Savoring the Moment

It’s Back to School time and I for one am thrilled.  Back to routine, back to schedules, back to kids using their minds instead of their thumbs (video games and TV clickers have gotten some serious mileage in the two weeks since camp ended).  Laundry was done, clothes were laid out and hair was washed as we prepared for Day 1.

My oldest began 7th grade at a new private school but luckily, Andy works there and had the lay of the land down.  While it didn’t make it worry-free for Ben (far from it…when an adolescent actually ADMITS to being nervous, you know it’s serious), all the preparations had been made.  He had finished his summer reading, had a closet full of collared shirts and even brand new sneakers that actually fit him.  I owe all of that to his Dad.

IMG_8260Georgia, however, seemed to fall under my jurisdiction and clearly, I had dropped the ball.  She spent the day before school finishing the 10 pages left in her summer math book (whoops), and hunkered down in my office while I worked.  A matholympics done at a snail’s pace, she finally finished at 7:34 pm and I told myself that it would be fresher in her memory this way.  Before going to bed, I tried to play the part of the organized mom by suggesting we pack her bag for the First Day of School.  And that’s where it all unraveled.

Upon pulling the backpack from a dusty corner of her room, I was floored by how heavy it was and as the words left my mouth, I wanted to pull them back in.

“Why is this so heavy?  What’s inside?”

Oh. THAT would be everything that’s been sitting in there since the last day of school.  In other words…Mom of the Year never even went through her bag to see what she had done in second grade.  Everything from her pencil box to her journal and even the note from the incoming teacher on what the kids should be armed with for third grade was in there (I REALLY could have used that before bedtime); even her pink fleece jacket was stuffed at the bottom (mystery solved).  To be honest, I was actually relieved that I didn’t find an empty carton of milk and bag of rotten grapes in there too.  Guess I got lucky.

ImageIt occurred to me that June seems like a lifetime ago.  I can’t remember how busy the last day of school was (my guess now is VERY) or what she wore or even what the date was, but life got so crazy that I forgot to stop and savor the moment.  I decided to fix that immediately by pulling out her journal and we read some of the passages together.  What I found out was pretty amazing.

Georgia won her soccer game 6-1 in September and had fun meeting her cousins’ goats in October.  She played with a bunny named Thumper in November, and was so proud of how her Christmas tree looked.  Staying up until midnight on New Years Eve made her year and the Easter Bunny brought her hair elastics and nail polish and hair clips (she loves Easter).  She also declared that if she were President, she would make a law never to hurt anyone because “if you do you could go to jail.  I know you wouldn’t want that.”

I realized that so often as parents, we forget to slow down.  We need to remember that It’s ok to say no to volunteering for another committee or to meeting people after work or even (gasp!) to take a day off once in a while.  It all goes so fast and while I’m glad that I have Georgia’s journal to keep forever, I’m sad that I missed that moment with her in June.  Never again.

After all, I could be raising one heck of a future President.  Time to step it up.

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Child Logic

While scratching my head yesterday as my 12-year old son tried to tell me that I should applaud him after seeing a homework assignment where he had completely phoned it in by giving lame one-sentence responses rather than writing A+ answers, I thought…HUH?

It made me think about the different stages of logic employed by the 12, 8 and 3 1/2 year old mind.  Observe:

12 year old boy

photo-19Situation: Child must be ferried from soccer practice on one side of town to baseball game on the other.  Midway through ride, child realizes that he has left his bat bag and glove in father’s car which is a) locked and b) back near soccer field.

12-year old logic: Freak out in front seat of mother’s car and demand that she turn around and magically enter locked automobile to recover said forgotten bag.

Mom logic: You blew it kid, not a big deal.  A bat is a bat is a bat; find a teammate’s glove to use until father appears with your own.  Learn a lesson.

Outcome: Exasperated mother drives home at 65 MPH, finds spare key, returns to soccer parking lot, retrieves *^&%#! bat bag, drives 66 MPH across town to baseball field to drop off 12-year old who is visibly peeved that he’s (gasp!) six minutes late.  TO WARMUP.

8-year old girl

Situation: Child lays on ground writhing in pain and exclaims, “Ben threw me to the floor!”  Brother explains that after younger sister grabbed clicker and changed channel to yet another mindless Disney Channel sitcom, he repossessed clicker and returned to watching ESPN.  Sister threw herself to floor on her own accord.

8-year old logic: “You never believe me, everyone is against me.  I hate you.”

Mom logic: “This is insane.  I didn’t witness any of this.  You both need to spend time in your room and think about how to coexist.”

Outcome: Two angry children.  One exasperated mom.

3 1/2 year old boy

Situation: Child sits in carseat while mother grinds teeth during rush hour traffic en route to pick up child’s sister from soccer practice.  Mother on cell phone trying to speak to colleague about new business opportunity while hoping that young child stays quiet.  Child looks out window at green lawn on I95 and notices 20 Canadian Geese grazing.

3 1/2 year old logic: “Mommy.  Mommy.  MOMMY!  MOMMY YOU NEED TO STOP TALKING, I AM TALKING NOW.”  “Ok, Quinn, what do you need?”  “Awww, look outside at all the penguins!”  “Quinn, those are geese, not penguins.”  “MOMMY I SAY THEY ARE PENGUINS, LOOK AT THE PENGUINS, THEY ARE MANY PENGUINS!”

Mom logic: I am an exasperated mom.  I give up.  Penguins, they are.

Outcome: (Covers phone) “Those are awesome penguins, buddy.”

My lesson?  Don’t use logic.  Just go with it.  It’s what the penguins would do.

To Fail or Not to Fail? THAT is the question.

As a parent, it’s a common scenario.

Your child comes home from school one day and casually mentions a project that he or she has been assigned.  It’s a big deal and will be factored into their overall grade.  They are “really looking forward to putting it together.”

ImageThe night before it’s due, you ask how it’s coming.  Suddenly that same kid (who couldn’t wait to begin) mutters that they have taken some notes.  That’s it.

The fury creeps up from inside of you as you’re grabbing them by the scruff of the neck, tossing them in the car and heading to AC Moore to buy poster board, Sharpies and rubber cement.

Grrrrr….

Okay, fellow parents, here’s a tough one.  This subject has been the topic of conversation with many of my friends lately and I have stood on my soapbox, declaring that a failed grade is a lesson worth learning and teaches kids to manage their time wisely and take responsibility.  Yet there I was, forcing my 6th grade son (after arguing with him at a noise level that would wake the dead) to write an outline, scrap his lame attempt at taking the easy route out by starting over, and FINALLY offering to help him create an A+ worthy project.

Oh, what a hypocrite I am.

Now, I will admit…I like to get things right.  While not a complete perfectionist, I will work until the 11th hour to make sure that I turn in something that’s good at the very least (as evidenced by this very story which I am writing the night before I post it).   When I have something due, I make sure that it’s in on time and if I have to work late then that’s my fault.  But why, oh WHY does my 11-year old son not have the same work ethic?

Put simply, because he is, in fact, an 11-year old boy.  There are so many times as a parent that I am baffled at their lack of responsibility when it comes to school, their toys or anything that is valuable to them.  I mean, I certainly get it, why don’t they?  If Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus then Children are from a Planet so very VERY far away, and it’s one where nothing (outside of TV watching and X-Box) ever gets accomplished.   Who would want to live like that?

I’ll admit…I didn’t exactly let my son FAIL (I may be too Type A for that, or at least right now) but I did have to let him put together a B-ish science project.  As I watched him quickly scribble the title on the poster board and spell “Animall” with two L’s (oh, my Father the newspaper Editor must have rolled over in his grave), he put his head in his hands in utter defeat.  I figured that this might be my great teaching experience for him as I explained that although he made a mistake, the big win would be in how to fix it.  He suggested that printing out the title on the computer with a black background and white letters and gluing it over the misspelled word would make it look better.  I exhaled as I realized that he had learned something:

We all make mistakes.  Instead of submitting something that isn’t perfect, figure out a great solution.  There’s a life lesson fer ya, kid.

In the end, the project is good.  I mean, it’s no A+ in my book but he admitted his shortcomings, asked for help and actually seemed to enjoy doing it.  And wonder of all wonders, as he went to bed I even got an un-prompted, “Hey Mom, thanks for helping me.”

I may not have the stomach for the failing grade yet, but at least he’s picking up a few life lessons…and so am I.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

But just you wait for the project on Rome.  I’m just saying.

What are your thoughts?  Do you let them fail or help them get an A?  PLEASE, comment below!