Hindsight Parenting: Meet Your Child Where They Are

Who She Is Is Just Fine With Me

When our children encounter difficulties, when they run into brick walls or have a problem that needs to be solved, we need to meet them where they are, help them grow with what they already have in a way that they can.

I have been working against my daughter, Ila, under the guise of “improvement” and the misguided statement “she must be able to do such and such in order to be successful.” I have been working against her, which in turn has been sending her a message that she is not good enough just the way she is, which, of course, is not a message I want to send her at all.

Confused?  Let me give you an instance:  Ila gets anxiety everyday before going into her kindergarten class.  When the door opens, and the teacher steps out, she buries her face into my legs, or if I am squatting down at her level she grips my hair or scarf with a vice-like hold.  I have to peel her off me by prying her fingers open and kind of giving her a loving pat on the bottom towards the classroom while her chin quivers as if I am torturing her. This, as you can imagine, is agonizing each day, and so I decided that as her mom, I needed to “right” it, fix it, and make it so the anxiety was gone.  I decided to start with a good heart to heart conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: The Great Balancing Act of Relationships

Positive reinforcement means longer living relationships

Some believe that the relationships you have with your children are the only “required” relationships, in that one must keep working on them for the rest of their lives. They are the only ones we’re not allowed to give up on. Some believe that parenting is a constant try and re-try. Some believe that a good parent is constantly evolving so that the connections we have with our sons and daughters remain strong.

I disagree. Not with the sentiment that as a parent we must work and work each day at the relationships that we have with our children. Not even with the idea that we shouldn’t give up on or break up (so to speak) with our children. Hindsight has taught me that our connections with them must remain the most important things that we hold on to as parents. As a parent, I do believe these things to be true.

What I don’t believe is the statement that your children are the ONLY relationships that one isn’t allowed to let go. I believe that marriage, one’s relationship with your child’s parent, also needs to be a priority and should be a relationship that we not only nurture, but hold on to, cherish, and work on, work on, work on. Now of course that isn’t to say that there aren’t toxic relationships; abusive, detrimental or one-sided that must be let go of immediately. But the OTHER kind of marriage; the-leave-the-toilet-seat-up-beer-cans-in-the-living-room-sticky-jelly-on-the-cutting-board-stop-yelling-at-me-did-you-just-flirt-with-that-waitress?-can-we-do-something-besides-watch-tv kind of marriage must not be given up on. I believe that like the relationship you have with your children, a marriage should be a perseverance for the long haul. Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Stepping Out of Motherhood and into Yourself

The Woman in Me…

When I mothered my sons, I was consumed by it. It was my job, my calling, my duty. I let everything else go. I became mired down in the details, in doing things right and doing things wrong. Their mistakes were my mistakes. Their mountains were my mountains. Their triumphs were my triumphs. Their sadness, their anger, their tragedies; all mine. I was their mother and that is all. I lost myself. Logan the singer was gone. Logan the writer hadn’t been born. Logan the academic hid her opinions and quest for knowledge. Logan the reader only showed up on a beach in the summer for 30 minutes while the boys were securely and happily playing with their step father. I didn’t even USE my own name. When I spoke it was in the third person. “Mommy will get you a drink.” “Don’t forget, mommy will pick you up at 5.” “Mommy was so proud when you hit that homerun.” The woman in me wanted…longed for SOMETHING, but I thought it was a betrayal to my sons to go out and chase “my dreams.” When I had a chance to work as a staff developer for Columbia Teacher’s College, I turned it down. I couldn’t possibly uproot my boys. When someone asked me to join the community musical and try out for a lead role, I scoffed at the idea. Too much time away from my sons. Who would make them dinner. Who would make sure they did their homework. Who would intervene when the vitriol started between them. I played it safe. I was just their mom, and that’s all they ever saw me as–their mom. As my sons grew, I began to look forward to the day where they didn’t need a mommy as much and perhaps I’d be able to become the woman that was tucked away because of and overruled by the mother in me.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Parenting An Adult

Give and Take: Parenting An Adult

Son1 is twenty, and it’s no secret that in many ways I bumbled and fumbled my way through raising him. Just as it’s no secret that I use those bumbles and fumbles to guide my parenting decisions for his four year old sister, Ila. Looking BACK has made it easy to move FORWARD…but parenting an adult…well…once again, I find myself in unchartered territory. When it comes to knowing what’s appropriate and not appropriate, what actions stay behind the imaginary line and what actions step over that line, I have no experiences to lean on. And so, I will admit, that I’ve been a bit nervous. I mean, he was a guinea pig once. I don’t want him to be one again.

But believe it or not Hindsight’s wisdom DOES provide me a road map. After all, the things that make up good parenting at four, probably make up good parenting at any age. So lately, I decided to try this theory out. Could I transfer my new parenting truths when it comes to Ila and make them parenting truths for my 20 year old? This is what I came up with: Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: When Your Child Loves Your Spouse More Than You

I Love Daddy More!

Ila’s chin quivered as I undid her car seat buckle after school a week ago.

“Is daddy home?”  She asked.

“No, sweetie, he’s working,” I replied gently.

And then…the saddest cry in all humanity came from the depths of her.  Tears swelled and cascaded down her tiny face.  She cried hard…her-little-mouth-opening-with-no-sound-coming-out hard.  I scooped her up and asked, “Sweetheart, what is the matter?” Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Anger, Quarrels & Love

Anger: The Unvarnished Truth

We had the blowout of the century last week, my husband and I.  The blowout of the century.  The topic isn’t as important as the pure seething vitriol that came from both our mouths, flung at each other with all the might we could muster.  It was a horrific display of the worst of our humanness.  I had had it.  He had had it.  For weeks the blood boiled in both of us and reached the point where the pressure cooker burst–burst wide open.  It was late at night.  The dog was sleeping.  The cat was sleeping.   Ila was sleeping…or so I thought.

The next morning, we both did our best to paste a shiny smile on our faces so that she wouldn’t suspect that our feelings for each other at that moment were less than fond (to put it mildly).  Although I didn’t notice then (shame on me) looking back now, Ila was very quiet that morning. She moved through the routine as if she was walking through molasses.  The car ride to school wasn’t full of top-of-her-lungs “Frozen” songs and she was shy and clingy when it was time for me to leave her in her classroom.  That afternoon, after picking her up, her tiny voice cut through the silence and pulled me from my very busy mind.  “Mommy, why aren’t you married to Aidan’s daddy anymore?” Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: When Little Boys Grow Up

Not Nurse Nightengale

When Son1 was 17 he had the brilliant idea that he wanted a three person sling shot. It was made out of high tech stretchable exercise bands and was made to launch water balloons at “friends.” I immediately said no to the ludicrous idea knowing full well it wouldn’t be just water balloons that he and his friends would be launching…Nuh uh. I knew my son well enough to know that there would be lots of mischief making with a toy like that. Not surprisingly however, his father DID purchase it for him and my super mom senses were correct that he would choose to use said toy in a way that was NOT recommended…yup…that one fateful day in which he decided to put a potato in the harness that was meant for a water balloon. Yes, I said a potato.

So…picture this if you please… Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Whining Monster vs. Angry Monster

“Let it Go” Let Me Let it Go!

I had a day last week. BOY OH BOY did I have a day! You know…one of THOSE days, where nothing goes right, nothing makes your child happy, and he or she whines and whines AND whines…and WHINES! When I was in my twenties and had THESE kinds of days with the boys, I would explode, implode…lose—my—mind! Yelling, stomping, snarling, slamming. I did it all.

But now I have Hindsight and I know that what I do is what my children, in the end, will do as well. I also know that a mother who loses it in an unpredictable way will not be a human being that her children will trust and therefore they won’t come to her with problems that might in fact make her blow a gasket. These are truths that I know.

The problem on THAT day last week is that as hard as I tried to remind myself of the things that I knew about anger and raising children, my body, my mind, my SOUL just wouldn’t respond appropriately. So as the day progressed and the whining got louder, more frequent and MUCHO irritating, the more I felt unable to keep the angry monster from jumping out of my throat. Even the heaviest iron boots wouldn’t keep him down.

Believe me, I tried. I did everything that Dr. Speed Dial and my constant companion, Hindsight, have taught me about being a mother who wasn’t a raving maniac. I reasoned. I hugged. I ignored. I distracted. I played and played and played and played. And still…and still…she whined. She whiiiiiiiiiiiiined… Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: 20 Ideas of Love

What Love Is

When you read this, Valentine’s Day 2014 will be a memory, but the column was penned the week before…so bear with me. Anyways, is there ever really any BAD time to talk about love? And truly, is there anyone more qualified to speak about this particular subject than a mother?

Although I didn’t grow up with the best model of what love is, the older I get the more chances I have had to observe those that are experts at it. Not only have I observed it, but I’ve experienced great love from so many special friends and family, that it is impossible not to learn more and more each day and give it back to my children. And although I have a lot to learn about the strongest emotion in the world, I am beginning to understand the nuances of this complicated thing called love:  Twenty ideas of love…

Hindsight Parenting: Mother & Daughter Solitaire Extraordinare

Solitary Not-Confinement

She walks into the party.  Her patent leather shoes shine, stockings are straight and sleek.  Her hair is in a perfectly high ponytail with red grosgrain ribbon to hold it in place.  When she arrives, she is happily greeted by the other children attending.  They surround her.  Two grab her hands and lead her to the awaiting bouncy houses.  She scurries up the ramp and begins to bounce.  Her laughter mixes with the laughter of her friends.

Her mother is greeted by the other moms.  She knows them all by their first name.  She is gloriously adept at making small talk; remembering to ask about this one’s son and that one’s husband, commenting on the fierce cold, and sharing recipes for perfect Valentine treats.  She is pulled together perfectly; jeans, boots, and long sweater.  Her hair, in a high pony tail, matches her daughter.  She nods her head in sympathetic agreement as she listens intently to one of the other mothers exclaiming how she would just PERISH if she wasn’t able to go out every weekend “just to get away for a bit.”

Can you picture it?  I can…but that’s it.  I can only PICTURE it.  None of this scene has ever really happened in this girl’s world; not last year, not last month, and not at a party last weekend… Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Top Five Most Misused Words and Phrases by Preschoolers

Fluent in Preschool

You did it!!!  It may not have been smooth sailing at times, but at least the dingy didn’t capsize! You made it through the sleepless-nights-poopy-diapers-tantrum-throwing-potty-training years of infancy and toddler-dom.  Now, you have a preschooler, and he or she can speak! What does that mean? All of that incessant crying to get what they want—done!  After all, you are living with a pint-sized communicator–all right–a rudimentary communicator, but at least able to say what he or she wants and needs.  Now it’s going to be much easier, right?

Maybe…It really depends, because you see, those teeny humans, like any human learning a new language, may use a word or utterance in a way that it is not meant to be used.  And without a translation guide, parents are…well… back in that dingy without a paddle.  Luckily, not only have I unlocked the code to the top five most misused words and phrases by preschoolers, I have devised a parental action plan to take for each, and share them with you here: Top Five Most Misused Words and Phrases by Preschoolers…

Hindsight Parenting: Admitting Mistakes

Monumental Mistakes

“Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.”

I hate to break it to you…but we. are. human. Ok. Ok. Sit down and take in the statement. Breathe it in. Breathe it out. I know, I know, I know. We are parents ergo not prone to making mistakes. Right??? Um. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

What IS it about giving birth that makes some of us immediately lose our ability to admit that possibly we might have made a mistake or two…or three. I am entirely guilty of this and I was reminded this week how absolutely damaging that not correcting a wrong can be.

One of my children is going through a nightmarish time and while I am not in anyway saying or even thinking that the choices he is making, the troubles he is having and the consequences he is facing is in totality or even partially because of the parenting he received (or didn’t receive) from me, I did however have a moment with him this week that reminded me about the importance of immediately admitting and apologizing and setting straight a mistake the instant that you realize your error…

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Hindsight Parenting: Skipping the Mega Birthday Party

Birthday

Keeping it simple with close family and friends.

My daughter, Ila, turns 4 this week, and…and…and…(Ok Logan…DEEEEEEP breath!) andwearen’thavingaparty!  Phew…there I said it.  Yup.  I said it.  My name is Logan Fisher and I am not having a birthday party for my daughter.  Ok now, Martha Stewart…stop tapping your toes, unclench your fists and uncross your arms. I did NOT say we weren’t celebrating the day.  We still are, but we aren’t having a balloons-kids-favors-games-screaming-paper-ripping-streamers-hanging-get-down-with-music-party. I am not sure why this decision has been bothering me so much…ok…that isn’t all together true…I do THINK I know why it is bothering me, but that is a phrase that is probably harder for me to say than the “we are not having a party” thing…

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Hindsight Parenting: Quality Experiences at the Amusement Park

Slowing Down—A Speedy Hindsight Lesson

Another lesson from Hindsight!

I quite often malign the fact that I am a 44 year old woman with a three year old.  It isn’t just that I am not as spry as I was when in my twenties or thirties, it is the fatigue from my blasted heart condition, it is the foggy brain from the medicine I take, it is the aches and the pains that attach themselves to me with every stress that comes with having two teenage boys, and it is the mental exhaustion that sometimes comes with wisdom.   Having my friend Hindsight has been an irreplaceable tool while parenting my daughter Ila, but the constant realization that what I DID the first time needs adjusting the second time around can be tiresome…

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Hindsight Parenting: Letting Go to Hold Them Close

Spontaneity

By letting go, it just might help to hold close those whom are dearest to you!

Spontaneity— def. “The state or quality of being spontaneous.” Control def. “The situation of restraint.”  Two words that are completely and utterly opposite in nature.  I would have to admit that the old mom—the one I was or the one I am trying to shake—was the latter, always and forever the latter.  Trying to control every stinkin’ situation that came or could come our way.   To me, back then…maybe a teeny tiny bit even now…controlling and anticipating every nuance, nook and cranny meant that I could head off trouble; fights between the boys, accidents, trouble with school work, etc.  You name it, I tried to control it.   Heck, if I could have controlled the time the sun rose and set, I would have.  But looking back, my controlling nature did nothing but make the household tense.  Anticipating never really stopped anything from happening.  Planning out every scenario never seemed to go the way I had imagined.  The boys still fought.  Accidents still happened.  Things still occurred that hurt or stung or caused trouble in some way.  Hindsight tells us then that controlling the outcomes, planning for each and every thing that may possibly happen only makes one weary and most definitely not happy or satisfied.

Then there’s spontaneity—which I have to admit is such a foreign concept to me.  Doing something on impulse just hasn’t happened much in this 44 year old’s life.  Things as small as a Sunday drive has to be mapped out for me otherwise it just feels like wandering.  However, really…what is so wrong with wandering?…

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Hindsight Parenting: Summer Survival Lists

Preparing for Summer

I used to hate summer. You heard me. H.A.T.E. While most educators count down the days until the end of the school year, my dread grows the closer the end of June comes. No, no…I have no aversion to heat, (at least not the kind of heat we get here in upstate NY. Now Florida’s heat…blech!). No, no it isn’t that it is because it is skimpy clothes and bathing suit season. Although, never being svelte and swarthy has always made me keep a cover up on at the beach, and really I have never been one for shorts. However my intense dislike for summer really never was about any of that. It was all about the fact that for two and a half months, I’d be in charge of entertaining my children (All right…instead of judging, could I at least get props that I admit fully to feeling that way?)…

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Hindsight Parenting: Loving During Hard Times

I Am On Your Side

Mother’s Day has come and gone and I of course have been reflective. Yes. I have been thinking. I have been thinking about those mommies from Newtown. I have been thinking of mommies of those injured or killed in the Boston bombings. I have been thinking of moms who are no longer part of their children’s lives directly, but instead have been replaced by an addiction to drugs or alcohol or gambling. I have been thinking of the moms whose children are drowning in a world of mental illness with no life preserver in sight. I have been thinking of moms whose children are incarcerated, runaways, or just plain lost. I have been thinking about any mom who may be experiencing one or more of the nightmares we all have imagined or prayed wouldn’t happen to our beloved children. All weekend, I thought of them. How do they celebrate their roles as mothers? How do these moms keep moving forward when the worst tragedies have infiltrated the dreams that they had for their children and the futures they had imagined for their families?

Dear readers, we of course can look to our friend, Hindsight, to guide us and them—but not our own Hindsight—not if we are in the thick of it. No—we use the Hindsight of the moms who have gone through it and come out somehow into the light (does that ever completely happen? Perhaps it’s a dim light, but a light no less.) And since it is inevitable (it IS inevitable) that all of us at some point will hurt because our children are hurting, I think it is essential that we learn what to do from some of the masters moms who have learned to cope and even come to appreciate more their titles as mothers even though their children are troubled somehow.

The great Maya Angelou’s mother, Vivian Baxter, was a force to be reckoned with, and a stupendous example of how a mom might cope and continue to mother a child that has hit a bumpy road or even one filled with craters…

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Hindsight Parenting: Pretend Play vs. Violence

Let’s Pretend: A Discussion on Violence

Let’s go back to Fisher Price amusement parks with Weebles that don’t fall down, to plastic farms where a cow moos when you open the barn door and to kick ball out in the middle of the road using the cracks in the street as bases.

“Ok daddy. Let’s go in my tent and you get to kill me.” These were the words uttered by my VERY sheltered three-year-old daughter just last night. I was shocked. Daddy was shocked. He immediately responded, “I will play with you Ila, but I won’t ever play ‘killing’. That just isn’t a nice thing to play.” To distract her, he pretended to see a dragon in the clouds and they went chasing off in that direction determined to introduce themselves. While that seem to be the end of it for Ila, it wasn’t for me. How on Earth did she come up with THAT one?

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Hindsight Parenting: 999,999 Ways to Be a Good Enough Mother

There is no way to be a perfect mother.

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.” This quote by Jill Churchill has followed me around lately. I have seen it on TV, in print, on Pinterest, posted on Facebook and on Twitter. It has shown up so often lately that I get the distinct feeling that it is speaking right to me and until I relent and agree, it will continue to haunt my senses perhaps even show up say on the back of the box of my favorite cereal (All right, I know I am being dramatic.).

I was raised in a family where perfection was the way you were noticed, the way you felt loved, and therefore I have had my share of trouble personally learning that life is all about imperfection. Like those who raised me, I expected faultlessness in those I loved, in myself, in my friends, in the way my life looked to those on the outside. I expected any endeavor perfectly landed like a gymnast sticking a dismount off the beam. Anything that was not perfection was a sign of abject failure either by another, or by me and both were chastised as such. As you already have figured out, I am my biggest critic and enemy, but my tendency to control those around me so that my idea of “perfection” came true was an even greater foe.

It is the combination of this realization thanks to my friend, Hindsight, and the fact that realizing it doesn’t always convert to total transformation instantaneously, that has made it so that I have felt in many ways like a failure, “muy imperfecto” at my first go round at parenting. Whenever life’s imperfections took a hold of my two sons, my first thought was how could I have prevented this, or what did I do wrong while raising them (How very egocentric of me huh?)?

And while Hindsight has helped me to understand that there is a multitude of factors that go into the molding and shaping of any human being, I still find myself struggling with the idea of “what is right” for my daughter, Ila and “what would be wrong” for her, hence the irritation with Jill’s perky “million ways” quote. Really, Jill? Are there REALLY a million ways to be a good mom? ‘Cause from where I stand there are a million ways to screw it up.

The thing about this whole enlightenment by Hindsight is that although Hindsight tells me what not to do based on decisions made during two decades of parenting, knowing what NOT to do but not what TO do often leaves me feeling like a compass with no needle. No North Star. No tether rope to keep me on the mountain. No flashlight on the way to the campground latrine (Do you get me?).  Perhaps one more…. No teeth on my saw… (Okay, I am done. Promise).

My point is that what I did as a parent for years and years and years is really all I knew, I guess just like all other parents. My parenting was modeled after the parenting that I received, and even though I vowed NEVER to be like “them,” those patterns, their ideals that only perfection was worthy of love still showed up and I wasn’t even aware of it. And although that type of parenting wasn’t optimum in anyway shape or form, I at least felt (erroneously) that I knew “what a perfect mom would do.” I do know now that some of the parenting that I choose to use was not even remotely near perfect, but I was buoyed by the “idea” that I knew what I was doing.

Now, without those mistaken ideas of what a “perfect parent” would do, I find myself searching, forever searching for what is right, what is wrong, what would be perfect in this situation or that? And I want that to stop. I want to believe Jill in that there isn’t just one perfect way but MILLIONS of ways to be a good mother. My beloved Dr. Speed Dial is forever reminding me that I won’t always know what is best, worst, perfect or not perfect for my child. She tells me that if a decision is made by a mom who puts the child’s needs front and center, then that is one way moms like us can be good ones. Yup, that’s one way, but according to Jill there are at least 999,999 other ways, and it got me thinking. I can’t be the only one who struggles with this image of being a good and perfect mom. I think that is the whole reason that Jill’s quote keeps showing up. We need to reassure ourselves that although perfection is not an option, we can still do a good job. We can strive to do our best for our children. We can still be a good mother. So, if there truly are a million ways to do that, I’d LOVE to hear from you about what you think should be added to the “good mothering” list. After all, there are 999,999 reasons to go.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Logan Fisher

Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s MotherhoodEye on EducationFaces, and Appleseed.  Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.

Hindsight Parenting: The Strength of Children

Have Faith in Your Children Strength

I was a big ol’ chicken this week. I mean a shakin-in-my-boots-anxiety-ridden-big-ol’-BAWK-BAWK-chicken. Last column and the column before that, I had hinted that there were things going on at my daughter Ila’s current daycare/preschool that weren’t all that wonderful. Between the mean girl attitude, and the teachers’ lack of motivation to implement the suggestions given to them by Ila’s physical and occupational therapists, coupled with the unwelcoming disposition of the lead teacher who neither greeted nor even looked up when a parent walked into a room, we came to the rather terrifying decision that we’d have to change Ila’s school. I will tell you that just last week if I had to pen that previous line, I would get a panicky feeling right in my solar plexus.

We had already made the decision that she was not returning the following year. We picked out another preschool/daycare that had a reputation for academics and a child centered approach. Both the OT and the PT had encouraged us to check this school out as they both had experience being there to do therapy for other students. But we were determined to keep her in the school she had been in at least for the rest of the year. Moving Ila seemed to be cruel especially given the background she has had on loss and leaving. We thought it would be ‘best’ for her to keep her in the place that she was ‘used to’ and not uproot her and pull another set of people out from under her. I was sure, absolutely sure that her “fragile” self couldn’t handle it. But the more problems we experienced the harder it was to stick to the decision of keeping her there. And while I won’t go into the final straw, there was one…a big honkin’ straw, and it was completely and utterly apparent to us that we’d have to get her out of that toxic place as fast as we could.

From the moment I made that decision, I had massive anxiety. Hindsight kept reminding me that the feelings I was experiencing were paramount to those same feelings that I had when I wanted to spare my boys any discomfort and therefore would move heaven and earth to make sure they didn’t feel it. Hindsight also kept reminding me what the end result of that was; two children who find it absolutely excruciating when life doesn’t go exactly the way they want it to go. “When does life always follow the path you want it to?” Hindsight whispered. “Give her a chance to adapt to discomfort,” it urged. I knew. I always know that the whispers and elbows to my ribs that Hindsight gives are always the voice of reason. I knew I should listen, and so with shaky hands and that persistent anxiety ache in my solar plexus I pushed forward trying to find a new place for Ila to attend.

Luckily, the consummate preschool that we had decided on for the following year found room for our daughter and after a couple of visitations with mommy and daughter together, this past Monday, the day of doom, (at least in my head) came; the day that we’d have to drop Ila off “at that strange and new place with no one she knows.” Saturday and Sunday leading up to that day, I didn’t sleep. I tossed. I turned. I felt nauseous and turned to friends and my husband to soothe me. The anxiety took me over and I was convinced that I couldn’t possibly bear the moment in which I left Ila all alone at that new place. So I enlisted Ila’s daddy to be the culprit; the bad guy so to speak. HE could drop her off. HE could watch her whimper. He could peel her off his leg and run out of the classroom while she screamed for him not to leave her. I just simply couldn’t do it. And Hindsight chided, “Chicken. Coward. Don’t you have any faith in the strength of your daughter?” He had a point, but I pushed that thought aside and continued to wallow in anxiety until the fateful Monday arrived.

And so while I worked away in my classroom getting ready for the week ahead, my palms sweat and I waited for the fateful call that would inevitably come; that call that would have my husband’s voice on the other end shaky and sad that Ila was so distraught at being left at a new school. So when the phone rang, my gut did a giant roller coaster dip, but I put the phone to my ear and squeaked out, “How was she?” and braced for the horror story.

The line that was uttered by my husband could have very well been uttered by Hindsight itself. He said, “Logan, I think we need to have more faith in Ila and how strong she is. She was absolutely fine. She walked into the classroom, kissed me goodbye and walked off to play with the girls that were already in the class.” I was instantly relieved and ashamed. Hindsight was right…again. I needed to have faith and confidence in the strength that we have helped to foster in our daughter. I needed to listen to him when he reminded me that parenting with a sense of wisdom will then become the wisdom of the child, and here again was a perfect example of that.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that wanting to spare our children discomfort and trauma is an innate part of being a parent. However, I am finding out that the images of what may take place, of how they may feel, or of how they may react can be completely erroneous. Therefore, if we give in to that feeling of being the hero and saving them from the deep down dark of life, not only are we not equipping them for the ultimate continuing deep down darks of life, we miss out on some pretty amazing moments where we get to see our children being strong; stronger than we may think they are, and each time they are strong it will help us to let go a bit to the savior complex we have as parents and instead let our children build the muscles that they need to be strong humans for the rest of their lives.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Logan Fisher

Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s MotherhoodEye on EducationFaces, and Appleseed.  Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Brian Hart]

Hindsight Parenting: What is the Antidote to Meanness?

Mean Girls, At Age 3

To teach my daughter empathy, the ability to anticipate and understand the feelings of others, would ensure, I am certain, that my daughter, our daughters, would be able to build each other up—not tear each other down, would be able to support with the strength of positivity…

“Go home, Ila!” Those three words, said by a three year old no less to my sweet-natured, well behaved, lovely, and special daughter (all right, all right I may be a tad biased…) made me squeeze the life out of my steering wheel from rage as it was relayed to me by that beautiful girl of mine on the way home from a grocery store visit.

I have heard the horror stories and the numerous, in fact incessant, warning from moms of daughters about the epidemic of mean girls and how it would affect someone as passive and innocent as Ila. I have been told to get her ready for it; to ensure that she has developed a strong and battle proof sense of self so that when she is attacked (which is only a matter of time according to the moms in the trenches) it won’t affect her as deeply as it could. I have been told to empower her with the right to stand up for herself; teach her I statements that set clear boundaries. For instance, “I don’t like what you are saying to me!” Or, “I want you to leave me alone.” Or, “I will not be treated this way!” I have been told that building a solid foundation of love and open communication would make it so that my daughter would feel safe divulging hurtful information to us.

And so we have done all that. Hindsight has urged me to take the advice of these mothers-in-the-know and equip Ila with all that is necessary for her to combat this culture of bullying. And me, with my memories of the horrific bullying that my older son experienced…for years…without my knowledge…as well as my own esteem issues and lack of connection with parents who did nothing to help me feel like my feelings were safe with them, made it so that I fiercely vowed to raise a daughter who was prepared beyond a shadow of a doubt for anything that might make her feel less than.

But dear readers, I must confess that I thought I had more time. I thought that I had years to mold and shape this wonderful girl into someone who stood on sturdy metaphorical legs, years to be sure that she and her out of this world essence would stay that way. I thought I had more time.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Special People

Special

When I meet up with those who are disinclined to do what is best for my child, it is probably time to find someone else to do that particular job, or time to find another group in which she can take part because there are many special people out there who are willing to do what right no matter what. And our special daughter deserves those special people in her special life because, after all, she’s so special …to us.

She’s just a girl. Not special. Not any different than any other toddler. She’s infatuated with Princess Sofia and Doc McStuffins. She has a stuffed lamb, Mi Mi, who she can’t be without. She adores her daddy and loves playing school because her mommy is a teacher. She’s a pint size philosopher who packs a punch with wise words that are seemingly beyond MY years. But she isn’t special. She’s just another child in a world of children.

But to us, her father and me, she is everything. She is quite extraordinary and yes…she is special; special in ways that are too numerous to ever recount in a single post let alone a single novel.

But she also has special needs. She needs help making her muscles strong; to get her core to fire, her left thigh to not fail her, her ankles to hold her steady. She needs help getting her fingers to work in a coordinated way so that pulling a sticker off a paper isn’t a monumental marathon-like task. She needs wait time so that her mind can map out a succession of movements. She has needs…special needs.

Over these last few years, I have been awestruck with the humans that we have encountered; professionals whose sole desire is to get her to develop to be her best self. On the way to stronger muscles and more coordinated fingers, they have taught her the satisfaction of persistence, the wonderful feeling of meeting goals, the necessity to pay attention and follow directions and the invaluable knowledge that a desire to work hard even if it is inconvenient or difficult is one of the most important characteristic one could possess. For these humans who have a constant presence in my daughter Ila’s life, I am more grateful than I could ever pen. Our daughter is special, as special to these helping humans as she is to us.

As with most toddlers, she belongs to many different types of groups. Each “group” has a leader. And while many are willing and able participants in our quest provide every opportunity for Ila’s brain to develop new pathways for movement and the processing of that movement, unfortunately, we have also come across humans, adults, who see our daughter’s special needs as a burden; “an extra thing to do.” Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: New Siblings and Imaginary Friends

Introducing Jess…

Let me introduce you to Jess. She is 12. She lives outside, loves the color purple and doesn’t want to go to school at all…

So Ila has a sister. Now stop calculating and clutching your chest. I am not and never will be pregnant again. The vasectomy and heart condition has ensured that (And honestly…phew.). And no, no there is no illegitimate child involved. Although, I am sure there are some who live to fuel the small town gossip mill who just read my first line and ran off to shout THAT type of story from the roof top of the very tall ivory tower that serves as the gossip mill’s sturdy structure and meeting place in my community. Nope…there is no sister, but there is.

That last line made no sense to you did it? Yet it makes perfect sense to me…and to Ila…who made her sister up. Yup. It’s an imaginary sister. Let me introduce you to Jess. She is 12. She has glasses which she no longer wears. She lives in our garden (We don’t have one and even if we did, it’s buried under two feet of snow.). She has dark hair, loves the color purple and doesn’t want to go to school at all. Somehow, although she is Ila’s sister, she has a completely different mother and father, but they don’t live in the garden with her. Jess has existed for my daughter for quite some time now. She’d show up sporadically. A mention here and there—but lately she has been a fixture in our house and in Ila’s imagination.

You see, even though “Jess” has been around for months, her constant presence showed up after Ila’s father and I had a particularly nasty blowout within ear shot of our daughter (If you knew how difficult it was for me to actually put those words down on paper, you would perhaps be less apt to judge me…maybe not.). But it happened. I am not proud of my behavior. My husband’s behavior was equally reprehensible and because I am UBER sensitive to NOT screwing up as much this time around as a mother, Jess’s appearance coinciding with the shameful argument has plagued me. I blamed myself (shocking!) for the creation of Jess and worried (me worry??) that my daughter was somehow damaged because of my behavior.

In fact, it may be my imagination, but it seemed that lately every time Ila’s father and I have just a normal conversation, Ila begins talking to “Jess” loudly as if to drown us out just in case the fighting takes place again. I could be wrong…maybe not. And true to my nature I have been pretty good at beating myself up about it all, sure that I had psychologically scarred my daughter for the rest of her life. And it is a rare mothering moment for me that I have no Hindsight whatsoever to fall back upon. Imaginary human beings living in my house never happened during the first 19 years of motherhood. I knew nothing about the phenomenon except for the fact that my little sister had an imaginary friend named “Big Friend” who we used to have to set a place for at the dinner table. But since my parents argued incessantly, that knowledge did nothing to quell my guilt.

So I did what any mother in this day and age does when needing information, I poured over everything the internet had ever published about imaginary humans (all right maybe not EVERYTHING. I may be exaggerating…just a tad…maybe not.) According to the doctors that write for BabyCenter.com, having imaginary friends or siblings or even animals is natural and normal for preschoolers. Studies actually show that kids with imaginary humans turn out to be more cooperative, creative, independent, and happy than those without.

This was good news, not only for Ila, but for her weary mother who thought that the presence of “Jess” was proof of my ineptitude. So what now? Well, I am off to play school with Ila…and Jess. Apparently it is Ila’s sister’s turn to be the teacher. I am eager to get started. I wonder what she’ll teach me today. She’s already taught me so much.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Logan Fisher

Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s MotherhoodEye on EducationFaces, and Appleseed.  Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Thomas Tolkien]

Hindsight Parenting: New Year’s Resolutions for Parents

Leaving Stressors Outside the Front Door for the New Year!

January; the month of promises to change, to improve, to start anew. We usually are gung-ho, walkin’ that treadmill, drinking those smoothies, foregoing those nasty cigarettes for…well…awhile. But let’s be honest, Hindsight tells us that we rarely CHANGE…I mean REALLY CHANGE. Pretty soon that treadmill is collecting laundry that hasn’t quite dried, those smoothies are impossible to drink because the blender is broken and what starts as just one cigarette while out with friends goes right back to a pack a day habit (Yes, my dear friend whom I love to pieces…I am talking about YOU and those blasted cigarettes. I want you to live a long life…so sue me!)… Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Five Christmas Wishes

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Our friend, Hindsight has been really busy this season. He is working overtime reminding me of the mistakes I made over the many Christmases with my sons. He’s reminded me of the ridiculous pickles I had gotten myself into, and the misery irrationally placed upon me because of perceived have-to’s and should-do’s. And like the loyal friend that he is, he has taught me much this season, or I should say he has taught me much ABOUT the season; what it is and what it isn’t. He’s reminded me that Christmas means magic and love and togetherness. It means traditions and family and bustle and wishes, most of all wishes. I’d like to share the wisdom Hindsight has imparted to me over these past few weeks, and because he tells me that those Christmas wishes are an integral part of the season, I’ve decided to pass on his knowledge in the form of a wish list for you… Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Learning & Practicing What Not to Do

The Experience of Hindsight

Hindsight. It isn’t just for parents who have raised children for 10-20 years. It really is a super power that ANYONE can have. Making friends with and becoming wise because of Hindsight can happen to each and every human who has ever made a mistake or has been dissatisfied with any aspect of their lives. John Reyes once said, “Over the last few years my education was not from books, it wasn’t from some fancy Ivy League School masters degree program; it came from my own personal experiences which were costly…but priceless in things I learned.” I am sure that Reyes, in this quote, was talking about my friend Hindsight. You see we have all experienced things were not proud of, not fond of, things we wish we could have done over. It is that EXPERIENCE that brings Hindsight to our front door. And if we are lucky enough to have the universe hand us a situation where we can choose differently, where we can be wiser, where we can look back upon what didn’t work and do things that will work instead, then we should consider ourselves very lucky. Very lucky indeed, because it is within these moments in which we gain a modicum of wisdom and, yes, maturity as well.

This is the sort of experience that I was faced with Tuesday night when my presence was summoned to a certain institution because choices made by a beloved son. He was in trouble, real trouble and as I quickly changed out of my pajamas and threw on a pair of sweats and a sweatshirt it dawned on me that I had no compass as far as how to act, what to do, what to say when I arrived and laid eyes upon him. Should I be supportive, emotional, firm, rejecting? How? How should one act towards her child when he’s acted without though, putting him and others at risk?

Dealing with Hindsight as much as I have, I recognized that familiar “no compass” feeling as a sign that somewhere deep in the recesses of my cavernous soul, I knew that I didn’t want to act in the way that I was “taught.” My upbringing was one in which you never brought shame upon your family. That making a consummate mistake would be enough for one to be cut off. Aunts, uncles, even a grandmother was held at bay and sometimes never seen because their choices and life styles were deemed not good enough or perhaps not worthy of familial fuzzies. Being at the stinging end of these rejections for immature and reputation damaging choices that I had made, I knew that hurt and damage that complete and utter rejection could cause. What’s more, the message that that rejection sent was one in which the reject felt that they were and would always be the sum total of those mistakes; nothing else, not flesh, not bone, not good deeds or intelligence, not talent, not human….just bad choices worthy of rejection. And as I drove towards the institution that I had been summoned to, I was sure, absolutely sure that I didn’t want to act like that. My son has troubles, makes poor choices, sometimes seems like he is drowning in anger and rage, but his sum total is much much more than this turbulent time. And yet, familial learning is so deeply entrenched that Hindsight may be able to help you know what you DON’T want to do, but it may not be able to help you with what you DO want to do.

So before I entered the building in which my son sat clearly troubled, clearly IN trouble, Hindsight reminded me that although HE may not know how I should act, someone that I had in my life was ALWAYS willing to help shape and mold me and give me a compass that always seemed to point me in the correct direction. So despite the late hour, I dialed her number, presented my dilemma and she, as usual, lovingly, patiently and firmly pulled me up by my bootstraps and gave me concrete directions on what my role as his mother needed to be. So I turned off the ignition, blew my nose and wiped my tear streaked face. I took a deep breath and walked up the ramp with Hindsight’s hand on the center of my back and my right hand firmly squeezed into my husband’s left hand. The automatic doors swooshed open, I was ushered into a room to find a crumbling son seated in a chair.   Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Hard Decisions

I Am Struggling Dear Readers

I am struggling dear readers. I am struggling. I have decisions to make. Hard ones. Life changing ones. The decisions I need to make are similar decisions to ones I had to make when my sons were little. And that damn Hindsight is dogging me. Being older and so-called wiser, having a friend named Hindsight, can just add pain to things that are already feeling excruciating. Sometimes, Hindsight is annoying, heart wrenching, maddening, especially when the decision is hard enough without his two cents butting in. Lately, I just want to shut him up.

I want to make my decisions without the wisdom that Hindsight brings. I want to be dumb, ignorant, and selfish and do the things that I want without any other voice entering the conversation. Heck, even IF I was without Hindsight, I am not even sure of which way to go with the decisions that I have to make. But WITH Hindsight chiming in day and night, night and day, I am just absolutely positively drowning in a thick miserable muck of indecision.

But Hindsight has taught me what happens when one makes a decision selfishly, without thought given to the other players in the drama. Hindsight has taught me that flinging myself into a situation because I so desperately want something different without a plan or without foresight always ends up in disaster. That pesky Hindsight keeps telling me over and over and over that I just might have to wallow in that quagmire of irresolution for a tiny bit, or maybe even a longer bit until things are clearer, until plans have been made, until the path is apparent.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Daddy’s Daughter

The City Slicker Vs. The Country Bumpkin

Watching with a keen eye that I have developed since Hindsight has come into my life, I noticed that while I was standing on the outskirts of the petting farm, Ila AND her FATHER were giddy, purely giddy. And it was at that moment that I realized that she wasn’t just MY daughter, but Jeffrey’s daughter as well.

I once read a book where the mother was tired of the constant lack of respect doled out by her entire family. She felt invisible in many ways, and so one day she decided to test out the literalness of that invisibility. While at a beach with her family, she calmly put on her shoes, took her purse and walked across the street to an overgrown meadow with grass as tall as she. She stepped into the meadow and as she walked was literally swallowed up by the vegetation, walking through the muck and mire until she reached a place where she could hitch a ride and begin a new life.

Being swallowed up by tall grass until one completely disappears paints a beautiful picture and probably has been a fantasy of every mother now and then, but admittedly while the thought of walking away from all the “stuff” that comes with motherhood may possibly entice me now and then, a MEADOW was never an option as an escape route. I’ll admit it. I am not a gettin’ dirty kind of girl. (Okay…mind out of the gutter…this IS a family column!)

All I can picture when I think of that meadow is how my beloved heels would get stuck in the mud and the water stains my suede boots would endure. If I was to write a disappearance scene it would take place on a crowded city street in Soho or perhaps San Francisco in which I get swallowed up by the crowd until I ended up at a vacant flat in a swanky neighborhood where my new life would consist of a computer to write, a dog for company and a daily walk through my neighborhood to take in the sights and sounds of the city…complete anonymity. Complete bliss.

So where am I going with this? I mean this is the HINDSIGHT column right? Give me a sec, I’m getting there. The first time around with my sons, I expected that since I was a city type girl that of course my boys would be city slickers as well. How wrong I was. The first time I brought Aidan to NYC, he became so overwhelmed by the chaos and noise he threw up on the side of the Chrysler Building…not a good sign. But I kept on trying, year after year, dragging my unwilling boys to the city listening to them complain about the smells and the noise and fret over being caught in terrorist attack or held up by a drug dealer.

So when Ila’s neurologist and a very special friend who is a PT extraordinaire suggested that Ila learn to ride a horse to strengthen her core, I immediately dismissed the idea. After all, she was my daughter and…well…she would NEVER be comfortable on a farm, in a BARN with all the manure and the dirt floors and the hay and the smells, and the stray cats and…well…you get my point. Horseback riding would NEVER be a viable solution for MY little girl. Nope. No WAY. We just aren’t country-lovin girls. No way.

But then…but then…we went to our annual pilgrimage to the apple orchard. And ok….there is a petting “farm” with hay bales and goats, pigs, cows, chickens and turkeys. Hey ANYONE can stand the smell for a couple of hours in the name of Fall fun. But Hindsight began whispering when she ran towards the goats. It began yelling when the goats licked her hands over and over and giggles cascaded from her beautiful mouth. She flew towards the rabbits and the chickens squealing with joy. Watching with a keen eye that I have developed since Hindsight has come into my life, I noticed that while I was standing on the outskirts of the petting farm, Ila AND her FATHER were giddy, purely giddy. And it was at that moment that I realized that she wasn’t just MY daughter, but Jeffrey’s daughter as well.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Kids and Animal Companions

So We Have a Kitten

So we have a kitten. Yes…these words I never thought I would utter ever…EVER in my lifetime. But, here I am saying them… “We have a kitten.” His name is Jete, short for Jeter, the only Yankee my daughter Ila knows. Naming a cat Jete should also give you an idea of who was behind the idea of getting the kitten…that would be daddy.

Here’s the thing; I am not really an animal person. I mean, we had two dogs. I loved them. Really I did. But truthfully, once they were gone I was ready, relieved even, to begin a life animal free. No food to buy. No mess to clean up. No smells. No hair. No guilt when you don’t have time to spend to spend with them.

But then we went to Ila’s first therapeutic riding lesson at a farm, in a barn full of horses…and cats— barn cats to be exact—she came to life. (Ok…she is always FULL of life) but she lit up from the inside surrounded by the entire myriad of animals; ponies, dogs, horses, fillies, and cats…barn cats to be exact.

My husband, Jeffrey is the same way around animals. Don’t even get me started on the squirrels he feeds on our deck that left a huge hole in our sliding glass deck screen door when they chewed threw it looking for food. He has always seemed to have some mystical quality that attracts animals no matter where we are. And so, as we sat in that chilly barn on a stoop marveling at our daughter riding a pony, out of no where this mangy, one eyed wild cat came and made himself comfortable right on Jeffrey’s lap (Ok, I made up the one-eyed mangy part…). Instantly, Ila was distracted. She wanted that cat on HER lap. She could think of nothing else and so reluctantly with shoulders sagged and a great deep sigh, Jeff shooed that cat off his lap (I did not make-up the sigh or sagged shoulders.). After the ride, Ila fed her pony and took off in search of the barn cat with her father close behind her squealing with joy (Ok…I made-up the squealing part.). No matter, my point is that between Jeffrey and the complete illumination of Ila at the riding lesson I began feeling a bit squeamish about being an animal free household.

Hindsight doesn’t always have to teach you lessons about things you did incorrectly as a parent. It can also teach you about things that you DID perfectly. As it helped me reminisce about those puppies and the joy they brought the boys, I began to realize that maybe I was being a bit selfish. There were times that those dogs brought out the best in those boys of mine. Although they weren’t much on the clean and care of them, it was the unconditional love they received from them that softened them and taught them empathy. When Rudy, our Australian Shepherd, sang Happy Birthday along with us, the giggles that emanated from those boys made me belly laugh right along with them. When Vixen, our lab, would set her chin on their knees as they sat on the couch, you couldn’t help but notice that the way they stroked her chin and silky ears that she brought out the best in them. The dogs were their friends, their companions and at times, the only ones who didn’t seem mad at or exasperated with them.

When they died, I mourned. I mourned more however for the way they made my children feel… I mourned when they died because of the empty hole they left in my children’s soul.

And so with Hindsight’s hand firmly on my back guiding my steps, we began our search for a kitten. A kitten that would light up Ila from the inside. A kitten that she could love. A kitten that would provide her comfort and unconditional love, and I am happy to report that…we have a kitten—a kitten named Jete.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Logan Fisher

Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s MotherhoodEye on EducationFaces, and Appleseed.  Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.

[Photo credit: (ccl) purplemettfish]

Hindsight Parenting: Doing Things Differently

The Dreaded Happened Last Night

The dreaded happened last night.  A usually very easy-going-as-long-as-you-do-my-routine-I’ll-go-to-bed, Ila was not easy going at all.  Last night, I heard the creaking of our hall floor at around 9pm, which meant that Ila, for the first time since being in her big girl bed, had ventured out of it at a forbidden hour.  I immediately stepped out of my bedroom and using my sternest “mommy” voice I said, “Stop right there, miss.  What do you think you are doing?  It is WAYYY past your bed time.  Turn around and go right back to bed.”

What happened next stunned me; that typically compliant daughter of mine didn’t turn around but instead a look of pain came across her face instantly and she began the heart piercing kind of cry where she is so upset that nothing comes out over her mouth.  Do you know that kind of cry??  Her mouth kind of opened and her face contorted, tears streamed down her face and she kind of did this gaspy hiccup thing in which her chest moved up and down soundlessly as well.

I immediately regretted my mom tone and scooped her up.  As I traveled down the hallway to my bedroom, Hindsight began to whisper that this may be one of those situations which I had failed miserably in my past parenting-a-toddler life.  Instead of resisting its voice I listened intently to see if it could give me any guidance with my now sobbing daughter sitting on my lap in the rocking chair.

As usual, looking back on familiar situations spoke volumes to me and I recalled many many times where my sons were acting out of sorts or unlike themselves.  As a young mom, I think I focused on the behavior trying to shut that down…to teach a lesson.  “We don’t scream and throw a fit every morning before school.”  “We don’t say that we hate another child.”  “We don’t forget our homework at school every day!”

Focusing on the behavior however didn’t get me far and unfortunately I learned the hard way to realize that an out of the ordinary behavior is most certainly linked to something…in other words, if your child is acting out or being unpredictable somehow, there is something  behind it.  It is our jobs as mommies and daddies to find out what it is.  Not that is not to say that kids just don’t want to go to bed at night—simple as that.  But the severity of Ila’s reaction made the red flags go up.

So after rocking and soothing her, I spoke softly and said, “Can you use words and tell me why you got out of bed.”  And, as she quite often does, she surprised me by nodding her head and clearly communicating that she was scared to go to school.  (I must tell you here that I think that I am so used to things not going right on my parenting journey that I am caught off guard every time Ila does something in a way that seems reasonable.  I know…so sad, and says volumes about my life as a mom the first time around, but I never tire of the satisfaction I feel when my daughter does something seemingly within the normal realms of reactions.)

She was scared to go to school, and really this is every parent’s nightmare isn’t it?  At least in my world, that dreaded phrase sets off a litany of images, none of which are pleasant or show that my child’s feelings are erroneous. So, true to form, I immediately imagined the teachers spanking the children, yelling at Ila, not helping her open her lunch so that she feel like she’s starving during the day, not allowing her the comfort of her stuffed lamb at naptime…my thoughts ran the gamete.

However Hindsight reminded me to be calm, as losing my mind in front of my children had never paid off, and so I calmly asked why she was feeling scared.  Once again, the communicative Ila clearly stated that she didn’t like the yelling.  And once again, I had to reign in my tendency to want to go in to preschool guns a blazin’ taking no prisoners along the way.  So the new calm inquisitive mother asked Ila to tell her about the yelling.  She described a scene in which one of her friends hit another one of her friends and so the teacher yelled for the perpetrator to sit on the rug.  I smiled and cooed and then gently tried to explain the best way that I could to a three year old that if a child is hurting another child then the adult in charge is going to use a voice that has a bit of scariness in it because she doesn’t want that child to do it again.

Somehow, Hindsight whispered to me to not dwell so much on this topic too long but instead remind her of what she loved about going there.  So we sat there in the dark rocking and hugging and listing all of her friends’ names and the things she did with each that were an essential part of her day.  And in no time, she was her happy self, ready for bed and to bound off to school the next day.

Read the rest of this entry »

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