Halfway Parenting

I am tired of halfway parenting.

I don’t mean parents who are not involved at all, or “un-parents” (see also “couch mama“). Those people are on a whole different level.

I mean parents who take their kids places or sign them up for things and then stop parenting as soon as they walk in the door.

For example, Matthew had floor hockey Saturday morning, a wonderful and inexpensive program put on by Goal Sports. It is a nice excuse to get out of the house and give the kids exposure to different sports, the idea of teamwork, commitment, etc. the games take place at a roller rink, which is divided into 3 floor hockey rinks.

We got there about 15 minutes before it started so we could grab a booth to sit in and watch, mostly so I could pin Zane the wanderer (see Brilliant or Lazy?) up against the wall and actually watch the game. This, of course, backfired because he was antsy by the time the kids finished practicing (they practice 1/2 hour and then play a game for 1/2 hour) and so Matt and I took turns holding him while Matthew was playing, and then letting him run around with his sister and I when Matthew was not.

There is an abundance of people there and most were very attentive to their offspring, but here are a couple of things I noticed as I walked Zane.

1. One of the kids from the 3 and 4 year old team running around and playing across every “rink” while his coach had the rest of the team huddled up for instruction. Look, if you are in the program to help your kid get some structure and you are letting him run around like an animal instead of encouraging him to join his team, you are a halfway parent.

2. One kid climbing all over the walls next to the “please don’t climb” sign. If your kid can’t read, the sign is for you to translate for them, halfway parent.

3. Three kids sitting on top of the Skee-ball machines, which is obviously not what they are there for. If your kid does not know about respecting property and the intended use of things, maybe you shouldn’t let them out of your sight, halfway parent.

4. A baby that was barely crawling continuously licking the disgusting carpet while being babysat by her (maybe) three year old brother, no adult in sight. Hope you enjoy explaining to your doctor how your baby was infected with Dysentary, halfway parent.

Almost everywhere I go I continuously bite my tongue. A problem that comes with being a teacher is that I correct behavior all day every day without a second thought, but when I am out in public I feel like I shouldn’t do it because I have no relationship with these kids (and they might have crazy parents nearby). I am beginning think that’s wrong.

In the parents’ defense, perhaps I just happened upon a moment of weakness and the parent was in the bathroom or taking an emergency phone call or just having a quick ciggy in the parking lot (kidding).

We need to stop worrying about the repercussions of correcting the behavior of children that aren’t ours, because sometimes parents might not drop the ball on purpose. Kids need to learn right from wrong, no matter WHAT adult is helping them. We should worry more about kids that are never getting corrected, because if they mess up, it isn’t their problem, it’s all of ours.

If you see one of my kids messing up and I’m not around, help me out. I promise to do the same. In the mean time, do you have an “unparent” story?


Why I Don’t Watch Television


When someone talks about current television shows, I imagine they probably think I’m some kind of freak when I let them know that I don’t watch television. The truth is, I CAN’T watch television.

Tonight, for example, Ryann and Matt went to the Daddy Daughter Date Night, leaving me alone with the boys. I have been pecking away at watching the first season of Parenthood on Netflix (5 years after it started) so I figured I could knock an episode out before bath time. Here is a clean version of how the first 10 minutes went for me.

1:12 Tell Matthew to move out of the way of the television.

1:30 Matthew asks if he can drink the rest of my water bottle. I agree. He proceeds to start shaking it up and down right next to my ear. I ignore him and turn up the volume.

1:59 Zane, now aware that there is a water bottle making fun noises and said water bottle is not in his possession, begins to chase Matthew and scream.

2:15 I ask them again to quiet down and turn the volume up again.

2:40 Matthew continues to taunt Zane and Zane chases him around the couch. I tell Matthew to give Zane the water. He complies, Zane climbs up on the couch and begins shaking the bottle and crackling it near my ear. I grab the water bottle and throw it away.

3:10 Zane is mad because Matthew is sitting closer to me. Matthew teases him by laying across me. I move to the other side of the couch.

3:43 Zane begins to wrestle with Matthew on the couch. Since they are actually quieter now that they are wrestling, I let it slide.

4:55 Since their behavior has not needed correcting in a full minute, they decide to step it up a notch. Matthew starts by sitting on the arm of the couch and then falling backwards onto a pillow he has set up. I ignore him.

5:41 Matthew is apparently sick of being the only one risking his life so he somehow convinces Zane to lay down with his feet by the arm of the couch so that as Matthew flips off backwards he can pull Zane down with him by his ankles.

6:15 I recognize that I am the only one that can stop this from happening so I yell at them to stop.

6:30 They start to wrestle on the floor by my feet. I tell them again to stop, and emphasize my point by throwing every pillow within arms reach at them.

6:42 I tell Matthew if he can’t stop messing with Zane, then maybe he should go upstairs. He goes upstairs. (This is suspicious, but whatevs-Zane will sit quietly with me).

7:33 Matthew begins to make a whistling noise at the top of the stairs like some mini Pied Piper and Zane starts to head towards the stairs. I ignore him.

8:03 I can hear the boys wrestling upstairs so I run up and grab Zane to avoid having him thrown down the stairs.

8:40 Zane heads back for the stairs. I grab him and put him back next to me on the couch.

8:50 Zane heads back for the stairs. I grab him and put him back next to me on the couch.

9:00 Zane heads back for the stairs. I grab him and put him back next to me on the couch.

Since I have missed about seven out of nine minutes of the program, I turn it off and put on Disney Junior. Like magic, Zane settles in next to me and Matthew comes down, apologizes, and snuggles in on the other side.

All television watching did for me was give me a sore throat and a headache and a messier living room, which is why my main source of relaxation is reading or sleeping, which is what I should be doing now…

How do you get your T.V. fix?

Brilliant or Lazy?

I am an anti-crowd mom. I rarely take my kids anywhere if we can’t get there right when the place opens. I can’t decide if this is because I’m too impatient to wait in lines or because I like to know where my kids are in strange places and the more people there are, the harder that becomes.

While I need to be aware of my kids’ whereabouts, I hate hovering over them. For example, when Ryann was almost 2, I tied a balloon to the back of her jeans so that I could eyeball her location at a big hall party without actually following her around like a horse poop shoveler at a parade.

There is an age, for my littles anyway, that kids want to wander and don’t want to listen. Zane will be 2 in March and has hit that age. You would think that I would keep that in mind and would never leave home without a stroller to strap him in. You would be wrong.

The Rotary Club sponsored a “Turn Off The Violence” fun fair that was free for kids this past weekend. Matt and Ryann had plans so I thought it would be fun to take the boys for a bit so they could get tired out their faces painted and balloons twisted.

It was an excellent event and they really enjoyed it. I, of course, spent the majority of the time trying to talk Zane into staying with us by chasing him down and yelling his name (my voice was drowned out by the clown’s microphone) while carrying their ninja turtle balloon animals, a huge beach ball, and their swag bag.

When I finally caved in and grabbed the little jerk guy a hot dog, we sat peacefully for almost 7 minutes watching the magic show. Then he was off again. Luckily, Matthew can recognize my letsgetthehellouttahere face so we grabbed our things and left. Zane was asleep before we pulled out of the parking lot, and I decided that for the immediate future, when going anywhere with a crowd, we should always stop and grab a balloon on the way.


Here I Go Again…

So I’ve taken a few years hiatus from writing anything but notes to my nana and grocery lists.

After baby #3 I went from being a part-of-the-time writer to a full-time wiper.

I’ve come to realize that it is very ironic to be a writing teacher that doesn’t write.

I am starting to blog again as a way to take some time for myself and to have my stories preserved through something other than my Timehop app.

I am a loving, sarcastic, laid-back, middle-of-the-road mama and would describe myself as the same kind of wife.

I love to read.  I want to become a better writer.  I also like the idea of having something the kids can look at when I’m deep in the throes of dementia.

A friend suggested wordpress as my new blog platform, so here I am!  My old blogs can be found at http://www.downrivermom1.blogspot.com along with some writing on the Trenton/Grosse Ile Patch website.

Yes, she kisses her mother with that mouth.

It started innocently.  Matt and I were driving home from my cousin’s engagement party when we saw someone on the side of the road with a gas can putting gas into his car.  Matt says to himself under his breath, “Dumba–.” And that is how it started. 

So you can guess what Ryann’s new favorite word is?  She has called me this probably five times and it rolls off of her tongue like she has been saying it her entire life. 

“Mommy, are you listening?  Dumba—“ she says through clenched teeth when I don’t respond right away.

“I said give that to me dumba—“ she tells her little brother as he gums up one of HIS Christmas presents.

Each time, we chide her-we don’t say that word, that is a bad word,[1]etc., etc. but after she goes a few days without saying it, it eventually comes back out-although she is starting to apologize right afterwards, much in the way I anticipate she will apologize when she is in high school and starts using the language she uses around her friends rather than the language reserved for her parents.

So I am wondering-is she too young to taste a little soap, or do we just keep ignoring it until it goes away?  I am just waiting for it to come out again when we are out in public so that I can explain to everyone that she picked it up from her dad… 🙂

[1] While fighting back a smile and tears at the awkwardness of hearing such a sweet voice say such a bad word.

Our patient is trying my patience.

We have been very lucky so far with our children in that they have been very healthy, easygoing kids.  The only time Ryann has ever been to the doctor’s was for a well baby check-up and the same goes for Matthew[1].    

That all changed on Tuesday morning.  Ryann woke up with a fever[2] so I got a hold of my parents[3] to see if they[4] could watch the kids so that my girlfriend wouldn’t have to bring her two over and risk getting them sick.

Ryann acted fine all day, according to my dad, she was just a little tired and didn’t eat.  He even brought the kids back to his house so that he could watch him there.  I walked in the door to pick them up and my dad told me Ryann had just thrown up.  Her clothes were changed[5] and so I just grabbed her and she fell asleep in my arms.  I was in no hurry to leave since I didn’t want her to get sick in the car, so we relaxed for a little while and my dad casually mentions that he was a little nervous about her vomit, because it looked a little red.  He shows me a paper towel that he used to wipe her mouth that has blood on it.

Since my dad has seven kids, I figured he wasn’t worried, so I shouldn’t be.  I called my mom to let her know.  She was leaving work so I waited for her to get home so she could check out the sample.  She came home, took one look, and said that we needed to go to the hospital[6].  I called Matt and told him to meet us there. 

We got our things together, put the car seat in my mom’s car, and raced[7] to the hospital where Matt was waiting in the Emergency Room.  I carried Ryann in and handed her off and went to go check her in.  As we were standing at the desk, she began to vomit blood again.  Matt and I of course were the typical fruitcakes freaking out as someone calmly handed us a tub to catch the blood in[8] and then ushered us into a side room where we sat with a few other people until we were called back.

When we finally got in a room they gave us a run- down of what they might need to do.  She had to be hooked to an I.V., get a tube up her nose and down her throat, get a catheter, and also have a few Tylenol suppositories to bring her fever down.  All the makings of an alien probing.  The only thing they did not do was put her under and put a scope down her which they decided would not tell them much since she was so small.[9]

We were admitted and stayed the night.  Matt and I were stressed.  They finally decided that she must have broken a blood vessel while retching, which is what caused the blood to come out.  They couldn’t find blood anywhere else[10]  so they released us about 24 hours with a prescription and orders to follow up with her doctor this weekend. 

Ryann is almost back to herself, she has been ordering us around like she is still hooked up to an I.V., and besides a cough and runny nose[11] she is doing well.  Matt and I, not so much.  Until we can relax about it, she is back in bed with us again I guess until the nightmares fade[12] or she gets married. 

[1] Although I am a little more lax on getting Matthew to the doctor’s on time.
[2] About 103 degrees, but it was in the ear and never seems accurate, and I haven’t brought myself to learn how to take a temperature rectally yet. 
[3] Mom.
[4] My dad.
[5] Into one of her uncle Robbie’s t-shirts.
[6] The hospital as in Mott’s children’s hospital in Ann Arbor.
[7] 60 mph is racing on the expressway to my mom.
[8] I guess E.R. employees are used to these kinds of situations.
[10] And believe me, it wasn’t for lack of trying.
[11] And nightmares most likely involving people in scrubs and white coats.
[12] About the 3rd time she woke up crying last night, Matt told her that whenever she gets scared she can just rub his back to make herself feel better. I woke up this morning and she was rubbing his back.  Well played Mr. Everly.

These are a few of my favorite things…

The older I get, (and the older my children get) the more I appreciate the holidays and the traditions that have developed in my family over the years.  A lot of families spend time at the Thanksgiving table going around having everyone say what they are thankful for.  Since I come from a family of seven and my parents both come from families of seven kids our holidays don’t have down time to hear each person talk.[1]

So today, since chances are I won’t get to talk much since there will be so many people around[2] I would like to give a shout out to the people that I am most thankful for.

1.   I am thankful for my husband.  He is both hardworking and loving.  He is appreciative and helpful.  He is a great dad and role model for my children. 

2.  I am thankful for my children.[3]  My mom wrote me a letter in 8th grade which I still have that said “you will never know how much I love you until you hold your own baby for the first time.”  She was right on this among other things.[4]

3.  I am thankful for my parents.  They worked hard[5] to provide for myself and six[6] siblings and are always there to help with anything I need.[7]

4.  I am thankful for Matt’s parents for helping to raise my babies and for raising my husband to be a great guy and father.[8]

5.  I am thankful for my brothers and sisters[9] for each of their separate personalities but shared sense of humor.

6.  I am thankful for my few but true girlfriends that provide me with an outlet away from all the above mentioned people.

All of these people mentioned along with numerous acquaintances that I may not see as much as I would like to[10] continue to make my life complete.

I hope that everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

[1] It wouldn’t matter if we did anyway, because no one listens to each other, they are just waiting for the other person to pause for breath so that they can jump in and tell their “much better” story that will more importantly put the focus back on them.
[2] Plus, I like to focus my attention on more important things, like eating.
[3] Most days.
[4] Not EVERYTHING Mom, this is not a concession.  Maybe next year?
[5] And continue to work hard
[6] Yes, 6.
[7] Especially babysitting.
[8] Could someone tell them I said that?
[9] In-laws included
[10] With the exception of light facebook stalking.