Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Teach Your Children Well

Powerful words. Words that I have been thinking a lot about these past few weeks.

My friends have told me that I am being to hard on myself. That I should just accept myself as I am. That no, I am not that low maintenance personality - calm, patient, maternal.

I would like to take their advice but I can't. I don't think it's fair to my children. I already see the same traits in my daughter as I had when I was her age. I swore to myself that when I had children they would not inherit the same legacy as I did from my mother and her mother and her grandmother. All strong, opinionated women with high expectations, a need to always be in control, and full of insecurities. I lack patience and I am quick with the temper with those I love the most. I never moved passed the id stage in life. No, that's not completely true. I am an affectionate and compassionate person. I am always drawn to the underdog, the sufferer of injustice. I was once asked why that is so. What did I hope to accomplish or was I even aware of it? It really caught me off guard but it was also very thought provoking.

I swore to myself that my children would not be like me, my sister, my nieces, my aunts. I come from a family who yells too much. A friend of mine told me that is a prerequisite of being a Jewish mother, that and the guilt. I do feel guilty, because despite my attempts to prevent this from being passed down to the next generation, I have failed. I love my children, but many times, I don't like being a mother. A favorite aunt would be better. I could spoil them, give them lots of attention with plenty of patience, coddle and dote on them and always have nice things to say to them. That would be ideal. But that's a rescue fantasy.

My daughter is a mini-me. Truth be known, it's rather scary how much we have in common. Yes, much of it is environmental (my taste in music, for instance), but a lot of it is just innate. I don't want her going doing down the same path as I did. At times it was very painful and lonely. Times have changed. Catch phrases have changed too. When I was young, noone knew about ADHD or Sensory Integration disabilities. My husband swears that I have ADD. I don't see it, but I do believe I probably had the later... Sensory Integration.

At 35, my husband realized he had ADD. He would sit in meetings at his school, with parents, educators, counselors and discuss a particular child's behavior. Whenever it was brought up that the child most likely had ADHD because of a list of symptoms and behavioral patterns, something always clicked with him. The way the child was described...lazy, very smart but not focused, can't sit still, starts a project but never finishes and so on. That was him to the T.

And that's our daughter too, but she is an experimental learner and that scares the hell out of us. She too, is smart, strong willed , impulsive, and bossy. Despite the consequences, she would rather get her way than relinquish any control. She loves the dance, the drama. She's my drama queen. But she is also very affectionate, compassionate, a nurturer when it really counts, and a seeker of justice.

Just like me.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Early Bird Catches the Worm...Why Noah Why?

My husband and I are thrilled by our children's curiousity and lack of fear of insects. They dig around the ground looking for worms, they climb on trees looking for cicadas, they dig around in the bushes and the garden looking for catepillars, grasshoppers and crickets. When we come across something that looks quite strange (and we have found plenty that are) we will take them to the Nature center near our house and ask the naturalist what it is. Now, I know some people are a little protective of their young ones playing in the dirt or with insects because of germs. I am not a doctor, but I think it's very healthy for children to be exposed to germs. I think it's more dangerous to constantly keep them sanitized. Please don't misunderstand me, they are not walking around without their shoes, or with greasy hair or filthy bodies, but playing in the yard, digging up dirt, examining what they have found, there is something so beautiful within that. It captures the essence of childhood innocence.

However, there are lines that can be and will be crossed. Obviously I get nervous when their comfort level extends to handling spiders (daddy long legs are the exception) and other potentially harmful bugs. But there is only one word that can describe what happen today and that is DISGUSTING!

This evening, Noah told me that his underwear felt uncomfortable. I glanced over to him and thought maybe he had gotten a wedgie and as soon as I finished with whatever I was doing, I would help him out. Time passed, I forgot to help him and once again he tells me his underewear is bothering him. That the front is really itchy. About the time when he first told me he was uncomfortable, both he and my daughter were outside, under their trampoline, looking for bugs. They were not fighting, they were out of my hair, and I actually got a few minutes of peace. Fast forward....Noah complains that he is itchy and Natalie pipes up and says "well that is because you were putting the worms down your underwear, but that's ok Mom, because I took them all out." "WHAT!!! did WHAT?" "Noah put worms in his underwear, but Mom, really, it's ok..I got them out."

So I pulled him aside and immediately started to rip open underwear (Pull-ups). OH MY GOD.. YUCK!!! In there was a long, brown earthworm, squirming around his penis...I thought I was going to faint. I grabbed him up, took him outside, ripped off the pants and shook them out. I think there were two worms in the layers of the pull-up, just squirming all around. Words cannot explain the disgust I just witnessed. Awful images and worst case scenerios kept flashing across my mind. A friend of mine's daughter had ringworms, those white worms that get into your skin and come out when you poop....OMG!!! I had thought if my chiidren ever gt lice, I would totally freak out, but I was wrong. Long, brown, wiggly worms in your child's underwear..comes quite close.

So, there is Mom, freaking out and there is my son, Noah, just smiling and giggling and shrugging his shoulders when again and again and again, my neighbors and I ask...WHY Noah WHY?

Is this what they mean when they said "Boys will be Boys."