Tag Archive | children

Teachable Moments

When my husband’s tumor was first discovered, our children were only ages 9, 7, and 5.  They were really too young to be kept in the loop about what was happening, and we went out of our way to hide it all.  They were too young to hear about doctors, illness, tests, and an unknown prognosis.  We spent two years not knowing anything, so it would have been  impossible to explain to them what we didn’t understand.  Once we started getting answers, the reality of what could be coming wasn’t something we felt they needed to know or worry about.  We wanted them to just be children, with no adult worries, and we wanted to keep their lives as “normal” as possible.  It worked for a while.

Now, our children are ages 16, 14 and 12.  There really is no more hiding, and it wouldn’t be fair to be less than honest with them.   They know Dad is sick.  They see it every day.  We don’t make a point of talking about his illness, but we answer honestly now, when they have questions.  That is a hard transition to make.  As parents, we want to protect our kids from the difficult parts of life.  Nobody wants their kids to grow up with a sick parent, constant financial struggle, and an inability to know what can be expected in the future.  Under the best of circumstances, none of us can predict what the future will hold.  But with an illness, it’s even harder.  Life is lived on a day to day basis.  Plans are hard to make.  Promises are almost impossible.

For a long time, I felt guilty that our kids were dealt this hand…living in a family with a chronic illness that hangs over us every single day.  I felt it was unfair to my husband, and myself, but especially to our children.  I had an amazing, happy, care free childhood, and it hurt my heart to know that my kids wouldn’t have the same experience.  I’ve always wondered how this experience would affect the rest of their lives.  Would they grow up feeling cheated, or insecure, depressed, or anxiety ridden?

As our kids grow older, I find myself looking at our situation in a different way.  I’ve accepted that this is how things are and there is nothing we can do about it.  We can fight it and wish it were different.  That doesn’t work…I’ve tried it.  We can let it consume us and ruin our lives.  For me, that has never been an option and I wouldn’t allow my kids to let it affect them that way either.  Now, I try to look at it another way…a way that will hopefully help my kids.  My kids are, and always have been, watching me and how I respond to my husband, his illness, and our life as a family.  I hope that they have learned that spouses are loyal, through sickness and health.  I hope they have seen that life can be brutally hard and not go as planned, but that you simply don’t give up.   I hope they have learned that sometimes, you just have to put your head down and plow through the tough times, and that eventually you WILL come out the other side.

Now that our kids are more aware of what is happening,  they are asking me more questions, and talking to me about their feelings…whether positive or negative.  It’s my opportunity to continue to teach.  The most common feeling they have mentioned is frustration.  They get frustrated that their Dad sleeps a lot, and spends a lot of time just sitting and watching TV, or wandering aimlessly around the house, not doing much of anything.   They get frustrated when they see that he eats and drinks unhealthy food.  They get frustrated that he is often too tired to do something with them, or drive them somewhere.  They get frustrated when he won’t wear a seatbelt.  I completely understand their frustration, but I take those conversations as the opportunity to sympathize with them and to teach them that we can only control ourselves, not other people.  My kids tell me they don’t like to talk about it (as they are talking about it), and it gives me the chance to tell them that talking about it relieves them of the burden of holding it in.  I encourage them to talk about their anger and frustration because I know it helps to let go of it and share it with someone else.  I tell them it will eat them up to hold it in if they are sad, angry, or upset about something.  They tell me they want to spend more time with their Dad, but don’t know what to do with him.  I tell them to tell him that they want to spend time with him…it will make him feel good, and they will always remember the times they spent together.   Communication is important, and they should always tell him when they want to be with him.

As life evolves, and the years go by in our household, there will always be teachable moments that I hope will help my kids throughout their lives.  I could live with a heavy heart, wishing that life for my kids was different.  Or, I can share my experience with them in the hopes that they can move forward through their lives with a little bit of wisdom, and a foundation for dealing with the hard blows life can throw at them.

38 Longs

I’ve always heard that your 40s are the best years of your life.  Supposedly, people are financially stable, have some wisdom, have learned from their mistakes, blah blah blah.  I can’t say from experience that it’s true.  One thing I’ve learned from being in my 40s is that your body turns into a hot mess, and it ain’t pretty.  It’s really a cruel trick of that fickle old bitch, Mother Nature.  I thought we women were supposed to be on the same team and build each other up.  Clearly, Mother Nature didn’t get the memo.  “They” say that 50 is the new 30, which means I should be in my new 20s, but 20 sure didn’t look like this.  There is really no part of my body that hasn’t been affected by the cruel advance of time.

Let me start by saying that once you’re past the age of 18, zits should be a thing of the past.  They slyly disappeared for a couple of decades, lying in wait for their eventual reappearance. Once I hit my forties, they reared their ugly red, white blistered heads once again…and not just on my face.  Nothing says pretty like putting your gray speckled hair up in a clip only to have Mount Vesuvius staring at everyone like a third eye on the back of your neck.  What the hell is up with that?  I know I’m not the only one.  I have friends in their forties who also wonder why they suddenly have a pizza neck, or scalp, for that matter.  Don’t get me wrong, my face is not immune to such hideous eruptions.  It’s not enough that the wrinkles start making an appearance, but then to be flanked by a melon sized, oozing pustule is just beyond reasonable.  Don’t even get me started on groin zits.

Let’s move away from the face because nothing is as much a slap in the face as what happens to breasts at this glorious age.  Really.  They sag enough that they could slap me in the face if I moved at just the right angle.  They used to be so cute and perky, and almost the right size.  In my 20s they were a 34B.  Twenty years and three breast fed kids later, they are 38 longs.  When I bend over to turn on the shower faucet, they look like tube socks with a few inches of sand at the bottom.  They dip in the water at the bottom of the tub.  I could tuck them into my waist band.  They are too big and that makes it hard to find decent shirts that will contain them.  I used to wish for bigger boobs.  My wish was granted but at a time in my life that they are more of an eyesore than an asset.

Sagging in general is the suckiest thing about aging.  Apparently, someone came along one night while I was sleeping and replaced my tight little birthday suit, with one that looks a few sizes too big.  It’s also clear that it hasn’t been ironed in years and someone left it sitting in the drier for way too long.  It’s all out of shape, so apparently nobody let it dry flat either.  It also has a roadmap of veins on its legs that could lead me on a road to deep depression if it wasn’t for those lifesaving capris and long dresses that are popular now.  I have to say that as much as I love summer, I am thrilled when it’s time to get out the fall and winter clothes again.

Needless to say, this decade of my life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Things sag, erupt, crack, groan, get stiff, and make involuntary noises.  It’s not enough that I notice it, but my darling children love to point out body parts of mine that are swaying in the wind or lying flaccid next to me.  They are a charming bunch.  I happily inform them that someday they will go through the same nonsense, and that if there is any justice in the world, their kids will make them feel like crap, too.  I just hope that I will be able to witness the payback from my rocking chair as the drool slides down my cratered, pock marked, droopy face.  The least Mother Nature can do is let me get there.  We moms have to stick together.

The Excruciating Honesty of Children

Kids are hilarious.  They are hilarious in the most obnoxious, yet innocent way.  They say exactly what comes to mind with no regard for the feelings of the unsuspecting adults in their world.  They can reduce a grown woman to tears of laughter, and can even make the most self-confident of people feel lower than dirty toilet paper stuck to the bottom of someone’s shoe.  I am the mother of 3 kids, and have worked in an elementary school for the past 6 years.  I LOVE to have conversations with kids, just for the sheer entertainment value of what they have to say.  Some of them have ripped me to shreds, but it never bothers me.  I love the innocence of it.

This blog post will be a little different.  Rather than drone on about how funny kids are, I am going to share some of my favorite “kidisms”  from the past several years.  They’ve been posted on facebook before, but I wanted to put them all in one place.  I hope you enjoy them, especially because a large number of them were made at my expense.   Here they are as they appeared on FB, in all their glory:

One of the 4th graders asked me today if I was born when Laura Ingalls Wilder was alive. Apparently, I look 100 years older than I actually am. Can anyone recommend a good anti-wrinkle cream?

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Two kids at school made my day today. I was telling a 4th grader that when I was a kid, we didn’t go to computers because they weren’t invented yet. After asking me if TV was invented when I was kid, she told me I look like I’m about 20.  Then a second grader winked at me in the cafeteria, and told the kid in line next to him that “Mrs. Palumbo is my best friend.” So cute. The wink made me laugh though…I can see him doing that in a bar in 15 years.

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One of the kids I work with a lot asked me a few weeks ago if I was retired. I told him no, but wondered for days if I look THAT old. Today, he asked me what my son’s name is. I told him, and he then asked me if he’s still alive. Apparently, I’m not only old enough to be retired, but old enough to have outlived my own kids. I’m left wondering who is more damaging to my self esteem…my own kids, or the kids at school? Between them all, I’ll be curled up in a fetal position in the corner, sucking my thumb, and crying by the end of the year.

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So, I was playing “Go Fish” with a kindergartner today, and when I told him to clean up and hand me his cards, he said, “Here you go, Sweetie.”

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 I got a “Rico Suave” wink, and eyebrow raises from a 5th grade boy in the lunchroom today. I looked at him like he had lost his mind, and asked him what he was doing. His reply (in a Rico Suave voice) was “it’s all okay,” followed by a thumbs up. You just can’t make this stuff up.

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A 4th grader asked me today if paper was invented yet when I was born. I told him no, and that my mother carved my birth certificate on a rock, in the cave I was born in. Sheesh.

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School isn’t the only place that I hear these charming little nuggets of love. I get it at home from my own spawns, too.  If they aren’t directing their drama at me, they direct it at themselves or each other.

My daughter called me despicable today because I wouldn’t let her stay at her friend’s house for dinner. When I looked at her with shock, she asked me what it meant. I love 8 year olds.

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It’s a sad day in a mother’s life when her almost teenage child says, “Mom, can you please stop singing? It’s embarrassing.”

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You’ve got to love it when you ask your 11 year old son to do something and his response is, “okay, sweet cheeks.”

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“Why did you have to bring the devil into the house?!?”  Hannah, Drama Queen Extraordinaire, when she saw that we are having a roasting chicken for dinner.

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Conversation in the car on the way to get a Christmas tree: 
Lucas: (singing LOUDLY and off key) “Cause you’re amazing, just the way you are.”
Hannah: LUCAS! SHUT. UP.
Lucas: (in a soft voice) I’m sorry madam, did I get your knickers in a tweet?

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So Lucas was playing around and called Arienne “Areola” this afternoon. He had NO IDEA what he said, and I wasn’t about to tell him because that would have only encouraged him to keep saying it. *rolls eyes* I just told him to stop calling her silly names. Yikes.

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Apparently, I put “the devil’s spawn” in tonight’s soup. That would be broccoli…according to Hannah.

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I was traveling with my kids in the car and they were asking me incessant questions about everything under the sun.  I was answering as best I could in a way that they would understand. My preschooler proceeded to ask me how I knew all this stuff.  I replied, “Because Mommy is really smart!”  She responded back with, “Noooo, that’s not it!”

There are more profound comments where these came from.   As I collect funny stories and insulting comments I hear from kids, I will share them as a periodic blog post.  Maybe it’ll become a series.  Maybe it won’t.  Either way, I am just going to continue to enjoy children and find the humor in their words.  Meanwhile, if anyone knows of a good anti-wrinkle cream or face lift surgeon, let me know.