My daughters have subtle similarities. They like some of the same things, and they both are pretty bright. But their outlook on new situations and new activities are night and day.
While my youngest daughter adapts quickly to new surroundings and wants to do whatever “fun thing” is available, my oldest daughter is more leary, reserved and decides quickly that she is not going to have a good time.
I might as well give up right then … but I don’t. I push her just a little more, hoping and praying that something will happen to make a difference, to switch her sullen mood toward a joyful smile.
And so, it was with hopeful promise that I registered both girls at a summer day camp for a few weeks. Activities! Fun! Games! How could I possibly go wrong?
When my 13-year-old told me, “I said I didn’t want to do that,” I guess that should have been a warning sign. But I laughed it off. Sure, “you’ll have a great time!” I told her. But as school ended and the days drew near, she became even more adament and frustrated with me. She was going to have a bad time. It was going to be awful.
Still, I was hopeful.
And then the night before, she became even more insistent that she didn’t want to go to the camp. She stated matter of factly that she would not go.
I hugged her, told her I understood and that I was so sorry she felt that way … but she was still going.
Day 1, I took her (sullen-faced and all) and her little sister to the camp, signed them in and left quickly, thinking, “It’ll be fine. She’ll make friends. She’ll smile again.”
That afternoon, my husband picked them up and then called me. “One loved it, and one hated it. Guess which one,” he said. That evening I got to hear about how boring it had been and my heart sank a little that I had pushed her into something she didn’t like.
But on Day 2, the clouds of despair parted, hope shined just a little (must’ve been the wind). “How was it today?” I asked. “It wasn’t as bad today,” she said. And by Day 3 she was able to traipse off to camp with nary a tear or outburst. — Linda Lynn
I’m a fairly new parent so I know I have much to learn. One thing I could definitely use some input on is when to say something and when to keep quiet when it comes to other parents.
I recently encountered a situation in a parking lot of a strip mall. I parked next to a woman who was using some pretty excessive force on her child in the back seat, in plain view, door wide open. It was actually quite disturbing. I won’t give details, but I’ll just say a belt was involved. I sat there and wondered what I should do. Do I confront this seemingly crazy woman? Do I call the police? Do I pretend I didn’t see anything? I called my friend who is a former Oklahoma County sheriff. She said that if it looks bad enough to me that I should call the police and let them handle it. She made a good point: If the woman is brazen enough to do this in a public parking lot, then how, God forbid, does she “discipline” her kids in the privacy of their home? So I took her advice. I called the police. The response was actually a bit infuriating. Dispatch and the responding officer said the same thing – “how a parent chooses to discipline their child is their business.” I asked the officer, “so then there is no line between child abuse and discipline?” He couldn’t give me an answer.
Here’s another situation. I’m at White Water Bay last weekend and I see a parent there with a small child – probably between 1 – 2 years old. The parent isn’t using any sunscreen and I could see the child burning up in the sun before my eyes. Her bright red skin looked so painful, but I didn’t say anything. Soon the guilt set in that maybe I should have offered my sunscreen to her at least, in a gesture where maybe she could “get the hint.” But then again, she wasn’t my child. Do I have the right to interefere?
I don’t want to be on “parent patrol” because I know that I, myself, am far from perfect. But when incidents like these find themselves in my presence, I find it hard not to step in for the sake of the kids.
How would you handle these types of situations? Do you find yourself getting involved with people’s parenting? Let me know on here or e-mail me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear thoughts from other parents.
Most of the time when I go out, whether it is to the mall, or grocery store, or Target, it is just my son and me. He is my little “shopper.” I started him at a young age – 1 week old. I have a niece just a tad older than Hunter and her parents can’t take her anywhere. But if Hunter even just sees a mall, he’ll start yelling “SHOP SHOP!!” It really is a mom’s dream.
The only hard thing about just the two of us shopping together is trying to do the little things a third person would normally do, like holding the door open as I’m pushing Hunter’s stroller through. Or balancing the food tray on one hand and using the other to try to steer him toward a clean table in the food court. Or trying to squeeze us and his stroller into a small bathroom stall because I don’t have someone to watch him while I go.
So when people hold a door open or just help in some other little way, they probably don’t think much of it. But to me, it means the world. I was in Wal-Mart over the weekend for my weekly huge grocery run. Hunter was strapped into his shopping cart cover (best invention ever!) and I had just unloaded the bags into the trunk. His shoes were caught and I was struggling to get him out with one hand, and in my other hand, I had my purse and the bag with bread to put in the front seat. Right then a very nice man stopped and held the end of the cart so I could free Hunter. Then he took the cart down to the cart “corral” for me. He only had one bag of his own, but took the time to walk past his own car with my cart to put it back for me.
He probably never gave it a second thought, but for me, it meant that I didn’t have to struggle with the cart for five minutes and get frustrated. It meant that I got home those five minutes quicker and used them to enjoy the company of my little “shopper.”
As a mom, I often feel guilty about things that are probably not as bad as I make them out to be.
I’ve already written about the struggles of getting a toddler to eat. So of course comes the guilt of “is he getting enough veggies? ” or “am I a bad mom for taking my kid to McDonald’s in Wal-Mart when I know he won’t make it through a 2-hour shopping trip without a Happy Meal?”
Along with these guilts, I have many more, as I’m sure other parents do, especially single parents who can’t do it all.
1. Reading. Everywhere you look and listen, it is the same message. “Read to your child 20 minutes a day.” I’m actually better about getting this done than other things. But I do have the occasional day where there aren’t those 20 minutes. Will my child then be behind his classmates in junior high or not get into college?
2. Playtime, or lack of. We are enrolled in the READY! For Kindergarten classes offered by Putnam City School District (which I highly recommend to parents in that district). One of the things they emphasize is to set aside “educational play time” each day with your child. This seems easy enough, right? Wrong. How do you know if you are playing “educationally” enough? What if you’re attention is divided between helping solve a puzzle and dinner burning on the stove? What if you’re just too tired? Usually I make up for any missed playtime on the weekends with a trip to the park or zoo or something else fun. But is this enough?
3. Screen time. Something else you hear about everywhere. “Limit your child’s screen time (i.e. TV, computer) to 3o minutes a day.” Well if that’s the case, my boy has used up his daily limit before we even head out the door in the morning. Between Sesame Street and the Today show, he has had his fill. But as single parents, sometimes we have to use the TV as a tool to get other things done around the house. Should I just disconnect the television altogether? Because as long as it’s there, I’m bound to veg out on the couch and enjoy a healthy dose of reality television after a day at work. Does this mean my child will turn into a slacking couch potato?
Ahhh, the guilts of motherhood. Is there any escape? My mom sent me a wonderful book about moms for Mother’s Day. Inside the cover she wrote, “Good job, Erica.”
That’s the greatest compliment a mom could hear.
My children gave me some very thoughtful, handmade gifts for Mother’s Day – hand-drawn cards, collages of glued-on marbles, glitter paste and marker creations, an oven mitt with a handprint, a collection of family stories tied together to form a book …
I loved them all, and it brought back memories of my own handmade creations from when I was a child.
I kissed my “babies” – ages 13, 9 and 3 – and hugged them as many times as they would let me.
What a wonderful Mother’s Day, right? But it wasn’t over.
For some reason my 9-year-old daughter wanted me out of the house for a couple of hours later that evening. So, my husband and I left for awhile – it would be a good opportunity to buy toilet paper and shampoo.
So what awaited us when we returned?
Kaci met us at the entryway to our living room that obviously had been straightened, streamers were strung from wall to wall to curtain rod to mantle. She then led us to the dining area where a scrumptious homemade meal had been prepared: Peanut Butter and jelly sandwiches, barbecue chips, mixed nuts, a
Natalie Cole’s CD began to play, Kaci danced around the table (I called it Kaci’s Dinner Theatre), she waited on us like a waitress and then fixed us ice cream sundaes. …. Then she brought us the bill – $10.99. My husband handed her a credit card, which she took to his wallet and extracted $4.
A small price to pay for a priceless, fun moment with your child. – Linda
When my son Hunter, who recently turned 2, first started eating table food, I thought “wow, this is easy.” He was easy to please and ate like a horse. Now that he realizes that he does indeed have a mind of his own and has a choice in the matter, things are a bit different. I will set down his plate of food. He examines it. He wrinkles his nose. He looks at me. And then it inevitably comes … “I DON’T WANT IT!” The first four-word sentence my son learns and it just had to be that one.
My parents always told me “This isn’t an all-night diner,” meaning, if you don’t like what you’re given, you don’t get to order something else. I am desperately trying to instill this philosophy in my own home now, with great encouragement from my son’s pediatrician.
His doctor said that especially for toddlers, if they won’t eat what you give them, you simply cover it up and put it in the fridge. If they get hungry enough, they’ll eat it later. But as a parent, this is easier said than done. The last thing you want is to send a child to bed hungry or keep him up past his bedtime in hopes that he asks for the chicken nuggets you made hours before. But the other voice in your head says “if you give in once, you’ll have to give in every time.” So here we are. The nuggets in the fridge. The hungry toddler. The voice in my head. What to do?
I’ve looked at some great parenting resources and I feel good knowing I’m not alone in this struggle and I’m doing the right thing. Babycenter.com says that parents with toddlers who refuse to eat really shouldn’t worry because parents need to take into account fluids, especially milk, when looking at their child’s food intake. Also, while looking at how much a toddler eats, parents should look at it over the course of a week, not just what they consume in a particular day. As long as they are steadily gaining weight and have a good level of energy, they are getting the fuel they need.
Of course, if you have concerns about your child’s eating behavior or food intake, you should always get the advice of your child’s doctor or other professional.
And I know Hunter is gaining weight because we got his “Look at me grow!” sticker at his last checkup just 3 weeks ago.
I knew where it had to be. Yes, I did have Cade’s birth certificate, or, at least that’s what I told the school officials as we planned for my 3-year-old to begin school.
But after sifting through stacks of papers, opening legal-sized envelopes, digging through my cedar chest and emptying drawers, I decided I really, truly had never ordered copies of Cade’s birth certificate.
I felt guilty, disorganized. Why hadn’t I taken care of this? But then I started thinking about some of the little obstacles we had to overcome when Cade was born, how he had to undergo light treatment for about a week for jaundice, how his blood had to be tested constantly for about two months because the numbers were not exactly where they were supposed to be, and how we had to go through a liver scan … We were a little busy.
And then, life kind of evened out. Trips to the hospital became less frequent, and we went on about our business, dealing with normal everyday “stuff.”
When I found my middle daughter’s birth certificate last week, guess what? I had ordered her’s right before she started school. … Maybe I wasn’t such a bad, forgetful mother, after all.
So, today, I went to the Oklahoma Department of Health and stood in line to get what I should have gotten a few years ago. It wasn’t a great experience, but it wasn’t so terribly awful either.
I stood in a long line – it was a Monday and other parents were having to enroll their kids, too, and they needed their children’s birth certificates. Yes, the man behind me carried on a colorful conversation peppered with every expletive you could imagine on his cell phone, and after standing in that line, I had to stand in another line to pay … and then I had to wait for my number to be called. But the people assisting everyone were friendly.
And then it was done. I had my son’s birth certificate – four copies – you never know when you’re going to need an extra.
So, here’s some advice. If you have children and you haven’t gotten their birth certificates, go ahead and take care of that today. You can mail in your request or you can go to the Health Department, 1000 NE 10th St. If you go in person, print off the form ahead of time, fill it out, and then all you have to do is step into line. You won’t have to worry that you’ve forgotten information or misplaced your ID, because you’ll already know you need it.
And, then, when you enroll your kids in school, and someone asks if you have their birth certificates, you can say, “Yes,” and know that it’s true. - Linda
My family’s schedule will have to adjust. Cade turned 3 on April 21, and that means he’s eligible to attend public schools. My husband and I found out Cade had Down syndrome within an hour of his birth, so each little step since then has been a learning experience for all of us.
Now, it’s how to get three children to three different schools in the morning and then get myself to work on time. I’m pretty cheery in the morning, but my two daughters, ages 13 and 9, get a little nauseated if they hurry too much. So, the challenge is how to juggle and enable them to help make this work.
OK. I’ve made my kids a little too helpless. I fix their bowls of cereal or toast or sliced banana … then I wake them up (one at a time), encourage them that it’s going to be a great day … and then they curl back up on the couch to take another nap. ugh.
I feel like a sheep herder, but my sheep have vertigo – they keep going in circles or lying down. Well, today I told them times are changing. We have to all get up at the same time, get ready and scurry on our way.
Cade was the first one ready to go today. - Linda