"MOMMY, I NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL RIGHT NOW," were the first words I heard when I answered the telephone at work yesterday. Mr. President #1 had called to tell me his tooth was loose and that he needed to see the dentist right away to have it extracted. I know what you're thinking, but you might remember that Mr. President #1's first visit from the TRUTH Fairy was a little out of the ordinary. The first tooth he lost did not fall out on its own, but was extracted in the hospital while he was sedated after an epic, failed attempt to extract the tooth while he was awake at the dentist's office. Because of this, Mr. President #1 thinks every time he has a loose tooth, the dentist has to take it out and put "needles in his mouth."
As fate would have it, once again, his adult tooth beat his baby tooth to the punch. Mr. President #1 has another adult tooth coming in while that second loose baby tooth is steadily hanging on. We had some conversations with Yammy, Poppy, and Auntie F. last night about some old-fashioned ways to get that baby tooth out, but Mr. President #1 decided he'll keep wiggling it for a few more days in hopes that it will fall out while he is asleep. Asleep??? Yea...that scares the BAJEEZUS out of me too! I don't want him choking on that thing!
Long story short--last night when we were getting ready for bed, we were still talking about that darn tooth! We went over the rules for the TRUTH Fairy once again, and in case you can't remember, here is a refresher for you:
1. All little boys and girls must sleep in their own beds in order for the Tooth fairy to come;
2. All teeth must be placed under the pillow;
3. All teeth placed under the pillow will be collected from the tooth fairy and exchanged for money;
4. There will be NO COMPLAINTS about what was left under the pillow by the tooth fairy;
5. All money left by the tooth fairy will be saved and placed in the piggy bank;
6. A thank you note must be written and left under the pillow for the tooth fairy to collect the day after receiving money for a tooth.
Oh...and we decided to name the tooth fairy the TRUTH fairy because we have established some "truths" about where the money will go, and who the mystical creature really is (wink, wink).
The whole "sleeping in your own bed" idea has been a bit of an issue in our house as of late. Hubby and I are literally falling asleep on the floor in the President's bedroom because they're afraid to fall asleep without us. Not only that, but Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 are conveniently finding their way into our bedroom in the middle of the night and making themselves comfortable. I'm too tired to roll over at three o'clock in the morning, let alone move a 40lb child, so I leave them right where they are. Considering this whole situation, Mr. President #1 was afraid the TRUTH Fairy wouldn't be able to find him if his tooth fell out while he was asleep, so he came up with the brilliant idea of leaving a note so there would be no confusion about where his tooth was, or where to leave his money. This kid amazes me sometimes, haha.
Before bed, we sat down and came up with a message to leave on a paper on his bed. Mr. President #1 wrote the entire message on his own. In case you're not able to read his writing, the message says:
Dear Tooth Fairy,
If my tooth comes out tonight, I will be in my mom's bed.
The tooth didn't come out last night (thank God!!!!!), but I have agreed to let Mr. President #1 keep the note on his bed every night until his tooth comes out. I know he's planning to make his way into my bed when he wakes up at three o'clock in the morning, but that's okay. Pretty soon he'll be too cool to hang out with me, so I'll take the crowded bed for now.
In an effort to not be the "MEAN" mom for once in my life, I let Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 stay home with me instead of going to camp today. Well, this morning when I was on a conference call, I noticed the boys were awfully quiet, but when I went up to check on them, everything seemed normal. I let the boys go back to watching their movie, and all was well.
The boys made a few trips up and down the stairs, but Mr. President #1 usually has little brother accompany him to the bathroom since he is still a little scaredy-cat. But beyond the stampeding up and down the steps, everything else seemed just dandy.
Early this afternoon when I was unloading the dishwasher, I noticed my scissors were a little out of whack. I keep a pair of somewhat, kid-friendly scissors in the kitchen drawer that Mr. President #1 often uses for his artwork. He can only use them with supervision, and although they seemed out of place, I didn't think too much about it. When I was walking up the steps to check on the boys later in the afternoon, I noticed a nice little curly lock sitting on the steps. I knew right then something was up.
I brought the piece of hair to Mr. President #1 and asked him, "Just tell me the truth. Did you cut your brother's hair?" You wouldn't believe his response! He looked at me so pitifully and said, "I just wanted to give him a haircut. I wanted him to look handsome." He was so cute, I almost couldn't be mad at him. He went on to tell me exactly how this haircut went down: when I was in the study on the phone, Mr. President #1 quietly grabbed the scissors when he went in the kitchen to get his juice. He hid the scissors under his shirt, and when he had Mr. President #2 accompany him to the bathroom, he cut his hair behind closed doors. Mr. President #1 threw the hair in the kitchen trash can so I wouldn't notice it was there. He had this whole thing planned out!!!!
So so here's the question: do I punish Mr. President #1, and do I cut Mr. President #2's hair, or do I just let him rock his jacked up haircut from big brother? Hubby and I had the conversation with him about not touching the scissors, etc., but I'm still stuck as to whether or not I should truly punish him beyond that. Let me know what you think!!!
The picture above shows a couple of Mr. President's #2's locks I found in a trail from the first floor bathroom to the second floor bedroom. Maybe one day when Mr. President #1 is like 35, I'll tell him that I cut Auntie F.'s hair when I was about his age and never told my parents, haha.
"It's okay. I'm right here with you," were the soft, innocent words echoing in the background as I hesitantly watched the painful video of a black man suffering from several gunshot wounds inflicted by a police officer, all recorded by his girlfriend who witnessed the entire incident. Is this really the world we live in? We're not only ignoring our fellow man's right to live, but we're literally just killing each other in front of our children?
Philando Castile's life was unnecessarily stripped from him that fateful evening when he and his girlfriend were pulled over for a busted tail light. What he probably dreaded in those seconds before the officer fired his gun, unfortunately became a reality, and this is true for the nearly 540 victims who lost their lives at the hands of police officers this year. Moreover, five police officers lost their lives last week as a result of a mad man seeking revenge for black people. Let me point out that justice is not revenge, and killing innocent, selfless individuals who protect and serve the people is absolutely not the answer. My heart is extremely heavy for the countless victims and their families who are no longer with us, but my heart also aches for the invisible victims of these acts of violence: our children.
"If we have no respect for the lives of one another, how can we respect our children?"
I believe there is truth in the statement, "The children are our future," but where does this leave us if the next generation has been blinded and manipulated by an insurmountable amount of hatred and violence? Children do not have to be touched to be traumatized. Do we not realize that these children who have witnessed these acts of violence are much more likely to suffer as adults from mental issues, relationship problems, addiction, and other health problems and become victims or perpetrators of violence? But the better question is, if we have no respect for the lives of one another, how can we respect our children?
I am so incredibly disgusted by the current situation in this country, I can barely get my thoughts together. But I will say this; I am not here to teach adults how to respect one another, so if we fail to do that, can we at least pay more attention to our children? To hear the voice of that little girl comforting her mother was chilling--it literally moved me to tears. The shooting of Philando Castile, the protest in Dallas that resulted in the wrongful death of five police officers, the countless episodes of domestic violence...children should not be exposed to these types of behavior. Please spare your children and prevent their future outlook on life from being permanently altered by removing them from these types of situations. I am begging you!
Trauma is real, and what we don't want is for our children to become desensitized and accustomed to these types of behavior. If children are exposed to violence time and time again, they might begin to believe it's okay, and this is where we come in. We need to break the cycle, and there is no better time than now.
Additionally, remember that police officers come from the community. One day, our own children will become police officers, and we should not want our children to develop a hatred or distrust towards authority. We need police officers, so we need to be careful of the way police response to protests and violence is portrayed to prevent a tampered view of police for our children. We also don't want our children to grow up in a world where they are afraid to dial 911. Children are scared, they're frightened, and many just do not understand what is happening. Police officers, parents, community organizers--we all need to collectively come together to help our children understand they are safe. The people have a voice too, and it needs to be heard.
"We must ensure the hard work of those who fought for our freedoms was not done in vain."
We have to do better. We must do better. We need to set a better example for our children. We must ensure the hard work of those who fought for our freedoms was not done in vain; those who stood on the front line of oppression and injustice, and gave their lives so that we might live in a free world. We must ensure their sacrifices were not made in vain, instead, we should strive to teach our children about those who fought before us, so the next generation can take us even further.
We need to live in a world where people of all races and walks of life can work together and empathize with each other to reach a solution and a common goal. We need to be honest with our children so we can make them better than we are. We need to teach our children that some may not treat them fairly because of the color of their skin. White parents should also teach their children about the subject. I understand you might feel somewhat uncomfortable tackling the topic of race, but if we want to get anywhere, we must talk to our children about how unfair racism is and how this issue only dehumanizes us all; every single one of us.
Teach our children to live right. Teach our children to be respectful, not only to law enforcement, but to one another. We need to do our best to remove our children from violent situations and safeguard them. Our most important responsibility in life is to protect and raise our children the best way we can. Let's come together to do our best and make a difference for the next generation. They are counting on us.
My husband and I recently hosted a cookout with some close friends of ours and their four children. Yes--I said, "four children!" We had a great time just chatting with one another, shooting the breeze, and cooking some really good food while our little ones played in the playroom. The playroom at our home is exactly what what it sounds like--a space for the boys to play, have a good time, and more importantly, to MAKE A MESS. But just know that when my boys are finished making their mess, they are responsible for cleaning it up. Our friends spent about four hours at our place, but when I went down to the basement to begin cleaning up later that night, I could not believe my eyes when I stepped into the room. IT WAS SPOTLESS! I thought the playroom would have looked like a tornado came through there, but every Lego, car, ball, Power Ranger, Transformer, and building block was neatly packed in its place. At that moment, the only thought I could gather was, "What the heck happened down here?"
Now I bet you're thinking maybe the parents went downstairs to straighten up a little before they left that evening, but you're wrong. The parents never stepped foot in the basement. That spotless playroom was the result of four well-behaved children, picking up and cleaning up after themselves. How often do our children clean up after themselves without being prompted? I'll help you out with this one.......how about.....NEVER!? Now it's one thing for a parent to try to straighten up after their kid(s) made a huge mess at someone's house, but it's another thing for the children to clean up on their own without being told to do so. I was floored. I absolutely could not believe the playroom had been straightened up almost as neatly as I would have done it!
Time and time again, we go and visit friends and family with our children, and leave the hosts with a huge mess to clean up. Our children take every single toy out of the bins, leave them on the floor, and by the end of the visit, there is barely space to walk through the playroom. Are you serious? Now, I will be the first to admit that my kids probably have too many toys. We probably have enough cars and action figures to open up a lucrative toy store, but that does not mean you should come to my house and leave my playroom in ruins. I let them play with all of their toys, because that's exactly what they are for. Not only that, but I teach my children to SHARE their toys. Not everyone is blessed and fortunate to have as many toys as they do. With that being said, I am getting pretty tired of the kids playing in the playroom with their buddies and just leaving my house in ruins. So why do we keep letting our little ones get off so easily?
A messy house says more about our parenting than we might think. Toys everywhere, crumbs on the floor, dirty clothes in piles, and not a bare spot on the ground to walk through the room can be a reflection of our families and how we raise our kids: A HOT MESS! The chaos of raising these little ones can be stressful, but how can we expect our kids to respect their objects and things, let alone people, when we don't make them clean up? Raising kids can sometimes be a huge mess [we all make mistakes], but don't live in the mess too. I know this is easier said than done, but sometimes I just need a little reminder to get me up and moving.
Let me share with you how we solve this problem. We have a whole list of Playroom Rules Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 must abide by, and the last rule on the list is, "CLEAN UP THE PLAYROOM!" That's right! When the Presidents are finished playing in their playroom, they MUST clean up their toys before they move onto anything else. No, I am not being the mean mommy; I am teaching my children good manners and good habits. Now I have to remind Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 to finish cleaning up at LEAST once a day, but the more they are reminded and practice cleaning up after themselves, the more it will become a habit. I not only want my boys to get into the routine of cleaning up after themselves at home, but I want them to do the same when they are visiting someone else's home. I hate to leave someone's home a mess after my kids have been there playing for hours, and I really hope you share the same sentiment.
Because my children have driven me to somewhat of a mild insanity, my husband and I are considering implementing a NEW Playroom Rule in this house, and it's called, "CLEAN-UP TIME WITH FRIENDS!" When Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 have company in their playroom, 5-10 minutes before their friends leave, one of us will come down for a "supervised" clean-up time. My boys already know the song, Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody, Everywhere, so they'll just gently teach it to their friends as they clean and pick-up after themselves during clean-up time. I think this is a fair way to politely ask your guests to clean with you, and then you and your little ones won't have the burden of doing all of the dirty work when they leave, right? I'm sure the playroom won't be spotless after clean-up time, but I can guarantee you won't be left with nearly as big a mess to clean up as you would have had before the kids began tidying up.
I know cleaning up after your little ones, and making them clean up, can seem like a really pointless task, but it's kind of like a mental thing for us. I'm sure it's probably easier to just leave the toys on the floor and keep the door shut, but when we actually put effort into cleaning up each time we use the playroom, not only do we generally have less to clean on a regular basis, but we feel better and more in control about life in general. I think tidying up relays the message to Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 that we respect our things, and we respect one another. It doesn't get any better than that. When I bought my first car, my dad used to tell me, "You take care of that car, it'll take care of you!" He was absolutely right! I truly believe teaching your children to respect their things will ultimately teach them to respect people.
Let our close friends and their four children be an inspiration to you also. The next time you go to a friends house and let your kids run ramped, please just make sure to have them clean up before you pack up and leave. I LOVE having company and inviting good friends over for a good time, but I HATE having to clean up an unnecessary mess, and I especially hate hearing Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 complain about having to clean up someone else's mess. Let's do ourselves a favor, and teach our little ones to clean up. We really should stop letting our children get off ao easily. And if I ever pay you a visit and my kids leave a huge mess that I am unaware of, feel free to ask them to clean up. You have my permission! It's all about respecting your space, but more importantly, respecting YOU!
"Bang! Bang! I'm gonna shoot you, mommy!" is the greeting I received when I walked in the house from a pharmacy run the other day. Mr. President #2 was standing directly in front of me, aiming his orange and blue NERF gun square at my chest, fully loaded, and ready to fire. I had to make a split-second decision--do I take the gun from him and tell my children there will be no more guns in this house, or do I play along and let Mr. President #2 think he is a good guy who just saved the day? Given the devastating news of the gun violence that recently occurred in Orlando, Florida, I was just feeling fed up, and wasn't quite sure what to do. When Mr. President #1 came running up the steps yelling, "Get Mommy! Get the bad guys," I decided to just play along. I kneeled over slightly and said to Mr. President #2, "Oh no! You got me!"
Mission accomplished! Mr. President #2 had just taken out the bad guy, so he ran off with Mr. President #1 to continue their pursuit of the other imaginary bad guys. But as I stood watching them in front of the door, I couldn't help but think to myself, "Did I do the right thing?" Here were my two, innocent little boys, having the time of their lives, shooting one another and continuously loading their guns with rounds of foam ammunition. What had I done to them? I couldn't help but think whether or not me allowing gun play would increase the chances of them becoming victims of gun violence one day, or maybe even being responsible for being on the wrong end of a gun in the future. My thoughts were not too pleasant, so I decided to do a little research later that evening to help put my mind at ease.
In doing my research, I learned quite a few statistics that were not so comforting. As it turns out, guns have been one of the leading causes of death in children in recent years. And to make things worse, these deaths occurred in the homes of these children as a result of failure to properly secure and store these guns. According to the statistics, parents obviously need to be a little more responsible when storing guns in their homes. After all, the purpose of having a gun in the first place is to protect, and not harm your children. With that being said, these alarming statistics were surprisingly accompanied by a bit of good news about gun play. Perfectly "normal" [for lack of a better word] kids engage in gun play, or aggressive play in general, as part of their growth and development. In fact, when children want to play with weapons, many of them will make guns or swords from sticks, pencils, or whatever they can get their hands on. Apparently it's all just part of play and using their imaginations. And as it turns out, aggressive play is also just part of growing up, and research shows it will help children better self-regulate in real life. Isn't that good news?
Although there is somewhat of an "up-side" to this aggressive play Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 seem to love so much, I still have my work cut out for me. The news has been filled with tragedy after tragedy, and I refuse to sit back and not do my part in teaching some positivity and responsibility for the next generation, so we're setting some ground rules in my house, and I think I'm ready to share them with you. I've decided to let my little guys continue their play with the NERF guns, but we will have some new regulations to accompany that play. Besides, I don't want to make too much of a big deal out of these guns because eventually, by drawing too much attention to them or taking them away all together, Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 will really be itching to get their hands on them then, and will probably even try to do so behind my back. We definitely don't want that! I'd rather have them thinking they're superheroes just trying to save the day, than trying to figure out why mommy and daddy won't let them play with NERF guns. Anyhow, here are the new ground rules:
1. Watch where you aim that thing:
First and foremost, there will be no aiming of any guns at any individual in this house. My boys are free to get the bad guys as much as their little hearts desire, but if I catch either one of them pointing that gun at anyone, (particularly the ones that fire foam projectiles) it will be confiscated. We have a new grid set up so Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 can aim to shoot at the bullseye, and that is fine by me.
2. If you're not a good guy, put the gun away:
Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 often play games with both a good and bad guys, so I decided to intervene just a little. They've recently shared with me that bad guys do bad things, so we have agreed that whoever plays a bad guy does not get a gun. Besides, there is no good that can come of that anyway. But for the good guys....something about being a superhero feels heroic for these little guys, and although they don't necessarily need a weapon to do so, why not just let them feel empowered? Swords, shields, nunchucks, nerf guns! They're just trying to save the day! These two guys made my job on this one a little easier than expected.
3. Please don't use the word Kill:
I know some of you might argue that aggressive play or gun play comes with killing, but Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 know that we do not use the word kill in this house. The objective of their play is to stop the bad guys, and not to kill, so as long as they are abiding by this rule, I think we are okay.
The bottom line is, it's not okay to kill, and I want my children to understand that. I don't want to hide toy guns from them entirely because I don't want there to be this stigma about guns, or for them to have a lasting desire to get their hands on one (especially when they go play at a friends house), so I am going to try my absolute best to teach them as much responsibility as possible. Too many lives are being lost in this country as a result of gun violence and instability, so as parents, we ALL need to do our part to Break the Cycle. So yes...my house might be filled with toy guns, but it is also filled with love and compassion for everyone. And to the parents who own guns, please keep them locked away and unloaded. I'm tired of seeing children loosing their lives because you failed to do so. And if you're hosting a play date and you have a gun, the same rules apply. Parents are sending their children over to play, not to lose their lives. My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the Orlando shooting. God bless each and every one of you.
"Mommy, why is daddy's skin darker than mine? Can I erase it with my pencil?" I know what you're thinking right now, and just like you, the minute I heard those words come out of Mr. President #1's mouth, the first thing that came to mind was, "Where the heck did I go wrong?" Mr. President #1 is notorious for asking me the what, why, and how of just about everything he doesn't understand, and that is perfectly okay with me. In light of the tragedy that occured in Orlando, Florida today, I thought this would be a good time for me to share why I believe acceptance and tolerance in general is so important for our children and the next generation. I expose my children to just about every facet of life. America is like a melting pot of all things different, and by living here, we have the luxury of experiencing and participating in celebrations and events for different cultures, countries, traditions, and other ways of life. With that being said, being "different" is just part of life for us, and that is exactly what I teach my children. Yes, I teach them the difference between right and wrong, but I also teach them that the world is full of people who live their lives differently than us, and that we should just embrace and accept them the way we accept the people who are like us.
Whether it's our Indian neighbor next door, our Asian buddy down the street, our friend from school who has two moms, or our buddy from pre-k whose dad is a double-amputee, we love and embrace them all because that is what life is all about; loving and accepting everyone. Our differences are what make life so colorful and beautiful, and I truly believe children who are more open and tolerant will ultimately get more out of life. But I will admit that I went wrong somewhere along the way. Hindsight is 20/20, right? But when I look back on the conversations I've had with Mr. President #1, I think I waited a little too long to have the tolerance, acceptance, and race talk with my son. We have since had many conversations about loving YOURSELF just the way you are, and accepting other people for who they are, but I kind of wanted to avoid being asked those grueling questions like why his father's skin is darker than his. Maybe these demonstrations of intuition are inevitable, but whatever the case, I have learned a few things from my experiences with Mr. President #1, and have a few tips I think will be very useful and life-changing for you.
What is tolerance?
Webster's defines tolerance as the ability and willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own. Tolerance is having respect for and learning from others, valuing differences, bridging cultural gaps, rejecting unfair stereotypes, discovering common ground, and creating new bonds with others. Tolerance, in my opinion, is the complete opposite of prejudice. Tolerance is accepting all people for who they are, not judging them, and embracing them. Tolerance is treating others the way you want to be treated, regardless of what they look like, or where they come from. Let me also remind you that tolerance does not mean accepting things that are wrong. There is a clear distinction between accepting others for who they are, and accepting bad behavior. Just like I have taught Mr. President #1 (and am teaching Mr. President #2), tolerance is playing with your buddies on the playground who are a different color than you, or playing with your buddy at recess who speaks a different language than you. Being different is a beautiful thing, and tolerance is what brings all of us together.
How do we teach tolerance?
Our parents are our first teachers. Has anyone ever said to you, "You act just like your father?" If so, that's probably because your temperament and demeanor is an imitation of what you observed as a child. Of course we genetically inherit things from our parents, but children also examine their parents very carefully, and eventually begin to imitate them as they grow older. We all exhibit many learned behavior from our parents, [some of them a little better or more beneficial than others] and children, in great part, learn their attitudes and perspectives on things from their parents and guardians. In other words, tolerance is something that is taught, and as parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children to be tolerant of others, and not prejudiced. This does not mean you neglect teaching your children your own cultural vaules and traditions, but it simply means that you learn to respect and accept the differences of others. Besides, who are we to judge? In my opinion, God is the final judge, and not one of us is at liberty to judge someone else because of their differences. No more lives need to be taken becauase of the lack of tolerance instilled in children. Enough is enough, and the change that needs to take place in the next generation depends on us.
Why do we need to teach tolerance?
The ability to love and accept others in spite of their differences is an attribute that will take your children very far in life. In today's society, the workplace is filled with people from many different backgrounds, cultures, races, and with many different values, traditions, and sexual orientations who all have something to contribute to society. Being able to accept, understand, and work with people from different walks of life opens up a world of endless possiblities. Tolerance is so important becuase your child's future success literally depends on it. You also want to teach tolerance to avoid the inevitable misconceptions and misunderstandings of differences. First of all...as you already know, I am a minitority female with two minority children, whose oldest son once asked me why Daddy's skin was darker than his and if he could erase it with his pencil, and why his buddy has two moms. It's never too early to sit your children down and teach them that people are all born differently--different colors, different types of hair, different voices, etc., and that we cannot change who we are, but we can accept each other and just love one another anyway. Children might begin to notice race or gravitate toward children who "look like them," and they might even begin to notice preference as they grow older, but this is where our lessons and modeled behavior about tolerance come into play.
Parents, please remember to mind your own attitudes, be mindful of the things you say and do, expose your children to cultural differences, and allow them to choose and read books that teach about all different kinds of people. Teach your children the importance of your own values and traditions, and teach them the importance of accepting differences and not accepting bad bahavior. Children learn by example, so BE THE EXAMPLE! Our little ones are depending on us.
In honor of the many lives take at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida June 12, 2016, I stand with you in solidarity. Know that you did not die in vain, and all lives of all people from all different walks of life MATTER.
"Now you just go on right ahead and turn around, brush your teeth, wash your face, pull your hair back, and put your house shoes on." Those were the first words I would hear from my father's mouth every Saturday morning, when the overwhelmingly good smell of homemade pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, and home fries would fill the house. The food would smell so good, I would just mosey right on into the kitchen, only to hear my father tell me to turn right back around and get myself together before breakfast. That's right. Daddy never believed in rolling out of the bed and shoving food into your mouth first thing in the morning: he believed we all should prepare and present ourselves well every single day, regardless of what plans we may or may not have had, and regardless of whom we planned or may not have planned to see. But this wasn't just a Saturday morning routine; this was a habit my father practiced in every part of his life, and it taught me so much about how to care for myself and others.
Since Father's Day is right around the corner, I figured this would be an appropriate time for me to share a few poignant life-lessons I learned from my father over the years. My father recently retired from the steel industry after over 50 years of service and hard work. I don't know about you, but I don't see this kind of work ethic anymore. Unfortunately, my father is part of a dying breed, but I am very fortunate to have had a front seat to his life, watching and listening to him every step of the way [even when he didn't think I was listening]. To this day, every single word that comes out of Daddy's mouth is at a maximum volume level because of the incredible noise of the grinders in the steel mill, but I just got used to it. He never much minds the heat either, as he once told me that the furnaces were so hot in the mill, he could only stay in there for 12-minute intervals and would lose about eight pounds a day working in the furnace. That explains his big appetite! With all of that being said...my father really is the King of making things up, but somehow, he is always right! Daddy has taught me so many life-lessons, I have literally lost count, but here are three I think you can apply to your own lives and even those of your children:
1. Always finish what you started:
I know I told you my father is the King of making things up, but he is also the King of Projects! Have you ever known someone who would start project after project, but those projects would never actually be completed? Well, my father is the exact opposite. When he starts a new project, it may take him quite a while to reveal his finished product, but he always finished what he started. As a kid, my father would just go around building things. He built chairs, cabinets, tables, book shelves, and even finished off the basement in his home! He repaired cars, built flower beds around the yard, and just always had something on the schedule to keep him busy.
I will never forget the day I came home and told my father I needed to build a car for my physics project. At first I thought he would be a little annoyed, but I think he was even more excited about the project than I was! Daddy took me downstairs to what we called his "Work Shop" and started pulling things off of the shelves. He took apart his old pair of roller skates, handed me the four wheels, and said, "Here you go. Go ahead and build your car!" Yes. He really left me there, BY MY LONESOME, to build a car from parts of an old pair of roller skates. Really, Dad? I toyed around with a bunch of his STUFF and random things from his tool box, but I got fed up and moved on to something else. When Daddy found out I had left my incomplete physics project downstairs in the Work Shop to collect dust, he had a few words to share with me. Next thing I knew, there was a knock on my door, and of course, it was my father. The only thing from that conversation I remember was him saying, "Do you want an A on this project? Don't ever let me see you do that. You finish what you started." I think you get the picture, right? Daddy never had to tell me that again. And you better believe--I ALWAYS finish what I've started! Oh...and I got and A on that physics project!
2. Never mind what other people think about you:
I am sure you've heard it before, "what other people think about you doesn't matter." Well, this was a recurring lesson in my house growing up. My parents always made sure to remind us that the opinions of others had no bearings over our lives. My mother would always tell us to live to please God, not our friends. She was absolutely right! Anyway...it all started in kindergarten at Sharon Christian Academy. I used to LOVE school! I had the best friends, my teachers were awesome, I sang in the school play, and life was just dandy! One day, my mother had taken my sisters and I to school, and when it was time for recess that day, I ran over to my best friend to see if she wanted to play. Unbeknownst to me, she had had a conversation with her mother the night before about who it was "okay" for her to play with. My best friend looked over at me and said, "My mom said I can't play with you anymore because you're mixed."
Okay...so...that was like nearly 30 years ago, so I have no idea what immediately followed, but I remember going home and telling my father what my so-called best friend had said to me at recess that day. You better believe my father went up to the school to handle business, but this is my first memory of Daddy telling me, "Never mind what she thinks about you." This situation repeated itself a few more times as I grew older, but my father was always there to remind me that the opinions of others really didn't matter. I know one thing, though: I kept on loving school, I kept on singing in the school plays, I kept on admiring my teachers, and life remained good thanks to my father. Take a lesson from my father and remember to never let the negative opinions of others diminish your happiness and positive outlook on life!
3. You know better, so DO better:
Now, I've definitely seen my father bend the rules every now and then, but he is a big fan of acting like you have some sense. I have made mistake after mistake after mistake through the years. In fact, I have a pile of mistakes somewhere I've been meaning to get rid of! But you guessed it! From one mistake to the next, Daddy's response was always, "Now, you know better." We won't take a stroll down Bad Choices Memory Lane, but I'll just tell you that I have racked up my fair share over the years, and yes...I've been punished for them ALL!
The reason this particular life-lesson is so near and dear to me is because this is something we always stumble with. When it came time to making that difficult decision--do I stay out and party all night, or do I study for my finals in the morning--I always heard that voice in the back of my head telling me, "Now, you know better," but I would act out anyway! I know I'm not alone here! I have since learned my lesson, but why was this always the case? Why did we always choose to do wrong when we KNOW we knew better? Who knows. I learned my lesson one day when I had been caught skipping school!! Doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was for this girl who wanted to graduate with honors and had racked up a full schedule of Advanced Placement classes! My buddies tried to cover for my one day, but when the principal came looking for me for skipping detention for being late, I was in a heap of trouble, and of course the school didn't call my mother; oh no...they called MY FATHER! I'm still grounded to this day, by the way. And I actually think Daddy had to tell me, "Now, you know better," like last week, haha!
In short, my life would not be the same without an incredible father and mother to lead the way. Thank you, Daddy, for being an immaculate example of a father. I am doing my best to teach my boys what you have taught me, but heck...I might as well just send Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 up there with you for the summer! You and mommy can just teach them first-hand! Happy Early Father's Day to all of the great fathers and father figures!! A special shout-out goes to my wonderful husband and better-half. We appreciate you!
A word to the wise...you really should refrain from putting your hands on any children other than your own; unless the situation is dangerous, of course. I went to pick up Mr. President #1 from aftercare the other day, and as we walked into his classroom to grab his backpack, he noticed the Peanut Free sign posted on the classroom door and pointed it out to me. That sign obviously caused a thought to come to mind, because he quickly turned to me and said, "Mommy, did you know I can't have peanut butter here?" I answered him by saying, "Of course not. Too many friends could have a peanut allergy, and since peanut butter is made from peanuts, you aren't able to bring peanut butter here." I could just tell there was another thought brewing in that amazing, precious mind of his, so I patiently waited to hear what revelation was next in line.
As Mr. President #1 grabbed his backpack and we began to make our way out to the parking lot, I noticed his shoe was untied; as I bent down to tie his shoe lace, one of two things was happening again: 1.) he really had to pee, or 2.) the thoughts were beginning to flow again. "Mommy, do you remember that time you let me have peanut butter, and apples, and crackers for breakfast," to which I replied, "yes." And Mr. President #1 went on to say, "when I told my friend I had peanut butter for breakfast, his mom grabbed me on the arm and it really hurt!" As Mr. President #1 stood in front of me holding his wrist, to demonstrate how this devil of a mother grabbed him, I quietly began to turn into SHE-ZILLA, and grow horns from the top of my head. This whole long thought process Mr. President #1 had just gone though was a clear indication that he really wasn't too sure about breaking this news to me. It had LITERALLY been MONTHS since he last had apples and peanut butter for breakfast, so he obviously knows me all too well.
Let me tell you something though...the grace of God is really a miraculous thing, isn't it? I mean...the grace of God kept this woman out of sight and unknown to me because, who knows what would have happened? If I had been in the presence of that mother when Mr. President #1 delivered this news to me, I am almost certain there would have been some rather "choice" words exchanged. I mean...was she serious? What in God's name possessed this woman to grab my child by the arm because he shared with a friend of his [who I am assuming was allergic to peanuts] that he had peanut butter and apples for breakfast? Nothing about that situation sat well with me, but I quickly pulled myself together and said to Mr. President #1, "We should never bring peanut butter to school, [which we did not], but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy it at home. And just so you know...it's never okay to put your hands on anyone at any time." I was pretty sure my little guy got the message, but he mumbled, "okay," and ran off to the car in his usual, six-year-old style.
Now that I've gotten all of my frustration out, let me put SHE-ZILLA back in her cage. I digress...where were we anyway, haha? Oh...When I arrived at the car and I managed to calmly get the boys strapped in, I sat in my seat and just took a deep breath. I'll admit it! I had a little "Come to Jesus" right at that moment. I really tried to give the other mother the benefit of the doubt, so I replayed the whole situation in my head. I'm sure she just heard the word peanut coming from Mr. President #1's mouth, freaked out, and just grabbed his arm to move him away from her child. What mother wouldn't have turned into a superhero to save her child from a life-threatening situation? I would not have grabbed anyone [child or not] to the point where my grasp was painful, but I am certain I would have reacted as well. In my opinion, the best resolution would have been for the mother to grab and remove her OWN child from the group [rather than touch someone else's] just in case there were peanuts around somewhere. Do you agree with me?
Just to note: I take allergies and school policies very seriously. I know that food allergies can often be dangerous, and even deadly, so I try to always be mindful of what Mr. President #1 has packed in his lunch.
This whole situation begs the better question though: Is it ever okay for you to verbally or physically reprimand someone else's child? I honestly have to say that it is never appropriate for you to touch a child other than your own unless your child and another are in danger. As previously stated, in this particular set of circumstances, the appropriate reaction would have been for the mother to remove her own child as opposed to someone else's. The same thing applies to tricky situations at the playground or during a playgroup. My advice would be this: If you see another child misbehaving or hitting your child, give it 60 seconds before responding to allow the other child an opportunity to stop misbehaving (if the other child is going absolutely nuts, remove your child immediately). If the behavior continues after 90 seconds, remove your child from the situation, and keep your thoughts to yourself. I know the latter part is a bit difficult, as I would probably say something to the other parent about his or her child acting out, but avoiding any further confrontation is probably best. And depending on the situation, even though some experts say, "hold your tongue," sometimes the obvious needs to be said.
Now to that other mother who decided she was going to grab my child--YOU ARE A JERK! Yes...I said it! It better not happen again. But in all seriousness, if I see her at some point, I will be sure to address the situation in an appropriate manner. I just can't let this one roll off of my back, and I'm ready to give her a piece of my mind, so I will be sure to let her know that her behavior actually caused pain to my child. Parents, listen up! We need to seriously act better and be accountable for our own behavior. Too many excuses are being tossed around. At this point, you have brought a life into the world, so grow up and act like an adult. You know who you are! Our children are looking up to us, so it's up to us to set a good example for them. Okay, that's it!!! Any advice on handling the situation from you? Please share!
My family has been dealing with a lot of loss lately, and honestly, I am not too sure what to make of it. My Uncle Bick passed away very recently, and as I reflect on our trip to San Francisco last week to deliver our final goodbyes, I am filled with so many different sentiments. As mothers, we have to remember that we too are human, which means we will experience a lot of emotion at times.
I think I was pregnant with Mr. President #2 the first time Mr. President #1 saw me cry. I was already hormonal and emotional, and something I was watching on the television just really did it for me. At first I was a little embarrassed when Mr. President #1 looked at me and said, "Are you crying, Mommy?" I initially attempted to hide the tears, but then I realized something...everybody cries at times; let me just explain to him what is happening here.
When I told Mr. President #1 that I was actually crying happy tears, he looked at me like I was crazy. I scooped up Mr. President #1, put him on my lap, and explained to him, "We all have happy and sad tears. Sometimes we just get so happy that we cry happy tears, and sometimes we feel so hurt that we cry sad tears. But the good news is that when we cry sad tears, eventually we become strong again." Mr. President #1 hopped up out of my lap, ran over to the table, grabbed a tissue and brought it back to me. When he extended his arm to me [tissue in hand] it was a sure sign he truly understood me.
I know some experts might argue that we should never let our children see us cry, or at least never let them see our vulnerable side, but what about happiness? Laughter and smiling are both expressions of happiness, which we all know is just another emotion. Should we hide our laughter and joy from our children too? Of course not! That would just be absurd.
With all of that being said, sometimes it's just necessary to LET IT OUT! When a loved one passes away...CRY. When the dog dies...CRY. When your son takes his first steps...CRY. When you close on your first house...CRY! Whether they're sad tears of tears of joy, life wouldn't be complete without the ups and downs. If those little ones see you shedding a few tears, just tell them why, and everything else will be just fine.
To my loved ones who have made a home in heaven...I shed a tear for you too. May you rest in eternal peace. Until we meet again...
I like to consider myself a young mother. Well...I USED to be one anyway! (wink, wink) I had my first child, Mr. President #1, at the ripe age of 24, and on a very regular basis, I was constantly falling victim to the unwanted and unsolicited advice from everyone else about how they thought I should be raising my children, or how they thought I should look or carry myself.
I love to give advice to young mothers in a "BEEN THERE, DONE THAT" sort of way, but for me, it was often hard to tell if the comments were genuine, or if some of y'all were just trying to get under my skin. Because I was once in their shoes, I am sharing this advice to save some of the young mothers from all of the agony and headaches I was subjected to. Motherhood is hard enough without all of the commentary from the rest of the world, so let's cut our young mothers a break.
Here are 10 of the most insolent comments I have received over the years. Whatever the cause may be, please make a little effort to NEVER UTTER any of these the next time you have an encounter with a young mother at the playground.
1. Are you their big sister?
Now I know you just heard that little boy call me MOM! Not that I'm trying to be rude or anything, but this might be one of those instances where you should probably just mind your own business!
2. You look sooooooooo young!
I'm sorry, but I really don't look that young. I'm 30 years old, so it's a little late for you to be mistaking me for a 16-year-old. Rather than trying to imply something nasty with your "you look so young" comment, just know that I'm all the way fabulous and keep it moving.
3. So...are you married?
Well if you would take a second to look at my hand, you would see that I am wearing a wedding ring. Regardless of that fact, why do some of you always have to assume that young mothers aren't married? Please stop. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a single mother, but this is not the case for all of us. I am a proud wife!
4. Do your kids have the same father?
This is probably one that offends me the most. It really does not matter if my children have the same father or not, but since some others are so concerned about this topic of discussion, the answer is YES.
5. Are you the babysitter?
Well......actually.......I'm not the babysitter. I'm their mother. But thank you so much for asking! Have a great day!
6. Are you planning to go to college?
Just keep 'em coming, why don't you!? I've already "been there, done that." I graduated from college before I had my children. This one can really make some young mothers feel unfulfilled and unaccomplished. Try building them up instead!
7. Do you have a job? What do you do?
The last thing I want to talk about at the playground is WORK! But since you insist......YES! I have a job! I probably make more money than you! And working mothers ROCK, by the way!
8. You don't "look" like a mom!
What does this even mean? What is a mom supposed to "look" like anyway? Mothers come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, and come from all different walks of life. No two mothers look alike.
9. It's nice that you got it over with!
"Got it over with?" Really? News flash: you don't just get motherhood over with. I mean...come on now. Once a mother, always a mother. Motherhood is a responsibility a woman carries with her for a lifetime.
10. Did you get any stretch marks?
The nerve!!! Right? I know what you're thinking, and the answer is YES. Someone actually asked me this once. I have never been ashamed to admit that I do have stretch marks and an incision scar to accompany them. But I like to refer to these marks as my Battle Wounds and to my most treasured scar as my Badge of Honor.
I honestly don't know which is harder sometimes; being a mother or answering some of these ridiculous questions! The next time you see a younger mother at the local store or the neighborhood park, please refrain from asking her these questions. Besides, I'm sure she has heard them all before. Mothers, please know that you are awesome! If you hear the snide comments and questions, just keep it moving. You got this!