Monday, November 30, 2015

Raising an Underachiever

It's funny how you start to recognize your child.

At first, Judah was a colicky, demanding baby. A total stranger to me in every way.

And then his personality slowly emerged as he was more able to express his inner world of thoughts and feelings. Until now, at age 5, I have fully realized that Judah is exactly me (on the inside).

He is extremely sensitive.

He is driven by fear that others will be mad at him.

He is utterly embarrassed by any attention whatsoever.

And in a nutshell, he is a people-pleaser extrordinaire.

My sweet, (extremely) anxious, (overly) sensitive mini-me.

It's pretty freaky how much we're alike. Every posture and inclination he has finds complete resonance in my own heart. I'm now a big believer in Nature over Nurture.

So when Judah complains about going to school, I tell him things I'm pretty sure most parents would never tell their own kids.

I instruct him often: Don't try your best Judah.
And he objects: But Mrs. Hawkins will get mad at me if I don't do my best work!

It's especially hard to convince him to ease-up when his school actually recites a pledge every day, which includes a promise to do "your personal best."

But I know Judah.

I know the pressure of perfectionism is sucking all the joy out of school. I know his extreme efforts at forming the perfect upper and lower case letters completely stress him out. I know he kills himself to color intricately within the lines for fear. I know the kid who LOVED preschool doesn't want to go to kindergarten anymore because it's become a place of unbearably high anxiety born out of his desire to please his teacher, whom he loves.

So I implore him daily to NOT try his best.

But I can tell Judah is utterly confused by the blatant contradiction between my instructions and his teacher's mantras. And sometimes I wonder if I'm giving Judah the right message - don't try too hard, relax...I literally told him just to put in "HALF your best effort" because I didn't think he understood any other percentages.

Did I just basically tell my kid to half-ass everything at school? Does this make me a bad parent?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why yes Oxford, you may include these words in your dictionary

This week I made up two words.

Words that I think should easily slip into our vernacular with nary a thought.

Once I reveal these words to you, dear reader, I'm confident you will feel the same way.

You'll say to yourself - Of course! Those words exactly capture the essence of the things to which they refer! And now we have a name for them!

And then these words will enter into popular usage and no one will remember who coined them first. Do we know who first coined the term "selfie"? or "hangry"? or "mic drop"? or "awesomesauce"? or most important to everyone's life "beer o'clock"?

But maybe, just maybe, some young millennial researcher will do some googling and realize, the origins of these words came from here. This humble little blog from a humble little suburb and cement my everlasting legacy thenceforth.

So without further ado, my contributions to the American language are:

(1) Pre-partum depression. Sure everyone's heard of postpartum depression, but what about the depression that you get BEFORE the baby comes out? The news of pregnancy is often greeted with excitement and joy, but not always.

For example, I knew a family that had a pair of twins. They were EXHAUSTED running after them and when the twins were toddlers, the family found out they were (accidentally) pregnant again. The ultrasound showed they were having twins yet again! The news was greeted by them and by their friends and family with great somberness. They described the reaction as "funeral-like". And then, though they didn't say this because the word had not yet been invented, I'm pretty sure PRE-PARTUM depression set in.

If I had found out I was pregnant when this pic was taken, I would DEFINITELY have had pre-partum depression.

Or, a more common example. A couple is already overwhelmed with their two kids all under the age of 3 and then finds out they got "accidentally" pregnant with a third. The couple shares the news of the impending birth in drooping tones of defeat and dread. They definitely have pre-partum depression.

(2) Fakebook. Yes, everyone is on Facebook (even you really hipster people who like to pretend you're not because Facebook is OVER), but it should more properly be called Fakebook.

When I took journalism class in 7th grade, my teacher taught us that overemphasizing a small aspect of an event was called bad journalism, aka, lying. Also, omitting the majority of true things in a report is also called lying.

I can think of nowhere that "lying" is more rampant than on FAKEBOOK.

If your entire week has been horrible and you felt like absolute poop and wore sweatpants every day, BUT, you had one morning in which the light hit you just right and you felt like smiling sweetly, that's the picture you post on Fakebook with the caption - Life. Love. Sunshine. Lollipops.

If your toddler has been a holy hell the entire week, re-decorating your walls with crayon scribbles and leaving little turd droppings everywhere while having screaming tantrums every 13 minutes, BUT you had one half-second when he smiled sweetly with you after you bribed him with gummy bears, that's the picture you post on Fakebook with the caption - Kids. Love. Sunshine. Lollipops.

Kids. Love. Life. Sunshine. Lollipops. ALWAYS. *wink wink*

It may seem humorous, but I do think the Surgeon General (of mental health - well, first we should appoint one) should slap a warning label on Facebook (after making it change its name to Fakebook):

Prolonged usage of this medium will result in depression by comparison, delusion, and strong beliefs in the lie that everyone else's life is much much MUCH better than YOURS. No one's life is just "life, love, sunshine, and lollipops" and even the tamer captions do not come close to capturing the reality of despair, emptiness, and just total messed up crap that is the human condition. If you must be on Fakebook for more than 5 minutes a day, make sure you purge those delusions with a commensurate amount of time reading a Russian novel.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Random Week in November

I literally have 5 minutes to pound out an entry before I need to pick up the kids. So hold on to your seatbelts kids. It's going to be a quick and superficial ride.

Thank you veterans for not only serving and protecting our country, but for giving us a random holiday in the middle of November when ALL schools are shut down. The first part was sincere, the second was sarcastic.

But actually, our forced holiday was awesome because we hung out with 2 other families that had 2 boys each. Six boys + a giant playground under the redwood trees + 2 awesome mom friends + perfect California sunshine = pure bliss.

Also, Judah and Noah are continuing on the Brothers of Love Tour. I don't know how long this will last, but I'm going to enjoy every second of it until they grow out of this phase (which, Dear God, I hope they never do).

All day long they are hugging and playing well with each other. I know, weird right? Judah constantly exclaims "Friends forever!" and gives Noah giant hugs. Noah is eating it up. Judah is his number one hero of all time and Noah worships him like a god.

I remember putting my older brother on a pedestal too...but he wasn't that fond of me, haha. I kept wanting to play "store" and Candyland. He wanted to do advanced calculus instead. Whatever.

And in other news, legwarmers: they're not just for aerobics instructors. Noah wears them constantly now that the weather is colder and I'm potty-training him FO REALZ this time. So far so good. I ask him literally every 30 seconds - do you have to go potty? And he responds - Mommy, stop asking me so much.

And then once in a while he'll say - Mommy, I have to pee! And I'll whip open a used plastic bottle and place it under him to catch his stream. I'd say this is boding well for...wait for it...wait for it...

DIAPER FREEDOM 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm so excited I'm going to pee my pants...ironically.

Monday, November 02, 2015

A Blurry

Last week was a blur / flurry of activity...a blurry of activity, if you will. Thank you Halloween. [sarcasm intended.]

Every day there was something off schedule. Translation for child-free people: Mama be going crazy cuz she did NOT get her usual clean-up, organize, do-me time.

Monday - Judah's field trip to the pumpkin patch. Weird schedule.
Tuesday - the only normal day of the week!
Wednesday - Noah's preschool Halloween fair. And Judah's Halloween class party.

Noah and his best school friend. He has no idea where to look when I take pics with an iphone, hahaha.

Thursday - Judah's school-wide Fall Festival.

Kindergartners in costumes - very cute BEFORE the sugar induced meltdowns.

Friday - no school!
Saturday - HALLOWEEN!

They look like they're in costume...but it's also how they dress EVERY day.

Reason number 24,364 why kids are awesome - they make you wear costumes when you otherwise wouldn't. 

Sunday - "don't trust your clocks day"

I'm gonna need a couple weeks to recover.

Before arriving at the actual day of Halloween the kids had already been collecting MOUNDS of candy from various events. But nothing topped the crowning glory of acquisition that is "real" Halloween trick-or-treating.

Both Judah and Noah were having a blast, going door to door with their giant pumpkin buckets. Seriously, I have NEVER seen them happier in their entire young lives.

The dragon's horde.

Afterward, they spent an hour laying out all their candy and sorting and trading. I kept hearing Judah tell Noah: You don't want that one. That's "bad guy" candy. Give that one to me.

And like a putz, Noah would comply and occasionally ask: Is that one "bad guy" candy?

Finally, I asked Judah (knowing full well he was taking advantage of his little brother somehow): What is "bad guy" candy?

Judah didn't skip a beat: "Bad guy" candy is candy that maybe Noah wouldn't, it would be bad, for him.

Sounds totally reasonable and not at all like Judah was taking Noah to the cleaners. I was duly impressed with Judah's b.s.-ing skills. You truly are my son - the son of a lawyer. (And as we all know from Arrested Development, Lawyer is Latin for liar!)

But of course, I kept going with the cross-examination. As a lawyer, you know the devil is in the details: So what kind of candy might be bad for Noah?

Judah: Oh, you weird flavors like blueberry...or chocolate.

AHA! I rest my case. You are hereby charged with swindling your younger brother out of all his best candy.

Judgment rendered against you in equity: The judge and prosecutor will now take all your Twix and Reeses' Peanut Butter Cups.

Now go to bed!