Friday, April 24, 2015

Magic

She falls down and still wants me to kiss her scraped knee to make it better.

She needs me to kiss her neck at night as she falls asleep, giggling as I breath her in, telling her that she smells delightful because she’s just had a bath.

She wakes in the night sometimes and still calls to me to come and fix her blankets and ‘retuck’ her in.

As far as she is concerned, I am magical. My kisses contain magical healing. My fingertips are magical back scratchers. My smile as she falls asleep spreads dream magic, sending only lovely, sweet dreams into her brain.

I really, truly believe there is something magical about love. Whether it’s mother love, father love, romantic love, the love a child feels for her mom and dad and Gram. Even the love shared by siblings is magical. I mean, when I was a kid, I could say anything I wanted about my brothers, but no one else better because my love for them was fierce. They were irritating creeps but they were my irritating creeps and everyone around better remember that.

Love is something that lives on after we die. We don’t stop loving people just because they’re gone. It transcends time and that is magic at its very best right there.

I’ve always wanted a magical power. Growing up, I wanted to be Samantha and Darrin’s other daughter, Tabitha and Adam’s younger sister, just so I could have magic.

Now? I have all the magic I ever dreamed of having. I see it reflected in the eyes of my children, I feel it in my husband’s embrace.

My magic is eternal and I wouldn’t trade it for any other magical powers. This magic is powerful, it’s beautiful. I’m so glad that I get to pass this magic on to the next generation.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ending the Year with the ABCs

There are 24 days left of school. How do I know this? Well, because today the first grade class at A’s and O’s school is on letter B. They get to play with bubbles at recess.

Olivia brought home a calendar page on Monday with the last 26 days noted, letting parents know how each letter of the alphabet was being celebrated as we count down the last 26 days of school.

They started yesterday with the letter A. They did Art projects during class.

Olivia loves this stuff so much. She asked every single evening what letter is the next day and how it is being observed.

Tomorrow is Career day for letter C. The students are encouraged to dress as they imagine they will when they’re all grown up and working at a career.

Olivia decided very quickly that she has to dress fancy tomorrow because, duh, she’s going to be a fashion designer. She’s already got a sketchbook with her name in stickers on the front and Barbie stickers with all kinds of awesome fashions on some of the pages.

I love her ambition, her drive, how much confidence she has in her own ideas of what is pretty and what is functional. For the record, pretty always comes before functional but if she can find a way to make them both work she considers it a bonus.

The rest of the letters aren’t quite as exciting as C though Olivia is definitely looking forward to next Monday when D arrives and they get to eat Donut holes. And I will be quite fun because they’re going to eat Ice cream treats.

Of course, the most exciting day of all is Z, when they Zip up their backpacks and Zoom out of school. O’s very ready for that day to arrive. First grade has been great for her but she’s as ready for summer as the next first grader.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

War of the Stars

I am neglecting my duties at a mother when it comes to Alyssa’s pop-culture education.

Confession: She’s never watched Star Wars.

Gasp!! I know! I’m so ashamed of myself. In my defense, I’m not that big a fan of Star Wars but honestly, I know that’s not a good reason for my TWELVE year old not to have seen any of the movies from the franchise. It’s a shame, actually.

So I’ll try to remedy it as soon as possible.

This came up recently when she informed me that there were only three people in her class who thought that Star Trek was better than Star Wars. She was included in the three because yes, she has seen plenty of Star Trek movies/television shows and even kind of, sort of appreciates their awesomeness.

See, I’m not so much neglectful as I am picky about what I show my children.

Oh, and Alyssa has also seen every X-Men movie ever made (because, duh, Hugh Jackman) but she’s not yet seen a Marvel movie. Again, I need to fix that gross oversight.

This past weekend I expanded Alyssa’s musical horizons by showing her Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Sure, we had great fun making fun of the sexist asses that were the male characters and the silly, shrill again, sexist portrayals of women but it was still so, so much fun to watch it with her. I love that movie so much and am so glad that she managed to get through the whole thing with minimal eye rolling.

I’m working on it all, is what I’m saying.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Parenting Advice from the Preteen

Yes, Alyssa, I know Olivia is perfectly capable of feeding herself. I appreciate the nudge you’ve been giving me and your dad as you help us urge Olivia into independency.

Alas, until Alyssa is the one who cleans up whatever mess Olivia’s made through her various OCD tics and her less than typical fine motor skills, there will be times when either I or her dad feed her as we try to get through the morning routine, the evening routine, the minutia of the day, etc. with as little mess/frustration/time as possible.

Ahem.

We were driving on afternoon when Alyssa broke an amiable silence with, “You guys should start letting Livie feed herself. She’s perfectly capable of doing it, you know.”

I replied, “Thank you for that sage parenting advice.”

She rolled her eyes and continued, “You didn’t feed me when I was eight.”

“You didn’t need us to feed you when you were eight, did you?” I asked.

“No! But she doesn’t need you to feed her either. She can hold a spoon you know!”

Olivia was sitting quietly taking in the conversation. At this point, she piped up, “I can hold a spoon but sometimes I don’t want to.”

This just made Alyssa huff and puff all the more.

I get it. I do. Some of my and Tom’s decisions probably hamper Olivia more than they help her.

The thing is, yes, Olivia can feed herself. And she does probably 70% of the time. But that other 30%? It’s just faster or neater or more convenient for us to help her.

I’m working hard on giving Olivia tasks that I know she can do rather than doing them for her. Most mornings these days I give her socks to her and tell her to put them on while I untie the knots in her shoes. She dressed herself each morning. She puts her dirty clothes into the hamper each evening.

There is so much Olivia can do and probably even more that we haven’t insisted that she do yet.

But honestly, I can do without parenting advice from my twelve year old. I try to remind her that I was a fabulous mother when I was younger too, but then I had kids.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Woman at the Park

My mom and I took the girls to the park this past Saturday. The weather was nice enough to warrant me dragging out the sun screen for O’s shoulders and nose. Of course she insisted on wearing shorts and a tank top, I mean, we were going to the part and it was warm, it MUST be summer, right?

There were only two other families there when we arrived. Both families left soon after we got there so the girls had the park to themselves for a bit before another family arrived.

This family had four kids with them. There was a girl of probably nine years old and several kids who were younger. They were accompanied by a woman I assumed was their mother.

The new family had been there for maybe fifteen minutes when the mom, who’d settled onto the built-in benches and told the nine year old to keep an eye on her siblings, realized that the youngest of her charges had actually managed to scale the fence of the park and was outside, near the road. (!)

Aside: This park is kind of awesome in that there is only one way to enter, a little ramp with fencing on either side. The entire play area is surrounded by a wooden fence that doesn’t have any gaps through which a wily toddler can escape. That kid would have had to either go OVER the fence or past his mom to get out.

The woman shouted at the nine year old girl to go get the boy who’d escaped.

The girl called back that the mom was closer to the entrance.

The mom retorted, “But you’re faster!”

The girl sprinted out of the playground after her brother and brought him back safely.

Now, we all know the kind of parent I am, right? I hover so closely that it’s amazing my kids can breathe on their own rather than me taking breaths for them, right?

In fact, that day, Alyssa was complaining about being tired of following Olivia up and down the climbing structures and wanted to sit with her Gram on the benches so I was climbing up with Olivia and going down the slide for her to show her that it wasn’t actually scary to go down the slides. After following me down one time, she was all about the ‘bumpy’ slide.

So yes, I was a little judgy over this mom’s apparent neglect. I mean, the oldest kid was NINE. Her mom should have at least been watching the smallest of the kids while the oldest daughter played with the two slightly younger kids. But instead, the nine year old was being expected to watch all three of her younger siblings while her mom lounged on the bench, smoking.

Yes, I know, just call me Judy. But come on!! Get off your butt, put out your cigarette and watch your own kids.

I don’t expect everyone to parent the way I do. Heck, I probably need a few classes in parenting (Alyssa thinks so, but that’s probably a good subject for another post) about letting go and stepping back. But there is a difference between letting your kids play while watching safely from a distance and sitting on your ass while expecting your nine year old to parent her younger siblings.

I can’t imagine that that park adventure was fun for the nine year old as she tried to keep up with three kids going in three different directions. Every so often, the mom would call out to her that one of the littler kids was running off.

Sigh. If only ever parent had my awesome ability to hover. Right?

Okay, just kidding, but still…choosing not to hover doesn’t mean you abdicate your parenting responsibilities altogether.

You know?

On a lighter note, I had a dream over the weekend that I had a surprise baby. It was another girl and for some reason Tom wasn't there and the nurse was pressuring me to give her a name so we could fill out the birth certificate. I named her Ivy Hyacinth. Ivy...Hyacinth. My dream brain is stupid.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Batteries

Olivia has this small keyboard type thing, all plastic and garish. She rediscovers it every few months and plays with it with dedication for about a week until it gets taken back to the toy room where she forgets about it for another couple of months.

She found it on Tuesday, dragged it downstairs and played with it for an hour before her bath.

When we returned to the scene of the keyboard after bath, she found that the batteries had died.

I told her I’d replace them in the morning.

Morning came and we discovered we had no extra AA batteries in the house. I told her I’d pick some up when I was next at Walmart.

Yeah.

When I got home on Wednesday afternoon, Olivia flew into the kitchen shrieking, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

It was lovely to know that my younger child adored me so much.

Except, no. She was expecting me to produce some batteries that I could then place in the keyboard so she could serenade us all. Nope. I hadn’t made it to Walmart that day and so no batteries were to be had. Sorry kid.

She took it well and I promised I’d find a reason to go to Walmart on Thursday, even if that reason was solely to pick up batteries. Instead of pounding the keys and singing into the microphone, we went outside and enjoyed a sunny, if very windy, afternoon in our backyard.

It occurred to me as she was running to me shouting her love for the world (or, you know, me, Tom and Alyssa) to hear that I so wish that some of her early therapists could see her now.

Sara, her speech therapist would be so impressed. She’d love to hear Olivia’s voice, her demands, her singing. She’d be thrilled that Olivia not only understands everything we say, she holds her own in long, drawn out conversations.

Trish, her physical therapist, would love seeing her climb up the slide and flipping with no hands on her mattress. She’d be so impressed with O’s core strength and her determination to master any skill her sister has mastered before her.

Cristin, her occupational therapist would be impressed to see Olivia feed herself Cheerios with a spoon, spilling nary an o falling to the floor.

Heck, even Linda, the developmental therapist we only had for about six months when O was a year to a year and a half would be impressed that Olivia no longer puts everything in her mouth. Ha! That woman, as nice as she was, was so weird about how Olivia wanted to taste everything. At a year old, that was actually very developmentally normal, just as now, at eight, not needing to taste everything is very normal.

Olivia started pulling her hair when she was about two years old. Cristin, Sara and Trish were still very much a part of our lives at that time. They each tried to give us advice on what to do to help Olivia break this habit. Nothing helped by the time she aged out of the program that provided these therapists. When they stopped seeing her, her hair was like this:


We’d had to cut it twice using Tom’s clippers, buzzing it to one quarter of an inch long.

This morning I braided O’s hair into two braids that ended in low ponytails. The ponytails hung almost to her waist. She loved the style, prancing around telling us how long her hair looked done like that. She loves having long hair. She feels pretty. I’m so, so grateful for whatever change took place in her brain that helped her kick the habit of sucking her thumb and pulling out her hair.


Oh, if they could see her now they’d be so happy for her. If I could see them now, I’d thank them from the bottom of my heart for all they did for her, for the strategies they gave her and us to help her build her language base, her core strength, her fine motor skills. She’s come so, so far and we’re so lucky to have had the team we’ve had from the start.

Good therapists are hard to find and we found some of the very best.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bus Etiquette

Living way out in the middle of cornfields means our kids are bussed to school. Sure, our house is only four miles from the school but the girls are the first ones on the bus in the morning so the bus arrives in front of our house around 6:48 every morning.

This means that by 6:43, we are donning jackets (shoes have been on and tied tight since 6:30, thank you very much) and pulling backpacks on. Lunches are grasped by 6:45 as Tom sets up his station to watch for the bus. He can see it turn onto our road a mile away and so the girls have time to waltz out the door, down the steps and to the near-end of the driveway.

Our girls are ALWAYS standing outside when the bus pulls up. They watch the driver and she makes sure all traffic is stopped before waving to the girls to cross the road and board the bus.

This is how it is done.

This morning was one of the few mornings when I left for work a little early so I could pick up a few things before work. I ended up behind a bus. The bus only had to stop twice while I was behind it but BOTH times the bus stopped and we all waited. And waited. And waited for the kids who lived in the houses where we were stopped meandered out of their homes and very slowly walked down their driveways to climb aboard their bus. One little guy was galloping down his driveway when a woman (his mom?) called to him from the house. He stopped in the middle of the driveway and even started to turn around and go back to the house. She waved him on and he finally made it to the bus, but come on!! It’s flipping APRIL, surely these people know what time to expect the bus, right?

So why? Why must they wait inside their homes on days when it is above 0? Why aren’t they already out there waiting? That bus probably arrives much like our bus, at pretty much the same damn time every single day.

Alyssa has shared her own frustration with some of the kids who ride her bus. There is one house where there are four kids who ride the bus. On kid is always outside waiting. The other’s come out, one at a damn time, taking up to three whole minutes before all four kids are on the bus. Some of those kids are probably inside still putting on their shoes or hell, peeing, as the bus is pulling up in front of their houses.

Bus etiquette isn’t hard. You know when the bus is coming. Be outside waiting for it. Either Tom or I always go out and wait with the girls. It’s just what we do. But we’re always ready, because it’s rude to make everyone wait every single day.

Now, I admit that there are mornings here and there where we’re rushing to get everything done, but the most important things, like shoes and socks are put on WAY before the bus is expected. If we have to throw hair into a ponytail (heaven forbid, Olivia might lose her mind if that happened) instead of an elaborate braid, we could but mostly, our days are structured well enough to be able to always (seriously, we’ve had to rush maybe twice this year and even on those days, we were outside waiting for the bus when it pulled to a stop in front of our house) be ready for the bus on time.

Okay, I think I’m done ranting and gloating. About this. For now.