Tag Archives: parenting
“Born In The Wild”? My Teen Says No, Thank You!
Have you seen the ads for the new Lifetime reality series “Born in the Wild”? According to their website, in this new series “families take one step beyond homebirth and make the powerful choice to experience childbirth in the great outdoors. No inductions, no epidurals…just expectant mothers facing and giving birth in the arms of Mother Nature. They’ll take on the unique challenges of their natural environment, tackling every obstacle the wilderness can dish out in order to realize their dream of an outdoor birth.”
Quite possibly the best birth control video ever, my 14-year-old son thought the commercial was pretty graphic, which depicts a woman laying in “Mother Nature’s arms” (aka the dirt), with the baby literally bursting out of her vajayjay (the action was blurred but it was pretty obvious what was going on). “I can’t unsee that!!” he moaned, covering his eyes with his hands and worrying aloud about the possibility of retinal scarring. Unable to hide my amusement, I quipped, “Hey, what goes in must come out, right?”
Clearly horrified that perhaps I was about to launch into yet another TED talk (Terrifyingly Embarrassing Discussion) about human sexual reproduction (and all its attendant responsibilities and consequences), he deftly dodged the conversation by profusely apologizing for any pain and suffering he caused me during his birth. Considering that he was born into the arms of a fully licensed medical professional in a nice clean hospital and with the assistance of an epidural, his apology was accepted. He is however trying to figure out how to block the Lifetime channel from our TV lineup. And taking mercy on the poor guy, I tabled any further discussion on this topic for another day.
The show premieres on Tuesday, March 3rd at 10 pm on Lifetime. My son won’t be watching. Will you? Let me know in the comments!
How Do You Handle Your Kid’s Middle School Crush?
With Old Man Winter forcing yet another snow day today, my 7th grader will miss out on all the middle school drama surrounding Valentine’s Day. He’s been able to stay on the periphery of most of the angst, managing to move on from his own recent crush unscathed. Others have not been so lucky, like his friend who recently asked the girl he’s been pining over for months out on a ‘date’; she turned him down and he’s devastated, explaining his friend’s inability to finish that week’s Spanish homework!
While I’m happy my son feels comfortable enough to share his crushes and news of the latest adolescent happenings, I feel that 7th grade is too young for traditional ‘dating’, although I hear through multiple sources that this does happen. I’m fine with him heading out in a boy/girl group to the pizza shop after school for an hour – it’s a way for the kids to socialize in a fairly controlled setting with a defined start and end time – but one-on-one dating or boy/girl groups at someone’s home unsupervised after school is off the table at this age.
Crushes are just fine for now – it’s a way to explore feelings and learn how to deal with them, both the happiness and the disappointment. Learning to deal with rejection can be a fact of life at this age just as much as a growth spurt or a deepening voice. How do you deal with your kid’s middle school crush? Through the fog and haze of middle age, I’ve been trying to remember how I felt during middle school; here are some do’s and don’ts I’ve been employing to deal with this sensitive subject:
Keep the channels of communication open. Teach your child to be respectful of his/her own body, and let them know that even though it’s natural to be curious, feeling pressure to do something (especially if it makes them feel uncomfortable) doesn’t mean they have to act on it. If a crush isn’t mutual, let them know it’s okay to politely refuse the other person’s unwanted attention. And conversely, to graciously accept the fact if they are on the unrequited end of the crush. It’s a painful lesson, but can save a whole lot of heartache if it’s learned early on. Keep an eye (and ear) out for any behavior changes arising from a crush – learning how to keep a crush in perspective and not let it affect school work, friendships and family life is also important.
Don’t belittle or trivialize your child’s feelings – even though as adults we already know that this too shall pass, remember that they certainly don’t feel that way! And nothing will close down those channels of communication faster than your child feeling that Mom or Dad can’t possibly understand what they’re going through. Don’t ever, ever, mention a crush’s name outside the ‘circle of trust’ (mainly, that’s me) you’ve developed with your child. Discussing the identity of a crush with other parents is a tremendous no-no. I’ve been on the receiving end of such information from parents with their kid standing right there – it’s embarrassing for me, so I can just imagine how the poor kid must feel. You might think it’s cute, but I can guarantee you your kid does not – keep it zipped. I know if my son doesn’t feel safe telling me about the little things, he won’t come to me with the big things – and right now, everything is a big thing!
Well, that’s it – it may not be much, but that’s all I’ve got so far. Please feel free to share any suggestions or tips you have in the comments, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Texts From The Edge Of Tweendom
With 2013 drawing to a close, my son is taking great delight in declaring 2014 ‘his year’. It’s the year that the label of tween gets retired and he launches into full-blown teenager status. I don’t know what he thinks is going to happen when he turns 13 – it’s not like he can start dating (not yet!!!!) or go to a bar or vote.
And he definitely can’t drive a car, as evidenced by the majority of texts exchanged between us. Like I’d ever NOT pick him up, but it’s always nice to be asked. . . .
And in a few short years when he gets his driver’s license this too will end, and I wonder what he’ll be asking me for then – but I hope I still get an occasional one of these. . . .
Wishing everyone a happy and blessed 2014!
If You Smell Something, Say Something
As moms we know that sometimes parenthood is no bed of roses, and we’ve all had our share of less than fragrant close encounters: dirty diapers, baby vomit, getting stuck in a conversation with someone at the PTA breakfast who was a little overzealous with the onion cream cheese from the bagel platter. These situations are usually easily resolved – something we can clean up or excuse ourselves from.
But what happens when the offensive odor makes its way into your home in the form of your son’s pubescent best friend? Most of my son’s friends are at some point on the puberty spectrum: a little peach fuzz here, some voice-changing there, but this poor kid needs help for his B.O. problem, stat! But what do you say to the little kid you’ve known since the first grade now sitting at your table scarfing down Mallomars and imbuing your upholstered dining room chair with his big kid stank? If you smell something, should you say something?
On this particular afternoon, another of my son’s friends provided me the opportunity to broach the subject:
“Dude, get your feet away from me! Gross!” one of the kids exclaimed as the three of them were bouncing around in the living room.
“What. Is. That. Smell?” said kid proclaimed loudly.
I knew what that smell was – puberty. What should I do? If it was my son, would I want someone to say something to him? How would my son feel? And would I be offended? Mortified? Embarrassed? Mortified, perhaps, but not offended. And embarrassment never killed anyone, but that stench might prove to be social suicide for this kid.
Perhaps I’d be grateful? Yeah, I’m going with grateful, and eager to rectify the situation as soon as possible. After all, who wants to be the smelly kid in school? Furthermore, who wants to be friends with the smelly kid in school? The boys just called him out on it – if they can smell it so can everyone else. Yes, I was doing him and his friends a solid by saying something.
Stifling my sensitive gag reflex, and armed with a bottle of Febreze, I called him over to the laundry room, out of earshot of the other boys. . .
“Sometimes I forget to put on clean socks and they start to smell,” he explained.
One whiff of him and I knew this went way beyond smelly socks. This kid was pungent – a mix of sweaty gym bag and stinky armpits, I tried to hold my breath as I smilingly asked him to hold out one foot and then the other so I could spray each sock. While I was at it I took the liberty of just casually crop dusting spraying his pants and shirt too. He didn’t seem to mind. Or be surprised. Has this happened to him before?
I gathered my mom wits about me and went for it:
“You know sweetie, you guys are growing up, and now when you run around and start to sweat, your bodies can get a little stinky, and not just your feet. Um, do you wear any deodorant?”
“Nah, I don’t use any of that stuff,” he laughed.
“Well, maybe it might be a good idea to have a talk with your mom about wearing some, okay? I’m sure there are kids in your class using it already. Because you don’t want other kids telling you smell funny, right? That’s not cool,” I said as nonchalantly as possible.
He thought about this for a fraction of a second, looking a little confused. Oh no, have I overstepped?
“Yeah, okay!” he shrugged, bounding brightly away from me and back to play with the other kids.
In that moment I realized that my tween was hurtling toward teen right along with his friends and there is nothing I can do to stop it; my only option is to just go along for the ride. And be there to guide his hygiene choices.
Will my son’s friend take my advice and stock up on the Axe products? Will he go home and tell his mom that I said her son stinks? I don’t know, but I’m keeping a keen nose out for my kid. And a bottle of Febreze handy.
Because puberty takes its time, and I can’t hold my breath that long.
Image courtesy of Google Images
On Saturday morning I took my son to the neighborhood barber for a desperately needed haircut. After much protesting and eye-rolling, he agreed that his curly hair was out of control. Two weeks of wrangling with it unsuccessfully was enough to get him in the chair and see if the barber could reach that happy medium between messy and controlled – messy enough for him to think it’s cool and controlled enough for me to resist the urge to blow on his head like a dandelion and have all the overgrown hair magically fly away.
We walked into the barbershop and he sat in the chair and told the barber what he wanted – long on top and short on the sides and back. The barber (with a wink to me) suggested taking an inch off the top just to clean it up a bit, to which my son agreed as I wisely kept my mouth shut. Sitting there I recalled a conversation my son and I had some years back, when, as a decidedly less snarky six-year-old, he told me he might want to be a “haircutter” when he grew up, among other occupations.
The list at that time also included being a musician, an astronaut, a ninja warrior, a preschool teacher, and a chocolate factory owner. The more his world expanded around him, the more interested he became in what folks did for a living, and whenever he learned about a new occupation, he would declare that that’s exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up .
One day, perhaps overwhelmed by all the myriad employment options in the world, he told me that when he grew up, he wanted to be a substitute.
“A substitute teacher?” I remember asking him. “No mom, just a substitute. Like, when a grown up gets sick and can’t do their job, I’ll go in and do it for them. Like on Monday I can be a rock star, on Tuesday I can be a chef, on Wednesday I can drive a school bus. . .” Well, I figured with this plan he would certainly never be bored or unemployed. I remember smiling and telling him that he would have to know about a lot of different things to do all those different jobs. How would he learn them all?
And with that beaming bundle of confidence only a six-year-old can possess, he said very seriously and matter-of-factly, “well I don’t know, but I know I can do them all.” As far as he was concerned, it was a foregone conclusion. How could I possibly have any doubts? Sitting in the barbershop and thinking about that exchange reminded me of the inspiring and magical ability children possess to believe that all things are possible and within reach. As adults, to be dusted with a bit of that magic every day is a blessing.
Currently the 11-year-old’s list still includes musician but filmmaker has also entered the fray. As his mom, of course I believe he can do anything he sets his mind to. And as far as I can tell, he hasn’t stopped believing that either. I’m sure if I remind him of this conversation now he would just sigh and tell me to stop embarrassing him. But if I did that, then I wouldn’t be doing my job. 🙂
Photo courtesy of Google Images
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Anatomy of a Playdate
I came home today to find my son’s cousins had come over to play for the afternoon. With my son suitably entertained for the time being and my husband on kid patrol, I comfortably settled in at my desk with a cup of hazelnut coffee and a croissant slathered in Nutella (what else?) and topped with apricot preserves, door tightly shut (should I lock it?), hoping to get some work done. My husband is supposed to be keeping the kids from killing each other watching the kids but I can hear that they are just about to begin a sword battle and I know that no good can come of this. When it’s two 11 year olds against a 7 year old (or is it the other way around?) there’s bound to be bloodshed, or tears at least.
“Ow, that hurts!” I hear one of them cry out, I can’t tell which one. I don’t hear my husband. I hear the playing continue. I hear a little body slamming, some running, jumping, banging, yelping and more sword clanging. Still no husband. I wonder if he’s fallen asleep on the couch. I refuse to get up and check to see what’s going on. I refuse to let my coffee get cold, and I’ve only eaten half my croissant.
I sit and listen, trying to discern whose voice is whose. I hear some yelling, but can’t really make out what they’re saying. . . Uh oh. Now it’s quiet. Too quiet. I start to push back my chair. . .
Now they’re laughing. Laughing is good, right? Unless they’ve found something inappropriate on the internet (is that why they were so quiet?) and are now cackling hysterically over something that’s really funny or that they don’t understand – or both.
Good. The sword clanging has resumed. “I’m not kidding! Stop! Stop it!!” one of them bellows. Still no reaction from my husband. For goodness’ sake, what is he doing????
I am not getting up. I can hear feet scurrying. I hear rapid clicking sounds. I wonder if my husband’s still in the house.
I take a sip of my coffee – still warm. And then the crying begins.
It’s the 7 year old. From what I gather about the melee occurring outside my door, he got pelted between the eyes with a Nerf gun bullet and didn’t like it. When I came home I noticed at least five Nerf guns out and enough ammo to take out a small (Lego) village, with the younger one sporting multiple weapons, dispatching foam balls and bullets at the hapless two older kids. Turnabout is fair play, little man.
“All right guys, that’s it!” I hear my husband parenting (finally!) He tells one of the kids to put down the shield (?) and for everybody to sit down and watch TV.
It’s quiet again.
I polish off my croissant. The doorbell rings – it’s the boys’ dad come to pick them up. I can hear them all talking and saying goodbye. I don’t move. I finish this post. And my coffee.
Photos courtesy of Google Images and Mom Meets Blog
The Birds, the Bees & Bye Bye Birdie
Last week we went to see the 7th & 8th grade production of Bye Bye Birdie at my son’s middle school. I am particularly fond of this piece because, back in the day, I was one of the “screaming girls” in my 8th grade’s production of the musical. I remember how much fun all my friends and I had singing the songs during rehearsals, and how exciting the performances were. I felt that my son would also enjoy the play because, although it is set in the late 1950s, the themes still ring true today – bewildered parents, their hormone driven teenagers, and the maniacal worship of teen idols (paging Justin Bieber – or is it One Direction now? Kids!). My son absolutely roared with laughter at one point when, during a frustrating encounter with his children, the Harry MacAfee character sputters, “I didn’t know what puberty was until I was almost past it!” I think he found that funny because there’s been so much puberty talk at school lately (it’s one of the units of study this semester) that he couldn’t imagine anyone actually missing it!
As I was helping my son study for a test on that subject one evening, I could tell by my husband’s bemused expression that, like Harry MacAfee, he didn’t quite know what to make of it all. Certainly our respective parents never quizzed us on the term for “the spurting out of semen from the penis” or the name of “the entire outside genital area of a female”. In my experience, “the period talk” consisted of receiving an informative book and a box of pads courtesy of Kimberly-Clark, and where babies came from (and how they got there in the first place) was not a topic parents discussed with their children. But there I sat, discussing testicles, vaginas, and nocturnal emissions with my son as though we were chatting about what he had for lunch in the cafeteria that afternoon, while my husband busied himself in the kitchen so as not to get involved disturb us. I knew he felt uncomfortable, but he would have to get over that, and fast.
I will say that talking about puberty and the changes that both boys’ and girls’ bodies undergo in such a matter-of-fact way has so normalized this conversation that I feel it has opened the door for a kind of closeness that I’m sure many of us didn’t experience with our folks when we were growing up. I want my son to know that he can talk to me about this or anything else that comes his way. I certainly welcome and feel very comfortable with this new chapter in our relationship. I remember reading about a Details magazine article where The Avengers star Chris Evans revealed that his mom was the first person he told when he lost his virginity. I wonder if I will be privy to that information. I mean, the kid just gave me a surprisingly accurate explanation of the process of menstruation and he’s figured out why mommy has a “stomachache” every month, so I guess anything is possible.
While I was making breakfast on the morning of the test, my son asked my husband to quiz him on the material one last time. I held my breath for a second to see if he was going to lob this one over to me or whether he would bite the bullet and jump on the puberty bandwagon. Without skipping a beat my husband said “Sure” and they sat down together for a final review. And with that we all entered a brave new world.
Oh, and the test? My son came home proudly waving it around yesterday. He got a 95. 🙂
Check out “What’s the Matter with Kids Today” from the 1963 film version of Bye Bye Birdie
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and Barnes & Noble
I Was a Cereal Killer – One Mom’s Cautionary Tale
What have I done?
I know my 11-year-old son is a competent kid. He likes to help his dad out at the store and recently our neighbors hired him to look after their cats while they are away on vacation. He does well in school, is a brown belt in karate, loves to play both classical and pop tunes on the piano, puts his dirty clothes in the hamper (mostly), keeps his room fairly neat, is always up and dressed for school on time, is helpful, polite, and is never ever sick at sea.
So I was a little thrown this morning when I found him looking at a YouTube video on how to make a bowl of cereal (I was kind of relieved, there are worse things to look at on YouTube). But. . . seriously?? He doesn’t know how to fix a bowl of cereal? How did that happen? I looked at the computer screen, fairly surprised that there must be other kids in the same situation judging from the variety of videos available on this subject.
While I admired his initiative to find an answer to his dilemma (there isn’t anything you can’t learn to do via YouTube – scary) I wondered why he just didn’t ask me to pour him a bowl of cereal. The truth is, whenever he says “I’m hungry”, I jump like some Pavlovian dog, ready to fix him a snack or get him a drink or start dinner a little earlier. It’s well known that hearing your baby cry during the early weeks of life can cause a mother’s breasts to leak milk – his call for food just speaks to my primal instinct as a mom to make sure my baby is fed.
But the fact is, he’s not a baby anymore. He knows where the kitchen is, but thanks to me I realized that it’s a bit of a mystery to him how the food magically appears on a plate or in a bowl. It became obvious why he didn’t ask for my help. His quest to figure out how to fix his own breakfast is an assertion of his increasing self-reliance. He’s letting me know that he’s now capable of fixing his own breakfast/snack/whatever. Maybe next he’ll let me know that he’s capable of doing his own laundry.
I watched him silently as he fixed his own cereal, poured his own juice and sat down at the table to eat breakfast. It’s a kitchen, I reminded myself, it’s not like he has to go out and forage for nuts and berries. I smiled, happy and a little sad that my baby son is becoming more self-sufficient by the minute, before my very eyes.
You know, this could be a very good thing. I wonder if he can learn to whip up breakfast in bed in time for Mother’s Day? I’m sure there must be a YouTube video for that. . .
Images courtesy of YouTube and Google Images
Welcome to Nike Town!
Okay, so my 11-year-old son’s feet grew. A lot.
He’s been wearing the same pair of sneakers for the last 7 months. I kept asking him if they felt too tight or if he was uncomfortable, and he kept telling me they felt fine. I’ve offered several times to buy him a new pair of sneakers, but he’s declined. Being a creature of habit, he likes to wear the same things over and over again, especially his shoes. Plus, he hates any kind of shopping. And with the mild winter we’ve had, there was no need to go out and buy new boots, so I hadn’t had his foot measured since the beginning of the school year.
Until today. He measured in at a size four. The sneakers he’s been wearing are a size two. “Why didn’t you tell me your sneakers felt too small?” I questioned my son. He just shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t worry about it,” the clerk at Modell’s said. “Their old sneakers stretch as their feet grow, he probably didn’t feel any difference.”
Maybe he didn’t feel any difference, but I felt like the most horrible mom on earth. Who takes their kid’s word for it that their shoes fit? Who doesn’t get their kid’s foot measured more regularly? Why don’t I have a Brannock device at home???
We looked around the store for a new pair of sneakers. I managed to talk him out of a high-top basketball shoe; he doesn’t play basketball and I could hear the complaints that they were bothering his ankles already. And for the price, I wasn’t taking a chance that it was something he would decide felt uncomfortable in 3 days’ time. He didn’t see anything he liked, so we headed on over to Foot Locker, with its clerks dressed in striped ref shirts, questionable rap music blaring over the speakers, and boys drooling over the latest overpriced kicks – a pre-teen boy’s footwear mecca. No more Skechers. No more Stride Rite. Straight into Nike town.
And then the sticker shock set in – $65, $85, $100 and more! Am I that out of touch? I’d heard the rumors of boys’ sneakers costing as much as a month’s worth of groceries, but I thought that was an urban legend. These are sneakers, after all, not Jimmy Choo‘s, which as everyone knows are an investment, or so I’ve read (but how would I fit them into my portfolio?). These shoes are likely to be outgrown and forgotten in 6 months. Hoping to cut my losses, I grabbed a pair of $65 Nike Air Max shoes and asked the clerk to bring me a size four. My son slipped his feet into them and immediately felt the difference (damn you, clerk at Modell’s!) – he said they weren’t tight, and the side of his foot wasn’t hurting anymore (what??). “Do you like them?” I asked, before he could look at anything else. “Yeah, they’re cool,” he pronounced. I threw the old ones in the new sneaker box and headed for the register, happy to be getting out of there for less than a hundred bucks.
At check out the cashier informed me that the total was $99.16. “What? No, the price on this shoe is $65, I saw it on the floor,” I exclaimed. “Yes, that’s for size 3 and under; size four starts at $95,” the cashier explained. Considering that the sneakers were already on my son’s feet and factoring in his pain and suffering at wearing sneakers two sizes too small for God knows how long, I handed over my credit card.
What was I complaining about? I was, after all, getting out of there for under $100.
Are you as clueless as I am about pre-teen boy’s sneakers? Are they really overpriced, or am I just out of touch? What else do I have to look out for? Will I ever own a pair of Jimmy Choo’s? If you have answers to any of these questions, please, let me know!
Some photos courtesy of Google images