Oct 232014
 

With yet another insomnia night, I watched a movie with my 15 year old son that he has wanted to watch with me because it is one of his favorites.

So from 10:30 to 1:00 we watched a James Bond movie.  It meant a lot to him and I really enjoyed it.  It was a bonding experience.

Sorry, I had to say it.

Love,

Ivy L.

 

This one is too young to watch James Bond but he looks as though he could play the part!

This one is too young to watch James Bond but he looks as though he could play the part!

 Posted by at 3:10 pm
Oct 222014
 

Me kissing Bo B&W

Since I write about so many personal things on this site; I have some duty to mention those things about myself that I do not want to shout from the mountain top. Here are a few…

I am a hero because I cancelled my cable. I am not so much of a hero because I tell myself that Netflix binging is okay since there are no commercials. I watch two shows that give me nightmares and I cannot escape some of the mesmerizing characters of whom I cannot get enough.  Since, I do not watch a lot of television, I am a couple of years behind in regard to the seasons. The problem with that is I repeatedly click on the “do you want to continue watching” button from Netflix. Fortunately, I have unproductive insomnia and I cannot go to sleep until the next day (after midnight) and that gives me a time slot for this escapism.

I peek at the mind-numbing, ridiculous, sensational magazines at store checkouts and move around enough to read the whole headline. If that is not enough I have fallen victim to the algorithm masters of Yahoo because I once (or twice) clicked on an intriguing and senseless headline that got the best of my curiosity. It is like the electronic form of checkout line headlines. I, however, do not have it as my default browser, so I actually have to go out of my way to escape into their media quicksand. I actually go out of my way to do this. I might as well grab popcorn and call dibs on any chocolate in the vicinity.

I eat healthy, unless I am not. But I get a lot of points because I certainly know how to do this very well; and I usually do.

I drink too much coffee. But if I give that up, my insomnia may clear up and I will not be able to watch the shows I am not proud to mention.

I really do not care for the driver who demonstrates their sign language skills toward me, when I did nothing wrong. I get mad and it actually hurts my feelings. That is a little pathetic of me. (There should be a word for mad and sad. Mad + Sad = ?.)

I am not good at putting my children to bed on time, when I know how terrible it is for them to not get enough sleep and I seem to forget this every night. It actually leaves my knowledge base. I have some addiction to spending time talking to them when activities, dinner and chores are completed and there is time to share and talk and talk some more.  That has always been my favorite time and I have fondly found that to be the best time for sharing. But they really need their sleep for health reasons. Good health needs to come first.

If I was to think of two children books that remind me of me and mothering (keep in mind, I am not even considering all the perfect Dr. Seuss books) one book would be If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and the other I Will Love You Forever. I feel, as though I should list grander books on the spot and right now, I cannot.

After writing about Netflix binging and 6 other things I must confess,  I would like to ignore all the drivers who are proficient in sign language, go to a mountain top at midnight with a flashlight, read those books aloud to my children while drinking coffee and eating the chocolate that I bought at the grocery store where I read the headlines at the checkout stand and then drive home, put the kids to bed and, of course, watch Netflix, get up the next morning and try to figure out why I had a scandalous nightmare about a FBI fugitive with some strange list. (Notice how I am not mentioning the names of those Netflix binging causing shows?)

Love,

Ivy L.

 

 Posted by at 1:24 pm
Oct 212014
 

Summer in chair looking up

Dear Mrs Z.,

My daughter was only nine when I trusted you to teach her and care for her future.  Throughout her twelve years of schooling, she has had a variety of teachers with different methods of educating, discipline and mannerisms. They were enthusiastic, fun, stern, kind, sensitive, creative, traditional,  new-age, tired, and some were stressed from changes in education yet, very dedicated. The vast majority of them were driven by their passion to teach, in spite of the hurdles thrown in their way. They have been heroic and each one has been a stepping stone to my daughters success and to so many others like her.

Mrs. Z., you were the exception.

I want to thank you for recognizing that my daughter was the student who never received a “yellow” light on the board, as a warning to improve in some area. She was well liked by all of her classmates, mindful, and friendly and she historically earned high grades and commonly received “outstanding” on her behavior grade.

I desperately want to thank you for being a teacher that took good care of my daughter and built upon her confidence by educating her well.

However, after a few months in your class, my once vibrant daughter was wearing a withering confidence all over her nine year old body.

It showed on her expressions, her posture and an apparent weakening of her excitement for life, as a nine year old.

My husband and I spoke with you on a few occasions and every time you smiled and told us, “She is doing great in class and is a delight.” We spoke with you and the administration, but again we heard what a wonderful child she was and she was doing well. You did add that math was not her strongest subject but there was nothing to worry about.

But Mrs. Z. you were not telling us how you really felt about our daughter.

“There is something wrong with you, if you do not understand this,” you would tell her  in front of her peers. For some reason you did not think that one of her peers would share with us all of the details. Was it because they had separate last names or did you not take their closeness seriously because they were step siblings?

I am not sure what you were trying to teach my daughter with your angry eyes that my son witnessed on many occasions.  I am not sure why you made her feel uncomfortable by your daily words and looks or  keeping her from taking turns in the “fun” activities.

I wished so many times that I could have been a fly on the wall when you taught, as there was such a discrepancy between your words and her sadness.

Mrs. Z. I cannot  help but think that you knew you were not nice to some of your students and that you took your aggression out on them.  There is no way, in my mind, that you did not know this.  You did not treat everyone this way; this was not your way of teaching because there was no consistency in your style.  I know this, because you treated our son and daughter differently. Mrs. Z, I think you were actually mean.

You see , Mrs. Z., you made sure you suspended my daughter from school for fourth grade.  No, it was not the typical suspensions that children receive from acting out repeatedly with many warnings to improve behavior. You know the suspension where administration gets involved including parents and a plan is devised?

Mrs. Z. I think you had a secret suspension system that no one knew about except for you and the children who were placed within your four walls. Whether consciously or subconsciously, you held  mental meetings,  judged and decided as to who was to be in your class and who was not to be.

What you did Mrs. Z, was that you gave my daughter an emotional suspension.  You took it upon yourself to suspend her from your class by using negative emotional methods that made her mentally leave your class to protect herself.

Although she always earned great grades in academics and behavior, she shut down in your forth grade class. Her emotional suspension carried over in her fifth grade class and tiny pieces continued in subsequent years in school. No matter how wonderful the teachers were, she never escaped the words “there is something wrong with you.” There is a tiny piece of her nine year old self that never returned after her experience in your classroom, within the four walls that I trusted she was in good care.

I would like to say that you had no right to do this, but you did.  You were a licensed teacher. You earned your right to teach children with no other adult supervision.  I also think you wanted to be a good teacher to all of your students. However, your administration did see something in your style the following school year, as they apologized to our family and told us you were “taking a break.”

After all of these years, I could never put a name to what you did.  It was not until I listened to a radio show that spoke of physical school suspensions where kids have to leave school for a designated amount of time due to behavior issues and then return. The program explained how suspensions are a pipeline to certain outcomes for some children and regardless of the reason for the suspensions, a child carries that punishment in their life because it is not easily forgotten.

Emotional Suspension…that is the name I came up with to describe what you gave my daughter and no matter how hard I try, I cannot recognize your ways as some sort of life lesson and a stepping stone in disguise.

I really wish I could.

 

Ivy L.

Summer and Rocky playground

Forever Close

Summer and Rocky Grad

Still Forever Close

 

 


 Posted by at 2:54 pm
Oct 132014
 

 

Dylan, Rocky, Summer, Julian in yard

“The struggle is real.”  That is what my kids say in a kidding voice, as a relief to the things that really do worry them.What do my kids worry about?

Well, one of them is concerned about his engineering classes and being a success.  Apparently he will be a failure, if he does not walk off the campus with a minimum of a degree in engineering.

Another one is struggling with adapting to college life while trying to figure out what his roommate  really means when his roommate gets a call at two in the morning and returns at nine in the morning and then states, “I have been in church all night.”

Another one wants to major in film while people tell her that she will make a mistake following her dreams because she will not succeed in a pipe-dream and she will walk away with nothing but student loans and no job.

Another one is hurting because she was not invited to a big party that all of her “friends” were invited to.

Another one is trying to adapt to a fifth grade teacher that uses a college professor’s style because she has a true belief that her students can achieve greatness.

Another one is determined to work outside the box and be graduated from high school early by participating in a very rigorous, self-directed online school.

Their struggle is real.  They wake up to their own personal stress and go to sleep thinking about it.  They are just like us.

Everyday is not like that and they have many, many  happy moments but they do struggle with their own personal stress. And to add to it, they “feel badly for not being happy when there are so many awful things in the world,” they say repeatedly.

“Being grateful and having personal concerns is not mutually exclusive,” is what I tell them.

What else do I do to help them come to terms with their “struggle?”

I let them feel, I let them share, I give them perspective and I let them know that their struggle is real in their own personal world and they need to use these emotions like a tool.

“These emotions are messages to you. It is your mind and intuition telling you to pay attention to your surroundings, your world and your dreams”, is what I say to them.

For example, although minor, I am struggling a little bit today. I am a little sad and I do not know why.  I am pretty sure that the message is for me to eat chocolate.

Yep, that was the message.  I feel better.

Love,

Ivy L.

Wrapped chocolateunwrapped chocolate

 

 Posted by at 12:10 pm
Oct 092014
 

Julian with laptop

The horror movie dilemma continues from my last post.  Julian did not wait for me to tuck him in and leave the room before expressing his angst over the trailers of horror movies being shown on a slew of mobile devices in his fifth grade class.

This time he crawled into bed and spoke of it before he even laid down. “It’s hard to not pay attention to it”, he said. “I can make a choice to not watch it; but it is hard to not listen to my friends talk about the stories”, he continued.

“I know!”, I said. “It is so hard to turn away from something that you are curious about and it creates emotions at the same time, isn’t it?” I asked in that validating type of way.

He excitedly confirmed that it was – apparently happy that I understood.

I went on to tell him that, as he gets older, I will be more and more limited to what I can protect him from, in regards to the internet. I explained that there are many things that are not appropriate, harsh and scary on the internet and it would be good practice to listen to the voice that says “back away from this” and  ignore the voice that says, “ooooh what is that ?” with eyes squinted while peeking at the screen.

I could tell from his expression and demeanor that Julian knew exactly what I was talking about. He knew the feeling and he trusted that more is to come, as he gets older and he would have to make choices.

I continued, “Julian, in case you  discover things on the internet that makes you uncomfortable, you need to tell me about it. I do not want you to bare that burden on your own.  Those things can be too much for any one person to carry. I am not sure that I can take the thoughts or visions away, but I can be there for you so you are not feeling alone and you know that I will always be your safe place.”

Having understood everything I said, Julian yelled out, “CHOCOLATE SYRUP!”

“What?” I asked.

“The movies, they use red dye and chocolate syrup! When I think of it, it makes the movies silly and not scary”, he said.

I confirmed that he was right and that I agreed.  I then asked, “What Pixar movie are you going to replay in your mind tonight?”

“None”, he said. “I am going to just think of you, mom.”

I kissed him on his head, told him good night and wiped the tears from my eyes, as I left his precious room.

Love,

Ivy L.

 

(I welcome your comments…click on the tiny icon on the top right of the post and under the title that states “no response” or “comment” and type away.)

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 2:58 pm
Oct 082014
 

Julian resting on rug

Tucking my kids in has been one of the most consistent and, as far as I can tell,  my most favorable tradition in strengthening our parent child bond. Last night was no exception.

I laid with Julian last night and we watched a two minute video on my phone that gave us a synopsis of an amazing robot developed by MIT students.  It really was fascinating . We enjoy watching these tidbits at night, if we are not reading. It is a nice way to clear the days moments and prepare for rest.  It normally works but last night there was a problem.

After tucking him in, I turned out the light and whispered, “I love you J.T.” and I gently shut the door.  I was out of the room for about five minutes before I heard the yelling, “MOMMMMMM!” I knew that there was nothing wrong other than an emergent need to share something with me.

I walked in and quietly asked him what was on his mind.

Apparently, the children in his class of 5th graders are watching horror movies and watching trailers on their phones, before and after classes. Julian does not watch them but he does hear the stories about “dolls and scary clowns.” The first thing that came to mind was the movie Chucky. I am not a fan of horror movies and it is not something that I want Julian to watch, at this point in his life because …. they are SCARY!

I told Julian to name some of his favorite movies that he has seen over and over. He named Toy Story, Cars, Finding Nemo, Meet the Robinsons …basically Disney and  Pixar movies. I asked him to think of the one that he remembers the most. He said, “Toy Story.”

“Julian” I said, ” I want you to close your eyes and replay the movie in your head starting from the beginning of the story, do you remember the starting scene?”

He said, “Yes, it was the birthday party.” I told him to start there and replay the movie in his head and if he cannot remember the sequence he needed to just think of another scene in the movie and keep doing that.  He said, “Okay, I can do that.”

I began to leave the room  hopeful that he could replace the scary thoughts with ones that consistently brought him smiles when he was younger. I said, “Goodnight J.T., I love you.”

“I love you mom, ” he replied.

The next morning:

I asked Julian if the movie idea helped him.  He told me that it did not because he could not fall asleep while replaying Toy Story in his head. He said that he decided to just not think about anything and just go to sleep.

I guess I will have to think of a better approach next time.

Love,

Ivy L.

 

 Posted by at 1:16 pm
Oct 022014
 

White Orchid

It seems like an innocent question and it is. “How many children do you have?” It was not until I was a part of a blended family that the question became more complicated because one question would lead to another such as, “Which ones are your real children?”  I have overcome that question over the years and my answer is typically, “They are all my and my husband’s children.”  However, today I was moved to write this post because it never occurred to me that this innocent question could induce very painful memories as opposed to causing a little frustration for blended families.

I learned today that a parent who has lost a child is also asked this question quite innocently and they struggle as to how to answer the question. Do they just count the number of children who are with them today or do they include the number of children that was with them in the past or do they give a detailed answer to such a painful question?

No matter how innocently the question is asked, it is so sad that I thought it was challenging to answer the question as a part of a blended family and today I was put in my place.

I guess, we need to all read the eyes of those asked the question and decide if any more questions should be asked.  If you are not a good read on the eyes of another, at least keep it in mind that the question can indeed be the source of great pain.

Love,

Ivy L.

 

 

 Posted by at 2:41 pm
Mar 312014
 

You Guys Seriously.jpg

Words spoken and yelled over and over and over again:

“You guys cannot say that in front of your little brother!”

“You guys cannot play that video game in front of your little brother.”

“You guys are playing too rough, you cannot wrestle with him the same way you do with each other and your friends.”

“You guys, you know we cannot watch that movie for family movie night, it is not appropriate for your little brother.”

“Julian, you cannot do that with your siblings, or that , or that, or that, or that, or that or that; those things are more appropriate for when you are older and some of the things I would be happy if you would never do.”

The  “arghhhhhhhh” moment when a path has to be chosen:

The dilemma is a large span between the ages and stages of your children and them co-existing in one home with a varying degree of suitable content allowed around one another. There is the age of playing with little action figures sprawled out on the floor and the teenage time when teenagers are testing boundaries and entering to an adultish world. Here are the choices to rectify much of the angst in this scenario.

  1. Separate and force individual hibernation locked away in a personalized, homogenous environment.
  2.  Live together as a family and tell your youngest, “I know that you do not know what certain things mean when your brothers and sisters say something and then laughs,  but you have to trust that it is not appropriate and please do not repeat these things. Otherwise, we have to separate and do separate things.  Also tell the older children, that no one gets left behind and they need to compromise so that the younger ones will not be left out of activities. 

This is how I chose my path: 

I decided that separating them was not an option because it was not a habit that I wanted them to learn.  How could I keep them a part at a younger age and then expect that they would naturally come together when they were older and all activities were age appropriate? It does not work that way. Their habits now will feed their future quite naturally and any desired changes will have to be re-taught and no one has time for that.

The Result:

The outcome was that they worked it out amongst themselves. In addition to taking some personal time to themselves, they play together.  The eldest teach the youngest basketball moves, how to pass a football and wrestle in the grass until they are tired or someone gets hurt. They play Capture the Flag, they jump on the trampoline, they swim together and they go places together. They have fun together because they had to figure out a way to do that. The alternative was not an option primarily because none of them wanted it.

In regard to my part, fear would have created separate worlds for them.

Courage and desire for what I wanted in their relationship,in the long run, provided the direction of decision making.

Yes, Julian has seen and heard things that my eldest would never have been exposed to.  However, exposure to his entire family at all ages took priority.  Sometimes I still worry that he will repeat something out of context to a teacher, a friend or someone else; but he hasn’t yet. I think he understands enough to never jeopardize the privilege of privileged information.  Besides that he is probably too busy telling his friends how his knee got so scrapped up over the weekend or showing them the best way to throw a football.

Family Lesson # too many to count:

Teach your children today what you want their relationship to be with each other in the future and provide the environment so they can practice it.  They need to hear it and feel it.

Love, Ivy L.

Ground, Dylan, Julian in that order

Ground, Dylan, Julian in that order

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