March 21st, 2013

Prep Work

Since my daughter started kindergarten I haven’t exactly gone out of my way to meet the parents of the other kids—not because I’m shy, but because I suck. There are a few moms, however, that I have become friendly with. I met one early in the school year. She came up to me and complimented my purse. She is my favorite.

Not too long ago, she told me something that really upset me. She told me that an older kid was making fun of her daughter (also in kindergarten) because when she bent over, her underwear showed.

REALLY??

I mean, I guess it doesn’t take much when you’re in elementary school but, come on. She’s a little kindergartener! What kind of kid makes fun of a kindergartener? How lame can you get??

Of course, when the mom told me, my first instinct was to go to the school and beat the crap out of the mean kid. But then I remembered that I probably shouldn’t do that because I’m almost 42 years old and also, “Underwear Girl” isn’t mine.

I felt so bad for the mom and “Underwear Girl.” I know in the grand scheme of things, getting made fun of for a little wardrobe malfunction isn’t the end of the world, but for “Underwear Girl” —at that time—it probably felt like it was. What do you do? What do you tell her? How do you move past the incident and learn how to deal with mean kids all at the same time? It was all too much and I walked away from the conversation only too happy that I didn’t have to deal with that crap just yet.

But then I did.

A week or so later MY kindergartener, Sweet Pea, told me that some second grader told her that she has “elf ears.”

Um, I’m sorry. WHAT???

Some kid told Sweet Pea that she has elf ears.

I will kill that kid. I will pull HIS ears off and I will shove them in his back pockets so he can hear better when I’m KICKING HIS ASS.

The thing is…he’s not wrong. She does kind of have elf ears. It’s from when she lived in the orphanage and she was in a crib all day. I think the babies were only taken out of their cribs for an hour a day…(Actually, I can‘t remember if that is how it was in her orphanage or if that is how it is in prison…I think it’s both). Anyway, the way she slept…in the crib—it messed up her ears. No biggie. We’re Jews. We take care of that stuff and besides, financially it’s a wash since she won’t need a nose job. But whatever, that stupid second grader does not get to make fun of Sweet Pea. NO WAY.

But what can I do? I can’t go down to the school and ”Tom Petty” him like the mom in “This is 40.”  (Or can I? I don’t think I can). All I can do is explore and decompress the situation with her so she is a little more prepared next time.

In fact, as parents, that’s pretty much all we can do about any situation. We can expose, explore and prepare to the best of our abilities.

The trick, though, is to prepare them not for the world WE lived in, or the world we WISHED we lived in, but for the world we ACTUALLY live in.

We need to get realistic about our world.

Our current world.

When I was growing up, my parents worried about us drinking and driving (well, my dad probably didn’t worry—he was too busy drinking and driving) but my mom worried. She was a worrier. She was the up-all-night worrier.

Well, guess what, mommy? Drinking and driving? That was so 1987. You know what we got? We have drinking, driving and TEXTING.

When my girls and I were at the police station recently (I had to bring some of the officers cookies because I thought someone stole my wedding rings and they spent a lot of time with me and they spent a lot of time on my case and they had a really good lead… and then I found them) we were walking out and there was a poster of a bad car crash with a dummy all busted up. The girls were all over me about the poster: “Mommy, what happened to THAT guy???”…”Do you know him?”… ”Is he dead?…Dead like Puppa Louie???”…and I told them that is what happens when people text and drive at the same time.

So what that they can’t text or drive right now. I don’t care. That poster was so gruesome, it’s going to take the jaws of life to remove it from their memories. In fact, anytime a car accident comes up in conversation Sweet Pea says…”Oh, like the guy at The Cop Shop? The guy in the poster???”

Start young and go strong.

That’s my motto. No topic off limits. Get it ALL out there.

I’m certainly no expert (I laugh even as I write that) but I feel like there’s no such thing as too much prep work. So when Sweet Pea came home telling us about the “Elf Ears” incident, we asked her how she responded so we could better prepare her for next time. (Because even if it’s not “Elf Ears,” it will be something and there will be a next time).

Sweet Pea: I didn’t do anything.

Me: Honey, if you don’t do anything, the mean kids will know you’re a target.

Lovey: You should have told him that you were taking a time-out from him!

Daddy: I’ll kill him.

Me: You should have just said “You know what? You’re a LOSER and by the way, you’re a LOSER.”

Daddy: I’ll kill him.

Sweet Pea: What if I just tell him that he is a bully?

And that silenced all of us because, well, that’s a good one.

So, we role-played Sweet Pea calling the loser kid a “bully.” We role played all through dinner. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse. And then we had her tell us all what to do because I figure the best way to learn is to teach.

And then we sent her back out in the world, because we have to.

March 7th, 2013

Acceptance

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.

November 11th, 2012

The Parental Approach

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

October 16th, 2012

The Kindergarten Learning Curve

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?”

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

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.

May 21st, 2012

Not for reading while you’re eating…

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.

May 17th, 2012

Fortune Cookie Lectures

Do you have a kid (or kids) who are still too little to read?

Do you find yourself bored and annoyed with explaining the same things over and over again?

If you answered YES to both of the above questions, you need to read this:

Today was one of those days where I found myself lecturing my kids repeatedly. I have been with them for 5 hours and I’m completely and utterly beat up. It is hard to be a mommy after working most of the day. Work is much easier than being a mom. I don’t get nearly as tired from working as I do from mommy’ing.

Maybe because no one at work is trying to kill me.

I told the girls to “Get out and leave mommy alone for 5 minutes” so I could clean the table and get ready for dessert, and though I heard them in the other room laughing and having fun 5 seconds ago, we all know that the laughing always, ALWAYS leads to crying. And sure enough, one of them is now crying.

After diffusing that situation, we settled in for dessert. They asked for fortune cookies. Fortune cookies do nothing for me so I opted, instead, for a spoon so I could settle in and eat The Best Frosting Ever out of a can.  It’s weird that my kids wanted fortune cookies. We didn’t even have Chinese for dinner. (And if you’re looking to insert the obvious joke “You have a kid from China, of course she wants a fortune cookie…HA HA HA!” … I gotta tell you—it’s not that funny).

Anyway, I was happily standing and eating The Best Frosting Ever when Sweet Pea came up to me holding out her fortune. “What does it say, mommy? What does it say?”

I could have read the fortune verbatim but I suddenly found myself in the midst of an interesting opportunity, and I didn’t want to waste it.

Sweet Pea has been potty trained FOR TWO YEARS, yet I busted her earlier for hiding stinky, wet undies in her laundry basket. With that in mind, this is what I read as her fortune: ”Those who pee in their pants, smell of pee pee.”

WHAT? Where did THAT come from?

Her face was priceless. She didn’t know what to say. And then I exclaimed: “Ohmigawd, we were just talking about that earlier, weren’t we Sweet Pea? That is crazy!” She was in awe. She got busted not only by me, but also by a fortune cookie!

Two birds, one stone.

Let the fortune cookie do your work for you. It’s like someone else lecturing your kid.

Then, of course, Lovey was all over me: “Mommy, mommy! Read mine! Read mine!”

So, to the almost-3-year-old Lovey (who was recently potty trained in literally two days, but while she is awesome at peeing on the potty, she can’t seem to stop pooping in her pants)…to Lovey I read: “It is better to poop on the potty than walk around with a dump in your pants.”

So great. She couldn’t believe what her fortune said. “Mommy, I poop in my pants!“ Then, holding out another fortune she said: “Mommy, do this one!!”

OK, let’s see what this one says…”If you have a problem with your sister, don’t tattle. Your mommy really couldn’t care less, so just work it out with your sister. That is real life. Deal with it.”

How about that one? I usually have to tell my girls around 100 times a day not to tattle on each other. Maybe tomorrow it will only be 50!

Who knows? Only confuscious.

I, myself, should have eaten a fortune cookie tonight. I could have saved myself some trouble since my fortune would have likely said: “She who eats half a can of Best Frosting Ever suffers from wicked stomachache.“

April 3rd, 2012

Just Wait…

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).

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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.

 

 

 

 

March 20th, 2012

M.I.A.

One night, many years ago, the mom of an old boyfriend told me that she hated the off-white pants her husband was wearing. I often looked to her for advice on various subjects so I figured I‘d seize the opportunity. I wanted to know: What do you do if your husband wears something that you REALLY don’t like? I mean, I know we’re supposed to love and accept them for who they are, but come on…we have to BE with them, right?

So, what do you do?

She took me aside and quietly revealed that whenever her husband wears an item that she deems hideous, she saves herself a potentially hurtful and argumentative conversation by secretly taking the garment and doing a “a little something” to blemish it. Nothing big or obvious, just a little something.

For instance, with regard to the off-white offenders, she waited until her husband was out of the pants (and out of the vicinity) and she laid them on the bed. Then, armed with a wand of mascara, she took a deep breath and very carefully placed a teeny weeny black dot right next to the crotch area. It was a small dot, but on off-white, it stuck out like a Jewish girl in a Lily Pulitzer store.

To me, she was brilliant. The tiny black dot was just obvious enough to ruin the look of the pants, but in no way did it incrimate her as the desecrator. It was brilliant and I have never forgotten it.

And I would use it on my own husband—if I thought it would work.

My problem is this: In a million years my husband “Cody”  wouldn’t A) Notice the black dot or B) Care.

Once, before we were married, I went to visit Cody at Camp (he owns an overnight camp for kids in Northern Michigan) and because he was still “woo’ing” me, he would actually leave Camp without me begging, pleading or threatening him—and we would go out for a nice dinner somewhere other than the Mess Hall.

One night, when I emerged from the bathroom, ready to go, I saw Cody waiting all dressed and proud of himself. He was wearing jeans and a jean jacket. (You can re-read that sentence a million times but it’s never going to change. You read it right the first time). My husband, whom I love very much, thought it would be OK to wear jeans and a jean jacket together, in public, even though it wasn’t 1985.

Well, he was wrong.

I tried to think of a tactful way to tell him that there was no way that he was wearing that ensemble out of the cabin, but I had to come up with a way of saying it that wouldn’t hurt his feelings—and I think I did a good job. I said: Cody, there is no way you are wearing that ensemble out of the cabin.

He looked at me incredulously and said: What’s wrong with it?

And because he was serious, I knew there was no explanation that would make any sense to him so I simply said: NO.

He grumbled a bit about how I was “crazy” and then he said something about how the jean jacket was “so awesome.” Eventually, though, it came off.

But it wasn’t forgotten. I knew he’d try to sell me on The Jacket again and I didn’t want it to become a point of dissent in our relationship. I just wanted Jon Bon Jovi to come back and get it.

My mind went back to the “Little Black Dot” story of so many years ago, but I needed something stronger, something bolder. Cody is not like the husband of my old boyfriend’s mom. Not only would he not notice a black dot on his jacket, but even if he did, it would only make the jacket cooler to him. I needed to do something more drastic.

So I hid it.

My friend, “Nags” was up at Camp with me that particular weekend and since, upon seeing The Jacket, Nags promptly threw up most of his lunch, I knew he’d help me plot its inevitable and necessary demise.  Together we found the perfect place to hide it and to this day, we have never revealed its location.

There have been a few more items of clothing over the years that I don’t love, but for the most part I keep my mouth shut. Cody either wears those pieces when I’m not around, or I let them go because even I know there are some battles that aren’t worth fighting. Besides, over the last ten years, nothing has offended me in quite the same way as The Jacket.

Until now.

Enter: The Shirt.

I can’t explain exactly what it is that I vehemently dislike about The Shirt, but there is something. He has worn it three times and I loathe it so much that sometimes I flip it off (with both hands) when he isn’t looking.

The Shirt physically repulses me and what’s more—The Shirt knows it, and The Shirt doesn’t care. It mocks me. He wore The Shirt to bed the other night, and The Shirt was all “Take that, Wifey, I’m in your bed now,” and that was it for me. THAT WAS THE LAST STRAW.

You’re going down, Shirt. You don’t know who you’re dealing with. I have a rap sheet. Perhaps you’d like to hear a little story about a missing Jean Jacket?

And then, of course, I did what I had to do.

I hid it.

What choice did I have?

It’s in a very good place and like The Jacket, I will keep the location to myself. Plus, I have no guilt because it’s not like I threw it out, it’s just…missing.

But out of respect, I’d like to say a few words in honor of The Shirt:

I never liked you, Shirt
You made me want to barf.
I would have strangled you
But I’d feel bad for the scarf.

Cody might miss you at first
But it’s better than dealing.
I didn’t want to discuss you
And risk hurting his feelings.

You thought you were staying
And I’d have to let you be.
But you got yours, didn’t you?
Don’t mess with me.

He’ll never find you
And I’d just like to say:
May you forever remain
M.I.A.

March 12th, 2012

Choose Wisely

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.

 

March 2nd, 2012

“The Friend Philosophy”

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.