Monthly Archives: September 2011

a bunch of weirdos…

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When the girls sit at my kitchen table doing their homework after school, they generally work peacefully; that is, until I leave the room. Don’t get me wrong, they are “chatty Cathies”, who I have to prompt to stop talking; but in general they are able to get their work done. Except when I leave the room for any reason.  Then all bets and gloves are off.   The main culprits in these fights are Mary and the doll.  Occasionally, Elle will throw her two cents into the mix, just to rile her sister further. Then the boy pipes in to try to act as a “mediator”, which is not appreciated anyone. 

Yesterday I stepped out of the room only for a minute before I heard the strands of a fight begin…  “You did too!” Mary said.  “I did not!” the doll responded. “You take it back doll!” “I didn’t say it to begin with, besides….”  This is my favorite part, because  the kids use this excuse incessantly, “You’re not the boss of me I can do or say anything I want!”  The doll retort.  Looking at her sister, Mary asked, “Elle, didn’t she call me that?” “Well…” Elle answers, but she can’t be heard because the doll talks over her and says, “How would she know, she wasn’t even in the room.  Besides, I know what I said and you’re wrong!” Meanwhile their voices rise to decibel rates usually only heard at concert venues.  “No I’m not, you’re lying!” Mary challenges.  “Aunt Marsha, the doll called me weird!” she says as I re-enter the room to stop the fight. 

“Is that all”? I wonder to myself.  From all the commotion, you would have thought the doll had called her something more incriminating….you know like “in love” with a certain boy at school.  Walking into the kitchen I looked at all three girls and in a voice louder than them all, I said, “She’s right, you are weird.  And so is the doll, Elle and the boy.  But out of all of you, I’m the biggest weirdo of all!  Now stop arguing and finish your homework.”  Taken aback the girls offer small giggles before the doll asked, “What do you mean by that?”

“Well, Mary is a weirdo because every time I turn around she’s tattling on someone for saying something she doesn’t like…. Elle’s a weirdo because every day after school she asks if I’ll make her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and she likes to start every sentence with “Guess what?”  The boy is a weirdo because, well, because he’s a boy…” From the other room the boy gave out a “Hey!” to voice his displeasure  for being included with the girls, but I continued on.  “The doll is a weirdo because she cannot tell me anything without mentioning every single, solitary detail, regardless whether it matters or not…” “Oh poo!” the doll said, as she harmlessly swatted at the air toward  me.  “Which leaves me and I must be the biggest weirdo of them all  because I have all of you in my house yelling and screaming at one another like maniacal weirdos! Can we please just agree to disagree please?” 

The girls looked at me and laughed.  “Mary I’m sorry you think I called you weird.  What I said was, “that was weird” to you.  “Well that’s calling me weird” Mary replied.  “But that’s not what I said…” the doll returned before I finally put my foot down on this subject.  “That’s enough!  Mary unless the doll actually says to you, “Mary you’re weird” stop believing she implied it.  Doll, keep your opinions to yourself, get it?” the girls shook their heads up and down. “Got it?” they continued shaking their heads.  “Good!”

Yet who am I kidding?  Those kids are much bigger weirdos than I could ever be…unless compared to my husband…but then that’s a whole different animal all together.

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rewards…

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“Mom, can we go to Walmart tonight?” the boy asked excitedly.  “I don’t know, maybe after the girls go to ballet.  We’ll have to see…” I said in response.  He took my answer as a yes and left for school.  The night before I had officially closed the books on the  “clean room for a month” agreement we had made a few weeks back.  To my credit, he maintained the room longer than originally agreed, as he didn’t bother counting down the days, until he realized I wasn’t either.

The night before I had asked him to look on Amazon.com to find the exact bionicle/Hero factory set he wanted.  Our original agreement stated I would purchase him a large set; usually around $80.00 in price.  But he wasn’t interested;  there was no instant gratification on the computer screen.  He was determined to go to Walmart, of all places, to purchase his reward.  When school ended  the boy approached me and asked  “Mom, can KLR come home with us?”  What’s one more? I thought and we left for home.  As we walked the boy said with a big grin, “So, we ARE going to Walmart today, right?”  “I don’t know, we’ll see..” I said in return.

“Mom, KLR’s mom just called and asked if we would drop him off at home when we’re done.” The boy said.  “Done doing what?” I naively asked, “Done going to Walmart.”  Oh I see…he needed a buddy to help him pick out the right set.  After taking the girls to ballet, on to Walmart we went.  While driving, I got a kick out of listening to the boys excitedly discuss the different possibilities the store might hold.  As you can imagine, once there, they made a b-line for the toy department and found the right hero factory set for the boy.  Surprisingly, KLR grabbed two smaller sets and we headed for the checkout. 

“Are you sure that’s the one you want?” I asked the boy.  I was surprised he was only picking out a single, less expensive figure than we originally discussed.  “Yup, this will do nicely!” he replied.  KLR who had two smaller figures in his hand added, “Yeah he’ll like that one.  I’m gonna buy these two and then we can have some awesome battles.”  “Oh, well, okay..” I replied.

“Why are we buying this for him again?” His father asked.  “Our deal was to keep his room clean for 30 days.  He actually went about 40.” I said, before adding, “And I told him if he keeps the “clean room act” up through Thanksgiving, I’d buy him a Kindle for Christmas”.  Giving me and odd look his father replied, “All this for a clean room?”  “No” I said.  “I’m rewarding him for keeping his word, keeping the room clean and building the habit to pick up after himself at the same time.  Hopefully this becomes innate behavior; which will become an overall life reward.”  Smiling and patting me on the back,  his father said, “Good luck with that”. 

Pushing his pessimism aside, I choose to be optimistic about the boy’s outcome.  I mean really, a Kindle is a pretty big deal to a 12-year-old book-worm.

“Not me” go away don’t come back another day!

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Many years ago, Bill Keane’s Family Circle comic stip featured a regular character who had the appropriate name of “Not Me”.  N.M. was an imaginary character who showed up whenever the kids were being questioned about who made a mess; “Not me!” they would all chime in. I don’t know how imaginary N.M. really is as he’s taken up residence in my home, only now, he’s trying to be more clever…

“Doll, please clean up this mess” I’ll say, pointing at the clutter covering our living room floor.  Her stock answer reply to me usually is “But I didn’t make that mess, the boy did.”  Conversely if I ask the boy to do the same thing and he often replies, “But mom, the doll made the mess…”  I sometimes wonder if the kids get together to compare notes on which sentence they can use to see mom’s eyes bulge out of her head; as both responses do the trick.

Whenever my mom got angry enough to hit us for our lack of thought behind a response, she would bite the skin between her forefinger and thumb.  I wish I had that natural reflex.  Instead I yell; which does me no good.  In the time it takes to raise my voice, they have already tuned me out. 

I decided to try a different tact…I mean at this point what do I have to lose?

“Really, that’s not your mess so you won’t clean it up?  Hmmm I’ll tell you what, let’s make a deal.  From now on, I’ll only wash my clothes and clean up my messes.  You can take care of your own stuff–you know laundry, dishes, dinner, etc.  Sound good?”  Both kids faces drooped and a low “ugh!” could be heard as they turned around to complete the assigned chore.

I allow myself to feel triumphant only for a moment, as I know this victory will be short-lived.   “Not Me” is bound to come back, this I have no doubt.

It’s just not fair….

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Yesterday the doll awoke with a sore throat.  Over the weekend her brother had exhibited the same symptoms; however, if the kid is not vomiting or running a high-grade fever, I don’t believe a sore throat warrants staying home from school. After school as she exited the building, I asked, “How’s your throat feel?”  I would have been shocked had she said something other than “Horrible”.  “Alright, how do you feel over-all?”  “Remember how the boy was on Saturday?” she asked, though not really waiting for my response, “That’s how I feel today.”

On Monday, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s the doll and Mary have ballet which they gripe about going to every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.  As we walked toward home I said, “Well, if you feel this badly, I’ll write your dance teacher a note to get you out of actually doing the ballet part–but you still have to go, so you can take notes, fair enough?”  Shaking her head up and down in approval she said, “Thanks Mom”.

Hearing our conversation Mary piped in, “You know what?  Yesterday I wiped out on my scooter and really scraped up my knee bad.  It was so bad, the blood soaked through the band-aid.”  “That sounds painful…” the doll replied, “but you don’t understand, I really don’t feel good.”  As we continued walking home Mary tried her best to make a case to get out of ballet as well.  

Once home, I wrote the doll out a note, addressed to her ballet teacher.  “There you go” I said handing her the note.  “Aunt Marsha, can I call my mom?” Mary asked.  “Why?” “Because I want her to call the dance studio and tell them I can’t do ballet today either.”  “Mary, I realize a scraped knee can hurt, however I never saw you limp once while we walked home; it can’t hurt that bad.” I reasoned.  “That’s because I was holding it in…” she replied.  Chuckling to myself, I handed her the phone.

Her mother said no; she must go to ballet and dance.  Unhappily she put on her ballet uniform.  “Aunt Marsha, the scrape is bleeding through the band-aid and now onto the tights” she said, her voice full of concern.  “Can you take off your tights so I can put a new band-aid on the scrape?” I asked.  “No….can I call my dad?” Handing her the phone I watched as she tried her best to sway her dad over to her point of view.  After a  few minutes she handed me back the phone saying, “That’s just great!It’s just not fair!”   “What did he say?” I asked though from her tone of voice I already knew.  “He told me it would have to be the dance teacher’s call.”  With that we left for ballet. 

When the doll returned home, following ballet, I asked her “How was class since you only sat and watched?”  “Well first of all, I didn’t get yelled at, which was nice for a change; but otherwise it was fine” she said.  “Was Mary allowed to sit and watch with you?  I asked.  “No, the teacher told her to try to stick it out for as long as possible, which she did for the entire class” the doll replied.  “Well that’s too bad” I said.  “Not really mom, she wasn’t sick like me”. 

In the doll’s mind, fair is fair….

 

an average kid….

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My mom used to say, “Lord, just give me an average kid…” when I was young. I’m not sure which child she was referring to; or if this mantra was more her wish or prayer to help when she was confronted with our burgeoning odd behaviors, the older we became.  Several times over the last few years, I have been guilty of saying the same thing.  There are days when I feel helpless in understanding what the heck my kids are talking about or going through.  I wish they had no understanding of a hard day, instead just living in the average everyday boring life.

When the boy was three years old, we used to call him the “‘lil politician”.  He would approach perfect strangers, introduce himself and shake hands with everyone.  He would open his mouth and this large vocabulary would spill out impressing everyone around him.  At other times he’s the “little professor”,because when he speaks about a subject he enjoys, he talks with such authority, you are inclined to believe him, even when he’s wrong.

This last weekend I had an opportunity to discuss with my sister-in-law how neither one of us were granted the “average” kid.  We laughed and cried at the problems our children are facing, simply because their intelligence actually holds them back.  While the boy is too smart for his own good, his common sense meter sits almost on empty.  As we both struggle to find the right paths to make their life journey easier, we can’t help but feel like failures for not finding the solutions sooner.

Though as I sit here writing, I know in my heart of hearts I have special children for a reason.  They say God never gives you more than you can handle, evidently he has confidence in me.  In the end being a parent is hard work.  We need to realize having an average kid is truly underrated.

All My Children…

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“The Great and the Least, The Rich and the Poor, The Weak and the Strong, In Sickness and in Health, In Joy and Sorrow, In Tragedy and Triumph, You are All My Children.”

That was the tagline, written into the “book “which opened each episode and began television history back in 1971. Little did they know AMC would go on to last 41 years on network television.  My first memory of All My Children is being at my Grandma Corrigan’s and being introduced to the characters of Billy Clyde Tuggle and Estelle.  He was a pimp and she was, well you get the idea.

Not long after, I found out not only was my mom a fan, but also was my best friend’s mom.  A short time later, we were all fans.  These were the days before VCR’s and the internet of course, so we would rush home from school in hopes of catching a glimpse of the show, or spend our allowances on a Soap Opera Digest so we could get the latest scoops.

This one silly show has so many threads intertwined into my own life, that looking back brings about sweet memories.  My daughter’s name for instance and the way it’s spelled, came from AMC.  No I didn’t name the doll after a character, but I fell in love with the name.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that I did like character and the actress who portrayed her.

AMC  gave me something to talk to my mom about, at a time I didn’t want to tell her anything.  But in tandem we loved this show.  One day I arrived home from class to find my bedroom decorated with “I Love Soaps” and “I “heart” AMC” stickers.  She and my niece Lindsay had a play-date in my room.  There sitting on my pillow was a deck of “All My Children” trivia cards.  Boy, I wish I still had those.  Funny thing, I knew all the answers–as did she.

When they announced the cancellation of AMC, I banned viewing ABC network and affiliates in my house.  My kids have not been amused.  Mary asked me the other day, “Is it true you won’t let the boy and doll watch the Disney channel anymore?”  “Yup!” I said proudly.  “But why?”  “Because ABC Disney threw me away…” that’s how I feel anyway.  I’m sure at some point I’ll go back to watching ABC programming, but I just don’t know when.  Besides, one less  TV station for the kids to rot their brains on, is a good thing.

I have many, many memories of the times I spent watching my story.   Thankfully, I can find some episodes on You Tube; which will make this end a little more bearable.   Saying goodbye is never pleasant…and saying goodbye after 38 years of viewing is down right difficult.  God Bless you Agnes Nixon, cast and crew of the best soap ever….All My Children!

Related attitudes….

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All week long at All My Children, the main families have been celebrating homecomings of sort. On Monday, Dr. Hubbard, Angie to her friends; regained her eyesight, forgave her husband, forgave herself and welcomed her family home. The show was beautiful and honestly I was choked up by how well the actors performed. Tuesday the reunion centered around Erica Kane the main iconic figure from the show, and her family. There were plenty of inside jokes, which of course us fans love and again, we were shown that love prevails, even under the hardest of circumstances. Then yesterday came the Martin family’s turn.

I suppose the Martin family could be looked upon as the “middle class” family, primarily because they were so relatable to the audience. They welcomed in Thaddeus (Tad) J. Gardener, a boy abandoned by his family and adopted him. In giving Tad a home, they gave us all a home as well. Tad the Cad, as he became known through the ’80’s and ’90’s is my favorite all time character. When his sister Jenny came on the scene, everything changed. She was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, with a heart of gold. Oh how I loved Jenny and her beau Greg. Oh how I cried when Jenny died at the hands of a jealous former boyfriend. Sigh. This was daytime drama at their best. Tugging at our heart-strings, leaving us wanting more.

The only daytime drama I’ve been dealing with lately is two girls filled with attitude, who can’t seem to get along.

The doll and Mary have always been very close. Ten months are all that separates their birthdays; though they are a year apart in school. Both are strong-willed and filled to the brim with vim and vigor–almost too much to be contained in one little room. As such, on Monday both girls were assigned different corners to stand in for fighting.

Elle who sat in a chair helped me sort out the details. “Aunt Marsha, I don’t think it’s fair that Elle isn’t in the corner too, she started this whole mess!” Mary shouted from her corner. “That’s true…” I said, “However, she’s not arguing with me, calling anyone names or giving me attitude. Until you can do the same you can remain in the corner.” A minute or so later the doll piped in her two cents…”Mom I was only defending my position. If someone touches me, I should be allowed to touch them back”.

The crux of the matter was this: Elle playfully patted the doll on the rear end. The doll in turn patted Elle. Mary took offense to the doll touching her sister so she slapped the doll. The doll took offense for Mary slapping her and slapped Mary back. Elle laughed and continued patting, then hitting the doll and Mary, thinking she had just started a new game. Mary and the doll however took the game a step further by hitting and yelling and calling one another names.

My solution? “None of you can touch each other any more”! Sounds reasonable right? Well to the girls, they felt I was wrong. “C’mon that’s not fair!!” All three screamed at me. “How will we be able to cross the street if we can’t hold hands?” Mary asked. Frankly, they rarely if ever hold hands crossing the street. “You can put a hand on one another’s back pack” I said.

As they continued to argue with me, I finally proclaimed “If you continue to argue, you’ll earn an additional five minutes in the corner (for each argument). Some time passed before they realized arguing was futile; but when they did, the house became a peaceful enviroment to live in again. Once they earned their way out of their corners, all three apologized to one another and began to play peacefully.

…until the next day.