Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Tormenting our kids..

December 2, 2008

…is a duty and a privilege. The latest elaborate prank on Joseph involved the ongoing meme of Joseph’s hatred for Buzz Lightyear, who in younger and kinder years was a treasured friend to the boy. James has collected his related paraphernalia, in particular anything depicting Evil Emperor Zurg. At one point James made Joseph a Star Wars CD and, awful man that he is, made the first track Zurg’s Planet. Joseph was, erm, indignant to say the least.

So anyway, James has got a couple Zurg figurines on his desk; half to piss Joseph off, half in defiance of his growing up (whose, you ask? Good question..). James started his prank by putting this through the mail slot:

(Yes, it’s taken me a while to post this). Joseph, having failed to notice in his excitement that it’s written on my note paper and that it’s quite obviously James’ handwriting, asked if he could call the number. He called the ‘courier’ and had a very sweet and polite conversation about his parcel. I would have gotten all sniffly at the cuteness if I wasn’t trying so hard not to laugh. Joseph got off the phone and said the parcel would be coming tomorrow. Then James ran around the side of the house and phoned Joseph back.

He told Joseph that a courier was in the area and would drop the parcel by shortly. A couple minutes later, James dropped a parcel on the step, rang the bell, then booked it for the back door. While Joseph was getting the door, he slipped back upstairs to his office.

Joseph happily trotted back inside with his parcel and opened it up.

The letter read something along the lines of, “We hope you will enjoy playing with your new Zurg action figure. Regards, the Evil Emperor Zurg Corporation.” Joseph was confused, but after a nano second or two of thought started to smell a rat. He ran upstairs and demanded to see James’ Evil Emperor Zurgs.

James showed Joseph his miniature straightaway, and blandly told Joseph that he’s only ever had the one. Joseph was fairly convinced that he’d been had but as James is such a good bullsh*tter, was not quite sure. Nyssa took the opportunity to steal James’ computer and laugh derisively.

Joseph did manage to get revenge. A few weeks later he found the most hideous Jar Jar Binks hand puppet at a charity sale. He bought it, boxed it up as though it were a work-related parcel and had it ‘sent’ to a horrified James. Hehe.

Well done Joseph. It’s good to know we’re teaching, uhh, valuable skills.

It’s a perverse sort of life

October 15, 2008

I had a random itch to call up some christian music I listened to obsessively as a teenager. Thanks to amazon, I can get the likes of Mark Heard and that Brow Beat album from amazon sellers. It’s oddly comforting knowing that. Not sure why.

Further to this, I wandered around youtube. I came across Flood by Jars of Clay, and apart from a flash memory of my sister and dried flowers glued to a fake wooden door, I found it fairly depressing. I lost my faith a few months before I lost the kids’ dad, thinking to start the whole belief in a deity thing from scratch. I haven’t come up with anything in the intervening years between then and now as I sit here feeling fairly sorry for myself for not having any supernatural being to guilt trip me into being productive and to carry me when the mind-angst is at it’s worst. Listening to this music I try to recapture what it was that burned me so. Sardonic fellow that I am, I recognize it all as the natural mental path of a deeply internal person, given the influences at the time. I was honest, for all I knew how to be honest. And now I’m honest in my lack of belief. It’s not for lack of desire, perverse as that sounds. I hope if there is a god, when it comes to the end of it he quirks a smile and falls for my pathos.

I wonder if it’s the normal thing to have an emotional personality that acts as a leveller more than a filter. Apart from a couple of instances in life at the extremes, particularly when I was grief-smacked, it doesn’t seem that I desire to laugh or cry any less, regardless of my circumstances. I think what has changed as I age has been my lessening capacity to internalize things. It’s a bit unnerving, the penchant I now have for getting lumps in my throat and jaw tremors. On the other hand, I suppose I’m also a lot more likely to enjoy something outrageously. Is this my mature self? There are times I would really like that pressure cap back. Tools are good.

So it’s no wonder that my kids are completely neurotic, nor should it surprise me that I’m fairly bemused by it all. The other day Joseph was called to come join an activity of some sort, but, with a worried expression, he requested that he be allowed to finish watching the BBC News report on the financial crisis. Nyssa got out of bed last night because she was having frightful thoughts–apparently in Crieff she saw a kid get turfed out of a corner shop for trying to buy porn. My response? To the former, I let him watch the news and later tried to convince him that the world was not in fact going to run out of money because the concept of money had long since been removed from any concrete thing. To the latter, I attempted to regale Nyn with a story of my once busting a tough teenager trying to shoplift girlie mags and reducing him to tears. Today we were harvesting potatoes and Joseph was getting eaten up by midgies. I consoled him with a stern ‘deal with it and dig’ and tried to distract the kids with an enthusiastic retelling of Stone Soup.

Basically, I don’t know how to do this parenting thing. The above are examples of life just poking at the edges of our composite mental health issues. I try to be serious, but wry, to be deeply involved in my kids’ emotional lives, but give them a fair amount of independence. I just often feel that we’ve got that one deadweight of agonizing, ongoing grief and I have a hard time knowing which of these life choices I’m making are positive on balance or if they’re dragging us down further. Should I have stayed in the States? Should the kids be in school? Is it really the course of wisdom to put all of their eggs in one big flawed mother of a basket? I do my best, but really, I don’t know how well I’m wired for this. As far as being happy and healthy, my continued mantra for them, I certainly don’t lead by example. And don’t all the parenting books hold that as the deadly sin? Regardless of my bouts of pathetic handwringing, I know that there is no perfect homeland, no infallible curriculum, and certainly no parenting benchmark, no matter how much I wish for all these, perhaps even insist that I deserve them.

I suppose the goal for the kids is this–to see them into an adulthood in which they feel equipped to make their own decisions. My goal for myself is to be able to look them in the eye and say, entrusted with their care as I was, that I taught them what I thought was true and gave them the best circumstances I could, given my resources and personal resilience. Well, I have to allow myself caveats, don’t I?

If nothing else, it is interesting to see how motherhood was perhaps the unmaking of the stoic young lady I used to be. Nyssa and Joseph are everything for me. Any fears I have for myself are rooted in concerns I have for how I effect their lives and are perhaps compounded because of this. The tempering effect they have on how I live my life does have a sweeter edge to it though–I adore them and I revel in that. It’s not the 21st century thing for a mom to say, but I’m much more interested in them than I am in myself. Perhaps I’m recalling more primal urges, but I can’t help it and I don’t care to help it. If I live an average lifespan, my time with them under my wing will have been so short. There’s plenty of time to sort myself out later. And maybe I’ll actually have some energy to do it. In the meantime, when I have nights alone I can sit and youtube myself a little soundtrack and have a good think about it.


February 18, 2008 a box of Animal Crackers. Failing that, a bag of them from Jenners that I got for 80% off is just about as good! (*nomnomnom*) That hoity toity department store in Edinburgh sells several items of American foodstuff, most of which are so over-priced that I point and squack. $10 for a box of Lucky Charms? Who is buying this stuff? What I look for are the clearance items hidden throughout the store. Good times to be had. Anyway, Animal Crackers. It finally occurred to me today that the packaging really shouldn’t make me happy. A polar bear, a lion, etc., all locked up in tiny circus cages. I think the cynic has finally consumed my entire person. It’s sad. They still taste like happy though.

So, Nyssa has been having issues taking proper care of her hair. I do sympathize. It has just a bit of a natural wave, and it’s quite thick. So, rather than hack it all off, I compromised and layered it. One doesn’t normally see layers on such young girls, and I’m really not into teenagering up little pickles. I mean, the term ‘tween’ makes me want to sock somebody. But I was trying to be practical given my circumstances. It does bring out the wave, which is cute. I also cut it in such a way that she can still obsessively tuck it behind her ears. What do you think?

A couple weekends ago Joseph and James went snowboarding with the Cub Scouts! I’m so very happy to report that they both had a great time. I was a bit nervous, truth be told. Watch him in action below:

As you can see he developed his own style ;).
(if youtube continues to be a b*st*rd about displaying the video, check it out here.

Ah, Nyssa

February 13, 2008

Being young and having a heart that fills to bursting such that feelings come pouring out, at high speed and without editing, can make things interesting for my girl. The other day she bemused me by managing to be both completely un-racist and un-PC simultaneously. She and I were waiting for her dance class to start and waiting along with us was a little classmate and presumably her dad and brother. Nyssa has a tendency to gush, particularly when she wants to be friends with a new acquaintance, and her strategy is the excessive use of compliments. The little girl in question is black and has gorgeous microbraids that have been dyed red at the bottom. Nyssa naturally started saying how much she looooves her hair. Continuing on, she says, ‘I love your skin! I have two black-skinned cousins! I think black skin makes you specialler!!’ I looked at the girl for her reaction and she was a study in the completely neutral expression. I glanced up at her father to see if I should grin sheepishly on Nyssa’s behalf, but he either hadn’t noticed or was likewise not-bothered. I’ll be curious to see how Nyssa ends up getting on with this girl.

I really feel for Nyssa. She wants so desperately to have close friends and to open her heart to peers. The trouble is that many times either the kids don’t respond to her, are sort of frightened off by the aforementioned Nyssa-gushing, or are eventually discovered to be the sorts of kids that would get her into trouble. She can’t deal with being dishonest, and it’s just unfortunate that there are kids about who can’t be bothered with a girl who will feel compelled to run and confess all her sins to Mummy. I really hope she doesn’t harden herself to her personal sense of ethics in order to have more friends. What makes it particularly hard is that gregarious as Nyssa comes across, she’s much more of an appeaser than a leader. She doesn’t have the balls to stand up and just say no to ideas she thinks are rubbish, but neither can she paticipate in them because she does have a strong sense of self. What she also doesn’t see is that things are rarely either/or. Other kids can be flexible, and just because another kid is upset it doesn’t mean that they suddenly hate her. She sees what they are saying now and what they are doing now as being representative that all that shall continue to be. I just hope I can help her learn to relax and have faith in her ability to win and keep friends. Any advice is most welcome because as I recall, I seem to have been completely and neurotically rubbish at the friends thing as a kid!

Will, meet Grace

December 3, 2007

Nyssa has been dreamily gushing for the last couple weeks about a certain boy from drama group named Taylor. Certain traits have stood out in my mind, tell me if primetime tv has made me quick to jump to conclusions. First of all, Nyssa says he dresses well. The boy, it should be noted, is perhaps 9? Second, she goes on about how exquisite his manners are. Now, I understand that these things don’t necessarily imply anything. Indeed, my own boy has similarly charming (and underappreciated!) mannerisms and has as yet only had wee crushes on females (without encouragement–I mean, isn’t a doting gay son every modern mom’s dream?). But then Nyssa describes his interests. Among them, young Taylor loves to dance and apparently Swan Lake is the light of his existence. Mmm hmm. I had to smile a bit at that point, but of course I wouldn’t spoil Nyssa’s little crush. It’s actually sort of an interesting break from her long-standing assertion that she’ll only consider marrying a girl, which I suspect is more a personal denouncement of how yucky little boys her age are rather than a romantic preference for females. Kids are funny–liberal kids even more so it seems!

We got perhaps the strangest thing yet in the mail today–usb ebay Christmas lights. A gift to reward our over-indulgence in the site? One of my first thoughts was, ‘wonder how many cheap bastards will pop these immediately onto ebay..’ Well, check it out! Hehehehe. At least a couple are good enough to give the proceeds to charity. Regardless though, it does speak volumes about a particular segment of the online population. I’ll mentally gloss over what it says about us in particular.

Oh teh noes

November 21, 2007

Lolanimal + environmental statement = teh win

Leave me alone, I need extra squee. James has started his new job, and I have the usual paranoia that he won’t be happy, that it will uproot our lives, that when he’s out even further in the big, interesting world he’ll forget his stumpy little wife at home… OK I know it’s pathetic. Shove off.

I performed a small experiment on Joseph last night. He’s always wanting to stay up late, so I finally let him. We stayed up until 5 in the morning. He’s pretty useless at the moment, hehe. I’m hoping that will make an impression, instead of, you know, making him that much more likely to be a night owl. I’m not sure he stands a chance though. He and I are too much like my dad. Jos and I were talking slightly resentfully last night about Nyssa, and how she has such a brilliant body clock that will interrupt whatever she’s doing and she’ll happily trot off to bed and just as happily roll out of it again in the morning. Aunt M doesn’t need to have kids, the world already has a mini-her. 😉

Is it possible for an animal to be an asshole? I think our ‘kitten’ qualifies. I fed the cats last night, and he desperately thunders into the kitchen as usual. Instead of eating at his bowl, he does his flop and tummy roll maneuver in front of Mitu’s bowl, boofing it with his head so Mitu can’t eat. Mitu finally shoots him a dirty look and switches bowls. Mittens, lazy arsehole, doesn’t even get off his tummy and sort of worms his head over the edge of the bowl to start eating. Evidentally it’s not good enough, because he gets up, walks over to Mitu and bodychecks him out of the way so he can eat from that bowl. What a pill. I guess there is some improvement to his behavior this year though. So far he’s only eaten 2 rolls of wrapping paper. There’s also a paper chain we’re working on that should be within tantalizing reach and he’s not so much as touched it. He makes me nervous.

Avoiding chores..

October 12, 2006

I really should be housecleaning at the moment. I don’t want my house to be a total sty when my mom shows up. Then again, it’s not like I’d be fooling her if I had an immaculate house.

Nyssa came out of her room this morning and said she wanted to stay home. She’s so in tune with her body barometer that I’m inclined to be guided by her, particularly since she really wanted to go to Edinburgh for the activity as of last night. Those who read my last entry will know that I wasn’t terribly heart-broken to have a day at home. James was sick again, I was not well but was obliged to go about my various tasks anyway, eck. Joseph was fine but spent all day in his jammies, pill. Even when Nyssa is unwell, she goes to the trouble of dressing. She certainly didn’t get that from me. I’m 28 and still have to make a conscious effort to not just fall in bed with my day clothes on.

On a whim I checked my landline messages today, and discovered that Nyssa too has been offered a place in gymnastics. This is good, I suppose, though each session requires a good 3 miles of walking. My lazy backside should appreciate the obligation.

I wish my dishwasher was working.. Anyway, back to it.

This and that..

October 8, 2006

I just got done buying a girl guide shirt off ebay. Why, you might ask, as my daughter is not in guides? Well, on freecycle, I told a lady I had a shirt I would be happy to send her. However, upon inspecting it, I noticed some dark spots, presumably mildew. I tried to bleach them out with a tiny paintbrush, but as you might imagine, I only made matters worse. I felt bad, so I found one on ebay and so the lady won’t feel awkward about my having bought her a shirt, I’m going to have it sent to me and then send it on to her. Yes, I’m a sap.

Joseph is developing nicely into a sadistic brother. Nyssa comes in almost crying apologetically that she sucked her candy too hard and it went down her throat. After chiding her (choking is my key paranoia, you see), I explained that if it had gone down her lungs, she’d know it because she’d be coughing. She ran into her room and told Joseph how lucky she was because her candy went into her tummy and not her lungs, etc. Then she cleared her throat as she’s apt to do. Joseph says simply, but pointedly, ‘you’re coughing.’

The kids are debating about what sort of cake they want for their joint party this month. Joseph wants Bionicle and Nyssa wants Hello Kitty. Fair enough, but just for kicks, I told them to chat to see what they could come up with. They suggested a being with half a Bionicle face and half a Hello Kitty face. *sigh* I wish I had a costco membership, I’d get a big white sheet cake and let them have at it themselves with tubes of icing and sprinkles. For some reason, every cake here has the stupid inedible fondant crap on it. At one point, I told the kids, ‘hey, I could get you that cake from Tesco that’s in the shape of huge breasts!’ They thought that was an appalling idea. Hehe.

We’re doing an overhaul of their room because we never really organized it after we switched rooms around. My method is to totally clear out anything that doesn’t belong and put all of that stuff in a pile. A huge pile. They’ll chip away at that for several days, I think. If they do a good job, I might even bring some of their spare toys down from the attic. My biggest annoyance in this endeavor is Nyssa’s insistence on asking me a dozen times to reaffirm what exactly I’ve asked her to do. As though I could quantify mess and the time is takes to be rid of it. Not all teachable moments are pleasant ;).

I finished ripping yarn from those two charity shop sweaters and knitted up the back of this jacket. I altered the pattern to make it waist length, due to the amount of yarn I have. I’m not actually convinced I’ll have enough for sleeves, so I’m thinking perhaps a sleeveless jacket, or I can buy the remaining yarn in something complementary and do the ties and sleeves in that..i really should have posted this to my knitting blog, but eh, I’m lazy.

I’ve been thinking about what kids should be exposed to a which ages. I wonder how much of how parents choose is based not so much on a child’s readiness, but on the parent just not having the energy to explain it. South Park is a good example. I’d never let my kids watch that at this age. It’s not because I think it’s objectionable, it’s that I’d have to sit and explain things so much that watching it for the purpose of being entertained would be pointless. That, and I think they need a few more years of work on their ability to translate satire. Same thing when we go to the drugstore and I buy something from *that* aisle, and they query me on it. I tell them I’d be happy to tell them, but would they please ask when we get home, feeling sort of guilty because I know they’ll just forget about it. Then again, if it was vital knowlege for the little creatures, surely they’d remember. God, it was all so much easier when they couldn’t talk.