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    The Profundity of a Little Boy


    Mom, you can never go back to zero. You have to always get bigger, not smaller.

    That's right, you're always growing. 

    When you're 80, you can't go back to 18. You only go up.

    That's true.

    Well then I think you should have as much fun as you want each day, since you can't do that day again.

    You're right.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    The secret of life, as recognized by a human not even five years on this planet. Well, five that I am aware of, anyhow. My son often has insights like this - like he's closer to 95 than 5. It reminds me to stop & listen to my children when they talk. Often they're doing more than just talking. 



    Posted: May 05 2012, 10:14 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Children | Inspirational

    Nine Parenting Truths

    In my going-on-seven years of parenting, I’ve discovered some things – seemingly universally experienced by parents – from all “sides” of the parenting spectrum: stay at home parents, working out of the home parents, homeschooling parents, attachment parents,  etc. – that no one bothered to tell me, prior to having children. Of course, when you want children, you don’t listen to anyone else anyhow because your pregnancy will be super-awesome, your birth will be a breeze, and your baby will be all sweetness and light, right? Right. So, without further ado, nine things:

    (Me... A mere ten days before my world completely changed)

    1) There is no off switch on children. Volume? Always on, and usually set to high. Movement? Always on the go unless sleeping (& oftimes not even then). Needs/requests? Always present; never ending. Certainly many needs ease a bit as children age, and all but the most urgent can usually be delayed a bit. But, especially when they're young, the urgent needs (see #2) of children really don't let up. The fact of the matter is, in spite of what you might see in pictures or hear from great-grandma’s memories, children aren’t typically quiet, they aren’t usually calm; they aren’t mini adults.  They are always on, and expect you will be as well.  The good part about this is that you learn how patient you can be. Patience, as they say, is a virtue.

    2) Taking care of sick kids is really quite challenging. It pushes the limits of your empathy and innate care-taking qualities (for details, see #3). Most especially when you also are sick (& when you're not sleeping because you're up with sick kids, and being exposed to all manner of germs picked up from every possible play surface in the universe even some that you don’t consider play surfaces but your children certainly do, like grocery store aisle floors – you likely will be), and would rather be in bed, having someone care for YOU.  But, there must be a light at the end of the tunnel.  I think there are two: First, I keep in mind that through illness, children are building their immune systems one cold at a time – getting stronger and healthier. And two, I remember my childhood illnesses with an odd fondness – being home with my mom all day while being allowed to draw and watch as much television as I wanted – I don’t much recall the illness as much as the special attention.

    3) Cleaning throw up out of the car stinks. Literally. As does cleaning throw up out of the bed in the middle of the night, or off of yourself, at any time of day. There's just no good time for puking, really, but it's particularly unappealing when it isn't yours and it's on your stuff, your person, and/or you've had about 2 hours of sleep when said cleaning is required. Trying to think of an upside to this… if there is one, please feel free to chime in.

    4) Appreciation for all you do as a parent is not readily forthcoming. Whether you work another job in addition to parenting or raising your kids is your sole vocation, no one really says thank you – not specifically, anyway. And why not? Because parenting is not really considered a job, and, big sigh, its commonplace: nearly anyone can become a parent; nearly everyone is.  Thanking someone for being a parent is like thanking someone for clipping their own toenails: Great job, keep on being human, you. And children don’t know to thank you because… well, because they’re children and, you’re just doing what you’re supposed to be doing – taking care of them. Thanks, Mom, pass the granola, and can you take me to the playground, please?
    And though it’s arguably one of the most important jobs on the planet – the maintaining of new, and hopefully functional, kind, and creative humans – it’s just a particularly thankless, underappreciated job.
    Yet, there are some periodic bonuses: sweet chubby cheeked kisses, toddler snuggles, lovely drawings with MOM scrawled across the top, spousal recognitions of job well done, strangers’ comments on how "well behaved" your children are, watching your kids achieve their own independence or success – it's enough to keep going at it each day.

    (Appreciation from my 6yo - note that it says love-together-peace-life. Man, she's awesome!)

    5) Parenting can be boring. Like glassy-eyed staring at the ceiling (or the clock counting the hours ‘til bedtime) oh my goodness when will the repetition end kind of boring. Babies are incredibly adorable, and… they don’t do anything (but they sure need a lot) – thankfully they have the big eyes and chubby thighs going for them. Toddlers are sweet as pie, and… they want to read the same book. Over. And over. It’s kind of like that knock knock joke your preschooler memorized that was really funny the first time, but not so funny the eleventy-billionth time she told it.  Boredom is just part of the deal. On the upside, this has made me more creative – both in my kid-and-adult-centered-activity-planning (i.e. finding things that can be interesting to both me AND my kids) and in my clandestine escapism (i.e. learning to tweet whilst doing the dishes), AND more able to slow down & appreciate the boring... because my children's childhood goes far too quickly.

    6) Parenting makes you tired. Bone tired. To the core. No matter that your kids are sleeping through the night or not – by that time your ability to sleep normally yourself has been so altered that you can’t sleep anyhow. No matter if your kids are older – then you’re staying up to make sure they come back home safely at night. Parenting is synonymous with exhaustion. When you go to bed at night you fall into bed. It’s a tired more deep than a day’s hike with a heavy backpack or International travel. Of course, you learn to live with it, you adjust, your kids start sleeping better, you start sleeping better… but the sleep of the parent is never the same as the sleep of the non-parent. Perhaps the good from this is how amazing a morning to myself is – sleeping in while Adam makes breakfast and plays with the children – those two extra hours of sleep never felt so good.

    7) Parenting is huge. Even when you don’t want it to be; it is everything. You are in charge – whether you want to be or not and whether your children “fail” or “succeed” – you are to blame. You make the choices, you carry the burdens. You select your children’s method of birth (or sometimes it selects you, no matter how much you prepared), your children’s method of feeding, schooling, discipline, experiences, etc. etc., and however it works out – or doesn’t – falls on you. The responsibility (as unfair as it may be since we all know nurture – or is it nature? – isn’t everything in how a child turns out. ) can be overwhelming.  It can also be liberating – realizing, as much as we want our children to be a certain way – as much as we try and succeed, or fail – our children are going to be who they are; they are resilient and amazing, in spite of us.

    Of course, the unspoken rules of parenting aren’t all negatives. There are some positives that I wasn’t told, either. Like:

    8) Watching your child figure something out is awe-inspiring. Whether it be learning to speak, crawl, walk, stack blocks, multiply, write in cursive, ride a bike… Just observing your child learn, and develop skills – particularly ones that you weren’t even directly involved in teaching – is absolutely and endlessly fascinating.  
    9) You will feel more love than you've ever felt or ever know what to do with. If you thought you loved your spouse, or your dog, or your mother... you didn't really know how deep love could be until you held a tiny baby, drifting off to sleep, who’s clutching tight to your finger in the silence of the middle of the night in the rocking chair. The smell of your baby's head is the most delicious aroma you've ever experienced and stirs a fondness so strong and lasting and bonding… the love of a parent for a child is infinite.

    So, did I leave anything out? What’s the most amazing – or challenging – thing you’ve discovered about parenting?

    Posted: Jan 10 2011, 15:04 by kelly | Comments (13) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Children | Parenting

    The Santa Dilemma

    “Is Santa real?” That is the question of the season. On its heels: “Does he really come down the chimney?” “Do reindeer really fly?” “Is the same Santa that makes all the presents the one who is at the mall?” “What are elves?”

    And thus, the dilemma presents itself to parents each year: to tell the truth or not.

    (Credit: Norman Rockwell  Source: 


    In six Christmases, I’ve chosen to stand on the literal side of the fence. Santa Claus isn’t a real man that comes down your chimney (okay, that’s just a bit creepy of a thing to have children thinking anyway, isn’t it, really?), living in the coldest place on earth, with a bunch of small workers called elves, riding an enormous magical sleigh pulled by flying reindeer all around the world in one night to every child’s home and leaving them presents based on his determination of year-round childhood “badness” or “goodness” (heck, we even avoid those judgment calls in our daily parenting).  I just don’t like to tell my kids that he IS, when – he’s not.


    Now, I don’t say things to my children things like, “Other kids’ parents tell them that Santa is real but it’s really just THEM giving their kids presents”.  I don’t want my kids to be the “revealer of parental untruths” to children whose parents may be riding the Santa-is-real train. I’m not out to squash the spirit of Santa. Really, the spirit of Santa is okay with me. It’s more the concocting layers of false “evidence” (cookies half eaten, left by the fireplace, “footprints” in the snow, etc.), in order to convince children (who by their very nature are very literal and want to believe their parents) of the really realness of Santa, that rubs me the wrong way. I prefer to just treat him as part of the holiday landscape that he is, without creating stories; without eroding trust. 


    When direct questions about his realness come up, I turn the conversation to them – allowing them to formulate their own opinions, like:

    Question: Does Santa deliver all the presents in one night?

    Answer: Do you think that’s possible to do? How many kids are there in the world? How big is the world? How fast would he have to fly to make that possible? 

    Question: Does Santa come down everyone’s chimney?

    Answer: Does everyone have a chimney? What about kids who don’t?


    Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a Scrooge. I really do love Christmas; it’s my favorite holiday. I enjoy decorating, putting up the tree, singing Christmas songs, buying and making gifts for people, and baking cookies (especially baking cookies!). Christmas is warm and magical and wonderful.


    But what I don’t like about Christmas is the untruthful-business surrounding all-things-Santa: the acceptance, even expectation, that lying to children at this time of year is appropriate and encouraged (I’ve had strangers come up to my children and warn them they’d “better be good this year, or Santa won’t bring them anything for Christmas”, followed by a knowing wink to me).  I’m simply not comfortable with telling my children that being truthful is important – only to lie to them about Santa.


    Telling children Santa is real might be festive, magical, fun, or even helpful to shape behavior around the holidays, but to me, the cost of wrapping the fun of the holiday in a package of deception isn’t one I’m willing to take on, just for the sake of not killing the magic.


    Christmas IS magical because of actual, real things: picking the most perfect present for someone you love and watching their eyes light up when they open it on Christmas morning. Christmas IS magical when you’re listening to Enya singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel and you get chills.  Christmas is magical when you’re walking around in the crisp, frosty air, look at the Christmas lights twinkling in the newly fallen snow. Christmas IS magical when you wake in the morning to beautifully wrapped presents under the tree and the smell of cinnamon.   


    I don't want my children to experience the let down of “finding out the truth”. I want them to always have real reasons to look forward to Christmas morning, even beyond the age of Santa belief, real reasons to behave, and above all, real knowledge that when their parents tell them about something, they can trust it, and believe it. So this year, like others, I’ll treat Santa as another adornment of Christmas – just like the tree, the lights, the stockings, the presents, and the music.  All of these things can be magical – are magical – without the baggage of untruth.


    So, how do you handle the Santa dilemma? Are you a Santatheist? Or do you convince your children that Santa is real? 

    Posted: Nov 20 2010, 20:29 by kelly | Comments (25) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Children | Parenting | Seasons