Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cheating Ethan?

Lately I've been feeling "mom guilt"And not the "mom guilt I was told about yesterday when a mom told me she feels so mean telling her 9-year-old daughter she can't shower with her anymore. Ewww, by the way, inappropriate and TMI. Since I am not very good at hiding my feelings with my facial expressions, I think she got the idea. Anyway, my mom guilt is based on cheating Ethan out of his childhood. There are things you should do with your kids to make traditions and memories. My parents didn't do these things and I am a stable (most of the time) well adjusted adult, but still... I don't want to be accused of not standing outside for a half hour when it is 45 below waiting to see Santa at Santa's Village someday in a psychiatrist's office. I want to be accused of stuff I didn't mean to do, such as telling two-year-old Noah we sold baby Ethan on e-bay. And that the car stops working if the seat belts aren't buckled, and they would poo orange if they didn't eat all of their vegetables, or caffeine makes them shrink. All of the things they can accuse me of are things I said based on their best interest- well except the e-bay thing. That was just funny. Anyway, I am struggling with continuing the "childhood" traditions I have tried to undertake to make memories for my kids. Maybe it's because I chose to do too many, maybe it's because after doing them for seven years it's getting old, maybe I am just too busy/lazy.
Take Halloween for instance. Every Halloween the boys and I go to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin, one year Ethan even rolled it down the steps to show me, denting the wall in the process. There are mazes, horse and wagon rides, "real" cowboys and a "haunted" path to walk down. It is fun. I should say, it IS fun when the leaves have changed, it's semi warm out, not soggy wet, and it's one of the first six times you've done it. This year it has rained pretty much every day from the end of September and all of October. The leaves didn't change and fall, but simply stayed green and fell due to the constant downpour of rain. I didn't even mention the pumpkin patch to the kids this year, but got two pumpkins at Hornbachers. The other night Ethan asked why we didn't go to the pumpkin patch. - Bad mom moment one. I also usually make a big deal out of planning their costumes and picking them out. Last year it was such an expensive time consuming fiasco, with Noah's costume arriving in the mail ON October 31, I didn't want to re-live it, so I told them they had to wear something they already have and like it. Bad mom moment two. I have a sneaking suspicion Noah can't find his costume. I told him if he can't find it he has to clean his messy room. He says he found it, but I think he didn't and is just telling me that. Bad mom three and four. One for letting him lie to me, and one for not caring if he finds it because he's right on the verge of being too old to trick or treat. On the Friday before Halloween it is tradition that we carve the pumpkins. Actually I carve the pumpkins while the kids run around the house like wild animals. I LOTHE carving pumpkins. It is messy, gross, involves a good chance of me cutting myself with a sharp knife and did I mention messy? The kids can't help even if I wanted them to. They would make it messier and it involves knives. I asked Ethan last night if he really wanted to carve pumpkins this year. I crossed my fingers and hoped he'd say no. What is wrong with me?? Why am I robbing them of their childhood? My parents never did ANY of this with me. In fact, they sent me in the car with my old-enough-to- drive siblings to take me around trick or treating. When they moved out in second grade, that was my last year because my mom "had to stay home to pass out candy" to the eight trick or treaters that came to our house. I know- tell it to the psychiatrist. I am finding myself more and more relieved when they want to pass on the "kid" activities, such as story time at the library, going to the children's museum, etc... Those are fun things, and I really enjoyed them- when they were experiencing it as a young child. Ethan has always been a "go against the grain" kid. His Kindergarten class photos are so sad. He is the only one on pajama day wearing jeans. He's the only one not taking part in "50's" day, or yellow, red, blue, or orange days. Therefore he is a little more agreeable when I ask if we "have to..." I should not use this to my advantage. It feels like I am taking away his childhood. Or maybe they are growing up and I am torn between letting them, and keeping them little...
Well, I better go carve the pumpkins now, and ask how they REALLY feel about Santa's Village.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

I have been neglecting my blog lately. I guess I just don't have much to say. My students are so good this year, I don't feel the need to vent. They are so nice. In fact, I am not agitated most of the time and I have time to sit back and laugh (in my head) about them often. Take this week for example. The kids are taking the NDSA. It tells the state, and George W. as well as Obama if I am in fact doing my job. We do not get the results of this test until the very last week in May, but it determines if our school is a good one, or bad one. Last year, I had several students read an article about an albino buffalo and "guess" based on the article, that an albino deer is really a ground hog or squirrel. They still passed! So, I am giving the standardized test while the kids have their privacy folders set up around them. I have one kid who crouched down into his folder, then slowly peeks over it at me. If he sees me watching, he quickly ducks down. I can't hold in my laughter and start laughing as I give the next directions. I have one who poked holes in his privacy folder (which I have had for 9 years, I'll have you know) which makes me mad and stop laughing, and I have one who stares at the ceiling when she is thinking- as if the answer is written up there. It's not, I looked.
Today was our Halloween party. The other third grade classes were wild and loud as they changed into their costumes. Mine quietly changed and sat down without making a peep. As if everyday at 2:00 we put on costumes. These kids need to learn how to party. At the end of the day, most of the kids wore their costumes home. "Mr. Panda" came back to school about 20 minutes later, frantic because he "lost" his costume. He looked in his desk, in his locker, in his neighbor's locker, no luck. He was on the verge of tears. I told him, "Maybe you left it at home. Where is your backpack?" He replies, "In the car, my mom drove me back." His mom, who has four boys, drove him back across town to look for his costume. I was helping him look and I finally said, "I can't remember what it looked like, what was it?"
"It was like this," he says unbuttoning his jacket. He was wearing it the whole time. He looks down and says, "ooh." and dashes out the door, only to come back for his jacket. I had one juice box left and I offered it to him and he said, "No thanks. My mom makes me share with my brothers." Being there are four of them he'd probably only get a sip. He is SO funny!!

I am little worried this is Noah's last "dress up" Halloween. Fifth graders trick or treating is kind of pushing it. Where did the time go? Wasn't it just yesterday I made a little cow outfit for him to wear and crawl around in? It was nine years ago today he got his first tooth, yet it seems like yesterday. I know the best way to ward off baby fever. Get a puppy. Sam IS one now, so we don't have an official puppy anymore...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dogs. Do You Get What You Pay For?

As you know, I have three dogs. Abby, an eleven pound King Charles Spaniel, who believes she is a beautiful baby princess because we tell her that every day. Max, our "special" 13 pound King Charles Spaniel/Bichon cross. And Sam, the 28 pound liquor store dog who thinks he is an eight pound puppy.
Before we got Abby, I took an Internet test to see what dog breed was right for me. I wanted a small dog, that does not bark, pee in the house- could possibly use a litter box or toilet, is good with the kids, does not need to go on a lot of walks, does not shed, and is not hyper. After I typed it all in, the wheels were turning while concocting our results, I fully expected it to say the perfect dog would be a cat. I did not want a dog. Scott's, husky/wolf/devil dog constantly peed on everything, including the children, me, the cars, bikes, strollers (with the baby in it), other dogs, the slide and of course my new beloved deck, and ruined anything good we owned had died two years earlier and I thought "Thank God. We are never getting another dog." Scott wanted a dog. We made a deal that I could pick the breed. Not knowing anything about dogs and spending my entire life loathing them due to the fact that all of my relatives lived on farms, therefore they had farm dogs. When farm dogs see little blond girls, it apparently reminds them of something they must knock down and turn into a chew toy. I remember growing up and into my late teenage years, worrying for days about knowing I was going somewhere and they had a dog. Also, it didn't help that my in-laws were major "dog" people. When I met Scott they had three dogs. THREE DOGS! I'd tell people this and we'd both agree they are certifiably nuts! They reminded me of the Saturday Night Live skit where they lady would hold her dog in front of her and talk for it as if the dog was talking and go on and on about "loving dogs". The last thing I wanted was a dog. The Internet results came in. King Charles Spaniel. They are wonderful with kids, don't shed, are evenly mild tempered, are loving and basically perfect. I didn't believe it. Scott thought his monster dog was perfect. My uncles thought their dogs who knocked down little girls and drug them around was perfect. The in-laws who had dogs who barked so shrilly, I continuously checked the side of my face to make sure my ears weren't bleeding, thought their dogs were perfect. I had my doubts. I put it out of my mind. It was a mute subject for about six months until I was on my way to pick up the boys from daycare after school one day and I heard on the radio that someone was donating a King Charles Spaniel puppy for the Christmas wish program a radio station was hosting. People were suppose to bid on the puppy and the money would go to the Christmas wish, which would in turn go to help a needy family in the area. Wanting very much to donate to the Christmas wish in my mom's memory, it peeked my interest. I heard the puppy whine on the radio. I was a done deal after that. Knowing this breed is expensive I assumed I had plenty of time to make my bid because who in their right mind would pay good money for a dog? I called the radio station and bid 350.00. The DJ assured me I was the high bidder and would likely win. I raced to pick up the boys and told them we were going to West Achers, where the Christmas wish program was taking place, and expected to take home my puppy. We arrived. People were man-handling my puppy! There was a line of people to hold my puppy! They were taking pictures on their phone with MY puppy! How dare they? She is MINE! When I arrived I told the DJ, "I am the one who bid 350.00 for the puppy." I was fully expecting the royal treatment, them to rip the puppy out of the puppy-hungry people's hands, and hand her over to me. He said, "Oh. The bid is up to 600.00. Do you want to bid again?" This was the approximate time when my e-Bay fascination and competition was at it's peek. I already made an inner pact that I will never be outbid, and I will not allow it now. I bid again. After I bid, I thought I should alert my husband so he will know why so much money was coming out of the checking account. Minutes after I bid, I was outbid. The "auction" was only suppose to go until 6:00. So I had a plan. Do what all good e-Bay winners do. Wait until there are 30 seconds left and outbid the last bid. The kids were five and three. They wanted to pet the puppy. They wanted to eat. Ethan wanted to go home. We waited. We were still in line to pet the puppy. We were there for an hour and had not touched the puppy. Anxiety got the best of me and I bid again before 6:00. Scott showed up, told me to "STOP IT!" The bidding war continued past 6:00. It continued past 7:30. The kids were starving, but I was not leaving without my puppy. They have the rest of their lives to eat. At 8:00, it was between one other person and me. That woman already had a King Charles Spaniel and a spoiled teenager who "wanted her own..." Are you kidding? I have two young boys and NO dogs. I deserve it more!! I was holding the puppy and was not willing to let her go. The radio station manager decided to stop the madness and told us each to write down an amount we were willing to spend. The puppy goes to the highest bidder and the money goes to the Christmas wish. I am embarrassed at how much I wrote down. It was more than our mortgage and car payment combined at that time. Well, the money granted three Christmas wishes and our family got our wish. We named her Abby. I fell in love with Abby. She was like a baby you could leave alone during the day. After more research we found out this breed can't really be left alone or they will get sad, and they are predestined to hip, heart and eye problems. I didn't care. I loved her. She is suppose to be a pretty, pretty princess but she is the first one to splash through mud puddles, roll in the wet leaves/dirt, and dig to China in the sand, as well as the only one to do hard time after being arrested by the dog catcher for getting loose. At any given time, she is the stinkiest and dirtiest one of the three. She also is the only one that needs her teeth cleaned at the vet, as well as the only one who has vision and ear problems. Two years later we decided to get Abby her own pet so she wouldn't be so sad when were weren't at home. That was an easy choice. One day Scott called me up and said, "Do you want your birthday present a month early?" "OK" That night we went to West Achers to meet Maxie's owner and came home with a six week old fur ball. To this day Ethan thinks dogs come from West Achers. Max is "special". He's not so smart. He runs into stuff. He thinks he's hiding under the bed when his butt and tail are sticking out. He'll crawl into a sleeping bag and not be able to find his way back out. Some see it as intellectually challenged. I see it was perfect. He would never run away when he gets loose, unlike Abby the ex-con. Maxie might try but then I'd say, "Max" and he'd come running back. Max lets you hold him like a baby and goes limp like a baby would in your arms. He also lets you wrap him up like a baby in a baby blanket. When he takes a bath, he just lays down in the tub, which makes my job so much easier. Max is the most quirky. He has to sleep above my pillow between the the pillow and headboard, he hides in his kennel when Sam gets to be too much for him and with his small mouth, he refuses to play fetch. Max is also scared of people, "stranger danger" is a big fear for him. Once he was sitting on my mother in law's lap and she started talking. He got this look on his face of pure panic. I think he thought he was on my lap. He loves his mama. Sam was the unplanned "free" child. Scott rescued him from a cold watery death at a liquor store at the ripe old age of three weeks old. We didn't know what breed he was. Turns out he's probably some kind of Cocker/Brittney/Springer Spaniel mix. He thinks he is an eight pound dog. He tries to curl up on your lap like the others. He is scared to jump off the rocking chair or swing on the deck. He's scared of the vacuum, as well as any animal bigger than Max.
Abby continues to be the most expensive with the teeth cleaning and extra visits to the vet for her ears/eyes, as well as bailing her out. Max is the next most expensive because he needs his hair cut, although he lets me do it, he is embarassed when I do. And Sam remains free. He is the picture of perfect health. With all of the research and price that went into Abby, I can't say I love her more than the other two. I love them all the same but for different reasons. I can't believe we are now the certifiable nuts who have THREE DOGS! They make a mess. You can't leave them to go on vacation. Sometimes they are loud. They interrupt my sleep.However, I know I wouldn't want it any other way.
This week, one of my students saw my school pictures laying on my desk. She is one of my sweetest students. She also happens to be the same girl who told me I look very different than I did when I taught them in Kindergarten.
"Mrs. Fairfield, when did you have your picture taken?"
I answered, "Before school."
"OH. That must be why you are so dressed up."
"I wore the same thing all day."
"Well, here you have on make-up and your hair looks nice."
Really? 8:15 I look nice. When the bell rings at 8:20 I am a mess.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

TV Land

I just probably stated a blog war with someone I don't know. My friend who has a blog (whose friend said a few weeks ago her precious baby was dying- but it was a dog), posted a post today talking about how we grew up on Little House, Different Strokes, Jeffersons, Cosby Show, Waltons, Happy Days, Family Ties, Growing Pains, Who's the Boss, The Brady Bunch, and Facts of Life. They were shows of our generation. They had a message, you learned a lesson after watching each one. The parents loved their children unconditionally and the children were always respectful. Our kids are missing out on that. There are few options a family can choose from to watch TV with their children today. A lot of shows (I've noticed especially Sunday) have inappropriate language, sexual overtones or are just plain gory. The Disney channel has shows for kids, but the child acting is awful and obnoxious at best, and I can't stand to watch them because the kids are so mean to each other and are disrespectful to adults. It's as if being mouthy is the new humor. Anyway, she received a post from a follower:

"We don't have tv in our house. This goes for video games also. NONE!! If we want change in the world we need to be that example, that may be harsh for some. Imagine what you could get done if you had all the time back to do something useful with that you watched tv with. My children read a lot of books. They use their imagination and play their own games in and outside. I find that more and more parents want out children to play with theirs? I wonder why that is?
I don't understand why you are ok with children being raised by gays or even single parents? How can we get people to understand commitment again? That it is not ok to quit their marriage. A child that my son plays with is in public school and he is one of three kids in his grade whose parents are not divorced!! That is terrible. If this continues the next generation will not even bother to get married. Just imagine the lack of morals you will see on tv then. So back to my original question, why is it ok with YOU to see gays and single people raising children on tv?"

Are you kidding me? These are the same people who posted a post on my friend's blog last winter stating the evils of public schools, and how they home school because that is God's will. Children who go to public schools are products of parents who don't love them, and all teachers are going to hell because they are helping Satan in going against God's will. My friend sends her children to public school, and is a teacher for public schools. If you are going to b**ch about the evils of public schools, don't do it to a teacher. Also, who gave him the right to judge people? How dare he insinuate all who do not live like him, or who are divorced, had a child before marriage, or are gay are immoral? I'd say being judgemental is immoral. Are all single parents immoral? What about gay couples? If they love their kids, I'd say NO!! I'd also say, by this person's standards, the dad on Different Strokes is immoral because he's a single parent, and adopted (gasp) children of a color other than himself. Good Grief!! I responded, because I couldn't hold it in and apparently I want a hex on myself/children/home. Here is what I said...

"My kids play outside for hours on end, play make believe, read a lot, and yes, watch tv. I did the same. A classroom where only three children have intact families is sad, however, I can only hope that there is unconditional love in those homes. Being a traditional married couple isn't going to guarantee happiness, stability, and good values any more than another household I'm afraid. Why are divorced parent immoral? What if you grew up in a household where the parents stuck together because divorce was "bad" yet you went to bed EVERY night praying they'd get a divorce, so you could get peace and have an actual childhood? Also, I've learned you really can't judge people unless you spend time in their shoes. Glass Houses, my friend, Glass Houses.
Also, I am not disturbed that children are being raised by single parents or gays on TV- it's the blatant disrespect of the child actors on TV. I don't like how evening shows show more gore than I could even imagine as a child, as well as flaunt sex as if we all live in Vegas."

I want my children to believe as long as they can about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and that babies are made when their parent pray REALLY, REALLY hard about wanting a baby. Am I lying to them? Yes. But, wasn't life easier and kinder when you believed in Santa and that all babies are wanted? I just can't get over how angry these people make me with their superior/judgmental thinking. Why not? For the past week, I've burst into tears almost everyday on the drop of a dime, constantly wondered if life is suppose to be this hard, gave people the "teacher eye" AT CHURCH when they didn't return my smile, and it's not even close to that time of the month!!
Maybe I'll crack open a bottle of beer and create bumper stickers that say, "My kid beat the crap out of your home schooled non-TV watching kid". Except, Noah would never hurt a flea and Ethan doesn't give anyone the time of day to care enough to hit them. Then I'll have to change it to: "My PUBLIC school Students beat up, robbed, and taught gang signs to your "Superior" kid."

And to think my post for today was going to be, "Dogs, Do You Get What You Pay For?"