Category Archives: Parenting

Best! Mom! Ever! x3

I.

Reed’s wallet had been lost for weeks. Sadly, he had a solid wad of money in it, given to him by his Grandfather in Boston, who had recently installed a toll transponder and had no further need for a 5 gallon barrel of change he’d collected. They’d gone to the bank to change the coins into bills and split it between the two grandkids, and Reed’s wallet had been bulging for a couple of weeks.

It went missing and Reed looked for it half-heartedly. It was only when he had immediate needs (like while we were in Tar.get) that he desperately wanted his wallet found. When he was actually home, amid the chaos that is his room, he couldn’t be bothered to look.

Until the weekend that Bruno Mars came to town. I told the kids I would take them to the concert if they would pay for half their tickets — about $18. You may think this is mean, but they appreciate things more when they’ve used their own energy to pay for it.

Suddenly Reed REALLY wanted to find his wallet, but without actually having to look for it. Is it in your room, Reed? Mommmm! I already looked there! In the car? Mommmm! I already looked there! In the couch? Mommmm! I already looked there! In your drawers, under your bed, in your laundry? Mommmm! I already looked in all those places! I’m dooooooooooomed! My life is ovvvverrrrrr because I can’t go to the conceeeeeeeert! Waaaaaah, waaaaaaah!

Tessa and I cleaned his entire room looking for the dratted thing. It took all freakin’ afternoon. He “helped” us by complaining less loudly than usual.

Finally I looked in one of the previously looked-in places:

Lost wallet found in the couch

couch cushion vortex

Reed’s relief brought him to tears.

Best! Mom! Ever! he said as he hugged me.

II.

Who is poised to take over the King of Pop crown now that Michael Jackson is gone? My vote goes to Bruno Mars. He’s got pop instincts as a writer of catchy songs, pop moves as a dancer, and he’s pretty darn cute. Just check out this or this or this:

(And yes, some of the lyrics did cause us to have a discussion about appropriateness.)

Having the long concert history that I do — dating all the way back to Barry Manilow (don’t hate me because I’m cool) — I know how valuable it will be for them someday to say, “I saw Bruno Mars at the very beginning of his career.” And also, how groovy is it to take your kids to their first concert?

So I took Tessa and Reed. I remembered to bring binoculars and three pairs of ear plugs. Show time was at 7:30 with one opening act. But there was an additional band on stage before the billed opener, which means that Bruno Mars didn’t hit the stage until 9:40 pm. Sure, there was some impatient squirming, but it was all worth it when Bruno finally came out.

Bruno Mars concert(Apologies for the quality. There was a lot of jumping up and down going on.)

We rocked and rolled and yelled and danced and had a blast together. The show lasted until 11:30 pm and the kids were troopers. They were even able to make the trek back to the parking lot. I had moments of panic toward the end when I thought I might have to carry two sleeping children a quarter-mile to the car (by the way, Roger was out of town at this time).

It was a memory in the making. Tessa and Reed exclaimed, through their sleepiness, that it was the “best night of my entire life!” And for a time I was the…

Best! Mom! Ever!

III.

Some of the best things about writing for MileHighMamas, besides getting to know all the other Mamas, are the perks that our editor is sometimes able to share with us. This time it was entry for our families to Water World, the largest water park in the US — 67 acres. We were there all day and only able to visit a fraction of the attractions.

Not only did we get in with complimentary passes, but Water World also provided us lunch and valet service for the enormous inflatable rafts that the common people had to lug up the hills. Our very special kids? Walked to the top of the rides, cut in line by virtue of their special wristbands, and were awarded a raft out of the stash already at the top.

Tessa and Reed especially loved hanging out on the “beach” at Thunder Bay. The sandless beach with the soda pop logo.

Water World

Except for my periodic calling in for sunscreen slathering, once again I was the Best! Mom! Ever!

~~~~~

With my frequent insistence on tooth-brushing an clothes-folding and TV-limiting and general No-ing, hey, I’ll take Best! Mom! Ever! every time I can get it.

Perfect Moment Monday: Shiny things

This is on my nightstand. No reason .

~~~~~

We’d made a deal, Tessa and I. If she could go four days in a row without any arguing with me — not over clothes, homework, TV, eating, bedtime, bathtime or anything else — she could get her ears pierced early for her birthday.

(Secretly I half-predicted enough false starts to take us all the way to her 2012 birthday.)

This arrangement was set on a Thursday night.

Friday was very pleasant as Tessa was on her best behavior. Granted, during the school day she wasn’t with me, but during the times she was, I heard “OK, Mom!” over and over.

Hear that? The angel choir?

Saturday and Sunday were the same. No fights with her brother. All chores done happily. Appropriate clothing chosen. Agreeable to a fault. Toys put away.

The transformation was amazing. I no longer had to exert such control over her because she was now controlling herself.

Which, of course we noticed and praised and reinforced in every way we could think of.

I wish there were more of a plot line (well, not really), but Monday went off without a hitch, too. So Tuesday after school, Tessa and Grandma and I went where every pre-teen girl on the planet seems to go to get her ears pierced (do you know how many such videos are on YouTube??):  Claire’s.

And Tessa grew up from this:

to this:

In more ways than one.

I am quite enjoying this new relationship with my very grown up girl.

Ear Images: © WriteMindOpenHeart.com. May be used only with attribution and linkage.

====================================

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

Once a week we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

  1. Follow this blog.
  2. Between Sunday night and Tuesday night, write up your own Perfect Moment.
  3. Use LinkyTools below to enter your name (or your site/blog name) and the URL of your Perfect Moment.
  4. Visit the Perfect Moments of others and let the writers know you were there with some comment currency.

Once you make a Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog.What Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of? Visit these moments of others and share your comment love.

 

Perfect Moment Monday: Exorcism

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

Once a week we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join. Details on how to participate are at the bottom of this post, complete with bloggy bling.

Please visit the links of the participants at the bottom.

Here’s a perfect moment from my week. I hope you’ll share yours, too.

====================================

To get to this week’s perfect moment, you must first understand the decidedly IMperfect moments that preceded it.

~~~

In the early summer, 9 year-old Grace noticed a lump on her neck and showed it to her mom. Lynne, not too worried, arranged for a physician to check it out. At the appointment the doctor casually uttered the words “blood draw,” which set off a terrible, horrible, no-good chain of events. Lynne saw it begin when Grace’s eyes went scared-wild, but was powerless to stop what had been set in motion.

She’d had trouble getting the kids out the door for the 8:30 am appointment. Knowing the doctor visit would be short, Lynne had sacrificed breakfast for promptness, hoping that the hunger the kids would feel would teach them not to dally next time. And Lynne had violated the most basic rules of parenting: never do anything important when kids are (a) hungry (b) sleepy (c) cranky (d) any combination.

Upon hearing those words uttered by the doctor, Grace began to yell and scream her protest, thus alerting several dozen people in various parts of the clinic of her displeasure. Then Grace’s body went wild, limbs swinging in both offense and defense, letting no one near. Lynne tried to gather and hold Grace tightly to quell the anxiety that was  bursting from its fragile borders. And because it was time to head to the lab area, Lynne then dragged Grace, who was literally digging in her heels, out of the exam room.

Grace convinced her mother — loudly — to release her grip, that she was FINE. When Lynne did, Grace bolted out the front door toward parking lot traffic. Lynne sprung out of the chair like a tightly wound coil, cleared the automatic doors and tackled Grace before she got to the car lane, then carried her back inside, still kicking and screaming. Grace scratched, bit, and kicked Lynne on the return trip. The commotion continued with these high-volume words that tore Lynne’s pounding heart: “I hate you! You’re not my mom! You’re the worst mom ever! I HATE YOU, MOM!!”

Everyone in the building had stopped what they were doing to witness this spectacular morning drama.

Grace’s flip-flops sliced through the air, narrowly missing an elderly man in one direction and a nurse in another. Grace’s younger brother, Jack, retrieved them, wanting to help in some way. After picking up the debris he, too, tried to get Grace to calm down. Then she turned on him, calling him a naughty word that Lynne had not thought to tell her was reserved for other females, not for brothers.

Lynne endured 10 more minutes of bites and scratches, watching welts appear on her shoulders and arms, while the lab attempted to track down a male nurse. Jack staved off his own hunger by giving his mom pointers on how a ninja holds a prisoner. Lynne noticed that her body was both rigid on adrenaline AND somewhat pliant, as she fought the urge to  escalate the situation with her own anger and hopelessness and embarrassment and frustration. It was a struggle to keep breathing when her world was crumbling from the assault.

A male nurse finally showed up in the waiting area and carried Grace to a lab room. Grace slapped him repeatedly in the face and kicked him in the knees until he could get her in a humane and proper hold. Once in the room she kicked over display racks. Pamphlets on “How to Check your Testicles” and “So you Want to Go on the Pill” scattered everywhere. It took three people and 30 more seconds to pin Grace down and draw a teeny vial of blood from the feral child.

Crisis subsiding, mother and children headed to the x-ray waiting  area, the fight gone from Grace. Lynne was a bundle of jello, barely able to keep herself together. Grace wanted to make up, desperately needing her mother’s absolution, and Lynne was not able to give it. Instead, Lynne turned and stared at a wall and began sobbing silently, tears from deep in her gut rolling down her cheeks.

A woman came by, did an uncertain double-take, and said, “Can I help you with anything?” “No, thank you,” Lynne choked. “Can I just give you a hug?” Lynne stood, said yes and collapsed into the woman, overwhelmed by her presence and kindness. The woman offered to fetch breakfast. Lynne, having no protest left in her, accepted and handed her $20. The woman said she’d be back from McDonald’s soon with breakfast sandwiches and orange juice.

Another lady, this one elderly, walked by and murmured, “I’ll be praying for you.”

Lynne was touched by their sweetness, but sobs threatened to wrack her anew as she realized she was the object of pity because she couldn’t control her child.

Grace got x-rayed without incident, and the kind lady arrived with breakfast and change and a card with her phone number on it. She blessed Lynne and told her, sympathetically, that she’d been added to her church’s prayer chain.

Somehow Lynne got the kids home. In the garage, in the car alone, she cried from a bottomless well of despair. Tomorrow her biceps would hurt from wrangling a 60 pound girl. And no matter how hot the day, she vowed to never go sleeveless to the doctor again.

It was The Worst Day of her parenting life and Lynne had survived. But she didn’t feel very victorious.

~~~

In the late fall, the unknown mass was about to be excised. The lead-up to Grace’s surgery had been hard on the whole family — five months was a long time for a girl to sit with such anxiety. The fear would erupt periodically and cost Grace hours in time-outs. People close to the girl were on pins and needles about how she would handle the day of the surgery. Lynne spent a lot of time preparing Grace for what she could expect, and they had many conversations as Grace processed the emotions that arose.

“Good morning, Mommy!” The first thing Lynne saw that morning was Grace smiling ear to ear. So far, so good, she thought, knowing things could go sour without warning.

But Grace handled not being allowed to have food or even water all morning with, well, Grace. She got into the car, clutching her teddy bear, of her own accord. She chatted nervously about everything but surgery during the drive to the hospital. She held up well through registration and pre-op, biting her lower lip as a way to manage her anxiety. She swallowed the Versed with no cajoling. She bonded with Nurse Sue and compliantly got into a little red wagon to be wheeled into surgery. She cried only when the wagon got to the boundary that Lynne could not cross. Lynne put on a brave face until the wagon was out of sight, and then burst into tears.

Ninety minutes later, mother and daughter were reunited in post-op. Grace, coming out of anesthesia, inquired if she was in Her Room yet. She’d created a scenario in her mind in which she had a beautiful room of her own filled with flowers and gifts and balloons and stuffed animals from thousands of adoring well-wishers.

Soon she WAS in Her Room and soon the anesthesia left her body.  Grace enjoyed playing with the switches that controlled the bed, the TV, the lights, the shades, and the nurses. She held court with her family of well-wishers and she glowed as her mom read Twitter and Facebook messages to her.

Grace and Lynne stayed the night and went home the next day, bonded in a new way. Grace had discovered she could control the hardest-of-all to control — herself. And a new and deep respect for Grace had blossomed in Lynne’s heart.

Both had vanquished demons, and for a moment it was perfect.

====================================

To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

  1. Follow this blog.
  2. Between Sunday night and Tuesday night, write up your own Perfect Moment in a blog post, on Twitter, on Facebook, or simply leave a comment below (if you do the latter, skip #3).
  3. Use LinkyTools below to enter your name (or your blog’s name) and the URL of your Perfect Moment.
  4. Visit the Perfect Moments of others and let the writers know you were there.

Once you make a Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog.What Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of? Visit these moments of others and share the comment love.

If wishes were horses

Lynne stood near a pile of horse manure, leaning on a fence post, flies zooming around her in the late-afternoon sun. She squinted her eyes and watched the creatures before her, a lump in her throat and tears threatening to overflow her eye sockets. She sighed away the feeling of being consumed, which had come uncomfortably close to enveloping her.

She hated when that happened. Why couldn’t she just allow the ecstasy to flow on the rare occasions the conditions were right?

Because it didn’t seem appropriate in a horse pasture. And with this woman she barely knew. And, of course, in front of Grace. Grace freaked out at tears, even happy tears.

Lynne never thought she’d find this woman, this creature, this possible solution for her daughter. She’d searched for two years, ever since equine therapy was first suggested as an idea to try for her daughter. And though Lynne had had to be patient, the possible solution had unfolded beautifully.

Weeks before, Lynne had entered the local health foods store. She never checked the community bulletin board in the entry way, but this day, as she left the store with her baba ganouj and Greek yogurt, she stopped to read a flier. “Art/Music Festival this Fri/Sat 10-5.” Surprisingly, the address was within biking distance from her home. Lynne made a mental note to take the family to  the Art/Music Festival sometime during the upcoming weekend.

On Friday, Lynne and the kids drove past the intersection listed on the flier. Looked like a very small Art/Music Festival, Lynne thought to herself. This isn’t even in a parking lot — it’s in someone’s yard. She and the kids were on task for something else and didn’t go to the Art/Music Festival that day.

Saturday was full of duty. Lynne and Rob got their yard mowed, some weeds pulled, the groceries bought, some calories burned. The day was slipping away when Lynne remembered the nearby Art/Music Festival. She knew her husband was a sucker for local music. C’mon, let’s go, she’d said around 3:30.

They got to the teeny-tiny Art/Music Festival just an hour before closing time. Along the perimeter of the lot were maybe six white tents providing shade to vendors of knit caps, airbrushed artwork, and handmade wind chimes. In one corner was a small stage with a miked and amped guitarist, vocalist and drummer. In another corner a guy was offering chair massages.

At the entrance to the clearing, a pretty blond woman was offering horse rides.  Grace begged to ride, so Lynne approached the woman to find out how much a ride cost. “Five dollars. This is Pinto,” she said pointing to a liver-spotted horse. “He was a rescue. He’s very gentle.”

Grace’s pleadings reached a fever pitch remarkably fast, even as Lynne fished cash out of her purse. Grace’s difficulty in focusing on schoolwork was accompanied by a peculiar ability to hone in on what she wanted and not stop petitioning until she got it. The blond woman arranged for a young high school student wearing jeans and boots to lead Grace, atop Pinto, on a 5-minute circuit around the lot. Twice. Grace could not get enough so they went around a third time.

Lynne chatted up the horse owner. “Do you know anywhere around here that offers hippotherapy?”

It was a highly specialized field. Not only did the horse need to be trained in dealing with children who had special needs, but the human also had to be trained in fields like occupational therapy, speech therapy, maybe even psychotherapy. Lynne had searched for years in vain, finding such horse+therapist combination an hour’s drive north or an hour’s drive south. Not doable.

How had it come to this? It had become clear that Grace was not getting what she needed at school, at home, through their medical network. No one had even been able to figure out what she needed. Grace was falling behind academically, she was having difficulty with relationships, she was combative at home, and though infinitely lovable, Grace’s presence was a whirlwind of chaos. Lynne and her husband were exhausted in dealing with her and trying to help her. They’d tried numerous strategies, therapies, even medications. Nothing had helped Grace focus, stem her impulsiveness and tendency toward opposition, or “click” with reading and math skills. Lynne and her husband were growing more and more fearful that maybe an answer didn’t exist.

So the blond woman’s response was nothing short of miraculous.

“I do hippotherapy.”

Lynne could not believe her ears, her luck.

“You do? Where?” fully expecting the answer to be in a faraway town.

“Right here. I’ve just returned to the area and I’m setting up riding and therapy again. I’ve worked in the past with children of all abilities and with all sorts of issues.”

She told Lynne her fees, which were not as high as she’d feared. Phone numbers were exchanged, and soon Lynne had set up this first lesson.

Best of all, Grace, with her love of animals, did not even know she was getting assistance. Being different from other “normal” kids had been the downfall of other therapies and activities they’d tried. But this? This looked like learning to care for and ride horses.

In reality, the reported benefits of equine therapy include learning to be respectful, being calmer in the body, honing social skills and understanding the subtle give-and-take, improving the eye-movements essential to reading, reinforcing sequencing, building self-esteem, and experiencing trust.

It remained to be seen if Pinto and the blond woman could bring about any of these changes for Grace, now sporting a borrowed riding helmet and sitting with a straight spine atop the horse . But as Lynne stood in the glow of the afternoon sun, watching her daughter ride with confidence and focus, she was supremely hopeful.