Friday, June 17, 2011

8 going on... 8 1/2

I was talking on the phone the other night to a new friend and we were discussing our girls. I mentioned that Sweetie was just about 8 1/2.

"Oh, wow" I said out loud as I scanned the calender. "She really is almost 8 1/2."

Monday will be that "big day."

The person I was talking with noted that her daughter is just about Sweetie's same age, as she will turn 9 in early November.

But the way my new friend qualified her statement, saying her daughter was "8 going on 18," what with eye rolls and concern about popularity and general attitude ... well, it just made me consider Sweetie.

Sweetie, for all her drama and smarts and confidence is, for all intents and purposes, still just my little 8 1/2 year old girl.

She still wants to cuddle with me or her Daddy on the couch each day as we settle into or out of our days watching TV in the living room.

She still wants to be read to every night at bedtime. Or, if bedtime is running later than usual, she claims she can't fall asleep without at least hearing a poem (Daddy and I each have a particular poem we recite to her when bedtime comes around quickly.)

She still loves to give us "hugs, kisses, noses & poses" as we send her off to sleep.

Sweetie still cannot imagine a day when - like teens and preteens she sees on T.V. - she thinks she will feel any differently about Daddy and I than she does now. Thinking your parents are weird or uncool? Pshaw! She just doesn't get that... yet.

She still doesn't allow her life to revolve around friends and status and popularity. She's just as happy to play on her own as she is to have friends around to imagine and roam with.

Boys - as anything more than potential friends, plain and simple - are nowhere near being on her radar yet. Hmmmm... well, perhaps they're approaching the radar, but still far off. She has shyly/cutely told me before when a particular boy in her class told her he loved her. And - when I've picked on her about her new "boy" friend from the Boys and Girls Club - she too adamantly told me that they were JUST FRIENDS! (and, to me, the more adamant you get about something, the more it hides the real situation. I'm just sayin'...)

She still wears her princess helmet every time she heads outside to ride her bike on our not-really-that-busy-or-dangerous cul-de-sac road. We don't need to remind her. She never forgets. Not one consideration that she may not look terribly "cool" in the helmet. Not connecting any thoughts of seeing other kids in the neighborhood riding their bikes sans helmets. She just knows the rules of safe riding and obeys.

She also doesn't fight us on where she can ride her bike. For now, we just want her to stay on our rode. And, for now, that's fine enough for her.

We limit her T.V. watching to not include any silly pre-teen/teenage Disney shows like Hannah Montana or Wizards of Waverly Place (is Hannah Montana even still airing? Whatever...) She used to watch them. But when Hubby and I finally called an end to those days, she did not fight it. She's too young to be watching shows specifically aimed at kids who are dating and driving and getting into all sorts of messes.

At 8 1/2 years old, she is not yet taking care of her own baths or showers. This, I wish I could change. I tried to get her used to taking showers. It lasted 2 or 3 instances, until the novelty wore off. But something has to change. I'm getting too old and sore to bend down and wash her hair in the tub. (She does wash herself - except for hair - in the tub. So there's that...)

She doesn't care a hoot about clothing and fashion in general. She begrudgingly gets herself dressed on the weekend, picking out her own clothes. But most of the time I automatically set out her clothes for her, lest I hear her grumble and whine that she doesn't know what to wear. That, I think, is actually a pretty easily changeable situation. It's summertime now. You're 8 1/2 now. Get yourself dressed already or stay naked.

At any rate. What I'm saying... I'm pretty happy with the rate at which Sweetie is growing up. For the most part, not any faster than she's naturally aging each year. And that's just the way I like it.

Too many kids are growing up way too fast these days. And of course Sweetie is/has been exposed to some pretty mature concepts via the media or friends or whatnot. But, at least for now, she is happy and comfortable enough with these ideas to realize that "that's grownup stuff" and to leave it all alone.

Happy (almost) 8 1/2 year old birthday, Sweetie. I can't wait to enjoy the summer with you, spending some time with my little girl!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Rock That Boat

My thoughts. They are nothing if not a study in contradictions. Yet another reason, I think, that I've been so quiet here lately.

I realize something about Sweetie's behavior and/or attitude and I want to write about it... But then I recall how I just wrote recently about my take on how she's been concerning this matter, but in an opposite way from my current outlook. Hmmm... how can I go back on my word now?

Or my own hang ups and ideals. You've heard a lot of them before, and some I've written about quite recently. So how can I now go ahead now and write a post that completely contradicts my own point of view?

I guess, in a way, I'm still working out how exactly it is I feel about some things - especially in raising a child and wanting to teach her how to be her best. So when I see, for instance, Sweetie repeatedly behaving one way, I think it's intolerable and maddening. But then, when I finally start to see the preferred behavior and/or attitude coming forth, I'm no longer so absolutely sure that that really is the ideal way to conduct oneself.

Duh, Mom! Life is not so black and white! Different situations call for different reactions, and all that. Yeah, yeah. I hear you. Thanks for the reminder.

What I'm currently trying to process is Sweetie's continuing shift from "girl-who-was-so-rigidly-stubborn-about-the-way-things-had-to-be" - a girl who created, it seemed, "rules" for herself and everyone else for different regular situations in her life (and woe be to he who wavered from the rules) - to a more mellow girl who more easily goes with the flow and adapts better to all that's going on around her.

I'm sure you're all thinking, right along with me, "Great! This is a wonderful thing!" Especially those among you who have seen me/us through these trying years of rigid, dramatic Sweetie. Who wouldn't want a kid who has - if not naturally been so - finally learned to deal with changes in a more socially acceptable manner and no longer freaks the heck out when things don't always go her way. Yay for us for getting the point - finally! - across!

Well, yeah. This really is a wonderful thing. Really! The drama has certainly lessened in our house and life seems to be moving along swimmingly, with nice, quiet play times and easy-going, spur-of-the-moment changes to our usual state of being. Hazzah, hazzah!

However... I do wonder if there isn't just a bit of a lean toward apathy happening here - something beyond the mere easy-going attitude.

Case in point #1 - School. Now, Sweetie used to love school. After the last day of kindergarten, she was very upset to learn she'd have to wait an entire summer before starting up in 1st grade. What?! she said. You mean I don't get to go to 1st grade on Monday?! Nope. Sorry, Sweetie. You have to enjoy several weeks off of vacation before you can move on. It's just the way it is.

And, yeah. I know. A kid gets older and the "fun" of school is slowly replaced with the "work" of school. What kid wants to do all that work when school used to be all about play time, rest time, snack time and show & tell? But still. It's a bit sad to see the excitement reduce.

Not that I'm saying she flat out doesn't like school anymore. She certainly does! But she just as equally enjoys her weekends and random days off as she does heading off to school each day. - But it's those random days off that are really worth getting excited about, if you ask me.

The girl was absolutely no fun at all during this past winter, what with our New England weather and the many terrible storms we had. I can't recall exactly, but I'd say there were at least 8 or so snow days this past winter season. In fact, after Christmas vacation, there was a good month and a half where there was not 1 full week of school due to either planned days off or - more typically - surprise snow days.

But Sweetie? Eh. She was completely and totally content to go to school, or to be told she had the day off because of snow. Even when I would warn her the night before that I was pretty sure there'd be no school tomorrow, because a storm was coming... but then it didn't hit quite so hard after all and school was, indeed, on. Okay. Cool. Whatever. School or no school. She was/is happy either way.

Heck! I was way more excited about her snow days than she was!

Still. Get a little excited, Sweetie! About something! Be super stoked for school, or be pumped that summer vacation is only days away. It doesn't matter. But React! Show some enthusiasm! Choose a side already!


Case in point #2 - Dan.* Dan is a boy Sweetie has regularly been playing with everyday after school at the Boys & Girls Club. He's one grade older than her at their school, and together they've been playing at Legos, and Transformers, and comic book creating, and whatever other fantastically fun activities they can find that binds them together in harmonious play. It's been at least 2 months now of consistent, everyday play together. Sometimes other kids come and go to the group. But, always, it's Sweetie and Dan playing together.

Now, I don't know Dan. I saw the back of his head once, that's it. But Sweetie talks about him quite a lot and so I've come to form an opinion of him that is favorable. He seems like a good kid and a great match for Sweetie. Who cares that he's a boy. Who cares that he's a year older. They seem to get along well and have fun. That's alright by me.

Every once in awhile, I'll ask Sweetie questions. Like, does Dan seem to like playing with you as much as you like playing with him? Is he ever mean to you? What's his last name? Does he mind that you're a girl in 2nd grade, and he's a boy in 3rd? Does he ever want to play with anyone else and not you?  - Things like that. I'm trying to get a sense of this kid and if he truly considers Sweetie a friend - or at least a great playmate! - or is he just appeasing her interest in hanging around with him.

All info from Sweetie says that, from what she can tell, they equally enjoy each other's company. Well, then. Would you like to see if we can arrange some play dates with him over the summer? Sure, she says (again, not a super excited response, but a positive one nonetheless.)

Then, I admit, I did some sleuthing and found contact info for his parents. I told Sweetie I would call his mom and see about the possibility of summer play together. But first, I said, why don't you ask Dan if he'd like to play with you once school is out.

That night, well after Sweetie was home, at dinner time, I again brought up the idea of summer playtime with Dan. I asked Sweetie if she had mentioned the idea to him at Club.

Yes, she had.


He said no.

What?! Well, how exactly did you ask? How did he say no? Were there other kids around that maybe he didn't want to hear him saying yes to you? You used the words "play date." Maybe, as a 3rd grader, he didn't like that because it sounds babyish. Maybe his parents work full time and he knows he'll always be coming to the Club still and won't have an opportunity to play with you. Maybe he knows he's going away all summer and won't be around to come over. Did he still play with you after you asked him? Did he sound mean when he said no? Were you upset?

Uh - I think Hubby and I were a wee bit more concerned about this turn of events than Sweetie was. That said, Sweetie didn't seem to have any real feelings about the situation at all. Maybe just a tiny bit quiet/questioning about it. But not upset. They kept playing together at Club after she asked. He didn't say no in a mean way. He just said no. End of story.

Hmph. Oh, if only I could have been a fly on the wall for that exchange. As it is, I'll never really understand how the conversation went down and why he said no.

But Sweetie - she's so... ambivalent about it all. He's become your friend! You have fun together! You both like Legos and making up stories and games! Don't you want to play with him as much as you can?! Aren't you upset that he told you he doesn't want to play with you?! Show some feelings already!!!

I think I'll still end up calling Dan's mom after all. I'll let these last few days of school pass by, allowing them to continue their "relationship" - whatever it is - undeterred by parental involvement. But once they're away from each other for a bit, then I'll talk to his mom and see what she thinks about Dan's interest in continuing their friendship through June, July and August.

But Sweetie. Sweet, kind, creative and - apathetic? - daughter o' mine. Ambivalence and apathy just are not words that I ever thought I'd attribute to you. Yes, it's been so great to be able to switch up our plans and change things that you are otherwise "used to" without big, dramatic fall outs like we've known you to display before. For this change in your behavior alone, I am grateful. But don't lose your passion, Sweetie. Don't lose your ability to form an opinion. Don't let - as I truly believe you have - your typical "Great!" response to how are you feeling slip from "Great!" to "great." Let your greatness mean something! Be great when you feel it, and feel it as often as possible. But allow yourself to feel "sad" and "angry" and "scared" and "mad" and "excited" and "thrilled" and just plain "fine" whenever you experience those natural changes of mood. No, it's not alright to dramatically lash out to a comparatively small annoyance or negative change. But it is completely alright to feel what you feel - whatever you feel - and express your thoughts appropriately and without fear of being wrong or bad.

This is your life, Sweetie. Live it to the fullest and show the world all the great levels of passion inside of you. Always be true to yourself, respectful of others, and - yes - even rock the boat every once in awhile when needed. We and the world won't mind. And you just may cause the needed ripple that starts the great movement of amazing change.


*not his real name.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Hmmmm... Look at that. A whole month went by with not one post. Sorry 'bout that. Guess I've been.... distracted.

Speaking of being distracted (duh!), I've actually been really proud of and impressed by myself of late, as I notice myself working at my various part time jobs. That is, when at each one of my jobs, I am completely able to be fully present. I am not thinking about what I have to do at the other office, or otherwise worrying about anything other than the matter at hand. That, I think, is a skill and a talent. Go, me!

However... in my home life I seem to be nothing but distracted. Yep, I think Sweetie's #1 annoying quality has warn off on me ("You've been up here for 5 minutes and you're just brushing your teeth now? What have you been doing all this time? - "I was distracted!")

We went to the grocery store the other day and I mentioned to Hubby, "Oh! We need juice boxes? Where are they?" - "Right down this aisle on the left at eye level." And then? A half second later? I totally spaced the juice boxes as we pass 'em right on by.

I also happened to not even consider my need for my own breakfast bars - something I regularly buy at every grocery trip. Hmmph.

The other day I was picking up the house, in anticipation of some friends coming over for dinner. One of the things I did (well, intended to do) was take the gift certificate I recently got for my birthday from the stairs to my purse. Well, I picked it up and.... well... When I went to look for it the next day, it wasn't in my purse. After careful and long consideration, hours later, I figured I may have thrown it in the trash instead.

Yep. I found it. In the trash. Thank goodness!

And then. And then! I made rum and Coke drinks for Hubby and I at dinner last night. Eh. They didn't taste quite right. We figured it was just because it was hot out and the ice was melting faster than usual, thus making them taste watery - or something. But, nope. As I took my last sip I realized, "Hey! I never put the rum in these!"

What a complete waste of Coke.

And it's not even like I started making them, walked away for a second, and came back to finish. I just... didn't think about the rum. Bah.

Actually, I'm really too distracted to even write this post. And as I think about it, I do recall on at least a few occasions writing here about how my mind is always one step ahead. When I'm doing one thing, I always think I should be doing that other thing. It's a constant curse with me.

But now it seems to be getting worse. At home.

At work? I'm golden. Totally on task.

I think. Or....

Maybe distracted with all the things to do at work and which to focus on currently....

But all, at least, job related.

That's a good thing, right?

Oh, never mind. Maybe I should have let even more time go by before writing again. That would have been better for all of us, I think.

If you'll excuse me now, I'm sure I've got something else to do now. I just can't think of what that could be...