Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sara's Homework

Luckily, I usually don't have to help Sara with her homework. Second grade math stumped me so I am really pretty much useless in third grade. She had a writing assignment and this is what she wrote - "Once I did Locks of Love. It was fun. I grew my hair down to my waist. But some things were hard. There were way more tangles (especially in the morning) and my hair got in my face a lot. But I had lots of hairstyles to choose from. It could braided or straightened. I could have pigtails, ponytails, braid on the side, headbands, buns, waves, "Maggie hair", hair extensions, French braids, or just plain. I even wrote a letter to the girl who would get my hair saying how I hoped she liked it and how I would do Lock of Love again. I am glad a girl got a pretty wig when she needed one." For more information about donating your hair to a child in need, please visit their website: http://www.locksoflove.org/ Gotta say, I love my girl.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Popular, Cool or Not.....

I have never been popular. Or cool. I'm not even sure what it takes to be "cool" or run with the "in" crowd. But I know I don't have "it". In high school, I was on the fringe of many groups. I had friends in the Honors classes, jocks, artsy kids, even some popular kids. But I was never part of the Inner Circle. I grew up with 5 older brothers. I don't speak the foreign language of girl. Boys say what they mean and mean what they say. They don't sugar coat anything. You know what they are thinking at all times. There is no grey area. I don't understand the art of saying one thing and meaning another. I don't grasp the concept of being nice to someone's face then mean to their back. I thought cliques were reserved for school girls. I was painfully and woefully mistaken. Cliques are alive and well in the land of mature, grown women. Once again, I find myself out of the loop. And I am OK with it. I just wish I could translate the secret code of who is your friend and who is being nice to your face but secretly hates you. And don't even get me started on the people who don't like you because of who you are friends with. I thought girls outgrew that form of social leprosy in middle school. Nope, you can be rejected for your education, lack thereof, your physical attributes, lack thereof, and, last but not least, your parenting style. Silly me, I look for kindness, understanding and generosity of spirit when seeking new friends. And a little bit of smart-ass-ness. Let's face it, a person needs all those to put up with me. Southern women have mastered this art. They have the whole fake, "I'm being nice to you but we both know I hate you" tone down pat. And everyone knows the code. There is no grey area. Being a Yankee, they were amused by me and very tolerant of my "bless your heart" Yankee moments. There were lots of them. I was very "blessed" in the year I lived in Virginia. Here in the Midwest, I am lost in translation. Even on my best days, I am not brilliant with idle chit chat. Put me in an ambiguous situation, I am a bumbling idiot. Sitting poolside today, I had a high school flashback. All the thin, pretty, blond cool moms sat laughing together under an umbrella. I sat with my unshaven legs dangling in the pool because I clearly did not fit into their clique. They nod, smile at me and say hello but that is the extent of our communication. Being on the PTO or neighborhood board does not cement a lifelong friendship. Proximity and frequent contact does not make a friendship. It took me years to understand that. Across the pool, my 8 year old daughter spotted some girls she knows. She watched them for a few minutes, bit her lip and cautiously approached their little circle. I've seen the Crocodile Hunter approach a swamp with less trepidation. With an audible sigh of relief, I watched as they gladly accepted her into their fold. My daughter has weathered her share of rejection on the school playground so I was thrilled to watch the girls include her gladly. I watched the girls laugh and play. And my kid was right in the thick of it!!! I would love to be able to spare my daughter the painful sting of rejection. I want to tell her that being "popular" is not as important as having true good friends. I have good friends who like me, despite my glaring lack of coolness. I'm ok with not being popular or being a member of the "in" crowd. I have my own crowd of friends. And I accept anyone who wants to join my "clique" - cool, not cool, skinny, less-than-skinny. You can play in my reindeer games if you park your snide judgments at the door.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thank A Teacher

How do you thank your kids' teachers? They spend 5 days a week for 9 months a year with our kids. They see it all. They hear it all. They do it for very little pay. They do it with a smile. Christian's preschool teachers greet him 3 days a week with a smile. He shoots them with his spider web and tells them that his name is "Christian James Velasco Boy Spiderman". They smile, laugh and escort him into school with a wave. They have taught him how to share, take turns, wait in line, spell his name and a host of other important life skills. They didn't push him when he showed no interest in potty training. But when he walked in wearing his Spidey undies, they were as proud of him as his parents. They are patient, kind, and supportive. They never have a bad day. They are never in a bad mood. They are never short with him. I have watched my son grow and mature under their care. Because of his amazing teachers, he loves school and his friends. I will be forever grateful that he has had the same wonderful teachers for 2 years. Sara's teacher. Where do I start? Five days a week this amazing lady spends 6 hours a day with our precocious, imaginative and challenging daughter. Unlike me, this lady's patience is endless. No matter what mood Sara arrives in, she is greeted with warmth and enthusiasm. Sara is always treated with respect. She has challenged, engaged and motivated my daughter every day. She has always spoken to Sara with an honesty that was needed. Difficult situations were handled with grace. Sara was always treated with dignity and respect. She has gone above and beyond the call of duty again and again. Any problems, difficulties and challenges Sara has faced this year would have been a thousand times worse if we had not had the support of this devoted teacher. I will always be grateful for the gifts she gave our daughter. Sara thrived under her care this last year. When we made the decision to move Sara to a different school next year, Sara's only regret was that she would be leaving her 3rd grade teacher. Ours, too. There is no thank you big enough for all that our teachers do for and give to our kids. Like all the other parents, I will give the teachers a small token of appreciation but it will in no way measure up to all they have given to my kids.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sharing - A Letter To My Daughter

Dear Darling Daughter, Let me give you a heads up about a few things that will serve you well if you ever want to have friends over again. Share your toys. Stop whining and fretting that your friends are wild savages hell bent on the complete and utter destruction of all your worldly possessions. Stop acting like everything in your room is a priceless, irreplaceable antique. FYI - most of your crap came from the toy aisle at Target. The rest of it you don't even play with anymore. I could sell it right out from under you and you wouldn't even notice. I know this because I HAVE been selling your outgrown clothes and toys. For the last 3 weeks. You have not noticed a single missing toy. You are dangerously close to becoming one of those creepy ladies that end up on TV for being a Hoarder. Helpful hint - if you cannot see the surface of your desk, you might want to clean and organize it. Also, if you have 7 books, a DS, DS case and 3 stuffed animals on your coveted papasan, there probably isn't room for your skinny little booty on it. Clean your room before I get to it. Because we both know that if I get in there, it will look like a military barracks when I am done. Signed with love,
Your loving mother

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Made In America

We are supposed to be the greatest country in the world. So why I am reading about the following issues/people/actions here in the good old USA: University of Texas celebrated their "pubic" affairs graduates. A New Jersey woman was fired from a lingerie company for being too "busty". A woman has been arrested for taking her toddler to the tanning booth. P.S. She looks like C. Thomas Howell in "Soul Man". A high school year book had to be recalled because they called their special needs students "mentally retarded". Just who exactly IS teaching our kids? A parking spot in NY City is for sale for the bargain price of $1million. And someone will pay it. A CNN executive was busted for putting dog poop in a neighbor's mailbox. Members of the Secret Service were caught partying like drunk frat boys while on the job in Colombia. Our members of Congress are speaking at a 10th grade level. A man has fathered 30 children with 11 different women. A couple has been arrested for killing 2 children by co-sleeping while taking Vicodin and Xanax. A postal worker collecting disability was caught running a marathon. Are we really that stupid and lazy? Shows like "7 Days of Sex" and "Real Housewives" are the most popular shows on TV. People like Kim Kardashian and Kate Gosselin are celebrities. What do people in other countries think of us?? These people make me look sane and well-behaved. God bless America.

The Man Who Breeds Too Much

Desmond Hatchett has been all over the news lately because he has fathered 30 children with 11 women. Move over, Charlie Chaplin. The difference is that Charlie Chaplin (The Little Tramp) could afford to support his offspring. This guys pays as little at $1.49 per child. How did this little tramp con 11 different women into having unprotected sex? What kind of pick-up lines did he use? "Hey, baby, wanna be number 11?" Upon hearing that this loser already has 29 children, what woman in her right mind decides to roll that dice?? At some point, the women in his life should have chipped in for a vasectomy. The gift that does NOT keep giving. Or kept their legs crossed. I live in Indiana, where it seems like everyone has at least 3 kids. I am overwhelmed with 2. But, here is the difference between my neighbors and this deadbeat - these people can actually support their offspring. Can you just imagine Father's Day for this guy? I hope the mothers drop all 30 kids at once and run for the hills. Or Mother's Day? Does the guys spend all day running all over town trying to visit each of his baby mamas? I don't even have a pet because the idea of taking care of one more living thing makes me want to cry. I have a simple rule. Do not have more kids than you can care for, love,and support. And do not even sit near this guy. He is freaky fertile and you may just get knocked up through sheer proximity.

Play Date

Christian has a love/hate relationship with play dates. His mother loves them. They give me a break from entertaining an active 3 year old boy and provide a captive adult for 2 hours. He hates them because he is forced to share his toys and take turns. But this one may be different. His hero and best friend from school is coming over. The planning of this play date took more organizing and planning the the raid on Osamba Bin Laden. Christian naps. His buddy does not. Both have older sisters with after school activities and homework. First, his dad called to confirm the time and our address. For the last 10 days, I have had a mysteriously froggy voice. When he called at 10:15 a.m., he asked if he had woken me up. Really? I have an 8 year old and 3 year old. On what planet does that allow for slumber at 10 a.m.? (I would nap then I if could). Christian overheard the conversation and promptly announced that he could not, in fact, wait until this afternoon to see his buddy. "That is toooo long." I distracted him from his torturous wait with a snack. Then he asked what he should wear for the play date. Can you tell he has an older sister? He started outlining how the play date would work. He firmly declared that the girls have to play upstairs and cannot play with the boys. (I can actually hear Sara's voice coming from him on that one). Poor girls, no Spiderman or dinosaurs today. Now he is asking how long his friend can stay. My son has no concept of time. Everything is in terms of "how many sleeps". He thinks minutes are seconds. And everything takes too long. He wants his buddy to live here. In the bathtub. I just want everyone to survive with limbs and feelings in tact.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Democracy Doesn't Live Here

I like to think of myself as a benevolent dictator. I am lord and master of my domain. I want respect and obedience. I do not want nor will I indulge whining and open defiance. From a 3 year old who still needs me to meet his basic needs and keep him alive. So, when I tell him to come downstairs right now and he refuses, he has no right to certain perks of my household. Like food. So no one speed dials Child Protective Services, this would have been a snack post-dinner. Not a life-sustaining meal. If you are under 18 years old, living under my roof and eating my food, you have no vote. I'm not thinking of running for public office with this platform. But, if you want to be fed, you better follow me down to the kitchen where I keep the food. If you choose to lie on the floor, wailing and sobbing, I will treat you like a speed bump. I will step over you and go about running my fiefdom. Breakfast is in 11 hours. See you then.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sara's Homework on Mother's Day

What Sara wrote about Mother's Day for school - The thing I love most about my mom is how she is so fun-loving, funny and kind to others. My favorite thing to do with Mom is to sit down, relax and talk about our dreams and wishes. We should celebrate moms because they are part of the family and we love them very much. Moms are important because the give birth to us and feed us until we can eat baby food.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pajama Day

Sara loves her pajamas. She has all kinds and would spend all day in them if we let her. And sometimes we let her. Friday was pajama day at school. She forgot to tell me and got dressed. She remembered just in time to change into clean Tinkerbell jammies and hop on the bus. She was happy as a clam. Then she came home. I could tell by the look on her face when she got off the bus that something was wrong. And I could guess. The "cool" (bully) kids made fun of her Tinkerbell jammies. Apparently, there is an invisible line and once you enter 3rd grade, Tinkerbell is no longer cool. Sara missed that memo. Add "wearing uncool pajamas for pajama day" to the list of things my kid gets teased about. And you can guess who was the ring leader. Luckily, her best friend also likes Tinkerbell. Ironically, they don't tease her for liking Tinkerbell. And believe me, Sara noticed that she was the only one being picked on for her wardrobe choice. I guess kids will make fun of certain people for just about anything. So, what started out as a fun day for her ended with her feeling, yet again, like she doesn't fit in and being made fun of for something as silly as wearing something she likes. Why do kids needs to make someone feel small to feel big?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sara meets Shakespeare

Sara and her friend, Meridythe wrote this poem at school: Noble Creature As the sun rises upon a sleeping man Waking the earth's creatures In the fresh morning he works So perfect and peerless As the sharp wind of the north Brings sweet air A beautiful goddess came. She said, “Honorable Man, Please listen close: You are at th' rope of your destiny To fly To swim To ride on the curled clouds.” Sweet sprites fly around her As she disappears. By Sara & Meridythe

Monday, May 7, 2012

Stand Up For Yourself

Sara is reading a fabulous book called "Stand Up For Yourself & Your Friends". It is an American Girl book about dealing with bullies. Did I mention that my daughter is in the 3rd grade? Call me old-fashion but I thought I had a few years before all the drama and angst started. Like sharks smell blood and attack, 3rd grade girls smell fear and insecurity. Being the youngest girl in the class, Sara is an easy target. Terrified of the further bullying that would result from telling and getting the girls in trouble, Sara keeps quiet about it until it boils over in her or a teacher sees it or a friend reports it for her. And we are talking sneaky, psychologically sophisticated emotional warfare. The queens of the playground jungle decide who plays what games. They decide who is cool on what day. They decide who gets to sit with them. And so on. Sara is at the bottom of the playground food chain. And everyone knows it. Sara has a couple good friends and she is afraid to approach anyone else to play. Most days, she doesn't even try. She plays by herself so she won't get rejected. She has been yelled at, grabbed, excluded and run away from. And I get to sit on the sidelines and watch. I know this is an integral part of growing up. She needs to learn that not everyone likes each other. She needs to learn to respect herself. She needs to learn when to walk away and not react. More importantly, she needs to learn the difference between bullying and someone just not liking her. A hard lesson to learn. An even harder lesson to watch your daughter learn. Bullying is about power and control. Sara has sacrificed her power to the queens of the playground and they use it against her daily. At school, she feels like she has no control. She knows she does not fit in. She knows they do not like her. She keeps trying to change herself so they will like her. This book is teaching her that she does NOT need to change. If they don't like her, that does NOT mean there is something wrong with her. Hearing the same thing from mom and dad does not carry the same weight. She has been learning a lot from this book. She is learning who her true friends are. She is learning to stand up for herself and her friends. The other day, an older friend was fighting with a girl in Sara's class on the bus. I was proud of Sara for trying to stand up for her older friend. But she also needs to learn when to butt out. She is also learning when to walk away and what to say to a bully. I want her to hold on to her power but never use it against anyone else. I want her to stay strong. My heart aches because she feels hurt, lost, pushed around and alone. I want her to know we are there for her. She is strong. She is not alone. On the flip side, she needs to figure out what bothers the other kids. She needs to respect and consider the needs and wants of her classmates. She needs to understand that she is part of the bigger group and not always the center of the universe. I've met adults who have not made this discovery. They are not fun to be around. I want her to learn this at an early age so life doesn't beat her down. I want her to have a full life with friends who love and support each other. But, she needs to learn what it means to BE a friend. I am hoping this book will help her understand what we have been trying to teach her.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

To Pee Or Not To Pee

Christian is potty trained. Words I never thought I would utter. This boy had absolutely no interest in potty training. It was hard work, time consuming and no fun (for either of us). So we shelved the project for the foreseeable future. From experience, we knew that potty training works better if the trainee is interested and motivated. And he was NOT. He knew about M&Ms, prizes, stickers, admiration, etc. He was not impressed or willing. When we (Paul) decided to DRIVE to Florida, I knew that we had better postpone potty training even further. When we returned, I was staring down the end of the school year and the beginning of summer camp. I could not put if off any longer. No big boy underwear means no summer camps for my boy. Now I have the proper motivation to train up the boy. I prepped him. After school and nap a couple Fridays ago, I let him pick out some spiderman underwear, placed pee pads on all our furniture and crossed my fingers. It went surprising well. He had a few small accidents. I plopped him in the shower and grabbed some fresh underwear without reacting each time. He learned that peeing in his underwear is not fun but is not a catastrophe, either. After a few days, the boy got the hang of it. We have not had an accident in almost 2 weeks. But now my life revolves around the bathroom. I don't remind him to go unless we are heading out. I want him to recognize when he needs to go. He is good about announcing it for the whole world to hear. Now he claims he is ready to pee standing up. Your turn, Paul.