Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts

Educating Ourselves About Drugs and Drug Use: Parenting Through the Tween and Teen Years

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This is a sponsored post on behalf of the Touch & Know home drug testing kit. 

I have a confession to make. Well, not really a confession since it’s not anything I’m ashamed of. Maybe more of an admittance with questions attached. I have virtually no experience with illegal drugs. Or, for that matter, legal ones used in an abusive way.

I didn’t have an experimental phase in high school. I wasn’t a huge partyer in college. I didn’t really hang around with people who were into recreational or hard drugs. I heard a great phrase lately that is very apropos to this situation: I didn’t need drugs or alcohol because the circus of humanity was entertaining enough that I’ve never felt the need to be altered to enjoy myself. My dad's career in law enforcement had a little bit to do with it, but mostly I just never got the urge.

home drug testing kit equipment

As an adult, I’m glad my curiosity never got the better of me. There is addiction in our family tree. Who knows how I would have fared had I decided to do something ‘just this one time.’ On the flip side, as a parent, I kind of feel like my non-drug use has me at a bit of a disadvantage. Unless I saw them take it, I’d be hard pressed to tell if someone was ‘on’ something. I couldn’t identify a coke high versus an acid trip versus… whatever it is mushrooms do. See what I mean? I can’t even use the proper jargon! 

I don’t know what the current trends are with over the counter and prescription drugs. Is the drug du jour still Oxycontin? Are adults still taking their kids’ ADHD pills? I remember that was a story line from Desperate Housewives, but are people still doing it? I have no idea what the street names for drugs are nowadays. There’s virtually no way I’d recognize a drug by sight and don’t even get me started on social media. Did you know teens and tweens are buying and selling drugs using apps and social media? That they’re using certain hashtags on Instagram to let others know what kind of drugs will be at the party that night? Go to your Instagram and search s-i-z-z-u-r-p (without the hyphens). My search turned up a little over 33,000 results. The only reason I know about this party drug is because I was researching something else about teens and social media. 

drug testing kit for home use

Part of growing up can mean learning certain things the hard way. Right now Tyler is pretty adamant that drugs are "stupid." Will he always feel that way? Only time will tell. We're not naive. We haven't fooled ourselves into thinking Tyler will be the exception or that he won't experiment simply because we've told him not to. We know the time is coming where he'll find himself in a situation where he'll have to make a decision. We hope, when the time comes, he makes the right one. 

What has been gnawing at me lately is, what if he doesn't know he's in that type of situation? Last week I read a Time magazine article about synthetic marijuana that has me completely freaked out. These cannabinoids are  becoming increasingly available at convenience stores and gas stations. They are packaged like baseball cards and sold under the name potpourri, glass cleaner or incense. Hopefully, Tyler will never have the type of friend who would trick him into taking drugs, or tell him that something isn't harmful when it is. 

Phil and I haven't talked about setting up parameters for Tyler. So far it's been: don't do drugs. But we need to be realistic and we need to create an atmosphere where, if he does get into some sort of trouble, he feels comfortable talking to us. I'd like for him to call us from a party and ask for a ride home because he feels uncomfortable or has had too much to drink, and believe us when we say we won't get mad

home drug testing kit

On the flip side, we've already told Tyler that while he lives in our house, privacy is a privilege and not a right. The cell phone, computer and iPod he uses are monitored. When it comes to his room, so far we haven't had a reason to go through it. We trust him until he gives us a reason not to. If we were suspicious, I'd like to think we'd have no problem turning his room upside down. How do we balance allowing him a little bit privacy, keeping the lines of communication open and trying to stay on top of what may be happening under our roof? 

I'm feeling as though there's an enemy out there I can't fight because I don't know what it looks like. I can talk with Tyler about bullying, racism, peer pressure, trying to fit in and lots of other subjects because I've been there, done that. But drugs are uncharted territory. It's all so confusing, overwhelming and a little bit scary. So, finally, here are my questions: how are you parents and caregivers keeping up with the news? Where do you go to educate yourself about what tweens and teens are into? 

Last month I went to an event with fellow moms where we talked about our kids and our fears surrounding drugs and alcohol. I know that junior high has become the starting point for when kids are hearing about their friends using or their friends' older siblings. It was helpful to hear how the moms with kids Tyler's age started having these important conversations and how the moms with older kids survived! 

We also learned about a new home drug testing kit. It's specifically designed to test unknown substances. If I were to find something in Tyler's room, the Touch&Know® kit would be able to identify it as harmful or not with only five steps. I know myself and the few extra moments to reign in my emotions and wrap my head around the results, benign or not, would be much needed. 

As I said, there is addiction in our family. I know now that is the reason my parents and grandparents were so vigilant with me and my brother. They saw addiction first hand and lived with it for years. From their stories, it's not anything I want our family to go through. I have two of the kits in our medicine cabinets. I'm fully prepared to use them, but pray I never have to. 


Touch&Know® Facts and Resources:

The Touch&Know® test will enable you to positively identify the presence of Crack/Cocaine and the general presence of Brown Heroin and/or 18 other illegal or controlled drugs, including: White Heroin, Methamphetamine, Amphetamine (powder), Ecstacy/MDMA, Methadone, Ketamine, PCP, PMA, DMT, MDPV, Mephedrone, PMMA, mCCP, MPA, Buphedron, MDPBP, Cathinone, MethCathinone, Methylone, and Marijuana/Hashish. It can also test for designer drugs like bath salts.

Only a VERY small amount of substance is needed to perform the test. The results are immediate. You do not need urine or hair samples with the Touch&Know®. You are testing the substance, not the person. Sold exclusively at Walgreens.

Connect with Touch&Know® on social media:

Touch&Know® blog

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Touch&Know®. Opinions and experiences are my own. Photos and video courtesy of Black Falcon.

Where I Tell My Son What's What

Friday, February 17, 2012

I'm in a carpool and and give rides to two of the neighbor girls. Yesterday, I think my son decided he wanted to play it cool and got sassy with me. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's when he's disrespectful to me in front of other people. I have no problem setting him straight even if it means embarrassing him. Witness:

Tyler: "One of the boys in my class told me he's kissed a girl."

[all three] "Eeewwww!"

Girl 1: "Oh yeah, I heard that from [another girl]. She told me he kissed one of his sister's friends."

Me: "What kind of kiss are we talking about? A peck on the cheek?"

Tyler: "I don't know. And mom? Mind your own business."

Oh. No. He. Did. Not! 

If I could have slammed on the brakes so I could turn all the way around and look him in the eye, I would have.

Me: "Get this straight, as long as you live at home and you're under the age of 18? Everything is my business. You have no secrets from me. Got it?"

At least he had the sense to look abashed when we pulled into the driveway.

What have you had to set your kids straight about lately?

My Kid Told a Racist Joke: Advice Needed

Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm so upset right now I don't know what to do. Tyler got in the car after school saying he had a joke to tell me.

"An American, a Canadian and a Mexican get on a plane."

As soon as he got the words out I bristled. I knew where he was going and I wasn't happy. I'd not heard the joke before but there's no way a joke that starts out like that is going to be good.

He finished as we pulled into the driveway. I put the car in park and, I'll admit, I lit into him a bit. I kept my voice calm but he could tell I was very angry. I told him jokes like that are not OK, not appropriate and he's never to repeat it.

I asked him to substitute a white person, black person and an Asian in the joke. Was it still funny? Did he still think it was OK to repeat?

I asked him if he'd heard the words racist or racism. He hadn't so I explained their definitions. I talked about Columbus, slavery and immigration. I didn't get too deep into those issues since he's only 8, but the examples I used from TV we've watched were things he could relate to and understand.

I told him what I was most angry about, that a joke like that is making its way around the playground. I told him I was angry at the situation, not at him. He told me which friend he heard the joke from. It's a little boy he had a playdate with a few weeks ago. Tyler said the boy heard the joke from someone else. I believe him. I don't think he's devious enough to make that up on the spot to protect his friend.

My dilemma is, should I call this boys mother and tell her what her son is saying? I know that, for the boys, the joke was funny because someone gets punched in the face, not because of its undertones. As kids they just hear the slapstick. But it's something I would want to know about. How do I even begin a conversation like that?

If someone you only met once called you with this information, how would you take it? I want to be clear that I'm not accusing her son of being a racist, merely passing on the information. I don't want to put any strain on the boys' friendship. But, I hate to think of the (blond haired, light eyed) boy telling the joke again around someone some of the older kids and having one of them call him out. I hope I'd be opening the door for Tyler's friend and his parents to have a conversation about acceptance. What if it backfires?

Would you call the other mom? Has another parent ever called you with something like this? Have you ever made a phone call like this? HELP!

A Moment of Panic

Monday, January 10, 2011

During the Christmas break I was folding laundry on my bed and heard a faint buzzing. I thought I was imagining it but then I followed the sound to the bathroom. It was definitely coming from there but I couldn't pinpoint it. 

At first I couldn't think what would be making a sound like that. It wasn't the toothbrush or water pick. Phil hadn't left his razor on accidentally; I could see it on the counter. What could it be? Then it hit me. 

Oh shit. 

Did Tyler find "it"?

What was he doing poking around in here?!

Why didn't he ask me what "it" was? 

Thank God he didn't ask me what "it" was!

Do I say something?

I don't want to say something!
I was about to reach down into the cabinet to turn "it" off, but as I bent over the sound got louder as my head passed by one of Phil's drawers. Turns out, it was just his nose hair trimmer. Crisis averted.

But since then I've been thinking. Should I move "it"? I don't want to bury "it" too far because then "it" isn't, uh, convenient anymore. 

So now I'm asking you. Where do you keep "it"? Have your kids ever found "it"? How did you respond?

Feeling Guilty About Not Feeling Guilty

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A few days ago, when the snow really started falling on the east coast, I saw a Tweet go by that got me thinking about my Mom Guilt again. The Tweet was tagged with #snowday and read something to the effect of: "my kids are why I work from home, they are not an interruption." Then, my mom said something to me that stung a bit. I told her I don't usually cook a big dinner on the days Tyler's sports end late in the evening. Her response? "But why not? You're home all day." Ouch.

See, I've been feeling guilty for wanting Tyler to go on vacation. By himself. Every year since he turned one he's spent time at my mom's house during Christmas break. Since my Gramma comes from St. Louis and stays with my mom for three months, it's killed two birds with one stone. The Gramma's get some one on one time with their baby, Tyler gets (even more) spoiled and Phil and I get to act like the couple we were before we became parents.
Giant Gavelphoto © 2010 Sam Howzit | more info (via: Wylio)

When we asked Tyler if he wanted to go this year, he said no. I'll admit, my first thought was "how could he be so selfish!" I know, I know. He's only 8. He has no idea why his vacation is so important to his mom and dad. But my gut reaction, combined with that Tweet got me thinking about the idea that we should love being parents 100% of the time. Now that I'm a SAHM the pressure is even worse. It's my job to take care of my family. I should throw myself into it wholeheartedly and enjoy every minute of it, right?

Well, I don't. I love my kid with a fierceness that still surprises me. I love him so much it can be all consuming at times. I love him so much that, occasionally, there's not enough left for my husband, too (another thing I feel guilty about!). And that's my problem. Anything that takes up that much of a person's time, energy and focus is exhausting! I love being a mom. Specifically, I love being Tyler's mom. But every once in awhile I need a break. WE need a break.

Phil and I could really use the time to ourselves this year. We treat Tyler's time away as mini vacation for us too. There's stress that I can't write about just now and it's making me a bad mom and a bad wife. With Tyler gone, in addition to going to dinner somewhere with no kid's menu and watching R rated movies before 9:00, we have a few days to really talk and re-connect. And, maybe my mom and Gramama will crack the whip with eye rolling in a way I've been unsuccessful at so far. I'm sure Tyler could use a break from me, too.

I guess I can't call Tyler selfish without labeling myself the same. But is it selfish to want a break from the daily grind? Society tells me it is. But then there's also the idea that 'if Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy.' And just to throw in another curve, couples who make time for each other have happier marriages. So which is it? Selflessly take care of my family, take care of myself or nurture my marriage?

I don't know why this is such a struggle for me; finding balance. I think because I don't earn a steady income, I feel like I have to bring something to the table and right now all I've got is my time. Time to cook, clean, do laundry, grocery shop, take Tyler to practice, etc. etc. I'm lucky to be an at home mom. I know that. I don't want to go back to work. At least, I don't think I do.

Anytime I feel guilty about something I know it more than likely stems from some insecurity or doubt about a decision I've made. But in this case, I don't feel guilty about wanting Tyler to go visit my mom. If anything, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty, if that makes sense. Don't get me wrong, I miss him when he's away, but the margarita at Happy Hour helps ease the pain.

So, yes, I admit it. I want my son to away for a few days. When he does, I'm going to make a conscious choice to enjoy it and the few evenings I'll spend with my husband. Alone. This does not make me a bad person. Nor does it make me a bad mom. In fact, think it makes me a better mom. Screw you, society.

*Tyler changed his mind and decided to go! Thank you, Little Brother!

Peeing in the Trunk

Monday, November 1, 2010

After what I saw in the Target parking lot yesterday, I'm wondering if I missed something in the potty training books or if this is a new trend in getting little ones out of diapers. 

As I was walking to my car, I noticed a little girl sitting in the back of a really big SUV. She was reading a book. The woman I'm assuming was her mother was unloading her cart into the other side of the trunk. I did a doubletake because the little girl wasn't sitting back there just because, she was on the potty.

I don't remember any of the books telling me I had to tote a potty with me everywhere I went. Even if they did, I'm not sure I would have. Those little potties are horrid! They're hard to clean, they absorb the pee smell and emptying them out was never easy. It was hard enough dealing with them in my bathroom, let alone having one sloshing all over the trunk of my car. *dry heaves*

This chair is sold all over online. I guess I am really out of the loop.
I get that public bathrooms are gross. I remember hearing someone giggle after I told Tyler to please try to keep his boy parts from touching the toilet rim. And having to hold them under the arms while they poop so they don't fall in is a pain.* In my opinion, the choice between having my kid pee in my trunk or going back into the store is a no brainer. It seems much easier than having to dispose of a bag of pee after a day of errands.

Am I alone in this? Is having a literal porta potty the new way to do things? Did you have one? Would you?

*The folding potty seat with handles was a lifesaver!!

Gee, Thanks Nate Berkus!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I've been catching up on my DRV'd episodes of the Nate Berkus Show. About two weeks ago, Tyler just happened to sit down next to me during one show that took a turn I wasn't expecting. We ended up having a conversation that made me squirm.

Children's Etiquette: How Should Kids Address Adults

Friday, May 28, 2010

I have Tyler call our adult friends Mr. Joe or Mr. Jane. We talked about this when I was pregnant and decided it was respectful and appropriate. In my mind, children shouldn't always be treated as little adults with the same rights and privileges, e.g. being able to call an adult by their first name.

I've had friends tell Tyler, "oh, you can call me Jane," and I have to step in and say this is what we've asked him to do and it's either he calls them Miss Jane or Mrs. Smith (or Ma'am). I would think this would convey to my friends that this important to us and to respond in kind. But that doesn't happen.

I don't want to correct other people's children. That's touchy and walking the line of discipline. It also makes it seem as though I'm telling them how to parent and/or their children have no manners. Also touchy.

So, my question for you is: should I let it go? 

How do you have other people's children address you? 
How do your children address adults?

Mom Guilt Stinks

Friday, May 21, 2010

I've been feeling Mom Guilt since the moment I found out I was pregnant. Gasp! I had a few cocktails! What if something happens?! It's gotten progressively worse over the years. Even though I know it's a useless and wasted emotion, I carry it around with me like a favorite accessory.

I pushed for three hours and Tyler came out looking like a tiny prize fighter. Guilt. 

I had to go back to work when Tyler was only 3 months old. Guilt.

We started Tyler in Kindergarten at age 4. Guilt.

I try not to let parenting issues get me down, but I'm a worrier and I beat myself up over just about everything. It doesn't matter that Tyler is his own person, that he understand the basics of right and wrong and is mostly capable of making his own decisions. If he acts like a brat in public, people aren't wondering what his problem is, they're looking at right at me. 

The latest monkey on my back is Tyler's teeth. It seems he's inherited mine which resemble mini mountain ranges with steep peaks and valleys. The result? Four cavities and the makings of a new one. Guilt. 

I'm not sure what Tyler has against taking care of his teeth (and basic hygiene in general). We started fighting about it, meaning I'd yell at him for not doing it correctly and he'd whine that the toothpaste was too spicy and why can't he go back to the bubble gum flavored kind?! 

I found out that first, Tyler wasn't brushing at all, then he'd brush, but with no toothpaste! I resorted to doing random plaque checks, sneaking up on him when he's in the bathroom, putting the toothpaste in a specific position after he'd gone to bed and checking to make sure the toothbrush bristles were wet before we left for school. I had the dentist talk to him, showed him scary pictures of tooth decay and threatened to make him pay for any future cavities. The kid just wasn't getting it and I was ready to lay the ultimate smackdown.

As a last, last resort we got him a new toothbrush, the Sonicare for Kids. It seems to be working. We gave Tyler our old Sonicare when we got new ones, but I think the adult size head was part of the problem. He's brushing without fuss, with toothpaste, and seems to be more thorough. I'm happy that I can stop pulling my hair out and turning our mornings and nights into screaming matches. 

Photo from here

Now, if only I can find a way to get him to brush his hair and not leave the house looking like Crabman from My Name is Earl. Guilt. 

*We received a Sonicare for Kids from Mom Central. The opinions are mine, as is the guilt over not having this post up in time (despite the reminders) because I spent the last two days shopping, visiting with family and spa-ing with friends. Read my full Sonicare for Kids review.

And Then He Could Fly

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's hard watching Tyler struggle with self confidence and being brave. On the one hand, he's recently asked me to help him become famous. On the other, he gets stage fright sometimes. He loves roller coasters but doesn't want to try the "big kid" ramp at the skate park. 

We try to be encouraging without patting him on the back for every little thing he does. The "everybody gets a star" mentality has ruined kids' abilities to take constructive criticism and have pride in their own accomplishments. But, it's hard not to give in occasionally when I see Tyler falter. 

I babysat last week and had 4 kids at the house. It didn't rain after all (thank you Jesus!) so I made them go outside. The kids had scooters and I moved my car so they could roll down the driveway. The other little boy, "Joe," is younger than Tyler, shorter and seems to be naturally athletic. He's been taking skateboard lessons locally and can do tricks Tyler hasn't learned yet. "Joe" suggested they use the driveway as a ramp and then jump off the curb. He went down over and over, catching pretty good air and landing without ending up on the ground. 

Tyler started to go several times but backed out at the last minute saying he was going too fast. "Joe" was trying to be encouraging, showing Tyler how to do it and where to jump. Tyler took it as criticism and I could see the beginnings of a sulk. I debated with myself as to whether I should step in and be encouraging or if I'd make it worse. Tyler went inside and I followed. He saw me and then came the beginnings of tears. 

"Talk to me, what's wrong?"

"He's making fun of me because I can't do the jump."

"No, he's trying to be helpful, I think you're just taking it the wrong way."

I reminded him that "Joe" started skateboarding before Tyler and that he's a full head taller than "Joe", which means he's heavier and has a different center of gravity.

"You may not be able to do it his way, but you can figure out your own way."

That seemed to help and Tyler went back outside. They abandoned the driveway for awhile and raced up and down the street instead. We had lunch and I sent them back out (we'd already had one nearly broken picture frame, a Darth Vader helmet to the nose and wood floors vs. sock feet; they were too amped to be inside!).

I had a feeling Tyler would want to try the jump again. And I was right. It took him a few tries, but he did it. And then it was like he'd known how to do it all along.

"Did you see that mom?! I totally nailed it! This is SO much fun!"

I guess my pep talk worked after all. Perhaps a little too well?

He Called Me Miss

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saturday night I crashed a party at the La Costa Resort and Spa. On my way there I ran into the grocery store to hit the ATM. When I got out of the car, a boy asked me to buy him a bottle of Captain Morgan.

He looked so young standing next to his practical, fuel efficient economy car that his parents probably bought. He called me 'Miss.' I stopped, and was about to hold out my hand for the money. I remembered being his age. My friends and I used to do the same thing until Phil got a fake ID. I'm sure we bought for some other fresh faced kid back when we were first married and partying ourselves.

But then I flashed forward 10 years and saw MY fresh faced kid standing in a parking lot. My baby, who, last night at dinner, thanked Phil and I for being his Mommy and Daddy. I pictured that boys parents, and shook my head. I told him I have a son of my own, and if it were him standing there... The boy finished my sentence, "you couldn't do it. It's OK, I understand."

I went inside and he was still there when I came out. I hope everyone turned him down. I hope he made it home safely.

Maybe You Need to Ask Different Questions

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Overheard: [Tyler to his friend J] "My mom would probably say no. No, no, no, no. That's all parents seem to say sometimes."

Tyler: [to me] "No offense, Mom."

None taken, little guy. None taken.


Friday, October 2, 2009

We're taking Tyler out of school a little early today to head up to Disneyland for an early Halloween party. He doesn't know it yet, so I'm looking forward to the surprise. It got me thinking about the vacation post I did a few days ago. I was, well still am, pretty spoiled but my kid has gotten to do some pretty awesome things as a result of this little corner of the web I have.

We don't mind spoiling him when he's earned it. But this idea he has about going on vacation being the coolest thing ever! has me wondering how he views things like what we're getting to do this evening. We tell him they're special occasions that we are fortunate enough to be included in, but maybe to him they are part of his 'normal', if that makes any sense.

I don't want him to start to taking our outings for granted, thereby taking us for granted. I don't want him to develop a "what have you done for me today" kind of attitude. That would suck because I have no patience for brats.

I'm not really going anywhere with this. It's just something swirling around my head today. What's swirling around in yours?

What I Said vs. What I Wanted to Say

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Have you ever wanted to let loose on your kid? I mean really let loose? I almost went there today. Neither my son or I are morning people. If he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, like he did today, it can make for some pretty explosive breakfasts.

Today, he started in with the half whine, half cry as soon as his feet hit the floor. And I was NOT in the mood. There were two conversations going on, what I said out loud and what I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying.

After he got dressed I made him sit on the floor and take some deep breaths and calm down.

What I said:

"Why don't you have a seat, take some deep breaths and calm yourself."

What I wanted to say:

"Holy hell, you haven't even been awake for 5 effing minutes, what could possibly be wrong!?"

He took a seat (More like flopped to the floor. How do kids manage to add defiance to the act of sitting?) and I told him we needed to run to the store this morning and he had two choices: either calm down enough to say what's going on and still have enough time to eat, or sit in the floor pouting and not be able to have time finish eating let alone have seconds.

"I don't wanna sit here, I'm hungry!"

What I said:

"Don't raise your voice at me. 'Mom, I'm grumpy this morning, but can we please go have breakfast?' would work a lot better than being nasty."

What I wanted to say:

"Change your effing tone of voice and lose the attitude or so help me I will find a way to bend you over my knee!"

Over breakfast, I explained why we needed to stop at the store (teacher appreciation flower), that he had a limited time to eat and when I said it was time to get ready to leave, he needed to do it quickly. Que whining.

This is where the internal and external conversations collided.
What I said:

"You know, I don't like to say this, but SHUT UP! Stop your whining and eat. When I say it's time to get up, you will do so with no whining, eye rolling, stomping, or backtalk. If you do, you're grounded for the rest of the week with no TV and no martial arts, and the next time I get invited To Disney(land) you can stay with Auntie J and Daddy and I will go and have a grown up day."

That got his attention.

Mornings are such a challenge. I feel like a broken record. I'm tired of bribing, threatening and yelling. Sometimes I have to stand over him and watch him brush his teeth. One of the ongoing conversations in our house is that he needs to behave better in the mornings: get up on time, eat, wash his face and brush his teeth and hair without the detours to the Legos.

I've told him the next time I get a call from school asking why he was late he's going to have to speak to his principal and explain his behavior himself. I don't like starting my day out like this. There are so many ways he's such a sweet, amazing kid.

I can't figure out why his behavior with me is so different than with Phil. I shouldn't have to give my kid an allowance to get him to be respectful and completing basic grooming habits, right? What am I doing wrong?!

Snippets: And You PAY Her?!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


"My babysitter doesn't respond to voicemail. If I leave a message, I don't hear from her. But if I send a text, she gets back to me right away."
Um, excuse me? You give someone your hard earned money to ignore you? And you leave your children with this person?

Babysitter types listen up: If I have entrusted you with the care of my child, my heart, my reason for being, the most precious person on this earth you WILL respond to me IMMEDIATELY whether I've sent you a voicemail, text message, smoke signals or hired a skywriter.

MacNuggets of Wisdom from Bernie Mac

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Go with God, and keep them laughing in heaven! [From TV Guide Magazine]

People come up to me all the time asking for advice. They want advice about their love life, they want advice about their job, they want advice about their clothes. (OK, they might not want advice about their clothes, but damn, some of these people need serious help.) They come to me because they know Bernie Mac always tells the truth. I say what everybody else wishes they could say. So when they ask me about raising kids, I tell them straight up: The biggest mistake you can make is trying to be your child's friend. You cannot be your child's friend.

Tough love, that's what kids need. You don't negotiate with kids. You don't worry about hurting their feelings. If they ask, "Why?" you tell 'em, "'Cause I said so, that's why." Kids need to know you love them, but they also need to know if they do something wrong.

I'm not talking about child abuse here. I'm not talking about hurting kids. Just getting their attention. When I was growing up, we not only had ass whuppings, we had appointments for ass whuppings, just so we could think about it all day. My mama used to tell me at nine o'clock in
the morning, "When your granddaddy gets home, he's gonna whup your ass." Man, my whole day was messed up. I couldn't eat, I couldn't play sports. I'd be playing baseball, thinking about my grandfather coming home, and I was in such a trance that the ball would go right past me. Everybody was hollering, "Bernie Mac, what is wrong with you?" And all I could say was, "My grandfather is gonna whup my ass." He never did. But the threat of the belt was enough.

As a parent, you're not here to be liked. I'm 44 years old, and it was my
generation that dropped the ball on this. The older generation — my mother and my grandmother — they knew how to discipline. They taught us respect, and they made sure we followed rules. They used to say, "This ain't no popularity contest," which is a good thing, 'cause they'd have damn sure finished last. But they didn't care. They'd send me to my room, and I'd say, "I hate you." And they'd just yell back, "We hate you, too. Now, you're gonna go in there and clean that room." And I did.

Parents today don't want to be parents. They want to be too cool. They want to be hip. They don't want to be the bad guys. Well, that's our job. We're not here to make those kids like us. We're here to save their lives. When they do something wrong, it's our job to tell them what they did wrong and in a way that they understand. You can't sugarcoat it. You can't worry about them being mad at you. I say, "I don't care if you're mad or not. You'll get over it."

Now we want to reward kids for everything. We give 'em money for grades. "I got all Bs." "Oh, here you go. Two hundred dollars." "My teacher said I didn't cause any trouble today." "Really? Here's $50." No. Uh-uh. I am not gonna pay you for doing something you're supposed to do.

You can say that's too harsh, but our parents were harsh, and we're better people because of it. I'll give you a perfect example. When I was 14, we had a cat who stayed on our block who looked like he was having all the best fun. Kids in that house could stay up till six o'clock in the morning. They had the girls, they had the beers.

I mean, their house was the house. But my grandmother wasn't having none of that. We had to be in the house at eight o'clock, by the time the streetlights came on. And I don't mean on the porch in front of the house, I mean in the house. We hated it.

But when I go back to my old neighborhood, those cats are still there. They haven't changed a bit. They've got no discipline, no sense of responsibility. They don't take care of their kids, they don't take care of themselves. They are just careless with their lives, 'cause they never had anyone to keep them in line. No one gave them any drive. I am so grateful to my mother for making me come home. If she hadn't done that, I don't know where I'd be. But I wouldn't be as successful as I am. I know that.

So, once you understand that raising children is like waging war — there will be victories, there will be defeats and there will be casualties — you've got to follow the basic rules of warfare, the most important of which is:

KNOW YOUR ENEMY. There are things you need to understand about kids and how they operate. Yes, they are small, but they are sneaky and do not have a conscience. So, here's a short list of things you need to know about your children.

KNOW THAT THEY WILL LIE. Kids will lie to you in a minute, even if they know that you know they are lying. Kids wanna play and stay up late. They wanna watch television and wear the same drawers every day. And they will lie to accomplish these goals. I once told the minister that my grandmother was choking me, even though I knew she'd done no such thing. The minister (and a social worker) ended up having a talk with my grandmother, and I spent the rest of my childhood unable to sit down.

to look innocent, even when they are caught in the act. They will give you a look like a puppy dog, as if they're weak and helpless. Because they are ruthless, they will use this against you.

KNOW THAT THEY HEAR EVERYTHING YOU SAY. And they will use it against you. Kids may not be able to remember why they took off their clothes in the grocery store, but they will remember everything you said, in complete detail, and they will quote it back to you whenever it suits them. They've got some kind of special memory bank inside their head. Kids will crawl under your bed to hear your conversations. They will spy on you, and if necessary, they will tap your phone.

In conclusion, just remember that when you are tough on your children, it's for their own good. Letting them have their own way is the same as telling them you don't care. And if you think you're being too hard on them, try to remember the words of Nietzsche, who said, "What does not destroy me, makes me stronger."
(photo from Google)

The Dark Knight- So, So Good!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First, let me get this off my chest: Being a parent means life often passes you by. There are movies you don't get to see until they are on DVD. Concerts you don't go to. Spontaneous weekends with friends that you have to pass on (have fun in Vegas girls! I demand pictures of Sunday's outing!).

It sucks. Believe me I know. But it happens when you decide to procreate. There are going to be times when you sit on the sidelines while others have all the fun.

An 8:00pm movie will most likely be filled with with adults. Adults on dates. Adults without kids. Adults who do have a son and even though they don't have a lot of family nearby were able to leave him at home with his grandmother who took the train down to visit and enjoy their first movie at the theater in about a month. Your crying babies are not appreciated!

So, on behalf of those of us who WERE able to get a sitter, do not bring your infants and toddlers to the movies. I have zero sympathy for you and I will give you dirty looks and I will make comments not-so-under-my-breath.

Back to the movie. Go see The Dark Knight. It was really good! This movie is not for kids. It is not Michael Keaton's campy Batman. It is dark and violent. But Heath Ledger and Christian Bale do an excellent job.

I do have one complaint. It's minor but I hope the director of future films takes note. It will be interesting to see where the franchise goes next. No one will be able to play The Joker the way Heath does. He blew Jack Nicholson out of the water.
(photos from IMDB)

Works for Me Wednesday: Emergency Forms for Caregivers

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My son had nannies until he was 4. For our family, it was what worked the best. I wanted all the information necessary in case of any type of emergency to be readily available.

I created this Emergency Contact Info packet for our caregiver's to use. I created the forms in Microsoft Word. I taped the Emergency Contact form inside the pantry.

(Click on thumbnails to view larger PDF)

I also had, in an envelope taped to the pantry, the following other forms:

1. A second copy of the Emergency Contact form
2. A copy of his birth certificate
3. The fingerprints we had done as part of a Child ID kit
4. A Consent for Treatment form I found online and modified
5. A copy of his immunization record
6. Fingernail clippings (totally morbid, I know, but I’m prone to paranoia)
7. A copy of his medical card

I showed our nanny all the forms and had her sign the consent for treatment. Fortunately, we never needed to use any of this information. I don't believe we can be too careful when it comes to our children. It may seem like overkill, but I took comfort in being prepared for anything, and it made leaving my child with someone else a little easier.

*For other helpful tips, head over to Shannon's.
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Sometimes Children Should be Not Seen and Not Heard

For instance at Dream Dinners [Warning: judgements ahead]. I love going to Dream Dinners. It's definitely "me" time. They have good music, samples from next month's menu's and I can have a coffee or tea while I chat with the other meal preppers.

I don't think anyone would argue that places like Dream Dinners, the nail salon or the hair salon** are places parents (99% being moms) go to get away from their children.

So why would I possibly want to be surrounded by yours?! Leave them AT HOME!

My mom was generous enough to take me to Dream Dinners when we visited two weeks ago. We thought we were in for a relaxing morning. Nuh-uh.

Now, the kids in question weren't being bad (that would have pushed me over the edge!) but they were there. Period. In my way. BAREFOOT around my food!

The owner spoke up and said, "uh-oh, I see a pair of shoes here!" in a jokey, sing-song way and the shoes stayed on for the rest of No Sitter Mom's visit. But they shouldn't have come off in the first place.

The kids were pulling chairs up to the stations and telling their endless, no point to them kid stories (you know the ones: "and then, and then") to the staff, who were trying to be polite, but hello! I need more chicken breasts over here!

And then there was the other mom who brought her older daughter along for some bonding time. Normally, I would have no problem with this. I hope Drama Kid develops a love for all things culinary.

However, (you knew there had to be one) this mom daughter pair treated each meal as a piece of art. At the stuffed shells, the daughter used the squeeze bottle to oh so caaaare-fully make perfect pesto circles on top of each shell.

Then, each shell needed exaaaaaaaaa-tly 12 pieces of shredded mozzarella arranged in a mound built to specifications known only to her but designed for optimum melting.

Grrrr! It's not rocket science it's ricotta! The poor woman next to them waiting to finish her smaller portion was dancing and weaving like a boxer darting between the pair to grab her ingredients. Then Shoeless Joe pulled up chair right next to her without so much as an "excuse me" then left it there to go back to his coloring.

Seriously? Was there not one, neighbor available to help with the kids for two hours? Another mom? A relative?

Yes, she could have been a single mom. Yes, the sitter could have backed out at the last minute. Extenuating circumstances blah blah blah.

And don't even get me started on the wailing 9-day old newborn. Poor thing was obviously not in the mood for chicken paella.

There have been plenty of occasions where I would have loved to get a mani pedi, see a movie or leisurely sip a latte. But my kid was with me so I didn't. And the one time I did have to bring him to the salon? Not a peep. Because I bribed him with fast food and brought the DVD player.

Maybe my beef is not so much with the kids, but the parents. Tell them to use their manners. Tell them to be patient. Tell them to use their inside voices.

And if you know you have to bring them along to the Typically Kid Free Place? For goodness sakes plan ahead. Snacks, drinks, a movie, books, coloring, the kitchen sink. Anything to keep them quietly occupied (read: not bothering the rest of us). Thank you in advance and let the games begin!

**Full disclosure: I took Drama Kid to the salon for my 8-week hair appointment. Which happened to fall on Drama Dad's Reserve weekend. Which I can't cancel because my stylist is crazy busy. I have to book my next two appointments while I'm at the current one or I'm hosed. Anyone with ethnic hair knows where I'm coming from. The roots cannot wait!add to kirtsy


Friday, May 9, 2008

I didn't give too much thought to what I wanted this blog to be "about." OK, at the time, I didn't think about it at all. But, since my first post I realize that I want to make a conscious effort not to come here only when I'm in a bad place. There is much in my life that is good and I need to honor that.

Take my DS for example. So far, the things I've posted about him
here and here make him look like a defiant brat. And sometimes, he is. But most of the time he's not.

I'd say 80% of the time DS can wear his halo proudly. He really is a sweet, kind, loving, handsome little gentleman. He holds doors for me. He pulled out my chair at dinner a few weeks ago.

But sometimes the bad stuff follows me around. Hovering. That 20% can be like a mosquito in your ear at 2am: persistent and biting.

I don't know about you but sometimes I let that 20% set the mood for the day and totally stomp on the 80%.
And that's not fair to him. So, I want you to get to know my little guy the way he is most of the time.

I keep a journal of some of the cute and funny moments we have. Here's a few from over the years (I added a few details for clarity):

Nov. 29, 2004 (age 2)

I could tell DS was doing something he probably shouldn't be by the silence in his room. Earlier I'd caught him jumping down to the floor from the side of his crib. I came around the corner into his room and caught him mid climb. He said, "Mommy go sit down couch, I jumping."

Nov. 2004
Our nanny at the time put this in-

Little Man kept trying to get his mine (pacifier) from the basket on his crib even though it wasn't nap time. I finally took them all and put them on the kitchen counter. He went to his bathroom, got his step stool and brought it into the kitchen and tried to get them down.

Jan. 27, 2005
DS and I were grocery shopping. We turned into an isle and there was a family of four, mom and three kids. The mom told one son to settle down and DS heard her. He leans out of the cart looking around my body and says, "calm down!" really stern. I was horrified and tried to cover by asking him why I needed to calm down. Fortunately the mom thought it was funny and responded with ,"you tell him," so he said it again.

August 2006 (age 3)

From our daycare person-
I told your son today that I liked his outfit and thought it was really cool He said, "yeah, but not as cool as me."

May 7, 2007

I burned myself on the shoulder with my curling iron. It looked raw and yucky after my shower. DS saw me struggling to get the band aid on and offered to help. I bent down and as he put in on he said, "BAM!" just like Emeril.

Feb 18, 08

"Mom, you're almost the color of chocolate. You're from Africa because Africa peoples are your color. Do you know how to speak Africa?"

April 27, 2008

We had friends over for dinner. The kids played well together but at the end of the night DS's room was trashed. I asked the kids to clean up. Ann (not her name) starts putting things away and DS says, "no Ann, I'll do it," and he turns to me and says, "because I want you to be proud of me."

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