Monday, February 21, 2011

The Parent of Two

I have to admit that there are moments of weakness in my parenting adventure when I envy couples with only one child.  Wait, envy seems like such a dirty word...(especially when you look up the synonyms to envy - yikes!) maybe a better word is admire?  look longingly at?  I think you get my drift.
There are times where, in relation to mine, their lives seem so effortless.  Oh, you want to eat dear?  Let me hold the baby while you get to have an adult conversation.  You have to do the dishes?  I'll play with junior downstairs so you can do that.  You want to talk on the phone with your mom?  I'll take our one manageable child upstairs so you have some peace and quiet.  You want to eat chocolates and drink wine?  I'll have junior bring it in to you and then quietly disappear.  
There would be no pushing, no fighting, and no tattling.  When you lock them out of the bathroom so that you can use it, there wouldn't be banging and screaming equal to an army of little dudes. There would be no crying at bathtime.  I could do things like "just run in" to the mall.  I wouldn't have to push a cart at every grocery store I went into - especially if I was just getting milk.  There would only be one bedtime, one set of bedtime stories, and one dinner that would be tossed on the floor for the dog to eat.
Life would be grand.
Okay, I realize that this is total bullocks, but the truth is that I'll never know.  I had only one child for about 8 months, and that is hardly a fair judge.  To be honest, I barely remember it - it's like a fast moving blur in my life now.
But last night I got a little taste.  Miles was sick and chose to lie in his bed nearly all night long eating oyster crackers, taking medicine, and drinking water.  Although I spent most of the afternoon curled up on the couch with him while his little brother tried everything in his power to acquire every sick germ vibe that Miles could have possibly been giving out, I finally let him just crawl into his bed and lie there miserably.  Besides the occasional check-in it was like he wasn't even there.
There was no pushing, no fighting, and no tattling.  Liam didn't have anyone to follow around and mimic.  At dinner time we had a nice quiet prayer and only one set of tortilla chips got fed to the dog when we weren't looking.  When it was bathtime there was no one to yell "bath time!" and start stripping their clothes off immediately.  There was only Liam quietly getting into the bath.  There was no crying at fact, it lasted for almost 45 minutes.  Instead of dodging flying bath toys I sat there and read a book.  There was only one bedtime.  I was off the clock by 7:15.
Then Dustin asked me...."Could you imagine if we only had one child?"
So that is what it would be like?
There wouldn't be drum wars in our kitchen...No tag in the dining room...No wrestling matches on the dog pillow (I know - gross right?)...No book sharing....No playing catch.  Life would be so quiet.  Too quiet for us.
I have no doubt in my mind that couples with only one child feel fulfilled and have a full life - in fact they may have room in their lives for so many other fulfilling ventures that their lives are overflowing with happiness.  I can still admire that.
But my life isn't that...and I am totally okay with it.
My life is instead filled with a noisy house, broken belongings, and giggles after bathtime.  I guess I really wouldn't have it any other way.
Sorry Liam, but it looks like your luxurious bath-for-one last night was a one time event buddy.  Here's to an early childhood full of sharing bathtoys - hopefully someday you'll be the one antagonizing your little brother or sister.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Loving to love...

I LOVE Valentines Day.  Who doesn't love to love?  I didn't used to.  Well I did, then I didn't, now I do again. 
When you're a crafty little kid in love with the color pink  and the idea of lavishing your classmates with beautiful little cards you feel like that day was made just for you.  Oh you want me to decorate a box with stuff from around my house for people to drop little love notes into?  Sign. Me. Up.  There will even be heart shaped cookies there and napkins exploding with pink hearts?  Perfect.

Then in high school it starts to become all too real.  You either have a Valentine or you don't.  If you do...then you have to think what to get a boy for Valentines Day.  Worst pressure ever.  A giant stuffed bear with an "I love you" balloon?  lame.  Valentines Day boxers?  weird and a little mature.  A gold chain with your name on it?  Only okay if your my dad and it's the 70s. 

If you don't have a Valentine, well then it's just depressing - the perfect reason to hate a holiday built on consumerism and commercialism if this so-called love that people are rubbing in your face.

Then you get into your junior year of college and meet someone you really love.  Someone who lavishes you with love everyday and you can't wait to spend Valentines Day with them - a special day...until you find out that they don't celebrate it.  Period. They don't celebrate Valentines Day....something about commercialization...blah blah blah....everyday is Valentines Day...blah blah made up by Hallmark... blah blah blah.
Okay.  I can dig it.
Like the submissive and ever-abiding girlfriend/wife I went along with this.  (I think I can hear my parents laughing two states away.)  I pretended like this was maybe even stoic.  Of course everyday is like Valentines Day....we're just that awesome.

I'm here to tell you all that EVERY DAY IS NOT LIKE VALENTINES DAY.  And I finally broke the news to him.  I called him out on it.  He was, to say the least....shocked.  I want the cheesy heart-shaped box of candy and over-priced dozen roses sent to my place of employment.  I want a mix CD of love songs made just for me to listen to on my way to work.  I want the homemade valentines card and love note.

So this year I made overpriced reservations and hired a babysitter to come and tuck the kiddos in.  I dressed up.  I bought my sons Valentines gifts and lavished my students and coworkers with candy.  And how did it all begin on Monday morning?  To a dozen overpriced red roses and a Valentine from my Valentine.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I could assume this was meant to be a form of parental torture....

sent to us directly from Dustin's brother and sister-in-law, but there is something pretty endearing about a one-year-old with a microphone.

A Pretty Swell Day for Some Valentines

I have to say that I love Valentines Day.  LOVE IT....but more on that later. 
I should also say that I love it even more now that I have two more Valentines to share it with, and to watch get spoiled by all of their Valentines.
 This year we got the boys books for Valentines Day - The Little Engine that Could (really just a replacement copy), a few Eric Carle books, and Daddy's Hugs (since Dustin always feels neglected with all of the Llama Mama books)

This also got a few sweet packages in the mail from their cousins and grandparents - which included loads of candy, lots of Valentines, more books, a microphone to be featured later, all sorts of cars, and lots of love....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The dirtiest word I can think of...

I have had to deal with a lot of ignorance since I've been a high school teacher.  When I first started it was all about homophobia.  My first few years were spent battling with students who wanted to continuously use the word "gay" in a derogatory way.  I spent endless hours explaining to them that I wasn't the one turning it around to be bad...that the way they were using it was offensive. 
And then it started getting better.  I remember reflecting with another teacher this summer on how instead of hearing a student call something they didn't like "gay" 6 times a day, it might only happen 6 times a semester.  I thought that a new generation of acceptance and love was moving into the picture - to fix the cracks and imperfections of my own generation.

Until this year.
For the first time in my career I have to deal with I never thought I would have to deal with - RACISM.
I teach at a mostly Caucasian school in what could be considered a suburban community.  There is poverty at my school and there are different races - not many, but there are a few. 
But I never thought I'd have to deal with racism in my classroom. 
We're not talking the kind that is blatant and easy to discipline.  We're talking the kind that paints Confederate flags on every piece of artwork.  (Which, I acknowledge is NOT a racist act in and of itself).  The kind that says nasty things under their breath as they walk past another student - something so bad that I can't even get the other student to repeat it.  The kind that posts status updates on their Facebook page that rejoices that "it is the first day of Black History Month and there is a white-out".  (This is total eavesdropping - I definitely did not see this person's status update on Facebook.)  The kind that gets mad when there is a Malcolm X quote on the announcements because Malcolm X "was racist toward whites."  The kind that you can't argue with, but the kind that is nearly impossible to protect your students from.    The kind that are unapologetically respectful to everyone else - that falls within their "race".  And the worst part?  The kind that I genuinely get along with in my classroom.
Every teacher I talk to knows that this is going on.  It doesn't seem like something that has any solution.
But you know what?  I have invested interest.  My heart is on the line.  I don't have it in me to be a bystander....maybe before, but not now. 
You see, I have two little boys that I want to grow up to love everyone.  Even these guys that will inevitably say racist things to them - about them.  I even want them to love them. 
But not before I stop standing on the sidelines in shock - letting it happen in my presence.  That is no longer an option.

I give my students a hard time when they use the word "hate" in my classroom.  I always tell them that "hate fuels wars."  I don't necessarily live by that philosophy....because I HATE racism.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Favorite Birthday Card....

Some parents give their kids inspirational birthday cards, others (like mine) use it as a way to reveal the truth about their adult kid's childhood tendencies.....

Thanks Mom and Dad, for keeping it real.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Love is...

Using $8 of your precious birthday money to buy your son a Thomas Train at the store because you know that he will like it that much.


That my friends is the number of minutes it has been since I have darkened the doorway of my house (besides one time when I got a bucketful of snow).
Within that time frame I have successfully...
  • Had one birthday.
  • Treated everyone in my house for illness - including myself.
  • Watched the movie Cars more than is reasonably okay.
  • Gotten a lot of writing for my National Board done.
  • and, figured out the solution for World Peace.
impressive, huh?

I thought I might also write a list of ways to successfully live your life as a hermit...since I am a pro now.
  1. Don't just base your knowledge of the weather on what you see in your tiny fenced in backyard.  Look at pictures on the internet of other people's backyards and city streets and be wowed.  The internet machine provides a safe distance from any cold temperatures that you would have to otherwise endure.
  2. If you start to feel claustrophobic, shower.  In order for this to have more of a positive effect on you, you might want to wait until it is ABSOLUTELY necessary to do so.
  3. Make sure you are stocked up on groceries.  Some grocery stores even deliver....but apparently not during "snowmageddon."
  4. Marry someone that likes to shovel the driveway...or at least does it without complaining.
  5. Buy a nice snow shovel so that it is more enjoyable than using the old snow shovel with the broken handle....definitely NOT ergonomic.
  6. Make sure you have plenty of children's tylenol, cough syrup, and the pink stuff on hand.
  7. When those people are buying out the grocery store of bread and milk, and you think they're crazy....they may be on to something.
  8. Have a big project in the works....for example, I used this time to work on my National Boards and to catch up on a backlog of Friday Night Lights that MUST be watched.
  9. Let your kid watch t.v.
  10. If the Schwan's man stops by on Tuesday morning and you are still in your pajamas and no makeup, let him in....he might be the last semblance of the outside world you could see for DAYS.
  11. Don't bother making your will get in and out of it often.
  12. Have you read the book Room by Emma Donoghue?  I have....and now in my new sequestered state I can't stop thinking about it.  I'm this close to having Miles make a snake out of egg shells and naming our furniture.  (On a side note - good book - should be read.)
  13. Housekeeping, like personal hygiene, should be kept to a minimum.  (This helps if your vacuum cleaner is out of commission and you are waiting on a part that has been back ordered for FOUR WEEKS!)
So there you have it.  I'm actually a much better hermit thank I thought I could be...however, I'm already scheming up a way to finally get us out of the house later today.  The boys are DYING to go spend some of my birthday money on new bedding. (Okay, so that might be me...)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sick Day/Snow Day

I haven't left my house since Sunday afternoon...which two years ago would have driven me insane.  Right now, it's pretty fantastic. The boy tribe has been in a surprisingly good mood, and I've even gotten some work done for my National Boards.  A year ago yesterday I was returning to work after my second maternity leave in a year and practically ran into the building shouting "I'm here - take me in!".  I think you should be allowed to save up part of your maternity leave for when your kiddos are a lot more fun to be around - like when they play together, giggling ferociously at each other's shenanigans and dancing around the house to Jack Johnson's Curious George soundtrack.  AND when you are allowed to drink all of the coffee you want and can stay up late watching movies with your husband because you know that everyone is going to sleep soundly through the night.
That's just me though.

Yesterday I was home because Liam was "sick".  I say that because although he threw up all night and acted a little tired in the morning, you would never have been able to tell that anything was wrong with the guy.  He is such a crack-up.
Since I am a HUGE snow wimp - like I seriously hate the stuff, I decided to just bring it inside for Miles and Liam to play with so I wouldn't have to brave the frigid stuff.
Then I taught them how to make snowballs that they could eat.  I know that this is going to make a third of your cringe, but a world where my kids can not eat snow is a world I don't want to be a part of. :)  (Actually, it didn't even occur to me that this could be potentially gross until after I had shown them how delicious it was.)

Today I got a little braver and bundled Miles up to go outside.  I made up a spray bottle of blue water for him to "paint" the snow with, which he loved until he decided to "paint" Cooper the dog instead.  Cooper thought that was a terrible idea.
After that I made him a sweet cup of hot chocolate to enjoy (because if I remember correctly that was the best thing about snow days when I was growing up), but he took on swallow of marshmallows and decided that he didn't really want it.  Lame.

Then for the rest of the morning the boys played on the landing.  Don't ask me why.  They love it there.  It's cold and hard and loud and probably dirty, but it is their favorite place in the house right now.  I can't get them out of the joint.

What else is on the agenda for today - our first official "snow day" - as issued by my school district?  Well, since there actually isn't any snow yet I might send Miles back outside to burn off some energy, or work on some special Valentines for our friends and family.  OR we might just cuddle up and watch some Cars...they day is ours to burn. :)