Posted in Family, Mental Health, parenting, Uncategorized

Guest post: My Bipolar Mind

[Guest Post] Canceling Playdates: Life With Juvenile Bipolar

Just had an article posted over at My Bipolar Mind. Check it out!

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Posted in Family, Mother's Day, parenting, Uncategorized

Tangled: A love/hate story about hair

I knew something was amiss. It was too quiet.

I heard in the sweetest voice “mommy, where do you want me to put my craft scissors?”

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Oh no.

  1. She shouldn’t even have her craft scissors
  2. She never cares or asks where I think she should put anything
  3. If she is asking it’s because she wants me to know she indeed has said scissors
  4. She wants me to know and wants to get caught because that’s a thing now

A little breadcrumb trail of blue and purple hair led from the dining room into the playroom, then up the stairs where she ran to when she heard me get up from the table.

At first that was a relief, she just cut up her doll again, no big deal. It was her troll doll and that makes me sad, but whatever.

But as I got closer to her room I saw the bundles of long blonde strands sporadically sprinkled in.

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Sure enough, her mini bangs that had just started to finally get long enough from the last scissors incident were again mini and spiky. Her hair line now looks like an M.C. Escher painting with snips here and pieces missing there.

Every kid is going to cut their own hair. I had a bowl cut in the second grade because of playing barber shop with my cousin and failing miserably.

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(Note: This is not me, this kid is actually pulling the bowl cut off better than I did)

HOWEVER, this is the ninth or tenth time we have had this conversation. No scissors, no hair, no cutting hair, no cutting your brother’s hair, please for the love of God stop getting sharp objects. Again, this is an impulse control problem that I know we will continue to deal with.

So, we are cutting her hair. Her hair is down to her waist almost and all it does is cause us pain. She screams when it’s time to brush it, no matter how gentle and soft you are. She never keeps it up or keeps in barrettes to get her bangs out of her face. It’s a knotty mess most of the time and now I can’t get her to stop cutting it. So off it goes.

Well she was not happy with this decision to say the least.

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(Note: This is a real note from my real child on a real door)

Hair cut is happening this weekend. Hopefully we both make it through the ordeal.

Posted in Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

The importance of ignoring

When I see the breakdown starting; the clenched fists, the low growl, the slanted eyes, my first reaction is start figuring out exactly what happened to trigger her. Sometimes I have to know. We were having such a nice time, and boom. But through the past two years of dealing with emotional disorders in my child I have learned that sometimes it’s best to ignore it. Ignoring is a controversial topic and I’m not here to change your mind about it necessarily, but there are pros to learning when to meddle and when to let be. Image result for preschool tantrum

Last night we had a tantrum starting. It was late, close to bedtime, and she wanted to watch a movie. Of course she knew it wasn’t going to happen but as soon as I start explaining why she fell to the floor, kicked her legs, and yelled at me “no, no, no, movie”. She did this lovely little regression she does when she’s not getting her way. She’s five now, so this kind of behavior is getting to be not age appropriate. I started trying to talk over her but decided to use the ignore tactic instead. It may or may not have helped there were other people there at the time. My husband and mother were both standing, watching her little body flare on the floor.

“I can’t talk to you when you are acting like this so I’m going in the other room until you’re ready.” (Note: I could still hear/see her she wasn’t in any danger for anyone who automatically goes to the worst case scenario). I expected the usual heightened screaming and yelling but I heard nothing. She stayed on the floor and kicked a few

more times, then got up and calmly said, “mommy can I just have my bedtime snack?”

I hugged her and told her how great of a job she did calming herself down and gave her a snack.

Ignoring has it’s time and place. Some people think you are sending the child mixed signals. That ignoring their negative behaviors is showing them you only care when they are being “good”. I used to think that’s what ignoring her would mean. To me though, there’s a difference. If she’s having a panic attack or is uncontrollably upset about something, no I would not leave her alone to figure it out. If she’s angry to the point of losing control, no I would leave her alone to define her inner emotions herself. If she’s having a tantrum or a fit over something like a snack, movie, etc, yes I will. The main argument I have seen, is that the child is trying to get attention and that ignoring will only make it worse or make them feel isolated and

unwanted. I do think this would be the case if that child is ignored daily or if the child is too young to understand. If you aren’t listening to their stories and questions, and then ignoring them AGAIN when they’re having a breakdown, yeah they’re going to feel like they just can’t do anything right. However, there is such a thing as negative attention. I know, *gasp* this is life altering, but in an age of helicopter parenting and children not being capable of ever doing wrong, it bothers me that this is overlooked. I also feel that a one year old having a breakdown and a five year old are two very different things. Look at the age appropriateness of your child’s behavior and don’t ever leave an infant or toddler alone.

The perks and benefits of ignoring:

    1. You won’t lose your sh*t- you shouldn’t yell at a toddler or child having a tantrum. I do think “monkey see, monkey do” is a thing. They see you yelling at them yelling, then they in turn need to yell at you, because they’re yelling, and it’s just so loud. Losing your cool is going to happen but in the case of a mini meltdown, just say “we’ll talk when you’re ready, I’m right over here” and walk away. No yelling, no threats. Related image
    2. End the need for negative attention- once your child realizes ‘hey, mommy isn’t going to sit here and stare at me and give me what I want’, they will stop.
    3. Resist the urge to over explain- if you ignore the tantrum then you are not as tempted to sit there and try to have a reasonable conversation with them while they can’t even comprehend their own feelings. Talking it out only works AFTER the tantrum has subsided.
    4. Teaches appropriate responses- when your child starts to realize that they get nothing when they lash out but conversation and better end results when they communicate, they will try to communicate more effectively. Just keep in mind again the age appropriateness of what you are expecting your child to say/do. “That is not how we behave” is pretty much the staple explanation to tantrums in my house.
    5. Self soothing- again there’s mixed feelings out there but I think self soothing is a HUGE plus for children to learn. I don’t have someone around all the time to hug or hit or yell at or talk to or whatever I may need at that time. You have to learn that sometimes you have to soothe yourself. Children with emotional needs even more so.
    6. It’s not cute or funny- one recommendation that drives me bonkers is to use humor to diffuse the tantrum. I love humor, we use it a lot, but how is that teaching the child to deal with their feelings? “Hey I know you’re angry and sad but let’s just forget that for minute and look at this funny face I’m making ahhhh so great okay let’s go play”. Um, what? That’s not a great life lesson and I don’t want my kid throwing a fit every time they want play and be funny with me. Just you know, say so.Image result for kid laughing then mad gif

AGAIN, you know your child and you know what is a sad cry, angry cry, frustrated cry, and “I just can’t believe you aren’t giving my ice cream for dinner” cry. You can decipher better than anyone else when these tactics should be used. I would use more support and physical contact when the tantrum seems uncontrollable and the child really needs your guidance. I am talking from dealing with emotional disorders but obviously all children can benefit from knowing what to do and when.

The best way to ignore it in my opinion, is to stay close but act like it doesn’t phase you that your child sounds possessed. Start cleaning or straightening up the room next to him/her. Check on them, make sure they aren’t escalating. But don’t give in to the demand. That’s the biggest part of this whole scenario. Make sure they understand that you love them dearly, but reacting that way is harmful and hurtful and most all not effective.

Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

Explaining Death to Children

Not the best topic in the world for a blog post by any means, but thanks to some unfortunate circumstances in my life I have been thinking about this a lot lately. How to explain death to a child. Some children unfortunately experience it early on, some don’t

until they are older and arguably more able to deal with it. Some people like myself, don’t lose anyone close to them until they are an adult. Everyone grieves differently and everyone processes the idea of death differently. Kids included.

Having a five year old that I have to explain this concept to is not something I am super excited about. You can’t really avoid the topic of faith and spirituality on some level when death becomes a point of conversation. For someone like me (I’m sure some of you can relate) who struggles constantly with their faith, it becomes even harder sometimes. I know what I need to say in so many words but how? and what do I leave out?

I know her little inquisitive mind is not going to be okay with “well he’s in heaven now”. “Where in heaven? How do I see him? Can he see me? Can he hear me? Should I yell louder so he can hear me? What if wants to come back? What if he gets lost? What if he’s not there? What if…how come…when does…”

I can’t answer all of her concerns honestly and I’m a terrible liar trying to make up the answers as I go.

I did find some good resources I wanted to share in case anyone else might be going through this situation as well:

How to Talk to Kids About Death

 

Posted in Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

Why so serious (mom and dads)?

It’s amazing how loud pots are when they are being beaten together by little hands. It’s amazing how mud seems that much more impossible to clean when your toddler comes inside caked in it. Craft supplies can seem daunting to get out because every craft requires a mess. Every water play activity requires mopping after. Every play bath requires at least one outfit change on your part.

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Having fun and playing with your kids can sometimes lose it’s spark. You can get more concerned with the aftermath than the actual play time. My daughter asked me the other day if we could make a craft, which she loves to do, and I said “no honey I just wiped off the kitchen table”.

Wait what? We can’t craft because I wiped off a table? What kind of logic is that?

Sometimes it’s hard to drop what you’re doing and say yes! Yes we can. Screw the laundry, who needs clean plates, my pants will wear another day…probably. For me it’s even harder to not dread the aftermath, as mentioned above. But kids don’t grow up and remember having a spotless home, they grow up remembering when you played super heroes together in the backyard. They remember trips to the ice cream shop and visits to the zoo. But you can’t live in a pig sty either. Cleaning and chores kind of have to happen. Sometimes you have to be the grown up and be serious. So how do you balance it all? I honestly don’t know.

I got called a Pinterest mom the other day and at first I was insulted just because I didn’t really know what the hell that meant. But then it was explained that I do things you see on Pinterest but never actually do with your kids. Then I was flattered but I felt a little like a cheat because there is plenty I don’t do, that I should. So, how do you become a not so serious, Pinterest, fun mom? Again, I don’t really know, but here’s the best advice I can gather for that question.

Step one: stop being so serious

My daughter is that special stage of life when she knows exactly what not to say, and that she has the ability to say it whenever she wants. That age when I feel like a 13 year old is trapped in my 4 year old’s body. That oh-so-magical age where I hear “we aren’t friends anymore, you’re mean” at least four or five times a week. We just had a long discussion about what a mortgage was the other day when she decided she was going to run away. More on that later.

I find, the best way to handle a little bit of sass, is to make fun of it. I make fun of how silly she sounds when she’s having an attitude. I put my hands on my hips and shake my head and say “does this look nice to you? or does this look like someone who is not going to get what they are asking for?” I exaggerate her movements and voice enough that usually, it causes laughter. Laughter leads to happiness and happiness leads to no more attitude. At least for the time being. This is not to say that I do that or think it you should look over blatantly bad or disrespectful behaviors. Just pick and choose your battles.

It’s the picture frame argument my husband and I have. When a kid draws on the wall you can a) freak out, b) quietly find a magic eraser and start erasing, or c) frame it. I choose to frame it.

Step two: have family time

This is the step I struggle with because this is the step I want more than anything else. As a working mom I really feel like I miss out on quality time with my kids, and even my husband. We all know that complaint, but it is a valid one. Sometimes family time is also errand time. Like grocery shopping or running into town for a certain bill that needs to be paid. I try to turn these moments into family time. My daughter and I go to the farmer’s market at least twice a month together to get our produce in the spring and summer. It’s always fun to walk around and see the flowers and pick out a special treat for later.

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It’s important to make the distinction between quality time and quantity of time. Just because you might be with your kids all week if you stay home, doesn’t mean you were actually with your kids all week. You probably plopped in a movie or two or maybe three. You probably found some coloring books or crayons and pushed them into a corner somewhere. You did chores, you worked, you prepped dinner, you did things you have to do on a daily basis, which means it probably wasn’t quality time. Not saying there’s anyway around that, just make the mental note that ‘yes, I with baby girl today but we only played together for twenty minutes after lunch’. Then you can try to fit in my quality time at the end of the day or the next day.

Step three: Us Toys

Not Toys-R-Us, Us Toys have saved my relationship with my daughter in a lot of ways. Without going into her anxiety and other issues, the book Growing Up Brave is a great read for any parent that is struggling with a child with emotional problems. It is geared for anxiety but I think a lot of the tips and ideas mentioned would work for a variety of disorders.

Anyhoo, one of the things I took away from that book is “Child Led Play”. For ten minutes, everyday, you play with your child but you let them lead the playtime. Now this may sound easy and like something you already do, but I assure you if you really start listening to yourself while you’re playing, you will hear a person you didn’t know was there. During your child led play it’s good to have a box or bag filled with stuff just you two play with. Ours was a mermaid dress up game, two Barbies, a sticker book craft, and some art supplies to start. Now we usually just do a craft together because her father isn’t very “artsy” and that’s our special thing to do. They do puzzles or blocks. So you get it, you have something that’s just for you two, you pick a place where you won’t be bothered by the other parent, siblings, phone calls, anything.

Completely uninterrupted playtime that they lead. Don’t interrupt them, don’t correct them, don’t even give them ideas to a certain extent. It’s their party for ten to fifteen minutes. Try it for a month and I’d be surprised to find someone it doesn’t help your bond with your kid.

Posted in Education, Family, Library, literature, Opinion, parenting, pop culture, reading, Uncategorized

6 Children’s books that are just wrong

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I love seeing spoofs of children’s literature, even the obscene ones. However, as I was reading to my daughter the other night I started to notice there’s enough creepy nonsense in a lot of these stories to begin with. Spoofs may not even be necessary.

So now I will ruin some childhood classics-

Corduroy

Corduroy is one of my favorites. I loved it as a kid and I love reading it still. However, this is the first book that I really was like, “huh, I can’t believe I didn’t notice that before.” In most of the pages all the other toys are staring straight ahead, with that deadpan flopped head look they are supposed to have.

When Lisa comes back to buy Corduroy however, things turn dark. All the toys glare at poor Corduroy and the bunny next to him stares hard with bright red eyes. RED EYES?

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cord

Goodnight Moon

You may already know my stance on Goodnight Moon. It’s not great. It’s so easy to find flaws in this comically nonsensical children’s book. One can argue that Brown was a revolutionary, writing children’s books that represented life at the time of publishing (1947). Before that most children’s story were telling tales of far away places, fairy tales, and other things that were not super relatable to children.

I would still have to say…I just can’t stand it.

Why is that fireplace so big? Where are the parents stopping the children from toppling in and cooking themselves into a nice rabbit stew? Who is the decorator, because they need to be fired.

Green walls, red carpet, yellow and blue curtains, we want this child’s room to be avante garde…nailed it. Oh, but throw in a tiger skin rug, that will really pull everything together.

The color scheme we're going for is

Love You Forever

I know some of you are going to be like “noooo, leave Love You Forever alone!” but come on.

Books blog

Why is she crawling? Why is she crawling into her teenage son’s room? I have a son, I will not be doing that.

Then continue on to see her spooning her adult son like he’s still an infant. Shoulder to cry on? Sure. Rocking to sleep at 25? Probably not.

In a Dark Dark Room

At least this book is supposed to be creepy, but I had to add it. I saw in another post someone mentioned the green ribbon story. I second that fear. That story has stuck with me my whole life. When I started teaching I saw this book in our collection and was like “oh man, that freaking girl with the ribbon is in there, nope”.

And Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? The stories aren’t even scary but those drawings are terrifying.

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Arthur

There really isn’t anything wrong with the Arthur books, I actually really like Arthur. Arthur the Aardvark, the story goes that Marc Brown’s son wanted a story about a weird animal and the first one that popped into Brown’s head was an aardvark. The first illustration is from the original Arthur books published in the 70’s. The middle is Arthur’s transformation in the 80’s. Then the last is him now. I can’t even tell what the last Arthur is anymore! Is he a dog? A giant hamster type thing? Maybe a bear?

Richard Scarry Butcher Shop

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So the butcher character is in multiple Richard Scarry books but there’s a common theme for the character…it’s a pig. A pig, slicing up ham and sausage and pork chops and bacon and…yeah it’s a little gross.

Curious George Takes a Job

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Curious George is a favorite at my house. I did not realize this one particular book actually has quite the following. Curious George Takes a Job is like all classic Curious George tales of mishap and mayhem…except this time George tries ether.

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So…yeah kids try drugs and feel like you’re flying and rings and stars will dance around your heads then you’ll pass out with a giant smile on your face while your family looks down at you in shock. I guess it’s accurate at least.

What are some more classics that maybe need to be reread with adult eyes?