Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

March 7th, 2013

Acceptance

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What’s so ironic about this blog is that I’m writing it so my girls have something of “me” when they get older, but, at the same time, I never have any time to write in it because I’m so busy with them.

Right now, they are at swim lessons with Cody (my husband), so it looks like I have a few hours of free time on my hands. Yay for me! There is a part of me that wishes I was at swim lessons too, I hate missing out on stuff, but pools kind of gross me out—especially indoor pools. They smell funky and they’re full of chemicals and seriously…why don’t you just pee ON me? I know everyone in the pool is peeing in it. They do. You probably do.

So, because of that, Cody goes to swim lessons.

Anyway, I was at lunch the other day with my girlfriend, Caren, and we somehow started discussing a topic that I want to make sure I touch on for my girls. We were discussing how hard it is to just accept people for who they are even though we know it’s the right thing to do and, in the end, it’s so much easier.

Why do we continually expect others to live up to who and what we want them to be? Who are we to expect anything of anyone?

Yes, I expect a lot out of my husband, but he‘s my husband. We’re married. How are we supposed to stay married (happily) if we don’t deal with our stuff? We have stuff. All couples have stuff. The trick is to stay on top of the stuff so it doesn’t pile up. When I notice new stuff—bad stuff—I bring it up and out. I don’t let that stuff go. I want us to stay married and if I can‘t bring our stuff to the surface so we can address it, that is just not going to be good for us. I’m sure it’s exhausting for Cody that I always have to address our stuff, but too bad, Cody. Too bad, so sad!

And my kids. Yes, I’m hard on my kids. That‘s not news…I’ve said it before. I’m probably the one people talk about because I’m so hard on my kids. I don’t give a crap. They’re good kids. Yes, of course they suck sometimes but, on balance, they are really good kids.

But other than my husband and my kids, who am I to expect anything from anyone?

People are who they are and they do what they can do.

For the most part, I’m good with that. I don’t care. I really don’t. I’m busy. I‘ve got things to do. If you let me down, I move on. But sometimes, just sometimes, I get disappointed in someone.

Thankfully it doesn’t happen a lot because let me tell you, that is a hard way to live.

Walking around all dark and disappointed…

Who needs that?

Not me.

My dad used to say “It is better to be happy than to be sad.” It always annoyed me when he said that because HELLO? Is there anything more obvious?

…But I am now at a place where I think I know what he is talking about.

It is better to be happy than to be sad.

Friends, family, co-workers…someone is going to let you down. It’s going to happen. But so what? We don’t need to get all twisted up about it. Plus, most of the time— it’s nothing personal. I bet that most of the time the person who isn’t living up to our expectations doesn’t even know it. They’re just living to their capacity level and we’re the idiots for expecting more from them. We should know better!

The people in our lives, they aren’t malicious by nature (or we wouldn’t have them in our lives). Some just aren‘t built to live up to all of our expectations. And that’s OK…or at least it should be.

So, why is it that sometimes it’s so hard to move on from disappointment?

It just is.

But we should, because harboring a grudge or disappointment is just so toxic and there’s really no percentage in it.

If we learn to accept people for who they are, we won’t be disappointed. If we love them for the good stuff they bring to the table—and we know their limits—we can‘t get hurt.

And that’s pretty much it.

And also, they’re home from swimming.

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November 11th, 2012

The Parental Approach

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This past Saturday we went out with a bunch of friends for Mexican food. I ordered a combo platter that included an enchilada, a burrito, a tamale AND a few tacos. (That has absolutely nothing to do with this post but our waitress was impressed so I thought you might be too.) My girlfriend ”Tess” and I were comparing notes on our day and gauging our respective exhaustion levels.

I don’t really remember her day because I was way more interested in my combo platter, but I do remember mine, and it was exhausting:

It was a Saturday and it was just me and my little girls (3 and 5 years old). What to do? What to do? We usually go out for lunch on Saturdays, but I had so much food in the house, I decided to eat at home.

Mistake.

My girls were cuckoo. I mean totally bananas. I have no idea why they were so amped up, but they were. I don’t think they would have been so crazy at a restaurant. It was like they made a list of “All The Things That Annoy Mommy” and then during lunch, they went through them one-by-one:

Let’s play with our food. Yeah! Good idea!

Let’s wait until mommy sits down with her lunch and then tell her that we need ranch dressing and peanut butter and cantaloupe and a bunch of other stuff—and then we won’t eat any of it! Yeah! Brilliant!!

Let’s yell from the bathroom, “I’m pooping! It’s a bad one! Come wipe me!” so mommy has to get up AGAIN…and then when she comes in say: ”Hi, mommy! No poopie. Just pee pee! Pee pee, pee pee, PEE PEE!!!!!!!!”

After Sweet Pea (the 5 year old) got up from the table for the third time instead of sitting down and eating her lunch, I had had it. I was tired. They were so crazy from the moment we sat down that I needed a “stopper.” A FOR-REAL ”stopper.”

And that is when it hit me:

As parents, we have two ways that we can go about dealing with behavior that doesn’t please us. We can roll our eyes and passively say something to our kids as they run by like “Stop It!” —or we can stop them.

If we do the passive “Stop It!” thing, chances are our kids will tune us out and just keep doing what they’re doing (I would), so we won’t get results. Well…we will get results, but they probably won’t be good ones.

If, on the other hand, we stay ON our kids—in their faces and up their asses—we will likely end up with better results, but we will be exhausted.

It is a lot of work to be a good parent. I’m not saying that I’m so great, but I really do try. I am all over my kids. I mean I am ON THEM and I am hard on them, almost all the time—about almost everything.

Just today, I took the girls for manicures (they only get “polish changes” but don’t tell them that) and the guy sitting next to me totally called me out:

Lovey (3 years old) was yucky and whiney and Sweet Pea (5 years old) was antagonizing her by being alive. I know they were excited about getting their nails done, I know it’s hard to be patient—but we were not at home and I needed them to not act the way they were acting, so I laid down the law.

I explained in no uncertain terms that we would be leaving if they didn’t get it together. I also reminded them that if I said it, I meant it…and then I tossed in some other hard ass mommy stuff and that was that.

The guy next to me was all: “I have kids their age and…wow, you don’t let them get away with anything.”

To which I replied: “I know. I’m hard on them. My friends tell me that all the time. But I never listen to my friends and my kids are really good, so you can judge me all you want, I don’t care…” and By the way, you’re  getting a manicure—and you have a PENIS— so how about you lock it up there, Shiny Buff?

I got lucky at the manicure place because after our “little talk,” my girls were back on their game. Of course I don’t always get those results, but the more I get to know them, the better I get at choosing my approach.

I have learned over the years that there are several different Parental Approaches that can be used to discipline a kid. The trick is to pick the most effective one for any given situation.

For example:

I can’t stand when Lovey (3 years old) starts her sentences with ”I want…”

“I want chocolate in my milk…”…”I want to wear a dress…”…”I want an oompa loompa!”

UGH…No one cares what you want, Lovey. Come back when you can vote.

Admittedly, Lovey starting her sentences with “I want” is not a huge problem as far as juvenile problems go—but it does bug me, and I am the mommy, and a doctor did have to rip up my stomach to pull her out, so if I want to do something about Lovey starting a sentence with “I want,” I believe I can.

Unfortunately, the “Hard Ass/All Business Approach” only works with Lovey if Sweet Pea is included. If I just use it on Lovey, she will fold up and break down. She’s very sensitive. In order to avoid crying, I have to dig deep into my bag of tricks for her.

Sometimes I  go with the Negative Reinforcement Parental Approach.

Lovey, you are delicious, but it makes me insane when you start a sentence with “I want…”  In fact, it bugs me so much that the next time you do it…and I hate to do this…but the next time you do it, you won’t get dessert tonight…and believe me, sister, we’re having good dessert.

Lovey does not like that punishment.

No dessert??? That’s enough to make anyone think twice before exhibiting annoying behavior because without dessert, what’s the point of dinner?

Threats, as a Parental Approach, can also be very effective—but they are tricky. Proceed with caution when it comes to threats because it’s easy to get screwed.

Here are some of the finer points of a good threat:

1.  Threaten with something that hurts them, but also benefits you. The biggest punishment in our house is “Losing the privilege to pick out your own clothes.” It kills my girls when they don’t get to pick out their own clothers and it kills me that there is a bunch of stuff in their closet that never gets worn. When I am looking for a good threat, pulling their privileges to pick out their own clothes is my go-to. They hate when I choose their outfits and I LOVE IT. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

2. When you’re about to throw down a threat, it’s instinct to take away something that they love—just make sure that you don’t love it too. One year, on Halloween, when Sweet Pea was three years old, she told us that she couldn’t get to the bathroom in enough time to pee, but she could. Trust me. The bathroom was really close. Cody said to her,”I swear, if you pee on this floor, you’re not going trick-or-treating.”

And then everything went into slow motion.

NOOOOOOOOOOO…Cody…you…didn’t…just…threaten…to…pull…Halloween…!

But he did, and she peed.

It was Halloween, the best day EVER, but we couldn’t go back. We had to follow through. The threat had been made and now it was just hanging there, taunting us.

It sucked. But it was a learning experience, for all of us. We learned a lot about parenting and Sweet Pea learned a lot about us. When we say something, we mean it. Even if that means no fun size Baby Ruths for them…or me.

3. While threatening, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Pull something that they like, but not something that you need. Like TV. Everyone takes away TV. It’s a no-brainer. Who doesn’t love TV?  TV rules. (I wish I was watching TV right now.) But I’d have to be an idiot to take it away from my kids because sometimes I need it for them. I don’t need it a lot—I don’t even need it every day—but I do need it sometimes so I can get something done or just get a little peace and quiet so, over time, I have taught myself not to land on TV as a threat or punishment.

Which leads me to my last, and favorite, pointer about launching a good threat:

4. Make stuff up. I do this a lot. It works with everything from ice cream to events. Here’s an example:

During the summer, my family lives in Northern Michigan at an overnight camp for kids.  At night, after dinner, there is always an Evening Program. My girls love Evening Program. And what’s not to love? It’s a bunch of campers and counselors on stage dancing or singing or doing something entertaining. My kids are young so they don’t get to go to Evening Program every night (they need to go to sleep) but on some nights–special nights–they get to go. Since they don’t always know when we are going to let them go, Evening Program was the perfect “Fake Threat.” OK, you know what? I have had it. I have asked you guys THREE times to do what I say but you’re not, so guess what? No Evening Program for you. Is there anything else you want me to pull? You know I’ll do it.

And they would go nuts.

Of course, after I pulled Evening Program, they would be perfect little angels, begging and pleading to go, but I would stay strong with ease because Hello? They were never going in the first place.

Good one, right?

I know.

Parent Voice, as I’m sure you know, is a tried and true Parental Approach. It can be very effective, but there is a time and a place for it. You can only use Parent Voice when you’re sure you will be heard because it’s a very low, very even, very deliberate vocal tone coupled with warning verbage that usually goes something like this:

If…you…continue…to…do…whatever…you…are…doing…that…is…bugging…the…crap…out…of…me…I…promise…there…will…be…consequences…and…I…promise…they…won’t…be…good…for…you.

Parent Voice is a very popular technique for a very good reason: It usually works.

But sometimes it doesn’t, and then I have to yell.

Yelling, to me, is a big deal. I try not to yell a lot. I don’t like yelling, especially in my house. If you want someone, GO GET THEM. Don’t yell across the house. Yelling makes me anxious and it’s loud so then I can’t hear Eminem.

I really only pull out The Yelling when A) My girls have pushed me to a point where I’m about to lose my freakin’ mind and B) I think I have a shot of it working.

I feel like kids who get yelled at a lot eventually become immune to it, and then it loses all of its power. BUT if you don’t yell a lot, and every once in a while you bust some out, it will scare the crap out of your kids and they will know you’re not messing around.

Finally, sometimes I fall on the Flat-Out Defeated approach:

This is where I go when my only other alternative is a valium. I don’t like to over-utilize the Flat-Out Defeated approach because I don’t want my kids to perceive me as weak or vulnerable. Sometimes though, I am. But because I don’t use the approach a lot, it has never failed me.

If you want to try it, this is what you do:

Put your hand to your forehead, sigh audibly and shut your eyes. Shake your head from side to side (very slowly) like you are going to start crying (and maybe you do a little bit—because honestly, you just can’t take anymore)—and then you say to your kids: “You guys,  I can’t…I just can’t take it anymore. I am begging you to be good. You are killing me and I think my head is going to spin off of my body. So, please…FOR THE LOVE OF THE LORD, will you please just…STOP?”

And then my kids will be all: “Look at mommy, she’s a wreck. We broke mommy!! We beat mommy!! But wait. Did we? DID we beat mommy or is she reverse psychology-ing us by acting all worn out and defeated?… Curses! I think she IS faking it— so really, SHE won. Damn that mommy! SHE’S SO SMART!!!”

And then I walk away smiling because, at least for that moment, they are right.

 

Parental Approach 2

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October 16th, 2012

The Kindergarten Learning Curve

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This past September, both of my girls started at new schools. “Sweet Pea” started kindergarten and ”Lovey” started pre-school. These are big steps in their little lives. Who would have thought that out of the three of us, I would be the one having the hardest time?

I’m actually OK with Lovey going to pre-school. You would think that I would have trouble with her being gone every day because she is my baby and she is delicious—but oddly enough, I’m fine. It could be because it’s the same school that Sweet Pea went to and I’m totally dialed-in to their program or it could be because it’s a Jewish pre-school and with all the Jewish holidays in September and October, I don’t think my kid has been there for a full week since school started. [Side Note]: I can’t believe how many Jewish holidays there are. I have never even heard of some of them. I seriously think some of them are made up. How can there be so many holidays, and yet we only get presents for one of them?...Either way, I’m truly OK with Lovey’s pre-school…

It’s kindergarten that is kicking my ass.

Sweet Pea takes the bus for the first time in her life and she is at a new school with new teachers, new times and new rules…LOTS of rules.

What do you mean I can’t come by every Monday and pull her out of class a little early so she can get to her hip hop class?

She’s in kindergarten now, you can’t do that.

Exactly. It’s kindergarten! And she’s Asian! Look…we all know that she’s probably the smartest one in the class—not because of anything we have done that’s so great, but because she was BORN ASIAN. The other kids can’t compete with that. It’s not their fault. It’s just the way it is. Plus, it’s KIN-DER-GAR-TEN. What are they really doing in there? Is it THAT big of a deal if I pick her up early on Mondays?

Apparently, it is.

On top of that, here are some of the other things that are new to our lives since Sweet Pea started kindergarten:

1. Bus Pick Up: The bus comes every morning at exactly 8:32. ”Mr. Al” is the bus driver. We have never been late for the bus. I am awesome at being on time for the bus. We leave every morning at 8:27 and we walk with Floyd Coden to the bus stop. It only took Sweet Pea 3 days to find a boyfriend with whom she sits every day, and it only took me 12 school days before I stopped tearing up as I watched her little wave grow smaller and smaller as the bus drove away.

2. Bus Drop Off: The bus drops Sweet Pea off every day at 4.30. I have been pretty good about pick-up. I was a minute late the other day and “Mr. Al” had a dirty look all saved up for me. I often wonder what would happen if one day the bus came and no one was there to pick up Sweet Pea. I guess she’d be screwed.

3. Send an empty/reusable water bottle every day. I’m assuming it should also be clean so that makes this one kind of a pain, but I still do it.

4. Send a nutritious snack every day. Also kind of a pain because by the time I’m done packing lunch, I’m sort of out of ideas for snacks.

5. Mondays are Sweet Pea’s day for “Show and Tell.” I have only forgotten “Show and Tell” once. It was the time of the “Quacking Duck.” I sent it back the next day thinking the teacher would squeeze in Sweet Pea to show it, but she didn’t. She sent it home telling Sweet Pea that Monday was her day. I got schooled on that one.  But that is the only time I forgot. I’ll take the hit. The second time though—Not my fault.

Here’s what happened:

Sweet Pea was supposed to bring two items to school. The first item was a ”Show and Tell” item. Sweet Pea had a very cute collage all made up showing a bunch of toys she wanted from Toys “R” Us that I was never going to buy her. Perfect item to “Show” everything you want and “Tell” how you’re never going to get it.

The second item was supposed to be a universally known logo for an environmental piece they were doing in class. Easy breezy. Sweet Pea took a Henri Bendel shopping bag to use for her logo of choice.

I emailed Ms. S that day to check on how “Show and Tell” went.  Ms. S told me that Sweet Pea didn’t do “Show and Tell.” She then went on to tell me that she didn’t have a “Show and Tell” item and, what’s more, she didn’t have her environmental logo.

Uh, I’m sorry. YES, SHE DID.

Ms. S and I emailed back and forth several times about both the missing “Show and Tell” item and the universally known logo item. Sweet Pea had one story for me and Ms. S had a conflicting story. During this Kindergarten Conundrum of 2012, I came to the following conclusions:

A) It’s never a good idea to tell your kid’s teacher that you’re not high maintenance because something will inevitably happen that will make you high maintenance.

B) The logo for Henri Bendel is not universally known. But it should be.

C) I probably shouldn’t have gone back and forth with Ms. S as much as did. I couldn’t help it though. I was concerned about Sweet Pea lying to me, I was curious about the location of her “Toys R Us” project and—at the same time—I didn’t like Ms. S thinking that I sent my kid to school unprepared. I didn’t want her to think that I was a slacker mom (at least not this early in the school year).

My friend “Ashby” told me that if the teacher really thought Sweet Pea not doing “Show and Tell” was truly a problem, she would have gotten in touch with me. Oh, Ashby! So reasonable. I have backed off Ms. S as much as possible since this incident and I’m trying my best not to get in the way of her doing her job.

I wonder if she misses me?

6. Library Day. Every week the students get to go to the school media center for Library Day. They get to pick out one book and then we’re supposed to send it back on the next Library Day. I am proud to say that I have never ever screwed this one up. I have, however, had some issues with Number 7.

7. Find the library book somewhere in your house before Library Day.

8. “Bagel Day.” Fridays are bagel day and if you want, you can send your kid to school with .75 so he or she can buy a bagel. This is pretty self explanatory, but of course, I have questions: If I send Sweet Pea with money to get a bagel, does that count as her nutritious snack? Is it a GOOD bagel like Detroit or New York Bagel or is it some crappy imposter bagel like Einstein or Brueggers? I think these are legitimate questions as I’d like to know where my .75 is going.

9. Read or do something literary with your kid for 15-20 minutes every day. (This is on top of all the other homework she gets). This month, if we read with our kid every night, we get to color in the pumpkins on the “Nightly Reading Record Sheet.” Then, at the end of the month, we are to send that sheet back to school. I’m assuming that this is how Ms. S will conclude the following: If most of the pumpkins ARE colored in, and you truly DID read with your kid every night, you are a good parent. If most of the pumpkins ARE NOT colored in, you suck. If most of the pumpkins ARE colored in, but in reality you DIDN’T really read that much with your kid—you just colored in a bunch of extra pumpkins—so you suck AND you’re a liar.

10. If you’re going to pick up your kid from school instead of having her ride the bus, you have to call or email the office and the teacher. That makes total sense. The thing is…there was this one day when I was totally planning on picking Sweet Pea up but it was a day or so before Yom Kippor (big holiday for us Jews) and I was hostessing “Break The Fast” at my house. (Jews do “Break The Fast” after fasting all day. Fasting is how we repent for our sins, but I don’t fast because I think I’m a pretty good person)…Anyway, I got crazy busy setting up for all of our company and I thought to myself: What the hell, Sweet Pea can take the bus.

The thing is, I sort of forgot to inform the school that I was no longer picking Sweet Pea up and that she should instead take the bus… so there she was, sitting all alone in the office, waiting for me.

How many years of therapy am I looking at?

11. School ends at 3:50. On days that you pick up your kid instead of having her ride the bus, there are 3 kindergarten lines by the south set of doors at the school. The first time I went to pick Sweet Pea up, it didn’t go well.

Little Lovey and I got there at 3:45. On our way to the doors, one of the other kindergarten moms, who already had her kid with her, stopped to chat for a minute. (Looking back, I now know that if she had her kid, mine was probably ready too.) I thought I had a few minutes to spare, but when Lovey and I got the doors, they were locked and there were no kindergarteners or teachers in sight. I was a little annoyed because I wasn’t late, but whatever. Lovey and I walked to the main set of doors hoping to find her there. Nope. We then walked into the school, and some lady who worked there, let’s call her ”School Lady,” told me to go to back to the Kindergarten doors to find Sweet Pea, so that’s where we went.

No Sweet Pea.

I was now starting to panic a little bit. I have no idea why. Of course, she was safe but for some reason, everything started spinning and I was starting to feel like the mom in EVERY Lifetime Movie. Where Is My Daughter!?!? Lovey and I then made our way back to the office and ran into School Lady again. School Lady said: “She wasn’t there?” Yes, School Lady, she was there. I just decided to leave her so I could check out your school. Nice digs. Bravo.

The lady in the office, “Office Lady”  who knew me as the “mom-who-was-late-a-few-days- ago” told me to go back to the original doors but by this point I was all: “NO. Where is my daughter? I am done with your doors.” As Lovey and I walked out of the office, Office Lady got on the phone with Ms. S and the next thing I knew, Sweet Pea was walking over to me with her teacher.

I guess Ms. S took her back to the classroom because she thought I would look for her there…and I don’t know, she was saying some something but I wasn’t really listening because guess what I was doing? I WAS CRYING. Crying. Total breakdown right in the middle of the hall of my daughter’s school. Blubbering like an idiot. So now I’m not only high maintenance and unorganized, I’m also flat-out crazy. Ms. S felt so bad and School Lady was all “We would NEVER let anything happen to a child…” and there I was, sniffling and wiping my tears while both of my kids are looking at each other like “What the hell is going on with mommy?”

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I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time adjusting to Sweet Pea’s new school. Maybe I just miss her old school, a school where everyone knows us and we know everyone. A school that doesn’t require me to skim a checklist every morning before we leave. A school that is lined with a warm embrace and maternal hugs. I don’t know. All I know is that things change and kids grow. This is life and I need to step up or get run over. I’m getting better and better though, and every day I screw up a little less.

Now, if only I could find out where that missing “Show and Tell” item is.

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May 21st, 2012

Not for reading while you’re eating…

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The girl who cuts my hair, “AngG,”  has twin daughters that are a year older than Lovey. (Lovey is almost three.) I was in a few days ago for a little cut and color and AngG told me some crazy story about her friend “Lucy.” Lucy had a boyfriend that sexually violated Lucy’s little girl.

My heart sank. I was sick.

But it got me wondering:

When is the right time to discuss with my girls who is and who is not welcome in their gynie area? (That is what we call it in our house. We call it a “gynie.“ Like it, hate it, I don’t care. That is what we call it). AngG told me that she started talking to her girls about it awhile ago.

Awhile ago? Your kids are three! Like how long ago? Am I late? Man, I can not catch a break when it comes to the gynie stuff. Just when I think I am caught up, I fall behind again.

So, that night, I got on it.

I had a nice little gynie talk with Sweet Pea. She just turned five it and she totally got it: Don’t let anyone touch your gynie. Don’t be waving it around either, Sweet Pea. No one is interested. Keep it to yourself. It’s your private area…yes, if mommy or daddy are with you and a doctor needs to get in there, you can let her in…no, we’re not going to the doctor…no, you don’t need a shot …oh no…don’t freak out…I swear you don’t need a shot…that is not where this conversation was supposed to go.

I then broached the subject with Lovey (the one who will be three in a month and a half).

Me: Lovey, I need to tell you who is allowed to touch your gynie.

Lovey: My gynie! Ok, I love my gynie!

Me: Great. Listen to mommy, honey. Only mommy and daddy are allowed to touch your gynie, OK? Nobody else. We have to clean it so it doesn‘t get gross. Gross me out the door.

Lovey: Gross me out the door. Gross me out the door!!

Me: Right. Do you understand though? Oh, wait…nana, grammy and puppa are also allowed to touch your gynie. But no one else. Are you with me?

Lovey: Yes, mommy.

Me: Who is allowed to touch your gynie?

Lovey: You and daddy and nana and grammy and puppa. And that’s it.

Me: Right. That’s it. You’re delicious.

Lovey: Don’t eat me, mommy.

Me: OK.

And that was that. Mission accomplished. I was pretty proud of myself.

The next morning, while I was getting Lovey dressed, we went over everything again. She answered all of my prompts and I felt very good about her level of understanding with regard to who is and who is not allowed to touch her gynie. I didn’t go into explaining why no one was allowed in thereit doesn’t seem necessary right now because, developmentally, I don’t think she is quite ready for an explanation. At this point, it’s enough for me that she gets the basics, we’ll get to the “why” part later.

Fast forward to the next day…

It’s time for the girls to get their hair cut. (I don’t take them to my salon. I took them there for their first cuts because we needed to be fancy, but I’m over that. They have easy hair and they don’t have any money so the 10.00 places are where they live.)

So, we’re in their salon and all of the people working and getting their hair cut are going crazy over the girls. They were just doing their thing, being cute, when all of the sudden, out of nowhere, little Lovey throws her fist in the air and declares with all the righteous indignation that she could muster: “NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO TOUCH MY GYNIE! ONLY MOMMY AND DADDY AND NANA AND GRAMMY AND PUPPA!”

Uh…OK.

I didn’t really know what to do. Who does that? So, I got down on her level, put my hands on her little shoulders and quietly said: “Lovey…honey…I’m pretty confident that no one here is lining up to touch your gynie.”

But she was unfazed and on a mission:

“NO ONE! I WILL SAY NO. I SAY NO!”

…And I hope she does.

Until she gets married.

Ok, fine she doesn’t have to be married, but she better use some discretion because otherwise…gross.

Gross me out the door.

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April 3rd, 2012

Just Wait…

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It seems that whenever I voice a concern about my kids, there is almost always someone who feels the need to weigh in with the following response:

“Oh, just wait. That is NOTHING… Just wait until she hits (fill in whatever age their kid is), because that’s way worse!”

I hate that.

Here’s an example:

Right now, I‘m so over little Lovey pooping in her diaper. She is going to be 3 years old soon and she still doesn’t tell me when she needs to go. I would think she’d want to tell me but no, she is quite content walking around with a rump full of dump. Not only that, but when I approach her about the VERY obvious poop in her pants, she simply replies: ‘It’s OK, mommy!’ …Really? It’s OK? Please tell me how it’s OK that you are walking around with a giant POOP IN YOUR PANTS?”

As a parent to a little one, I feel like the complaint above is valid, and relevant. I’m looking for someone or something to help me. I’m not looking for this:

“Just wait…Oh, just wait…I have a 17 year old who brought a hooker to my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah and he does bong hits at the dinner table.”

I’m sorry, but did I ask to hear about your 17 year old train wreck of a kid? No, I did not. I’m not interested in your horror and “whore” stories. Not only was your response totally irrelevant, but it was also completely unsupportive.  Hit the bricks, Debbie Downer. Go clean your kid’s bong.

I have noticed that it’s a natural and knee-jerk reaction for the ”Been There, Done That” parents to use the  “Just Wait” scare tactic. It’s like they’ve earned it or something. (And in many ways, they have). But it’s not really helpful. I can see how, if you’re on the receiving end of my “poopie rant,” you might want to call another “Been There, Done That” parent as you’re walking away—and I can see how you guys might share a good laugh at my expense: “OMG, Robyn thinks a diaper that smells like four day old Indian food is bad—I can’t wait until Lovey gets older and she and a friend pull into the garage in Robyn’s car, AND LOVEY IS THE ONE DRIVING… AND SHE’S FOURTEEN!” (And then they laugh, laugh, laugh it up).

I totally understand that the “Just Wait” responses are all about perspective, but please understand–everything is relative. If you’re talking to someone who hasn’t been  a parent as long as you have, someone who has a valid complaint about what is currently going on with their kid, I can tell you with a great deal of confidence that perspective is not what they’re looking for.

Most parents (especially new ones) are beat up and worn out. For the most part, all we want is someone to listen when we have a concern, and if you’re offering an effective solution, we’ll gladly take it. (Come on, don’t hog the parental knowledge because you want us to suffer like you did.) We want help. We want support. What we don’t want is: “You think it’s bad now, JUST WAIT.”

Still, there are times when our friends are also good for a swift kick in the butt.

Sometimes, as parents, we get caught up in Standard Operating Procedure and we forget that it’s our job to push our kids. Early on, I was great about pushing my kids. (Really, I was quite awesome). Somewhere along the line though, I got too comfortable. In other words: If it’s not negatively impacting MY life in some way—it can wait. As a result, I have one kid who will be 5 years old next month and she’ll probably be wearing nighttime pull-ups on her honeymoon, and my other one will likely go on her first date with a crap in her pants.

In addition to that, there are other things, things I didn’t even consider, things that I didn’t even know I was ignoring:

For example: Little Lovey and I were at my friend “Caren’s” house the other day. I love Caren. When Lovey and I were leaving, Caren saw me lift Lovey and place her into her car seat. She cringed: “You are going to mess up your back so bad lifting her in and out like that!” Uh…GOING TO?? My back is already such a mess. If pain pills didn’t have the same effect on my body as matzoh does, I’d be on them all the time. (If you’re a “Jew Jew” you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, Happy Easter).

Caren was right though. Why wasn’t I pushing Lovey to get in and out of the car seat by herself?

Because I had a bad case of “The Lazies.”

I was stuck in Standard Operating Procedure and pushing my kid to get in and out of that seat by herself didn’t even occur to me. I just assumed she couldn’t do it because she wasn’t doing it.

This scenario could have very easily turned into a “Just Wait” scenario if I was standing there complaining, but Caren helped me with my problem right then and there—before I even knew it was a problem—before I complained about in front of someone else who would have, in all probability, hit me with a “Just Wait…” response. No thanks.

Good lookin’ out, Caren.

I dodged a bullet and here’s the best part: Lovey is now getting in and out of her car seat all by herself. (She gets one M&M every time she does it and she is very happy about that. Yes, I could give more than one M&M, but we like to keep the bar real low in our family).

******************

Raising kids is like any other part of life. Most everything happens in phases and we have to ride each one out. We suit up and bear down through the rough phases while we wish, in vain, that the fun phases would last forever.

As parents, when we complain about parenting issues—we’re really just asking for help. Complaining is our way of putting it out there. Of course, that is not always the case; sometimes we just need to vent and we’re not looking for anything but an ear. For the most part though, when we put it out there—we’re looking for a little support, a little help and sometimes a little push.

But if you choose to respond to our pleas with “Just Wait…” well, that’s totally fine. But I think YOU should “Just Wait”…and I think you should do it over there.

 

 

 

 

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March 12th, 2012

Choose Wisely

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My dad used to be a divorce lawyer and this was his motto:

“Love is grand, divorce is one hundred grand. Choose wisely.”

Choosing a mate is not the same as choosing a friend. You’re allowed to have more than one friend and if you read my last entry “The Friend Philosophy,” you know I don’t believe in expecting one friend to fulfull all needs. A spouse or partner shouldn’t be responsible for fulfilling all needs either, but they need to fill a crap-load of them because last time I checked, we’re only allowed to have one.

I figure, if your partner is supposed to be your best, best, best friend…the bar should be really high. And, I also figure, if the bar is high and you don’t settle, your chances of landing the ”right” person are good, so your chances of staying together are too.

But how do we know who that “right” person is?

We know by dating a whole bunch of the wrong ones.

Dating different people is like eating from a buffet. Grab one plate for each hand and try everything. If you’re not into something, move on. At least you gave it a shot and now you know a little more about what you like and what you don’t like.

Plus, dating different people helps us learn what our deal breakers are. And we ALL have deal breakers. Deal breakers pop up in almost every relationship, but if we stay strong and stand up for our convictions, they are very helpful in weeding out the wrong people.

Some deal breakers are big: “I need to break up with you because it has come to my attention that you’re sleeping with a whole bunch of other girls. I would probably be OK with that if I didn’t have a brain, but I do, so I’m not. By the way, I threw out all of your crap except for the things I’m going to keep—and also, I hope your pee pee falls off.”

And some deal breakers are even BIGGER: “I’m sorry. I thought this had a chance of working out but it’s kind of bugging me that you wear your jeans really high. No, I DON’T think that’s a stupid reason to break up and what? I’m not “all that.” Well, that may be, but AT LEAST MY JEANS AREN’T UP TO MY ARMPITS. Later, Erkel.”

I believe it’s a good idea to date a lot of people because in the end, when we meet the right person, we’re ready. We know what we want and, more importantly, we know what we don’t want.

You may think that I’m painting with a broad brush– that’s probably because I am. Please know I’m not saying that those who got married without dating a lot, or those who got married real young, did the wrong thing. I’m not saying that at all. I won’t be recommending it to my kids, but obviously there are some people who got really lucky and found their soul mate early on. I have some friends who got married to high school or college sweethearts and they are totally solid.

It happens.

But look around. More often than not, it doesn’t.

It seems that most of the time those who pull the trigger too soon or for the wrong reasons end up divorced or married-but-miserable. Sure, it was great in the beginning. Everyone loved the little hot dog appetizers that Bride and Groom served at the wedding, and Bride was elated when she got the KitchenAid Tilt Head Classic Mixer she registered for (I got one too and if you want it, it’s in the closet of my laundry room) but one day Bride woke up and realized that she and Groom had grown apart.

How did that happen? Were they not paying attention, or were they always quite different?

No, they weren’t different. They were perfect. At least on paper.

When they got married everything matched up perfectly: Same religion? Check. Stable jobs? Check. So cute that they both love strawberry ice cream? Check. But now Bride is no longer the same person she was when she got married. Bride is not so into strawberry ice cream anymore.  (WHAT? OH NO SHE DI’INT!) Oh yes, she’s likes butter pecan now. But Groom…Groom still likes strawberry ice cream and not only does he not understand why Bride no longer likes it, he resents her for it—but guess what? Bride resents him too. She used to think it was so cute that he loved strawberry ice cream but now it’s annoying to her and what’s more, she resents that in 10 years he hasn’t changed one bit except for the fact that his fat ass is now older with a slower metabolism so the strawberry ice cream has manifested itself as a spare tire around his waist that could double as a flotation device.

THAT kind of scenario sometimes (many times) happens when we marry too young, too soon or for the wrong reasons. (Again, if you married young and it’s working, that’s awesome). But that kind of thing does happen, a lot.

So, how can we keep that from happening? What can we do to prevent ourselves from becoming disenchanted with our spouse? Marriage is hard. It’s not easy to keep the sparks flying.

I don’t know a lot, but I do know one thing: It’s a lot harder to be happy in a marriage when the person you’re married to is no longer the “right” person, and not only that—it’s possible that he never was.

Why rush it? What’s the hurry?

You’re getting too old? That is crap. Marry the wrong person and you’ll be even older when you have to start over. (Plus, if you wait until you’re older to get married, you have a better chance of staying together because you won’t have as many years to get sick of him).

All of your friends are married? Keep those friends and find some new ones who aren’t. They’re out there (probably divorced because they married the wrong person).

You want a baby? Great. No one’s stopping you, mama. Adopt a baby. You don’t need a man for that. Adoption is expensive. Ain’t that the truth, but so are weddings, especially when they end in divorce.

There are no guarantees when we say “I do.” I know that. Most people don’t go into a marriage saying “Til death or divorce do us part,” but things happen over time, people change, and although most of us give it our best shot, sometimes a marriage just can’t be saved.

With friends, we have the luxury of calling on the ones we need depending on the circumstances. With a spouse, we have one only one, and I think (and this is just me) but I think it helps to sample as much as possible from the “dating buffet” before ultimately choosing the “one,” because otherwise, the one you take that ring from—the one you choose to lean on and grow old with—the one you think is Mr. Right…well, he might really be Mr. Right Now.

And Mr. Right Now is great. But only for now.

 

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March 2nd, 2012

“The Friend Philosophy”

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Raise your hand if you remember that Chris Brown beat the CRAP out of Rihanna back in 2009.

Me too!

But I think the Grammys forgot.

I was kind of shocked to see Chris Brown on stage at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards singing and dancing like he wasn’t the guy who shoved Rihanna’s head into the passenger window of a car before using her face as a punching bag.

LOSER.

I’m familiar with the unwritten rule “Forgive and Forget,“ but there are exceptions. How about a little discretion, Grammy’s?  Next time why don’t you just book Michael Vick to be one of Brown’s back up dancers?

There’s a lot of hate and bitterness in this world so the concept of forgiveness is–in theory–a good one. But should every act of wrongdoing be forgiven? Are we to hide resentment each time someone betrays our confidence, pounds our self esteem or lets us down? There are circumstantial grey areas that surround each isolated incident so, as a parent, the subject of friendship and forgiveness can be a hard one to teach.

My 4-½ year old, Sweet Pea, recently told me that one of her friends is mean to her sometimes. What? What is THAT about? That girl is LUCKY to have you as a friend. You’re way cooler than THAT kid.

But I didn’t say that.

I told Sweet Pea that she didn’t “need that kind of friend” to which she responded: “Yeah, I don’t need that.” I told her what she does need is someone else to play with when that girl is being mean. I instructed her to temporarily move on to greener pastures until the girl is ready to be nice. And once she is ready to be nice, and she apologizes, it would be a good move to forgive her.

I thought my advice was stellar.  Sweet Pea’s friend, for all intents and purposes, is not really a bad kid and let’s face it–girls (of all ages) can be mean at times, Sweet Pea included. That’s why I was shocked when Sweet Pea looked at me and said “Mommy, I don’t want to be friends with her anymore.”

Jeez Louise, Sweet Pea, take it easy. That’s so…final. OK, the kid was a little mean to you. I don’t know if that warrants ending a pretty solid relationship.

But when trying to teach kids about the ups and downs of friendship and forgiveness, it can get tricky.

That friend of Sweet Pea’s probably has some really good qualities. Maybe she is good about playing the dog when they play “Dog and Dog Walker.” (Dumbest game ever, by the way). Maybe she always opts to be one of the ugly step-sisters when they play “Cinderella.” I honestly have no idea what they are playing half the time (I’m just happy they’re not including me) but I have to believe the friend has some redeeming qualities because for the most part, my kid loves being with her.

With that in mind, I know I have to acknowledge Sweet Pea’s statement about ending the friendship. I’m sure she’s bluffing or just blabbing, but it still seems like a good time to open a dialogue about mommy’s “Friend Philosophy.” [Sidenote: Much of this I learned from my own mom.] It’s probably a little early for Sweet Pea to get into something so deep, but the advice is both solid and reasonable–and beyond that, I think it will serve her well in the future with ALL of her friends.

Here it is:

Every friend wears a different hat. You might have a friend who is fun to shop and eat with. She gets the Shopping and Face Stuffing Hat. Maybe you have a friend who you can confide in but she’s no fun to shop with. That’s OK because she gets the I-Keep-My-Mouth-Shut hat and that is a good hat to have even if she’s no fun to shop with. Perhaps you have a friend who you like to go running with (or something horrible like that). She would get the Running Hat. And so on and so on…

So, Sweet Pea’s friend doesn’t always get to wear the I’m Nice hat. So what? She looks cute in the I’m Fun hat and when she is mean, her behavior is probably harmless and manageable. Plus, if she is a friend who selflessly steps up to be Ken every time they play Barbies, I’d say she’s worth keeping around.

It’s very rare to have one friend who can wear every hat, and it’s not fair to expect such a thing. We have to accept our friends for who they are and for what they are capable of giving. Some give a lot and some give enough, but few (if any) can give all. That’s why most of us have more than one friend. Variety is good, and everyone is comfy in their hats.

But what about the friend who is just a total anchor? The friend who you’re truly done with? What about the Chris Browns who used to be in a very Loved hat, but somehow lost their way–and their hat? What do you do with the toxic people who no longer have a positive place in your life because their redeemable qualities have been replaced by bad energy, drama and stress?

If you truly have a person in your life who is just completely and utterly draining with absolutely nothing positive to bring to the table (and I’m so sorry if you do) well…that person, if at all possible, probably needs to be ejected. And that’s not an easy thing to do. Cutting someone out of your life is rough, but protecting yourself is necessary.

I know that Sweet Pea’s friend can be mean at times, but she is certainly not at toxic status, and she is clearly still hat worthy, but some of us–many of us–have people in our lives that are poison. If you, sadly, know of what I speak–don’t despair! There is a hat for that person. It’s the YOU SUCK SO BAD THAT I JUST CAN’T HAVE YOU IN MY LIFE ANYMORE hat.

If I were Rihanna, that is the hat I would get for Chris Brown–and if there is a hat that says LOSER, I would grab that one too.

He will look great in it at the Grammys.

 

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January 24th, 2012

Give It Up, Sports Freak

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Dear Husband,

I had lunch with my mom today and I mentioned that you gave up part of a football game last night to watch a movie with me. The girls were asleep and we don’t get to hang out as much as we used to at night, but I was still kind of surprised because it was a big game.  (The winning team will be playing in the Super Bowl). Even I considered watching the game instead of watching George Clooney (but only for a few seconds because then I remembered that it’s George Clooney).

After I told my mom about how you selflessly forfeited the game to be with me, she mentioned that her husband “Jangles” (who was a total sports fanatic before we sadly lost him in 2009) used to do that too, but then he would just watch the games later. He would just Tivo or DVR them.

I now believe that you did the same thing.

You love sports. You’re way into sports. Your cell phone ring tone is the theme song for Monday Night Football, your wardrobe (with the exception of  items I have hidden or forbidden) is almost entirely made up of sports teams, and every time I turn on a TV in our house, it defaults to a sports station. (The last example, by the way, is very annoying to me).

You Tivo’d or DVR’d the game that was on last night, didn’t you, sly guy? I wouldn’t care if you owned up, but you tried to be all sly about it and put one over on me. Sly Stallone. Sly fox. Sly and the Family Stone. I came in to watch the movie and I was all FOR REAL super-great wife: “Are you sure you don’t want to finish the game?“ and you were all FOR FAKE: “No, no. Let’s hang out, I don’t mind at all.”

Of course you didn’t mind! You’re no dummy. I am usually drooling with exhaustion 15 minutes into any movie and you probably figured you’d be back to the game in no time, or, worst case scenario: I might have lasted 30 minutes and even then, with all the commercials and TV time-outs it wouldn’t take you very long to catch up.

But no…things didn’t work out that way, did they? No they did not…and why didn’t they?

Because I WATCHED THE WHOLE MOVIE.

Oh yeah, buddy. I stayed strong. I even threw in an inadvertent teaser at one point when I said: “This movie needs to end soon because I’m beat.” But I stayed strong. I didn’t even know your plan at the time. I bet you were not happy with George: “Damn you, George. Most every movie you are in pretty much blows, but now, all of the sudden you’re in a movie worth staying up for?”

I’m on to you, sports freak. I am ON to YOU. So know that.

KNOW IT.

Love,
Your wife (who is slyer than you)

sports freak

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January 15th, 2012

Stand Up

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If you look in your backyard, you’ll probably see big, thick wires that are horizontally connected to poles. I have no idea what they are called; I think they‘re called “electrical wires.” Anyway, some years ago I was delivering food for Meals On Wheels in downtown Detroit with a bunch of my friends and we were assigned to some very sketchy neighborhoods. There is one house in particular that I will never forget. I remember that even though I was still in the car, I could plainly see a pit bull in the back yard, running back and forth…on a tether…that was tied to an electrical wire.

AN ELECTRICAL WIRE.

So I called 911.

911 Lady: What’s your emergency?

Me: There is a dog on a tether running back and forth and he’s tied to an electrical wire.

911 Lady: Is that really an emergency?

Me: Uh, I think it is. HE IS TIED TO AN E-LEC-TRI-CAL WIRE.

911 Lady: Is he hurt?

Me: Not yet.

911 Lady: Well, I don’t know what you want me to do.

Me: But you’re the 911 Lady…

911 Lady: Right. I’m not sure what you’d like me to do.

Me: (Sigh of defeat)…I don’t know what to do either.

I looked at my friends in the car who also didn’t know what to do…with the dog or with me.

We gathered a few more numbers and placed calls to the electric company, the Humane Society, and whoever else we could think of that might somehow be able to remedy the situation. To this day none of us have any idea what happened to that dog, or to the unlucky schmuck who was assigned to confront the owner.

I don’t know why I feel the need to step in when I happen to witness a wrongdoing or injustice. You may be thinking to yourself “That’s a good thing that you’re like that,” but I don’t know if that is always the case. Some battles aren’t mine for fighting. My services aren’t always solicited. My help isn’t always necessary. Yet, I reach for my cape anyway.

If I am in the general vicinity of a conversation where I overhear people talking about someone I care about (and the info they’re sharing isn’t accurate) I have been known to step in and level the field (since my friend isn’t there to do it herself). Unfortunately, by doing this, my unsolicited information (though true) usually brings the conversation to a screeching halt.

Well, of course it does! Who DOES that? Did they send me an e-vite to join their conversation? No. Sure, I go on to apologize for my unsought and un-called for comment—but after my behavior, let’s face it—my apology doesn’t land well.

It’s not my fault! I can’t help myself. It’s how I’m built.

And my kids are growing up around it. They have seen me speak for those who can’t (or won’t) speak for themselves on more than one occasion.

In fact, they are no exception:

Once, when my older daughter “Sweet Pea” was around 18 months old, we were at my friend Busy’s house and Sweet Pea fell backwards from a chair that was very high off the ground. She hit her head HARD on the floor behind her. My husband, Cody, and I rushed Sweet Pea to the hospital and after the nurses checked us in, we waited. And then we waited some more. After the crying subsided, Sweet Pea was actually acting very normal, smiling and hitting on some old man in the waiting room, but whatever—you don’t mess with head injuries. We had only adopted her 7 months earlier and, as parents, we had no idea what we were doing. What if she had internal bleeding? What if she knocked something loose? What if news about this incident made it back to China and officials came to find us…and yell at us, IN CHINESE?

It was stressful.

Some nurse finally took us back to one of those hospital “staging” rooms. It seemed we were making progress, but we ended up doing the same thing there that we did in the waiting room. We waited. This time, unfortunately, there was no old man for Sweet Pea to hit on, she was stuck with just us. We had nothing for her to play with, as this wasn’t a planned excursion, and she was getting antsy. My husband and I were growing increasingly more and more impatient and that feeling of panic we walked in with was quickly turning to disgust.

WE HAD AN 18 MONTH OLD KID WITH A POSSIBLE HEAD INJURY, and we were being ignored.

So we made the decision to leave. Cody gathered our things while I scooped up Sweet Pea and we proceeded to walk out.

I was right behind Cody as he made his way towards the doors, mumbling something under his breath about how bad every single person in the hospital sucked, when all of the sudden I stopped. I turned around (still holding Sweet Pea) and I marched over to the front desk. I was emotionally exhausted, running on fumes of righteous indignation. I was very calm though and I did not raise my voice.

Me: I feel the need to tell you that I could not be more disappointed in this establishment or this staff. We came in with an 18 MONTH OLD BABY who could possibly have a HEAD INJURY. We have been here for a hour and a half and we have seen everyone but a doctor. You should be ashamed of yourselves and I sincerely hope this is not standard operating procedure for your hospital, because if it is, you suck even more that I already think you do.

One of the nurses: We are so sorry, Ma’am. You are next…you really are next.

Me: Too late. We’re done with this place. And don’t call me Ma’am. I hate that.

As Sweet Pea and I walked back over to Cody, I found him to be not at all surprised about my little performance. He’s not new, he knows me.

I guess in some respects I‘ve always been like this, but it seems I’ve become even more vocal as I’ve gotten older. I’m not sure if that means I care more, or if I care less. I guess maybe I care more about others, and less about what others think of me.

The incident with Sweet Pea was easy to defend. I was a mommy protecting the best interest of my child. But, not every situation is like that. On more than one occasion, I have found myself face-to-face with the fine line that runs between “standing up for someone” and “minding my own business.” And sometimes I am not sure which side of the line to stand on.

As a parent, “Standing Up For Yourself and Others” can be a hard lesson to teach because the guidelines are blurry. We want our kids to be empathetic towards others. We want them to have good instincts, act on those instincts, and step up for those who aren’t capable of doing it for themselves but we also want them to know when it’s better to just back off and shut it.

I think I get it right some of the time, but other times I should probably just bite my tongue and walk away… or should I just be who I am and let loose when I feel it’s necessary, saying a silent “Too Bad!” to those who think I’m nuts?

I don’t know. So, if you do, please tell me.

That way I can tell my kids…and take all the credit.

 

stand up

stand up 2

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October 23rd, 2011

Dissecting The Mean Girl

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It’s very rare for someone to tell you to your face how they truly feel about you. It’s rare because it’s not an easy thing to do. Somebody once told me to my face that I’m “mean.” I was rather stunned because usually those kinds of things are reserved for behind-the-back lashing and also, I didn’t agree with her.

Admittedly, some of my behavior towards this person could be considered somewhat questionable, but I’m not sure if it was what you’d call “mean.” I know what “mean” is. I have seen mean. We’ve all seen it. It’s everywhere. It’s in the shows we watch and the movies we see. It’s in the articles we read and the videos we view. The characteristics of a mean girl have been dutifully exposed.

But even when you know you’re being mean, it’s still hard to accept being called out on it. No one wants to be a “mean girl”—unless, of course, they truly are just that. And quite honestly, I don’t feel that I’m truly a mean girl.

So when I was told that I was, it broke me. It broke me for awhile.

But then I got to thinking…Am I a “mean girl,” or was I just being mean?

There’s a difference.

And that led me to conclude that there are two types of mean girls:

There is the Mean Girl on the Offense: This girl is like a lawnmower in that she’ll plow through anyone who gets in her way. She is the Mean Girl who makes herself feel better by tearing down others. She rules by fear and finds the less assured to be her disciples. She is mean; it’s a state of being.

And then there is the Mean Girl on the Defense. This girl is not mean coming out of the gate. She has to be provoked, like a sleeping bear. If you’re going to poke her, good luck to you because she might come out swinging. She’s either standing up for herself or she’s just totally and completely annoyed by someone else’s behavior. Her meanness is reactionary and, as far as she‘s concerned, it is justified. Unlike the Mean Girl on the Offense, this girl’s meanness is not a state of being, it‘s temporary. She’s not a Mean Girl, but she can be mean and if you question her about her conduct, her answer will more than likely be: “Well, she started it.”

Of course, not all girls fit nicely into either category. There are lots of other Mean Girl groups and subgroups, but I’m too lazy and too stupid to get into all of them.

I really just needed to hash out what I had so far because not only am I responsible for myself, but I have two little girls of my own and if they see me being mean, there is a good chance they could grow up to be the same way. And no one wants that.

Of course I don’t want my girls to be Mean Girls—but I also don’t want them to be doormats. I needed some help so I went to my friend “Remi.”  Remi helped me to see that it doesn’t have to be either/or. While there is no place for the Offensive Mean Girl (except in the movies) the Defensive Mean Girl is pretty much unavoidable. And not only that, she’s also human.

It’s human to be put off by other people once in a while. We can’t all like each other, but we don’t necessarly have to act on it.  It’s not nice to come out both guns blazing to every single person who rubs you the wrong way. Plus, there’s no percentage in it. Where’s it going to get you?  Nowhere good.

I wish I had the innate quality and maturity level to let things go and bite my tongue, but I’m not built like that—and that is something I need to work on. When the time comes, I’m really going to try and help my girls find a place in the middle. I want them to be more like Remi. I want them to know when they should stand up for themselves and when they should walk away. I want them to know when to put up and when to shut up. If I have to, I will attach a filter or a muzzle to their mouths.

And who knows? Maybe there’s even one big enough to fit me.

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