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Archive for the ‘Quips from the Crib’ Category

Bill is alien

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When I picked up my four-year-old from school yesterday, he was tightly grasping at a fistful of construction paper haphazardly adhered together with scotch tape.  When I asked what it was he said, “I wrote a book.”

Imagine my pride.

He could not wait until we got home (we live six minutes from the school), so he read the book to me from the backseat as we drove.

So, risking copyright infringement, I’ll share with you the contents:

The Alien that Sneaked

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was sniffing three beautiful flowers.  She was very happy.

All of a sudden, an alien sneaked up on her and jumped out from behind the flowers and said BOO.

The girl jumped!  She did not know the alien was there.

The End.

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Actress Gwyneth Paltrow at the launch of Estee...

Image via Wikipedia

Gweneth Paltrow posted an important piece about homosexuality and the bible on her blog today.  She gathered insight from spiritual leaders on the subject and the result is a calm, knowledgeable argument for “leave the gays the hell alone.”

As a mother, I worry about my children growing up in a world that still faces bigotry against human beings who were born differently.  I worry because I don’t want my babies to face such pain themselves (my oldest, bless him, is a sensitive, creative soul, and I can see the sting of exclusion on his face when he is not welcomed into a group because he is “unusual”).  But, alas, my kids will be hurt – that is unavoidable – and their peers will justify this pain by citing what is “right” and “wrong” as it was taught to them.  And my hope is that my boys (and their classmates who will face even more brutal intolerance) can work through the pain and come out better people for having gone through it.

One of my favorite quotes from this article:

“There are few things worse than people using religion and the Bible as an excuse to denounce, curse or hurt another person.  Speaking and acting in this way shows a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of religion, God and the Bible.”

Enjoy.

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My four-year-old has been adjusting to his father’s absence better than I thought he would.  He’s never been through deployment before, so I was naturally concerned about his inability to understand and/or emotionally handle the separation from one of his favorite human beings on the planet. 

When we drove away from the airport, my guy said “I’m going to miss Daddy,” from the backseat.  Then he said, “Mamas, why are you crying?”

Luckily, he’s like me in that he is willing to talk about his emotions.  And we’ve had some moments when we’ve talked about how he feels and he starts to cry. 

In those situations, I tell him it is okay to feel sad, but it’s also okay to feel happy.  Just because Daddy is gone – temporarily – that is no reason not to feel happy.

That seems to work long enough for his attention span to switch gears to the mighty beans in his bedside table, or the bicycle in the backyard.

And he also hasn’t had too much trouble at school – until yesterday. 

We started him in a Montessori program about two months before my husband left.  He was bored, and he needed to make friends in our new town.  And I wanted to make sure he did not have to go through two transitions at once. 

I wasn’t looking for a Montessori school.  And to be honest with you, even after researching the method, I’m not sure I could explain it fully.  I was just looking for a place I felt good about, for a person I trusted to watch my son.  I looked at almost every school in my small town and the small town just south of us.  And I didn’t find anyone I connected with.  In some cases, the person I spoke with never even asked for my son’s name.  That bothered me. 

It was coming down to the wire and I found this school by Googling “best daycare in Kyle, TX” which I probably should have just done in the first place.

One of the directors of the school asked that I meet her on a Saturday, so as not to interrupt her focus on the other kids.  When we walked in the door, she got down on her knees and greeted my son first, introduced herself and had a small conversation with him before she turned her attention to me.  Then she suggested we speak on the playground so that my son could be free to run around and we could be free to talk. 

She was calm, and warm, and everything flowed easily for her.  She didn’t rush our conversation (even though it was her day off) and she answered my every question as though it were the most poignant ever asked.  By the end of our visit, I wanted to marry her. 

My son took well to the school.  No tears (from him), not even on day one.

And the teachers (or “guides”) often comment on his politeness and his focus on “work” (their word for attentive play).  And when his dad left, they commented about how well he seemed to be handling things.  He even had a talk with another boy there whose father is deployed with the Marines.  And the director said the conversation was not sad, but excited. 

So yesterday, when she called to tell me he’d had a problem, my heart nearly broke.  She said two of the girls had approached her and said he had “spit” on them.  I didn’t understand this at first (she’s Guatemalan and has an accent).  I thought she said “pissed.”  It didn’t occur to me that a four-year-old would not likely come to the teacher and say, “that boy pissed on me.”  (Imagine my relief when I realized he had just spit at – and not peed on – two girls in his school.)

She acknowledged that spitting is common, and that, were the situation different (and had she not told me that very morning how well he was doing), she would have just corrected him and moved on.  But she called because she wanted me to know, just in case this was a reaction to his situation (and also because she’d never seen this behavior from him before).

She also advised that I not bring it up unless he does (so as not to punish him twice for the same offence).  And when we talked last night, he did not bring it up.  But he did say that he missed Daddy.  And he didn’t sleep well.  So, perhaps this is harder for him than he initially let on.

So, parenting gurus/therapists/ladies at the grocery store with comments for everything – what do I do?  Keep hugging him and loving him and distract him with trips to the pool and park?  Or take him to a professional with a degree in “tell me how you feel”? 

This balance thing is hard.

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I came across an interesting article today about the link between sugar consumption and ADHD. 

As someone who believes that WAY too many children are under the influence of mood-altering drugs prescribed by their doctor, I am always willing to believe in healthy methods of helping kids cope with what’s going on inside them.

Here’s a great quote from this article:

“Human beings didn’t evolve on a diet of processed foods and it’s only in the last century or so that we’ve been eating so many of them. My theory is that this is somehow linked to problems with brain function. I think we have enough evidence now to have a public health message that says that for healthy brain function children need healthy food.”

I’ve heard suggestions in the past that ADHD can be “cured” by regulating a child’s diet, and this theory immediately made sense to me.  Since I’ve been working from home, I’ve had to pay attention to my productivity, and I’ve discovered that I accomplish more in the early morning hours, before my metabolism slows down with the consumption of carbohydrates.   Kids brains work so much faster than our own, so consider the speed-like effects when sugar is added.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think taking your kid off Twinkies is the all-encompassing solution to something as complicated as ADHD.  But I don’t think drugs are necessarily the answer either.  These days everyone is looking for the quickest remedy.  Or perhaps they don’t want to admit that there is a problem in the first place.  But our bodies – and especially our brains – are complicated.  And researching all the possibilities – and helping your kids deal with this very natural thing without drugging them or making them feel like there is something “wrong” with them – seems the best way to go.

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What’s happening:  the boys are painting on the back porch.

How my OCD responds (internally):  Don’t get paint on the railing!  Not on the porch!  Don’t eat the paint!  Don’t touch anything but your canvas!  No!  Not the dog! 

The silent conversation I must have with myself in order to remain calm:  It’s okay.  It’s water-based paint.  With a little soap and water, it will come right off the railing.  And the porch.  And the children.  And dog.  No one will swallow enough paint to trigger poisoning.

Funny how stressful fun can be.

"Square dinosaur" by my nearly-four-year old.

My one-year-old calls this "aboo" but I like to think of it as "the paint he did not ingest."

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Photo by Nina Matthews Photography

Size 3 soccer ball – check.

Wee little cleats – check.

Shin guards that cover nearly his whole leg – check.

Nondescript SUV – check.

Orange slices – check.

“I’m excited,” my preschooler said countless times on the way to his first ever soccer game on Saturday.

We were running a little late.  My husband had made a last-minute trip back home to St. Louis (on Friday his uncle unexpectedly succumbed to a swiftly progressing cancer) and I had overestimated my abilities to get both boys up and ready solo mio.

In my rush to get the boys out the door on time, I sacrificed the sanctity of a morning coffee.  Yep, that’s right.  I chose to face vast fields full of hundreds of little soccer players and their (sometimes overbearing) parents sans coffee.  Brave?  Or, possibly, just incredibly dense?

We arrived to find the fields bustling with activity.  We located our team easily and met the coach, a large man with a kind voice who had admitted in an email earlier in the week that he had never played or coached soccer before.  But I wasn’t worried.  These are 3-4 year olds.  We’re not exactly training for the World Cup here.

Still, there was that one parent.  You know the one – he/she played soccer their entire childhood – and missed the Olympic trials by just that much – they always buy their kid the most expensive soccer gear and ensure their player has had ample training prior to the opening game.  This is the parent who always insists their child start first-string and who, in the car on the way home, sternly repeats the mistakes the poor little player made during the game.

I recognized her immediately.  She was the parent running drills with her four-year-old before the game.  She was outgoing, of course, so she introduced herself right away with a firm handshake and then pointed out her son, who had sad little eyes and probably would rather be reading.  I did not divulge that I had spent a good portion of my childhood on the soccer field as well – no need to strike up any unnecessary conversation.

My son got the uniform from the bottom of the box – and it’s unmercifully big on him.  He’s already a head shorter than most the kids on his team, and the big shirt makes him look even smaller.

But, bless him, my guy wanted it.  Bad.

He was the first kid to get the ball when the game began.  And he scored two goals during the game – one for our team, and one for the other team.  He was equally excited about both.  As was I.  One of the girls on our team scored a goal (then ran off the field to jump up and down and scream “wowwowowow” with her parents) and the boy whose mom was THAT mom made a goal (thank God).  And the game ended 3 to 1.

Our coach rotated everyone in so that all the kids had a chance to play.  And no one played “positions” on the field.  We were basically just lucky to get the little guys (and girls) to run in the right direction.  But I was proud.  My guy had fun, he didn’t push anyone out of his way and – by the time the game was over – he had learned not to 1) shoot at the other team’s goal or 2) touch the ball with his hands.

And he really liked the orange slices.

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We moved into our new house on Monday (insert happy dance here), and it took a few nights for our preschooler to sleep well in his new room. 

The first night we were optimistic.  We went about the usual bedtime routine and kissed him goodnight.  We left the door to his room open and puffed our chests with the confidence of success.  Moments later, he started to whimper and cry.  We took turns comforting him.  During one of my turns, he said he was afraid of the noise coming from the closet.  I turned off the ceiling fan (the actual origin of the noise) just as he mumbled something.

“What, baby?”  I said.

“No, mamas,” he said.  “I was talking to the noise in the closet.”

This concerned me.  I assured myself this was not the beginning of one of those horror films where the family moves into a new house and the kids start talking to … ahem … prior residents.

“Is the noise … talking back?”  I said.

He looked at me like I was crazy.

“Nooooo,” he said, but it sounded more like “duhhhh.”

Good.

Eventually, we caved into his pleas of letting him sleep with us.  But he screamed out in his sleep every hour or so, jolting us awake in fear and crushing any chance of actual rest. 

The second night we popped a tent on top of his bed (his favorite way to sleep) and insisted he remain in his room.  I was still awakened by a couple of screams during the night, and one time he jumped up and ran down the hall to our room, claiming there was a spider in his bed. 

Certain there was no actual spider, I dutifully shook out the tent, pillow, blanket, and essential stuffed friends who also had been camping out.  I then plucked a little plastic knight from the toy box and assured my son that the knight was a “super duper spider fighter” and would protect him and said friends. 

I climbed back into bed wondering what kind of acute stress causes someone to dream about spiders.  Just a few days before, a friend confessed to having a reoccurring dream about a large spider squatting in her bed. 

Curious, I did a little research on the appearance of spiders in dreams. 

And what I found is this:  nobody knows anything.

One website says that dreaming about spiders is “symbolic of feminine power or an overbearing mother figure in your life.”

Overbearing, eh?  I’ll show you overbearing …

Another site says that if you kill a spider in your dream, then it symbolizes misfortune or bad luck.  In contrast, a blog I found claims that killing the spider, in fact, leads to good luck.

A dream analyzing website hypothesizes that spiders are an indication that you are afraid of something.  (Yeah – like spiders.)  This site also says that maybe your dream has something to do with the Internet, your “personal world wide web.” 

Seriously?

And here’s my favorite – another blog claims that “large black spiders represent very powerful demons.”  It does not say how to actually purge yourself of these demons, but it does say that the demons “must submit to the name of ‘Jesus’.”

So, while I’m certain that the spider dream is not the result of an actual demon (or a noise in the closet) coming after my son, but rather his body’s reaction to stress and change, I still took a small precaution before bed last night. 

I whispered “Jesus said to get lost” to the half-empty closet.

And he slept just fine.

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