Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

“In our hour of deepest sorrow, we can receive profound peace from the words of the angel that first Easter morning: ‘He is not here: for he is risen.’” - President Thomas S. Monson

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yes, They're Fascinating. But Can They Pop and Lock?

Now here's a wedding that I would wake up at 6 am to watch.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hindsight is Always a Better Parent Than You

Today was a momentous day. A milestone that shall forever be enblazened in my mind. The record books shall show that on this day a checkmark was placed next to an all important stepping stone to becoming a seasoned parent.

Today, Landon completely embarrassed me with an all out throw down in public.

I feel like I should get a medal. Make it chocolate.

Don't get me wrong. Landon has cried in public before. Freaked out even. But never has he so unilaterally created a scene of destruction and mayhem as he did today. And this following a toddler storytime, which meant he succeeded at stealing the attention of every single mom in the Worthington Library away from their own book-ripping child to stare at my thrashing son while simultaneously pretending not to notice.

When Landon does something, he does it all the way.

Dear Landon,
 I'd really appreciate a warning next time.
The woman who gave you life
It began with the little computers in the children's area. Landon loves to play on the computers (he especially loves to wear the giant headphones that barely stay put on his little noggin) so after the lovely storytime we went over there to read a couple online books. He was fine for about 5 minutes until he decided he wanted to explore the rest of the library - with his headphones still on. Though I explained that the headphones couldn't leave the computer, he decided to test the theory himself and made a sudden dash for it. Needless to say, Landon went one way and various computer equipment went another.

Yet he hung on. He hung on to those brown little plastic headphones that were most likely borrowed from a senior center's audiology department with all his massive toddler strength. He was furious - FURIOUS! - that he couldn't take them with him. I tried to wrangle him, clean up everything and pry the headphones from his white-knuckled little hands. He screamed, threw himself on the floor and when another kid tried to sit in the seat he recently occupied, he tried to wrestle that kid down.

I knew my reaction to all of this was going to be watched and judged, even by those women pretending somehow not to notice the banshee rolling on the floor. So it was time to perform. While simultaneously trying to clean up everything and prevent Landon from taking out another kid, I remained calm (more of a stupor, really), I offered him choices (okay, we can sit back here at the table and listen to headphones or we can go explore the library, which would you like?), I validated his feelings (Wow! You are angry! So angry because you can't take the headphones with you!). I did everything by every single book I've read.

Guess what happened? The kid FREAKED. And continued to thrash and scream. And throw. And act like Naomi Campbell.

Don't give her headphones or there's no telling WHAT she'll do.

I've had some time to think about this and, since hindsight is a way better parent, I realized what was missing from all the parenting strategies.


My goodness. Come on, Angelos. Mom Up. Have some freakin' backbone.

What I should have done, at the first sign of tantrum, is pry the headphones out of those death grip fingers, pick the screaming child up, tuck him - thrashing and arching all the way - under my arm and take him away (far far away) from the scene of the crime. THEN I should have done all that validating stuff.

I remembered coming across an article about this recently on the website Psychology Today. It's taken my first public humiliation to realize that I need a combined approach for my son - asserting firmness while validating feelings. I have thus far tended to be heavy on the "touchy-feely let's get kids to agree to everything by offering options and rewards" side. But sometimes you just have to say "these are the rules, and this is what we do." The modified "because I said so."

So, if you're still with me, that's what made this such a momentous day. First humiliation. First major parenting lightbulb. They seem to go hand in hand, I hear.

So what about the veteran moms in the trenches? Any parenting lightbulbs of your own, or any good tantrum fighting tips? Any other good places for storytime? I don't think we're welcome at this one anymore.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Special Sibs

My article assignment for April was to look at how siblings of special needs kids are affected. This one was probably my favorite to do so far because I learned so much and was so impressed by everyone I interviewed. The information I learned from my research, I think, is applicable to raising any kid, not just those in families with special needs.

The Hess family is an absolutely outstanding example of how to take trials and make them into triumphs. Their daughter, Sophia, was one of the most well-spoken, well-adjusted and compassionate kids I have ever met. I felt like I was talking with a 30 year old, not a 13 year old (and not in the Jennifer Garner sense).

I didn't get a chance to include this in the article due to length, but I was also impressed with all the support the Hess family received. In the hip hop class that Henry takes, there was another 10 year-old little boy named Ben who volunteered to be Henry's partner to help him learn the steps. Ben spends all class learning the steps for himself and then teaching Henry slowly so he can feel included. After every sequence, Ben gives Henry a high five and tells him he's doing a great job.

Lately, there's so much discourse on bullying, self centeredness and "mean kid" behavior in youth today that it's easy to feel hopeless for our future generations.

But with kids like these, I'd say the future is looking bright.