid to work, taking a long lunch so I can socialize a little longer on the clock, exercising during work hours, taking an extra sandwich (or two or three) when catered meals are offered at work meetings. Hey – it’s not that I’m out to screw my place of employment, but instead shows that this and home are pretty much the two places that I spend my time and acting out at home only screws myself….
Why admit to this? Well, just like the kid that acts out in the above ways, it doesn’t give me a good feeling. I’m not proud of it, but I get this general desire to push the limits, to see how far I can go. I get a little rush when I get away with it and yet, I know how crazy it is to take stupid chances because if they DO go wrong…. The consequences would hardly be worth it. But I often can’t stop myself every once in a while from taking the chance. It’s like I have to shake things up or I’ll explode.
So does this point to a genetic makeup thing or is it environmental? Is it a combo and what combo would that be?
I see your Daddy usually acts out by being offensive about something. Making off color jokes or being inappropriate when it would be least acceptable. Luckily for me, I find this very amusing so I am entertained when he does this.
How much of acting out springs from boredom? Or pressure – from family and friends? Work? Self imposed expectations that we may or may not be conscious of?
I went to elementary, grade school and high school in Catholic parochial school and then in an all girls Catholic High School. Religion was taught, taught again and then – taught some more.
I don’t think anyone can deny that there is a lot of guilt tied to religion – even those that practice it regularly and find comfort in it.
I personally felt a lot of pressure in the moral messages of what makes a good person. To be good all the time was incredibly hard for me. I tried very hard to be good all through my youth and high school years, so much so that I didn’t really let myself try things that my peers were trying. They in turn decided I was weird. And I really, really was. I had the absolute worst case of People Pleasing Disease that I’ve ever witnessed (and I’m not cured by any means today). I would sit in Church and half expect that the Jesus statue would come alive and lift me up for my goodness and I would ascend into heaven right there in front of everyone. Normal, right?
Then there were the peers of mine that could have fallen into the bucket of the “Opposite Problem”. There were too many pressures for them to be “A” students, good kids. So much so that they knew they couldn’t possibly live up to all that was expected of them so they went to the other extreme of throwing in the towel, accepting that they were “Bad” kids and trying EVERYTHING! Stuff that would make you look at them and want to reach out and pinch them just to make sure you’re really still seeing them because the very fact that they survived what they tried is astounding in and of itself.
I think of the Amish and how they accept the idea of the teenage rebellion so completely that they have Rumspringa where they will have their teenage children go out into the world on their own to experience life and make a final decision in a matter of months or a few years at most as to whether they choose to come back to the family and commit themselves to being Amish for the rest of their lives or instead leave their family and loved ones, never to be able to return again - and forever find their way living in the outside world after growing up in such seclusion. Can you even imagine that kind of pressure?
Or being from a family of achievers? I recently read an article about family members of Albert Einstein and how incredibly hard it is to grow up in the shadow of greatness like that. The expectations that people have of members of the Einstein family. "Oh, you're an Einstein? Related to ALBERT Einstein?!?" What can that sort of pressure do to a person? You certainly wouldn’t feel like you could be WRONG. Good lord.
So – rebellion and acting out…. I think they ARE inevitable because in our daily search to discover who we are and how we fit – we feel the need to test boundaries. We push limits to see how we will be accepted by those we love. In testing those boundaries of love and trust, we see how incredibly strong those bonds are as we push and pull and go to the extremes or find ways of coping with the highs and lows as well as the tediousness and boredom of the mundane everyday. These acts of rebellion - acting out - teach us who we are and who we love and what makes them amazing and incredible to us.
I just think there are just so many contributing factors – they can be religion, family expectations, your own expectations, your overreaching goals and dreams, the picture that society paints of the perfect people and perfect lives that aren’t achieveable - that we'll never be able to pinpoint just WHERE that drive originates.
And the perfect people and perfect lives that we desire and want that we hear about in the media? They are complete fantasy. Those stories are airbrushed, cleaned up of what makes them real which is why the are “perfect”. It amazes me that no one sees how detrimental it is to portray things as better than they are. It sets an unrealistic expectation for the rest of us struggling to find happiness and defining it by unrealistic standards. Nothing “perfect” is achieveable. You can get as close to perfection as you allow yourself to be completely happy with what you have in your own mind. Perfection is a decision, a perception and those that can find that in their own lives and situations are the ones that will be truly happy.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Lately, you and I have been enjoying checking out videos on YouTube together. You call it 'Puterin' which is shortened toddlerese for "computer-ing" which is an obvious action that we all do on a regular if not daily basis.
Anyway, we have found this one clip that we watch over and over again linked here:
It's hilarious to both of us and we have watched it more than I would care to own up to. Something about the way the baby cracks up after the boy finally moves his finger out of his mouth. Almost like he's saying.... can you believe this guy?
I suppose if you take to biting and thinking it's funny, I'll have only myself to blame....
Monday, February 11, 2008
This morning, I took you to daycare. It was a snowy day like many we've been having lately. We drove slowly to drop you off and, like I do on cold days like this, I left the car running while I took you inside.
All the Moms do it. You run in to drop your little one off as a step in the routine of heading to work in the morning and you leave the car running because you are going to be out in such a quick amount of time, and it's cold, and with all the other parents around you figure - nothing is going to happen.... right?
Well, I dropped you off and headed back out to the car. Our separation that morning had gone SO well that I immediately reached over to the floorboard of the passenger seat to retrieve my cell phone from my purse, and my purse wasn't there.
Wierd how one acts when they simply can't conceive of what might have happened. There must be another explanation. I searched through the whole car, even UNDER the seats as though it might have rolled under there without my noticing.... yeah, right....
I went back into the school, now completely sure I had been robbed, but needing to retrace my steps before I was sure. I retraced my steps.
Now I was sure.
Someone had watched me take you out of your carseat and gone inside with you and then they had gone into our car and stolen my purse. Right in front of your daycare.
I called the police who came out to the daycare and proceeded to tell me how incredibly commonplace this type of crime is. That Moms are such easy targets at schools and daycares at drop off times because they do the same thing that I did and they are usually so focused on the morning routine and getting their little one where they need to be, that they don't notice what is taking place right behind their backs. Or even in front of the other parents - who were too engaged with their own morning routines to notice either.
So, I went into work after filing the report and burst into tears. My boss sent me home and I went there to cancel my credit cards, my bank account and start the process of getting things back in order.
It's going to be a long road. The bank account was setup for auto payment of most of our bills and we had auto-deposit of our checks right into our checking account. Now the checking account is closed and checks are bouncing and I don't know how long it's going to take for us to get it all back on track. And I feel so stupid because if I'd just been a little more careful....
I called the credit card company and they were able to confirm that the thief has used my card at several locations as well as trying to buy hundreds of dollars of electronics equipment at a local WalMart. The card had declined there because, by then, I had reported it stolen.
The police went out and obtained a tape of the guy, but he was wearing a black hoodie up over his head so aside from the fact that they could tell he was African American, there was nothing else they could determine from the tape.
The chances are, they won't catch him.
What disturbs me more than the inconveniences posed by this, the charges I'll have to dispute, the fees to be paid, the new identification and insurance and other cards to be reissued, and all the minutia - is the close proximity of this crime to YOU.
That terrifies me - even if all you served for that criminal was a distraction to me - it was TOO CLOSE to you. It makes me want to pay the GD place to put a camera on the front door and the parking lot so there is NO CHANCE that anyone would come that close to you again with any kind of intention that was less than honorable.
I'd like to find that guy and kick him right in his bollucks (as my man, Gordon Ramsey, would say...).
Monday, February 04, 2008
This past weekend, we visited the Science Center for the first time. They have these enormous robotized dinosaurs that move around slightly and make dinosaur sounds so we thought you might be interested in them. Turns out - the moment that you saw them, you seemed convinced that if they caught sight of you, they would start running after you and gobble you up. To say you were frightened is an understatement.
You could barely move.
People are so different.
You were adorable with this window.By the time we made it over to the other end and had checked out the spaceships, etc, we turned to go back and you reached for the now missing Rufus.
And that's when I sh*t my pants.
"Where's Rufus, Mommy?"
Oh. My. God.
I was off running like I had lost you, my own flesh and blood child, sprinting and impatiently calling for you and Daddy to HURRRRRRY!!! HURRRRRY!!! WE HAVE TO FIND RUFUS!!!! WHATIFSOMEONEELSEPICKSHIMUP?WEHAVETOBEQUICK!!!!IDON'TKNOWWHATWEWOULDDOIFWELOSTRUFUS!!!
I was in far more of a panic than you and I think you were more than a little suspicious of my panic.... Of course, you haven't been on my side of things where I try to put Rufus through the laundry for the timing of JUST ONE CYCLE and listening the entire time to "Rufus Bath? Rufus Done? RUFUS CLEAN! YEAH! WANT RUFUS!"
Let's just say that Rufus helps you, but he also helps me. That stuffed animal is one of our links to familial sanity.
We discovered him in a heap on the connector base of one of the activity sites.And I dropped to the ground and wept tears of blood.
Okay - no I didn't.
But, I've realized one of my worst fears and now I'm in fear of the day that something bad happens to this warm bundle of stuffing that brings so much comfort to you.
Friday, February 01, 2008
So - we finally got to enjoy sledding through the snow with you for the first time .... well, EVER!Today provided the perfect opportunity to enjoy your first sledding experience. Last night the snow that came down was thick and heavy and this morning posed all sorts of challenges to getting to work which I chose not to deal with. I also decided that you were staying home with me.
We spent the morning playing in the snow, making snow cones and playing around the house. We were saving the sledding for the afternoon when Daddy would be home from visiting Tony at the hospital and we could all do it together.
I was sure you would like it and YOU DID, but by the end of the activity, you much preferred to go down the hills on your butt.
I'm not sure why.
It couldn't have had anything to do with initially not having any idea how to gracefully get you up the hill, so I lugged you up like you were a case of luggage. Certainly that couldn't have been the reason... (what could I possibly have been thinking here?!? I'm guessing something along the lines of... MOMMA MEANS BUSINESS....)
Maybe it had to do with the pure velocity that it appears we were propelling forward with in this picture.Actually, you really had a wonderful time and if you had it your way, we would never have gone inside.We would have played outside till our body simply fell apart from frostbite.Or maybe just up until that point. Anyway, it was mighty fun.I learned how to pull you up the hill on the sled which was FAR more fun for you and you learned how to stay on the sled when it was inclined upward without tumbling off and rolling down the hill backwards in a bundled heap.It was such fun, in fact, that I kept going down long after you had given up on the sled itself and taken to rolling snowballs down the hill and trying to go down the hill on your well padded butt.I can't wait to do it again. Bring on the snow!Here is a video I was able to take of you and Daddy enjoying a ride together.