Is That Your Mom?

Meet My Grandma!

Is she your Mother? How many times have you over heard that question from your grandchild’s playmate or classmate and held your breath, awaiting their reply? Seems grandparents are younger and younger these days so having to ask the question to clarify if you’re Mom or Grand Mom may be totally within the realm of possibilities. Besides, age is irrelevant to most kids and only as they get older do they see that you look, act or speak “older” than their own parents. I believe I don’t hold my breath quite as often as I first did in those early days. And I did so more in anticipation of the GP being uncomfortable answering or feeling the need to explain his living circumstances. Then I realized I was projecting my own feelings from “way back when”.
You see, I too was raised by my grandparents in a time when it was far less common. And I distinctly remember those classmates who seemed to take pleasure in reminding me that my grandparents were not my “real parents”.
The Grand Prince always seems to handle this question in stride, answering without hesitation “that’s my Nana”. He’s lucky in that he knows and sees his Mom on a regular basis so the lines are clearly defined. We’ve always been honest and upfront about the circumstances that brought him to live with us and though we’re not so naive as to think he’ll sail through adolescence without questions of identity, we strongly feel he’s got a good foundation. I think that’s the best gift we can give our grandchildren; honesty tempered with love and sincerity. If you struggle with the ‘hows, whys and whens” of sharing your grandchild’s life circumstance, please seek professional counseling. There are many many wonderful people available to help you work through the words and ways of imparting information to your grandkids. Remember, your grandchildren’s friends want to hang out with them because they’re simply great kids. Not because you’re 33 and can wear “skinny jeans”. Not to say you couldn’t wear them, but some things are better left to the young. 🙂
Happy Sunday!

Advertisements

After School Crazed

Do It All Diva!


We’ve finally settled into the routine of a school schedule, reluctantly leaving behind the lazier ways of summer and looking forward to a productive and fun school year. New teacher, new friends, new adventures.
It’s the first week of November so we’ve got it down pat by now. What I hadn’t recalled, when raising our other kiddos, was the after school commitments and sports activities and how the “run around cycle” wreaks havoc on the aforementioned schedule. After school activities deplete your energy and drain your gas tank; tosses any idea of cozy family dinners out the window and drives up stock in Chef-Boy-Ardee and Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. You can pretty much bank on being in bed 10 minutes after the boy goes down for the night and then asleep with the remote in your hand or the book not even opened on your lap.
At 9:30PM.
Yikes!
Let’s see, there’s band and clarinet lessons on Monday. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday bring youth football practice and squeezing in the school newspaper project on Wednesday afternoons and before practice on Thursdays. Game day is on Sunday. Oh! The dog trainer comes on Saturday mornings. Yes, we got a dog. A puppy who is now 8 months old. And a Lab. A rambunctious Lab, to say the least. We’ll save that for another blog post. The Spouse and I have learned the fine art of division. Not mathematically speaking, more along the lines of “you take football, I’ll do band and newspaper days and we’ll both watch the Sunday games.” Anyhow, the football program ends this weekend (we’re in the championship game by the way! Undefeated to boot! WOOHOO!) so after that we get to breathe a tad easier a couple of days a week.
Until basketball season starts in January. Hmmm.

Happy Friday all!

I’m Bored

sad-bored-daydreaming-child-thumb6691613
One of the most dreaded two word sentences a parent will hear.
I’m bored!
Summertime is usually when these syllables slide out in a long groan from the mouth of a child slumped over the arm of an overstuffed chair, feet up, head hanging down.
You offer suggestions. None of them satisfy this pretzel twisted child.
Then you ask the question you’ve been holding back in hopes your other ideas would spark interest.
“What would you like to do?”

The litany begins:
Bonkers? (sunny and 80 degrees, who wants to be inside?)

Chuckie Cheese? (the name causes a cold sweat)
Laser Quest? (wear ear plugs if you’re a newbie)
Red Sox Game? (ticket prices WAY out of reach here!)
Pool Party? (maybe I can deal with this on a limited kid basis)

We live on the coast. A coast known for beautiful, pristine beaches, many kid friendly parks and scenic views that tourists flock to see every year.
But, my grandson has ‘seen all that stuff’, after all we live here!
What happend to the days when a kid just got out of bed in the mornign and couldn’t wait to greet the day, a mom usually insisting he or she at least guzzle a glass of juice before heading out. Bikes to ride, trees to climb, forts to build…all that creative, imaginative stuff that make for sweet dreams when his head hits the pillow, weary but happy.
I think parents have spent far too much time schlepping kids to every new attraction, theme park and event that they’ve forgotten the art of play.
Perhaps we need to reintroduce our children to simple, creative, imaginative play. Dust off the bike and go for a ride. Take a short hike in some nearby woods and collect pine cones, leaves. Lift rocks to see something squirmy slither out. Bring a picnic lunch and sit under a tree and just……listen.
Think I’ll go dig out the wicker picnic basket and upright that boy before the blood pools in his head.

Happy Monday!

He’s Being Eight..

eightI’m very fortunate to have extensive experience facilitating parenting education groups as well as many years working in a social service agency. Both of these situations have afforded me wonderful resources in terms of access to people who work with children and have a wealth of knowledge around child development issues. It’s a resource I’ve tapped multiple times over the years.
With all this knowledge and resources at my fingertips, one would think I’d have a handle on just about any situation that arises when one is parenting a child.
Wrong. I don’t.
Case in point. The GrandPrince (grandson approaching eight years old in a few weeks) recently was behaving in a manner that was, well, not himself. He was flippant, a bit combative, sulky and challenged almost every statement or decision I made insisting on knowing the ‘why’ of each one and loudly voicing his reasons as to why it should or should not happen.
Now I have a pretty democratic parenting style. I know not to get pulled into power struggles, the importance of giving choices, when to set boundaries and limits and respecting a child’s feelings. But this kid was pushing my buttons big time!
I talked to the Spouse about the GP’s behavior and he was as stumped as I was. It was simply out of character for him. The light bulb went off for both of us at the same time.
He must have some dormant feelings he’s not dealing with about his adoption/living situation/mother/sister/not having a traditional family, etc, etc. You name it, we came up with it. We immediately put our head’s together to determine a strategy that would help to narrow down what could be bothering our grandson and how best to support him and encourage him to share his feelings with us.
Given my access to the above mentioned resources, I spoke to a dear friend who happens to be a fabulous social worker with a number of years in the field working with children and families. I listed all the behaviors and the possibilities for this acting out that had changed our usual compliant, good natured grandson into an irritating, restless, sullen stranger. She listened quite attentively, nodding appropriately and then sat back a minute before replying.
“I can see how upsetting this is for you, and how perplexing too. Have you thought that perhaps he’s just being an eight year old?”
I blinked. And blinked again. I was complicating things by overlooking the simplicity of them. I dug out some child development books and lo and behold I could have inserted his name right under “Your Eight Year Old’s Social/Emotional Development”.
My point in all this is, as grandparents raising our grandchildren we are at times hell bent, I believe, to make life as ‘normal’ as possible for them to make up for what they don’t have; that traditional Mom and Dad who are age appropriate and are just like the parents of all their friends.
Truth is, we’re not a traditional family, but we *are* a family. A loving, caring, nurturing, supportive family. And yes, our circumstances are different from the traditional families on the block and with that comes, at times, issues that must be addressed, questions answered, feelings expressed and dealt with. But most of the time, we’re just like everyone else who’s raising a child and trying to do the best they can to help that child grow to be a happy, confident, loving, caring human being.
It’s not always about the differences, sometimes it’s just about being eight. Happy Birthday, kiddo.

Happy Friday
.

Until Death Do We Part…or whoever gets most of the blanket.

The Spouse and I are coming up to our 31st wedding anniversary this June.  A quiet weekend away alone will be our celebration. Nothing glitzy. We’re blessed to have a condo in the mountains for family getaways and we don’t get there often enough, but I’ve booked that weekend early. For a couple to be married more than 30 years seems to be quite a feat these days; at least the reactions I receive when the topic comes up give merit to that statement.  I suppose in retrospect it is pretty amazing to have lived, loved, fought, argued, cried, laughed, nurtured, supported and shared the same bathroom with one person all those years. And sharing a bathroom takes great compromise and patience. There are no secrets I’m aware of that can guarantee a long happy marriage, or any other relationship for that matter. I do know that communication is key.

Dr. John Gray authored a wonderful book titled “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” and it’s pages are dog eared now in our house. The Spouse thumbs through it often, which makes me smile because I know he’s seeing the truth of some of Dr Grays theory and rolling his eyes at the rest. Either way, it’s caused us both to pause when we’re having discussions or muddling through our frustrations as to why the other just doesn’t get what we’re saying when it’s so very obvious!

To sum things up, ongoing communication is vital. Open, honest, heartfelt sharing of feelings brings any relationship to a more intimate and bonded level. Learning what your communication styles are and prioritizing your marriage, committing to grow together to insure understanding and empathy for each others feelings will be the best foundation you can lay to have the joy of looking back over, oh say..30 years.

And not hogging the blankets is second on the priority list!

Happy Saturday!

Time is not on my side


Contrary to the lyrics of the Rolling Stones hit, “time is on my side, yes it is”, there are many days when I wish for 28 hours instead of 24.
Here’s the schedule for the end of our day, not even factoring in the eight plus hours prior.  Bet there’s a familiar them here for you as well.

After a full workday, I pick up the Grand Prince from after school care, which for me is in the same building I’m employed. That’s a huge plus. Next it’s off to run a few errands, maybe pick up something from the market. If it’s not a karate class day or a tennis lesson then we finish up and head home. Upon arriving we greet the menage of animals and then doff the winter attire to appropriate places and tackle the backpack. Homework, notices from school, permission slips, all to be signed, read or filed on the fridge. Next it’s homework and a snack. I’m very fortunate he’s a conscientious kid and one who enjoys learning, so there’s very little balking about getting homework done. The GP is very on target about snacks too and what’s okay and what’s ‘are you kidding me before dinner!?” sort of snacks.
I start tossing in a load of laundry or swapping one to the dryer while answering questions about spelling, grammar or math (Gods, I hate the math part and beg for the Spouse to handle that. Yes, I’m math phobic). Usually the Spouse is home before me and starts dinner. I’m in love with him all over again every day for that!. While dinner cooks, the GP must do 15 to 20 minutes of silent reading and I get the same time to check email, scan the newspaper, sort the mail and reconnect with the Spouse to share the days events. Multitasking? Parents have done it for decades without a fancy title.
After we share dinner and discussions of our day, it’s time for cleanup, load the dishwasher and a shower for the Prince. While the grandson sings in the shower, I get clothes ready for the next day and pack lunches and/or snacks and remind him over the din of singing and splashing to make sure homework is safely tucked in the backpack.
Toothbrushing and pajamas come next, a little television and/or snuggle time and in a blink of an eye, the clock strikes eight and it’s up to bed and a story. I have managed a few breaths in between. I love you’s are exchanged as are hugs and sweet dreams wishes. All within a three hour time span. Whew!
When coworkers at our lunch table excitedly rehash their favorite episodes of Scrubs, CSI:Miami or Law and Order I nod, smile and listen; totally and blissfully clueless.

I’m asleep by 9:30.

Happy Thursday!

School Days


Despite the summer temperatures, my brain whispers “Fall”. Why? Because it’s September and back to school time. I still get those pre school butterflies as memories of sweaters, new shoes and backpacks find themselves occupying my mind. My grandson (a.k.a. the Grand Prince) began his third year at our neighborhood elementary school last week. I believe we were both ready for him to begin, having crammed in vacations, educational day trips, play dates, numerous barbecues with family and friends, a few birthday parties, pool parties and a smattering of lazy, couch potato days, the latter of which was deemed a necessity by moi simply to take a breath; all between mid June and August 31st. Whew! No wonder we were starving for a little structure and schedules!

Returning to school takes some preparation, even for the ‘seasoned’ parent and child. There will be new clothes, shoes, backpacks and lunch boxes to buy. Perhaps finishing up that last book on the summer reading list and reorganizing the child’s desk to reflect the transition from ‘catch all’ to workspace. This is also a good time to sort through your child’s summer or fall clothes and deliver the no-way-this-fits-pile to your local consignment shop.

School supplies must fit into your budget as well. Teachers will usually send home a welcome letter to their students with a list of needed supplies as well as any donations much needed and appreciated for the classroom. For your older children, it’s best to wait until school begins to accommodate the requirements of more than one teacher. The Marilyn Manson or High School Musical three ring binder your child just had to have would be frowned upon when a plain white one was required.

Those lazy days of summer when sleeping past the alarm wasn’t a worry is now a very big deal. We all relax our schedules over the summer break and getting back on track for the fall transition can be a bit of a struggle. I always begin a good week to ten days before the official start of school by regulating bedtime. As with any new routine it’s not always well received, however, simply talking about the need for rest and the exciting new year ahead prepares children and allows them the ‘buy in’. I give the Grand Prince a little wiggle room with bedtime (“okay bud, you choose. 7:45? or 8:00?) I know, it’s a no brainer and he’s only 7 and can tell time but the key is HE gets to choose instead of me or the Spouse dictating a time.

The same goes for setting the morning alarm. Give yourself and your child the time you need in the mornings for breakfast, personal hygiene routines, dressing etc.
It’s crucial if, like me, you’re simply not a morning person or you can’t form a complete sentence without three cups of coffee under your belt. The Grand Prince takes his shower the night prior, decides on the day’s attire, gets his backpack ready with paperwork and snacks and hung on the newel post while I set a place for breakfast. The less you have to squeeze into your morning, the smoother it goes for everyone.

And on that first day of school, provided your child’s not horrified at the idea of being seen with you as their friends look on, you can get a hug, a smile and a “see you after school!” as they exit the car and into the world of academia, happy and ready to meet the day.