K…an We Talk About Text Etiquette?

Good Morning Friends! Happy Friday! (If you’re reading this from Facebook, for the love of all that is holy, just CLICK THE LINK. Thank you) 🙂

Now that the 30 day 60 day blog challenge is over, it’s time to talk about something else & today I want to talk about the alphabet. There are numerous languages, each having its own unique means of written communication, but for today we are going to focus on the English alphabet; just 26 letters is all it takes to create all the words you see here & many, many more. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. We can say anything we want to say with the use of just 26 letters, & maybe the occasional emoji (or not so occasional if you’re like me & people don’t know you’re kidding unless you use a smiley at the end of everything). What happens when we have all these magnificent options at our disposal and we choose to use only one of them? You know which one. That’s right…the obnoxious “K.”

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We’re all probably guilty, but let’s examine this for a moment. Why do we do this? Are we just getting so many texts that all we can manage to muster is a single letter before we move on to the next text? Like celebrities: when you get their autograph they always write “best wishes” or something arbitrary followed by an “x” (or an “xo” if you’re really lucky) and a scribble that looks vaguely like it might contain at least one actual letter of their name. Then you get shoved down the line so the super important celebrity can lather, rinse & repeat with the hundreds of people behind you. Are we that important that we can’t wrangle up at least one extra letter? “OK,” perhaps? (Though, to be honest, that’s probably only marginally less annoying than “K.”)

What about the days when you were charged by the text, both incoming and outgoing? I can’t be the only one who got more than a little annoyed when someone cost me 10 cents just to say, “K.” For 10 cents you better have been sending me a full sentence complete with no unnecessary shorthand & proper punctuation.

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I know the point I made above is now considered moot since the majority of us are fortunate enough to be on some sort of plan which allows for unlimited texting, so why is this “K” thing still so annoying? For me there are two reasons:

1.) “K” has too many possible interpretations.

K, what?

As in, “Ok, Cool,” “I’m looking forward to it,” or ‘K’ as in “whatever. I’m done talking to you, you chatty nerd.” Or, “I’m sorry, my hands were bitten off by a t-rex & I can only text with my nose. ‘K’ is the best I can do.” The most terrifying thing to go through my mind might be, “K. Because I’m going to feed you to a shark. Shark has K in it.”

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135ee6abbb34c616b6b3144d97f77e65-jpgWhat do you mean?! There are no tonal clues with the letter K. There are no facial cues, no body language we can assess to determine if this letter is friendly or if this letter has nefarious, diabolical plans which include me ending up with a hole in my neck. Those of us with anxious brains prone to over-thinking need answers to these questions.

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2.) Time. I am busy. Maybe not I get 5000 texts in a day because I’m so important busy, but I do have a husband, 3 kids, a small business, a need to take time out to exercise, errands to run, a dog to walk, bills to pay, homework to help with, & endless amounts of laundry & dishes to do. I’m busy the way most of us are busy so while my time may not be any more or less important than yours, stopping what I’m doing to find my phone (which, at this point, is basically always on a charger which is not in the same room with me) just to read one lonely letter & nearly have a panic attack over the possible meanings of that letter & how to respond (or not), feels like a waste of time, energy, & internet data.

Bonus reason: while I know this is not always the intention, it can be rude.

Of course, we’re all going to do it every now and then, but if you frequently reply with a letter when I’m trying to have a conversation with you, please know that I’ve thought about cutting you.

Me: Hey, love! How are you?

Them: k

Me: K, good? or K, bad?

Them: just k

Me: There is no such thing as “just k.”

Them: k

Me: *screams*

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Can you relate? Does ‘K’ bother you? Why or why not? Do you have any fun reasons to add or creative responses to people who frequently do the ‘K’ thing? I’m planning a post on how to respond to ‘K’ and I’d love to see your best answers!

Call Me When You Have Good News

Friday, Day 21 of the blogging challenge: the topic is “what makes me sad?” Lots of things make me sad. Abuse, poverty, injustice, hate, ignorance…I could go on. Unfortunately, all I can think about that is making me sad right at this current moment is that this blog challenge still isn’t over. *screams* Me and my first world problems. :p

I try not to focus on things that make me sad because it’s easy to become overwhelmed and depressed as a result. That’s the reason I don’t watch the news or watch a lot of movies & television which contain tragic events; it just sticks with me and makes me a basket case. Sad people have the same effect on me as well. I could attend the funeral of someone I have never met in my life, but seeing their loved ones cry, feeling their pain, is all it takes to get me in the same state.

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Funeral Attendant: “Oh hey Beth, I didn’t know you knew Mr. Hinkerton Houserbottom. How did you two know each other?”

Me: *sobbing* “I…I…I didn’t.” *nasty snotty nose noises* “I came in here looking for my grave-digging b-brother-in-law; didn’t want to interrupt the service so I st-stood in the b-back…bu-but it’s s-so saaaad!”

Funeral Attendant: *Rolls eyes, offers kleenex* *Pats my head like he’s comforting a golden retriever*

See, there are many things to be sad about, but since I feel like I should narrow this down I did think of one thing that has been plaguing me recently & tends to come & go at a pretty regular rate. Sadness over my kids. Not that my kids make me sad; on the contrary, they make me very happy. It’s my own inadequacies as a parent that make me sad. I have those days where I feel like I’m kicking this parenting thing in the face (*happy dance*) and then I have the ones where I feel like I can’t do enough or I can’t do anything right.

I see all the moms nodding because you know the feeling right?

Currently the big struggle is with my youngest & school. She has struggled so much in school since 1st grade & I can’t help but go down the long list of could have, should have & what ifs. Those are completely pointless thoughts, but that doesn’t stop us from having them does it? It doesn’t make it any better when the teachers (however well-meaning) make you feel attacked, or like they are accusing you of not doing enough. I don’t know about you, but that’s how I always feel going into any sort of parent-teacher conference. I feel anxious & unfairly judged.

*Here we go again…another half hour where I sit and listen to all the ways I’m failing my kids, so much fun!!*

*Oh yay, here’s my favorite part! The Condescension! “Your child is just SO SWEET….but…[followed by all the ways in which she’s lacking. That list is always much longer than the cursory compliment which is meant to soften the blow, but somehow only serves make it feel worse]*

Of course the teachers rarely (if ever) mean it to feel that way, but those are just my own irrational feelings. Remember, feelings aren’t right or wrong, okay?

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*Therapist voice* This is a safe space.

Anyway, I’ve always wanted to ask other moms if they too experience this inescapable feeling of dread when conference time comes around, or when you get any sort of communication from a teacher. The crushing anxiety. The pep-talk you have to give yourself before walking into the building or picking up the phone. (Because it’s never good news when I hear from a teacher.)

*Do not cry. Whatever happens, do. not. cry. You are a strong, loving parent. This is to help your kids. Be strong. Do. Not. Cry.*

I want to be the mom that just instinctively knows what her kids need in every area of life, but when it comes to school I can’t reconcile between they need to work harder and they need a break. School in America is ridiculous in the first place with their lofty standards, sped-up curriculum, standardizing everything…but that’s a different blog post. How do you balance between their down time when they’re home and the demands of the classroom?

If they have homework or classwork to finish, it has to be done. If they have projects, they have to be done. Even if all of that is taking away from their down time, their chores aren’t getting done, instruments aren’t being practiced, extra curricular activities are completely neglected, dwindling your family time…sucking the life out of everyone in your family from 3:30 – 9pm. (Can you feel my eyes rolling?)  I want to set a good example for my kids regarding work ethic & earning things, but the demands from schools do seem excessive to me. I want to be able to tell the teacher this at the conference without making it sound like I’m blaming her, and I want to be able to come up with a solution that works for the classroom and at home. One that keeps my child accountable, but also doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out & use it to strangle myself or someone else.

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Memes like this don’t help. 

There never seems to be a good compromise though. I sit there listening to teachers give me all this advice about my kid (who they don’t even really know by the way) trying not to cry & feel helpless, & I can feel them making judgements about me, making judgements about her because of me. Am I the only one who feels this way?

When you look something like this up on Google all you get is a list of articles about The 10 Types of Parents Teachers Hate and Things You Should Never Say To Your Child’s Teacher or forums where teachers complain about the parents of the children they teach and make assumptions about what is or isn’t happening in their home. (Don’t ask me how I know this…) Where is the support for parents who are doing their best, but feeling overwhelmed, insignificant, and even attacked? The weight of that potential judgement from teachers and faculty stresses me out. You could say it makes me sad.

The fact that most of the time I feel like I’m not doing enough for my child while simultaneously feeling like I’m doing everything I can without having a nervous breakdown…makes me sad. The fact that I don’t have the patience & the organizational skills required to homeschool makes me sad. The fact that I can’t afford private school…nah, that doesn’t make me sad. I don’t really want to pay thousands of dollars to have people judge me when I can get that judgement at a more affordable rate elsewhere.

The point of my post is not to berate teachers so I hope that my teacher friends will not take offense. I am only sharing my general feelings which, while they may not be an accurate representation of the reality of a situation, they are the feelings & fears that go with me into every encounter with a teacher, counselor, principal, etc.. I respect and value teachers & I know that most of them respect the parents of the children they teach, but to search the internet or Facebook you wouldn’t think that. The internet is chock full of teachers complaining about one aspect of their job or another (which I understand) and parents is what they complain about most; not necessarily with my teacher friends, but generally speaking.

If I had one big blanket suggestion for all schools (who am I kidding, I have tons, but for the purposes of this post I picked this one), it would be to make sure that your staff is contacting parents with good news often, definitely more often than you’re contacting them with bad news if you can manage it. Every time someone from my kids’ school calls me, I have a 3 step process:

1 second of panic, 3 seconds of doubt where I don’t want to answer the phone, and then the part of my brain that does all the adulting kicks in and makes me answer it.

I never get good news from a school faculty member without it being followed up with a “but.” If the military can have stress cards and colleges can coddle 20 year olds over the results of an election, then schools can help their more anxious parents out with a few nice phone calls or emails per year…just to let us know we’re doing something right. That would make me very, very happy.

Keep Calm &…Oh F*** It: Part 2

Hello again!

It’s Monday morning and I am snuggled up on my couch underneath a thick, fuzzy blanket in an ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ sweatshirt and yoga pants, nursing a hot cup of coffee while my kids (who are out of school this week for Thanksgiving break) nestle behind the couch to watch movies on the iPad despite the fact that they have an entire room in the back of the house with all their toys, a couch, and cable TV. One day they’ll be telling their grandchildren all about the woes of being a child raised in the 21st century and one of their struggles will be something like, “when it was cold outside and our mom was babysitting, five of us had to scrunch up around a portable 9 inch screen to stream movies on Netflix and we had to take turns picking the movies!” *gasp* I can’t imagine the terrible scars this will leave upon their delicate souls. Years of therapy await them, I’m sure. Can you feel my eyes rolling? If not, let me help you envision it:

I don’t mind it though because I can hear everything that’s going on and it gives me the time and quiet I need to make this post. Yes, I’m letting the iPad temporarily babysit my kids and nieces. If you didn’t judge me after Part 1 of this series, please feel free to do so now.

Speaking of judging, we tend to do this a bit too harshly to each other don’t we? Often, judgment goes hand in hand with assumption and your kids are no exception to this. Maybe they made a mess, spilled something on the table, or neglected to put away the laundry after you asked. Often, we assume it’s just because they’re not listening, or simply because they chose not to obey. We think we have to open the Crazy Box to get things done.

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I feel like ^^ this ^^ from time to time. Okay…often. I feel like this often.

The trouble is that when we assume, we don’t take the time to get to know the real reasoning behind the things our children do and say. We don’t think, we just react. We presume to already know the answer and so we don’t need to discuss it, ask questions, or try to make sense of it; we just want our kids to do what they’re told, right?

But…why?

Do we always want to just do what we’re told without knowing the reason for it? Do we want our kids to blindly do what they’re told in every situation? We’re always telling them, “if so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” They might if that’s what they’ve always been taught: to listen, obey and just “do as you’re told.” Sometimes that can be very dangerous; how can our kids differentiate if we don’t teach them? We want them to be their own people. We want them to be independent thinkers & not follow the crowd, to not be afraid to ask questions…until it’s inconvenient for us.

We want them to trust and obey us as their parents, their teachers, ‘the authority figure’…and somehow they’re still supposed to learn to be free thinkers, to inherently know what to do, what not to do, which friends are good influences, which are not, which adults are trustworthy and which ones are not, when to just obey & when to ask questions…all without us giving them the opportunity to learn these skills at home or at school? We have a tendency to give ourselves room for error and growth while expecting other people, even our kids, to already be perfect; to know better.

I’m not saying you should have to break down every little thing for your child. They should just do what you asked out of respect for you whether they understand it or not, but this is not an ideal world and what people should do and what they actually do are often two very different things.

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A relationship of trust has to be built before this can happen. I’m more likely to do something that is asked of me without question when it has been made clear to me that the person asking is someone I implicitly trust. The parent-child relationship is so special & unique because trust is an innate emotion between the two, but it is not automatically given in any other relationship. In every other relationship on the planet, you have to earn it. With your kids, you just have their trust automatically (isn’t that amazing?!) from the day they’re conceived…until you break it, (or until they break yours) and then it must be earned back. In the case of my kid, and many others, it’s not necessarily always an issue of trust…she just needs to know the why’s and how’s of something for it to make sense to her, and once it makes sense she’s more inclined to do what I’m asking her to do.

I have been guilty of this before, but I am not typically a “because I said so” kind of mom. I try to explain and to understand before I react. Sometimes I fall way short of this, but that’s because I’m human and I’m a work in progress. When that happens, I’m not above apologizing for it. I try to remember that the few extra seconds it takes to explain something to my child is so much better than arguing unnecessarily over it; things get done much faster and my household runs more smoothly when I take that little bit of extra time.

Additionally, some kids need problems to solve, not just chores to do.

{Example: I very recently learned that Princess Sassypants will wash dishes happily if I tell her, “I really need you to do this because we have somewhere to be in an hour and the dishes need to be done before we leave. You do such a good job at washing them; you’re so much more careful and thorough than your brother and your sister is still a little too young to handle knives.” This way she feels like she’s special because

A.) I’ve chosen her specifically because she does a better job than someone else and

B.) she’s being helpful to and protective of her sister who might get cut.

She feels proud of her accomplishment and she knows that I notice and value her efforts. Okay, so it’s a little manipulative, but it’s positive manipulation if that helps. 😉 }

Children need to feel like they’re needed and valued versus feeling like they’re just there for you to boss around and yell at. You like to feel needed and appreciated, right? What would give you the impression that your child doesn’t want or deserve the same?

Yes, it’s frustrating when I have to ask my kids to do things repeatedly, but that’s when I have to remind myself to take a deep breath, get their attention and calmly (but firmly) remind them. Then after they’ve done it, I ask them, “is there a reason you didn’t do that when I asked you to?” I don’t always succeed at this, but I try to steer clear of “why didn’t you do what I said?!” because that sounds accusatory and they won’t give me an answer. By wording it the other way they feel like I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, they’re not being accused of anything or blamed, and they’re more likely to answer me. “Because I had to use the bathroom and when I got back I started playing and I just forgot.” That isn’t an excuse I want to hear every single time I ask them to do something, but it does seem valid on occasion, especially when you consider the person I’m asking is an 8 year old girl with the attention span of a squirrel or a ten year old who is a bit forgetful and scatterbrained like her mother. She gets it honest. Yelling at them won’t make them feel anything good, and it likely won’t improve the strong-willed child’s behavior in the future either, AND – to put it bluntly – it’ll make you (& everyone who had to listen to it) feel like shit(take mushrooms). So what’s the point? It’s a pretty useless thing to do all the way around. That’s when you come up with a game plan (like “next time put the laundry away before you go to the bathroom” or something that works for your family), then let them know that this excuse isn’t going to be acceptable next time and just move on. It doesn’t have to be an argument and no “crazy boxes” need be opened or “Oh, F*** It” moments had. 🙂

Of course, everyone is going to open their crazy box every now and then. Even your kids have OFI moments. Allow them room for error. Give them room to behave like the beautifully flawed humans that they are, but teach them how to use that experience to prepare themselves to react better in the future. You don’t have to excuse their behavior, but do let them know that it’s okay to feel whatever they feel; it’s how they react, it’s how they use that emotion that matters. Teach them to use every mistake as a learning opportunity so they can continually grow. If it takes a little more understanding and explanation on your part, so be it.

More than anything, though, remember to model it for them. Apologize to them when you have an OFI moment and forgive yourself for not being perfect, let them see you not repeating the same mistakes in the future. Let them see you changing and even if they don’t change, your understanding of and respect for each other will, and that will cause your relationship to blossom. 🙂


 

Have you had any moments where you’ve simply reworded something to get a better result? Are there moments you can remember where a simple change of verbiage or attitude would have changed the outcome of a situation or prevented an argument? Do you have questions about how you can better manipulate your children use your words & attitude to get the result you want? I may be able to help you with your manipulation wording, which will in turn help me with mine. It’s really hard to remember to implement some of these things when you’re smack in the middle of a real-life, stressful, tear-your-hair-out, F***-it-all moment, but the more we think about and prepare ourselves for these things the more chances we have of remembering them when we find ourselves in a situation where we might need to use it. So, go ahead…*therapy voice* what’s on your mind?

 

Keep Calm &…Oh, F*** It! (Part 1)

cb669911103645a289950dade19167efWelcome to Part One of the series called “Keep Calm &…Oh, F*** It!” We’ve all been there: maxed out, at our limit, and completely unable to take anymore, so we just say “F*** it.”

We are in a day & age where “memes” are EVERYWHERE. Aside from cat memes, I think the memes I see most often are the ones that say “Keep Calm” followed by pretty much any random thing you want to say.

Keep Calm &…

• rub some bacon on it

• drink wine

• brew coffee

• do yoga

• watch Supernatural

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Google search “keep calm memes” and you’ll see they are endless.

When you’re a parent “keeping calm” can often be exceptionally challenging. That’s where the “Oh, F*** It” (hereto referred to as OFI moment) part comes into play. We all have an OFI story, but let me tell you about my worst one.

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This is my youngest daughter, The Cuteness, with Saber in 2012.
It started when our husky, Saber, got ran over and died. I know this sounds like a silly thing to set off the chain of events that I’m going to tell you about in future posts, but keep in mind that our animals are family to us & my children were pretty young and impressionable when this happened. Plus, it was their first real experience with death where we couldn’t protect them from it. He was a sweet, but very typical husky…as in, he was very independent and hard to control. He would randomly run off and would not come back no matter how much you called him. He came home when he wanted to. We built a high fence around the back yard to contain him & then we took him through obedience training. It was helping, but whenever he saw an opportunity (i.e. whenever I wasn’t right there watching him or holding him on a leash & someone opened a door…), he would still bolt out the front door and take off.

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Every member of my family had chased that dog down at one time or another. My mom even chased and TACKLED him one week after having had a hysterectomy. Talk about Wonder Woman. I worried incessantly that something would happen to him when he did this. Finally, something did.

It was a bad day all around. One thing after the other had gone completely wrong & I just felt like I wanted to go to sleep for five days straight. When the kids got home from school, we did homework (frustrating in itself) and then I sent them outside to play while I cooked supper. I had Saber beside me where he generally stayed because I was the one training him so he didn’t really listen to anyone else as well as he listened to me (& he only barely listened to me). My husband called and while we were on the phone having an ‘almost-argument’ (you know the kind where you’re both really annoyed – not necessarily at each other – but you take it out on each other anyway?), it only vaguely registered that Saber had wandered into the living room. I figured he was just going to his bed. I was wrong. His smart ass totally had an agenda.

One of the kids was holding the front door wide open for another kid to bring their bicycle inside. Don’t ask me why they felt like the bike needed to come inside; some questions just can’t be answered. I can’t even remember who was holding the door open and who was bringing the bike in. Anyway, the dog ran out…and he never came back. It felt like the millionth time he’d done this and we had talked to the kids (it felt like) hundreds of time about not opening doors around him until I was with him, had him leashed, crated, or in the back yard. It was one of those “how many times have I told you” episodes; that whole couple of months in my life just felt like the perfect storm leading up to everything that happened next. I exploded and unfortunately Princess Sassypants unfairly received the brunt of that explosion.

Womans-mind-feels-likeI was very emotionally stressed at the time. We had just bought the house, my husband was always working or sleeping, I was always the one cleaning and watching after the kids, making sure they got their homework done, etc.. Two of them were struggling in school (academically) and I was constantly back and forth talking to teachers and staff about their performance. Our marriage was strained, we were still acclimating to civilian life after my husband was retired from the Army,  and trying to deal with his PTSD which is a hard thing to try to navigate as an individual, let alone as a couple/family. To top it all off, I had a dog that wouldn’t listen. I’m sure there were some other contributing factors at the time, but I don’t really remember any of them now, they were so trivial. Anyway, none of that is an excuse for how I reacted. I actually made the statement, “if something happens to him, it’s going to be your fault.” Of course I didn’t mean it. Let the perfect parent cast the first stone, okay? I was just angry & emotionally frayed. But, she was only 7 or 8 years old at the time and she is the most sensitive of all my children; how could she have understood that? Something like that should never be said to a child, but I feel especially bad that I said it to her, given her sensitive nature.

If I had said those horrible words to her and he would have come home that night, I’m sure only minimal damage would have been done. As it was, something actually did happen to him. When we took the kids to school the morning after Saber ran off, we actually saw him lying in the middle of the highway before we got to the school. We couldn’t stop the kids from seeing it and there was no opportunity for any of us to prepare ourselves. No one reacted well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to reign my anger in and “keep calm.” When we saw him laying in the road, I screamed, covered my mouth with my hand and looked directly at my daughter in the backseat with an expression that, I’m sure, held more contempt and blame in it than any I’ve ever given her in her life. That only served to make her feel even more guilty than I’d already made her feel the night before. I will never truly be able to forgive myself for that. It was the one time in our entire relationship so far that my husband has had to be the one to tell me to calm down in front of the kids instead of me telling him. All the kids went to school sobbing. We should have let them stay out that day and looking back at it, I’m not sure why we didn’t.

Any child’s first experience with death is not going to be pretty, nice, or comfortable, but it’s even more traumatic when you have someone outright blaming you for it…even if it is ‘just a dog.’ I know it wasn’t Princess Sassypants’ fault the dog got ran over and I’ve apologized to her more times than I can count for my reaction. We’ve talked about this repeatedly and she really seemed to accept my apologies. I can’t take back what I said though, and I know she will never forget it.

This is where the point of my post really comes in:

After Saber’s death is when everything that is happening with her now (ODD and all) started to surface. I really believe that everything that has happened with her since that day happened because she felt an overwhelming amount of guilt & probably some feelings of worthlessness. (Which, as you can imagine makes me feel like the effing mother of the year. :/) A child her age doesn’t know how to deal with feelings like that, so she started acting out. I feel like it’s my fault that she is the way she is. Whatever emotional problems she has now, I caused them so I don’t give myself the luxury of serious OFI moments anymore. I refuse to make my daughter feel that way ever again.

I’m not saying I don’t still feel insane half the time or that I never break down; I do. I just don’t do it quite like that and I don’t do it with or in front of my kids if I can help it. (My OFI moments now have more of a humorous ring to them these days.) I HAVE to stay calm with Princess Sassypants in particular, or risk doing more harm than good. I’m telling you this because if you have an ODD child or a particularly strong willed child, staying in control of your emotions when you’re dealing with them is going to be the key to handling them & not completely losing your sanity in the process. That’s the case with any child, but the typical child isn’t going to push your limits to get you to the point where you’re tempted to lose control as much a SWC will. In order to do anything with a strong willed child, you have to have a relationship with her or she won’t respect you enough to give a damn what you say to her. I damaged my relationship with my child at a time/age when most kids practically worship their parents. I had to backtrack to try to repair it & we all know I can’t just cram the words back into my mouth no matter how much I wish I could. Don’t do that. It’s not worth it.

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Lesson #1: Keep calm…for real. Whenever you feel like you can’t stay calm anymore, just walk away. Your relationship is more important than any temporary negative emotion you feel. Send the kid to his/her room or whatever you have to do to get the space you need. Tell them you love them, but you both need to calm down and you’ll revisit the subject later after you’ve had time to collect yourself & decide on an appropriate course of action. Don’t end up saying or doing something you’ll regret.

 

I’ll continue this story tomorrow, but for now if you have any thoughts feel free to leave them below. Have an OFI moment you want to share? I know mine was kinda heavy, but there are some funny ones, too and after this confessional little blog post I feel like I could use the laughs. 🙂 As you’re going about your day with your babies, just try to remember to stay calm (but firm) with them. It gets better!! Now, I’m going to go clean myself up…nobody likes tears in their biscuits!

 

Why You Should Be Scared Of Your Wife (Or At Least Pretend To Be Occasionally)

Ladies, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t there some sort of undocumented rule somewhere stating that husbands (boyfriends/significant others) are wise to retain some level of fear deference to their spouses? The same applies to the ladies in regard to the men of course, but we’re just going to focus on the one right now for simplicity’s sake.

I get the whole thing about mutual love and respect. I feel that my husband and I have that in most cases. What I’m talking about is, admittedly, a bit more petty than that..at least on the surface. Let me give you a real-life example:

image My husband is not always playful and lighthearted, but when he is, he  is dramatically so. I love when he’s playful and lighthearted. I don’t care so much for the “dramatically so” part. He doesn’t always know when to cease fire. For instance, he may get in a playful mood and put ice down my shirt or something silly like that. I laugh, I jokingly tell him he’s in for it and I repay him with two cubes of ice down his shirt. I feel like at this point, he’s gotten me, I’ve gotten him…it should be over, right? But no. He cannot accept this. He then feels that he must retaliate by putting three cubes of ice down my pants. It’s still rather humorous so I go with it and respond in kind. We both laugh. Then I notice that he might be laughing, but the look in his eye is starting to get a little more impish than it was before. You see where this is headed, right? It’s not just going to be “you got me, I got you, that was funny, now it’s over.” Now it’s a war. He needs to get me again and for everything I do to him he has to get me back twice as bad. Suddenly, it’s not fun anymore. Suddenly it’s not playful and lighthearted; it’s about who wins. Suddenly, he has a few small, nearly-dry wet spots on his clothing from where ice has melted on him and I’m standing in the kitchen, mad as a wet cat, drenched from head to toe while our dinner burns & he’s feeling triumphant as he’s holding the sprayer from the sink. And trust me, he ALWAYS wins because I’m not willing to deal with The Wrath of James Dean if he doesn’t.

I don’t want to see how uncomfortable his retaliation can get and I don’t want to see him hurt or angry so I generally give up before I help get him to this point. He does not give up before he gets me to that point. I get so angry that

A.) There’s nothing I can do to him that won’t get me something worse in return and/or

B.) There’s nothing I can do to him that actually has any effect short of junk punching him and I feel that’s a little extreme as revenge for a harmless prank.

Not to mention the (very trivial) fact that I’m a little a lot annoyed that I never get to win.

^ All that up there, while true, was my attempt at being amusing and flippant, because really, it’s supposed to be all in fun. Underneath the surface, however, there is a lot more to be revealed. Allow me to get a tiny bit serious for a second.

I honestly feel like when my husband starts something with me and I repay him for it, at least sometimes he should respond with “well, I deserved that” and let it be done. I’ll tell you why. Nobody can really claim to be the winner in that scenario, but when you push too much and upset someone, everybody loses. I don’t need to win so badly that I belittle or upset my spouse to do it. It makes me feel weak and inferior when I can’t seem to get any edge over him or have any effect on him at all. He just laughs at me or does something worse to me than I could even think about doing to him. If I blithely punch my husband as retaliation for tickling me or something equally harmless, (even if it doesn’t hurt) I don’t feel like his response 100% of the time should be laughter. Sometimes? Yeah, laugh at me…it’s funny that I’m a kitten pretending to be a tiger, I get it. But choose your moments.

Sometimes, guys, you should just let your girl win and make her think that punch to the back really hurt you at least a little bit because otherwise, you’re just slowly (unknowingly & – I know – unintentionally) beating down her self-esteem. And don’t make it obvious by abruptly falling to the ground if she pokes you in the chest with her index finger…that’s just insulting. You have to make her believe it. You have to let her know that she has an effect on you, she’s important to you and that your love and respect for her far outweighs your desire to always reign victorious. 

We get it. You’re the big, strong, masculine guy. You’re stronger than us. You’re probably faster than us. And a lot more adept at pranks, sports, shooting, manual labor, video games, gambling, grilling, navigating & beer pong. WE GET IT. We know you CAN win everything; that doesn’t mean you always have to. You don’t have to be a prick about it. In a world where girls & women are constantly told & shown how inferior they are (both to men and when compared to one another) we don’t need another reason to feel like we don’t measure up.

While I’m at it, it wouldn’t hurt you to point out things that she’s better at than you every now and then as well. Don’t just say, “you are strong and important” after she tells you that she doesn’t feel so. That just seems contrived and insincere. Back it up with an example. Give her a reason to believe you mean what you say. “I think you’re strong because ___________.” Fill in the blank. Don’t just tell her she’s a great wife or a good mother. Back it up with some sort of proof. “You’re an awesome mom because _______________.” Maybe she’s more patient than you are. Maybe she’s a large part of the reason your children are so respectful and compassionate. Maybe it’s because of her that they love to read or pray or retain some other positive trait that the world seems to be lacking these days. Tell her that. It’s a lot like being in a courtroom; the judge and jury aren’t going to believe your client is innocent just because you told them they are. They need evidence.

Your wife needs to feel that you’re sincere when you give her compliments like that. Believe me, I realize that in a man’s mind, “you’re so beautiful” is a great compliment and that they are being sincere most of the time. It IS a nice compliment and we appreciate it. You should keep doing that. But every now and then mix it up by backing up your claim with some sort of proof. Just because you feel genuine in saying it doesn’t mean your wife hears that in your voice or feels it for herself. In my personal opinion, since she’s the one you want to make believe it, you should put some effort into making her feel your sincerity as well. Try pinpointing specific things about her that you find beautiful next time and see how she responds to that; compare it to how she responds to the generalization of being beautiful & I bet you’ll see a difference.

And obviously, ladies, the same goes for you. I’m not just beating up the men because that isn’t my thing. You can take this advice and apply it where necessary in your relationship, too. I apologize in advance if I sound completely self-righteous. I just got fired up this morning & had to find a way to vent my frustration. I hope maybe it helps someone. At the very least, I got it off my chest.  :p

Now it’s your turn. Agree or disagree? Why?

Tofu Skillet

During a night of sleeplessness, I relied on an internet full of New Girl episodes to tide me over until I could finally make it to The Elusive Land Of Dreams. While repeatedly searching for the right episode of New Girl, I kept getting this instead:

“How To Make Skillet Tofu Scramble.”

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And that’s the story of how I broke the internet.

 

Laundry & Love Notes

Being a mom is funny. And when I say “funny” I mean every single definition of funny in equal measure.

Funny haha, funny as in that’s not even remotely close to being funny, funny as in strange, and funny as in ironic.

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It’s funny all the places you find socks. I’ve found them in the fridge (in Daddy’s beer drawer no less, with a beanie version of Tigger stuck inside one). I’ve found them in the armpit area of Minion #2’s peacoat. In my yard. No, not just in my yard, but scattered all over it. I’ve found socks scattered across my front lawn that don’t even belong to my family; Like a little sock tornado sucked up all the lonely socks from every house in my subdivision and dropped them all at my house. I’ve found them in my car – or even better – my purse. There’s nothing like needing something from your purse right away and digging hastily for it only to end up turning your purse upside down in the pediatrician’s office, picking through empty candy wrappers, a few dead flowers, some lint, m&m pieces, loose change, a broken pencil, a rock and a cloud of dog hair until finally lifting up a worn, dirty, smelly sock and having to say, “oh, there it is!” (I give the pediatrician props; she grabbed the item with bare hands & refrained from sanitizing for a full two minutes).

Finding socks in weird places is one thing. Finding weird things in the laundry is pretty normal. I’ve found money, chapstick, grocery lists, other weird lists, large safety pins & cigarette butts:

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That’s par for the course with parenthood, yes? And it’s usually pretty funny. The thing that’s not funny? The weird thing I found recently? The thing that struck my soul with fear? A love note from a little girl addressed to my 5th grader. That was not funny unless you count funny as in heart-stoppingly terrifying. (Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but I am a huge fan of theater and hyperbole so there you have it).

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I have to admit, though the “I love you” part had me in a small fit of panic, the “you’re sweat” part made me giggle. At least she knows the difference between “your” and “you’re.” Now we just have to work on “sweat” and “sweet.” I don’t think those two words were meant to be mutually exclusive. You are sweat…quite the proclamation of love there.

I realize this is all very innocent at this point. I realize this is completely normal for this age. I also realize that this is the time for kids to experience relationships and learn how to develop, grow and maintain healthy ones. I don’t plan on having a ton of restrictions on my kids dating; I actually want them to date so they can figure out what respectful, caring, healthy relationships are supposed to look like and I believe the time to learn that is when they’re young so that they don’t struggle so much when they’re older. I guess I just wasn’t prepared for my ten year old to be so affectionately adored by the opposite sex just yet. I was prepared for many more pediatrician visits & socks in strange places…I’m not ready to find strange things ON socks just yet. :/

It is my understanding that this is an old note as his sister has informed me that Minion #1 is no longer seeing “Lanissa” & apparently has lots of female admirers at or below the age of ten. Like…a whole bus full of mini-Marilyn’s who will eventually rob me of my sweat sweet little boy. (There I go with the theatrics again). What little girl am I going to find love notes from tomorrow?!

Why does puberty have to arrive so quickly after birth? I’m going to go find a bottle of Jack & do more laundry & mate more socks. Feel free to tell me your parenting horror stories in the comments. They’ll likely make me feel much better about my prepubescent, soon-to-be hormone-laden minions making a marathon-worthy run for adulthood.

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Suck It Up, Buttercup; 1st Edition

I called this post the 1st Edition, but in actuality it’s the second. The first Suck It Up, Buttercup post can be found here. I didn’t realize these were going to be a series, but now I do so…there you are. In the second 1st edition of Suck It Up, I would like to talk about selfishness.

A certain degree of selfishness is required of most – if not all – of us in order to adequately and genuinely care for the needs & wellbeing of those around us. We have to take time for ourselves so that we feel well & balanced before we can give of ourselves to others without resentment. Sometimes, we just need to take care of ourselves, not so that anyone else can benefit from it, but just because WE NEED IT. The added bonus to that scenario is that others usually benefit from it anyway regardless of whether they were your motivation for caring for yourself or not. Win-win.

Selfishness becomes a problem when you are thinking ONLY of yourself and neglecting the needs of others; when you get so caught up in your own problems, needs, and wants that you forget about the hardships and desires of those you love. It’s an even bigger problem if you are totally aware that you’re neglecting these people and their needs and you don’t give a rat’s ass. That’s a nasty brand of narcissism if you ask me.

Your problems aren’t going to disappear just because you spend every waking moment thinking about how dysfunctional/terrible/depressing/strenuous etcetera, etcetera your life is. In fact, that kind of thinking will only make it worse. Suck it up, Buttercup. Ain’t nobody got time to be sittin’ around feeling sorry for themselves when there are babies to feed, bills to pay & all sorts of social, political and economic upsets in the world. You can only face one thing at a time so do what you can do today & then maybe you can do more tomorrow. All you have to do is try.

It’s really hard when you’re going through major life changes or you’re feeling like your world is falling apart around you and there’s nothing you can do about it, but the truth is that you’re in complete control of your present and your future. Even from up here on my soapbox, I need that reminder, too. I don’t post these things because I think I’m perfect and I’m not guilty of any of the things I talk about. I post it because I’m human & just as guilty of most of them as anyone is, but I’d rather check myself (& help someone else in the process) than to have someone else do it. Plus, I’m totally hoping my blog is still a thing when I die & that wordpress will create a feature that allows me to deliver posts to emails or cell phones in the future so that my children will think I’m haunting them with motherly advice and wisdom… 🙂

Want to hear another truth? (No? Suck it up or leave.)

Helping others might actually help you. It’ll damn sure be better than sitting around moping for your own circumstances. Being there for others gives us a sense of satisfaction and purpose that pining, moping & selfishness, quite frankly, will NEVER BRING YOU. EVER. Take time for yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling or do whatever you need to do, but not too much time. Don’t wallow in self-pity for too long. Don’t like your circumstances? Change them. There is always a way. It’ll be difficult and it won’t happen over night, but you can do it & when you do, it will be worth it.

In the meantime, spread some good karma and be there for someone important to you. If we all took time out to consider the fact that the universe doesn’t revolve around us & that there is always someone in worse shape and more desperate need than ourselves, maybe we would feel more fortunate and grateful for the things we have. Even if what you have isn’t much, focus on those things & share them with someone; chances are they won’t think so little of it.

I’m sick of the constant stream of redundant ‘poor, pitiful me’ posts on social networks. I get it, sometimes we all have to let it out, but most of the people constantly complaining about their circumstances are all complaint & no positive action. Additionally, several of these people have loved ones in their lives far worse off than they are with far more right to complain; they could be more supportive of those people & the hardships they’re facing. Take care of your relationships. Spend time with people you love because one day, they won’t be here for you to spend time with. Get over yourself and

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The Jackass Whisperer

Welcome to the conclusion of my series on insecurity in relationships. I don’t know when I got to be the go-to person in this area, but let’s just go with it, m’kay? Honestly, I’m no expert (at anything & especially not this); I just like to share my opinions. I was supposed to share my opinion on the Wishy-Washy, Fickle People on Friday, but it was a crazy busy day for me and I didn’t get a chance to write. Saturday & Sunday were equally fun (but hectic) & what can I say…I took a weekend off.

So let’s just jump in there.

On day one we talked about The Fairytale People.

Day two: The Notebook People. I finally watched that movie Thursday night, by the way, & I liked it a lot. I now understand why it was called “The Notebook” & it has inspired me to write another post to be published in the future.

And today, here we are at our third group of people: The Wishy Washy, Fickle People. (I wish I would have just called them “The Jackasses,” but there’s plenty of time for that.)

Because…well…you’re all jackasses.

Don’t worry. We are all a part of this group at some point or another and lots of us quickly outgrow it. This post is really for those who need a little push out of this category and up into the next one.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to be particularly nice to you though, because the potential to be brutally & hilariously honest is just too great to ignore. If I hurt your feelings that only means this post applies to you & I will regret nothing.

Also two other things: A.) I would just like to point out that the people I’m aiming at here are mostly married people, but anyone in a committed, long-term relationship could apply this to themselves as well. B.) If you’re in a relationship with someone you just absolutely cannot trust because they’re betraying you every time you turn around, then you’re not a jackass for feeling a little (or a lot of) insecurity; you are, however, a jackass for staying with them & continuing to subject yourself to that. Not very much of this post is going to help anyone in that situation. If you’re in a “normal relationship” where the mistrust and insecurity are somewhat (or totally) misguided, then this post is entirely for you.

Lean in a little closer Fickle People & listen to the sermon.

You are idjits.

Bobby idjit face

keep-calm-and-quit-being-idjitsIf you’re that  guy or girl who is consistently checking your partner’s phone to see what they’re up to, who they’ve been talking with, where they’ve been going, etc. then please do your relationship a favor and pull your head out of your ass. By suffocating your partner due to your own insecurities you are only driving them away! Read those words and let them sink in:

YOU ARE ONLY DRIVING THEM AWAY.

He or she may put up with that foolishness now because they love you, they’re devoted to you – whatever – but eventually, it’s going to get old. They’re going to get sick of it and you’re going to lose them. The only other alternative is that you’re both going to live your lives together being only a fraction as happy as you could be. Isn’t your relationship worth more than that to you? I mean…you are potentially going to be in it for the rest of your life. People don’t get into committed relationships because they dream of a life filled with uninspired, lackluster interactions with emotionally bankrupt people who can barely manage the effort it takes to extend a modicum of trust in their direction. Neither do they dream of being broken up/separated/divorced.

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Can I just circle this and put exclamation points all around it?!

If that sounds like a worthwhile life goal to you then by all means, don’t let me stop you. But seriously – let me stop you. That’s stupid. People shouldn’t have to live that way! When you don’t deal with your own issues – be they insecurity, addiction or anything else – it affects the people in your life that you love the most. If you’re sitting around thinking that your words and actions have no affect on anyone other than yourself then you’re an even bigger schmuck than previously given credit for. Just because you may not care that your partnerships aren’t living up to their full potential doesn’t mean your partner feels the same way. Someone who has devoted the rest of their lives to you, their time, their energy, their bodies, deserves more than the scraps you’re offering them.

You get married because you want this:

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Not this: couple-fightingor this: counselling-and-mediation-fighting-couple1

If a life of happiness is your goal and your partner feels the same way then you’ve got a common interest you can work with. Stop checking his phone all the time, stop calling her every 30 minutes to find out where she is and why she isn’t home yet, stop belittling each other & most importantly, “Quitcher Bitchin'”. It’s not funny or cute to point out all of your honey’s shortcomings. No, not even when you disguise it as a joke.

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It’s not easy to reject the impulse to verbalize all those negative thoughts in your head, but if you don’t try, eventually you’ll be the one getting rejected. Why not give your relationship a chance to make it instead of sabotaging it?  Maybe you could start simple. Here are just a few simple ideas:

1.) Give him/her space & privacy. Yes, that includes Facebook, cell phones & going out with friends. If you feel a little uneasy at first, you can show trust in someone simply by refraining from verbalizing your doubts.

2.) It would make an even bigger statement if you stop checking their phone and constantly trying to see what they’re up to on Facebook or whatever other blockheaded thing it is you do. You don’t need to know what happens at every millisecond of your partner’s life. That’s called being freakishly insecure, needy, neurotic and boneheaded and will do nothing but suck all the mystery (not to mention any potential conversational topics) out of your relationship.

Let-the-wife-make-the-husband-glad-to-come-home-and-let-him-make-her-sorry-to-see-him-leave3.) Make home a place where your loved ones want to be. You need to be a safe place for your partner. In other words, if she shares her thoughts and feelings with you, shut up and listen. That’s all you need to do. She’s smart enough to figure out the solution on her own so ears open, mouth shut unless she asks for you to speak. 🙂 Don’t insult each other, don’t yell at each other, don’t nag each other. There is a big difference in challenging your partner to be a better person/dream bigger/think more logically and just tearing them down & making them feel insignificant. On another related note, you have those situations where all one person in the relationship does is work and come home because they don’t want their other half to feel neglected or upset if they go out. Basically, he/she comes home just so they don’t have to hear you whine and moan about nothing. If  he/she wants to go out with friends or family, let ’em go without making them feel guilty about it. Encourage them to have fun, but let them know you’ll miss them. If you can do this just a few times, I bet it won’t be long before he/she actually wants to stay at home with you instead of going out anyway.

Start off with those few simple things and then progress to the more difficult stuff as you go along. Unless you just really don’t want to spend the rest of your life with this person; in that case, go ahead. Question each other, call each other names, make each other miserable, tear yourselves apart. I won’t try to stop you again.

After all,  I’m not the jackass whisperer.

Warning: This Post Contains Clips From “The Notebook.”

To continue my series on insecurity in relationships (you can find part one here) , today we’re going to focus on the second group of people on the list.

These are “The Notebook” People.

Noah-Allie-3-the-notebook-21088248-500-281This will quite possibly be even more vomit-inducing than the first post about the Fairytale people. Mostly due to the fact that I’m going to show you clips from The Notebook. I think they turned into Fairytale people at the end, but this is how they got there. Also, I just want to throw this in there: I don’t even know why The Notebook is called ‘The Notebook.’ I’ve never seen this movie all the way through. I had to search for an hour to find these clips because I knew what I was looking for, but not EXACTLY what I was looking for. It was quite comical watching the faces of my family when they said, “what are you doing mom?” “Research.” And then they give me that “yeah, right” look before they all ran off to watch Thor.

So now, let’s watch the sappiness.

That seems really bittersweet and some of you may even be wondering why I showed it. So that I can show you this:

Basically every Nicholas Sparks good romance movie has to have a few scenes where you wonder if the couple in question is even going to make it. It’s not nearly as much fun to watch a Fairytale couple in a movie because there’s no real conflict there. They’ll rarely question each other and when they do, it will be brief.  So, you’ll never worry about them or be on the edge of your seat (so to speak) rooting for them. They’re more of an “awe. But, I’m positive they’ll be okay” kind of couple. If you can’t get emotionally attached to the characters then you can’t be invested in the movie. If you can’t be invested in the movie or the people in it, you won’t spend money to watch it. Relationships are sort of like that, too. The Notebook people are invested in each other. They’re emotionally attached and for that reason, no matter what they’re difficulties are, they’re going to see it through; even if it’s really hard.

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The struggle is what makes it beautiful to watch. It makes the good stuff seem even sweeter than it would be had there been no conflict at all. That’s why every romance movie in the history of ever starts with The Notebook People and (the majority of the time) turns them into Fairytale People at the end; because, that’s supposed to be our ultimate goal. It’s like the heaven of relationships, lol.

But if we’re being honest, the middle group is the most fun to be a part of. At least in my opinion. It’s full of ups and downs and, as previously discussed, the downs make the ups feel so much more fulfilling. It’s exciting and that’s what I love about this group of people. Then you eventually get to a point where you’re old the emotional tension of being part of The Notebook People Society makes you yearn for the security and assurance of The Fairytale People. That’s when you either make the transition into the elitist group or you regress back to group number 1 and fall apart. That’s the catch with The Notebook people. If you’re not careful, it can go either way. Despite how perfect they might seem sometimes or how passionately they care about each other, there’s still a lot of unpredictability there.

Don’t let insecurities and disagreements tear you apart. The people in The Notebook group have so much potential it’s ridiculous. It would be a shame to let that go to waste. jackass-award-300x300The urge to be a jackass is strong within some of us, I know; but, be more like Noah and say something syrupy-sweet in the middle of a fight and see if that doesn’t make your other half want to skip straight to the making-up part. Being a jackass never did anybody any good & you’ll both feel a lot better if you resist that particular inclination.

Some people, however, find that unusually  difficult. Those people are called The Wishy-Washy, Fickle People and the only thing they have ever been able to settle on completely is the next pain-in-the-ass thing they’re going to do. They’re so insecure that they have to hurt and manipulate other people because of it. I am going to have SO. MUCH. FUN. With these people tomorrow. 🙂