For those who know me, you may be sure that I am referencing a new foster or adoptive child. Not this time! This time, my new daughter is my son, Francis’, new wife. She is wonderful and sweet and recently blew me away with the Mother’s Day Card she sent. Separate from my son’s, she sent a beautifully designed Papyrus’ Mother’s Day Card with 3-D flowers and a lot of sentiment. But the sentiment that was most important was what she wrote inside; “Thank you for being such a great mom and raising such a wonderful son!” Isn’t it thoughtful? I now officially have another “daughter” and she’s all grown up. I didn’t have to do a thing…
Posts tagged ‘news’
Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to appreciate moms, step-moms, birth moms, adoptive moms, wanna be moms and women who love children. Bless you for making a difference in a child’s life! Don’t you get joy from seeing the joy in a laughing child, the shy smile of a child with twinkling eyes, and the serene look on their faces when they are sleeping? Ahhhhhh……..what sweet little rewards of being with a child…
Most of us know, however, that it is VERY difficult to be a mom and sometimes the REAL rewards are far apart….
When my son Steven was in nursery school, it was a real challenge because of his autistic and ADHD problems. He had been born addicted to cocaine and heroine and his nervous system was “messed up” (my professional diagnosis.) Bringing him was a real challenge as he would kick and scream and cry, yet I did it because he could not hide out safely at home for his entire life with me vacuuming around him. At first, he would spend most of the time in school hiding out in the “quiet tent”, playing with his plastic reptiles, sometimes soaking in the information from the teacher. Eventually, he sauntered out of his safe space to see what was going on. He did not join the other children, but he was with them…a huge improvement. Eventually, nursery school became normalized for him; part of his routine. He would come home with his little projects; a paper flower, a painted snake, a play dough alligator. I had learned not to make a “fuss” over these things, but to quietly tell him they were wonderful while his head dropped to his chest, eyes closed. (He was not a child who could tolerate excitement of any kind.) He survived two years in that classroom, and I wondered how he would act on “graduation day”, a celebration seemingly out of his tolerance level. All of the children stood there in their little paper graduation caps, tassels dangling in front of their noses so they had to keep blowing them away. All of the children except Steven. The children sang a song, and thanked their moms and generally wowed the crowd with their antics. All of the children except Steven. The children walked in a nice, straight line to get their nursery school diplomas; all except Steven. When all but one diploma had been handed out, the teacher walked over to where Steven was hiding under a chair, butt facing outwards. (If I had been smart, I would have sewed a smiley face on the butt of his pants, but, alas, I had been unrealistically hoping that he would join the other children in the graduation ceremony.) The teacher bent down with the document and Steven’s little hand reached out to grab it. He quickly pulled the diploma out of sight. Calm and cool under the seat, he had made it! Steven had graduated from nursery school without a tantrum, yelling or screaming. He graduated in the manner he felt most comfortable, but graduate he did! What a reward that was for me; I was a proud mother, indeed!
Diagnosed in elementary school with Dissociative Identity Disorder, Angel, has been very carefully placed in specialized classrooms. Although intelligent and able to do grade level work, he frequently changes “parts”, (his word for his alternate personalities.) His teachers and teacher aids, bless their souls, understand him well, and manage to educate him, even if it means repeating the same lesson because a different “part” was out that day, or giving his the test over because the “part” that studied for the test is not the “part” that took the test! He has a baby part which necessitates him to just “veg out” in a large mushroom chair. On those days, nothing was learned. His condition has been kept top secret and no unnecessary teachers or others in the school know about it. Fortunately, he has been living a very “normal” life. I have found one surprising benefit…he has a “Game Show Host” part. I work with a recreational group of adults with disabilities, and every now and then we play Bingo or Family Feud. Angel, as have all of my children, regularly comes with me. One day, he asked to be the moderator for Family Feud and his “performance” was beyond hilarious. Usually a reserved child with groups, all of a sudden he channeled Richard Dawson! He went down the rows of “contestants”, gave each of them a peck on the cheek, and, while holding their hands in his, asked their names and a little about themselves. The older women, who probably have not had much attention in their lives, giggled and smiled and blushed. Then, Angel read each question with gusto, and made a “ding” noise when they got it right, and a loud buzzer noise if they got it wrong. It was sooooooooooo funny because it was so out of character of the Angel that they knew. This group of adult with disabilities, many of whom live alone on a minimum income with this once a week outing their only time out of their houses, were laughing hysterically that evening. Ever since then, they look forward to Family Feud and “Gameshow Host” Angel! What a reward for me to see Angel’s give such joy to these wonderful people!
As a graduation present, my daughter, Dinora, and I took a trip back to her birth country in Guatemala. She had done fundraising to assist with the opening of a soup kitchen in Antigua, and we were there for “opening day”. We went shopping that morning, taking a little “putt putt” (2 wheeled open air taxi) into the village, giggling all the way as it bounced along. We bought flowers of all bright shapes and sizes, which stuck out of the putt putt on the way back, narrowly bopping passers by on the head. We spread the flowers out in front of the alter where a mass was to be said in honor of the opening of the facility. An overflowing crowd of people filled the make-shift pews, and it was a beautiful, emotional mass. Even though it was all in Spanish I seemed to understand every word, and I could certainly feel the emotion in the songs which the Indigenous Guatemalans sang. After mass, people lined up for the food in their brightly colored clothing. There was my daughter, a young adult, behind the counter, dark hair pulled back into a pony tail, serving food with a beaming smile on her face showing dimples I never knew she had, (or perhaps she had never smiled so brightly.) She was old enough and cared enough to give back something and help “her people” as she called them. I will never forget the sight of her…sweat on her brow, wiping her hands on her apron, making pleasant conversation in Spanish while smiling that amazing smile… How could that sight NOT be a reward for a mom after years of raising a difficult teen?
Raising Marie has been the most difficult because of her many serious challenges. When she came to us, she was street smart at the age of seven.(See post “All She did Was Scream and Say No! No! No!) She had no thought of danger and no social skills. Although this may sound silly, one of my concerns was the fact that she would litter. Get a drink; throw the bottle on the ground. Have a piece of gum; throw the wrapper on the ground. Popsicle; stick thrown in the grass. Repeatedly, I would have her pick it up and throw it away, explaining that we don’t litter in our family. Marie could not have cared less…she did not want to be in our family anyway… It took many months with us before she learned not to litter. That’s why it shocked me when we were at the mall one day and she casually flicked the paper from her straw onto the ground. My eyes widened, and just as I was about to ask her to pick it up, she bent down and picked it up, signing to me “I was just teasing you! I know we don’t litter in this family!” What a reward it was to hear her say that! Finally, she felt part of our family!
My most favorite reward I saved for last. For all of you parents, especially parents with children with disabilities, I will share that there has been no greater reward in my life than seeing my son, Francis, become a successful adult. Despite being legally blind, he has a college degree, is very successful in a job which he loves and through which he is benefitting others, and he recently married a great woman who not only loves him for the wonderful person that he is, but can also drive a car so he won’t have to take public transit to work any more! There IS no greater reward for a parent; to know that the problems, fun, hard work, love, difficulties and dispersed joys of childhood have come together in a positive way. My son has officially “made it” to adulthood. Now he can look forward to the rewards he will experience in raising his own children. Then I get the extra rewards of grandchildren!
To all of you mothers and others out there, Happy Mother’s Day! Beyond the handmade cards, the flowers, the breakfasts and dinners out, and the gifts of the day, so many more rewards await you. Sometimes you just have to be patient…
I admit it… I LOVE to gamble; to play the slot machines at the casino. It is one of my wicked vices. (I’ll bet you are all shocked to hear such an admission, which I have been consciously keeping from you so as not to tarnish my good image.)
It goes back to the days when I was a young adult. My mother and my brother loved it when I took them to a casino in a nearby state. We would take a day trip sponsored by a local bus company, and for a mere $25 fee, we would get a coupon for a free buffet and a coupon for $25 in gambling money. As my mother was extremely frugal, this deal was enticing to her, and it allowed the three of us to have a nice day together. My brother, who was severely developmentally delayed, legally blind, deaf, and schizophrenic, loved the long ride on the bus, to eat at the buffet where he could choose all of his favorite foods, and to enjoy all of the bright lights. But his favorite thing to do was to play a martian slot machine. In his schizophrenic haze, he thought of himself as an alien, so he felt somewhat vindicated to see a slot machine “of his people.” His $25 in free gambling money would last for hours as he would always bid the minimum, 5 cents. Every time the symbols on the machine matched, aliens would swoop down to bring them into their spaceship. With his eyes pressed close to the machine to see, my brother joyfully whooped and hollered every time that happened.The money he won was secondary. He was in his “element”, something which he rarely felt elsewhere. Plus,my brother loved Diet Coke,and he could get all of the Diet Coke he wanted free. (We had purchased a refillable plastic cup one time, and my mother held onto it like gold…washing it and bringing it to every visit to the casino….for years my brother was thrilled to get free soda!)
My mom would always cash in her $25 gambling voucher. She did not believe in gambling and preferred to take the money in cash, which to her meant a great day out with a free trip and buffet. Her joy over a great bargain was greater than her playful spirit. She was certain that the machines were fixed, and that they “let you win” in the beginning, and then, when your money was gone, you would put in more and more, never winning again. Although I thought this idea was ludicrous, I have to admit that, over the years, I have seen this happen time and time again…those crafty slot machines!!!! Regardless, I LOVED to play the slots. I would have to sneak away from my mom because when my $25 voucher ran out, (as it ALWAYS did,) I would play my own money.
And so it was yesterday, when I took a similar bus trip with the recreation group of adults with disabilities that I coordinate. (After all, just because they have a disability doesn’t mean they should be excluded from loosing their money at the casino like the rest of us!) It was during that trip that I lost all of my money. As the last few cents dwindled away in the slot machine, I felt a sick feeling in my stomach. I was so sure I was going to win! It was FATE for me to win, because I really needed the money and therefore God could work his “magic” and allow my machine to his the jackpot, therefore getting me out of debt. Isn’t that the way God works? Unfortunately not…
As my money ran out, I sat there sad, disappointed, and frantic. What would you all THINK of me? How was I going to buy lunch for the rest of the week? How could I have been so STUPID?!?!?! All my money was gone…
It is a good thing I only brought $20 with which to gamble…
I don’t travel very often, but when I need to book a hotel, I use Hotwire.com. They offer wonderful hotels at a low rate; hotels that have extra rooms that they need to fill up. The catch is, you do not know the name of the hotel, just the “type” of hotels that are included in each category. Hotwire has never disappointed me, as they have always provided quality hotels at a greatly discounted price. This past weekend, I was scheduled to do a presentation for a large parents conference held at Perkins School for the Blind, about a two hour drive for me. Because the conference was scheduled to begin at 8:30 am, and I would be reimbursed for my travel expenses, I contacted Hotwire to book a hotel room. The least expensive one listed was $69, which was a real bargain because hotels in and around the Boston area are very pricey. I booked it on line, and awaited the name of the hotel. It was not a brand name I had ever heard of, so Google checked it out for me. It was listed as an “elite, boutique hotel”, and the least expensive price listed on their website for a room was $180! Now, I am definitely NOT elite, and have never visited a boutique before, but for $69 I was going to give it my all! Upon driving up to the hotel’s front door, I learned that valet parking was mandatory. I relinquished my “Best Mom” fake jeweled key chain to the parking attendant, (pardon me…to the VALET.) Politely and without comment, he struggled as I do to climb up into the driver’s seat of my large van, and drove away in my 2002, dented, dirty, 15 passenger with a raised roof and wheelchair lift van. He parked it right between a Rolls and a Jaguar, and it looked like a large, dirty, cheap piece of coal between 2 diamonds. Even my car was going to get a new experience! The lobby was gorgeous, as are so many in expensive hotels. Lots of fresh flowers, a water fountain cascaded down the wall, and a lovely tray of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Checking in was a pleasurable experience with a tuxedo clad clerk, who offered me a cookie. (I would have taken one anyway, so the fact that he offered was a bonus, although I would have preferred he offered me 10.) My 6th floor room, with the curtains open, had a breathtaking view of the Boston skyline at night. The room itself was definitely “boutique”… furniture with trim lines, a wood floor with plush, beautifully designed, throw rugs that added an elegant, clean look to the room. Because it was late in the day and I was tired, I put on my jammies, brushed my teeth, and climbed under the luxurious, fragrant, CLEAN sheets and comforter. I honestly felt as though I were laying on a cloud. In addition, there were four different types of pillows on the bed so that I could choose the one which would best facilitate a good night’s sleep. Ahhhhhh…..sleep….on a cloud overlooking the Boston skyline… The modern bathroom had a very large walk-in shower with huge round shower heads pointed in all directions. In the morning I took a shower, or, should I say, I EXPERIENCED a shower. It was all a new thing for me; hot water flowing over my body from all different angles. Do people really LIVE like that? The shampoo was ultra fragrant, with a conditioner and body wash that had complementary fragrances. (Think orchids, strawberries and oranges…) I felt like a fruit orchard, and it was a very unique feeling! (I guess that is what makes the hotel “boutique”.) As I finished showering and came through the frosted glass door of the shower, I shocked myself when I saw another dripping wet, old, fat, ugly naked woman coming towards me in the room. I screamed. I shuddered. I looked closer. It was ME. Reflected in the mirrored wall just outside the bathroom. Although breathing a sigh of relief, I was also filled with horror at the image in front of me. I don’t know about you, but I NEVER look at myself naked in a full mirror. Any illusions I may have had about my looks were proven false in that moment. Oh, well…it’s a good thing I feel beautiful on the INSIDE… After getting over my shock, I dressed and made myself a nice cup of tea with the provided Keurig. Now THAT is my idea of a boutique hotel…one that provides fresh tea to my liking. Now, if only I had a few of those chocolate chip cookies from downstairs… ************************ I would love to come and speak for your group or at your conference. I would do it for free, but would need the price of travel. For functions in the North East, that would be only gas money. Link to my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-apple-tree/id538572206?mt=11 The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane Link to the Readers Digest review of my book: http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/
We had to put our beloved dog, Brandy to sleep last summer, and our house has been empty, dog-wise at least, until Jody, a labrador/poodle mix came to live with us a month ago. She is a sweet three month old, with a lot of energy and not much common sense. Of course, she is still a baby and I guess babies themselves don’t have a lot of common sense, so I shouldn’t be so harsh. After all, babies don’t come out of the womb knowing how to use the toilet, so why should I expect anything different from a puppy? The problem is, she is a fanatic about only peeing on a pile of newspaper. We have to be very careful not to leave any paper lying around lest she pee on yesterday’s top story which I have not had a chance to read. We have been desperately trying to get her to go outside, but she has developed this irrational fear of going anywhere OTHER than on the newspaper. She seems to be very stuck in her ways, because at the dog park she ran around and played with the other puppies for a few hours, and she did not leak so much as a drop of pee. Have you ever heard of a dog that plays in an area where there are other dogs and it does NOT mark it’s territory, or at least leave a little fragrant sample for others? Not Jody…she held it in until we come home, when she ran straight for the newspaper and peed a massive amount, like she has been holding it all in for hours, (which she clearly HAD.) Poor President Obama’s news would not get read that day.
I began to move the newspaper closer to the back door so she would get the idea that she should be doing it outside. She was getting there…closer and closer. Finally, I eliminated the paper altogether and left the back door open for her to go outside whenever she wanted. (Fortunately, it was not one of those days where we got a freak snow storm.) She went outside to play. She went outside to dig in the dirt. She went outside to swat bugs from her face. She went outside to chew on the branches of a nearby tree. But she would not go outside to pee. Sensing her distress, I did the only thing I could think of; I put a piece of newspaper outside. She ran straight as an arrow to use it. Now, she goes to the door, barks, I let her out, and she pees on the newspaper. If there is no paper, she looks at me with a forlorn expression, and just stands there…it appears that my newspaper subscription will have to be doubled!
Yesterday, I drove Jody up to visit with Marie, (who attends a residential school for children who are deaf.) Marie loves animals, but they do not take to her too kindly because her semblance of speech is loud and guttural, (even scaring me if I was alone in a dark room and didn’t know she was there.) When she called the dog, she scared the poor puppy, which cowered. Marie looked at me with a great sadness. HOW could the puppy not LIKE her? Then she called the dog again, but as I stood behind her, under my breath, I also called the dog, which came running to us. Marie angrily turned and looked at me. ”YOU called her,” she signed in ASL, “I saw your lips move”, obviously with the eyes she has in the back of her head. She was devastated the dog would not come for her alone. So, we tried it again. This time, I put a large smile on my face and forced a cheery “Jody!!!” through my smile, not moving my lips. The dog came running, Marie was happy that I had not called her, (?) and my lips didn’t move a bit! (Try it….) The fact that her friends and teachers to whom she introduced the dog were also deaf was also a lucky break on my part because they couldn’t squeal on me.
Okay, so it was a little bit dishonest on my part, but what parents don’t do things a little bit out of the ordinary to see their children happy? Nothing feels better than the warm heart you get when you see your children smile, and Marie was smiling a lot that day. Besides, the dog will soon learn to love Marie as we do, even though she can be a little loud and scary…
I would love to come and speak for your group or at your conference. I would do it for free, but would need the price of travel. For functions in the North East, that would be only gas money.
Link to my book
Link to the Readers Digest review of my book: http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/
Easter. Ham. Easter Eggs. Jelly Beans. Marshmallow peeps. Chocolate Easter Bunnies, (see picture.) AND the EASTER BUNNY!!
(Spoiler Alert: Do not let anyone under the age of 7? 9? 12? read any further.)
I am sure that most of us of a Christian faith believed in the light, magical myths of the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus. Bah Humbug!
My realization that there was no Santa Claus happened on the day before Easter when I was seven years old. Friends and I were playing hide and seek in our house, and my hiding space of choice was my mother’s closet. I opened the door and plopped in…right on top of a cellophane wrapped Easter basket! I could feel the jelly beans fall out, trickling down my legs, and the weight of my body squishing the basket with a sickening sound. As the marshmallow peeps were flattened, my childhood fantasies vanished before my eyes! It was only reasonable to assume if my mom pretended to be the Easter Bunny, then the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus were also non-existent.
This was actually a good realization for me. For many years I had questioned Santa’s fairness. If he was omnipresent, then how did he not know what I wanted to Christmas? Even when I sat on his lap and told him…repeatedly…and wrote letters…repeatedly…he still did not bring me that all important, desperately desired, Barbie Doll for which I had asked. The Santa who came to my house had always disappointed me. Having parents who were obsessively frugal, Santa would bring me unexciting gifts…a new toothbrush, a t-shirt, hair ribbons, and small bottles of shampoo (which I later learned came from the times my father traveled for work and stayed in hotels.) One year I even got 3 pairs of underwear that were much too big, but, judging from the price tag which Santa had neglected to remove, they were on sale for an unbelievably low price! As a child, I could never understand why my friends and classmates received wonderful gifts of not only Barbie Dolls, but Barbie houses, Barbie cars and tons of Barbie accessories. They would receive many, and I longed to own just one… but it was not meant to be. When playing with my friends, they were always kind enough to share “Midge”, Barbie’s “best friend”. While I appreciated this, I still felt resentful of their good fortune.
It wasn’t until I realized that Santa Claus did not exist that I understood that my parents had purchased all of those “gifts”. As my childhood revolved around my dad’s “crazy” obsessions, I suddenly understood the significance of the gifts. It wasn’t that Santa didn’t love me, or that I was somehow less worthy than my friends, or even because my good behavior wasn’t appreciated, it was because our family life was very different than most other families. And I took some solace in the fact that my dad, on his work trips, was thinking of me when he brought home the shampoos.
The whole concept of “Santa” has been a difficult one with my children. My oldest son, Francis, who is blind, hated the thought of having a stranger he could not see come into his house on Christmas Eve. It was the one night of the year that I let him lock his bedroom door.
One year, I made the huge mistake of hiding the gift of a Little Mermaid comforter set underneath Dinora’s bed. When she discovered it, she became hysterical, screaming that Santa had been in her room and he could have hurt her! (She was going through a particularly rough phase with PTSD where she was seeing apparitions of “Bloody Mary”, so her sensitivities to having Santa in her room were heightened.) She was only five at the time, and the only way I could calm her down was to admit that Santa did not exist, which caused her to cry even harder at the loss of this icon.
Steven, with his autistic tendencies, never did admit that Santa existed. He was used to his strict schedule, and gifts from a stranger were not a welcome change. He would wake up every Christmas morning, walk by the Christmas tree under which the gifts sat, go down to the kitchen to grab breakfast, and sit in the family room to watch The Animal Planet on television. It was his familiar routine…he never did acknowledge or look at his gifts. (In fact, to this day I have the SAME bag of gifts. I bring them out every Christmas Eve, and pack them up every Christmas Day, only to be brought out again the following Christmas. It is very selfish to say, but I have saved a LOT of money by not buying him gifts!)
Angel, my son with Dissociative Identity Disorder, (multiple personality disorder) had a great time each year developing his very eclectic request for gifts to satisfy his many “parts”, male, female, baby, toddler and his appropriate age. I am sure that not many other boys asked for a complete manicure set along with baby rattles, Superman and Spiderman toys, and a complete bow and arrow set, (don’t ask…) The problem that developed was that Angel had finally begun to trust me, a conviction he had previously not held in his four other foster placements. Everyone else had lied to him and let him down. But here he was in our family with a family he could finally trust, a family that would not lie to him, a family in which he felt safe. When he found out that Santa Claus was a lie, he felt devastated, furious, betrayed, conned, tricked and misled. This lie has left an indelible mark on his life, one which he continues to discuss with a counselor. Every single time I have gone into a therapy session with him, the fact that I am a liar comes up, and that lie is always about Santa Claus. While it is easy for us to say “just get over it”, for him, it has been impossible. If only I knew then what I know now, I would have done things very differently.
Marie, I am embarrassed to admit, was a young teenager who STILL believed in Santa Claus. Learning from my experience with Angel, I have never perpetuated this myth on her, but she came to live with us with this belief. Because Marie is deaf and developmentally delayed, she had few opportunities to “heard” or learn that Santa is not real. This became very apparent to me last Christmas. On Christmas Eve I put out the individual bags of gifts from “Santa”, which included one expensive item for each child, (a DVD player, Gameboy, camera and so forth.) On Christmas morning, Marie woke up before all of us and deftly went through the bags, taking out all of the expensive items and putting them in her bag, leaving the other children with only minor items. She excitedly showed me the wonderful bag of gifts Santa had brought; HER gifts, along with the valuable gifts from everyone else’s bag. I was mortified to think she would be so selfish, and I told her so! I told her that there was no Santa Claus and that I had bought the items and they were not all for her. She tried in vain to argue with me that Santa left them all to her because she had been good, but both of us knew better…
So, this has been a long winded way of saying I DISLIKE SANTA!!! While he may be a wonderful myth to many, for me and my children, he has been nothing but trouble. BAH HUMBUG!!!!!
The Easter Bunny? Hey, SHE’S okay…
Link to my book
Link to the Readers Digest review of my book: http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/
What do these things have in common? They are “tools of the trade” for my daughter, the mother of a delightful two and a half year old!
Things have greatly changed since my children were toddlers. I am fortunate I never had to carry babies around in those heavy seats. I would not have been able to have more than one baby at a time, and I am sure I would carry it with 2 arms wrapped around it lest I drop it. For the child’s own safety due to my clumsiness, I probably would have stayed home all the time! Our car seats stayed in the car and the babies and toddlers went straight into the umbrella stroller when we were out. It was easy. They could see the world, and my hands were free. Using the stroller also had the wonderful advantage in that when clothes shopping, they could be hung on the back of the stroller. I had to be careful on clearance day, though, lest the weight of the clothing supersede the weight of the particular child in the stroller. While I did misjudge several times, the stroller and the child would just fall back onto a nice, soft pile of clothing. I have such empathy for parents lugging the infant in the infant seat. They look sooooooo heavy!
My daughter, Dinora, has child proof locks on her cupboard doors. What a great idea!!! I used to keep the poisonous soaps, sprays and cleaners on top of my refrigerator. They were safe there, at least until Steven began to climb like a monkey! Whoever thought of the lock on the cupboard doors was a genius! Unfortunately, I am not genius level. When I babysit for my grandson, I cannot figure out how to open the darn locks! It appears that you have to use 2 hands to do so and my hands do not cooperate with each other. During my futile attempts, my grandson stands there crying for his macaroni and cheese for supper, and I can’t get in the cupboard to get the box! Those locks are childproof and grandmother proof! He doesn’t really mind, though, as he much prefers the pizza I order instead.
The other amazing “new invention” is a toilet that makes music when you pee in it! (I am, of course, talking about a toddler potty.) What a wonderful motivator for toilet training! It is certainly be healthier than the M&Ms I used to give, and everyone within earshot can hear the delightful music and cheer the performer on! The only downside leads to my next observation about toddlers these days; my daughter will need to get a different potty if her next child is a girl, who wouldn’t dream of peeing in a Superman potty. With parents knowing before hand if they are having a boy or a girl, baby items now seem to be all girly or all masculine, with little in between, unlike in “my days” when babies wore a lot of green or yellow which would suffice for either. I have never seen so many princesses and action heroes in my life! So much for sexism, I guess…
Imagine my surprise when my grandson climbed in my lap carrying an IPad and started to play a game of Angry Birds. At TWO and a HALF years old he was independently using a computer! But ANGRY BIRDS?He was lopping these little birds through the air to their deaths, feathers flying everywhere. And giggling! This must be the training game for all of the fighting and war games that will come when he is older.
A final reminder of how much things have changed happened when Dinora, my grandson and I went out to eat breakfast in a restaurant. While he played with child aps on the IPad, we had a lovely adult conversation with fussy interruptions. (There were times when raising young ones that I would have died just to be able to drink a hot cup of tea without an interruption.) At the completion of this wonderfully enjoyable meal, my grandson, whose speech is somewhat delayed, managed to ask his mom for some “sanitizer”. I almost flew off my chair! SANITIZER? What a word for a 2 year old! He dutifully put out his hands and she dutifully squirted the sanitizer, a beautiful fragrance of lilacs and honey. (Who comes UP with these combinations?)
Things are certainly different these days, with computer aps for toddlers, musical potties, disposable training pants and bibs, sippy cups in all shapes and sizes, locked cupboard doors, and super hero and princess everything (sheets, toys, cups, dishes, silverware, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, shirts, pants, socks, shoes…you get the idea.) With the exception of having to tote an infant around in a car seat instead of in an umbrella stroller, these days of raising children seem like a lot of fun! (Maybe it’s time for me to foster a few more…)
My husband must be a mind reader. I just heard him faint…
Link to my book
Link to the Readers Digest review of my book: http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/
Another snowstorm!!!! I completely understand why older people move to southern states when they retire. Winters are COLD! My fingers get chilled just thinking about it, and the snow keeps piling up!
I do not enjoy the winters as I used to. I remember pre-children when my husband and I would go skiing. One day it was 10 degrees below zero. We were all excited it was so cold because that meant that the ski slopes would not be as crowded and we would not have to wait in line for the chairlift. We bundled up with layer upon layer of warm clothing with not an inch of skin showing lest if freeze and fall off. We skied all day. At one point, we stopped at the top of the mountain and viewed the surrounding area. With the sun blazing down on the shiny snow, we saw snowcapped mountains in the distance, little villages, frozen lakes and the ant specks that were cars, and I was overcome with awe for nature. It’s a good thing this memory is frozen in my mind because these days, you’d never get me on top of a cold, frigid mountain again!
Several years ago, after several major snowstorms, there was an 8 foot pile of snow made by the snowplow. The kids managed to shape it for sledding, and they had great fun sliding down. At one point, Steven climbed to the top of the pile and all of a sudden he disappeared! He had fallen deep inside the snow pile! It was like he was buried in an avalanche! Another heart stopping moment for me. Fortunately, we managed to pull the snow from around the top of the pile until we could pull him out. He was laughing because it was such an adventure, and he begged to do it again.
Several years ago, my husband received an old snowmobile as a “gift” from a friend. One day, he was riding it in our large backyard with my son Steven sitting in the front of him. Raymond decided to Steven drive. Excitedly, Steven turned the handlebars to give it gas. The snowmobile took off in a lurch and my husband was thrown from the back of it in an amazing double somersault. (A “10″ if he were rated in the Olympics for gymnastics off the back of a snowmobile.) Steven and the snowmobile zoomed on, headed right for the shed in the backyard. His life flashed before my eyes and I thought “This is what it feels like to see your child die.” My heart was in my stomach and I felt like I wanted to vomit and scream at the same time. Fortunately, unbeknownst to me, if you let up on the handlebars, the machine stops. This is exactly what Steven did. Then he turned around and noticed that his father was missing! And he had stopped within a foot of the shed. He did not realize how serious it was, and laughed at my husband, still feet up in the snow. It took a while for my heart to start beating again, and I vowed Steven would never again be allowed to drive a snowmobile. So, my husband did the only smart thing a father could do…he sold that snowmobile and he bought 2 news ones so we could go snowmobiling as a family! Ugh! We trekked up to New Hampshire to go for a nice, winter vacation. Because Steven could not drive, and because at this time Angel was also living with us, I was forced to go along as the second driver. If you have not ridden on a snowmobile, the closest description is as if you are riding motorcycle on skis. In the ice. And the cold. And did I mention the ice? Because I had never even ridden a motorcycle, I was very nervous. I started the machine, jerking it as Steven had done when he tried to drive it. Fortunately, Angel had his arms firmly wound around me and he didn’t fall off. I was so scared and it was so awkward to drive that I could only creep along at 5-10 miles per hour, much to my husband’s dismay. (Dismay is putting it mildly.) To make matters worse, my husband did not choose the nice, empty, safe fields to ride in. NOOOOOO! He chose the skinny, trees whipping by your head, narrow snowmobile paths with TRAFFIC COMING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION! That one day of snowmobiling was the scariest of my life. Once we began on the trail, there was no turning back! My hands were shaking, my body was sweating even though it was freezing out, and my imagination had my head being whipped off by a tree branch. I did enjoy the nice, friendly wave the snowmobilers in the opposite direction were giving us, and each time we passed them, my hand went up to wave back. (I later learned that the opposing snowmobilers put up the number of fingers for the number in their party. 3 fingers for 3 people, and so forth. I realized that each time I waved, I was telling them that we had 5 people in our party. Oh, well, I won’t do that again because I won’t do THAT again…go snowmobiling. Fortunately, Angel did not enjoy it either, so he and I spent our time shopping at the factory outlets while Raymond and Steven went out on the trails.
At home, there is a pond in our backyard. Marie loves playing outside in the cold, going ice fishing, building snowmen, and, most of all, playing hockey. She dresses warmly from head to toe…black snow pants, black jacket, a hat which covers most of her face, several pairs of gloves topped with hockey gloves, and boys hockey skates. She takes her hockey stick and skates around the lake to the various hockey games trying to get an invitation to play. From looking at her all bundled up, you cannot tell if she is a girl or a boy. She is not verbal, so they cannot tell from her voice. (She points to her ears for them to know she is deaf.) She would normally use sign language but with hockey gloves this is next to impossible. They always let her in because she is a good player. If one group stops playing, she will skate around and find another group. She reminds me of a female Batman for hockey…slinking into games, her identity unknown…showing up out of the blue when a team needs a player!
Winter is alive and well with my kiddos, who enjoy it as I did when I was a child. They love the snow and all the activities, but now thatI am older I get chilled easily…(picture granny in the rocking chair with a blanket around her.) I sit by the picture window, near the fireplace, drinking hot chocolate with mountains of marshmallow and I watch them having fun outside. As parents, we all know that watching our children be happy and have fun is even more fun than doing it ourselves. I am a happy mommy. Let it snow!
Link to my book
My son Francis is amazing! Although legally blind, he has led an incredibly successful life. I think one of the reasons he has done so well is because he was raised without having a disability. If that sounds odd, you have to define disability as not having the ability to do what one wants in order to lead a full and happy life. With proper modifications and technology, Francis has never been held back in any area of life.
Of course, we have chosen achievable goals when he was growing up. One of the many topics we tackled was how to fit sports into his life. Of course he could not play baseball or soccer, but he could be on the wrestling team and swim team. (He excelled and won championships in both areas.) The one sport that I worried about was his skiing. He learned at an early age to traverse the White Mountains in New Hampshire with a sighted guide skiing in front of him, usually his dad. This petrified me because I was afraid he was going to ski into a tree and die. The fact that he is still alive and kicking today is proof that he didn’t, but that did not lessen my motherly concerns.
When Francis went to college at Cambridge in England, he had the good fortune to make many friends with whom he could travel all over Europe. One day, I received a photo via e-mail, accompanied by the comment “Look, mom, no trees!” The photo was one of Francis in ski gear, standing at the top of a ski run in the Alps. The sun reflecting off his dark goggles was no match for the shining smile on his face. There were no trees to ski into because they were above the tree line. He was safe! And, most importantly for a mom, he cared enough to send me a picture to SHOW me that he was safe. The little cockles of my heart warmed at the thought…what a considerate son!
It wasn’t until a few months later that I saw the news of a large avalanche in that same area and three people were presumed dead. DEAD? I immediately remembered that beautiful picture of my thoughtful son, and I laughed. (Yes, I laughed.) That picture shows that my son does not have a disability because he had the same chance of dying as the skiers buried in the snow. He is truly successful!
Links to my book: