Posts Tagged ‘kids’

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.”

trapped

I feel… trapped. Imprisoned. My chains? No, not the children. Not even the husband. Religion? Nope. Gender? Not in the west in 2011. So, why? How can I feel trapped? I have a roof over my head, food in my ample belly. Opportunities that women in other countries can only dream of. How can I feel trapped?

I think to myself that I am limited by my bank account, that I want to get on a boat or a train and see the world, I want my only limits to what I can do, to what my family can do, to be our imaginations. I think I want to grab life by the horns and live it to the absolute fullest and if only I had a few million in the bank, I could.

Other days I don’t want that at all, I want nothing more than a big house in the country, surrounded by fields and to spend my days pottering around my large kitchen, or lounging in my library, reading or writing. Having huge holiday celebrations and family reunions and just…living a good, content, full life.

Alas, both options require money. I am not sure why my life in its current state cannot content me. My children are healthy, intelligent, beautiful. My husband is caring and loyal. Even on the days when the cupboard and the fridge is full, there is plenty of money in the bank account, the bills are paid and my hair is clean and shiny, I still feel…unfulfilled. As if something is missing and I can’t work out what it is. A sense of purpose? Perhaps. Security? Independence? Perhaps.

I feel as if I am living constantly in the house of cards my teenage son constructed this summer, stuck at home with a broken leg and a pack of cards I had just handed him. He had never built one before and even the slightest hint of a breath would send it tumbling to the floor. I can’t get that feeling out of my head. Every day I become more certain that I never will. No matter how successful I might ever become, or how much money amasses in my bank account, no matter what great things my children persue in their lives, I fear that I will never escape that feeling of everything tumbling down around me at the slightest hint of a breath. That no matter how many pills I take or counseling I have, I will never feel happy with myself or my life.

I wonder why this is? Is it because I was unhappy as a child? Bullied incessantly at school and disliked at home? Have I become conditioned to feel this way? Certain that any feeling of happiness or pleasure is a sign of a great wind bearing down on my house of cards. Is it because there is some fundamental glitch in my programming?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, only that as I get older (Hello, 30! See you soon!) they become more pressing, more relevant. I wonder if it is perhaps a part of growing up, and that perhaps I will grow out of it, as indeed I grew out of my “I know everything, nobody can tell me what to do, it’s MY life so fuck off” teenage years.

On the bad days, the ones where for whatever reason I have found myself lying in bed at 11am, sobbing uncontrollably, the black hole in my chest absorbing light and life and threatening to consume every ounce of me, I find myself wanting nothing more then to go home.

“I want to go home.” I sob in to my husband’s chest hair, helpless and small and wishing I could melt into him, not understanding why I’m saying it, why my heart is feeling it. There is nothing left for me there. I think if I were to die suddenly I would not want to be returned there, to travel 6000 miles in a box and be buried so far from the people that love me the most, so why do I long to be back there in my darkest days? Perhaps what is calling to me is the desert which I love so much, the free and open spaces where I could never feel trapped or confined, where I could climb a mountain and watch the sunrise over the peaks and cactus. Even standing on the shores of Great Britain, gazing into the Atlantic Ocean, where there is nothing but sea and sky before me, I feel trapped. An island full of unfamiliar people behind me, a vast inhospitable sea before me.

I wonder if I will ever leave this country again, if I will ever leave behind the feeling of being imprisoned and lost within myself.

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.

Burn Out

A few months ago something started to happen that I wasn’t expecting. I stopped caring about my psychology degree. It was like I had been racing along my degree track, working at furious pace to get my degree next year, really enjoying my two current courses and suddenly ran headlong into a brick wall. I just didn’t care anymore at all. I’d sit and stare at the computer for hours, meaning to write an essay, or do some research and I’d open up a document or log into the search facility only to realize suddenly that at some point I’d switched to facebook and had been staring at that for 20 minutes. I stopped going to the library cold, it’s been two months at least since I’ve been, and I used to go five days a week and spend three hours there studying. I’ve had extensions for my last four assignments and only completed them by staying up and working through the night before and the entire day they were due.

My son had broken his leg and there was the eviction and money worries and of course all the other stuff going on in a family of five and I was finding this feeling of not caring was becoming usual. Poor attitudes or behaviour from my children which I would never normally put up with, I’d shrug my shoulders at. I couldn’t muster up any interest in anything, my kitchen whiteboard had the same information on it for three weeks at one point. And then I started crying. I’d be completely unmoved by anything for days, and then I’d wake up morning feeling like the whole world was crashing down on me and I just wanted to go home and crawl into my own bed 6000 miles away and sob and sob. (Which is funny because my mom sold that bed, which I loved, ages ago) I’d be walking through the grocery store, robotically picking up every piece of junk food there, not even realizing it and occasionally turning to my husband and standing in the middle of the aisle crying as he held me.

I could see that something was wrong, really very wrong so I finally went to my doctor who, obviously, diagnosed me with depression and gave me the British or generic or whatever version of Prozac and told me to take a 2 month extension on all my course work and come back in two weeks. I promised I would. But, you can’t take two month extensions on OU course work, that would put me two months behind on my next two assignments as well, not to mention putting me smack dab in the middle exam revision time. I was afraid that telling the OU would be disastrous- would they insist I drop my courses? Take a sabbatical? Would it delay getting my degree? So, I kept quite. And I didn’t go back to my doctor, because she would ask about the extensions and what would I say?

I took the pills, and after the third week stopped taking them, I don’t know why, it started with just forgetting and I kept on forgetting. Now I feel like I’m back where I was a month ago. Staring at the computer, knowing I have a huge project due, but not able to do anything. Not caring. Knowing I have another assignment due for my other course, but I haven’t even cracked the new books on that one yet. The whiteboard in my kitchen has the same stuff on it that it did last week. I wander through the grocery store, blindly picking up crap, only to be humiliated when I get to the checkout and discover I have tarts, cakes, cookies, makings for chocolate cream pie, and ice cream piled up on the belt.

I’m not sure what this is, perhaps the equivalent of the runners wall. I know I was better after I’d been on the pills for a couple of weeks, so they must have been helping, and I know I need to get back to the doctor and sort it out. But, I’m worried. Am I sabotaging my degree? How will I break through this? Why is it happening? Is it just a temporary wall? Am I truly burned out? Is it just biological- depression, fucked up neurotransmitters in my brain?

I feel awful, and I tear myself down. I’m lazy, not dedicated, irresponsible, not cut out for it. Then I cry, then I just stay away from it. Avoid the computer, the books completely. Then it all starts again. I wish I knew who to talk to about it, I wish I knew someone who had been through a similar time and could hold my hand through it. I feel like I’m throwing my degree away and I can’t stop myself.

Year 5

Devon, 5 and Tiffany, 7

Devon with his cousin, Tiffany. They used to be great friends, but my brother moved across town, and they stopped seeing each other so often. A battle was brewing between my brother and his ex wife around the time we were preparing to move oversea, and my niece was increasingly put in the middle. My son saw his cousin again the night before we flew out to England, and shortly afterwards my former sister in law cut off all contact between my family and my niece. I sent her a birthday present shortly after we moved but never knew if she even received it. Any gifts or cards I’ve sent since have not made it to her. I’m hurt and angry about what’s happened, but there is nothing I can do about it. I miss both my nieces terribly, and hope I’ll be able to see them both when I finally get a chance to go home.

Shared party

Ok, so the bowling alley party was not for his 5th birthday. I really have no clue then when it was then, probably number 6? Who knows. They gave him a commemorative bowling pin which was dated and everyone signed it. Ten odd years later, all the ink has long since faded or been wiped away. Think they need to look into using markers that are bowling pin safe?

Skater

Devon loved anything with wheels and was always getting a new skateboard for Christmas or his birthday. He loved his skateboard and still does enjoy occasional boarding, though he has graduated to bikes, and wants nothing more than a BMX. Currently about £300 I’m not willing or able to buy him one, as I just don’t have enough confidence in his ability to take care of his things, I am sure it would be stolen in the first month. He disagrees. But, I have history on my side. Hopefully, he will grow more responsible as he gets older.

Happy 5th birthday, Devon.

Year 4

Devon’s 4th birthday party was held at a bowling alley, and I guess that’s why I don’t have any pictures? a small family party and I don’t have any pictures because Devon has them all in his photo album. His 5th birthday was at the bowling alley, and I’m fairly sure I don’t have any pictures of that.

Anyway, the last few birthday pictures I’ve posted he hasnt been smiling and I don’t want anyone to think he was some miserable little sod of a kid, so I thought I’d use some pictures with smiles to celebrate year 4.

Graduate!

Devon graduated from preschool when he was 4. They had a proper ceremony and everything, he even got a diploma. He was so happy and had so much fun at the party. He started kindergarten that fall, and I’m sure I cried. My baby was growing up. God, I had no idea. He’ll be 14 in 11 days. Last night when talking about what he was going to do when he finished school, we were talking about the possibility of him going into the armed forces. Devon said to a friend of the family, “I’m not sure I should really leave mom with Olivia and Rafe though, they might put her in a care home, you know.” Apparently he thinks that once he leaves home I will age 50 years and no longer be able to take care of myself?

Devon, clown, some other child

We also attended my company picnic that year, which featured a clown, a bouncy castle, a barbecue and even an inflatable jousting tournament for the kids. This was my favorite year with Devon as a little one, he mellowed considerably from the terrible twos and three’s and real school (and all the associated trouble) was still a while off. He told me lovely jokes, and we were always out and about. His favorite thing to do that year was go to the park and feed the ducks. This is the year I’d have over again for the sheer joy of it.

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