Friday, September 18, 2015

Top 5 Google searches of the week

I was going to publish a new Overheard column here, but my kids are not very amusing these days. So instead here is a list of a few of my actual Google searches from the past two weeks. You can tell a lot about how things are going in my house by viewing my browsing history, no?

1. Coprolalia - This is the involuntary swearing or the involuntary utterance of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks. I won't go into details on why I searched this particular word, but I will say that we had our first teacher conference of the year.
2.  How to tie shoes - I found this little gem and in one weekend my two eldest children finally learned to tie their shows. You're welcome. 
3. Kondoing with kids - I started listening to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I began envisioning spaces the spoke to me and began asking myself "Does this spark joy?" Then I remembered that I have kids. And if you look in their backpacks, under their beds, and in their rooms, it appears that everything they've ever laid eyes on sparks joy for them. I realize that I can't decide what sparks joy for my children or my spouse, but I do want my children to learn the lesson of how to judge value in items that we keep.
4. Outlander - With a beach vacation on the horizon, I decided to dig in to this Diana Gabaldon series. Yes, I am going there. Finally. Dammit, sister. There goes my free time and my uber cool reputation. (Joking, of course!)
5. Residential elementary schools -It's been rough over here with the 8 year old. And if anyone's curious, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island have boarding schools that take 3rd graders.

Friday, September 11, 2015


It's been a long week. Even though I'm not "working" at a paying job, my days fill up pretty quickly. I volunteer at the school, prepare food, do laundry, make appointments, declutter and organize, and whatever else needs to be done. Yet sometimes I still struggle to see value in what I don't get paid to do. It's a process.

Fiona's class went to the zoo this week. I chaperoned. We walked around for 5 hours and saw some pretty awesome animals. Her class is studying swamps and we were there to observe swamp animals and flora. She was utterly delighted at the very first thing she saw:

I wanted to see a lily pad with flowers on it and I did. Look, mom, look!! 

The men of the family couldn't let it pass without a joke at her expense, though. 
Fiona is going to visit her family on Thursday, Jim says.
She's going to visit the monkeys, Owen pipes up.

Why did change your shorts? 
I peed my pants. Owen made me laugh too hard.
Where you trying to pee your pants? (This has happened before.) 
Yes, she giggled. I should have known. She had just spent the past half hour maniacally laughing.
Sigh. Okay. That is not something to aspire to. 

Danny is back in cub scouts. The leader asked the boys:
If you were a tool what would you be? All the other kids said things like hammer or screw driver. What does my kid say?
Brace and bit.
I asked him why.
It's a drill but with hand power. It makes your muscles bigger.

One night his den did an emergency preparedness activity. The leader asked them what kinds of emergencies they need to prepare for in our state. The answers? Gila monsters and shark bites. 

And a few from the conversations with an ADHDer file: 
Danny, we're all ready to go to the pool. Go get your suit on! I called into the back yard where he was wandering around.
A few minutes later, he yells down the stairs, Mom, does 12 times 2 equal 24?
Do you have your suit on, Danny? 
No. Sigh.

We're giving Danny a stress ball to take to school with him as a sensory fidget. We explained that he was to use it when he felt agitated.
I can throw it my face, he said, excitedly.
Um, no. You squeeze it, Danny. 

Owen continues to be cute as can be. His teacher wishes she had 15 students just like him.

I like home mostly, but I also like Tammy (his teacher), Owen says. But when I tried to give Owen a quick kiss goodbye at school and he ducked.
You're not going to kiss your mama at school, huh? 
No, that's just CRAZY.

Dad gave us a pill with no water once, Owen says.
Well, he can swallow one without water. Maybe he thought you could, too. 
Quietly he says to his siblings, Dad thinks we're adults, we're not. 

I'm going to say the O word, Owen says, smiling.
What is the O word? I ask.
Oh crap, he replies.

When are we leaving home, mom? Danny asks.
Hopefully, when you're 18. 
20, he says. No, 22. No, 100! Oh, crap.

Boys, stop fighting and get dressed, I call up the stairs.
Fiona rolls her eyes and laughs: Stupid boys.
This girl knows what's up.

And, finally, this:

I need this sign in my house!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

A confession about reading

There are many things I enjoy doing with my children. Trips to the lake and ocean and swimming and biking together top my list of favorite activities with my kids. Hikes and puzzles and games and even cooking together are favorites around here. We've got the quality time and exercise thing covered.

What we do not have under control is reading to the kids. I'm just going to come out and say it. I really strongly dislike reading to my children. Notice I said children and not child. I actually enjoy reading to one child at a time.

Trying to read to all three at bedtime or anytime is sheer insanity. Trying to read to them one at a time at bedtime is not much better. All parties involved are at the end of their ropes. Hell, the only way that I can read a book to one child is if the other two are out of the house and the child being read to doesn't breathe a word about solo Mom time to the others.

We've tried many different scenarios to achieve a more peaceful story time. It was easy when there were only two kids. Then a third kid came into the mix and not every kid got to sit next to mom or dad for stories. That was just the first source of contention. There's the whose-book-is-read-first fight followed by the I-don't-have-enough-space fight and the he's-touching-me fight. And let's not forget the I-can't-see-the-book fight.
So we tried separating the kids: Husband reads to the boys, mom reads to the girl. This works well until one of us is alone with the kids once a week at bedtime. Our choices on these occasions are TV in lieu of reading, reading to one at a time, or reading to all three. The TV scenario ends in tears when the TV goes off. The one at a time option results in complaining that I am taking too long with the first customer. The reading to all three results in a three-way verbal and sometimes physical brawl.

Every. Single.Time. And this happens after a full day of referring and negotiating with these wee terrorists.

There is a wealth of research on the benefits of reading to young children. I'm not disputing that. The only homework my children's school insists upon is that children read or be read to for 30 minutes a night. This summer I discovered the one way that my children will listen quietly to stories: audiobooks. Yep, they listen to books if I am not reading them. They listen without fighting. They laugh at and follow the stories. They ask to listen to the books. So much for parent-child bonding. But I've been told that this somehow doesn't count toward the goal of 30 minutes of reading a day.

I've been lead to believe that this activity should be a fun and special time with my children. And it just is not and has not been for quite some time. If reading to my children has become so unpleasant, what benefit are my children getting from this exactly? One thing I've learned in my 8 years of parenting is that if something isn't working the way conventional wisdom dictates, then it's time to do what works for us.

Our bedtime stories dissolve into tears so often. Once they start fighting, I stop reading and send them all straight to bed, often screaming and crying. I dread starting the bedtime routine. I feel like crying most nights after reading to them. It's a horrible way to end our day.

Failing to read to our children regularly is not going to handicap them. Ending their days in tears and frustration, however, can do far more damage.