Monday, August 20, 2012

Back To School (or not)

Some of our friends and neighbors are getting ready to start the new school year.  I have mixed feelings about this, most definitely. We live very near the neighborhood school that Light attended last year, so we drive by several times a week. I always look at the large announcement board hanging on the outside of the building that lists the goings on for the month. It’s starting to fill up- new student orientation, school spirit day, kindergarten reception, room rep meetings (I was a room rep for Light’s kindergarten class last year). Seeing the schedule makes me feel the loss. Truly the school had a great community. The families were wonderful. The students were wonderful. The neighborhood is wonderful. So, I do, I feel the loss. I love the hubbub of group activities. I love being involved in organizations. I love being around students and parents. So I am sad that we won’t be experiencing those kinds of things.

But, I think about the anxiety level that Light had when he had to ride a school bus on a field trip, even though I was also attending. I think about his sensitivities to specific kinds of discipline. I think about how his need for intellectual stimulation and challenge is a huge part of who he is. I think about how challenging it is for him to be in large groups of people and without the academic challenge to motivate him to deal with those stressors, he was miserable. I know that we have made the right decision. I think about the administration that had absolutely no interest in working with us to improve things for Light. I think about his kindergarten teacher who had absolutely no understanding of how a gifted mind works and the asynchrony, challenges and intensities that go along with that I think about how kindergarten was supposed to be fun for him and nurturing and a place for him to figure out his challenges and use his strengths. It was supposed to be a welcoming, fun environment that introduced us to the next 12 years of public education. None of that happened for him.

What happened for him were daily stomachaches and over all body aches on our M-F walks to school. What happened was Light crying himself to sleep every night. What happened was watching an angry child take over my happy, secure, curious, loving boy. What happened were conversations about feeling different, feeling misunderstood, feeling unappreciated. What happened to us were inaccurate labels and negative reports that were gross misunderstandings of what was happening with Light. What happened was an educator’s projection of her own family’s “issues” onto our son. What happened were suggestions for how to “fix” him, to help him conform to the norm, to fit in.

We know from experience, from hereditary that he will most likely not ever “fit in” to the “norm.” But we also know from experience, from heredity that who he is is an amazing human being just as he is, who doesn’t need to be fixed, but needs a special environment to help him reach his full potential.

So, I am excited for our own home schooling year, but I feel sad. I know things will change, they already have. I have lost touch with some of the moms that I thought I wouldn’t lose touch with. I loved the morning chit chat, the “late start Fridays”, the before pick up gossip and catching up. The thing is, I feel that loss, I don’t think that Light really feels it. I have to be careful, very careful not to put those feelings of nostalgia onto him. I loved school (although in hindsight, I can’t say that it was really beneficial). I wish I was more of a free spirit and I think my fear of getting in trouble kept me from my full expression.

What I won’t miss are the daily battles to get ready in the morning. I won’t miss the daily battles with homework. I won’t miss the daily battle of finding something to pack for lunch everyday. I won’t miss the daily battle with my gut and my intuition telling me that this was not right for us.

The thing is, we have friends. We have awesome friends. We have a great community. We have fantastic neighbors and now we have met some wonderful new friends who are also on a home schooling path. I will still feed my need to be around other people, to be social, to chit chat. And Light will have opportunities to practice these skills as well without all the extra stress that goes along with it. So, I am excited for this new adventure. It feels exhilarating and liberating. And we can be on our own schedule and do things exactly the way that will work for our family.

I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy school year whether you are following a traditional school path or paving your way on a home schooling path. Here’s to a year of loving, living and learning! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Does Blogging Make Me A Better Mom?

This is only my second blog post, but right after the first one, I started obsessing over what my next topic would be, wondering if anything good would happen (be careful what you wish for!). I also started analyzing everything I was doing, which then made me wonder “Does blogging make one a better parent?” Many times, situations would arise and I would think about putting the story in a blog post, so of course, I planned to have the perfect parenting response so I could be proud of what I had to share with whoever was reading.

For example, yesterday, I left the room for maybe 3 minutes (mistake number 1) to take an important call (mistake number 2), my children were painting (mistake number 3). When I returned to the room, they had made a mixture of paints and apparently had decided to become warriors. Did I mention they were naked? With paint? They change their skin colors and the tint of the hard wood floors. Their bodies were COVERED head to toe in paint. The wood floor was covered in paint, the craft table was covered in paint. At this point, I knew this would make it into the blog. How was I going to respond?

I think I could have handled one child in this situation, but two children? I stood paralyzed and frozen. Usually I am pretty quick on my feet to figure out how to solve a problem, how to clean up a mess. This time I really had no clue. I did not yell. Honestly, though, I don’t remember what I said. Something like “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what’s going on?!?!” I asked them to pause so we could make a new plan. I told them we needed to clean this up and that we might be ruining the floors. I needed their help to clean up as fast as possible and they really needed to do what I asked.

Then I made another series of mistakes. First, I thought the best way to clean then off was to hose them off outside. So I carried Light out and turned on the hose. Well, duh, he started spraying the hose all over the place. I tried to aim it into the little baby pool, but he was just goofing off with it and refused to get himself wet because it was cold. Second, I carried Happiness outside and tried to spray her off. She flipped out. It was cold! So now the war paint is dripping off their bodies onto the concrete patio, so the mess was just spreading.

So then I decided to put them in the shower, but now I had to carry them in one at a time dripping paint through the house. First Light, then Happiness.  At this point, my clothes are covered in paint as well. At least they are warm in the shower and I ask them to please stay in there until I get the floor cleaned.  They hate to shower with the shower door closed, so they opened it, spraying colored water all over the bathroom floor. I needed some VOOM from The Cat in the Hat.

After a 15 minute shower, much of the paint went down the drain. Next was to transfer them to the bubble bath. First Light, then Happiness in the bath together, with cups. Another mistake. Thinking I could continue to clean the mess up while they soaked in the tub, with cups. Nope. Now I have a flooded bathroom floor to mop up.  Then they decide to drain the water themselves. I refill it to rinse them off. Finally, they are free of paint. I am sopping wet and covered in paint, still.

The bathroom floor is mopped up. The wood floor is clean. The table is clean. The kids are clean. My clothes are not clean. The kitchen sink has the full paint cups and brushes in it, still needing to be cleaned.

After the kids were clean. We talked. I asked them if they had fun. “Yes.” I told them that I appreciate their need and desire to be creative and to make messes. I told them that there is a time and place for that. And I asked if we could use the little baby pool outside to do body/mud painting next time. Then they helped me with some other toy clean up and we ate dinner (late).

In the morning I woke up to find that there were still paint footprints on the floor in the playroom. Also, paint on the front screen door, which reminded me that during this whole thing, a neighbor friend stopped over and apparently I looked quite frazzled and spread paint on the door.

I was proud of myself for not blowing my top. And secretly I was happy to see my kids in kahoots together instead of going at each other’s throats. They were giggling together in the tub and during the whole mess making time. My new favorite saying, “if you’re going to laugh about it later, why not laugh about it now.”

So, although this is tongue in cheek, maybe blogging does make one a better parent. It provides a bit of introspection if you know you might be parenting under a microscope or for an audience. My husband says that it is sort of like therapy. Like how you think about what you are doing and know that you have to report back to your therapist, so you adjust your behaviors a little more and make some changes so you are happy with the way you handle things. Kind of like what happened with this story and my blog.

I never did change my clothes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Many people have suggested that I start a blog. Some have said it's because I have some funny one-liners and funny stories (no pressure, though!). Some have said it's because my life is crazy (very true). Some have said it's because I write well and have a strong voice (strong opinions, yes). One honest friend asked why I would want to add to my already very full plate (because a lot of funny stuff happens). And others have asked what I would write about (the crazy, full, wonderful life of parenting two intense kiddos).

So here I sit nursing my 2.5 year old daughter, let's call her Happiness, while trying to type as she grabs my hands, kicks the computer keyboard and uses my breast as a kazoo hgklkjgkhgdgfxbn;nlikoiuyd (that was her). Is that a funny start off story? Is it crazy? Whatever your answers are, it's a true story happening right now.

My family is also beginning our homeschooling journey this year. Happiness is the younger sister of our 6.5 year old son, let's call him Light. He was in kindergarten for much of last year and for reasons you will learn all about, it was not the right fit for our family. This blog will also be about our adventures in homeschooling/life learning.

So, the purpose, I guess, of this blog is to tell stories, true stories, of the crazy, wonderful, overwhelming life we live here in Southern California. My hope is that the stories I tell will make you laugh. But, I also hope they will give parents permission to relax, have fun, and enjoy their children. I hope to share an honest look at parenting from the heart, leading with love, laughing out loud, and learning through living together, as a family.