Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Independence & Parenting (Continued)

A couple months ago, I wrote about parents' right to choose what is an appropriate amount of independence for their own kid (Throw the Kids to the Wolves). We don't do sleepovers, my kids don't ride public transportation alone (too much), and don't go to unsupervised parties.  As a parent of your own child, you are free to agree or disagree with our mode of parenting.  Further, I suggested that as parents, we get to be the "legislative, judicial, and executive decision maker."  Okay, so I was wrong.  So long as a busy-body doesn't call the cops on your kids, and thus effectively, on you, because you decided that it was okay for your kids to walk home from the park a mile from your house.

Such was the case for this Silver Spring, MD family who did allow their 10 and 6-year old that independence and are now caught up in the Child Protective Services system (you can read the Washington Post story).

Now for all of my own brand of protective parenting, there is one thing that I've always said about kids. My kids and others. We need to encourage them to go out on their own, get to know their neighborhood, and explore.  Without me hovering over them.

And - side note - we don't really need the term "free range parenting." I mean, these are our kids, not cows and chickens that we are trying to keep organic. Why must everything have a label? Why isn't this just "go outside and play parenting" - but no label?  Okay, back to what I was saying...

We are talking about two elementary age kids, walking a path, according to their parents, that they had traveled before.  And up until the nosy neighbor called the police, were doing just fine.  Now, there's a possibility of the parents losing their kids? Come on!

I've been to the playground and seen those moms who are probably wagging their fingers at these parents.  They follow their kid through the climbing tunnels and stand guard at the swings.  They quickly wipe away any spec of dirt or drop of sweat on their kid's brow.  Unlike me, sitting on the bench, reading a book, and taking periodic head count.  Can you remember, as a child, one good play day you had with your mother watching your every move?  Yeah, me neither.  In fact, my brother and I would leave after breakfast, maybe return for lunch, and then run back into the house as the streetlights came on.  And before someone says, "oh but that was back in the day," and at the risk of CPS knocking on my door, I fully encourage my children to do the same.  They could even pack a lunch, if they'd like.

At some points, kids do need to get out on their own.  They do need to be street-smart, directionally aware.  And despite what it may sound like, I'm not contradicting my previous post, because here's my point. What I choose for my child, may not be what you choose for yours. As a parent, part of our responsibility (and one of the benefits) is to make those choices for our little people, as long as they are safe, legal, moral and all that good stuff.  I think we can all agree that a 2-year old shouldn't be left at the park alone, but 6 and 10? Hard call. It depends doesn't it on their own maturity? Just like I've got to decide whether to let my 15-year old ride the bus.

Besides, I'm sure there's kids out there who are really hurting and need CPS to intervene and help them out.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Currently… Thinking I Need a Wife

I have said a multitude of times, that I need a wife. Someone to clean up after me, make me hot tea when I’ve got a cold, keep up with my laundry, make sure my annual gyn and mammogram appointments are made, and since I like to cook, she would only have to wash the dishes.  If I had a wife, that’s what she would do.  But one thing she wouldn’t be is… me. Because I’ve already got me and things don’t always work out so well.  I fall asleep before making tea, put off housecleaning to read a book, and am months behind on all doctor’s appointments.  So it’s with interest that I read this article about the woman who recently married herself.  And based on a bunch of other articles that popped up about others who have done the same thing, I guess this is a new thing.  (I haven’t seen any mention of guys doing the same, so I guess none has decided he needs a husband.)

I get self-love and being committed to your own happiness.  I’m not so sure I understand the point of the ceremony.  And I do wonder, if taking yourself for your own bride might be blocking some energy of someone else who may wish to take you as their bride.  I mean, do you tell people you are married to yourself? Would it be disloyal to yourself if Mr. Right does come along and you decide to marry him? Many questions come to mind.  But I do know this: if I was to marry myself, it would be on a beach in the Caribbean or South Pacific and I’d stay for the honeymoon. I think I deserve a great honeymoon.

Other than contemplating marriage, here’s what else I’m currently up to.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What Mother Came Up With Post-Sports Game Snacks?

Team snacks. Ugh. The thorn in the side of every kid sports team parent, or at least this one.  I was so relieved to somehow - perhaps fate, sports-gods, luck - slip by mostly unscathed from this modern-family gauntlet of kid activity requirements.  Then, last week after Nat’s basketball game she came over with juicebox and a bag of cookies in hand.  “Where did you get that?” I asked as if she was carrying a live virus.  Suzy’s mom brought snacks for everybody. Ugh! Are we starting a snack list, are we going to have to switch teams?

Who came up with this?  Why, why do kids need a snack after an hour sports activity? And why do we have to stay together to eat it, since the game is over, can’t we all just go home (or more likely, to the next kid sport activity)? And why, why do we have to share in this responsibility of feeding the kids, why can’t every mom just bring their own kid a snack?  Now, I have to be conscious of your gluten-free, no sugar, no salt, no peanut, no soy-based, no red food coloring, organic only, locally raised food requirements.  I can barely shove four water bottles, oranges and granola bars in a bag for my own kids and now you want me to consider all these other kids, too? Who, I want to know, came up with this?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How to Kill Your Teaching Career

We want our kids to learn the basics of English- spelling, grammar, punctuation – all that “boring” stuff.  All the more better if the teacher comes up with an interesting way to involve those lessons, more than a worksheet with “circle the noun, underline the verbs” instructions, the way I learned it way back in the ink-smelling copies and pencil days of school.  And for an English class, you’d think there would be a lot of options, whether an essay about a book that the class is reading or a creative writing topic. What you don’t expect is for your kid to be doing their homework and ask “mom, what do you think I could get a hold of easier, a machete or a gun?”

Monday, January 19, 2015

What Are You Doing For Others? #MLKDay

Today is the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

It seems a simple enough thing, this day on the calendar.  But I’m old enough, and you probably are, too, to remember when Dr. King’s birthday was not a holiday.  Although the Stevie Wonder “Happy Birthday” is the standard now for regular folks’ birthdays, I pointed out to my kids recently that this cooler, dance-ier version to cut cake by was part of the campaign to make Dr. King’s birthday a holiday, way back in the 80’s (this holiday was only first officially celebrated in 1986.)

For my kids’ entire life, the third Monday has not only been a federal holiday for Dr. King’s birthday, it’s also been a Day of Service, where we are encouraged to be of service to our community in line with Dr. King’s dream.

That’s kinda cool, don’t you think, that to them, the King holiday has always been about service to others.  Each year, we go to a large-scale community event where dozens of organizations have set up project work-stations and information displays.  Over the years, we’ve worked on cards for soldiers, packing lunches for the shelter, making bracelets and small play items for children in the hospital, blankets for the shelter, among many other projects.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dear Pregnant Friend... Keep it to Yourself

Scan the internet and blogs and you will find countless lists of what not to say to pregnant women.  I probably have heard almost all of those comments during the course of four pregnancies: are you sure you’re not carrying twins (I wasn’t); are you sure that’s your correct due date (from people who think my doctor can’t count trimesters); wow, your [random body part] sure has gotten big; how are you going to manage x+1 kids?  And the variety of pregnancy and labor horror stories that folks like to share (and this is not a passion reserved only by women, baby daddy’s like to get in on this one, too.)  So here’s a deal – I won’t say all those things to you, if you stop sharing all your pregnancy details.

Here are five things I want you to keep to yourself.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Currently... Establishing Priorities & Slowing Down

It’s the second week of January.  And while we're usually thinking about how to do more and more, I've started thinking about how to focus on my priorities and maybe slow down while doing so.  Just a little bit.  For now, I’m getting the week started on this rainy, freezing rain, school two-hour delay (again) being a little more mindful.

Drinking coffee from a bowl instead of a mug. Last week, the kids and I treated ourselves to Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar. They had s’mores and the 80’s chocolate milkshakes, I had a Mexican Hot Chocolate. It’s spiced up with chili, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper - plus the obvious fact that it’s also hot, it amps up the spiciness. I like spicy, but I felt like I needed some cake or something to go along with it to balance the spiciness.
Chocolate treats from Max Brenner's Chocolate Bar
Anyway – it was served in a funky little tear-drop shaped bowl, their Hug Mug.  To imagine it – cup your hands together like you’re holding water – that’s the shape of the mug.  It felt so cozy. Since then, I’ve been drinking my coffee at home in a bowl, too. In addition to being warm, another thing I discovered – it makes you slow down. I usually scroll through emails, Twitter and Facebook with coffee mug in one hand. Can’t do that with a bowl. It makes you slow down and not multi-task everything.

My coffee bowl and cranberry cornbread from a recipe I found while decluttering.
Still decluttering.  I’ve made a good dent in my cooking magazines and found some good recipes along the way. Last week I made a delicious cranberry cornbread on the snow day.  And the empty organizing containers are piling up in my office. Empty because I was holding onto so much stuff, when I finally went through it, I realized I didn’t really need all that stuff.  It’s a process, but I'm definitely starting to feel a little lighter.

Planning our menu for the week – starting with the freezer.  Somehow my freezer is packed but each day I’m wondering what we’re going to have for dinner. When I can see some more light in there again, I’ll go shopping again.  Until then, I’ll be defrosting and cooking.  And probably throwing out some food that has been in there way too long.  Cleaning out the freezer is a good way to start out the year. Planning meals is a good way to stick to a a healthy eating plan.

Making time for my workout.  My husband is good with his schedule – everyday he works out. Me? I get the kids off to school then decide – workout or check email and Facebook?  The fit of my jeans is a tattletale on which I generally choose. So, I’m trying to get better at putting my workout – and me – first as a priority. As a sniggling reminder, I get dressed in my workout clothes so that eventually I either will go run and exercise or admit that I did not.  I’ve got my sneakers sitting right next to me as I write.

Making time to read.  I’m squeezing it into my waiting time, as well as allowing myself the downtime to read, rather than completing other stuff or flipping through social media doing nothing. I make sure I’ve got my book in my purse when I leave the house, read a page here and there while waiting. Right now, I’m trying to finish Americanah which I’ve been carrying around for an embarrassing long time, even if it is a long book.
1st book of the new year - finishing up "Americanah"

And of course, I’m still just piddlin’.

Have a good week!

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