Tag Archives: Parenting

The Truth of About “Going Screen-Free” this Summer!

time_unplug_children_summerI wish I could say it was a great epiphany or the culmination of the study of great parenting journals that helped me arrive at the decision to go screen-free for the summer.  No, it was nothing like that at all, it was an honest to goodness, full-blown, hissy fit. One of those not to be proud of parenting moments wherein you make a loud, impactful declaration from which you cannot back down.  Such is the birth of our screen free summers! Continue reading

Dear Mom at the Bus Stop – Please Put Down Your Phone!

august 08 - boys bday 09 new camera 017This post has been building for months… perhaps longer.

I see you Mom almost every day. You are at the bus stop with your daughter, she looks to be about five or six. She is cute as a button. We must be on the same schedule because I see the two of you nearly every day, waiting for the school bus as I drive by.

What I also see is your phone, it’s at your ear, every day. I don’t mean once in a while, I do mean every day. I have watched since September and it is now February (however creepy that may sound) but day after day of seeing the same thing, you do begin to notice in more and more detail.

I have noticed your child trying to get your attention, sometimes it has been by pulling your pant leg and you dismiss her by pushing off her hand.

She has held up papers to which you have nodded, but you didn’t actually see them.

That leaf pile she made on the sidewalk, she was calling your name to watch her jump. She jumped, you didn’t see her, she kicked the leaves away.

I wonder who could be so much more important on your phone, I wonder who could not wait just a few minutes while you see your daughter off to school.

I have seen you go through the motions,  you hug your daughter before she climbs the bus steps, but you did not put down your phone.

Today, was the clincher, your daughter looked sad. She did not try to get your attention, she kept her head down and kicked at the ice with her boot. You were talking on your phone.

You will not see this precious little being for another eight hours, might you give her your full and undivided attention for the short few minutes before she leaves your side for the day?  It’s just the two of you, one on one for a few moments of another busy day, in our busy lives.

So very soon, dear Mom, your baby girl will be leaving your side for good. Don’t miss these small yet very significant moments to let her know that she is the most important person that you will see all day.

Today, I write to you, from your child. It would seem that she has given up, she is resigned to the fact that you would rather be talking to someone else than to her. I know that cannot be true.

Dear mom at the bus stop ~ please put down your phone.

How do you yell at yourself?

all pictures new camera up to May 2009 058While I see glimpses of myself in all of my children… I have one who is the epitome of all the stupid, not funny, ridiculous things that I ever did or said while growing up.  He is me.

Like the “cobbler’s children having no shoes”, it is even more embarrassing as a parent to also be an educator when the principal calls.  And, not just me, my husband, my mother, my grandfather, his grandfather… I think you get the picture, a family chalk full of educators.

Seventh grade has been a very long year in my house, with all the antics that twin seventh grade boys can bring.  Our school year has 12 more days, yet we couldn’t make it without receiving a detention for excessive laughing during a presentation. Apparently the culprit to the giggle fit was a “pet rock”.  I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.

Last month, I chaperoned a band trip to another school.  While waiting in the field before entering the competition gym, I noticed a tether ball hanging by its pole, just begging to be whacked.  Not two minutes later, my son bursts out of the group to run over and whack the ball.  Of course, being him, the Band Director had just turned around to see my son’s instrument in the grass and the ball careening through the air.  Once reprimanded, my son returned to the group.

I was left thinking, “he is just so me”.  I wanted to whack the tether ball and seriously contemplated doing so.  I guess it is the 30 plus years I have on his maturity that stopped me before taking such action.

His explanation for the detention was a “laughing fit that I just couldn’t stop”….”just like being in church and you can’t hold it in”.  I know that feeling and it is personally one of my favorites, laughing so hard you cry ~ now that’s a good time.

So when I sit down to parent my son, I feel as though I am looking straight at a frighteningly familiar person, a small version of me.  I struggle to parent myself, we have done the time and place lecture, the being respectful lecture, removed privileges and even grounded him from the semi-formal dance last week.

I am thankful that he is at heart a really “good” kid, I’m just not sure we are going to make it to adulthood when the maturity button will kick in when necessary and he will look forward to excessive talking and laughing that is acceptable and enjoyable in the adult world.

Top Ten Earbud Rules for Teenagers!

Let’s face it, ear buds have become the bane of many a parent’s existence for too many reasons to possibly state. This is the top ten list for acceptable and non-acceptable earbud behavior shared with the teenagers that reside in my house.  It includes but is certainly not limited to the following:

1)  Earbuds will not be worn at any meal, whether served at the table, at the counter or especially in a restaurant (we want to at least appear to the general public that we can converse like normal human beings).

2)  In conversation with any adult, you will remove both earbuds (not just one while you keep tuned in to whatever song you are listening to).  If you did not hear the opening line of the conversation, the appropriate response is “I’m sorry would you repeat that” not “Huh” or “What” as if you just crawled out of a cave for your first human conversation.

3)  I should NOT hear what you are listening to when you are wearing your earbuds!

4)  No earbuds at work!  The person that is paying you has a right to have your full and undivided attention to whatever it is that you are supposed to be doing, even if said activity does not involve hearing.  No matter how you slice it, if you are working with ear buds stuck in your ears, the natural and usually correct assumption is that you don’t give a damn about the job you are doing!

5)  There is NO good reason for your earbuds to be at school – why don’t you just ask for a detention!

6)  You may use your earbuds in the car for a long ride during which you may prefer your own music to my choice of radio station.  If however, I pick you up for one of our numerous rides about our small town, then you may not plug yourself into your preferred device and tune me out.  I am not your chauffeur and it will not kill you to make polite conversation until you are old enough to drive yourself where you need to go!

7) You may NOT borrow my earbuds because you have lost or broken your own.

8) This list applies to your “BEATS” as well!

9)  Do not pretend that you cannot hear me when I call your name.

10)  Last but certainly not least.  Earbuds are not appropriate at church, during the national anthem or pledge of allegiance, at a funeral or wake, during classes, visiting a relative in the hospital, or in the shower and I reserve the right to add to this list!

Spanglish – “No Space Between US!”

Spanglish quote

I love the unexpected.  I especially love when life gives you a moment in time that is so truly ordinary and void of expectation and suddenly (or even slowly) it turns into a pivotal moment.  An aha moment if you will, a moment of clarity and understanding.

Now, I never could have anticipated being thankful for the nasty cold virus that descended upon my house this past Spring.  As it made its way through the house, I suddenly found myself home on the couch with my teenage daughter, a shared box of tissues between us.

TV remote in hand, we found the movie Spanglish about to start.  I knew that I had seen it before but honestly my recollection of movies is sad at best.  I remember saying something like, let’s watch it, I think it’s pretty good or at least funny.  (A little sidebar from this post.  If you have not seen this movie I highly recommend it.  As a middle age parent, I think I related to every character at some point, even the drunken grandmother.  I included the trailer at the bottom of this post…let me know what you think.)

By the end of the movie the tissues were for more than the runny noses.  You see the end of the movie is a seen between a teenage daughter fighting fiercely for her independence and friendships all while she tries to shame  her mother by screaming at her on the way to their bus stop.  When the mother tries to speak to her daughter at the bus stop, the daughter stops her by saying “I need space.” The aha moment for me was the response from her mother when she says, “There is no space between us!”

The movie is narrated by the daughter as she writes her admission essay for college.  In the end she writes about “being her mother’s daughter ~ there is no space between us.”

At first I struggled with the concept because as a parent we worry about our children’s development and independence, “when to push them… when to back them”. If there is “no space between us” then does that mean she is not her own person?  Is she not living her own life, not mine?”

It has been several months since I saw the movie and have mulled over its message.  I am proud to be my mother’s daughter with all her strengths and her weaknesses, it is her blood that courses through my veins and I am proud.  I am not a perfect mother but it is my blood (sweat and tears) that courses through my children’s veins and for that, I am proud.   “No space between us ~ I am my mother’s daughter”, I thought that this was wrong, until I realized it was so right.

I would like to thank the cold that put life on hold and allowed me to watch this movie.  More importantly, I am grateful to have watched it with my daughter for whom I am absolutely certain, no matter where life takes her, there will be no space between us.

Don’t Let A Cell Phone Kill My Child

March 2014  ~ Please support this non-profit group’s efforts to stop distracted driving
https://www.facebook.com/EndDistractedDrving

Weeks after this post was printed the following research on hands-free devices was published….thank you to all who reposted and shared…overwhelming!

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/06/12/aaa-study-using-hands-free-devices-distracts-drivers

“I don’t want to be the parent that speaks from experience.  I don’t want the phone call from the emergency room or worse to have the police at my doorstep.  I don’t want to write a eulogy or speak at other schools about how my child was killed in a car accident.  I don’t want to talk about her last text.  I don’t want to hear your apologies.  

There is no good that can come from a car and a phone.

cellphone_carI’ve seen you change lanes without looking or thinking; you waved an apology and continued talking.

Your head is crooked, holding the phone with your shoulder, two hands on the wheel does not make it better.

The car swerved when you dropped the phone, you only looked down for a second.

The near misses from your oblivion, even a beep of the horn doesn’t get your attention.

I’ve seen you talking when I’m jogging and I am well aware that you do not see me.

It’s tempting at a stop light or in bumper to bumper traffic – I was just checking messages I didn’t mean to hit you.

You drift over the yellow line and back.

I don’t want to read about your accident in the newspaper.

I don’t want my children in your car.

Your actions validate the behavior – do you want your teen driver to take just one call?untitled

There are distracted driver laws and statistics on accidents and deaths, but we don’t need those to know right and wrong.  In 1970 the Mother’s Against Drunk Driving campaign put a social taboo on drinking and driving.  While it has not eradicated the problem, it has certainly changed the societal norms.

Can we do this for cell phones?  Can we make it socially unacceptable to talk and drive?  Our children learn what they live, they will do what we do, not what we say!  Your baby, your young child, your tween will be a driver before you know it. They will carry with them the experience of driving with you.  What do you want to teach them with your actions?

I need your help.  I can warn my soon to be driver a thousand times, but I’m not her only influence.  She watches you, her dear Auntie, my loving neighbor, her teacher pulling into school, and millions of others every day.  If we don’t want to bury our children because of a senseless distracted driving accident, then we have to stop driving distracted ourselves.  So, I beg you, don’t call me when your driving, and please understand when I don’t answer you from my car.  I know it is a small change, but I know we hold the keys to this solution.

From this day forward you have my word, for your child and mine, I will not let my cell phone distract my driving. Will you join me and just stop?

Please do not let a cell phone kill my child.  I know you do not want to be that parent…

For Sale Cheap ~ A Two for One Deal!

For Sale  Cheap ! Aren’t they cute?  So sweet, twin boys!

IMAG0541

Not today, now they are teenagers and they are not so cute or sweet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Maybe because it is Friday, or it could be a full moon, but we just had one of those mornings.  I thought you would enjoy the melodious sounds of our house living better!

Here are the phrases that came out of my mouth this morning between 6:30am and 7:50 am almost verbatim, until the bus picked them up and I slammed the garage door shut!

Get up…your homework isn’t finished!

Where is your lunch box?

Is that your alarm still beeping?

Put that down…. NOW!

Turn off the laptop.

Why didn’t you do this last night?

Did someone leave the water running upstairs?

What do you mean you don’t have the assignment?

No, you are not wearing that today….put it away.

STOP throwing belts in the laundry!

Whose is this?

OMG did you just spill orange juice on the sandwiches I just made?

Let the dogs in…

No you cannot give your lacrosse stick away to your friend.

Get your stuff off the kitchen table!

If you miss the toilet again you are going to sit in it!

Give me a hug and kiss!

Put the glass in the dishwasher…. no you put it in the sink…. don’t lie to me…now you can put all the dishes in the dishwasher!

Stop pushing him on the ground….. STOP spitting it’s gross!

Oh really, it’s that funny…. you’ll have fun being grounded this weekend!

I’m leaving this crazy place… stop laughing… I love you… GO TO SCHOOL!

(Sound of Garage Door Slam!)

In Honor of Mother’s Day… Respect for Momma Bird

IMAG0523I dislike her immensely.  She is messy, noisy and downright inconsiderate.

Doesn’t she realize that my house is sporting a brand new paint job, the first one ever done by a professional and not yours truly and husband.  It’s not even six months old and it is covered in moss, mud, twigs, and bird crap!

Can’t even open the front door without being dive bombed.  She has even had the nerve to fly in my house uninvited and flap at me like I’m the problem.

It gets better, she thinks my new front porch is her urinal  (yup that’s the evidence).

IMAG0529Seriously, who does she think she is, the woods aren’t good enough for her family?  Going to birth those eggs in a sheltered pent house apartment.

My “male” neighbor laughed and told me to take the nest down and replace it with a slanted piece of flashing that would make it impossible to rebuild blah, blah, blah….

I really stopped listening after “take the nest down” because I immediately thought, I can’t do that.  She is a mother, building a home for her future family.  I may not like her choices, her arrogant nature, her rude inconsiderate personality nor especially her hygiene, but at the end of the day she is a Momma (or about to become one).  This Momma bird is one hard working little critter.  It would appear that she is building this nest single handedly and I have to admit quite impressively.

So, while we don’t see eye to eye on just about anything, we don’t have to, she is a Momma and for that reason alone she has my respect!  I just wish she would clean up after herself…

That's her in the center, watching me watching her!

That’s her in the center,
watching me watching her

Why does your brother even play basketball? by Tom and Jerry

For the Love of the Game

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, I know, I promised this would be about the “best” of youth sports, inspirational and humorous.  Even though the event was ridiculous and humiliating, the outcome was unexpected and perfect.

My twins, like most siblings, are as different as night and day.  They are tremendously talented in so many ways both complementary and distinct.   At these tween ages, ”Tom” is more athletic than his brother, while “Jerry” shows incredible talent for all things computer science.

This winter, the boys decided to play “town recreation basketball”, everyone makes a team, all teams even, etc…. The unfortunate side is that they were playing with older players this year.  Jerry is, no joking, half the size of some of these boys.  Basketball is not his sport, he did it to have fun?  Fast forward through a season of constant yelling, eye rolling, etc… by his coach.  He took it in stride and showed up week…

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Ten Volleys – No Quitting – Score One for Parenting

LB Living Better

Couple Playing Tennis

Don’t let him quit, DON’T let him quit, that was all I could think.

It was no longer rational, it was visceral, it was stupid, but I couldn’t let him quit.  I heard the future knocking, if he quits this, he will quit everything.

An extreme embellishment, I know, but I couldn’t stop.  For some reason I had the feeling that this lesson would stick, and I wanted it to.

(more…)

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