Body vs. the Brain

IMG_7005In the battle of the body vs. the brain, my middle son’s body finally won a round, yesterday. He slept until seven o’clock in the morning, which in our house is waking up late, a rare occurrence. He has been fighting sleep since he was toddler in the car, banging his head against the back of his car seat in an effort not to give into the demands of napping.

My boy is strong, in more ways than one, he has the kind of strength that can frustrate a parent. He has always been this way, since he was young and took the word no as a sign that I just wouldn’t do something for him, not that he couldn’t do it himself, an obstacle rather than a dead-end.

As frustrating (and, sometimes, worrisome) as his behaviors can be, a brief conversation with another parent, last year, reminded me of what I’ve always known in my heart. The qualities that make can make him difficult are the same qualities that also make him great.

The conversation came as I was sitting on the lacrosse field, watching my son hit an older teammate in the helmet with his lacrosse stick. I thought aloud “Why?” Especially, since I had just talked to him about this exact behavior right before we got to practice. He had been in an ongoing battle with one of his teammates, who had teased him for missing a ball. My advice, which he clearly wasn’t taking, was to ignore the kid.

A dad, I knew, was standing next to me and not wanting him to think my son was just an obnoxious punk (because half of parenting is worrying what other parents think), I explained that ever since this older kid had made fun of my son for missing a ball, my son had had it out for him, and so the battle spurred on. But, as I explained to the father, I didn’t want my son to get caught up in fighting with another boy, I just wanted him to ignore him. But my son, being who he is, couldn’t let it go.

The dad looked at me and said very matter-of-factly, “He doesn’t take shit from people. Maybe, that’s not a bad thing.”

I have carried those not very profound words with me, ever since. That day I came to realize that perception is everything, and while I don’t want my kid going to battle over every slight or taunt, I decided that I also shouldn’t be angry with him for sticking up for himself.

My perception of him will shape his image of himself. I can choose to see my son’s qualities as negative or positive. I can see his stubbornness as defiance, or something that will carry him far some day. I can see his strength as something to be conquered, or a quality that is admirable. I can see his determination as exhausting, or exhilarating. I can teach him to channel and refine his qualities and lead him on a path to greatness, or I can teach him that those same qualities make him bad and unmanageable.

I choose to see the good. My smart, funny, stubborn, strong, determined boy celebrated his ninth birthday, the other day, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.IMG_6999

Let’s Talk About Thanksgiving

Let’s talk about Thanksgiving, because that’s how we roll around here. While the over achievers of the world started blogging about Thanksgiving the day after Halloween or possibly sooner, I like to wait until the holiday is over, it makes my post so much more irrelevant original.

Besides, I’m not really going to talk about Thanksgiving, except to give you the broad overview and just a few pictures because my camera died while I was away, thus ruining my chance for my Story Book Land Christmas card photo op. IMG_6939We had a nice time celebrating at my mom’s, over indulging, making our aforementioned black Friday Story Book Land trip, which is always awesome, but this year, very, very cold, and basically, just hanging out.IMG_6935

IMG_6944The cousins always enjoy time at Grandma’s. These two played a lot of Go Fish. IMG_6930And on Friday, everyone was feeling ambitious and so went to the park to launch a rocket and then play a spirited game of basketball. That is everyone but me. I had other ambitions.

I’ve decided that watching House Hunters international on the couch, in your pajamas the day after Thanksgiving is the greatest motivator to planning a spring break. This year, I felt like I kept missing the mark for vacations. Our annual Hershey trip (for the birthdays) was foiled by bad weather. My grand design of a Christmas week ski vacation was thwarted by other ambitious travelers who, unbeknownst to me, booked their vacations in the summer, rendering almost every location occupied or ridiculously expensive, as in $10,000 for a room over Christmas week (I’m talking to you Stowe)! And, after spending an afternoon on the soccer sidelines, about a month ago, listening to everyone discuss their spring break plans, I was beginning to worry that I was going to be shut out of that week, too.

It is not my thing to travel on school breaks (or plan ahead, obviously). I see nothing good about booking a trip when the rest of the United States also wants to book a trip, because it means every location is crowded and over priced. But, alas, the school district does not care about what I want. Last year, after receiving three very official notices informing me that I was endanger of being fined, or worse, going to court because my son, who, by the way, is an A student, had missed too many unexcused days of school, I decided it maybe best if we plan our big vacations for the actual days my children are off school and save the two day trips (like skiing) for those five unexcused absences.

Now, I don’t really think that I would have been fined because of my son’s absences, or that my son would have been retained, either, because I was a teacher and I know how this stuff works (and I know what real truancy looks like, versus vacation truancy) but, honestly, I don’t need unnecessary hassle in my life, or days and days of make-up homework, or some over zealous specials teacher marking my son’s report card with too many unexcused absences as the reason for his S, as opposed to an O for outstanding (true story).

So, as it happened on that day after Thanksgiving, while I was binge watching HGTV, a family was relocating from their native Chicago to Turks and Caicos. I was seduced. Turks and Caicos was already on my radar after hearing people (on that same soccer field mentioned previously) rave about how Beaches Turks and Caicos is so wonderful. They spoke so highly of it, that that day, I immediately went home from the soccer game determined to book a vacation. Silly girl. The only option available to us for spring break week, was an all inclusive stay for $20,000!  That did not even include airfare. Twenty thousand dollars! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Some people don’t even make that in a year. Now, I’m sure there are cheaper options at Beaches (at least I hope), but along with the over achieving skiers, other spring breakers knew to snatch those rooms up way before October.

But HGTV reminded me that there is more than one pony show on the island, and so I feverishly went to work researching, planning, and booking.  After hours of pouring over TripAdvisor reviews, checking out prices and websites, I felt elated to find a condo community, that wasn’t quite cheap, but was way more reasonable than Beaches and almost every other resort on the island, right on the beach. I booked it. Fatigued from all my research, i.e., six hours on the computer, I called it a day.

The next morning, when we returned home from my mom’s, I set out to book our flight. I never know which is better when booking vacations, especially during high travel times, booking the hotel first or the flight. In the past, I’ve usually booked the hotel. In this case, though, my method wasn’t working. Not only was I having trouble finding direct flights for my days, every flight was grossly over priced, with very limited seats. There wasn’t a single good option for the days I had booked the hotel.

That night, I went to bed depressed thinking that we had, again, missed the vacation mark, because although we had a hotel, we had no way of getting there, but, it’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for you. The next morning, I woke up determined to either figure it out, or find another spring break location. After five thousand more hours on the Internet, and with a lot of help from American Express travel, and a little shifting of our travel dates, we are locked and loaded and ready to go!turks picTurks and Caicos, here we come! Well, not, yet, but you know what I mean. And for that, I am truly thankful.

Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde Gets Ready for School

IMG_4071My daughter seems to be suffering from a personality disorder when it comes to getting ready for school. It rears its ugly head in the morning, and, hopefully (fingers double crossed), is not an indication of what her teen years will bring.

Every morning with her is an ordeal. Gone is my easy going child, lost in a moment of temporary insanity, triggered by what to wear to school. With my boys, it’s easy, one grabs the first thing he sees in his drawers and he’s done. If he’s worn it fifty million times already, and it’s ratty, well even better. I actually have to bury clothes in drawers, especially on weeks when I’m on top of my laundry, because it doesn’t matter if it’s the same shirt he wore two days ago, or shorts, when it’s a mere forty degrees out, he looks no further than the top.  If I protest or show him nicer options he insists, he won’t be cold, he doesn’t care, he’s ready. I said it was easy, I didn’t say it was always pretty. But everyday, that boy is dressed and ready, and the first one down at the bus stop. He likes to win. My older son, he’d be happy if I just laid out an outfit for him (which I don’t), as long as it’s polyester (who knew polyester would make such a comeback) and has an elastic waist, he’s good to go.

Little Lady, though, she’s a nightmare.  First of all, she has no sense of urgency when it comes to school. Mornings, these days, are for sitting on the couch with her reindeer antlers on, watching tv, not getting ready for school. That’s for losers.  When I finally do get her fed and upstairs, the drama only escalates.  Yesterday, in an effort to get her the hell out of the house  get her to school on time, in a somewhat appropriate outfit, I laid out two choices for her on her bed, right down to the socks and underwear, and told her to get dressed. Of the clothes that I picked out, the only item she decided to wear was the navy blue underwear. I know this because they were clearly visible through her too tight pink stretch pants, that were not even partially covered by her short-sleeved, waist length t-shirt. She was also barefoot.

Listen, I’m not one to get all crazy about what my daughter wears to school (see middle child), but I do have some boundaries, ill-fitting clothes, with the crotch halfway down the thigh because they don’t fit, with underwear clearly visible underneath are a deal breaker. “Oh, no,” I said, “you have to change. I can see your underwear through your pants.”

“I’m not changing!” she yelled back with the smugness of a teenager.

For goodness sakes, just two days ago, on a trip to Target, she was obsessed with wrapping her sweatshirt around her waist because she had a tiny hole in the butt of her stretch pants. Yesterday, she was ready to bear her heart patterned, navy blue underwear to the world.

She eventually changed, with much to do, stomping out of the house, declaring, rather rudely, I might add, that she only likes dresses. “Don’t you know that [moron]!”

So, today, I laid out a cute little dress on her bed. When I finally got her upstairs, she said, “I’m not wearing that! Why do I have to wear a dress?!”

Say what? I started to revisit yesterday’s conversation with her, but quickly realized the futility of trying to reason with a crazy person, and instead, threw some stretch pants, a shirt long enough to cover her butt and socks at her, and left her to get dressed.

She came down without the socks.

Of course.

“You forgot your socks,” I said.

“Then why don’t you go get them!” she countered. Holy sass!

“No,” I said, “go upstairs and put your socks on.”

“I’m not wearing socks! I HATE socks!”

Pray for me people.

She eventually got those socks on and good thing she did, because that’s how she left the house, in socks, with no time to get her sneakers on, until we were parked down at the bus stop, bus on its way. Let’s hope this phase is short-lived.

Another Birthday

Holy Moly! Time is a flying! My beautiful, compassionate, smart, talented boy turned eleven, last week.

When you’re in the throes of the toddler years, especially with other children in tow, time can go so painstakingly slow that you don’t believe your children will ever grow up. But they do, my friend, they do.

IMG_4048I think I say this every year, but I’ll say it again, it was in giving birth to this child, that I learned what it meant to really love another human being. Boy, do I love this kid.