Raising a boy to be a man

photo courtesy of home.howstuffworks.com

Yesterday I received an email from my twins’ Kindergarten teacher. The school they attend is full-day, but only has 1 grade per class. It is a small school. We chose it for the curriculum and the location to the house. I am grateful the school is small enough teachers can tell the difference between my two boys (I think its easy, but sometimes when Im not paying attention…) Don’t even get me started about the hubs. He can’t EVER tell them apart. Gah!

With such a small school, the teachers and the parents can really work together to make sure the child is doing all they can to excel in school. The email I received today told me that Sean had peed all over the bathroom and refused to clean it up.

This was shocking, because well, Im a girl and can’t really pee all over the place without peeing on myself. So, this type of activity just baffles me at my core. Also, Sean is usually pretty good about his aim, sometimes, okay occasionally. By the time I got home, I was pretty upset. How embarrassing to be the mom of the kid who PEED everywhere, ugh! Gross!

Sean and I talked, he said he didn’t do it. I had to think to myself: Did my kid just lie to me to get out of trouble, or is he really telling the truth. So, I pulled a whammy. I said: “If I find out you are lying, and Ive gone to bat for you with the teacher – no summer camp and no going to Grandmas this summer.” Whoa!

All the while chanting to myself: Please don’t lie, please don’t lie, please don’t lie – mommy needs some down time this summer to study.

So, I asked his brother, Archie, who has done this sort of thing before when he couldn’t get his pants down fast enough. When it gets stuck straight up, he can’t control it and he pees everywhere. (At least that is what I HOPE happened. Something about buttons on pants.) Well, I made the same promise/threat to Archie. “Tell me truth and you will still go to Grandmas even if you have consequences for today’s actions.” Then, I laid down the guilt pretty thick with the “Whats your favorite thing to do at Grandmas? etc.”

Lo and behold, Archie – not Sean – peed all over the bathroom! He watched his brother take the rap for it and didn’t even speak up! When I found this out I was flabbergasted. Where was that ‘Twin Love’ Id always heard about? More like road kill after your brother throws you under the bus!

Had I done this as a child, my mom would have spanked my butt pretty hard, and grounded me FOREVER. I was MUCH more diabolical (I hope). I put the offender in his room, in bed for time-out. Which isn’t really that drastic, except I took out every stuffed animal, including his precious, his Baby Bear. Baby Bear has been around since the boys were almost 2 and has been a constant companion. After the meltdown calmed down, I used the feeling of loneliness Archie felt to compare with the loneliness Sean must have felt when he was abandoned by his brother not speaking up. We also role-played about what to say to the teacher if this happens again.

I only hope I got through and he actually remembers. Baby Bear was returned after lights out when he was mostly asleep. I only hope he has learned a valuable lesson: Honor means speaking up when you are afraid to. Honor means standing up for what is right, even when it is uncomfortable. Honor is doing the right thing. Because if I am growing my boys into great men, this is definitely a lesson they need to learn!

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My Loved Ones

After I got home, time in the parkI was a little MIA this last week. Work sent me out of town for most of the week to the eastern seaboard. If you follow my Facebook page or Twitter handle, you know where I was. The trip was great, but I realized something important. It only took me 3 days to really miss my kids. I even missed my husband, though we was able to join me for a bit.

Most of you know my husband travels for work and is gone most of the month. So, things get pretty hectic and stressful with just me juggling a job and the three kids. Well, his job let him travel to the same location while I was back east and we had some nice, quiet couple time. We held hands, went for walks etc. (eye waggle) And, it was nice. I mean really nice, like before we were married and had kids nice. But then he had to leave. That was bummer. I had to work anyway, so it was good to concentrate on that, but still – I missed him when he left for his own trip. But what brought it all home was fish.

Not the fish that you eat, but an aquarium. Close to where I was staying was a really nice aquarium. It was new, had none of the traditional musty smell I associate with leaky aquarium tanks and had some amazing features. We are a water loving family and have always enjoyed aquariums. My husband actually used to be the scuba guy cleaning the tank during college. I enjoyed my tour and the time I spent between the end of my meetings and my flight at the aquarium, but I was more than a little melancholy that I couldn’t share it with all four of my boys (this includes the husband). I knew they would have been so much more enthusiastic about it. I would have enjoyed their giddy excitement as they walked through the underground tunnel. I guess that means I actually do love the buggers, even when they pee all over the toilet seat.

Whine No More: Is there a spray for that?

Recently, and I don’t know if it is because the kiddos are tired or if the moon is full or they haven’t eaten enough bran in their diet, but my kids have become excessively whiny. We have a full day, starting at 6am and ending about 7:30pm. I like to say my boys are typically 85% good, which is excellent really. (They are rough and tumble boys!)

But lately, Archie especially, has been excessively whiny. I tell him to put the forks on the table, because it is his job this week, and he up and tells me “No, I don’t want to do it”. I clarify and say it is a “tell”, not an “ask”. At that point, it’s puddle, meltdown city. So, I send him to his room, which he hates.

Is this a phase? Is this lashing out because he misses his dad who now travels for work? Is it because he is tired? Because we are ALL tired. Im tired from working long hours and trying to keep up with housework. He is tired from being a boy in school and daycare. Regardless, there is no excuse for trying to trip his friends at school or push them either. (Another problem we are working on.)

Im sure he doesn’t REALLY hate me. He MUST be saving that for his teen years, surely. I just wish they made a spray called “Whine No More”. If anyone needs a place to test a newly developed formula, please call or send a carrier pigeon. Either way, my sanity could use a spray bottle of that stuff.

Can Moms Have It ‘ALL’?

As a follow up to my prior post Boys Are Different Than Girls (that’s okay) I talked about how I thought a large part of our risk tolerances as boys and girls are nature vs. nurture. This is not a hard and fast rule. I have several friends on both sides of the boy/girl line with different amounts of risk tolerance when it comes to their career.

But one thing that I have always seen, it is the person who is willing to go walk that untraveled road who will usually make stunning career paths for themselves. Truly spectacular and interesting things happen while OFF the beaten path. When Marissa Mayer was hired as a young, pregnant CEO of Yahoo, many claimed that women were now able to ‘have it all’. What is ‘all’?

And, what is “having it all”? If a woman chooses certain jobs because she values the flexibility to allow maximum family time, it might not advance her career, but it certainly means: ‘Having it all’ to her! If a woman wants to stay at home and is able to financially, then yeah that also means: ‘Having it all’. A woman who has followed her career to success without kids or with kids and a great support system means:’ Having it all’. I see no issue with any of these scenarios. In fact, I honor those who know what they want, and go after it.

I think we have always had the ability to ‘Have it all’ depending on our definition. There are days I certainly think I can’t take any more, so I must have it all. It is harder for employees, especially women, with families to rise through the ranks and become a C level executive. It takes an enormous support system, or a lot of money or both. I and many other moms can miss important networking functions because my daycare closes at a certain time. We don’t all have the luxury of family close by to help, nor do we have a nanny on staff to pick up the evening shift.

For those who have made it, I offer congratulations! I don’t begrudge someone else’s hard choices or feel affronted they took on such a difficult task of juggling parenthood and work. I do take issue when corporate america does not value the employee who needs the flexibility and does not utilize their workforce to the fullest potential. Just because I sometimes work from home to get my kids to a doctor appointment, does not make me less valuable of an employee or produce lower quality work product. I take conference calls, share desktop screens and more. With the great amount of technology available and the Internet, many jobs do not HAVE to be performed in the office all-the-time.

Any mom, who wants to be an employee, is a fierce employee. She is a keen multi-tasker and can prioritize, delegate and balance work loads of multiple projects. For a business to not see this potential, cultivate that employee and give a road into leadership while honoring their is the real travesty. If a larger section of corporate America doesn’t start realizing this gap, then mentoring and training it’s employees to be flexible, their leaders will come from an ever decreasing pool of candidates.

Large sections of the business world are missing out on some of the best talent out there! Many of these employees are leaving Corporate America to start their own businesses where they are CEO of what they create. We can’t all be C-level executives of a large corporation, it won’t fit some of our preferred lifestyles. But for the ones who want it, there should be a way to be recognized and lead to the top, whichever path you choose.

Bad Mommy Days

Image borrowed from Blondie McBattlefield

Yesterday was a bad day. I don’t know why, it started out on the wrong note. I had a bad mommy day.

For those of you that know me personally, you know change has come to our house. My husband got a job! We are excited for this, it has been a long 2.5 years! But, his new job takes him travelling a good deal and so it is just me, myself and I (and you by virtue of reading my posts) with the 3 kiddos. (ages 6, 6, and 2) Between working full time, cooking and choosing which toilet to scrub, it gets to be a little much some days. Yesterday was a day like that.

I was told the reason the 6 year olds were not dressed was because they didn’t have any school-worthy pants. But I had just washed EVERYTHING 1 day prior. Then, when I asked Archie to check if he had flushed the toilet. He was tired and refused. Such a simple request. But he is 6 and I didn’t ask him to explain himself. (He didn’t want to get his hands dirty and have to wash them again.) I lost it and yelled. Not an auspicious start to the day.

My reaction plagued me throughout the work day. I didn’t want to yell. I didn’t want to react, but we were running late and I had just been told that I needed to do laundry – again. As the morning kept running through my head I thought: “How can I be better?” This situation is going to last a long time and I need to manage this.

So I did 4 things, and so far (for 1 day anyway) its working:

  1. I apologized. I don’t think this shows weakness, but strength of character when own your mistakes.
  2. I made a plan to change. I told my kids “Mommy had a bad start to the day, but I am making it better.”
  3. I asked for help. I prayed a bit. Looking for peace, knowing that the house won’t fall down around my ears if I don’t vacuum this week or pick up toys or if my kids eat breakfast for dinner. (its fast, healthy and delicious)
  4. I asked my kids for help. “Mommy is going to try really hard to let you know when I need a little bit of extra help from you to make it a good day. Can you listen when I ask?”

I was happy and surprised to get hugs from all three boys, 2 – ‘I love you’s and 1- Cha Choo

(aka: ‘Me too’ from the 2 year old) I don’t know how I managed it, but for having a bad mommy day, my boys are pretty awesome. 

Do you have days like this? If so, I would love to hear how you manage!