Tag Archives: kids

CLAP, CLAP, CLAP

Standard
CLAP, CLAP, CLAP

too busy 1I spent an afternoon with a few girlfriends and one of them asked me to help her load pictures from her camera onto her computer. I said, “Don’t you have 3 kids at home who can upload, download, share, and/or tag anything faster than you can say the word help?” “They have no patience for me,” she responded. Another girlfriend, “they only want to show me something once.” Then, “they are always putting me off…too busy.” Seriously, I thought? No patience? They’re too busy?

I’m wondering how these kids would have responded if their mothers had the same impatience when it was time for potty training. Can you imagine as they cried because they needed a diaper change if we rolled our eyes and
said ….Really? Again?

When it was time to teach them to ride a bike without training wheels how about if we said, “are you kidding me? too busy 2Didn’t I just show you this yesterday? Don’t you have a friend you can ask?”

I’m sure you fondly remember making yourself available to teach them how to throw a baseball, a football, a frisbee, to ice skate, swing a racquet, a golf club, do a cartwheel, a forward roll. Just imagine their faces if we had said, “does it have to be done right now?”

The list goes on and on of what we did with patience and smiles. We spent weeks explaining how to tie one’s shoelaces, sip from a cup, and then when it was finally accomplished we clapped like they had won the Pulitzer. You put your own socks on?! You pulled your pajama pants up?! YAY! Clap, Clap, Clap! I clapped so much I had calluses on my palms.

I can’t remember ever once rolling my eyes at my kids, can you?

I didn’t think so.

A friend had the best retort when her son complained about helping her with her iPod. “Look, she said, it took me months to potty train you. Sit down and show me this.”

Right on, girlfriend.

I admit, technology issues do need to be explained a few times before I understand enough to be proficient. But once I have it down I’m pretty good at remembering how to do it. And sometimes, after getting impatient waiting to be shown how to do it, I figure it out. Our kids must think that if they just ignore us, maybe we will have to figure it out on our own. Maybe it’s their way of showing us tough love?

too busy 3Maybe we should have tried the tough love approach when they wanted us to teach them to parallel park.

But what a feeling when on my own, I do figure it out.

Hah! I want to shout. I did it! I did it!

Who needs those uber-busy, hyper connected, impatient and oh so brilliant, incredibly fast texting children anyway.

After realizing nobody was coming home from college or driving 900 miles from Michigan to show me how to make an on-line photo album, I researched, did a few trial and error uploads to my computer, Photoshopped all the photos so that nobody looked better than me, got rid of red-eye, tagged people, I even added music! I cropped photos, made an album cover, and allowed people to post and share comments. Then I sent all the photos out electronically for printing to Snapfish.

All on my own thank you very much. too busy 5

As I hit SEND I secretly wait for someone to clap, to say YAY, to give me a prize, a ribbon, a trophy, anything as I had done for so many years.

So I called my mother.

And she clapped.

(Thank you DL for the inspiration, and for my Mom who always clapped the loudest)

Tag or Dodgeball anyone?

Standard

Today, most of us will not allow our kids to be bored. It’s like the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not be bored. We quickly drive them to the mall, the movies, suggest they invite friends over, and wear ourselves out so that they don’t need to figure something out. They have pools in their yards, finished basements that are more fun than the boardwalk and yettag3 they can’t figure out what to do with themselves when they have some down time.

When growing up if I ever told my mother I was bored, she simply said, “well then you’re boring. Figure something out or I’ll give you something to do,” which usually meant clean the bathroom, organize my closet or clean out the garage. I learned quickly to find something to do.

tag2 My childhood was heaven because I was lucky enough to live on a cul-de-sac with 4 other families all of whom had kids within a year of each other. Our mothers had the same mantra: “don’t bother me, just be home for dinner.” So I had 4 mothers, 11 friends, and 2 dogs at all times willing to walk to school, ride bikes, play tag, baseball, hopscotch, hide and go seek, play with Barbie and GI Joe, and chalk the sidewalk.

No boredom and no parental intervention. Well, I take that back…with 4 mothers someone was always lifting a window to tell one of us to get a sweater, but they never intervened unless Sandy was crying or Val had a tooth knocked out. Aside from that, we were on our own.

I was reading an article about how today’s children have a problem with self-regulation. I think that’s a new way of saying that kids today don’t know how to “figure it out.” I don’t think they know how to self-regulate because we regulate and figure it all out for them. Take this conversation I had with a friend of mine to try to find the time for their family to come over for a bar-b-que:

“Andrew (16) will have very little time this summer because he is volunteering at the Goryeb Children’s Hospital, and he will need to start his SAT prep classes, tag7 then he is taking a 4 week course at Cornell, then some one-on-one pitching training with a private baseball trainer, then perhaps a follow-up with another SAT prep class.”

I’m guessing little Andrew would love to be bored. As a matter of fact with this sort of summer he may even enjoy cleaning the bathroom or organizing the garage.

My summers were a bit different: Volunteer? I volunteered to weed my grandfather’s garden. SAT Prep? We didn’t even have summer reading back then and besides, IT WAS THE SUMMER! A college course at an Ivy? No comment available that could be printed. Training to excel in a sport? My brother went 0-99 at bats one summer. My dad’s solution: try soccer.

Then to make matters worse, I read that many schools are banning the game of tag and dodge ball during tag1recess. My friends of a similar age, I ask you…can you even believe this? Too many kids left out, they say, too many kids with hurt feelings when they aren’t picked for a team. Really? How about when they’re not picked for a college, for a job? And judging from my high school reunion, those kids who weren’t popular enough then to be picked first for a playground team are now titans of their industries. It all comes around sooner or later so relax.

I admit…I’m not much better with down time. Usually when I find myself with nothing to do I exert myself in Nordstrom and I was just as intent on making sure my kids built their college resume with the best of them. But I’m forcing myself to embrace the down-time without drinking too much wine.

I’m trying to figure it out, as my mother would say. Funny thing is, yesterday I spent an entire day cleaning out my closet! My grandfather would sometimes say he was “watching the air.” I’m trying to do that too. It really is lovely on my back deck. I’ll try and stay out of Nordstrom when I have nothing better to do and instead pick up a book. Maybe even pick up a pan which would make my husband very happy.

And I think the tide may be shifting… My daughter just texted me from college to say she was named captain of her intramural team. “What sport,” I asked. “DODGEBALL,” she replied.

I love it!!
tag6

S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E

Standard

My son, my first born, just graduated from Georgetown University, and a word I knew he had no idea the meaning of was about to become his reality. S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E. Even if only just a little, I think to myself with a hint of a smile.tp diploma

It’s not really his fault that he doesn’t know the meaning of this word. Are there any kids in my neighborhood or any of his friends who know what it means to “struggle”? I think not. (My husband will say that I don’t know what it means either, but this isn’t about me.) Thanks to us insane parents, everything has always been easy for them as we have done everything to make their lives struggle free. And it’s been exhausting. “Batter up!” as they say, and it’s no longer my turn!

Georgetown had been rigorous and competitive, but this wasn’t the struggle I was hoping for and smiling about. I was thinking of life’s struggles: rent, car insurance, dealing with the cable company, withholding tax.

I had been preparing him for months that in today’s precarious economy (a) he may not graduate with a job, and (b) he shouldn’t expect to love it. He would need to struggle along with many other college graduates, to find one.
It wasn’t that I didn’t think he was job worthy, it’s just that when you have HR people asking what type of animal he thought he would be instead of asking about his credentials, It was clear finding a job wouldn’t be that easy.

So what happens? He lands a dream job before he graduates in an industry he loves and wanted. (I guess he answered the animal question correctly). One minute he’s clinging to my leg in Kindergarten and the next thing I know he’s packing up and heading for Michigan. My husband and I looked at each other and wondered what just happened? What about the struggle to land a job, the terrible economy? Who would take out the garbage? I was sad to see him go….sort of.

tp beachUp until this point the struggle for him and his friends was wondering if they should come back from the shore on Sunday or Monday. Now, no matter what they decided, they needed to get to work on Monday.

Before, the struggle for them was making a decision on which of 1000 channels they should watch rather than caring how much money it cost. Now, with having to pay for those channels, suddenly any channel over 13 may not be worth it.
And do these channels just magically appear? No. They will need to be in touch with the cable company where I’m hoping he will be put on hold for 30 minutes and struggle to remain sane after he is cut off a time or two. Am I smiling? You bet.

Now he will have to deal with a boss. Would he be able to first look him up on a “rate my manager” internet site and pick who he wanted to work for, like the “rate my professor” site he used at college? NO!

My son was appreciative of his life at home, but there was no way he knew how good he had it. I could picture him saying at a very inopportune time…”what do you mean there is no toilet paper?” OMG I am rolling on the floor.

So he’s been there for a month and every time he calls I am waiting for him to say how much he misses us and that he wants to come home…that the struggle to be on his own is more than he can handle. But guess what? He’s not
struggling – at all.

Turns out the folks in the Midwest are wonderful and friendly and everyone wants to know why he doesn’t sound like Snookie and her friends. The cable representatives are in fact very competent and their prices are cheap so he still has 1000 channels to pick from. His neighbors have invited him to dinner. Gas, food, and rent are cheaper. Maybe it’s just NJ that sucks.

His weekends aren’t spent studying and catching up with projects. He’s not exhausted from the rigors of college. He likes his boss and co-workers and finds the job challenging. He’s getting paid to work and he loves it. He’s, shall I say…happy? I keep thinking, well just you wait till its February in Michigan, Mister, but I don’t want to sound bitter.

I miss him, but clearly he’s not struggling which should make me proud. I am. tp heart

We are visiting soon and guess what? He says he will be cooking for me and just because I can’t help myself and because I can’t think that he’s totally self-sufficient, I tell him that I’ll do the dishes.

Role-Reversal

Standard

I can’t ever remember a time growing up that my parents asked me how to do anything. It was always the other way around with me asking them for help, and they always knowing how to do it.  Not to take anything away from their brilliance, but things were a lot simpler back then. No iPhones, remotes, or apps. The television, stereo, and lights had one switch/2 options: on or off.  So it was simple and didn’t  require a password, a download, or a PDF file. I thought my father was brilliant simply because he could switch the sound in the stereo from one speaker to another.  Your parents were supposed to be smarterfather with child than you.

Today, my house and my life come to a grinding halt if I can’t get in touch with one of my kids. It’s complete role-reversal with them being brilliant and me not so much. They are being the all-knowing parent, me the naive child.

I don’t enjoy feeing simple-minded around my kids. Everything is complicated AND it’s all connected which makes it even worse.  My DVD is connected through the Xbox which is connected to the television.  This means that if I want to watch a movie I need one of them to turn the TV on for me.

Sometimes, when I’m home alone I sit in a dark room hoping if I concentrate hard enough the television will turn on by itself.  Friends are impressed by how many books I read, but really, if I could get the TV to turn on I wouldn’t read that many books.

The lights in the family room come with a programmable remote control.  It’s called “SmartHome” and it’s a multi-room lighting control kit. Once again, you need an engineer’s degree to complete the simple task of turning the lights on. The kit includes an eight button keypad.  The instructions say, “plug into an outlet and connect to your router which can then be accessed from any web-enabled device.” ARE THEY KIDDING ME? I JUST smart mom remoteWANT TO TURN A LIGHT ON AND I DON’T WANT TO ASK MY KIDS HOW TO DO IT.

I want a remote called “SmartMom” which could make me, well…smart.

My kids are very patient with helping me. Their generation was all born “on the grid”.  Their first word spoken was probably “synch,” and they can complete any task involving electronics and technology at such lightening speed that it doesn’t pay to follow or try to learn myself.  By the time it takes me to find my glasses they have already downloaded, uploaded, liked it on Facebook and hooked me up with some cloud that I’m still trying to get a handle on.

Even trying to impress them with apps on my phone backfires.  “I have Pandora” I tell them.  Only to be told that Spotify and Tunein Radio are far superior to my hokey little Pandora app.  “Yeah, well I downloaded the Torch app and now I have a flashlight on my phone… So there!”  They are speechless.flashlight app

“And furthermore, we were allowed to play tag even though not everyone could be “it”, and not everyone got a trophy but we still felt good about ourselves, and we could make eye contact and HAVE A CONVERSATION with another person without texting!”  Now they are looking at me like I have lost my mind, but I don’t care. I’m tired of feeling inadequate. I want to feel like my parents got to feel….superior, omniscient, and brilliant.

My daughter recently got an iPhone 5.  We were standing in line at the mall and she said, “I can’t figure out how to post a picture to Facebook from this phone.” I literally ran someone over to help her.  Imagine…me helping her!  “LET… ME… SHOW…YOU…HOW… TO…USE…YOUR… iPhone,” I practically screamed so that all could hear and be totally amazed by me, a mere grown-up helping a child with something electronic.  And so it came to pass that I did help her.  To add to my new feeling of superiority, the young cashier said  he had never seen it happen before and was truly impressed.  Feeling pretty cocky I told him that I even had the torch app and could use my phone as a flashlight…and then I lost him. But for a brief period, I was brilliant and it felt amazing.child

After leaving the mall I tried to get into my car and realized I couldn’t find my keys.  I was practically in a panic trying to think on which counter I had left them.  It was then that I noticed my daughter with a smile on her face that seemed to be growing.  Slowly she pulled my keys out from one pocket, and then my reading glasses from her other pocket.  “…Just so you don’t think you know it all” she said.

The Drop-Off

Standard

During a trip I recently took, I both sent and received the following texts from my friends: “it takes time to get over it”, “there is nothing worse”, “you will have good times and then you will be a crying mess again”. At the same time my daughter sat in the back seat of our car texting her friends and giggling. Later, she answered her phone and I heard her say, “Yeah, both my parents are crying too.”

Thankfully this is nothing as serious as death, divorce, or cancer, but rather the yearly trek that some of us make taking our kids to college…the drop-off.

And if one more person tells me “I’ll be fine” I think I will throw up. Of course I will be fine and I’m hopeful I will love my new life, but I’m not quite ready to be on the road to recovery just yet. I’m thinking of starting a support group like AA for those of us recovering from the drop-off. We could call ourselves DOA – Drop-Off Anonymous. We no longer would have to tear up alone…in the car, in the bathroom, making a bed, hiding our tears behind sunglasses, ashamed and alone. We could all do it together – once a week for as long as it took to get a grip. We would recognize and deal with the stages of recovery. We could have sponsors who are fully recovered and would give us hope.

My youngest left last Thursday for college and I am no longer a sack of drippy emotions. For the last 3 weeks, most of my friends have also been dropping their kids off at various colleges and so we are all in different stages of recovery. We’re like emotional cheerleaders for each other. “Hang in there!” “As long as they’re happy you can be happy!” Nobody really expects to feel happy, but just knowing that we are all being ridiculous (You’re probably thinking“pathetic”) is helpful.

Those of us who have been through the college drop-off before are familiar with the first stage: denial. We knew what the “first timers” were in for and tried to warn them. But like children with no point of reference, they had no idea what they were in for and happily went on their way buying bedding, microwaves, fans, and USB ports. The denial stage made them blissfully unaware of what this spike on their VISA bill really meant. Those of us all too familiar with this stage started with the tears weeks in advance of the actual drop off. We wistfully looked at mom’s walking their young children to school, wondering, where did all the time go?

The depression phase started the last 2 weeks in August when were all walking around in different stages of duress. Everywhere I went I saw women who were usually rushing through Shop Rite in yoga pants, sweaty from their most recent workout of Guns, Buns, and ABs clutching a phone in one hand and a food list in the other, instead, acting sort of weepy and slowly ambling down the aisles. We were like zombies anxiously awaiting THE DATE as it loomed ever closer. “When is your date”, I would ask. “August 15th, August 21st, August 30th” they would mumble. You would think we were sending our kids off to slaughter. Get a grip, I kept telling myself, your new life awaits! My mother to me, “get over it Tracy, you will cry for a week and then you will be fine.” Gee thanks, mom.

It’s been 2 weeks since the drop-off and I’m in the transition phase of my recovery. During this phase the worst is over. You are calmer and go most of the day without tearing up. It helps that I hear from my kids regularly. Texts will come in at 3 in the morning so my sleep is interrupted but I force myself to remember that I love and miss them so much that I don’t mind searching for my glasses, turning on a light, picking up the phone to read, “hey” on my phone. “Hey?’ How do you answer a “hey?” From this profound and well written message I can see that they are up at 3 in the morning, and I tell myself the university library is open 24 hours so I know they are studying. I get pictures of food so I know they are eating, pictures of school mascots and 60,000 of their friends so I know they are getting social interaction. No pictures or texts of getting an education, but I don’t want to dampen their mood.

The side effects are receding and I believe I am into the acceptance phase of my recovery. I am getting used to putting myself first and there is considerably less laundry. I find joy in the fact that my daughter can no longer use the laundry basket as a drawer. The laundry fairy has been freed. It makes me smile that my son, a college senior, has to get up before noon and that it will occur to him (on his own, and not by a nagging parent) that if he wants to stay up till 3 in the morning it may be difficult to function. I practically beam to think that one of the stops in his day is finding time to go grocery shopping. And that guess what? Dinner just doesn’t appear every night at 6:30! Do I sound giddy? You bet.

Please don’t get me wrong. I do miss them…every day. I was never one of those mothers who cheered when the bus came in early September to pick my kids up for their first day of school. But instead of having until 2:30 to do anything for me only, I have until Thanksgiving. I’m doing things I have thought about doing for years. I’m taking a writing course, I’m volunteering, and I’m only doing the food shopping once a week! But the best thing about being home alone is the fact that my husband and I no longer say to ourselves…can we do this? Because, YES WE CAN! We saw the Eagles in Atlantic City and then Madonna at Yankee Stadium and we didn’t have to worry about who was home or who may need us. As a matter of fact, upon getting home at 3 in the morning I did something I’ve always wanted to do…I texted my kids, “hey!” Recovery is sweet.