Here's a confession: When I was in fourth grade, crushed under the weight of my school-wide reputation as being a straight A student and all around goody-goody, I learned how to swear. I was careful to keep my potty mouth to myself and a close circle of friends, in order to keep me under the parent/teacher radar and ensure all the perks of being a "good kid." But the thrill of saying bad words in the company of friends fed me with a love of scandal and outrageous behavior that I still secretly (or maybe not so secretly?) harbor. I never got caught and nothing bad happened, but there were always stories of those who weren't as lucky as I was--the girls who got their mouths washed out with soap. The boys who had to stand in corners for hours. And the very unfortunate few who withstood the torture of hot pepper and other hopefully now outlandish forms of behavior modification. It was a dangerous enterprise, I kid you not.
Now I have my own fourth grader who recently got caught on the front porch using less than PBS sponsored language in conversation with her younger brother. I wasn't there to witness, but Dave was. What to do? Make a big deal? Mandate silence? Give a lecture? Neither one of us had much of an answer.
Madeleine, however, had a very finally crafted policy on swearing that she is quite happy to share. "Here's how it works," she told us. "Grown-ups can swear in front of grown-ups, and kids can swear in front of kids, but neither one can swear in front of each other."
That's what she said, I swear.
I know what you're thinking. Ouch. And the more noble-spoken among you, Do we really need any swearing at all? Seriously? I plead the fifth on that one, but I'd like to know what you think. Swearing? No swearing? Consequences? No consequences? You can slice this one any which way and I'm not sure I have the answer.
Here's hoping your Memorial Day weekend is full of the stuff that makes memories for years to come. If you're looking for ideas of what to do, here are a few tips to get you started:
Free Popsicle Stand. Pull out the cooler, load it up with ice and stock it up with that all-time kid favorite Flavor-Ice. Let your kids make a handmade sign that says, "Because You're So Cool! Free Popsicles!" Your neighborhood will be delighted by the surprise and your kids will get a glimpse at the power in giving goodness away.
Bike Safari. Since Carter started riding his bike, there's nothing that makes him happier than a longer trek to the streets far beyond our neighborhood. Turn your ride into a bike safari and bring along treats to eat when you get as far as you plan to go before returning home.
Gardening Goodness. There's nothing like a three-day weekend to inspire you to get your hands dirty and invite your favorite little mess-maker to do the same. Sunflowers thrive with little assistance and provide almost immediate gratification for your favorite little farmer.
Have a great weekend!
Deciding to do something he's always wanted to do all by himself. That's it. And this spring that thing--at least for Carter--is learning how to ride a bike.
Now, I know many of you sisters out there have kids who've been bike riding since they were four. And there are some of you out there (cough cough Kristen) who have two year olds who can bike that trike forwards and backwards, downstairs and across the yard in the blink of an eye. But I swear all of your early bird bike riders have nothing on the bliss of a very scared seven year old who finally decided he had the courage to try to learn to ride his bike, practically by himself, one bright Saturday morning.
For the last couple years Carter has been happy to stand on the sidelines while the neighborhood kids tackled various childhood tasks with happiness and abandon. All the coaxing in the world couldn't convince Carter it was worth the risk to try anything new--an after school club, a green bean, a swimming class. And don't even think about insisting or laying down the law. If there was ever a kid to come completely unglued in the face of parental pressure, it's Carter.
But almost overnight it seemed, something changed. Maybe it was being seven and a half--those half year marks always seem to note big changes in both my kids--but Carter started talking about being sad that he was always missing out. He wanted to do stuff. He didn't want to be afraid anymore.
I spent more than a few crazy nights with Carter on my little kid-sized therapy couch, trying to help him get his confidence up, listening for signs that he was ready to take the leap.
Then one night at bedtime he announced he had two goals. One, learn how to ride his bike. And two, learn how to swim. After a few tentative tries, he was figuring out how to balance. Within a week he was flying across the parking lot. I've never seen him happier. Now with this new skill under his belt, he's warming up to what it will take to learn how to swim--actual swim lessons--though he reports the thought is still horrifying.
I'm still not sure if I did the right thing to let Carter decide it was time--at almost eight--to learn how to ride his bike, but this one thing is certain: there's a particular happiness that comes with deciding it's time to do something on your own, without any pressure, without anyone else deciding how you should learn and when. Carter may be a little bit late to the bike riding scene, at least for this neighborhood, but his joy in choosing his own timing is all his own and something about that is making us both very, very happy.
Read more about what to expect from your seven year old.
Considering adoption? Check in with our experts as you explore concerns and possibilities for adding a new person to your family. You'll be relieved to discover what's a normal and expected part of the process.
Looking for blogs to inspire you on your search for your new family member? Boho Girl chronicles her journey from infertility to despair to peace to a new possibility--an open adoption with a loving birth mother. You'll be inspired by this honest, no holds barred approach to a very important decision. Check out each chapter of the journey on the sidebar to the left.
What if your adoption dreams include a trek to a faraway land? Check in with Owlhaven, an openhearted mama with a houseful of children who came to her from across the ocean. You'll love her stories and insight about how to make a family from a longheld dream, especially when finances are a primary issue.
Favorite adoption blogs or resources? Let us know in the comments below.
art by jenlemen
Mom, look what I found!
I don't want to tell you how high up this nest is or how my mind started racing to think of what she was doing out here to notice it anyway, but she found it and now here I am teetering precariously on a stool turned ladder, trying to get the shot so we can preserve this moment forever.
Here Mom, give it to me.
I pass her the camera and wish for another so I could shoot her shooting the nest. Her expert eye, her determination to get in close, her willingness to climb, to risk, to hold still in midair so that what she sees can be seen by everyone else she loves who couldn't be there.
That's my girl, and for all my complaints about how she procrastinates or argues or refuses to comply with my made up rules, she also has this part, too--the wild girl with so much magic, so much wonder, so much appreciation for beauty.
Treasures are waiting to be discovered--even in that kid in your family who you hate to admit sometimes punches your buttons. Especially in that kid who reminds you over and over again the rules don't always apply.
Can you see your "difficult" child as a treasure hunter bringing you back to the forgotten parts of yourself? Here's hoping you can claim your bounty today--in the form of an egg or a nest or a girl who happens to be a lot like you.
Last week, I completely lost my tenuous place in the Mother of the Year Award Competition by completely losing my cool with the two adorable children you see in the picture above. You'd think they were angels, really, from reading this blog, and if not that, you might think, at least that I'm a nice person. But, no, there was a meltdown and it wasn't the starving, sleep-deprived small people in my house. It was me.
I don't remember what set me off, but some chain reaction unleashed my inner martyr and I launched into one of those long speeches you remember from your own childhood--about the lack of appreciation, the absence of respect and how no one in this house has any idea what it's like to be around here.
It wasn't one of my better moments, let me tell you.
This mommy temper tantrum, however, had a hilarious affect on my two kids who only seconds before had been fighting like cats and dogs. Now, in the presence of Our Mother Who Is Clearly Losing Her Mind, they bonded together like children seeking shelter in wartime, whispering consolations to one other in tears.
At first, this development made me want to stop in my tracks. What? Suddenly you're not fighting anymore? What's wrong with this picture? But then I decided to rant another minute just for fun. My kids had not only a common cause but also an apparently stunning surplus of empathy--not for the mom in meltdown mode who really needed it--but for each other. Who knew. It was all I needed to make me feel much better once and for all.
How about you? Do you let your kids see your mommy meltdowns? Do you find your personal moments of frustration create more connection between your kids? Let me know how you deal with mommy meltdowns and the subsequent chaos in the comments below.
Last year five and a half year old Declan decided he wanted to have an art sale in his backyard. He and his friends would make the art, hang it up on the clothesline and then invite all the parents to come over and buy their art. For how much? one parent asked. Just a quarter. Or a penny. Declan the tenderhearted capitalist replied--because he likes to drive a hard bargain like that.
This postmodern twist on the traditional lemon stand caught on in the neighborhood, and then some kind mother suggested they turn the art sale into an online auction AND donate the proceeds to charity. Charity? Why not? Declan and his mom, Aimee Greeble, decided to donate all their proceeds to help the environment and the Annual Kids' Earth Day Auction was born. Declan got to have his art sale and become a tenderhearted capitalist and a kid-philanthropist all on the same day.
This year PBS Supersisters are lending a hand and inviting you to join our kids in submitting art to the auction and bidding on your favorite finds. This year all the proceeds go to The Nature Conservancy and in honor of the auction we'll be giving away a book a day from the delightful Barefoot Book series. All you have to do is follow us on Twitter and help spread the word about the auction. We'll select a new winner everyday for the next nine days.
More information available here.
Pancakes, syrup overflowing, a chance to be together. Last Saturday I said "whatever" to a hundred deadlines and swooped my kids off for a morning at our local diner. Here's what Madeleine saw through the lens when I passed the camera across the table. Pretty sweet, right?
Here's hoping your Saturday morning is packed full with a lot of fun and not too many responsibilities. It's the weekend after all, and everyone needs a little time with the ones they love.
See that boy, the one with the shining eyes?
He's smiling because he has his whole family, his grown-up friends Nick and Jess, his grandparent neighbors Mark and Meryl and those eggs are hatching. All fifty to two hundred of them. His dad woke up to find them, and then climbed the stairs to find him. "Call everyone!" he told his mother, and so she did.
No praying mantis ate another in the grand exodus from the egg case. Not a single one (that we can determine) died in the passage. All the horrible things that could have happened never did, and for all our flaws, all our broken, cracked places, we are all together.