I Made A Human, Now What?

the perils and products of parenting

Bed-sharing May 27, 2013

Filed under: communication,ideas,kids,parenting,sanity — gravyhonk @ 4:32 pm

Over the years, I have read blogs and opinions from parents about bed-sharing.  Parents who are so-called attachment practitioners rave at the brilliance of bed-sharing, other parents refuse it, screaming that it encourages dependence and creates wimpy, weak children.  Basically, bed-sharing fosters a sort of attachment to the parent that is both unhealthy and unnatural.

Well, I don’t know about all of that.  All I know is my own experience, my own boys and my own household.

Before my oldest was born we created a nursery, as all expectant parents long to do.  We purchased a lovely crib with Peter Rabbit bedding.  It was so precious, so darling. I spent hours just staring at the bed, anticipating my little human loving it.

And yet, he never once slept in it.

It became the world’s most expensive laundry basket.  Or dresser, really, because once the clean laundry went in, it rarely ever went anywhere but on our bodies.  Folding was so passé in the early years.

What happened, which I believe happens with a lot of new families, was that my kid would fall asleep on me and was a terror to transfer into his crib.  Exhaustion and laziness took hold and I would just slide him off my arm onto the bed and snuggle up next to him.  Often, my husband would take this little bundle and allow him to sleep for hours on his chest.  We didn’t mean to bed-share.  It just happened.

The early months flew into 6 months, a year, eighteen months, and my oldest began to crawl, walk, and say little words.  His bum still had not successfully slept in his crib, but by this point it was filled with laundry, so I guess we stopped trying.

The back of my mind itched with the worry that we were “spoiling” him, that he would be snuggled up with us at 16, a long 6 foot tall man, smack dab in the middle of our bed, still insisting to fall asleep on my dead arm.  Yet, my heart said it was OK.  Adults often search their whole lives for a mate: someone to snuggle with at night.  We are social, snugly, loving beings by nature.  There is no harm in being close.  And independence is the result of security, of feeling safe enough to conquer the world.  I am not saying that bed-sharing is the only path to independence, but it can be one route.

We went on to continue to bed-share until my oldest was close to three when his brother was on his way.  We moved him into a “big boy” bed and he slept well from the first night on.  Then, when his brother arrived, he (of course) wanted to come back to snuggle as a whole family.  We brought a twin bed into our room and he slept alongside us.  You may be thinking that is an awful lot of catering to his needs, but I believe that in this situation it was imperative that we compromised to not have him feel left out, tossed aside for his new sibling.

My youngest never had a crib.  We gave up on that idea, the waste of space, and the loss of socks into the depth of the bedding.  When my youngest was two we started having them both sleep in bunk-beds in their room.  Every night one or the other would end up in our bed, snuggling like puppies.

So we traded the bunk beds for a queen sized bed.  This was genius.  The boys could sleep together, all warm and cozy, and we could even jump in for a cuddle before bed.  They never again came into our room during the night.

When my oldest was about 8 he decided that he wanted his own bed, my youngest kicked him during the night and he was too old to sleep with his brother.  So we got them twin beds again and then, a year later, they  got their own rooms.  They still sleep beautifully, restfully, and only come into our room to tell of a bad dream or if they got sick in the night.  We all still snuggle our bed to watch movies, wrestle, or chat.

But, the details aren’t important, what is important is how my kids behave in the outside world: how at 8 and 11 they have been affected by the bed-sharing.

Who knows!  Ha!  I am not a researcher nor did I do any scientific control group with the exact same personalities in a non-bed-sharing situation.  I can’t tell you how many other details affected their early years.  But I can tell you that my boys are independent.  At night they sleep well and have no issues falling asleep.  They have bad dreams occasionally, they wake up cranky sometimes, and they have moments that are needier than others.

I think the only thing I can say with absolute conviction is that we did what was right for our family.  We followed our instinct and loved in the way we felt was best for them and us.  And because of THAT they turned out just fine.

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Don’t Be A Crybaby May 24, 2013

Filed under: kids,parenting,sanity — gravyhonk @ 2:56 pm

Today is the last day of school for my boys.  Emotions are running high in the house, my oldest has been bouncing off the walls since 6 am, and my youngest has been in tears several times this morning.  It’s hard to change, as exciting as summer is; they both know that it is the end of a small era in their lives.  They both, once again, had amazing teachers and wonderful classmates.  They learned and laughed and discovered.  They know it is hard to say goodbye, even if it is only for a few months.

My oldest is moving onto 6th grade next year.  His school is fairly new and adds a grade each year, next year they will be adding an 8th grade class, so he will continue with this school hopefully all through high school.  However, 6th grade is considered middle school by our district and part of the “Middle Years Program” through his school.  To make it official, they held a little promotion party yesterday during the school day.  I volunteered to help set up and decorate, then stay for long enough to watch the slide show.  (My son kindly informed me that he was too old to have me hanging around all the time, ha!)

I clearly remember each milestone I reached as a child being soaked in my mom’s bittersweet tears.  I always laughed (in my head) that she was such a sap.  I mean, really, crying at 8th grade graduation?  Silly mom!  I made a deal with myself not to do that.  I would be proud, smiling, and congratulatory and most importantly, dry eyed.

Well, three minutes into the slide show, as I watched the pictures of my son and his classmates and how they changed so much during this one year, I was completely overcome with emotion.  My kid, as well as all of these other precious humans, is really growing up.  Baby faces turned into pre-pre-teen faces.  Adorable little kiddos miraculously stretch into long legs and older faces.  Cheesy grins became sassy smirks.  It seemed too fast, too fleeting, too everything.  I wanted to scream, STOP!  But the tears gratefully choked my throat preventing my son from everlasting embarrassment.  So, I gathered my commitment to emotionless response and turned my back on the show to busy myself with cleaning up a mess the kids made at the food table.  And then, when I could speak again, I quickly squeezed my boy and left.

I will confess, as soon as I got to my car I did one of those hiccup sighs- you know the type that usually happens after a cleansing crying session, I was full of unwept tears and that painfully relived it.

My boy is growing up.  Tears or not, it is happening and I am just along for the ride.

 

Blueprint Committee May 22, 2013

Filed under: communication,ideas,kids,parenting — gravyhonk @ 3:19 pm

Hello!  I am back and mostly recovered from my exciting vacation to Vegas.  It was hilarious fun and my abs are still hurting from laughing.  I would tell you all kinds of stories from Vegas, but you know the rule….

So, instead I am going to tell you what happened last week.  And why I am so grateful for our local public school district.  Public schools typically have a stigma attached; the prevailing belief system is that anything is preferable to public school.  I have talked before about why I originally decided to send my kids to this school district, and public school in general, so forgive me if these kinds of posts are boring.

Last year, I was invited to attend a blueprint committee meeting as a parent.  Apparently, I did not embarrass myself and was invited again this year.  This meeting is basically looking prior year’s data, comparing it to other years and at a state and national level.  Then, that data is used to goal set and create strategies and action plans.  It is very well organized and the attendees are broken into groups to work on specific areas such as literacy, math, and ELL.  The goals set for the previous year are measured and new goals are considered.

The amazing thing is this is not just talk- goals are truly being met.  The strategies are implemented in the classroom and across the district, and students are having their needs met.

A few years ago when my youngest was in kindergarten our state went through serious budget cuts.  So, to make up for that lost money they decided to change all day kindergarten into half day.  The students were given 2 and ½ hours in the morning or the afternoon of instruction time.  The district crossed their fingers that this would be ok, that it would be enough.  When the test results came back the following year the reality was that these kids were way behind.  The district responded immediately and reinstated full day kindergarten, with half of the day with a certified teacher and the other half with an aide.

Across the board we have learned that early intervention is the key to literacy.  If a student is read to at home from age 3 on they will be more successful.  It is just a fact.  Then by the time they are 5 there has been critical education time lost, if they are not practicing some basic skills at home.  Therefore, having only a half day of school is a real burden to these children.

I am thrilled that they immediately changed the program when it was clear it did not work.  But what about the kids that attended the half day program?  At the end of 1st grade these students were still quite far behind the average.  I attended the blue print meeting for the first time when those scores came out, and since my son is in that class, I was furious.  I really don’t like my kid to be an experiment.  And even though we read constantly at home, it just wasn’t enough for him.  He was ranking at “strategic” which means he was not benchmarking.

Many of the discussions that year focused primarily on this group of students and strategies to bring up their achievement.

Well, guess what?  It worked!  The data from this year, the second grade year for this group, is perfectly in line with the prior expectations for this age group.  Their scores show vast improvement in just one year and the intensive focus on literacy was all they needed to excel.

And I will tell you, my son had a blast this year, he worked hard but it was fun and interesting.  And he is now benchmarking.

My point is that I am watching first hand this district making sure that they students are given every opportunity to succeed.  They system is not perfect, of course, and there will be some students who continue to struggle, but the administration and the teachers and even, the community are working hard to help.

Side note:  The group I worked with this year included the superintendent, the city manager, the head of the hospital, and a school board member.  Hello, star-struck Gravyhonk!  And the week prior, I met the Mayor and was badgered into singing a song about poop to her….

 

Girlfriends part two May 16, 2013

Filed under: communication,entertaiment,ideas,sanity — gravyhonk @ 10:26 pm

One of my fair readers commented on my blog about girlfriends saying that she wants friends; at this point she relies on her husband to be her best.  Now, don’t get me wrong, my husband is my best friend.  That man has been my support, my comedic relief, my endless ear.  Yet, by having girlfriends I have saved him from the very worst of my mood swings, endless chatter, and mothering frustrations.  I can vent to girlfriends and then share what I have learned with him.

But how do you meet women friends?  When my son was born I was all alone at home, my mom, aunt, cousins and sister living in various states, and was the first of my married friends to reproduce.  It was lonely.  And it was summertime- so also miserably hot.  Then, through the guidance of a mutual friend, I stalked a girl who had a daughter the same age as my son, desperate to have just one friend.

Thankfully she felt the same.  We bonded quickly, me pushing the friendship and her allowing me to yank her in.  After that, I no longer reeked of desperation and I was able to make friends easily.

Put yourself out there.  Go to the library kid’s room and joke with fellow mothers.  Hang out at the park and ask the age old pick up line, “Oh! She is so cute, how old is she?”  If the mom stars chatting, you are in.  But while you are flirting, WATCH your kid.  Nothing scares off a potential BFF then the idea they might have to mom your children too.

Look for Mom’s groups online- meetup.com is a great place to find local meetings.  Go.  Go back (unless they were freaky and scared you off.) Keep going.  Some moms don’t go every time, so it might take just getting out there.  In my experience, moms out in public like to chat with other moms.  They are receptive to conversation.

If you have older kids, go to PTA meetings or linger at the other school events.  Smile, even if you are shy.  Drop off your kids at school and say hi to familiar faces.  Over time you will chat.

Now, putting yourself out there is good business, but you also have to be cautious.  Do not go too hot and heavy too fast.  Never ask for a number the first time you meet a mom. You will scare her off.  Go back to the park around the same time again and hopefully you will see her again.  Keep it casual.  Keep getting out to mom friendly places and you will notice that the same moms come time and time again.  Those are the ones looking for company.

Good luck, be patient and get yourself out there!

 

Girlfriends May 15, 2013

Filed under: entertaiment,kids,parenting,sanity — gravyhonk @ 2:38 pm

Women need women.  I think I have said it before, but once is never enough with such critical information.  As a mother, my relationships with other women have saved my sanity on more than one occasion, allowed me to cry without having to solve my problems, made me laugh when it couldn’t get any worse, and helped me to live outside of my comfort zone.  All of my female relationships make me who I am.

Years ago, after my second was born, I made a myspace account.  Somehow, that took me down the rabbit hole of myspace groups, where miserable people rip each other to shreds in what they call a “debate” group.  Somehow, amidst the cruelty, I made friends with a group of girls that I now think of as family, as soul sisters.  We have spent years discussing our lives through the internet and over the phone.  We are all different, but have some core similarities that formed a bond unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Unfortunately, we all live across the states.

Several years ago, we started a yearly get together.  Sometimes with kids, sometimes without.  A few of the husbands have even suffered through this non-stop chatter weekend.  Last year, we met in San Diego with only one new baby in tow, the year before we met in my neck of the woods, kid free, and stayed at the beautiful resort my husband worked for.

This weekend we are meeting in VEGAS without kids!  We are all so goofy-excited, making predictions, packing and repacking, counting down the hours.  This time is all I need to regroup, refocus and let loose.  (But in a totally respectful non-hangover fashion.)  I feel so lucky to have these women in my life that understand me, drive me nuts, make me laugh and support me.  They, amongst my other amazing girlfriends, keep life A-OK.

So, cheers to girlfriends.  Hold on to them.  Hug them.  Love them.

 

Author Review: Billie Letts May 14, 2013

Filed under: communication,entertaiment — gravyhonk @ 4:26 pm

As I have said before, I am totally a Readie-McReaderson.   My favorite pastime is curling up in bed with a wonderful story and be carried away by emotion.  I like all kinds of books, from so-called chick lit, to haunting stories of survival.  But, I also have pet peeves that will quickly make me stop reading a book to prevent me from tossing it across the room in fury.  (This is why I am not allowed to have a e-reader.  I have been known to throw many books.) For instance, if the author has a ten-cent dictionary word that they use more than twice in the chapter, all I can think is: wow, neat, you learned a new word.  I read a novel a few years ago that the author kept using the word malevolent.   Like, every other page.  I get it.  It’s baaaaaad.  Now find another word, thanks.

So, to mix up this blog a little and keep myself in topics, I decided to do some book reviews and/or author reviews occasionally.  Don’t worry, reader, I will keep writing mostly about my silly family.

Today’s installment is about an author named Billie Leets.  She wrote the book “Where the Heart Is,” which became a movie.  She has also published several other novels, and a few months ago I read, “Shoot the Moon,” and “Welcome to the Honk and Holler Café.”

What I love about her writing is it is not pretentious.  She has a particular theme, that of a ragamuffin group of people all bonding together for whatever reason to become a heart family.  The characters all have depressing back-stories, but by coming together they heal the past wounds.  Sounds cheesy, I know, but she writes in such a down-home sweet manner you can’t help but root for all the characters.  She doesn’t over-tell the story or pepper it with excessive adjectives; it is simply a comfortable, entertaining read.

Most of her books take place in Oklahoma, typically mixing a cast of Native American and Caucasian characters.  And she always sticks it to the bad guy in the most delicious ways.  I appreciate that.

My favorite was, “The Honk and Holler Café,” Since most of the book took place in the greasy spoon café, I was able to sit at the bar, with some burnt coffee, and watch everything unfold.

 

I want it and I want it NOW! May 13, 2013

Filed under: entertaiment,ideas,kids,parenting — gravyhonk @ 5:01 pm

Raising kids in this mega-expensive technology filled world is HARD.  Seriously hard.  I mean, my 11 year old is already asking for his own cell phone and ipod.  We typically have to say no.  For many reasons, only some of which is financial.  I think expensive electronics are a responsibility, one that is earned through helpfulness and care of your current possessions.  I also think that jealousy and want are emotions that are natural and normal and have to be worked through, not pacified with stuff.

So, for his birthday he requested an ipod touch.  We told him that it wasn’t in the budget to buy that and throw a party- he had to choose.  He chose to have a party, which I am grateful for, human contact is so much more important.  He ended up getting lots of gifts of money, so a few days after his party he began researching the ipod online, and pricing them new and used.  He found some offered on ebay that he could afford with his birthday funds.  Then he asked me to help him bid.

He won a 2nd generation, paid for it and then continued to do research online to find all kinds of cool free apps to put on it once he received it.  He even had enough money left over to buy an itunes card for himself.

I would love to be in a position that my kid’s childhood could be filled with spur of the moment trips to Disneyland or purchasing the latest and greatest things, but we are not and that is totally OK.  Waiting for things, budging for goals, saying no- it all builds character and helps them recognize that material items are not a right, they are a privilege.

 

 

 
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