Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Plain Old Boring Shirt

I lay out Olivia’s clothes for the entire week every Sunday afternoon. This is a left over habit from when I was packing for myself and the girls each weekend when we had our nightmare commute.

It just really makes things easier to already have clothes laid out. No arguing, no thought, just grab the next outfit and make it work.

Except, this morning, I started to put a black and white striped shirt on Olivia and she groaned, “Why do I have to wear a plain old boring shirt?”

I thought this was a reasonable question so I said, “I guess you don’t. We can go pick out a different shirt if you want.”

She didn’t actually want. She wanted to sit in front of the space heater while I went and picked out a different shirt. Thank you very much, the end. Except not the end. As I left the bathroom, where she sat in her black pants in front of the space heater, she ordered, “Get me a shirt with a picture on it.”

Aye, aye, Captain!

As bratty as it sounds here, it was actually fairly amusing this morning. She’s just such a girlie girl, so very much all about being pretty and presentable.

I picked another black and white striped shirt, but this one had glittery red letters that spelled out, “Love to Shine.” She was thrilled with this pick and agreed to finish getting dressed.

There is one thing about Olivia that can be counted on and that’s the fact that she believes in the motto, “The fancier the better.”

And I love that about her. She notices everything fancy. I can count on her noticing if I wear earrings because, well, I rarely wear them so when I do, she’s the first to see them and mention how pretty they are. She’d wear lipstick every single day if we let her (we do not.)

Each morning she asks me how I’m doing to do her hair that day, hoping for some sparkle or fanciness to dress up her day.

I hope she never changes this about herself. I hope she always finds joy in glitter and rainbows.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shaking Things Up

When I got home from work yesterday evening Tom informed me that the girls wouldn’t be hungry for dinner at the usual time. He’d waited to feed them snacks after school and so they needed a little time before dinner.

“Okay,” I said. “We’ll just go up now for Liv’s bath instead of waiting until after dinner.”

Olivia was thrilled with this shake up. She loves bath time and is always willing to change up the schedule if it means bath time is now instead of later.

Alyssa joined us in the bathroom, which was unusual. She’s usually either outside with Tom or on her tablet. But this time, she got out her horses and played with them in Olivia’s bathwater while I folded towels.

Olivia loved the extra attention she got from her sister so much she ended up soaking Alyssa and the bath rug. But a little water never hurt anything and fun was had by all. A lot of water? That can do some serious damaged but a soggy rug wasn’t anything to get annoyed over.

After O’s bath, Alyssa figured since she was already wet, she’d shower before dinner.

In the end, dinner was only about a half hour later than usual and it was lovely knowing that bath and shower were out of the way for the evening.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to shake things up.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Every Kid

I ‘shared’ something on Facebook this weekend that was so awesome. It is something I’d like to print out and hand to every single ‘well –well meaning’ adult I encounter with my kids.

Most especially, I’d like to print it out and hand it to the librarian at our local library who is constantly trying to get my girls to talk to her. You know the one? The one who will stoop down and point to her eyes, telling Olivia, “I’m speaking to you. Not your mom.”

This woman is so sure that my kids are spoiled brats that just need to be taught manners. She has no clue what Olivia has overcome just to speak to me. She has no clue that there are doctors who said my child would never speak at all so her ability to talk to those she’s most comfortable around is a miracle. The fact that she doesn’t talk to a woman she sees every few weeks does not indicate brattiness on O’s (or A’s) part but instead a shyness that is difficult to overcome.

Ahem. Sorry, that woman just makes me crazy with frustration. The girls have gotten to the point of pretending to look at CDs while I check out the books if that particular librarian is working the check out desk.

Why do they have to change their behavior because she’s so rude?

Anyway, the post I shared said this:

And I love it. I love that it points out that just because a child doesn’t react the way someone thinks they SHOULD, the child isn’t necessarily being rude or hasn’t been taught manners.

We’re doing the best we can around here. Olivia is absolutely doing the best she can.

This weekend, Alyssa has a friend over. Olivia TALKED TO that friend. She didn’t ever say S’s name but she did speak directly to her, calling her “Lyssie’s friend” whenever she wanted to get S’s attention. Last year O would only speak to A’s friends by talking through either me or Alyssa. Now? She’s talking TO them. This is awesome. It’s a step. We’ll get there, and we’ll do it much faster if nosy librarian’s would mind their own business and just check out my damned books.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Feeling the Love

My mom dropped O’s Halloween dress this week. Big surprise, she wants to be Elsa for Halloween. She and the rest of the under 10 girls (and probably some boys, no judgment here) in the U.S.

The dress turned out beautiful. My mom said it was the hardest thing she’s ever sewn in her life. And my mom has had quite a bit of sewing experience.

Olivia loves it. She loves it so, so much.

When she tried it on she twirled and danced around the room, declaring, “I feel so beautiful! And magical.”

Then she tried to freeze her sister because, well, duh, that’s what Elsa did. Though Elsa’s freezing of Anna was accidental, I quickly reminded Olivia. She giggled and went back to spinning.

Later, after O’s Gram had left and Alyssa peeled herself off the floor to which she’d fallen, bereft that Gram had to leave at all, I helped Olivia out of her beautiful dress and into her pajamas. She settled in to bed, waiting to be tucked in. I leaned in to kiss her and she looked dreamily into my eyes.

She then said, “I feel so loved.”

Awww, my heart might have burst into a million pieces right there.

I told her, “You are very loved. I’m so glad you can feel it.”

“I do,” she nodded. “I know I am loved because I have a Gram who makes me beautiful dresses and a mom who reads to me and a dad who feeds me breakfast every day.”

That girl. She surprises me every single day. She is so loved, adored, cherished. I’m so, so glad she feels it and can articulate those feelings.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Conference Time

It’s that time of year again. I got the form in O’s folder to schedule conferences to meet with the girls’ teachers.

I debated whether or not to even bother meeting Alyssa’s teacher. These poor souls sit there and try to come up with constructive criticism to make it worth us even meeting. In fourth grade, A’s teacher told me that Alyssa could work on her handwriting. Her handwriting. That was her biggest complaint about Alyssa.

Last year, the teacher didn’t even bother coming up with a complaint. She said, “I wish I had twenty more kids just like her. My days would be perfect.”

It’s nice to hear.

Tom often says he doesn’t believe she’s that good at school because she gives him a lot (A LOT) of attitude at home. But I believe it.

I believe it because I was that kid in school. If there were rules, I obeyed them. If there were kids who didn’t have friends, I played with them at recess. But at home I was meaner than shit to my brother. I was rude and obnoxious to my grandmother. I was safe at home and so I let my rage fly.

At school, I kept it together, I did everything that was expected from a ‘good’ kid.

Alyssa’s the same way. She holds it together at school and when she gets home, her stress can be freed. And poor Tom gets the brunt of it. I’m working on both of them to figure out how they can communicate with each other a bit more constructively.

So why do I meet with Alyssa’s teacher? Because I’m that mom. I want to know how she’s doing even if I’m pretty sure she’s doing well. I also want to show her teacher that I’m involved, that I’m there, I’m part of the team and I am supporting my child’s education. Yes, I care what the school thinks of me. I can’t help it.

Olivia’s teacher has been great about communicating with me all year already so there shouldn’t be any surprises during our meeting but I’m going to that one too.

I want to hear her say to my face that Olivia has come REALLY far this year. I want to be able to share with her how much I appreciate ALL that she’s doing and will do for Olivia. O’s growth, both social and academic, is astounding this year. And I feel like it’s all because of Mrs. A and how she’s connected with Olivia. I want her to know that I see that and it means the world to me.

Yes, conferences can be stressful but they can also be very informative and they’re a tool to helping my girls make the most of their time at school.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Frog People

I was probably about six years old when I started dreaming about the frog people. My cousin Chet and I would be on an island where we were being chased by frog people. That’s the best way I have to describe the things that were chasing us. They had green skin, looked like frogs and wore cloth diaper-esque clothing over their privates. They carried spears and laughed as they chased us.

We’d always make it to the edge of the island, where we could see another landmass across the water. On that other shore stood our mothers and siblings, waving to us, calling out to us to make our way to them.

I had this dream many times as a child. I convinced myself that if I slept on the outside of a bed, rather than against a wall, I’d have the dream. I was also sure that if I slept holding my mom’s hand, I wouldn’t have the dream.

I mention this because we had five whole days in a row of Olivia sleeping through the night, in her own bed and it was awesome. Seriously, those who are not chronically sleep deprived do not have a clue as to how amazing it is to sleep five whole nights, IN A ROW, without someone, anyone waking them up even once.

So yeah, she’s slept well for the past week or so. Except the night before last, when she woke up at 11:30 to join me in my bed after she had to potty. I know, I should be happy she’s waking up to pee at night, right? Okay, I am. Sort of.

Last night, though, Olivia started in my bed, and again, she slept all night long with nary a peep.

As I drifted off to sleep, I remembered the comfort of my mom’s hand when I was Olivia’s age. I wondered if my mom often felt the same frustration and exhaustion when she dealt with me and my frog people.

I realized how amazingly patient my mom was. How I never knew if she was exasperated with my need to hold her hand as I fell asleep.

And I vowed to be a little more patient with Olivia on the nights she starts in my bed and even the nights she wakes me up and ends in my bed. She could have her own version of frog people dreams, dreams that haunt her, that freak her out, that make her need my nearness.

If I’m able to be half the comfort to my sweet girl that my mom was to me, my job is absolutely worth the almost eight years of sleeplessness I’ve experienced.

Monday, October 13, 2014

One Last Day at the Park

The weekend before last, Alyssa asked on Sunday afternoon at about 4:30 if we could go to the park. I glanced at the clock and told her it was a little late in the day to do something like that, that dinner was going to need to be started soon, baths/showers needed to happen, blah blah blah.

I told her that the next nice weekend that occurred during which we didn’t have a bunch of other stuff to do, we’d go to the park. (Our weekends are filling up as we get closer to the holidays.)

On Saturday, we had to go to Huntington to a baby shower for Tom’s youngest son and his wife (the son’s wife, not Tom’s wife. Duh.) We left home at 11:00 that morning and got home at about 8:30 that evening. Yeah, long day. No park for us even though the weather was absolutely wonderful.

Yesterday morning, the first thing Olivia asked when we got up for the day was if we could go to the park.

I looked outside, was a blustery wind blowing and told her that if it warmed up, we’d go.

She watched the wind all day, wishing it away and hoping the sun was doing its job of warming up the air outside.

At 2:00, Tom came in, watched his favorite tv show (the weather channel) and said that if we were going to go to the park, we should probably do it in the next hour or so.

Alyssa raced to get dressed, Olivia let me put some annoying socks on her poor little Rapunzel feet and off we went.

We ended up spending over an hour at the park, first dodging what Alyssa called annoying seventh graders and an even more annoying classmate of hers. We had the park to ourselves for most of the hour, running, swinging, falling off the teeter totter, sliding down slides, climbing back up slides and pretending we were a wolf pack and one of the climbing areas was our den.

After the park we went to the local dairy treat and were happy to see that we’d made it for their last day of business for the season. The girls enjoyed their ice cream even though Olivia had to eat it with a sore knee. She tripped right outside the Dairy Treat and had to be carried to a table where her ice cream was delivered to her by a concerned sister.

It felt good to be outside, enjoying what is left of the sun as it weakens with each passing day into winter. The girls needed the fresh air (so did I) and the exercise. I love having these moments in time when memories are being made, when moments are being taken to just be together, to enjoy each other, to remember that we actually like each other as much as we love each other.