Thursday, May 27, 2010

Little Guy is Spirited not Strong-willed

I'm confining myself to the same strictures I put on my students and forcing myself to sit and write for 10 minutes straight.  Well, at least as straight as a parent who is home with a 4 year old can make it.  Right now, I'm up to about a minute of uninterrupted time.  I'm seriously impressed. 

Currently, Little Guy is ensconced in the hall with his cars.  I can't get him to finish his "brep-fast" of a banana on a hot dog bun smeared with peanut butter.  He asked for it and now he won't eat it.  Meals have become a battle ground.  Short of forcing him to sit, we're stuck with fighting him every step of the way to eat.  This has become the new "potty" argument. 

One of the things I have done recently is look up advice on "Strong willed" children.  I immediately decided I didn't approve of the group who had take "strong willed" as their banner phrase and instead decided to go with the parents of spirited children.  It may not seem to make sense, but I've discovered the advice on parenting "strong willed" children seems to advocate breaking their spirit and bending them to the parent's will.  Advice on parenting "spirited" children seems to advocate working with the spirited child and encouraging them to keep their sense of self while working within the bounds of society. 

I don't want to break his spirit or individuality.  He's going to need it as he gets older.  I want him to be able to make his own decisions and to be firm in his convictions.  I want him to not be afraid to stand up for the right thing, even if most people disagree with him.  I don't think that forcing him to follow a narrow path is the best way to do that.  Of course, I also have issues with society as a whole right now. I don't want him to follow the path that so many people seem to follow and be apathetic and content with the status quo. 

I think spirited children are our future and quite likely our only hope.  If we're so keen to make them fit into the cubby holes that society has deemed appropriate, we will never improve the situation in our country.  If Edison or Lincoln had done that which was expected of them, we would still be enslaving people by candlelight.  And, unfortunately, he has me for a mother.  I hate following the well-worn paths.  I'd much rather poke around and discover what I can find on my own.  I want him to feel comfortable doing that too. 

What this means for me, however, is a long period of time where I will be frustrated and irritated because my son has a mind of his own.  I just have to let him learn some things through trial and error.  Right now, we're not going to go outside because he hasn't finished breakfast.  Once he finishes breakfast, I will go out with him and turn on the sprinkler and let him play to his heart's content.  But he's being his spirited self and I suspect that won't happen before I have to get ready for work. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer came in like a freaking Lion

Summer has come to Indiana unexpectedly.  Two weeks ago, we were fretting over frost advisories and today it's supposed to be in the upper 80's.  Sadly, this is common for Spring.  In April and May we have an equal chance of building a snowman or going swimming.  But eventually we will settle into the super-hot temps of summer and I'll complain that I wish it was cooler. 

On Mother's Day, we went out to my mom's house to go shooting with the rifle and had to wear warm clothes.  We went back this past weekend and we were sweating like crazy.  Shooting is fun, though my shoulder hurts for a day or two afterwords.  On Sunday night, I was sitting in my chair and I stretched and I heard a maswsive crack as the bones in my shoulder rearranged themselves.  I could actually feel the shift.  It was rather disconcerting. 

The arrival of summer also means that it's time to spend more time with Little Guy outside.  At some point today we are going to go outside and play in the sprinkler.  He loves the sprinkler and I love watching him play.  Right now, he's becoming such a little boy.  The baby aspects are disappearing and he's developing a little boy body and little boy legs.  I find myself looking at him and wondering where the baby went. 

Though watching him play as a little boy provides hours of amusement too.  Yesterday, Big Guy took him to the park while I was working.  Little Guy decided he had to pee and went to a corner of the playground, dropped trou, and peed.  Big Guy said the first clue he had that Little Guy was doing something he oughten't was a fellow park parent shouting: "He's peeing!  He's peeing!"  So.... We can never show our faces there again.  Of course, while we were regaling Whiteybare and his girlfriend with this story outside lst night, Little Guy went over to the lot next to us and started peeing again.  


"What are you doing?!" I shouted. 

"I'm peeing all over the place!" Little Guy shouted back with a grin.

I think he's definitely his father's child. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

I want to move NOW

We're looking at houses to move our group into. Whiteybare has claimed the front room for his own, but I'd really like to get a place where he feels more comfortable coming into the public areas of the house, and I believe that will only happen once we get a place with him. I'm always afraid that we're making him feel uncomfortable or unhappy. That worrying leads to hovering and, if I am not careful, will drive him insane.

I just want everyone to be happy and the idea of the commune is such a cheerful happy one that I can't help but want to make it a reality. Unfortunately, we have a ways to go before we can start forming the commune. One of the first steps is going to have to be forming the LLC. After we find a rental for our group where we can start setting aside money, we'll also start to build up money for a down payment. After we have some money set aside for a down payment, we'll look at houses and land. From there, we can start doing the communal thing.

I wish we could get started on it now, but there is no chance of that happening. We don't have the money for a down payment, and, even if we did, we don't have the credit for a loan. I'd love to be able to make a deal with someone in the area where we pay money for the land over a contracted period of time with someone who likes and supports what we're doing. Unfortunately, such deals are not in existance where we need them. We need to stay in the area where we currently reside. Whiteybare is a returning college student and needs to keep the in-state tuition. I am pretty well settled in my job and really could not find work like it elsewhere. And Big Guy needs to keep his job to pay his ex and cannot switch out unless it's for a higher paygrade.

In the meantime, I deal with the uncomfortable, impatient feeling. I want to be out of there NOW, and I know we can't get out NOW. So, I feel restless and irritated, ready to jump out at the word go. Unfortunately, this only irritates myself and my husband. Big Guy feels frustrated because I am not thrilled and he feels bad because it isn't what we want and he can't provide it for us right now. I try to keep my feelings, in that case, under wraps. I'm not a person who hides her emotions easily though, which only makes me more restless. Little Guy may pick up on the restlessness but it only serves to make him more hyper, a feat which is amazing enough considering his current level of hyper.

I tell myself that things will work out for the best. In the grand scheme of things, we are pretty well off. We have a roof over our heads, food for our bellies, and many luxeries that others do not have. I'll just be glad when we get to do our own thing.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Video of life in the moment

Canon has released the PowerShot SX210 IS, which combines the ability to take great photos & also shoot high definition video. Canon and JuiceBoxJungle sponsored me to write this post, and talk about what shooting video means to my family.If you sign up for JuiceboxJungle, tell 'em Kittencaboodle sent ya! 

I'm a camera junkie.  When we bought our digital camera five years ago, I was seriously pregnant with Little Guy and we had decided it was a better idea to buy a digital camera considering how expensive film processing was and how many pictures we were likely to take with a new baby.  And we were right.  I have tons and tons of pictures, including the very first pictures of the newborn baby Little Guy. 

I have shot some really cute videos that were important to my family.  I also try to catch little things, funny situations that really epitomize what our family was like at that moment.  It's been a tumultuous year, and I would be lying if I didn't say that looking at old videos and photos didn't produce a bittersweet feeling, but I have come to accept what has gone on in my life and embrace the positive things that the change has wrought. 

My life with my husband and son has always been semi-crazy and the videos and pictures don't do it nearly enough justice. Our life now is no less crazy than it was before, it's just a whole new form of crazy.  I am content with the direction in which our life is moving.  Life is what it is, and we'll see where it takes us.  I'll try to catch video of it on the way. 

People need boundaries

For the most part, class is going well this month.  Admittedly, we’ve only had 3 class periods, but the students are becoming more interactive as they figure out what kind of class this is and what I am willing to deal with.  They seem pretty accepting of the stricter rules I’ve put down because I have established a clear boundary to my empathy.  I can be the good guy and then if they cross the boundary, they know what the repercussions are.  It’s almost like raising kids. 

My son, by the way, doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of boundary besides the definition of “something you cross or push”.  I’d swear the child was 14, not 4. When Whiteybare moved in, I informed Little Guy that he was NOT to go into Whiteybare’s room without express permission.  I even defined the boundary by the piece of wood across the threshold.  At that point, my child slid his foot halfway over the piece of wood and stopped.  When I caught him he pulled his foot back and then slowly did the same thing with his arm.  When I redefined the boundary as any part of the piece of wood, he laid down on the floor with his head in his hands and inched closer to the threshold. 

He’s lucky I love him.

This weekend is Mother’s Day. I adore my mom; I think this is well known.  Despite the craziness she passed down to me, she is still a wonderful mother.  And this weekend, we’re going to see her. I can’t wait until she gets her “new” car plated so I can go back to seeing her on a weekly basis.  I miss my Mother-daughter days. We used to have days like that when I was little, where I would spend time with my mom only.   We did shopping then too, but I always loved spending time with my mom.  I remember that was one of the things my step-father hated. He felt that my wanting to spend time with my mom was a sign I was “cowed” by her and under her thumb.  I suspect anyone who knows me would be amused by the idea that I would be cowed by anyone, and my mom would find it funny that I was cowed by her in particular. 

Why do I get the impression that my son will be the same way? 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We can't communicate and we're too lazy to care

Writing should be an important topic in schools, but the more I teach, the more I realize it’s not stressed nearly enough. This month, I am teaching a “Fundamentals of English” college course. This course teaches the basics of English to students. I cover parts of speech as well as basic writing skills, and I try to do it in 12 hours a week for four weeks.

Really, it’s not nearly enough time. The students need more time to practice, more time to assimilate the information, and more work to do. In some cases, I deal with students who don’t have a clue what a complete sentence is, let alone how to identify a run-on sentence. There are also students who just don’t grasp why the parts of speech are important, even after I give my puzzle analogy. I tend to work my tail off these four weeks and go home exhausted every night, but I also find it more fulfilling than the higher level classes.

In the higher level writing courses, they have been jaded to the writing process and just don’t want to do it. They have also reached a certain “in school laziness” where they are more willing to slough off the work to the last minute. In the Fundamentals class, they are at least still somewhat excited to the new process of school.

But, in all cases, the writing abilities of some of my students saddens me. How is it that our country is producing graduates who don’t know how to communicate properly? And why have we let it go on thus far? Currently, we are a nation at the top of the heap, but we can’t bring ourselves to educate our children to continue that trend. Instead, we produce citizens who don’t know what their rights are, don’t know how to communicate those rights, and, even worse, are too apathetic to care.

It seems the baby boomer generation, the one that produced the changes in the 60’s and 70’s, did not imbue their children with the same restless spirit. Well, most of them at least (I know my mom did). But they also did not give their children the work ethic that our grandparents had. Our country has lost its inventive spark because it’s too much effort to create, whether it be creation of the lightbulb or creation of a book.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An out of town visit

As most people can attest to, I am not a morning person.  In truth, I hate mornings.  They make me tired and cranky.  And yet, yesterday I willingly removed myself from the warm confines of my blankets and pillows to go on a road trip to Holland, MI.  My sister-in-law lives up there and it's "Tulip Time".  Plus, we missed her at the birthday gathering in February and this was a great excuse to go see her. 

The tulips were beautiful and I really wish I had brought my camera.  I was a ditz (and tired) however, and I left the camera sitting at home on top of my desk.  I blame a lack of caffeine.  It was a great trip up there though.  We got there and had a cookout with my sister and brother-in-law, went and enjoyed "Tulip Time" and browsed the shops downtown.  I realized while I was there that Holland reminded me a great deal of a bigger St. Joseph, MI.  It seemed like the same quwaint, artsy shops that had high prices to take advantage of the tourist influx. 

At that point, I was greatly pleased that I had the advantage of growing up in a tourist town.  I know the city probably uses the money it gets from "Tulip Time" in a very similar fashion to St. Joe, but I also know when to pass on the prices.  Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of adorable, cute stuff there.  But there was also very little that I could not live without.  (Except for tea, because, really, who could live without tea.)

I know we're heading into the "Lake Michigan Shores" tourist season where people from "the big city" come in to visit and spend money.  We had the Blossomtime parade this weekend as well, an event I gladly missed.  Pretty soon the beaches will be crammed with people and the festivals will start.  This area is a great place to live, full of natural beauty and a wide variety of natural resources.  But that also means it brings in the tourists.  And I'm not a big fan of large groups of people.  They tend to be mean and stupid.  This is only the beginning of tourist time around here.  Soon the roads will be jammed with out of state plates, and I'll smile sweetly while inside I struggle to contain the festering rage they provoke. 

On the bright side, much of my time will be ensconced in classes and figuring out what's going on in my own life.  What we're doing, where we're going, and whether or not I'm going back to school for my Master's.  I want to go back, but I also don't.  Change makes me very nervous, very unsettled, and very unhappy.  Hell, I still prefer Christopher Eccleston as Doctor Who and it's been years since that changed.  We're on a completely new Doctor now and I'm still sorting out my feelings about that.  The stories are good, don't get me wrong.  But they've changed the intro, updated the music, changed the pacing, changed the Doctor, and even changed the Daleks.  How could they change the Daleks!

Bah...  Monday approaches and I'll start a new class for a new month and I still need to prepare my lecture notes for tomorrow.  We'll see how it goes!