Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ridiculously Unnecessary: How to irritate your wife at 4am

Wake her up from a deep, calm sleep by yelling "AAAAAH!!  AAAAAH!!!   AAAAAH!!!" super loud while dreaming about scaring your sister (really???) because that is totally normal for a 52 year old to still dream about.

How to irritate your wife at 4:02 am:  Fall peacefully back to sleep whilst your wife sits wide awake next to you waiting for her heart rate to return to normal, and decides to blog about ridiculously unnecessary things such as this because  it's been a while....not since something ridiculous and unnecessary  has happened, but since she's blogged about it.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Parenting Strategies: How to Wake up your Teenage Son

I have a son who is very difficult to wake up for school.  He has been this way all his live-long life, and many of our mornings have looked exactly like this.  I'm not even kidding...

I've tried many strategies over the years and after numerous trials and fails, I have resorted to the one method that seems to work best.


It's the only thing that works at getting him out of bed in the morning, or to do anything really. I have never read about this in any parenting books - and I have read many - but after much personal experience, I feel qualified to endorse this as an acceptable parenting strategy.  Oh sure, you could continue to try things that worked in the pre-teen years, like gently rubbing his back and telling him how he needs to get up, call him honey, and tell him what a wonderful day he's going to have at school.  You can try singing silly songs like "Feet on the Floor", sung to the tune of "Pants on the Ground".  The first time you do this, it's very successful because he will laugh so hard he'll fall right out of bed.  Subsequent times, though, this strategy loses it's potency until eventually all you get is an eye roll.  Get all excited and announce "OH MY GOSH!  THERE ARE MONKEYS IN OUR YARD!  HURRY UP!  RUN!"  This works on daughters too, by the way. You can change up the animals - one day it can be monkeys.  The next giraffes.  They hop right up and say, "WHAT??" and run to the window and then just when they get there you say in a sad voice, "aaawe, you took too long.  You just missed them.  Maybe they'll be back tomorrow? Oh well, time to get ready for school." You can have some cuddle time.  This lets his brain wake up slowly and happily, makes him feel loved and affirms his value as a human being before you send him out into the harsh, harsh world.

All these strategies worked relatively well in his younger years, but now that he's a teen I recommend skipping all that crap and go directly to what really works:  threats.  There are many different types of threats to choose from with varying levels of success, so you just have to experiment until you find what works for your child.  Here are some that I use and generally implement in stages:

  • Cuddle time.  This one packs quite a punch as a threat because the horror and gross out factors are huge.  You can knock and crack his door open a bit to make the offer, then gently close the door and walk away.  Sometimes that is all it takes.
  • If threatening with cuddle time doesn't work, knock on his door a little louder and tell him "if you don't get up right now I will freak on you".  The meaning of this is vague, but if your kids have a crazy mom like mine do, it sometimes induces just enough wonder and fear to work. Say it firmly and directly for optimum effect and shut his door with a little bit of force as you walk away.
  • Tell him if he doesn't get up NOW, you will not give him a ride to school and he'll have to ride the bus.  This only works if his friends are also not riding the bus, so you'll have to get together with other moms on this one.
  • Threaten to whip off your shirt when his friends come over.  This works when all other methods have failed and incidentally it works for just about anything you want him to do or stop doing. Yard needs to be mowed?  He's on it.  Paint the house?  Done.  Disclaimer:  I have never actually followed through on this threat, but just the thought of it is effective enough to work.  
Of course, if you want to abandon the crazy and forego the threats, you can do what I did.  Buy your kid the loudest, baddest alarm clock you can find.  It's called the "Sonic Bomb".  It's 113 decibels loud,  has red flashing lights, and a disc that you put between the mattresses that violently shakes his bed.  So far it's working.  He's developing a facial tic and a seizure disorder, but it's waking him up for school and that was my goal.  He can work it out with his therapist later.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Parenting Strategies: Top 10 Ways to Start the Day off Right with your Teens

Our two youngest have started high school this year.  THAT's a weird statement to write, and I still haven't wrapped my brain around it fully - especially since they just finished 3rd grade last year.

One of the things they have really looked forward to this year is not having to ride the bus to school anymore - something they have always detested.  Since I work just a few blocks from the high school, I have been giving them a ride every morning.  It's usually a great time of bonding and affirming, and that's what I'm all about - getting our kids off to a good start to their day.  Some days are better than others, but this is what worked for us today:

1)  Make sure teenage daughter is up (she always is) and ready for school on time (she usually is).

2)  Get teenage son up.  This is a blog post for another day.

3)  Watch the clock and get a little more irritated as the time to leave approaches and teenage son is still in the bathroom.

4)  Yell at the bathroom door, several times, to "HURRY UP!" or "GET MOVING!!", followed by "I AM FREAKING LEAVING NOW!!"

5)  Make teenage son put on his deodorant, hair gel, and shoes in the car because you weren't going to wait for him one minute longer.

6)  Listen to Ellen Degeneres' newest audio book on the way to town because it is hilarious.  This will begin to lighten the mood of the teenage son who was so rudely rushed, and the teenage daughter who was annoyed by all the rushing and lack of consequences for her brother who is never ready on time and the unfairness of the universe...

7)  Watch and laugh as teenage son tries to figure out how to mail a letter in one of those blue mail boxes outside the post office.

8)  Kind of come to a complete stop at the cross walk, where a group of your daughter's friends are starting to cross the street, and sufficiently embarrass her to near death as her friends hurry a little faster across the street with wide, surprised eyes as they stare at your "stopped" van and jump out of the way (just a little).

9)  Kind of stop a block from school and tell your kids it's time to jump out and they "better tuck & roll 'cause mama's gotta get to work on time".

10)  Tell them, "Have a good day and I'm sorry for almost running over your friends" just as the van door slams shut and you speed away.  Good times.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What can I obsess about now?

I'm pretty much just going from one thing to the next...trying not to focus on the fact that my son is away, several states away, and I can't call him.  I  don't know how he's doing, don't know if he's happy.  Well, he's at basic training, I'm not sure anyone there is "happy", but I just want to know that he's not miserable.  It's a helpless feeling, knowing that really big and scary people are going to be mean to my boy and there is nothing that mama bear can do about it. 

Big sigh.

He's been gone for 10 days and I've rarely even gone one day of his entire life without at least talking to him.  I knew this would happen, that there would be no contact for a while, but it doesn't make it any easier.  

Yes, I realize that I am whining and sound all kinds of pathetic.

He tried calling yesterday, around 2pm.  His phone number was on the caller ID and when I saw it my heart sank.  I missed it.  I'm sure he knew we would be at work, but it was probably the only opportunity he had to use his phone.  He called his dad too and left him a message saying "tell Mom I love her and everyone", and that made my  heart very happy :)

Yes, I realize that I'm being dramatic about this.  He's just at basic training, he hasn't died or anything, and he'll be home at Christmas.  I've hardly seen him all summer since graduation, so you'd think I'd be used to him being gone.  I can't explain why this is so hard for me, except that he's my boy and my mama heart misses him tremendously.  It's still so unbelievable to me.  He grew up right before my eyes, and yet I feel like it happened overnight.  All the people who told me that the years would go by fast - I didn't believe it.  Until now, and I find myself telling other moms of young kids the same thing.  It did go fast - my baby boy has become a man and in the midst of my "is this really happening?", I couldn't be more proud.    I'm proud of who he is - his strength and determination, his sense of humor, his commitment to his people, his growing faith, his desire to do something important with his life.  This is a time of celebration!  We raised a human from birth to adulthood - and lived to tell about it!  And I don't mind saying I think we've done a pretty good job.  He's amazing, and I've been enamored with him since before he was born.

Now here I am, watching as my baby boy launches into adulthood and has flown our coop to follow his great big amazing dreams.  I am cheering him on and waving with a big lump in my throat, tears on my cheeks, and a heart that still grieves for the childhood I wish I could have given him.  It didn't look how I had hoped.  I wanted more than anything to give my kids a loving, stable, happy home.  I never wanted divorce to be part of our story.  I can't explain the pain of seeing my six year old child's heart broken.  It changed him.  My sweet happy little boy became sad and least for a time.  Oh, he accepted and adjusted and we all made the best of it, and God brought much healing during those difficult years.  But divorce changes you.  As a child, and as an adult, it changes you at the core.  You get through it and move on, but the effects of tearing a family apart stick , and they recur as maturity happens and understanding grows, and brings with it more questions than answers.  Confusion, anger, and sadness can linger and turn into bitterness in a child's heart - or worse yet, apathy.  I worry about what effect that experience will have on my boys' lives - the choices they will make as adults, how they'll feel about themselves, their wives, their families, and their faith.  I pray that the curse of divorce that seems to be on my family ends with my generation.   That my kids and grandkids will never experience it.  I pray fervently for that, and often.  If generational curses are real, I know they are not inevitable.  Not with God.  He makes all things new...including the aftermath of the devastation that is divorce.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." - Romans 8:28

I feel a little bit better getting  all that out.  Maybe now I can let go...let go of the guilt I've been carrying about not being able to give my boys the picture perfect childhood that I dreamt for them.  Maybe that's ok? They weren't all that realistic - the expectations and dreams I had when I was a young mother.  I've learned through my own experience that we grow in our faith, and cling most to our Father in times of brokenness.   God is the restorer of broken things, and that is what He has done for us.  In His great wisdom and faithfulness, He made a plan to restore what had been stolen from us all.

"God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing." - Psalm 68:6.  

He gave my boys sisters and more brothers, and another dad to love and guide them through life.  Yes, it's messy at times, this crazy blended family of ours.  It can be complicated and frustrating and hard...but maybe that's part of the plan?  Maybe there is blessing in it not being easy?  And maybe, just maybe, that is why my son is now choosing this tough path.  The Army is not easy.  It will be complicated and frustrating and hard.  And maybe that is just the path God has called him to...because He has blessings in mind for my son that he wouldn't learn on an easy road. 

Mind blow.  There He goes again....turning things around for me.  Turning something that I am grieving over into something I am thankful and hopeful about.  God is so good at that.