Work with me, please.

Archive for July, 2011

“I COMMAND You!”

I have to say, it wasn’t a bad weekend considering that I canceled my “freedom trip” to NY, as one reader put it in a comment on my last post.  Healthwise, I felt fine for the most part, except for some heartburn and more numbness.  The biggest scare of the weekend actually came from arriving to our neighborhood on Friday afternoon to find our street blocked at both ends by police cars and a huge bomb squad vehicle in the middle of the block.  We made ourselves scarce while they investigated and detonated a suspicious package.  So, living near a judge has its benefits when it comes to snow removal.  Not so much if there is some disgruntled former defendant who knows the judge’s address (actually, that’s pure speculation.  I don’t know the full story on the package).

On Saturday, Hubby and I took Mae and Jay to the Maryland Zoo at Baltimore.  I am not much of a zoo fan; however, for the kids . . . .  After we paid $56 to enter (as compared to $0 to visit the National Zoo in DC), I was hoping that I would at least find it to be worth the money.   I was pleasantly surprised.  There was a lot of shade and the exhibits were closer together it seemed than those in DC.  The animals were closer and easier to spot than I recall in DC, and I believe more of them were active.  I have to say that it was an enjoyable visit.

It’s hard to say whether the kids enjoyed it.  As we headed for the exit after a few hours, I asked Jay if he liked the zoo.  He said, “Not that much.”  I asked what was wrong.  He said, “I didn’t know we were going to stay so long.”  It’s a no-win.  If Hubby or I had suggested leaving before he could see the elephants and lions, I know we would have had a problem.  I think he was enjoying the zoo before he became tired near the end.

As we neared the exit gate, Mae decided that she had to have a water bottle/fan thingy that I’d said “no” to on the way in as part of my “we’re not here to shop” spiel.  Oh, but tired Mae is irrational Mae.  A meltdown ensued, which included at one point, her telling Hubby, “Turn this car around now!!  I COMMAND you.”  He and I couldn’t help but laugh.  I didn’t laugh for long and turned around to tell her that she was being rude and disrespectful, and that she cannot command anyone, especially her parents, to do something.  She yelled back, “You’re not the boss of me!”  I corrected her that, actually, we are the bosses of her.  She apologized after a few minutes, though she wasn’t done crying and pleading for the fan for a few more miles.  She went to sleep, which Jay had done already, and Hubby carried her and Jay into the house when we arrived home.  They finished their naps; thank goodness for a little window of peace.  When Mae awoke a couple of hours later, you would not have known at all that she had had a conniption.

The rest of the evening felt like a breeze.  The hi-light came when Mae and Jay helped me make red velvet brownies.  I pre-measured everything; they poured and mixed.  I’m so proud of them for following instructions and working together well.  They stayed with me all the way through making the frosting and waiting for the pan to cool, long after Hubby had passed out somewhere.  I thought for sure Mae and Jay would become tired and irritable, and I’d have to put them to bed.  At 12:30 am, they had the first bites and declared success.  We all went to bed shortly after that.

Today, Sunday, was a day of laundry, cooking, cleaning, more baking (another batch of brownies for my co-workers, with my star helpers at my side again), and playing.  I feel something like a star myself.  First, Jay let me be the fire chief when we played rescue, which is huge because he usually has to be the leader in every game we play.  Second, Mae told me that I am “one of the best mommies ever” (I know — kids tend to think that they have the best mommy or daddy in the world.  I’m not mad at Mae, though.  Truth be told, I love my mom, but if Paula Deen would take me, I’d follow her home in a hot minute.)

Mini Momcation Postponed

I thought I would give Hubby and the kids a break from me this weekend.  I had planned to go to NY to help a good friend, V, celebrate her birthday.  V is fun and funny, and I was looking forward to hanging out with her and her awesome sisters and friends.  V plans BIG every year for her birthday, and the full celebration lasts for about a month.

Unfortunately, I have had a string of body weirdnesses this week that started with pain, swelling, and numbness in my left calf and progressed each day to a different part of both arms, legs, and feet feeling numb or tingly.  Throw in some light-headedness and blurred vision, and you have the making of a canceled mini vacay for moi.  Per doctor’s orders, I’m taking aspirin everyday and I had an MRI last night.  I hope to get results on Monday.

Meanwhile, I figure it would be terribly inconvenient for me to have a stroke or brain aneurysm on a bus to NY and ruin the other travelers’ weekend.  Instead, I will stay home and try this recipe for red velvet brownies.  Good luck to me!

So, This Is What We’re Paying For

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Finally, Camp A is winding down for Mae.  Last week was sooo much better than the first four weeks, and this week has been good overall it seems.  The theme for last week and this is Science Wizards, and since she wants to become a chemist, this is right up her alley.  She’s been enjoying making gooey, sticky stuff and learning about the periodic table.  She comes home in a good mood and she has been more pleasant and energetic in the mornings.  In addition to Mae having a strong interest in the subject matter, I think it has helped that the Science Wizards director is an experienced teacher.  This has been a tremendous learning experience for me about camp selection and I’m already thinking about what we can do better for next summer.

This morning, though, Mae let me know that it hasn’t been all peaches and cream in Science Wizard land.  I don’t know what brought it to her mind, but she said, “Another reason I don’t like [Camp A] is because the kids don’t show compassion.”  She went on to explain that when she fell while playing sharks and minnows, nobody came to help her.  And, she hit her hand yesterday and E saw it happen and didn’t show “compassion or empathy.”  I told her that that’s too bad, and she can be a role model and set an example for the other kids because she knows how to show compassion and empathy.  She responded, with what sounded like disappointment in her voice, that E is an older kid and should know better.  Hubby told her that she should still do what she knows is right even if other kids don’t. 

I was proud of Mae for recognizing situations that called for compassion and empathy.  It’s not new; she’s been good at showing compassion and empathy for a big part of her seven years and four months.  Sometimes, she forgets or lets her emotions get the best of her.  Her and Jay’s school emphasizes kindness and even in preschool, the teachers teach and praise the kids for thinking of and promoting each other’s happiness.  The conversation this morning was right out of her classroom and school playground experiences. 

Even Jay recognized that Mae was saying something she’d learned at their school because it reminded him of a very important lesson that he’s picked up: “In Ms. [K]’s class, we don’t kiss.”

Thank goodness for that!

No More Naps – Or So You Think

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Jay thinks that he doesn’t need naps anymore.  In fact, he thinks that he doesn’t take naps anymore.  On Sunday, he woke up after sleeping for about two hours.  I asked, “Did you have a good rest period?”  He answered, “I wasn’t sleep.”  Huh?

I said, “You fell asleep while you were watching TV.”  Defensively, “No, I didn’t.  I was just watching TV.”

I thought that came much later in life.

Wishing Peace

I am still saddened by the story of Leiby Kletzky, the eight-year old boy kidnapped, drugged, suffocated, and dismembered by a member of his community in NY.  That could have been any kid, in any city because there are sick people everywhere.  I understand absolutely how a mother could give in to a child who is begging for some independence, a chance to act like a “big kid” by walking home alone.  If you know and trust your child, and you feel secure in your neighborhood, why not?  Mae is seven, so close in age to the murdered boy, and I have a niece who is eight.  I can’t help but think it could have been one of them lost and asking a grown-up for help.

I told Mae and Jay a brief version of the story last weekend — that a little boy the same age as their cousin Nya asked his parents to let him walk home from camp by himself, he kept asking until they gave in, he got lost on his first walk alone, and a stranger took him to his house and killed him.  Their first response was to ask with wide eyes, at the same time, “Why did he kill him?”  I answered, “Because he is mean and evil and sick.”

I wondered beforehand if it was a good idea to tell Mae and Jay the story.  I didn’t want to freak them out or make them afraid of every person on the street.  I decided to tell them because I wanted them to know a real story that they might relate to and remember.  It’s easy to say “Don’t talk to strangers.”  However, the tragic events that ended Kletzky’s life and all of his parents dreams for him made me think that a generic warning may not be enough anymore.  I wanted also for Mae and Jay to understand that when parents say no, sometimes it’s because we are trying to keep our children safe.    And, there are good and bad strangers in the world, and it’s not always possible to tell which ones are good.

I wish peace for Leiby Kletzky’s family and all the people most deeply affected by his death, and most especially for his mother.   I suspect she has questioned her own judgement in attempting to let her son spread his wings that day, and I cannot imagine the intensity and depth of her suffering right now.  I wish an end to her suffering, and I pray that she has or finds a path to peace.

Now, That’s Gumption . . .

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I picked Mae up early from camp yesterday for her annual well-child visit, and she was in good spirits.  Wonderful!  As she was telling me about her day, she said, “I hope R. . . remembers to bring the $20 tomorrow.  He says he thinks he has two tens at home.”  Whoaaa.

Me:     You asked R. . . for $20?

Mae:   Y. . e. . s.  Why?

Me:     You can’t ask people for money!

Mae:   Why not?  He’s my friend.

Me:     It’s inappropriate.

Mae:   What’s inappropriate about it?

The answer should have been obvious, yet I fumbled.  I wasn’t prepared for this.  I don’t remember asking friends for money when I was seven years old.  I thought 25 cents was a lot of money when I was that age, and I remember either pleading for  or trying to earn change by doing things like bringing in laundry from the clothesline (under the blazing sun, no less, fending off flies and mosquitoes, my thin arms struggling to reach the clothespins.  Then, there was the summer that my older sister and I picked cucumbers on somebody’s plantation farm for some measly amount.  We earned enough for a Happy Meal.  Kids these days just don’t appreciate . . . .   Never mind).

I tried to explain to Mae that if she wants something, she can ask Mommy or Daddy for it, and if the answer is no, she has to live with it.  I told her that she should not ask her friends for money nor anything else.  “Well, what if they want to give you something?”  I said it’s different if they want to give you something on their own; then it’s a gift.  But, you can’t ask them.

I gave up trying to explain because it wasn’t working.  Either I wasn’t explaining it well or she wasn’t getting it or she didn’t want to get it.  I told her that I’m glad she can call R a friend, and she’ll have to let him know that she can’t take his money.

But, that’ll embarrass me!

Here we go again.  I’m embarrassed!  (Not really, but I reserve the right.)  My kid wants some toys that cost twenty bucks, and since I told her over the weekend that I wasn’t giving her twenty bucks, and I think Hubby also said no, she went to camp on Monday and asked another kid for it.  Who knows what he told his parents, or what they are thinking?  I don’t actually care; I’m just amazed that she immediately goes to thinking about what’s potentially embarrassing for her.

And, she has money in her bank, probably at least $20.  I don’t plan to tell her that because she has enough toys, and she’s supposed to be working towards earning WugglePets.  And, she talked me into ordering an art kit a couple of weeks ago that we haven’t even opened yet.

As much as I don’t understand how Mae thought it was ok to ask someone for $20, my ears perked up when she said R… was her friend.  After three weeks of complaining about not having any friends at camp, I was encouraged to hear that, for at least one day, someone seemed like a friend to her — even if she was trying to take him for twenty bucks.

Supper Club = Mommy’s Play Date

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Mae and Jay put up with me so well this weekend, I’m going to surprise them tomorrow with a trip to a new bounce house in our neighborhood.  It was a Supper Club weekend, which means they received a minimal amount of attention from me.

On Friday night, I put dinner on the table and then headed out to the dry cleaners and grocery store.  Mae and Jay stayed up later than they should have even for a Friday night while Hubby packed for a race trip and I unpacked for Supper Club.  (I keep dinnerware, serveware, glasses, and utensils in bins in the garage because there is a tendency for such things to disappear in the house.  In the cabinets, we have a mix of three sets of dishes, two sets of flatware, and an assortment of glasses and cups of various shapes, sizes, colors, and restaurant affiliations.)

On Saturday, Hubby left for his race while the kids and I were still sleeping.  Mae and Jay were both cooperative as we got dressed to head out for the library, post office, and food warehouse.  Nobody whined when I said that we were only dropping off at the library, and that we’d go inside next trip.  Again, no whining when I said that they couldn’t take the books to the drop-off slot because we were in a hurry.  They both wanted jobs to do all day long — giving the box to the post office clerk, handing the credit card to the cashier, carrying bags to the car, unloading the groceries at home.  I live for days like this!  When they had to stop playing so that we could go to my sister’s place to pick up my food processor and back to the store for more limes and tomatoes, no problem.

Mae and Jay even cleaned their playroom a little while I worked on supper (scallop and avocado salad, fish tacos with fresh salsa, fresh corn on the cob, and ice cream sandwiches).  Usually, Hubby is in town during Supper Club gatherings and the three of them go off and do something fun.  Yesterday, while my friends and I ate and gabbed for several hours, they kept themselves occupied with toys and TV.  I took breaks to give them dinner and put Jay to bed with a short book.  For the most part, though, they left us girls to our play date, (which does not, for the record, involve sitting around talking about men).

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