Friday, 30 April 2010

What an idiot I am

So I have recently been introduced to Regretsy and in my searches through Ms. Winchell's archives and subsequent searches through the halls of esty I have discovered an awful truth.

I have been throwing out loads of crap that people will actually pay good money for. I thought my Scotish husband with his ingrained frugality would have spotted this. What gives?

Here is a tiny sampling:

And here I was chucking left over birthday cake in the bin. This lady pops it in tubs, tops it with some candy and sells it to people as FOOD. I'm an idiot. I could have gotten five dollars, for each portion! I shudder to think of all the money I could have put into my son's college fund that I just blithely scraped into the rubbish.

Oh my god, I just threw this exact same thing out last week. three dollars?! I'm an idiot!

This shop has several listings for spare game pieces from a game that was clearly a big hit with the kids, Smath (Like adding up the points and bonus squares in scrabble wasn't hard enough math for a sunday evening? Math fun -- world's best example of an oxymoron) And now when it's clear this game is of no other use, does the owner chuck it out like stupid ol' me would? No, They sell off the pieces in number sets for $1 a bag...Collage/mixed media supplies, indeed.

This store sells boxes of junk...BOXES of it, for: FORTY NINE DOLLARS!

When I think of all times I have dumped drawers full of valuable "art supplies" in a black garbage bin bag...I get sick, actually.

FORTY NINE DOLLARS? I am a dumbass.

My hat goes off to these people. They can sell bottle caps, and stained clothes, rusty old screws and nails, and here I am the big jerk, actually working for a living. The mind reels.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

A baby's first laugh

The cutest sound in the world, hands down.

That is all.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Just when you thought PB&J couldn't get any more convenient

The original fast food for moms on the go just got easier:

Are you serious? Have we become so rushed for time that we cannot even make ourselves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? And I used to scoff at Goober. This is the epitome of lazy.

I'm all for the "future" and making lives easier, but what's next? IV bags at the grocery store that you can attach to your Bluetooth, or garment hooks in the car?

No time to chew? Too busy for the hassles of digestion? IV bags distribute the nutrition you need directly to your bloodstream. No muss, no fuss.

What ever happened to enjoying one's food?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Five going on fifteen

Benjamin has been driving me insane as of late and driving his father to fury. It's been screaming match central and I'm telling you I was not prepared for this to come until he was fifteen at least. I have been desperate and longing to find an answer that didn't include beating my child into submission, grounding him for life, or taping his mouth shut until he was twenty.

I must say the ladies at my parenting board have really come through for me. I got some sage advice, and some really helpful TOOLS for adjusting my perspective and redirecting his frustration into positive empowerment. It's early days but so far, so good.

I have successfully managed to reign in and diffuse a total of five tantrum potential incidents in the last 48 hours, and here are a just a few of the tales:

Yesterday I picked Benjamin up from school and everything was fine, he was happy, smiley, chatty then quite suddenly he snapped "arrrrrrg Stop talking to me!" And I thought; ooooh there is that teenager 'tude the ladies were talking about! And so I thought WWAGMD (what would a good mama do)? And I said calmly "Mommy, I need a little bit of quiet time now, if that's okay." And he repeated calmly and sincerely. I nodded (inwardly shocked that tis had not resulted in much eye rolling and lip smacking). And a few steps later he growled; "I just wish I could walk to school and home by myself!"

My instinct was to guffaw at the absurdity of the request and say "no way! Not safe!" but I thought about the no...was this really a good time to use the almighty irretractable no? Maybe I was only saying no because it was inconvenient to say yes and make those accomodations, maybe I am only saying no because I am not being creative enough to say yes. So I thought of a compromise that I could live with, and I said "Can I talk?" And he laughed and said with a tsk; "Yes, mommy!" So I said, "How about tomorrow you get a head a start and I'll walk with Emily about ten steps behind you? That way you can feel alone, but if you need me, I'm not that far."

He liked it. Then he asked, quite nicely, for some more quiet time.

So today he started walking and I let him go ahead of me and we got about three blocks and he started slowing down, so I walked to him and put out my hand and he grabbed it and he said quietly "It's just, I started feeling lonely." So I gave his hand a squeeze and said "I'm glad I wasn't far away." and he leaned his cheek on my hand and said, "Me, too."

Then I said, "How about when we get to the edge of the school building you can walk to the door alone?" (it's about six meters) and he lit up "That's a great idea, Mommy!"

And he gave me a big hug and a kiss and kissed his sister, and off he went as I stood at the corner.

Tonight was another success tale. I aksed him if he wanted to learn to tie his shoes and he stomped and threw himself backwards onto the floor in a heap and began to shout "Noooo, I'll never ever know how to do that. I'm not ever going to be able to do that, stop asking me that!" At first I would have been so shocked and so angry that he was being so resistant. I would have escalated.

But instead I took a deep breath and imagined myself at the age of 15 my mom asking me questions I didn't know the answer to "Do you like this boy? Whose religion will you practice if you marry him? What do you want to study at University? What will you be when you grow up? Why do you like those people?" I remembered the frustration and angst in my heart at those times and how I wished I could crawl in a hole and die from embarassment at my lack of self-awareness and life knowledge and my total inability to control anything, even basic decisions in my life. I became filled with empathy for Benjamin and instead of jerking him up and taking him to his room, I held him and whispered close; "You didn't used to be able to draw a face and now you can, can't you?"

"yes" he answered apprehensively.

"And last year you didn't know how to write words, but now you do. And you used to color outside of the lines all the time and now you almost never do, right?"


"So don't you think you'll learn to tie your shoes some day, too?"


"well," I said, "If you don't want to today, that's okay. I'll ask again another time."


And that was it. No flailing, no yelling...NO ESCALATION!

And two night in a row he has gone to bed happy and cuddly and without tears and without gimmicks.

Jamie is cautiously optimistic, and worries he is the most patient father on the face of the earth. He is unsure, but he has to admit these are tangible results.

Benjamin is really growing up and he really is turning out to be a fantastic kid.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

why do we have to have rules?

Benjamin is facing the fastidious fives.

Isn't this when it's supposed to get easier? Aren't they supposed to be empathetic and independant, and good communicators...doesn't that happen like magic on their fifth birthday when they blow out the candles and you make a wish for a peaceful home?

Not so much.

And to make matters worse, he's up and made real friends. Many of whom are, to put it nicely, spoiled rotten. They treat their housekeepers like subservient creatures who live to meet their every whim, and they treat all grown ups like we're stupid. Isn't that supposed to be a part of adolescence?

So now we hear things like:

If you don't let me stay up all night long watching videos I will never be happy ever again!

If you don't let me have cake for dinner I will never be a part of your family again.

If you don't let me go outside and play (at 9pm) right now I will never stop screaming!

I have to fight not to laugh and diminish his anger, or debunk his ridiculous ultimatums.

Then on the otherhand, I get indignant. How dare he speak to me like that? How dare he resort BLACKMAIL!? Who does he think he is?! I start to think of what would have happened if I had ever spoken that way to my parents. A spank on the bum? Soap in the mouth? a right good shout down and to bed with no dinner? That would teach him!

Or were they more forgiving than I remember? Was it all a phase and I grew up to be a nice respectful person anyway even if I was a beastly tot? Were we really more respectful in our youth or is it all an illusional of revisionist history?

I don't know, but as he grows older and gains more vocabulary to express himself and he expands his social role he is also asking pertinent questions.

Take the other night.

It was a school night and we were into the bedtime battle again.

And after much carrying on and screaming and threatening to disown the family and what have you, on his part and much jaw grinding stonewalling on my part, he lets out a huge exasperated sigh and he says "Mommy, why do we have to have rules?"

I tried to explain: rules help protect people and to protect other people's rights when other people are acting unfairly, like the rule about being quiet after the baby goes to sleep and it is bedtime. Your need to scream and protest is not more important than Emily's right to sleep and Mommy's right to peace and quiet time. Those are our rights. Your need to scream is okay, but not when you break Emily's right to sleep. If you need to scream, you can stay in your room and scream, but if you are screaming and being out of control and saying rude hurtful things, I won't want to stay with you and do nice things like read stories or sing songs, because I have a right to not be spoken to rudely, and that is as important as your right to scream when you are feeling frustrated.

He stopped crying. He listened. He genuinely wanted to understand the rules, and you could see he wanted to understand why his dad and I got to make most of them, and the little wheels were turning. And I know it sounds crazy, but I think some of it actually sunk in.

I think it's a civics lesson that may need relearning a lot. A civics lesson that to be frank, my husband and I both could stand to restudy ourselves from time to time. Sometimes I think we as grown ups forget that he is a person with his own needs and his own rights, and our rights do not always supercede his merely because we are adults or because we are bigger and stronger and richer. Sometimes it wouldn't hurt to just stop what we are doing and try to listen a little harder.