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Kids These Days!

December 30, 2012 21 comments
momscrystallball

Mama’s Crystal Ball

Every parent strives to do better than the previous generation, providing for their children that which they lacked or missed out on in their own childhood.

Nowadays, the reviews are mixed.

Kids these days have it too easy! They’re spoiled with less required physical activity and way too much couch-potato-encouraging technology that keeps them inside exercising their thumbs rather than outside, exercising their whole bodies and minds.                                            

~ Any Random Adult 

It’s an on-going challenge for parents trying to strike the balance for their children; keeping abreast of what’s current, necessary and useful and making sure they don’t lose sight of what’s important for them to know how to do.

Despite the difficulties, I LOVE being a mom. Always have. For many years I enjoyed being a stay-at-home-mom, eagerly performing what others might consider mundane tasks for my kids, like painstakingly working out ketchup stains from their favorite dress or shirt, making sure the same favorite dress or shirt (or batman costume) was constantly clean so it could be worn several days in a row or making extra portions of a home-made dinner so I could freeze them for my son who refused to eat a cold lunch at school up until the 5th grade.  I didn’t mind the endless task of picking up their toys and returning them to places they could easily be found the next day during their pre-arranged play-dates and I’d spend many hours searching and experimenting with new recipes I thought they might like to try. Even though my daughter is in 6th grade now, I still enjoy making her lunch for school every day.

These and so much more were—are, to me still, labors of love.

eyes

The eyes in the back of my head are blue. What color are yours?

As my kids enter their tween and teenage years however, the tasks are changing and I’m starting to focus more seriously on the notion that it’s my duty to prepare them the best I can, for (real) LIFE.

Parenting is unique to each unique child.

Babies don’t leave the womb with a ‘here’s how I specifically operate and what I’ll need to know, mom’ guide and even though the long-held myths about moms having eyes in the back-of-their-heads and a-future-seeing-crystal-ball hidden in their bedroom closets are absolutely TRUE, our eyes and crystal balls are often clouded and not exactly all-seeing. I’m not always quite sure, how to make sure, my kids have the life-skills and tools they’ll need to become high-functioning, productive, kind and considerate citizens of our future communities.

In short, much of what we put forth is a bit of a crap shoot, flung from instinct.

For example, myself and four other mothers of my 14-year old son’s basketball-playing school mates recently hired a culinary chef who has a school in New York City to give our teenage boys some professional training in the kitchen. Sure, they know how to boil water for Ramen Noodles but what do they know about using a knife or picking fresh produce, making their own salad dressing, gravy or apple-crisp? Not much and my crystal ball predicts the women they’ll eventually end up with 10-years or so from now will not be as interested in devoting the same amount of kitchen and laundry time me or my mom did while raising a family.

It’s a new era and they’ll be out forging new paths and making lives of their own.

rabbitfromahat

Easy access to information.

Our boys need to know how to cook and keep house.

Now that he’s been schooled, will he happily whip up a roasted chicken dinner complete with a fresh vegetable side and dessert when his future significant other informs him she’ll be coming home late from the office? I have no idea. BUT I continue to have faith and blindly put forth my efforts and babble, babble, babble on, hoping that somewhere in their premature brains my kids are processing what I say or make them do and will be able to pull out what they need, when they need it, like a magician pulls a rabbit from his hat.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how my kids will act or react when they get caught in a jam or circumstance that really requires them to step-up and take responsibility.

Thankfully, every once in a while however, the gods are good and toss out a bone, giving us insight as to whether or not we’re on the right track and we get a glimpse of what kind of an adult our child is going to be.

A few weeks before Christmas, I very suddenly and unexpectedly came down with pneumonia. I’ve never had pneumonia before. In fact, I rarely get sick. For the most part, I’m a Type A personality, leaving little time and patience for illness that would keep me from doing, let alone out of work. It’s not in my make up but this was out of my control. I had no choice but to succumb and was completely laid out for nearly two full weeks. With the help of a few family members and friends however, I was checked-in on, and my kids managed to get fed and brought to where they needed to be, including school each morning while I lay incapacitated in my third floor bedroom.

For days, I was completely unawares of the goings-on below and could barely hear my daughter moving about in the evenings.

note1

What’s this? A note?

I finally passed through the fever-delirium period and made it to the tolerating side of a hacking cough that cut like a knife in my chest. As much as I love my secluded bedroom, I desperately needed to make my way downstairs, if for nothing else but to reassure myself that I could still walk. It was sometime mid-morning on a weekday, when I took the last step down and rounded myself toward the kitchen for the first time in several days.

I saw a small piece of white paper taped face-down to the counter.

Reaching out, I flipped it over and this is what it said….

notes2

The gods are good.

Yes, the first word in the fourth item on my 11-year old daughter’s List after ‘work on gifts’ (because she hand-makes Christmas gifts for each member of our extended family every year) is sew and even though I don’t, apparently she does.

It’s the second to last item however, that stopped me cold in my slipper-laden tracks.

Take care of mom

Thank you, good gods.

And as if that wasn’t enough to bring an already weepy mom to tears, on my way back up to Never-Never-Land, I glanced down the short flight of stairs to the front door. One of the last statements and only instructions I recall making from my sick-bed to my daughter before literally entering the Twilight Zone in the first 24-hours of being laid out was …

You’ll have to buy lunch at school.

BUT like many other kids these days, she had her own ideas about lunch and apparently, made it herself.

Every day.

Even reminded herself, not to forget it from the fridge before leaving in the morning.

note3

Kids these days.

They’re pretty awesome!

Photo Credit #1-3 Google Images

Photo Credit #4-6 KarenSzczukaTeich&www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

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Just Another Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience!

October 2, 2011 24 comments

What constitutes a once-in-a-lifetime experience?

I’ve been going back and forth on this for a while now, with my mom.….

…….and debated on whether or not to bring my kids.

But realized, this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them and me.

And my rather stubborn, 74-year old mother was not going to change her position anyway.

With or without me………………….

…………she was getting a tattoo!

Great job, Pepper -Thanks!


She – we, LOVE her first tat!

Not only did Pepper do a fantastic job on my mom’s tattoo. Everyone at Graceland was really nice to all of us. They let my kids sit on a couch close enough to be able to watch the process and they played Irish music in the shop while Pepper was inking Nana’s shamrock.

A little “shell-shocked”, they had no idea they were going to watch their Nana get a tattoo! Life is full of surprises!

When I asked my kids what was going through their minds while Nana was getting her tattoo, my daughter said:

I was thinking, ‘Oh great, now mom is going to want one, too!’

So maybe that will make for two “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences.  We’ll see.

Have you ever taken somebody to get a tattoo?

Photo Credits: ©Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Message in the Attic

June 12, 2011 5 comments

Somehow I let myself slip into the delusion that life would get easier as I got older. Maybe older, is meant for the over 60 crowd, in which case, I still have a little while to go. As for this mid-forties mom and for reasons I can’t begin to fathom, life just seems to be extraordinarily difficult right now and I find myself in the position of having to “let go”… of a lot.

Coincidentally, while recently rummaging around in my attic again (looking for more things to sell) I stumbled upon an old, yellowed-out piece of paper at the bottom of a box labeled “Childhood”. I’ve no idea where it came from or how I got it but of this I am certain, it’s mine and it feels like an appropriate time to share it.

Without credit of an author and in an old, bold, script type face, this is what was written on it:

Let go……..

to “let go” does not mean to stop caring, it means I can’t do it for someone else.

to “let go” is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization I can’t control another.

to “let go” is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.

to “let go” is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.

to “let go” is not to try to change or blame another, it’s to make the most of myself.

to “let go” is not to care for, but to care about.

to “let go” is not to fix but to be supportive.

to “let go” is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.

to “let go” is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes but to allow others to affect their destinies.

to “let go” is not to be protective, it’s to permit another to face reality.

to “let go” is not to deny, but to accept.

to “let go” is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

to “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires but to take each day as it comes, and cherish myself in it.

to “let go” is not to criticize and regulate anybody but to try to become what I dream I can be.

to “let go” is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.

to “let go” is to fear less, and love more.

Sometimes I can get so bogged down by the details of  “the issue at hand” that I just can’t see the obvious. Lucky for me, I believe in receiving signs, messages and answers from the universe (or whatever higher power has it’s hand in our fates) and I believe they can come in many forms and places. This time, it was in the quiet of a warm, stuffy attic and it was clear; certain circumstances are just out of my control and I need to let go.


Photo Credits #1 & #2: Google Images

The Mother of All Ironies

May 8, 2011 12 comments

There’s no doubt life is hard and riddled with uncertainty and while I really do try to “take the world on with a smile”, sometimes it takes everything I’ve got.

I live at the beginning of a cul-de-sac, the first of nine homes that make a horseshoe. A few weeks ago my neighbor who lives two houses down on the left came to our door and asked me to step outside for a private conversation. She recently discovered that someone had been trying to break into her house — again. She also informed me that the alarm went off in the home of the family that lives directly across from her the same week. The police responded but found nothing.

Honestly, I can’t say I was surprised. I’ve had a feeling for a while now that something was weird in the neighborhood–again.

My neighbor was visibly upset when delivering this news. Who wouldn’t be? It’s unsettling to say the least, especially, if it’s happened before. If you’ve read my posts: My Edward, Life’s Terms – Not Mine or Everything Must Go, Including Me!, you know that my home was burglarized a year ago this past winter at least eight times that we know of.

She too was repeatedly burglarized during that time and sandwiched in-between our two homes, lives the 21-year old perpetrator.

Similar to the over $10,500 worth of items taken from my house, nearly $13,000 worth of jewelry and cash went missing from her house. Unfortunately, the two detectives assigned to her case were unable to connect the dots to my case and closed hers. Interestingly enough, these are the same two detectives that were convinced my then newly turned 11-year old son was the culprit.

I at least, receive monthly restitution checks from this bad boy living next door. And, in addition to the 6-month house arrest sentence he served (silly really) there is also an order of protection against him for each member of my family, for 5 years. Not that this is remotely comforting, the boy violates this order every day, simply by living next door. Indeed, we share grass.

The story of our burglaries from start to capture and arrest is undoubtedly a fascinating one that I hope to put on paper one day but for now, I’m simply mind–boggled by the twisted sense of humor the universe seems to have and its reluctance to let me, let this craziness go!

Tell me, what do you think the universe is trying to say when I come home with my children after a late dinner out, only to find that my house key, when inserted into the front door lock, goes round and round in an endless loop, prohibiting our entry? This being the new lock we had installed just over a year ago, after break-in number five and the first sign of a violent act in our home.

Seriously, how many times has your dead-bolt failed and what are the chances of something like this, happening to us?

Unfortunately, it was 10:00 pm on a Saturday night and although the locksmith has a 24-hour emergency number, that “mailbox” was full.

The good news is that for the most part, our house is now like Fort Knox. The bad news is that after an hour of brainstorming, trying a variety of things including the unsuccessful removal of a window air-conditioner and a desperate plea from my 10-year old daughter……

“Mom, please, it’s cold out, can’t we knock on their door and ask BBQ to help us?”

…we were literally forced to use one of the same methods my neighbor used, to break into our house.

BBQ is the pet name my kids and I have affectionately given the convicted felon living next door. The first B stands for BAD the second B is the first letter of his first name and the Q is the first letter of his last name, hence, B-B-Q. It’s an attempt to interject levity into an otherwise somber situation. It’s similar to our use of the endearing term we have for the police, which is “po- po, as in,

“Hannah, the “po-po are here to see you again.”

(See 1-9-1-4 for clarification of that reference.)

Anyway, I’ve purposefully tried to defuse the fear my kids have had of BBQ with humor and emphasize instead, just how pathetic he was to steal such things as tooth-fairy, birthday and Halloween money from children. It’s a coping skill. My kids get it. I’m sorry that they have to.

Clearly by the way, BBQ had to have heard us (through his open windows) last Saturday night, walking around our house in the dark, trying to break-in.

Is this not bizarre? Truly, for me, this was the mother of all ironies.

We broke in, by cutting the screen door to the porch with the house key that was no longer of use to us. We slipped a few fingers through the tear and unhinged the latch. Once inside the porch, we removed a screen to an unlocked window. I was elected and with the help of my two kids, climbed through.

It’s befitting that on Mother’s Day I would express how proud I am of the way my kids handled themselves; without panicking and working together to come up with a solution. They’re thinkers and have learned how to appreciate the power of humor in a tight spot. My daughter giggled her way through taking pictures, while my son took great delight in pushing my leg through the window.

For us, the situation was surreal. We laughed our hearts out.

Don’t get me wrong, even though we laughed, smiling about this really is difficult and it’s taking everything I’ve got, NOT to rationalize why I’d like to see the boy next door receive a good old fashioned “butt-kick’n”.

But I won’t go there, here.

Back to the universe. Within a three-week time period, we received news of new robbery attempts, our new dead-bolt went, non-functional and we were forced to break-into our own home.

For me, the message is clear:  It’s time to leave.

And to that end, the wheels (and there are many of them) are all in motion. Slow motion perhaps but in motion none the less. In the meantime, I am grateful for how resilient my children continue to be while the universe continues to play with uncertainty.

To all the other grateful and proud moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones But Names…Can Break My Heart!

January 30, 2011 15 comments

“You know Mom, he’s lucky I didn’t squish him like a bug!”

That’s what my 9-year-old daughter came home saying the other day after spending an afternoon at a birthday party. The “he” who is lucky “she”, didn’t, squish him like a bug, is a 10-year old classmate who was also at the party. “He” is her pal, her chum, her friend. He is her partner at school when pairing needs to be done. He is also the boy who tried to hold her hand when the lights went out in a Star Lab dome, but that’s not why she wants to pummel him.

There are some things you just never forget: getting an award, your first sleep-over, punching a fella in the mouth for asking you to marry him (in first grade!), the soft, warm lips of a shy boy’s sweet and gentle kiss during a game of spin-the-bottle and of course, the first time someone embarrasses you in front of a group of friends by calling you a “name“. For me, it was buoy. And in 4th grade, I didn’t have a clue. So in a naive and unsuspecting way, I asked the boy who had just referred to me as a “buoy”, what that was. “You know,” he said, “it’s that round thing that bounces up and down, bobbing in the water, a buoy!” That was followed by what seemed to me, to be a roar of group laughter. Painful. I forced a smile and walked away. I’m sure I could have flattened him but my heart had sunk to my knees and I was too hurt to react. Sadly, I never forgot that feeling.

Like her mom, my girl is made of hardy stock. She is strong, confident and independent. She’s out-going and adventurous. She loves to laugh. Also like her mom however, she happens to be very sensitive.

“He called me fat in front of all my friends at the party” she said. “He embarrassed me. We were laughing about who would make the best Pińata and he said, ‘Hannah would, cause she’s fat!’

My heart immediately sank and broke, for her.

“He’s lucky I didn’t squish him like a bug! And you know I could.” were the next words out of her mouth.

She’s right. She could.

“Well then,” I said, “maybe next time, you should.”

Okay, maybe that was wrong.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names…..

Honestly, I would have preferred he threw the stone. That wound heals faster.

We spent a long time that evening discussing potential reasons why her friend might have said that about her. Insecurity. Bravado. Maybe he was trying to look “cool” in front of the other boys. Perhaps he didn’t mean it and it was just a poor choice of words. Most likely, he like, likes her. No matter how much we dissected it though, the result was always the same. She could get past the word. She knows she’s bigger and taller than the other kids in her class. She accepts that her body is changing, maturing. It’s the betrayal she is having a hard time reconciling with. He’s her friend.

It was after midnight when she came into my bedroom and crawled into bed with me that night. She snuggled up close and whispered, “Mommy, why did he do that? I thought he was my friend?” Cue the breaking heart again. She slept with me for the first time in years. And it was a big wake-up call to me as a parent and an adult, just how omnipotent words can be. Life is hard enough without us hurting each other with the things we say. And I’m reminded of how critical it is for me to set the example, practice kindness, show compassion and be forgiving.

Words may not be able to break a bone but they sure can break a heart. The flip-side of that is to know that words also have the great power to fill a heart! So in the end, my advice to Hannah was to have, an open heart.

We are after all, only human. We all make mistakes and good friendships are worth keeping. So, when the boy came to school the next day and said, “Hey, I was only kidding. I didn’t mean it that way. I can’t believe you thought I was serious!” That was all she needed to hear to buddy-up again and put it behind her.

Besides, she told him that if he EVER does that to her again, she is going to “SQUISH him– like a bug!”

Photo credit:  Squashed Bug, Broken Heart

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