Cranky Vent: Gender Stereotyping

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Can I vent for a second?

I’ve seen a bunch of these “Things You Should Know About Raising Boys/Girls” lists lately and they are really bugging me.

Of course there is some truth to all of them but more often than not, I read these things and find myself saying, “Um… that was just as true with my daughter [or sons].”

I’m not going to link to specific columns because I know the authors have good intentions and are just trying to relate to other parents and be funny and hey, I get that… BUT these gender stereotypes are killing me!

Read this line in a column about raising boys:

“Watch a girl the same age as your nonstop ball of energy sit quietly and use glitter glue for 45 minutes and you may want to cry.”

Seriously?

First of all, I would be crying if I were the Mom of the kid using glitter glue for 45 minutes! You know how messy that shit is??

Second of all, it’s true that lots of girls like glitter glue and will sit quietly. You know who won’t? LOTS of OTHER GIRLS. Including my own. And guess what… the Nibbit loves glitter glue, too.

Here are some other doozies quotes I’ve gathered from various columns:

“Boys don’t stop moving.”
You know who else doesn’t stop moving? ALL TODDLERS. And many preschoolers. And also, many kids ages 0-18. And my daughter. Since she was born, she was known as “Constant Motion Baby” for this exact reason.

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“[Your daughter’s] desire to borrow your heels, jewels, handbags and more will start as soon as she can walk and talk (and grow from there).”
I actually don’t know one single girl who has this desire. I’m sure they are out there, but it’s just not widespread in my world. My own daughter would rather pay me her First Communion money than try on clothes or heels.

“Clothes shopping will be a piece of cake [with boys].”
Oh really? I guess you don’t have a three-year old SON who refuses to wear anything he deems “handsome” and a five-and-a-half-year old who only wants “sports shirts” or “shiny shorts.”

“Boys love to cuddle.”
This is true… <she types with her daughter in her lap.>

“Buy yourself a good set of headphones that block out noise. Girls talk. A lot.”
As opposed to boys, who are so quiet all the damn day long. Why won’t they just speak up?

“Roughhousing is innate [with boys].”
GUESS WHO INVENTED WRESTLE BABY??

You’ll buy her stuff she doesn’t need.”
Hey, don’t blame your compulsive shopping addiction on your kid, girl OR boy!

“There will be balls and sports equipment EVERYWHERE.”
Three words for you: TITLE IX, A-HOLE. (Or is that two words and a number? Whatever.)

GIRLS.

GIRLS.

“She’ll strike a sexy pose.”
UGH.

“The goofiness starts early [with boys].”
This one refers to general silliness and predisposition to potty humor. I’m going to go out on a limb and say EVERY SINGLE KID I KNOW is silly sometimes. And you know who laughs at fart jokes? EVERYONE AT THE DINNER TABLE… whether they want to or not.

She's laughing at a fart joke.

Yup, fart joke.

“Provide your daughter with good role models.”
… and throw your boys to the wolves! Or Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong. Same thing.

“Boys adore their Moms.”
GIRLS HATE THEIR MOMS.

And then there’s the generic “You’re house will be covered in cars, Legos and guns if you have boys!” and “… dress-up clothes, Barbies and art supplies if you have girls!

Wait, is that a dress AND a sexy pose?!? Oh oh.

Wait, is that a dress AND a sexy pose?!?

Boys like sports!

Girls like dolls!

Boys are noisy and destructive!

Girls are creative and sensitive!

Boys make a mess!

Girls bring the drama!

Boys like math!

Girls like boys!

Art

Hold the phone, are those boys doing ART??

Please stop.

*KIDS can be noisy and destructive.

*KIDS may be creative and sensitive.

*KIDS often make messes and create the drama and like math and yup, maybe even like boys.

ALL OF THEM HAVE SWORDS.

ALL OF THEM HAVE SWORDS.

Look, I try hard to avoid the soapbox – mostly because I’m too lazy to climb up (brings back bad memories of step-aerobics <shudder>) – but if you are a parent of both a son or a daughter OR if you have nieces and nephews OR if you’ve ever come into contact with a child of the “other” gender, then I don’t have to tell you that every kid is different.

Of course some kids “fit” the stereotypes but so so so so so many don’t. So let’s drop the generalizations.

If you want to talk about JUST boys, limit the conversation to “How to change a diaper while he pees in your face.” And the list about girls? “Wipe front to back.” That’s about it.

But if you want to write a list about ALL kids, well, that’s a different story.

So, here’s mine:

Top 9 Things You Need to Know About Parenting Boys. Girls.

  1. It’s hard. SUPER hard.
  2. They all have a boatload of effing energy.
  3. They all whine a lot and have big meltdowns AND are also all cute and funny.
  4. They’ll ALL love something… maybe art (glitter!), maybe sports (balls!), maybe reading, maybe cars, maybe clothes, maybe screens (probably screens)… maybe all of the above and your house will be full of the product of that passion.
  5. They have a TON of questions. ALL. QUESTIONS. ALL. OF. THE. TIME.
  6. Your house will always be a mess (glitter! balls!). And if it’s not a mess, then be honest, it’s because you’ve shoved everything into closets. PS. You’ll care a little bit less about this with each kid.
  7. They’re loud. All of them. Even the shy ones are loud at home.
  8. None of them like to sleep when they’re young. (And from what I hear, they all like to sleep too much when they’re older. But this Promised Land seems light years away to me.)
  9. They’re all exhausting. And amazing. And UNIQUE.

ALL of them.

A Summer Letter

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Dear Kids,

Just a quick little check-in this morning while you’re all busy at camp taking nature walks and playing in sprinklers and learning how to shoot with bows and arrows.*

*Archery is the Nibbit’s favorite camp activity… being as he ONLY wanted a bow and arrows for Christmas last year, I’d say at least he’s consistent, if not totally, scarily violent.

Hasn’t this summer been AWESOME so far?

I wanted to tell you that I’ve been watching you the past few weeks… really seeing you… and I’m kind of amazed by you guys!

Happy Dude, you are a really, really big kid now. You do almost everything by yourself – get dressed, brush your teeth, go the bathroom, even SWIM (with a vest, but still).

This is the first summer that Daddy and I don’t have to rock/paper/scissor over who’s going in the pool with you guys! And you know what’s happened? We usually both WANT to swim , because now it’s actually fun. Sure, you all become complete barnacles in the water but playing pool games is so much more fun than being a mere flotation device for a baby.

(Side note: I could write a whole post on Moms avoiding swimming because of body issues and fear of bathing suits, but I won’t. First of all, because it’s already been done well, like here and here and second of all, because this summer, I’m just saying, “eff it, who cares, just swim” and that would be a really short blog post.)

Let me be super clear HD, you will always be the baby of this family. I still scoop you up and squeeze your little legs and tickle you too much. In fact, I’ve been doing it more often because I know my “scooping you up” days are numbered. Your brother and sister still pick up your slack when it comes to cleaning up dinner dishes or toys. And you’ll always get away with things a tiny bit more than they did. And that’s just what it means to be the baby. Take it from me dude, next time you feel sad that you can’t go on the camp bus with LO and the Nib because you’re “only free-and-a-half,” remember that you’re lucky to be the youngest.

But the more you play the same games as the big kids, and ride your new big boy bike and put on your own shoes and explain things to be with your little earnest face searching for the proper words (“how does that say it again?”), the more I see the baby days slipping away.

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Nibbit, let me talk to you for a second. On April 25, 2013, I wrote you this letter. You and I, we were in kind of a bad place back then. And by that, I mean, you were really acting like a jerk and I was spending a lot of my time trying not to completely lose my … it.

Well, what a difference 15 months makes. Aside from the many references to “poopy diapers” you make each day, you have become quite the delight, which really gives credibility to the phrase “this too shall pass.” Because let me tell you, I was NOT sure that “that too was going to pass.” At some point, I started questioning whether it was, indeed, a phase or if you were, in fact, just kind of an a-hole. Turns out, you’re AWESOME!

Let me tell you this story. A couple of months ago, you asked for a specific Spiderman Lego set that you had seen online. I told you that you should put it on your birthday list, but you weren’t thrilled about that because as you said, “My birthday is sooooo far away!” (True.) You asked me if there was any way you could earn the Lego set so we struck up a deal. You could earn points by being extra helpful around the house; each point was worth 50¢. You needed 24 points for that Lego set and you were determined to do it. Cleaning, helping HD, yard work… you did it all.

You finally earned your Lego set this weekend (which unbeknownst to you, I had already ordered and received) and I was worried that when we gave it to you, you would be disappointed… because the box was TINY. It was so small and you had worked so hard. I thought you were expecting one of those huge Lego kits and this was … not. But Daddy gave it to you and you LOVED it. You immediately put the Spiderman car together and have been playing with it since.

You even let HD have a turn, but of course, you reminded him to, “… be gentle with it, HD… I worked hard to get this.” And then you asked me if you could keep earning points for more Legos.

Um, yeah. You can.

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Lastly, I’ve been watching you, Loud One. We spent that first week of your summer together with no plans and I loved every minute – hiking, making art, getting a manicure, baking… you are seriously good company now.

I’ve been watching you read big books by yourself and loving your first book club meeting. I’ve watched you write more elaborate stories, fleshing out characters and perfecting illustrations. I’ve watched you analyze your birthday party options to maximize celebration time. (I respect that.)

And I’ve watched you try so many new things this summer with no hesitation. “New camp? Sure, I’ll try it. I won’t know anybody? No problem, I’ll make new friends.”

And then I see you with those new friends… at a birthday party or at the beach, fearlessly collecting crabs and snails in a bucket, which is NOT unusual, but interacting with these peers in a way that seems so different to me – it’s a “I’m figuring out who I am and I don’t need any intervention from you, Mom” kind of way.

You’re all growing up. I can’t stand it! Just kidding. (Not really.)

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You know, we all have to do this, guys. We all have to figure out who we want to be – for ourselves and for the people we want to surround ourselves with. We make choices about what we say and how we act and those choices dictate the types of relationships we have with our friends and family. That’s not to say you should EVER be someone you’re not, for the sake of someone else. It means you SHOULD be your best self and as a result, you will attract other best selves and therefore, you’ll always be surrounded by good, honest, kind people who will have your back.

That barely makes sense to me, so if you’re reading this before you turn 42, I’m sure it doesn’t make sense to you, but just trust me.

In the meantime, let’s keep loving summer. You guys keep playing Wrestle Baby, although now that you’ve added kicking and slapping to the mix, it’s only allowed upstairs where I can’t see it. Keep playing spies and ninjas and sports guys and superheroes and pet store. Keep swimming and jumping off diving boards and higher diving boards. Keep playing made-up games involving crashing cars and brave knights. Keep drawing and writing and making art. Keep exploring the backyard and the beach and keep learning to ride bigger bikes. Keep up all the good kid work.

And most importantly, keep being good to each other.

Love you to googolplex,

Mom

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You guys are SO supportive!

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OK, I have a few hours to get stuff done while the kids are at camp today… here’s my list:

  • Do the dishes/clean the kitchen
  • Gather although the damp towels and bathing suits from all over the house
  • Do that laundry
  • Make the kids’ allergist appointments/call in new EpiPen prescriptions
  • Go to CVS for pick-up
  • Organize all the stuff that’s accumulated on the basement stairs before someone trips and breaks his/her neck
  • Yoga class
  • Figure out something for dinner
  • Go to store and buy necessary dinner ingredients
  • Prepare said dinner ahead of time to avoid mad 5:30pm rush
  • Schedule mammogram (ugh)
  • Artkive all the kids artwork from the past five years

OK, what should I do first? Wait, what? What’s that you say? I should IGNORE this list and instead curl up with my book?? Oh no, I couldn’t do that… there’s so much to get done!

What? You think I deserve a break? You’re too kind, really, but define “deserve,” because I’m pretty sure that doesn’t apply here. I have a lot of breaks. No, seriously.

But if you’re truly convinced that I should take some time to read this morning, then, maybe I should listen to you. I mean, you sound REALLY sure… almost like you’ve had a premonition of something bad happening if I DON’T take my book out to the patio right now.

What’s that you’re saying now? I should eat some leftover Cannoli Nachos while I read? Oh well now you’re just getting crazy. Because it’s not even 11:00am yet. And also because I just had some last night. I mean, let’s not get carried away.

But if you’re SURE that I should ignore my To Do list and take some time with my book, then who am I to argue? I mean, it doesn’t really feel right… but it also doesn’t feel wrong. I suppose I could just sit outside in the sun for a little bit and enjoy not being sprayed by the hose.

I guess the dishes can wait; they’re certainly not going anywhere. And we do have a lot of extra towels. The bathing suits will eventually just dry on their own… and a little chlorine smell never killed anyone, right?

Yeah, maybe you’re onto something.

US soccer is at 4:00pm so let’s be honest, pizza is PROBABLY in our future AND I can certainly do some cat/cow stretches on my family room floor… so OK, you’re really starting to convince me now!

Mammogram scheduling can wait a day. Artkive-ing has waited five years, another few days of artwork is no big deal. And I’ll just stick a “Watch your step!” Post-It on the basement door… most of the family members can read.

And lastly, I’m SURE expired Epi-Pens don’t lose their effectiveness RIGHT AWAY, right? Aren’t those expiration dates a big pharmaceutical scam? And it’s not like I’m going to give them peanut butter cookies or anything <gulp>, so OK, you’ve sold me… read my book it is!

Hey, THANKS you guys! I really appreciate this encouragement to take some ME time. For what’s it’s worth, I think you guys deserve some Me time today, too. And Cannoli Nachos.

OK then, I’m off to read… good talk.

 

CANNOLI NACHOS

Mmmmmmm……

Nothing is Awesome.

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Ever have a day where you were just nailing it? Everything you said was making people laugh and everything you wrote just worked. You were FUNNY. Man, were you funny. People were calling their friends to say, “Oh man, that girl is FUNNY!”

You made people laugh all day long – in person, texts, emails, status updates, hashtags… you were just on?

So OF COURSE when you got home you wrote a blog post and OF COURSE it just POURED out of you and you just chuckled to yourself the entire time, shaking your head, saying, “I am ON FIRE today… WHAT. IS. UP. WITH. ME??”

Maybe you wrote funny stories in detail about how your daughter got a palate expander torture device put in her mouth and how that’s been nothing but GOOD TIMES all around? About how charming the sound of one trying to clear food out of a metal trap on the roof on one’s mouth can be?

Oh and did you also describe how just when you were feeling really confident in your kids degree of potty trainedness, he decided that the potty is often just too damn far away and you know what’s closer? HIS UNDERWEAR. Oh and that sometimes when you peel away the wet underwear, he says, “Oh, THAT’S awkward” like a 13-year old girl?

Or perhaps you described your embarrassment over something like the fact that your middle child ate pizza SIX TIMES this week, but you described it in SUCH a funny way that no one was judging you for what clearly borders on nutritional abuse?

Did you answer YES? As in, YES, you HAVE had a day like that where funny shit just poured out of you all day long?

Well, how effing nice for you. And also, I hate you.

Because I am NOT having that day. And I have not had that day for … well…  shut up. 

Nothing is funny. Nothing is rolling. Nothing is awesome. (Get it? It’s the LEGO humor from the title? <sigh>)

So instead of all that detailed hilarity, I’m going to share with you The Nibbit’s poem. I think it’s really good.

MONSTER FIGHT
by The Nibbit

The two hippos wanted to fight.

The hippos were

DIZZY

BOAT

HIBO

RASPBERRY

DRAGON

Came to fly

Monster fight.

*CLEARLY, the Nibbit was having one of those magical days. 

 

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe PALETTE EXPANDERS are AWESOME.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe PALATE EXPANDERS are AWESOME.

“YOU DON’T LOVE ME!”

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Hey Kids,

In one of my last posts, I mentioned how no matter what you do, I will always love you. One of my friends read it and asked me if I’ve gotten the, “YOU DON’T LOVE ME!” yet. Luckily, I haven’t but I’m sure someday, when you’re not getting something you want, like a video game or a car or a boyfriend’s approval, I’m going to hear it.

When that happens, I’m going to say something like, “Come on now, you know that’s not true,” and you’re going to say, “IT IS SO TRUE!” and then you’re going to try to think of ways to prove it. Well, I’ve decided to make it easier for you.

Here is a list of things that I’m currently doing and probably will still be doing when you are looking for the evidence of my un-love.

  • I yell at you. More than any of us would like.
  • I feel joy when Daddy offers to take all three of you out for a while. And maybe – just maybe – I express that joy out loud. With jubilance.
  • I don’t make it to every single school event like the Walk-a-Thon or Field Day or Readers Showcase. USUALLY I’m missing one to attend another, but I’ll admit, once in a blue moon, I’m missing one to attend Starbucks.
  • Sometimes when you ask me to play with you, I say Sorry, I can’t because I’m working. Heh heh. And I know that that particular jig will be up soon but so far you’re still buying it, so I’m still selling it.

Side note: When you do start to question my computer work, you should know that these are just a few of things I’m doing on the computer instead of playing our 18th game of War.

      • Researching your summer plans like art camp, lacrosse camp, ice hockey camp, general sports camp, swim lessons, swim camp, all-around sports and swim camp, space camp, music camp, farm camp.
      • Vacation planning: checking out drivable family resorts, dude ranches, amusement parks, houses in the Outer Banks, things to do in the car for twelve hours when you drive to the Outer Banks, legal and safe ways to drug your kids when you need to be in the car for twelve hours.
      • Shopping for clothes that have no tags, no seams, no ruffles, nothing but soft, loose fabric and nothing scratchy whatsoever. Oh and for “sports shorts and sports shirts… because that’s the only things I like,” says the Nibbit.
      • Dealing with official second grade class mom business and preschool politics – field trips and teacher gifts and end-of-the-year parties, oh my.
      • Organizing playdates and buying birthday party presents and more swim goggles.
      • Googling “Swimming Candy Birthday Parties… with Animals.”
      • Sure, it’s possible that I dropped in on Facebook for a minute here and there, but even THAT was to complain brag about you guys!

You get the point. Stop whining about my WORK. It’s important. For all of us.

  • I make you taste foods you KNOW you’ll HATE because they’re DISGUSTING. And then, to make matters worse, I refuse to give you brownie sundaes every single day.
  • I force you to look people in the eye and say, “Hello,” or “Thank you for the ride” or “Thank you for having me to your house for three hours and feeding me a nicer meal than I would have gotten at home.”
  • I get distracted when you’re asking me questions like “How is paper made?” or “Can we play Candyland every day, all the time?” or “Yesterday, when I was born, was it raining?” (all real questions)
  • I encourage you to try new things like riding a two-wheeler or putting your dirty laundry in the laundry basket or sleeping past 6-0-0.
  • I throw away some of your art. A lot of your art. Most of your art. But c’mon, is it really “ART?”
  • I say, “… in a minute!” too often. And then make you wait a tiny bit longer than that.
  • I’m always making you brush your teeth or go to the bathroom or change into clothes or pajamas or clean up your toys or [insert any of the many things I’m currently nagging you about when this becomes relevant].
  • I won’t always play one more game, give five more minutes, sing one more song or stay just a little longer.

OK, is that enough “proof” for you to throw at me? Go ahead, sling it. I’m ready.

But here’s the thing –  you will NEVER be more wrong than the day you think – or yell – that I don’t love you. There isn’t a more wrong sentiment in the world. That’s the absolute wrongest.

No matter how much I nag or how mean I am, regardless of my unfair rules or my embarrassing ways and most importantly, no matter how misunderstood you feel, you should always know that you are LOVED. You are my most important work. Even more important than shopping on Zappos.

You guys, you know I always want you to be happy. But that’s a tricky thing to say because right now, you would say, “Then just give me ice cream everyday!” and in a few years, you’ll say, “Then just trust that I won’t do anything stupid and let me stay out all night!” And so it goes.

I DO want you to be happy but not at the expense of the physical or emotional well-being of yourselves or others. So I’m not always going to give you what you think you need for happiness – a toy, a snack, permission. In fact, I will probably be saying no a LOT for the next 20 years.

But that will NEVER EVER EVER mean that I don’t love you. In fact, it will usually mean quite the opposite. And that is something you will probably not understand until if and when you have a kid of your own.

Because I do love you. No matter what you do. No matter where you go. No matter who you are. 

So go ahead yell “YOU DON’T LOVE ME!” all you want. You will NEVER be more wrong.

xoxo
Mom

PS. This is all true for Dad, too. He’ll probably say “no” even more than I will… but he loves you forever, too.
PPS. It’s likely that I’ve said some of this exact same stuff in past posts or letters to you guys. But this is a message that doesn’t get old. So roll your eyes and say, “Maaaaa! You already told us that like 100 times!” I don’t care. I still love you. See?

 

BIRTHS

Mom’s Annual Review

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When you work for a company, it is often policy for every employee to receive an annual review. Ideally, this is a positive experience; one that possibly ends with some kind of bonus or token of the company’s appreciation.

To me, Mother’s Day should be like that. Only instead of a pen or a mug, the “token” should be something custom-made for the employee Mom, something that will make her feel valued.

Being a Mom is our most important – and maybe only – job. It’s a job that requires long hours and often uncomfortable working conditions (let’s face it, we touch a LOT of poop.)

It’s a job for which we are NOT receiving regular compensation or routine praise. There’s no boss saying, “Hey, GREAT job on those puréed carrots today!” or “Fantastic work negotiating that sibling rivalry… I thought for sure that was going to get violent until you stepped in!” or lastly, “Stellar performance with preparing those three meals EVERY DAY… great balance of carbs and protein… AND you’ve managed to cut sugar in half! Well done!”

In my mind, Mother’s Day is really the chance for the family to offer that kind of feedback. In other words, we want to hear during our 360° performance evaluation:

  • You’re doing an excellent job; you are a prized team member.
  • We truly value the astonishing contribution you’ve made to the family this past year.
  • Even though you don’t do perfect work everyday, we can tell you’re working really hard and we want you to know how grateful we are.
  • Keep up the AMAZING work!

We want to feel respected. And know that our contributions – and let’s face it, they are massive – are appreciated.

In most companies families, there’s also a token of that appreciation. Maybe it’s flowers. Maybe it’s jewelry. Maybe it’s a homemade macaroni necklace. Maybe it’s an afternoon alone to go to the movies. It’s up to each organization to come up with their own policy regarding gift-giving, but the message should be the same:

We love you and we think you’re the BEST.

*Dads, let me tell you something. We want to hear this message from our kids, but we also want to hear it from you. It’s true, we are not YOUR mother, but we are raising YOUR kids… this is the day to tell us that you think we’re going a kickass job. Just saying. 

(For what it’s worth, I know that very few husbands are reading this… maybe you can forward to them? Add the subject line “HUGE SPORTS NEWS!” just in case.)

From 2003 through 2006, Mother’s Day sucked for me. Then, in 2007, I celebrated my first Mother’s Day and thought it would be AMAZING, but you know what? It’s still very, very bittersweet. (I’ve written a lot more about this in my original Mother’s Day blog post.) So, I often just request alone time and the tradition has become for KJ to take our kids to visit his mother in NJ.

It goes without saying that this tradition has nothing to do with my feelings towards my mother-in-law or obviously, my kids, ALL of whom I love very much.

*I kind of want to repeat that: if you are someone – like me – who likes time AWAY from your kids as your Mother’s Day compensation, I do NOT think you are a terrible person. I also do not believe that means you love your kids one iota less than the Mom who wants her kids crawling all over her during breakfast in bed before dressing and heading out to brunch together. We’re ALL good.

Instead, it has everything to do with the facts that 1.) Mother’s Day sucks a little for me so I’ve always appreciated some alone time and 2.) my kids are amazing but also EXHAUSTING and I’m with them almost all the time, so yes, it’s a treat to have my house to myself for a few hours every year.

Bottom line, I don’t think it’s that hard to make us Moms happy… I really don’t. It’s about finding a special way to give us a glowing review on our job performance for this past year. :)

See? Easy, peasy.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, to all of you hard-working team members out there. You’re doing GREAT work. 

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PS. I just read THIS BLOG POST about an author who asked people to describe their mothers in one word and is currently collecting the answers in a “cloud.” (Click on the link… you’ll see.)

Some are very predictable… LOVING, GENEROUS, STRONG.

Some are sad… ALCOHOLIC, ANGRY, NARCISSIST

(One made me laugh… VACUUM. Hmmm?)

I knew the word I would submit for my mother immediately:

MISSED

But that’s a description of her NOW, not who she was when she was alive. That one is easy, too. In fact I’ve used it about 976 to describe her on this blog alone so I’m sure it won’t be a surprise…

WARM

I decided to take a real leap of faith and ask my kids to describe me in one word. Here’s what I got:

The Loud One: AWESOME!

Nice.

The Nibbit: LONG HAIR

So, we have an inability to follow directions BUT other than that, I’m ok with it. It’s better than some of the other words I half-expected him to say.

Then I asked Happy Dude and he actually thought about it. Said “Hmmmm…” for a few seconds and then yelled,

COMMANDER!

My work here is done.

I’d love to hear your one-word descriptors for your Moms… please share. And definitely ask your children to describe you and share those, too. I promise, the Commander won’t judge.

 

MothersDay

Five Questions… say YES!

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I know you have probably been wondering when I am going to start dispensing valuable parenting advice again, because it’s been a while, right? (Or maybe never.) Well, the answer is NOT ANYTIME SOON because VALUABLE parenting advice is not really in my wheelhouse.

But, RUBBISH parenting advice is right up my alley, so let’s get to it! I present to you…

The Top Five Questions Our Kids Ask to Which We Should Always Answer “YES!”*
(*no matter how lazy we’re feeling)

1. “Can I help you with that?”

UGH. It’s so annoying when they want to help assemble the toy/fold the laundry/organize your stationery drawer (shut up, I do have one) because let’s face it, they’re really not that good at any of those things and it’s going to take a lot longer.

The worst is when they want to help with cooking! I know that cooking with kids is some people’s favorite thing to do. Well, those people are certifiable. (I’m going to admit that I don’t really know what that means… like they would qualify for a certificate that says they’re really crazy? And what’s crazy anyway? Enjoying cooking with your kids, definitely, but besides that, who’s to say?)

Anyway, I GUARANTEE those are the same people who LOVE to cook and say things like, “I swear, this recipe is seriously so simple to make! Once you let the garlic reduction simmer with the gumbo paste, the only thing left is to let it baste and leaven for 12 hours and then you’re done… with the first step.”

Look, I don’t cook that often and when I do, I BARELY know what I’m doing. The last thing I need to do is worry about is my kid using sugar instead of salt or worse, chopping a finger off.

But here’s the thing… if kids are showing the interest and initiative in asking to help, we should let them. Because… well, helping is good so we should encourage it. (See, rubbish!) I’m sure they’re learning valuable lessons about toy assembly/laundry/organization and also, teamwork. Yes, teamwork! Also, it’s bonding time, so if you get your QT in doing stuff you have to do anyway, you don’t have to play Chutes and Ladders, again! BONUS!

2. “Will you read to me?”

Say yes. Say yes. We should say yes. Reading is good. It’s like the single most important factor in making our kids smart and productive and pretty. (Wait, what?) I KNOW you’re trying to share your Cinco de Mayo pictures with your FB friends, which is an extremely time-sensitive project, but put it on hold and tell your kid, “SURE! I’d love to read to you!” and then pick a very, very short book.

PS. The same answer does NOT apply to the question “Will you PLAY with me?” It is perfectly acceptable – nay, encouraged – to say NO to that question. Kids need to learn to entertain themselves. Three articles on HuffPost Parents told me so.

3. “Can I show you something?”

Have you ever been in the middle of something EXTREMELY important (like ordering chick lit on Amazon or researching Mila Kunis’ pregnancy) when your child approaches and says, “Mom, can I show you something?” 90% of the time, it’s something like the “Superhero Hospital” they’ve built out of four wooden blocks. The other 10% of the time, it’s the toilet they’ve clogged or the wall that they’ve colored. Either way, we should see it. EVEN if we’ve seen 106 other Superhero Hospitals this week and even if we don’t really want to see the Sharpie Art, we should stand up and look. Because regardless of whether they feel proud, ashamed or simply want to share something with us, the answer should be yes.

(It goes without saying that “Can I tell you/talk to you about something?” should get immediate attention. How else will we find out who got sent to the Principal’s office or that our kid is bummed that Joey has the new Skylander and they really want it, too? Sure at ages three, five, and even seven, the “something” is not usually BIG news, but I have to remind myself that by saying “YES, please tell me!” now, I’m setting the message – you can talk to me anytime, you can tell me anything, I am interested - for the later years.

4. “Do you like… this picture I drew? …watching me play soccer? …coming to my school to read to my class? …playing with me?”

It’s not that hard to say yes to these questions, but we have to watch the follow-up. (OK, maybe you don’t, but I do.) For instance, I think this exchange is perfectly fine:

Happy Dude: Do you like this picture that I drew? (FYI, it’s four blue dots on a page.)
Me: Yes, I do like it! I also love orange, do you think you could add some orange?

But this is probably NOT OK:

Happy Dude: Do you like this picture I drew? (same picture)
Me: Um, well, no… because there are ONLY FOUR BLUE DOTS ON THIS PAGE and that shows a serious lack of imagination.

Another example:

The Nibbit: Do you like watching me play soccer?
Me: Yes! But I get a little curious about why there’s so much crazy motion going on with your arms… I don’t know a lot about soccer, so maybe you can tell me more about what’s happening with your elbows.

(Mom of the Year!)

The Nibbit: Do you like watching me play soccer?
Me: Actually, not so much today. Sure you tried hard, but you gotta stop elbowing kids to the ground. You’re going to get thrown out of the game and maybe also not have any friends.

(We are NOT filling anyone’s bucket with that kind of talk.)

Please note: The “Do you like…” question is very different from “Am I good at… “ That one is way trickier, so I just avoid it. They ask, “Do you think I’m a REALLY good baseball player?” and I say, “ICE CREAM TIME!”

5. “Will you always love me?”

Yes, even when you’re throwing temper tantrums. Or toilet paper. Or spaghetti. Yes, even when you’ve written on the walls. Yes, even when you spit out the dinner I’ve slaved over. Yes, even when you tell me that my face isn’t as pretty as your friend’s mom’s face (this may or may not be true, but still). Yes, even when you roll your eyes or break the rules or call me names. Even when you hate me. Yes, even if you do something really, really bad and wrong. (Whether I bail you out of jail remains to be seen, but I still love you.) I will always, always love you.

Side note: Look, I’m not judging but this last one shouldn’t be hard. If it is, it’s time for you to book a vacation. Let me know where you’re heading. I’ll come with.

OK, that’s my advice for the day week month maybe year. Feel free to call it BS, but I’d appreciate if you’d stick to my preferred term – RUBBISH. (Say it out loud, it’s fun.)

Have a great weekend!

Say YES! They won't be this needy forever.

Say YES! They won’t be this needy forever.

PS. Please read this with the understanding that I’ve failed at almost every single one of these… with the exception of #5. So there’s no lecturing or judging going on from my chair. I write this stuff mostly as a reminder to myself. Anyone else it “helps,” is gravy. Yes, like the Italian tomato sauce kind of gravy.