Category Archives: Family

The Best Halloween

This year we did Halloween right. It’s been quite a few years since I really felt/ believed/had the right to say that. It wasn’t the biggest most extravagant holiday ever. It wasn’t the fake, store bought costume that G begged for. We did have three weeks of baking/decorating/parties. But it was the best for a long time. Now, Halloween is my favorite holiday. As a kid I used it as an excuse to do the things my parents didn’t want me to do….wear fake red nails, don high heels, etc. When I got to college I was suddenly shy and didn’t really do much but use it as an excuse to drink, but when I had kids? All bets were off. And sometimes we didn’t do as well. L  remembers the year she was a kitty for Halloween. Fondly. It was the year my husband and I broke up and I was completely distracted and bought her a headband with ears and a tail and she wore a black turtleneck and black leggings. But it was the one time I caved and bought her a store bought Halloween costume-or at least parts. So the lesson there was clear, but I didn’t learn it. I didn’t realize that you want what you want and despite all my best efforts other years all this perfection-oriented kid wanted was to fit in and have store bought pieces parts. I also didn’t realize till right now that it was the last holiday that we lied to her. We all went trick or treating together and acted like everything was fine. Even thought it wasn’t. This year was good for all of us for totally other reason. My ex and I got along and when I was distracted this year and told him that we needed a costume he came through. It was a rush job, but he sewed a Jedi costume that was beautiful. (Okay I should probably stop here and explain that we didn’t actually break up then. Well, we did. We ended up, three years later, getting back together. And that’s how G calls my ex Daddy even though it would seem we broke up years before he was born. Because we did.) But back to the story….It was ASAP because G’s school told the parents last minute that the kids could wear costumes to Fall Fest TWO weeks before Halloween and only ONE week before Fall Fest. We were in a scramble. It was last minute because the principle hates Halloween, but the PTO and the teachers finally convinced her to let the kids wear them to Fall Fest. Not the actual day, but it’s a start. So I was in a mean place when I complained and yelled that he never helps, but he came through and I’m completely grateful because G got to be what he really really wanted to be and he felt great and he looked great and that’s half the battle of Halloween. The other factor that made Halloween great was  that thanks to the bitchy-Halloween-hating principle G had his costume two weeks early and got to wear it everywhere. He wore it to the hippie neighborhood preschool’s annual Halloween Fundraiser where I ate gluten and sugar and left with a headache, but it was a happy headache. And then when Halloween finally arrived he wore it downtown for the march up Mass St for the merchant sponsored Halloween Trick or Treating extravaganza. We got to see faces we hadn’t seen in months and wave at a few everyday faces. Then he wore it to Pet World’s Haunted House. Let me just say, if you’re a Lawrencian and you’ve never done it, it’s awesome! It’s a fundraiser for The Humane Society earlier in the week, but we didn’t know about it then. We went on Halloween night and it was free and not at the pet store, but at someone’s house. I don’t have great night vision so I didn’t go in. In hindsight I should have because while I’m the bitchy/strict/screeching parent most times, during any holiday I’m the fun parent. We got there before 7, which was when it was supposed to be the age appropriate time, but both G and the ex came out very quiet and looking a little white. He wore it later in the evening for neighborhood Trick or Treating.  I live in an older part of town with big old houses and towering trees. It was the perfect night for Halloween. Our first block was dead and because it’s Lawrence it’s full of old hippies who were dressed as Jimi Hendrix and were drinking wine on the porch. I’m new, but I heard once they know you they hand out beers to the adults. And if we missed a house someone would chase us down with their bowl of Twix, Kit Kat and Snickers. Good candy. Not the cheapo stuff and sometimes there were full sized bars and sometimes they made him take two or three. After two or three blocks I walked back home to put the pizzas in the oven. I almost burned the house down, but that’s a different story. I made pizza and the boys showed up and we ate and we laughed and we told G about the candy, cause he’s a yogi’s kid and doesn’t know a lot about candy and he’s only six so he hasn’t experienced a lot in the world yet. He ate a full-sized Snickers and thought it was pretty good. G crashed pretty hard that night. But, then so did I. I don’t remember our bedtime stories or the songs we sang. It’s hard work being on your best behavior. There were so many times any one of us could have been catty or decided we didn’t want to go along with the group or any number of things could have come up from our past. But it was a peaceful and fun night. And the lesson we all learned that mid-week Halloween night is that our good behavior pays off. By remembering to bite my tongue, even from the little jabs that are so often conversation in our family we had a great/meaningful/fun time. We learned that being together is better than not, even if there’s no longer a marriage that binds some of us. Together we are a family. We may be a funny looking family. I have a new love. And my ex was my first love. Those two thing are true together. I’ve had another love in between. My kids have learned to look at many sources to find guidance/role models/love. There are others that parent our kids, many that care about them and lots that love them. It’s a blessing. And that’s what made it the best Halloween ever

It wasn’t what I expected

Last week G fell out of bed and I was scared and felt alone and was whiney.

A day later I found out that L, my teenager, has been lying. About everything. She’s not the kid I thought she was. AT ALL. And it’s taking longer to get over it then G’s tumble.

I know, you’re all shocked. A 15-year-old who lies? My kid must be the worst kid on the planet because 15-year-olds never lie and I must be one fucked-up Mother to have one who does.

And she’s been engaging in dangerous behavior. I know…repeat last paragraph.

But here’s the weird thing. I’m actually relieved. And I don’t know why. I don’t know what this feeling of relief is about. I know she feels it too. I think our reasons are different, though. I’m not sure what mine is about, but I’ll tell you what I think in a minute.

Hers, I’m pretty sure is about finally not having to hide and keep secrets and lie. I think hers is about the feeling of knowing you’re doing wrong, but once you’ve said yes once, not knowing how to get out of that cycle.  Not knowing how to say, Hey, this isn’t what I really want. Because when you’re 15 you think all your choices are permanent and you don’t know that you can say, hey I changed my mind. Or Hey, I made a mistake. I’m just learning that lesson now, so I can’t really expect her to have it down pat.

Having your parents find out about your lies gives you a great out with previous said behavior and people you were engaging in said behavior with. Honestly, though, I don’t know if that’s why she’s relieved. I think she must have been scared. I think she must have been unhappy. Having your Mom and Dad swoop in and say, That’s It! This is over!!! Can be some kind of a relief. And after we gave her a chance to come clean and after we talked for almost three hours and after she cried, finally, she slept. And I think she slept well, which is unusual for her.

I think my relief might be about knowing. Before we found out her life was a bit of a mystery to us. And I will fully accept and own my naiveté. She’s been such a good kid. She’s been an amazingly smart, friendly, well-behaved wonderful kid that we just believed everything she told us. There wasn’t any evidence to not believe her, except there was. She’s been dating an older boy for almost a year. It was naive to believe some of that wasn’t going to rub off on her. We certainly weren’t scrupulous about checking up on her. In short, we weren’t good parents. We did not serve our child well.

But there’s another part. This kid has been so perfect. So perfectly perfect. The more A’s she brought home, the more I worried about her. Cause the more she did well, the more I knew she was winding up tighter and tighter. She was so deep in her perfectionism. So, while I’m not happy about how she did it,  I am happy that she showed me she really is just a kid. She’s exploring and figuring out who she is and not as set in her control-driven mind as she used to be. And so, while I don’t want her to continue in these behaviors, I have a starting place now. Cause when she would never miss a day of school and would panic if she thought she was getting an A-, I couldn’t do a lot. But now, I can parent. Now I can help her.

My job is to guide this precious, perfect being into adulthood. It’s not my plan to teach her to be a mini-me, God forbid. And despite what she thinks I have tried to honor her individuality. I have also been clear that her decisions are her own. I know there are a lot of parents out there who think that’s bullshit. There are parents who would say, well look where that got her. A lot of parents are only interested in raising kids who adhere to their parents beliefs, values and rules.

Me, not so much. I believe she’s here to teach me as much as I’m here to teach her. She was so perfect, in the beginning, and I blemished her by being more human than she was early on. That may sound hokey to you, but I am as lucky and blessed to have her in my life as anything.  I believe my job is to raise her to be a happy, productive member of this society and however that works out is fine by me.

So, when I found out all this upsetting information about her I thought long and hard about who I wanted to be. Did I want to be a raving mad women? Did I want to model compassion and mindfulness?  Which behaviors did I want her to copy, with her friends, with her own kids, with her co-workers? Did I really want my hyper-critical voice bouncing around in her head for the next fifteen years or until she finds a great therapist?

And while she’s floored that we’re not mad and I think maybe she thinks she got off easy she will, in time, come to understand and appreciate even more the way we handled this. She certainly lost privileges, not as a punishment, but because more than any other part of my job I need to keep her safe. And she was not safe. Because she’s a kid and because she thinks she’s immortal, she thought she was safe. We all can look back at our lives and think about those teen-aged years and think, Thank God-I could be dead.

And I’ll tell you some of mine. I hitch-hiked….once. I drank. I was sexually active young. I lied to my parents and sneaked around. I cut school…although sometimes it was to catch up on homework, but nonetheless I lied to my parents, teachers and peers.

And here’s the thing. I was a good kid. I came across as a really good kid AND I WAS a good kid. Despite all that other stuff, I was also on the basketball team. I was c0-editor of my high school newspaper, the oldest student published newspaper in the country. I worked on the yearbook and the literary magazine. I didn’t have a boyfriend till senior year. I went to a great college.

So, I’m not an angel, but I wasn’t the worst kid out there. And she hasn’t been an angel, but she’s not the worst kid out there. I was just a kid doing a kid things and she’s just a kid doing kid things. And no matter how scary I think kid things are, they really are just kid things.

And when I thought about who I wanted to be as I dealt with this difficult situation and my wayward daughter that’s what I focused on. I focused on the fact that she was just a kid and she’s just doing kid things and that she’s only wayward. She’s not evil, she’s not a sinner. She’s a bit misguided. And at the end of the day being misguided and making mistakes now when she’s 15 is her job. Literally.  I believe this is her job. I don’t care about A’s. I don’t care about honor roll. It’s nice and it’s good, but this is a kid who is always going to do well. I’m more worried about her spiritual growth.

And I’m more worried about my spiritual growth. So I thought about what would serve me well. Cause I can’t be a ranting and raving parent and expect to raise balanced, happy kids. If I want to be different than my parents, different than what most parents out there do, then I have to make different choices.

And that’s what I told her. This is a kid who wants to be different than the average Kansas kid. She wants a life that’s special and different and regardless of what I think about those desires, those are her desires and I need to honor them. So I told her, if she wants to do things differently than the average Kansas kid, she has to make different choices than the average Kansas kid.

I could have yelled and shamed her. I could have told her she was bad and I was ashamed or disappointed. Not only is that not who I want to be, not the kind of parent I want to be, but it would have done some serious damage. With this kid, with this serious, smart and sensitive kid it would have pushed her farther away from me and further into herself. She’s enough in her own brain already. She’s already convinced of several untruths about herself. She doesn’t see the amazing human I see. And she certainly can’t see her future as clearly as I can.

So we’re tip-toeing through this. We’re picking our way through this mine field of hurt feelings, expectations and fear. I’m trying to figure out how to stay on my side of the street and still be a good, effective parent. She’s trying to figure out how to be vulnerable and she’s dabbling in honesty and she’s thinking hard about who she wants to be. Cause she doesn’t know and how am I supposed to have any expectations cause hell, I don’ know who I want to be yet.

So, as with so many things my sweet, first born baby and I have done, we’re figuring it out together. We didn’t know how to do it 16 years ago and we don’t know any better today. I know, even if she doesn’t, that we don’t have to know. It always works out. It may not work out the way that we thought it would, but we’re always okay.

And if that’s all I can teach her, that’s a pretty good lesson.

Ahhh Boys!

Cat ScratchWell we thought we were going to get through the rest of the…..week/month/season with no more injuries. Today George walked into our bedroom where my husband and I had been discussing my new classes and figuring out pricing, etc. G. just came in to ask if we were done talking. He wasn’t crying. He didn’t seem scared or upset. Yet he had bloody streaks across his face.

I actually didn’t see anything different about his countenance, but my husband hopped up, scooped G into his arms and questioned him, asking “What’s wrong? George what happened?”

He didn’t crack until he saw himself in the mirror. His dark blue eyes got wide and there was complete shock on his small face.  At this point I put it all together and  said, “did you mess with the cat?” His little mouth turned upwards and his eyes filled. Continue reading

Parenting and yoga

yogagirlAs my daughter gets older I find my hopes and desires as a parent and my yoga crashing into one another. This is a tough one for me. I am now the mom of a tween, but she’s soon to be a teen. As the months count down I’m really digging deep and reflecting on what yoga teaches me about parenting. But I guess, it’s more than yoga. It’s a compilation of wisdom that I call my belief system. Continue reading

Someone Saw Me

A little while ago I got an email from an old friend.  We’ve been emailing and chatting on Facebook for a few months now. We’re rekindling a friendship. The email was about observations from 20 years back. It was about things I had forgotten. It was about a me I didn’t know anymore. It was exhilarating and wonderful and exciting.

The most wonderful thing about FB is that people keep coming back. They keep reminding me of lost times and a person I used to be. They remind me and they help me keep my past vivid and tangible. Continue reading

The Peeps Live!

I just have a quick note to report on the Peeps. They still live on our table. They’re sort of sad looking. I ate one a few weeks ago to see what it was like. Hard on the outside, but actually pretty soft on the inside, which is scary. A week or so ago George attacked a couple of Peep noses and maybe a tail. So they are falling over, missing a few comrades and a few body parts, but they are brave and they persevere.

The problem is whenever we talk about burning the Peeps, even quietly in the kitchen without George around, a little voice screams “No, don’t burn the Peeps. Don’t hurt them!” from somewhere else in the house. Mention Peeps and his little mouth turns down, and dreamy eyes swim in unleashed tears. He knows we’re talking about their demise and it saddens him. I know, I know, there’s a lesson here. I just don’t think I’m ready to learn it.

So for now we have an hard on outside, soft on the inside falling, half eaten, falling down centerpiece. It will stay until George is brave enough to throw them away or the rest of us are brave enough to burn them behind his back.

More to come…..

Oh George!

photo-4801George has another gash on his forehead. It’s been less than two weeks since the first set of stitches. If you remember, he was sitting on the arm of a chair, toppled off and landed on a terra cotta planter at exactly the correct angle to open his head to the skull. He literally had a hole in his head. And that’s what we called it until it healed, his hole.

Today he came home with a half inch gash. Luckily, we couldn’t see bone, but he was bloody again and really,  it’s possible he could have used a stitch. But having spent the better part of a day and several hundred dollars at the doctor’s office just two weeks ago (or so) we decided to tape it and let it go. It’s close to the hairline and it might be sexy later in life. His future partner might thank us (and in the back of my head there was the thought that someone might call family services, but it really didn’t have anything to do with our decision to tape it). Continue reading