Heart of Gold

We live on a great street in a wonderful neighborhood located in the middle of suburbia.  Yes, even I make fun of suburbia, so go ahead!  But fortunately, it does provide my children with a safe street full of kids where they can play sports and hangout…of course the houses are on top of each other (but the good thing…less yard to mow).

Our street has about ten to fifteen kids that play outside on a regular basis.  Ages range a great deal, but for the most part everyone tries to include everyone.  When it comes to the boys on the street, my son is the youngest of the group, however, we have a couple older ones that do an excellent job watching out for him.  Unfortunately, none of them were present yesterday when six kids were playing basketball in our driveway.  Playing in our yard is always welcome, and it does often to seem to be the basketball goal of choice…not sure why.  Anyhow, it had started with three elementary school kids then two high school aged kids joined the game.  I was watching out the window to see if my son was getting the ball since the older kids joined the game.  Avery started playing recreational basketball this past season, but he still has less experience than all the other kids and often has to fight for the ball.  I understand this will improve over time, but of course a mother is always protective of her babies.  On that note, I try to avoid being that helicopter parent.  I called Avery to the door after a while of seeing him be left out and quietly told him to speak up and say he wants the ball too.  I doubt he said a word.  My Avery has a heart the size of Texas and he just wants to make sure everyone is happy.  For example, last night his sister had her cup of water taken away at bedtime because she was mad and kicked dad.  Avery took his cup of water to her when dad walked away.

Last night, while sitting on the sofa, I asked my sweet boy, “Honey, does it upset you when the big kids don’t give you the ball, or do you just enjoy having all the kids at our house to play?”  It broke my heart when he said he wants the ball and wants to play too.  I took the question a little further and said, “Do you want mom to speak up and tell everyone to make sure everyone is equally included?”  (Not sure what age parents start becoming embarrassing.) I was actually surprised when he said yes to that as well.

Sometimes it is so hard to keep yourself in line as a parent.  Where do you let your child fight for themselves, and where do you step in?  I certainly would not walk down to someone else’s driveway and give orders, but when kids are playing in my driveway, my kid gets to play.  I look at my children and see so many differences.  My daughter, who is three years younger, has no problem fighting for herself…remember, she kicked her dad when she was upset.  But my boy has the huge heart and always wants to play nice and fair; I really hope he does not get walked on in life for being so sweet.

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Valentine’s Fun Stick Guilt

Last year I had that mom guilt…the guilt that made me feel my children needed to go to drastic measures to make overly creative Valentine’s cards for their friends.  And yes, although cute, I realized that was simply me feeling that guilt. I’m curious why moms often feel that guilt. Well, this week started off with one child home from school with a stomach and then me sick with a cold (performing at half the speed of smell).  I am blaming my cold on my daughter’s kindergarten class that had six kids out sick yesterday (this was her third stomach bug since December).

Anyways, since I’m still feeling pretty blah from this cold I took the lazy route yesterday and bought the Valentine fun stick packets for my kids to give out at school.  My children thought those were the best things in the world!!!!  So my question, why do so many parents feel like their kid must take this extraordinary product to school when the simplest thing makes the children happy?  Even now I still feel my children need to add a sticker or something special to the packet so it looks like we put work into it. The funny part, I recently found my son’s box of cards from last year thrown in a corner of his room.  So obviously this isn’t something they think much about after Valentine’s Day.  We won’t talk about why it is still in a corner of his room…that is a whole different subject…

funsticks

Better Late Than Never

Although it is already February, one of my goals for the new year was to put more focus on my blog. Better late than never, right?

Honestly, I am a full time working mom with over fifteen years of advertising and journalism experience, seeking the perfect job that would give me more flexibility for my two young children that are just starting all the commitments…soccer three nights a week, basketball, school activities…you name it. It is a great struggle for me, because my past ten years have been spent working in a government job, which honestly, has been a little too slow pace. Prior to this job I was at Home Depot’s corporate office where everything was due 45 minutes ago. I am guessing there must be a middle ground. Something challenging and flexible….is that asking too much? I am continually intrigued by the balance of life that so many people are looking for. Most people want their minds to be challenged, but want the balance for family. Why does that seem so far fetch these days?

I look at my children every day and think how fast they are growing up. Before long I will blink and they will be off to college. Yes, I am one of those sappy moms that gets a little teary-eyed at the thought of them getting so big! Now I certainly would not go back to the infant days with interrupted sleep nights and diapers, but I truly love the ages they are now. They still ask mom for cuddle time and need a kiss to make boo-boos feel better. If it was only possible to slow down time a little, it would help.

So I am hoping to find a little more direction in life this year. A new, challenging job with flexibility. Possible? We shall see.

Magnificent Manners

First thing this morning I had one of those annual check-ups for insurance that requires one to go 9-12 hours without food and drinks. I can handle the “no food,” but no coffee does not go over well. Especially on a morning in Georgia where it feels like 16 degrees (with the wind chill). Yes, all you people up north can make fun of us…I am perfectly OK with that. Anyways, I could not get to the Starbucks across the street quick enough after my appointment. The most impressive part was the little girl inside Starbucks, who I am guessing was around 9 or 10 years old, that stepped outside to open the door and hold it for me. Of course, I can handle the door on my own, but I am always impressed to see children that have impeccable manners. It is very encouraging to see those still exist. I would be extremely proud of my children if they did that. Yes…this is coming from a mother of two younger children who know this takes time and continual effort…and good manners are something we always enforce. I simply hope what I try to teach them sticks one day. It was very promising to see hard work in this area can payoff as a parent.

Our First Trip to the Beach

The time has come.  My husband is 100% mountains when it comes to vacations and getaways.  I would say I’m 75% mountains and 25% beach.  Well…I told him it was time…our kids definitely need introduced to the beach, as much as he hates it. The trip is booked, so we shall see how this adventure goes. It will definitely be interesting! This is not the type of beach adventure where one goes and sees the beautiful coast of Maine with light houses and rock walls. Oh no!  This is Disney-World-Threw-Up-On-The-Beach!  Myrtle Beach with the kids’ water slides, the lazy river, the Ferris wheel, you name it! Wish me luck! Pictures to come.   

A Debate With The Husband

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I volunteer at the school a couple hours a week helping my kid’s teachers. Usually, I am sitting in break room stapling, sorting, cutting out laminated items, etc., but every once in a while I spend time helping the teacher in the classroom. So my husband and I recently had a discussion that turned into a debate about parent volunteers in the classes. We are very fortunate to have our children in an excellent public school. The school has an outstanding staff and a great deal of parent involvement. Both things I feel are vital for excellent schools.

The debate began when my husband and I started talking about parents in the classroom. Jonathan (a.k.a. the husband) does not recall parents helping in classrooms when we were younger. His opinion is, since it is a public school, parents should be able to help at the school but not in the classrooms. Why? He feels public schools are meant to be equal for all children. Therefore, it is not fair that one child’s mother can help due to a flexible work schedule and another child’s parent cannot due to a different work schedule. There may be one child that their parent’s inability to help at the school really has an effect on.

His thought is valid in my opinion, but I think the benefit of having additional parents helping in a classroom far exceeds the potential downfalls. Due to struggling budgets in school systems these days, the student/teacher ratio has been raised in many places. As a result, a teacher is expected to teach to 23 children at all different levels, keeping the advanced ones challenged and reaching out to those children that learn a slightly slower rate. Is that possible?

I am extremely lucky to have two children that are very bright and advanced (of course we read and learn new things at home, but I feel we owe a great deal of where my kids are academically to the Primrose environment that they were in from newborn through Pre-K). For example, my 2nd grade child is reading on a 4th grade level. Although wonderful, having an advanced child comes with its own challenges…my child can cause disruptions in class if he gets his work done too quickly. A friend of mine often goes into the class and takes the advanced readers into another room and works with them on things so the teacher can focus on those that need a little more help from the teacher. To me this is a benefit to all the students. Another example is the weekly fluency tests. Every week each child must read a story so the words they read per minute can be measured. A volunteer parent can handle that while the teacher continues teaching, or the teacher can give kids some busy work while she tests each child individually. I feel the parent involvement is beneficial in this situation as well. So my question to you…what is your opinion? Should parents be allowed to help in classrooms?

The Simple Minds of Children

Since my son started school a couple of years ago I have been very fortunate to be involved at the school.  I have gotten to know many of the teachers that you can truly see have a passion for children.  Although some days (when my two children won’t behave) I wonder how a teacher handles a full classroom of kids, I have seen the blessings they receive from teaching.  Just as a mother that volunteers at the school an hour or two a week, you see how big the hearts of so many kids are…they get so attached even to those of us that just make an occasional appearance.   

So, this week I went to help my son’s teacher for a couple of hours.  Part of the time I was working in the classroom while his teacher was teaching.  The teacher was walking through the responsibility of homework, and how in 2nd grade it is no longer mommy and daddy’s responsibility to make sure homework is completed and turned in.  Of course I understand why they are starting to train them in that direction, but honestly, I still feel I should check my son’s homework at the big age of seven.  Anyways, I believe every child in that class asked a question…What if my dog eats my homework?  What if my mom forgets to put it in my folder?  What if I finish my homework but leave it at home?  What if my mom throws it away?  Imagine 23 of these questions.  By the end of the discussion the teacher laughed and explained that all possible questions had been asked and answered.  The funny part, these questions were asked with the straightest faces.  They were thoughts that actually ran through their little heads. It made me realize how their simple thoughts can bring so much laughter and happiness to us if we just take the time to take it in.