Monday, March 26, 2012

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Terrible Twos Meet Treacherous Threes

When you don't have children and you see them "cutting up" out in public or somewhere with their parents there are a multitude of judgmental thoughts that can flood your mind. "If /when I have a child I will not stand for that kind of behavior!"...Oh REALLY!!!! Oftentimes I admit, "my daughter did this" or "she isn't going for that..." and some of my more seasoned parents inform me that I am the adult. There is truth is that, but the child is a person as well and that has to be respected.

In a different light, for the past 2 years, 11 months my child and I have gone through many life changing events. I have watched her develop a personality from as small as 5 months. Being a responsible parent, I have tried to research and read, study and observe as much as possible in order to stay on top of parenting my child. When she turned two years old she was in school, speaking fluently with great diction. She had no problem telling me what she did and did not want, who her friends were and what she did and did not like to eat. As the months progressed, I thought..."okay maybe two isnt so terrible". We would sing in the car, she was truly a delight! Then we hit 2 and a half!  WOW! Potty training, learning to read and math, extra curricular activities all matured her is ways I could never imagine. She and I were able to talk about the stories and projects in art class. The kids in Chinese class and what they were doing. Still singing songs in the car, "turn that up Mommy thats my song"! Not much by way of stubborn behavior or tantrums.

2 years and 9 months in, she became a REAL PILL!!! I find myself saying at least once a week "who are you and what have you done with my child". No more post-school discussions, at least not until she is ready to talk. She is so obstinate. Stubborn!! A few weeks ago there was...wait for it... dare I say...A TANTRUM!!! I looked at her like "what the flick?!?!?!" She fell out in the front yard about a purple car! The other night she had a serious meltdown about me taking her shirt off for bath time. I thank God my neighbors didn't call Children's Services. The screams alone would have had me on lock down.

As is my nature, I have been in full analysis mode! Why is she acting like this? Is it the school? Partly yes, she is observing the behaviors of some of her classmates and trying to bring that mess home. I got that right away and now I know to ask her, "who in class acts like this?" She answers and then I proceed with my "be an individual and that isn't how we act" speech. Is she having some maladjustment somewhere? Is she ADD? What?!?!?! Then I reconcile that although I will continue to observe and address as much as possible. That chick is turning 3 years old and its about to be ON!!! She is very smart, she is a budding master manipulator, and her MOUTH is a force that I can only say she comes by very naturally.

The sleep-hazed days of infancy are over. The cutesy days of learning to walk sippy cups and learning to hold your own spoon are a thing of the past. Parenting is in full gear right now. Watching her learn how she is going to navigate and move is more interesting now than ever. I used to joke about when I had a child if they did something  I didn't like I would take the child in the backyard and just box with them. Now I have a child, and boxing is the last thing I wanna do but I am definitely going to have to tighten my mental sparring game up!

Keep us in your prayers!


Monday, March 12, 2012

12 yr Old Homeschooled Boy Enters Morehouse

The Plight of Excellence: Overwhelmed or Unchallenged?

My good sister-friend posted this link on FB today:

And of course it prompted an interesting discussion about how much we are exposing our children to in order to ensure making the best people we can possibly make. Another friend (this is the greatest thing about Facebook, a countrywide discussion amongst friends), who is not a parent took the stance of "why not let the kids be kids". Admittedly, when I was not somebody's mother I felt the same way. Is it harsh to have the children in music classes, multiple language classes, structure play groups, arts classes, etc. and dare I say SCHOOL when they are only 2 years old? 

The article posted is about those parents so obsessed with excellence that they are enrolling their children on the waiting list for the best programs while in the womb. Is that insanity or really smart planning? Honestly, I'm not sure. Hindsight and all, if I knew about the different activities and programs, that I didn't know about 3 years ago, how much more advanced would my child be? Who is really to say? I like to think that I expose my child to a great deal but I do know mothers who do way more than I and their children reflect their respective experiences. Is the quest for the super smart, well adapted children giving way to a society of toddlers/children that just may not be having any fun? 

Coming from a household of strict higher education, I think "fun" may have been overrated for quite some time now. Not to say that I don't want my child to have fun, be silly and do what children do. It just seems to me that to some extent, over the past 20 years, while our children were having fun a good part of the world has surpassed us on so many levels. Our public educational system has become an exercise in futility and purely classicist. There are children in both urban and suburban areas who have very limited skills and capacity. Technology, if used improperly, has paved a way of critical thinking lethargy!

For a long time I had no desire to have a child. I always considered myself too self absorbed to share my life. Then with my first miscarriage the reality of inevitability becoming a mother was intensely overwhelming. In my periphery, I started to listen more carefully to educational statistics. Closely, I watched my family and friends mature through their mothering process and observed lifestyle changes. I paid more attention with what would seem to be a very clinical eye. One conclusion made was that you really needed to have a viable working plan in order to raise a good child. It would seem that when people don't plan to have the child, the child has no plan to grow. Conversely, I did not plan to have a child but through my earlier loss I did develop a contingency plan, in the event of having a child. So far my child is doing well with the parts of the plan I have implemented thus far but I am clear that she is an individual and will definitely deviate from the plan at some point. Am I prepared? Possibly. One should always have a working Plan B! And C, or D!!!

My daughter will continue to grow into an extraordinary person, and with the Grace of God protecting her all I can ask is that she continue to be great, productive person and excel. 


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Art of Growing

"When we approach children with the awareness that they can teach us, we automatically become more present ourselves."- Daily OM

To watch a person grow is truly a wonder of Grace. When you are in the presence of a person everyday, oftentimes their metamorphosis into a completely different being goes without notice. Then there are several moments that show you that the person's life you are witnessing has changed dramatically. As well, there is the "oh my God, look how big she has gotten" moments that a person enjoys when they haven't seen first hand the daily growth occurrences.

Albeit a simplistic notion, the bottom-line is growth is inevitable. Looking at pictures from the past allows the capture of time gone by. The best advice to give any new parent is to record as many moments as possible in any way you can. Camera, video, audio, whatever your realm record your children because they are ever rapidly changing and you have all new wonders to capture and explore. 

I chose the above quote because today's epiphany was that of learning through watching my child grow. To think that just a blink of an eye ago she needed me to feed her, clean her, hold her to sit and stand...This journey moves entirely too fast and the learning curve is so overwhelming that so much can get lost of you arent recording most of it!

You can appreciate the art of learning through watching your child develop. So much they have to absorb by 5 years old. Its amazing! Its awesome when you watch them grow on a monitor. Then the grow right out of your hands and into their own space. This is an interesting time to have such a small child. At my age, friends are having grandchildren and they are learning through that experience to enjoy their children differently than they did as parents. As well I am surrounded by new parents of small children. The awe and surprise that comes with the daily interaction of small children is still astounding.

Ideally, we should always be growing no matter what the age in some form or fashion. I just wish there was a time machine form of record that would allow for past moments to be revisited! Cause I sure would love to see 24 again!!!! HAHAHAHA You thought it was gonna be ablout the little girl didn't you!  Yes, well I would love to see months 1-6 again of my little sweet sweet!!1

Enjoy the time you have because it moves to fast to can hold on! 



Saturday, March 3, 2012

An Old New Spin on Things

Sometimes when I think about all that is shared in this space I wonder if its too personal. Many late nights, this blog has been used as a vehicle of release and a source of comfort. Is there any value in the rantings of an overwhelmed mother? Possibly.... but clearly it would better serve the community to have some useful and empowering information. 

Hello my name is Chana and I am a shopaholic! All of my love of shopping has been an exercise of high and lows. I appreciate a good deal. Love a great deal! Since the beginning, I have been extremely strategic about shopping for my daughter. Typically, I shop either a season or two ahead in order to find great deals. As well, I use the old stuff to leverage the new acquisitions. This later point has been the fundamental basis for buying premiere quality items. People seem to think we are rich, when in fact I just am really good at leveraging. Literally, I bought (3) $1000+ strollers what a person would pay for 1 average stroller (under $500). Dont ask me why we had to have more than one stroller. She has had the best car seats for both cars, and lets not discuss her wardrobe.

How did we accomplish this coup de shop? Many different ways, within New York City there are awesome children's swap-meets, stoop sales, consignment shops, neighborhood parent email list servs and my all time favorite Ebay. These passed 3 years have been an insurmountable journey in finds and losses. Once my daughter grows out of a substantial grouping of items, I pick out the best and sell. Last summer we made close to $400 in a stoop sale, just on the 0-12 month clothes and shoes. Once the weather breaks we can do a larger sale because we are finally out of the "months" and have hit the "Ts". Its on now baby!

Be strategic about your purchases because what you have used and can use no more, someone else will pay for and be very happy. Some people give away and that's fine but money can be made quite effortlessly on the items you no longer need and then its not such a budget buster to get new stuff. Toys can be recycled or sold to daycare centers for a very nominal amount. Try your hand at bartering, donating, re-gifting or flat out selling. You would be surprised how gratifying the purging process can be on so many levels!

Happy releasing!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Its A Crap Shoot! Is it?!?!

The other day I had a conversation with a sorority sister and friend whom I love dearly. She is my age and has newly teenaged twin daughters. The benefit of learning her seasoned "mothering skills" and the great advice makes for an invaluable learning experience. The first month my daughter was home she came to visit, she was the ONLY honest person with me about the challenges of being a new mother. We spoke of the overwhelming loneliness and confusion. She helped me to relate to the post fan fare and the reality of my new responsibility. My friend has always been a great touch stone of reality and support.

So when another sorority sister-friend sent out some info on advocating positively through your child's educational experience I wanted to discuss with my resident expert. As we spoke about the information we received and how it pertained to our respective situations, it became abundantly clear that although she has teenagers, and I a toddler, we were enduring similar circumstances in making sure our children were being properly educated and socialized. The interesting thing about our discussion is my friend speaks from the mindset of childhood coming to a conclusion. Her daughters are burgeoning on womanhood and moving rapidly into adulthood. Meanwhile on the other end of the spectrum I am beginning this journey into schools and teachers, friends, social gatherings and personal expectations.

My friend and I discussed how schools can offer so much or so little. The support mechanisms put in place to help your child excel as well as the pitfalls they may suffer as a result of being overlooked. She listened intently to my light rant about the challenges of preschool as she regaled me with her challenges of high school. Basically the statement that resonated with me the most was as we talked schools she said, "its a crap shoot on whether or not you are making the best decisions when you are making them"- And she is absolutely right. With all the information, research and tools available we still have to have faith that we are making the best decisions for our children. I love gleaning from the experience of people who have gone through the fire. For all of the friends, sisters, associates and organizations I belong to- the sisterhood of mothers is a power force and I am most grateful to be a member.