Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Overheard

Devon, 14: So, if I can create my own reality, then when there is a zombie apocalypse all the food in the store cupboard will turn into AK47’s. Plus, at my cadet sqaudron we have gas masks and loads of number 8 rifles and I’m going to buy lots of tomato soup, even though I don’t like it, because that stuff lasts forever.

Me- Devon, please could you stop telling your sister who is prone to nightmares and sleepless nights all about zombie apocalypses?

Devon: Oh. (looks at his 11yr old sister) Maybe they’ll be NICE zombies?

——————————————————————————–

Devon,14: (in the kitchen making his lunch) If your name is Devon, clap your hands
“clap, clap”
If you’re makin’ some beans, clap your hands
“clap, clap”
If you’re trying to get some brown sugar for the beans out of the jar while making beans and clapping your hands, clap your hands.
*silence*
If you’re really cool, clap your hands
“clap, clap”

—————————————————————-

Olivia, 11- Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, DEVON.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon

Adjusting (or not)

I find it difficult to get used to this place. The next door neighbor is a single mum with three young kids, and from my point of view the kids are out of control, the whole family constantly screaming at each other (and worse on occasion). Though her youngest and mine rarely play together- the pervasiveness of their life is starting to affect my kids. Rafe, who is normally incredibly good natured, has started screaming at me. I have long learned how to handle that type of behaviour and can nip it in the bud with a stern word of warning, but it disturbs me just the same. My daughter,11, occasionally plays with the other girls on the street, and afterwards she is belligerent, demanding and snotty. Trying to manage these new behaviours is demanding as they are not part of my kids normal makeup, and are the result of influence. I find that I have to be even more strict than usual and can’t let them get away with it for a second. My eldest is son is thankfully not yet affected, he is not allowed to hang out with the few boys his age on the street as I know they smoke and drink. He’d like to go to the skatepark but the kids there are nasty little cretins and Dev finds that instead of just being able to play, he has to spend his whole time arguing or standing up for himself. Never mind that he is bigger than the kids and could easily lay them out if he decided to let them have it, that’s not in his genetic makeup and I think they see that.

The nights are difficult. Though we are fairly tucked away, our road is some sort of bus through-fare and they come and go at all hours. People come and go all night as well, usually loud and drunkenly. The dogs of the neighbourhood wake me up early every morning with collective howling and barking. During the day the street is full of kids, normally just playing, but when the neighbor kids are about you can be sure their mother will turn up soon and they will all start screaming again, usually just outside our windows. The little one, only 6, will inevitably start crying and there will be more screaming and I end up pacing the floor, wondering what I can do and usually just taking my kids to the park so they don’t have to listen to it anymore. Once I could hear her sobbing through the walls with occasional screaming at the kids and I gathered up all my courage and went over to ask if I could help, maybe by taking her kids to the park or something, she pretended not to be there, and when I pressed said she was fine, thank you.

Her behaviour disturbs me, especially as I worry about her kids, and the effect on mine, and initially I was very judgemental about her. I softened though when I remembered being a single mother for 8 years with two kids, one of which would later be diagnosed with a “social communication disorder”, which just means he screamed a lot as a kid, and occasionally jumped out of moving cars on busy roads because he couldn’t control his anger. It took me a few years to get the hang of this parenting stuff, and I remember being so hard on my son for silly things. I want to help my new neighbour, but she clearly does not want my help. She struts around the neighbourhood, wine class in hand, screaming at her kids or sobbing about some transgression to the adolescent girls that make up her entourage. I find myself less sympathetic and understanding and more irritated and disgusted. When the screaming starts I twitch the curtains, worried she will strike one of the children and knowing that if, when, it happens I will not be able to stay out of it anymore. My family knows this, and while I don’t think they would truly want me to stand back if she were beating them, I know they want me to be quiet, mind my own business, not get involved. I feel embarrassed that they feel this way, that I am some big mouth always getting involved in things that they don’t think concern me. I feel ashamed of them, too. We once came across a man and a woman fighting in the back of the van at a red light. We could see him punching her, could see the blood on her face and clothes. Instinctively I got out of the car, started to shout at them but was dragged back in by the sounds of my family shouting at me. I knew it could end up with me being hurt and didn’t want my kids to see that, so I got back in, and called the police instead. I thought perhaps I had taught my kids an important lesson that night, but now I wonder. Could it be that I am raising kids, and am married to a man, who can stand back and do nothing while others are hurt or treated badly and worse, believe that is better somehow than getting involved?

I long for our detached house in the tiny little cul-de-sac, where the cats could sleep all day on the road outside without ever being disturbed, where the nights were mostly silent and the only noise on a Sunday morning are the church bells in town, which I opened my windows wide to, so that we could hear them better, especially in the winter, when they chime Christmas carols.

Supermarket Fury

Going to the supermarket. Christ, is there anything worse? They just get bigger and bigger and when I finally leave I’ve lost 3 hours and wonder if I’ve been abducted by aliens. I know, I know. I’m lucky to have a supermarket to go to. Nonetheless. I feel like I am there every single day of my godless life. And you can’t just go in and buy the one thing you actually need, or at least I can’t, there are always half a dozen other things. Ooh, that’s on sale! Ooh, that’ll be good for dinner! Ooh, my favorite piece of junk food that is not at all good for me but I like to eat anyway! So, even though all I freaking needed was a loaf of bread that I can buy for 40 pence- I end up leaving with £35 worth of groceries. Granted, I buy a lot of reduced stuff that can be frozen and used for future meals, so I save money in the long run. I’m trying to bring my family round to trying the paleo diet, which I gather is just meat and veg and the money I’d save by shopping at the green grocer and the butcher and never setting foot in a supermarket makes me giddy with possibilities, I might finally be able to fix my sons bike! Lo and behold my family likes their carbs, thank you very much, so I may have to employ the use of stealth when making the switch. Though there is always the possibility of the old “I’m paying for the groceries, if you don’t like what I’m buying, get a job and buy your own.” That tends to stop the whining in it’s tracks…

What annoyed me recently (well, ok, a month ago) at the supermarket was the cashier. Usually they just ring the stuff up and make small talk (occasionally with me, usually with a colleague or the customer in front who won’t pick up their damn bags and GO already) but this one decided she needed to comment about what we were buying. Grrr. We’d gone in for only a few items but I’d come across quite a few sale items, of course. So we had three boxes of ice cream bars at 50 pence each for the kids, an apple tart that I thought would be a nice dessert one night for £1. Two boxes of my favorite cornettos, 2 for £2. And some other bits and bobs. Yes, there was a bit of junk. I joked about it to my husband. Yet this cashier decided she need to tell me all about weight watchers. And how half her grocery shopping is always vegetables. I tried to keep things light, and said something about how it’ll be nice when the kids go back to school and arent clamoring for ice cream all the time. To which she replied “Well that’s when you tell them they can have a piece of fruit!”

Sorry, guys. Kids with fat mommies aren't allowed ice cream!

This annoyed me. I didn’t say anything to her, other than just a “Oh, I do!” but the sheer audacity pissed me off. Why pass judgement on my purchases? I have three slim, healthy, active children. One of which prefers to snack on carrots more than anything else, and two who love salad and always have seconds. They arent allowed to drink soda, fast food is a rare treat and all their regular meals are homemade. They get told “If you’re that hungry, have a carrot or a piece of fruit” six times a day. The only one who eats to much junk in my household is me. And clearly I am an adult and perfectly capable of deciding for myself what and how much I eat. I have one child who hates fruit and veg and would prefer to eat junk all day. I don’t allow this. His favorite breakfast item is cereal, which I rarely buy. He has to eat more healthy food. If he doesnt eat his carrots at dinner, he gets no dessert, etc.

I suppose people just like to feel superior and I shouldn’t be offended, but it seems to illustrate once again that fat people are fair game for ridicule. I know I’m fat, I promise I’m not stupid and I really don’t need a lecture from the cashier on the value of eating vegetables. Neither do I need random people assuming that since I am fat, I am a simpleton incapable of appropriate parenting, especially as how the 6 year old next door is never without a can of coke and a packet of sweets, though his mom is thin as a rail. Shockingly enough, I don’t sit around eating junk and watching daytime telly all day, either.

So what I’d like to say to that cashier is this: “Look bitch, it’s the middle of August, the kids are off school and if I want to give them some damn ice cream, I will. And, by virtue of not being stupid, I know exactly how to lose weight when and if I choose to, so I really don’t need you to lecture me about weight watchers and fucking vegetables.”

Seriously, my kitchen is a disaster area.

“I can’t.”

Oh, I can’t even tell you the amount of times I have uttered those two little words in my mind over the last six months or so. I can’t. is what makes me retreat to my bed and curl up under my big fluffy duvet and close my eyes, sometimes sleeping, sometimes crying, sometimes just… laying. Not studying, not writing the assignments that are majorily overdue, not sorting out my kitchen which is still in post move chaos.

I suppose things are not so bleak as previously. I smile and laugh with my children, and enjoy our evening strolls.  I get up early, much as I did before…all this… and the baby and I water the flowers and make breakfast and it is nice. But when the children have gone to school or out to play and the husband is busy and I am faced with the neccessity of working, I freeze up. I can’t. I just can’t.     I make halfhearted efforts to whip the kitchen into shape and congratulate myself when I have cleared some counter space, only to feel dejected when just 12 hours later, it is a mess again. I get out the textbooks and do some reading, but after about 5 pages, realize I have no idea what is being discussed and no understanding of the concepts being explained. I start work on a research report, now 2 months overdue, and freeze 10 words in. I just don’t know what to write, or how to write it.

My doctor told me I had severe depression (what does that even mean?) and that my brain wasn’t working right and I needed to take a break from my studies. I couldn’t bear to do that, so I kept on, and now I’m in a gigantic hole that I can’t seem to climb out of.

This degree means so much to me and I am so dearly afraid it is slipping out of my grasp. At some point after my husband hung my whiteboard over my desk, my kids and my husband wrote messages on it. They say “You can do it!”  “You know you can do it, silly!” “PASS!” and lots of smiley faces.   When I saw that for the first time, my heart leapt. I am so so lucky to have them. They believe in me, and they love me and I don’t want to let them down. Yet, that seems to be the only thing I feel I actually can do at the moment.

I am here. I feel a bit like I’m glued to the seat of the roundabout in my kids favorite park. Just endlessly spinning round and round, dizzy and unable to focus on anything. But, I am here.

And, I have chocolate.

 

 

"If just one person believes in you, deep enough and strong enough..."

I can’t.

If there were ever two words to describe what depression feels like.

– Dooce.com

Oh, the things they say.

Rafe, 5, in the bath-
“Who let the dogs out? Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo!

Olivia, 11, on a screaming match with her 14 year old brother-
“Well, APPARRANTLY, I am a freak, a cirque de freak ANNNNND a JERK!”

Devon, 14, on why he should not have to help with the dishes-
“WHAT? My leg hurts!!”
Me- “That didn’t stop you going to your best friends house for two hours.”
Devon- “Yeh, but it hurts now
Me- “Tough Bananas, GO.”
Devon- drags himself on his stomach into the kitchen, moaning theatrically the whole way.

Rafe, 5, on birthday presents
“Mommy, I will get you a big trophy! That says “Happy Birthday AND I love you! FROM- TESCO’S!!!”

I’m not sure if he meant it would actually say from Tesco or that it would be purchased from Tesco. You can’t tell with that kid, he has an evil sense of humour.

What it means to be a mother:

It means that

A) When your five year old is joyfully riding his scooter along in the lovely weather after having had a nice long walk with mommy and suddenly hits something unexpected and upends- throwing himself and the scooter full bodied to the ground- you walk, you don’t run. Even though visions of busted teeth and bloodied noses and awkwardly hanging limbs are running through your mind. You gently pull him up and hug him close and whisper “it’s ok” and kiss his scrapes, make silly jokes and carry him and the scooter the rest of the way down the hill. So that five minutes later he asks to go the long way home so he can ride his scooter and 15 minutes later, it is long forgotten as he races inside the house to find an ice pop.

B) When it is 10:00pm and you’ve been up since sometime around 6 and you haven’t stopped all day and you feel like crap and all you want to do is go to bed and your damn bladder is screaming at you- you make hot water bottles because the kids legs hurt, you give the teenager 3 Ibuprofen and two night nurse tablets because his broken leg is aching and he feels awful, then you get halfway up the stairs and kick yourself and go back down to get him the flashlight, leave more pills and a glass of water within easy reach in case he wakes up in pain during the night, then hug and kiss him, say good night and ask three times if he’ll be ok.

C) Then find the liquid ibuprofen for the pre-teen girl who hates taking swallowing pills and dose her up because her not broken leg aches and also her side hurts (no, she doesn’t know what she did to it) even though she took a hot bath and has a hot water bottle. Finally you pee, brush your teeth and then go back down to check on the teenager, back up to check the little one is still asleep, breathing and hasn’t fallen out the window or something then back to the girls room because she needs something or because you spent more time saying good night to another child then you did to her, at which point you make a huge song and dance (literally, people) out of saying good night to her to make her smile, before finally collapsing into bed.

D) Get up five minutes later because there is a cat somewhere that desperately needs to be relocated somewhere else or a child somewhere desperately needs a drink of water or because you desperately need to make sure you checked all the doors for the third time so an axe murderer can’t get in while you sleep.

20/20

My eldest son has what I imagine is about the worst vision possible this side of legal blindness. Nobody knew this until he was about 6. I suppose a lot of his early behaviour issues probably were closely linked, but I was a young first time mother and oscilliated between privately thinking my child was crazy or completely normal. I didn’t know. Oddly enough, I don’t remember the first time it was suggested he may have a vision problem, whether it was before or after his teachers tried to convince me he had ADD and to medicate him, his first vision test, or even his first pair of glasses. I don’t even remember the first time I learned how poor his vision was, perhaps I blocked it out because not a day goes by that I don’t berate myself for unintentionally letting him go through his first years of life like that. Shocking to me is that my child was forcibly taken from me and circumcised while he screamed and I begged them not to, but checking his vision was not a priority for nearly 6 years. (I gather the APA’s priorities are slightly different now, we can but hope.)

My daughter had her vision tested at my firm insistence early on and, thankfully, it was perfect. I have not worried about Rafe’s vision as he has not exhibited any signs of vision trouble, and here in the UK, the health visitors are pretty on top of it. But, it’s been awhile since Rafe has seen a health visitor and rarely needs to go to the doctor and since he is school age, I thought it should be professionally checked. The morning of the appointment, I kicked myself for not insisting it be done when he was much younger, for once again putting my faith in the professionals and I was terrified it was going to be a similar case to my older sons. Thankfully, it was not. I had prepared him for the appointment beforehand and he quite enjoyed wearing all the funny contraptions and telling the eye doctor what the symbols on the wall were. He really wanted to use the letters and not the symbols, but wasn’t quite confident enough in letter names (they teach them the sounds first.)

To be told he had 20/20 vision made me want to cry with happiness. I suppose I wouldn’t go so far as to call my eldest son’s poor vision a disability, but I imagine the relief I felt knowing my younger children will not have to endure the same challenges and pain that he has must be equal to that of any mother, who aches to see one child suffer and rejoices to know their siblings will not.

Rafey

Yes, that is a Santa hat next to him. The fact that he was wearing a Santa hat in August greatly offended the cleaning guy we passed, who felt the need to point out Christmas was 4 months (is that all? Shit- I’m still in 6 months away mode!) away, and then a moment later, having apparently decided he was super annoyed, informed me it was at least 130 days away! (144 days to Christmas, actually. 89 until Halloween and, most important in this house- 227 days until Rafe’s 6th birthday. This kid is on top of his holidays!)

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