Tag: parenting (page 1 of 2)

Summer 2015…13 days down

13 days down; 41 days to go. Day 27 is the halfway mark. Not sure of the exact hour. Probably around 11:00. Not that I’m counting or anything.

So far we’ve been bowling, to the library, swimming, and to a BMX pro show at the Food Truck Rodeo where I spent $21 in Italian Ice because I did not want to have a kid admitted to the ER for heat stroke on my watch. What happens to them after I leave, is not my concern. Okay, maybe a little. Okay…I’d be right there with them pacing in the ER but as a grandmother, not the nanny.

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Just some random dialog heard so far, 13 days in. Not that I’m counting or anything.

Emma: (screaming) We have a bleeder! We have a bleeder!

  • Aiden was running in the house—which he wasn’t supposed to so—and caught under his eye/upper cheek bone on the corner of the table. Thinking he’d get in trouble for running, he ran into the living room, bleeding pretty good. High adrenaline, sweaty, facial area + sharp corner of table = lots of blood, but little damage.

Paisley: (to Aiden) Do you ever shutup?

  • You’re wise beyond your years, Paisley. But always remember, unless they’re asleep, you should always, always investigate when they get too quiet.

Ivy: (when asked what she wants for lunch) Macaroni & Cheese

  • So you fix mac & cheese. Then she says she doesn’t want mac & cheese. She wants cereal. So you fix her cereal. Then she doesn’t want that kind of cereal, she wanted the other kind. While your eye is twitching and you step outside in 98 degree heat to take a deep breath, she magically eats the mac & cheese.

Casey: (said with a half smile) Hey grandma.

  • I can only see half of his smile because that’s all the previously closed—now open bathroom door will allow me to see as my foot is blocking him from opening it more while he peers through the crack while I’m sitting on the toilet.

Ireland: (shrieking in eardrum splitting decibels) Bug! Bug! BUG!

  • It was a fly.

Ava: (asked with the slightest bit of upturned lip) Are we going to do anything today? Like, fun?

41 days to go. Not that I’m counting.

 

Robbed

I’m angry. I’m worried. And I want to scream at someone, anyone. I want to shake my fists in the air and shout “FUCK YOU, EPILEPSY.” I want to point a finger and say it’s your fault, or maybe yours, or maybe you over there. But there’s no one to blame, not really. It’s just one of those things. Yeah. Fuck you.

11081380_10204902989031749_715333339806534571_nWhat is one of those things? It’s watching your daughter’s husband carry her like an infant into the house, bearing her total weight in his arms, begging her to “hang on.”

It’s watching her three year-old squat down in front of her, staring at his unresponsive mommy, then look up and at me and his daddy and say, “Mommy dead?”10406689_10202720249749269_9165213114148148499_n

It’s watching Ava outside on the trampoline, not jumping, just sitting there with tears in her eyes, scared to go in the house.

It’s seeing your daughter finally come out of a grand mal in the Emergency Room, crying, and the first thing she says in a tiny, strained voice is “Ava’s party—I need to go to Ava’s party.”

It’s Ava, in her classroom at school on the day of her Easter party, worried why her mommy isn’t there yet.10846410_10203259521950737_3235638873962084950_n

It’s Landon being roused out of bed by his dad to come lay beside his mom when Allen leaves for work. Call 911, he’s instructed, if she starts seizing. He’s only 11. It’s a heavy burden for any kid but he’s the oldest.

It’s Ireland being clingy to mommy after a brief stay in the hospital.10689606_10202813739246448_3036788874787617335_n

It’s seeing pictures of Landon with his best friend and his family snowboarding and wishing it was you, his own family, that he was there with.

10337728_10202124470815168_6976740376654001142_nIt’s having to ask for help from neighbors to get your kids back and forth to school, or can they hitch a ride with so-and-so to church, or maybe to the ballgame.

It’s looking into special phones that a four year-old like Ivy can learn to use to call 911 with a recorded message that says “mother with grand mal seizure, small children in house.” 10689643_10203246598267653_2778571335627677453_n

It’s organizing the daily round of pills. She’s only 31.

It’s the unspoken fear of going anywhere, the what if...

It’s a disease, a condition, a whatever-the-hell-you-want-to-call-it. And it’s a thief. It’s robbing my daughter of memories she’ll never get back; it’s robbing her kids of mommy moments.

And that pisses me off. Fuck you, epilepsy. You’ve knocked us down a couple times, but we get right back up. And we’ll keep getting right back up because we will not be your victim. You will not win this war.1394779_10201464344107775_868260868_n

 

 

Why I didn’t get my grandkids anything for Christmas

Yes, you read that right. I didn’t get the grands anything for Christmas. Not even a candy cane. First year ever. Lack of funds was only one of the reasons — I mean, seriously — there’s nine of ’em and at $20 a piece, that’s a good chunk out of a tight budget.

I worked the numbers every which way I could, $20 for those eight years-old and over, $10 for the younger ones. But then the younger ones’ options were slim at $10 or under. I considered going to the dollar store or the one-step up, Five and Under store, but then thought…why am I throwing even a dollar away for something that’s going to break, tear up, get lost before the end of the day?

Then I started hearing bits and pieces of what the kids were getting from their parents, other grandparents, and that jolly ol’ elf. After spending a chunk of back-breaking time every week day picking up pieces of play castles, toy cars, microscopic swords and tea cups, Barbie shoes and dresses, stuffed animals ranging in size from the hand held to the giant furry things…I decided there wasn’t a darn thing they needed coming from me that would come from a store.

So I decided to give each one, individually, my time.

I know — being with them sometimes 12-hours a day seems they have enough of my time. But honestly, they don’t. They don’t have me. They have grandma the waitress — which I’m quite good at if I do say so myself — I can balance six plates filled with PBJs on both arms and only drop the occasional chip. They have grandma the disciplinarian — which I’m also very good at. I get tickled at people who say they could never spank their precious little grand. Spend the amount of everyday, regular ol’ time with them that I do and see if you change your mind.  They get grandma the diaper changer or bottom wiper or nose wiper or pick me up from school taxi cab.Shaw Photography Group

But they don’t get grandma.

So my gift to them is my uninterrupted time and my full attention. One at a time. One on one. Emma’s looking forward to a mani/pedi, Landon, a movie, Ava, maybe one of those painting dates…whatever they want to do (within reason — yes, I’m still the grandma that puts limits on things). Even the little ones. A picnic at the park sounds good to me. It may take half the year to get these Christmas presents delivered, but I’m looking forward to each one of them.

 

It’s okay to be average

Facebook didn’t exist when my kids were little. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t exist when my kids were little. Nor Instagram or Snapchat or Twitter. I don’t remember scheduling “play dates” for my kids. They played with one another and/or the neighborhood kids. I don’t remember anything called Mommy’s Morning Out or any other ‘mommy group’.

Sure, there was always that mom in the neighborhood, or at school, or at church who kids’ poop didn’t stick.  Their kid walked when they were 6 months old! Was potty trained before they were two! Had a three-thousand word vocabulary before their third birthday. Could even read on a second grade level before kindergarten. And were so darn cute, their moms were looking at modeling agencies.

Yeah, if you’re a mother, you’ve probably experienced the mother of all mothers. And not only was it their job to raise the perfect kid, they took on the added responsibility of letting you know what you were doing wrong. In subtle, snarky remarks, of course.

Those moms still exist and, lucky us, social media has made it so easy for them to share their perfect worlds. Their perfect nurseries. Their perfect homemade, organic lunches. Their neatly arranged educational toy bins.

More power to you, perfect mom. But I’d be willing to bet there are a heckuva lot more ‘average’ moms out there than there are perfect.

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Here’s looking at you, kid.

Young mothers these days are putting way too much pressure on themselves. Every mother starts out with the grand goal of being perfect. No one wants to be ‘average’. But sometimes, this little thing called reality, gets in the way. That perfect nursery will have crayon marks on the perfectly painted walls and, unless you’re an odor shaman, will smell like pee or poop. The precious little ones will turn their cute little noses up at the thought of a homemade, organic lunch once they get a taste of cheese doodles and brownies. And those educational toys – just wait until they see a Tonka truck, or gads! – a toy gun. And for those mothers who actually have more than one child, kids fight. A lot. They can be mean little snots. Yes – you’re perfect kid may have a mean streak. Deal with it. And, funny as it seems, the meanest kids usually have the most perfect mothers. So there’s your motivation to bypass perfect and aim to be average.

Average moms have a collection of mismatched tiny socks hidden under couch cushions, behind the bookcase, and stuffed in the toy bins. Sometimes even stuffed inside the toys. Their kids eat cereal for lunch. And sometimes supper. And sometimes on the same day. They eat pizza and hot dogs cut into tiny triangles. And they eat a lot of chicken nuggets. They will have more fun with the box a hundred-dollar toy came in than the toy itself, so save yourself the money.

And if you have more than one, call in reinforcements for the big stuff. I went to the beach last weekend with Nina and Allen. With three toddlers, even the simplest of activities takes some planning. Allen and Landon went with Nina’s dad and half-brother out on the boat one day. Nina and I were going to take the three toddlers and Ava to the pool. Then we realized both of us would have to be in the pool at all times holding one or two kids at the same time. So we settled for going to the beach instead, where we figured the kids could at least play in the sand. After parking, only one problem with that…we had to cross the street to get to the shore. Three toddlers, a seven year-old, two bags of towels, fruit snacks, and sippy cups, and two chairs. meandNina

That was an accomplishment. Here’s to the average mom.

 

 

Traditions be damned

This past weekend we celebrated Easter. There was a time when my kids were small that I dressed them up for the occasion.  Garey wore a tie; Nina suffered through a frilly dress. All for tradition’s sake.

We would have Easter dinner at mom and dad’s. Ham, potato salad and green beans. A dessert or two. Maybe deviled eggs. And the day before, we waited anxiously for the little colored tablet to dissolve in the vinegar so we could dye eggs. So exciting! Sometimes they would use the little wax crayon that came with the dying kit to write their names on their eggs. Fun times. At least I think they were. 20140419_193944

There may have been some tears because an egg was cracked, or I might have fussed because one of the kids spilled one of the cups of dye. But it was a tradition dating back many, many years. Not just for us—for everyone since Paas sold their first dying kit.

It was like leaving cookies for Santa. Dying eggs at Easter was expected. Those parents who didn’t weren’t worthy to be called parents. They were depriving their kids of a tradition.

And what do we do with traditions? We carry them on. Play them forward. Even if we’re left scratching our heads and wondering why we continue to do these things.

So Nina dyed eggs with her kids Saturday night. She asked if I wanted to come help. Sure. We’ll carry on the tradition.

20140419_190826Landon wasn’t too interested so he was in and out. Ava enjoyed helping Ireland, as long as Ireland kept her grimy little hands off Ava’s meticulously dyed, multi-colored eggs. Ivy thought it was the neatest thing EVER! Until Ireland wanted to dye her egg pink, too. Ivy balked because she owns the copyright to pink or something like that. Hissy fit #1. Ireland didn’t understand why she had to dye her egg blue. Casey’s egg was blue. Hissy fit #2.  Ivy didn’t understand the waiting game—the egg has to soak in the color for oh, like, at least 30 seconds. Hissy fit #3.  Casey liked the little metal dipper thingy. But keep in mind we’re still working with him on using a spoon and fork so when he couldn’t get the little dipper to work just right, yeah, go ahead—just reach in there with all the dye and grab that egg. 20140419_190839Oops. That one cracked. Hissy fit #4. So after all the eggs were colored, Ava finds the little wax crayon and wants to know what it is. Ava, the budding artist, writer, songwriter, who will write on anything is devastated. She could have written a whole song on one of those eggs! Or at least her name.

So much for the egg dying tradition. I decided that maybe, instead of picture perfect traditions, our new tradition would be to just give in to the chaos. Just enjoy the ride. One day all these kids will have kids of their own. What’s that old saying? Payback’s hell.20140419_193952

Top Ten Playground Rules

The weather was gorgeous this week and allowed ample time for outside activities and playground fun. We’re now working on playground rules and socially acceptable behavior on said playground. Of course it all goes out the window with the first toddler meltdown but we did make some observations. 20140310_170432

  1. Just what are you supposed to do with boogers? It is never, never, never socially acceptable to wipe them on your cousin or younger sibling. It’s okay, if you absolutely have no other choice, to wipe them on your own clothes.
  2. Yes I know the dog is barfing. No we do not need to go look. Yes I know she’s eating it. I’m grossed out too. Refer to item 1 above if you want to talk about gross.
  3. That big black and yellow striped, fuzzy thing with wings is not a butterfly. Do not touch it.
  4. Vultures eat dead things. It happens. Yes I feel sorry for that dead squirrel, too. No I will not chase that large flock of very large vultures away. Sorry kid. Nature can be cruel. Watch anything on Nat Geo or Discovery and you’ll think Zombies are harmless.
  5. Throwing mulch on the slide is probably not a good idea. Sharp pieces of chopped up wood can end up where it’s not supposed to be. It will not feel good.
  6. What goes up, comes down. Do not throw the mulch. It will end up in your hair. And you will need another bath. And mommy will be tired of giving you a bath six times a day and may not be so gentle this time.
  7. Just because it’s a fruit snack does not mean you should put it in your mouth. If you have to pick the mulch off of it—and please tell me you didn’t eat the mulch—then it should probably not be eaten. Sorry kid. Life sucks.
  8. There is such a thing as ladder etiquette. If someone is coming up, wait your turn to climb down. Do not climb down while they are climbing up. You end up sitting on their head and that looks silly.
  9. If you spin the swing around and around and around and then let go, it will unwind around and around and around and you will be—what we adults call—drunk. You may stagger a little and giggle because you think it’s funny. It’s not funny. You may barf. Like the dog. Refer to item #2.
  10. There is a reason daddy put a fence around the playground. Yes, I know grandma is on the other side of the fence. Ha Ha.  20140331_170825

Memories snob

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Ava making snow angels, and memories

We had a decent snow a few weeks ago. The kind where you can actually bring out the sleds. It was a magical time for the kids.

It brought out a lot of comments on Facebook about “when I was a kid, we used to…fill in the blank.” Was the snow better back then or what?

I’m finding that as I (clears throat) get a little older, my friends around the same age and I talk about our childhoods a lot. We did have great childhoods. We grew up in the 60s and 70s with 3 channels on black and white tvs, vinyl records played on something called a record player, and the ice cream man wasn’t on a national registry.

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The Willis kids’ snowman

I must confess it irritates me a little when I hear people my own age compare the magic of our childhoods to the childhoods’ of  kids these days. Who died and made us the ‘my childhood was better’ gods?

My grandkids play Minecraft. A lot. They play on ipads, Kindles, and the Playstation. I don’t even pretend to understand the game. But it’s okay—it’s their memories. We played Life, and Clue, and Masterpiece. Our games weren’t better. They were different.

We danced and acted silly and made up dance routines to the music of The Beatles and The Monkees. My grandkids do the same to the music of someone named Lorde and a group named One Republic. Thirty years from now their kids will be doing the same thing to music of an artist not even born yet. And it’s not wrong. It will be their childhood memories. Not wrong. Just different than mine and yours.

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Aiden and Jeana’s pup, Wrigsley

They have Nickelodeon on demand. We had Bonanza on Sunday nights. Technology doesn’t make their childhood any less significant or wondrous. It just makes it different.

When I was a kid, my favorite meal was broiled hamburger patties, fat steak fries, and field peas. I still fix it sometimes and think of my mother fondly every time I do. Ava’s favorite meal is kielbasa, dirty rice, and green beans. One day she’ll fix it for her own kids and think of Nina when she does. Her childhood memory of her favorite meal will be just as sweet as mine, though it’s two different meals separated by several generations.

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Emma making her own snow angel

Looking at the pictures of the grands playing in the snow made me laugh. I couldn’t help but to think of comments from my age group about the depth of snow when we were kids. “When we were kids, it snowed up to our knees!” Well, yeah…the knee-to-ground ratio of a six year-old probably hasn’t changed much over the years so don’t slight the grandkids’ snow memories because you think your snow was deeper.

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Paisley. Making memories.

It’s their childhood. It will be their memories. And they will be just as wondrous and magical as ours.

Christmas Miracles & Buttflies

We took the kids to the Country Christmas Train in Denton, NC Friday night. Eight of them. The other one, Jeana, went shopping. Imagine that. A sixteen year old that would rather go shopping. It’s nice to know she’s normal.

But the eight that did go were…well…good. Maybe I should define “good” in our terms.

  • It was very crowded and we didn’t lose a kid. It happens, okay.
  • While we waited in line, they were very content to run in circles. Kept them busy and let them run off some energy. The other kids who were forced to quietly stand next to their parents in line were envious.
  • Only one public announcement of the need to “pee pee” — while the others showed zero interest in checking out the bathrooms in groups of twenty or more.  Because you know, when one needs to go they all need to go.
  • No wailing cries for I want! Can I have? It’s only ten dollars! Sometimes threats do work. Don’t judge.
  • Casey let Uncle Garey hold him the whole time we waited in line to see Santa. The fact Casey let anyone hold him for an extended period of time is a miracle unto itself.

None of the above applies to Ireland. She cried the entire time. Well, she did like the train ride.  She got super excited to see the lights shaped like flowers and yelled out “Buttflies! Buttflies!” We’re assuming she meant butterflies. We’ve made an art form out of smiling at strangers who look on with knitted brows.

Ireland wanted juish. She wanted ookie. She wanted ish — translation apple juice, butter cookie, and Goldfish. She wanted to get down. She wanted to go. She wanted to be held. She wanted to stay. She wanted to go. She wanted to be held.  She wanted down. She wanted juish.

And then it was time to see Santa. She went into the little log cabin okay and had stopped crying and was excited to see the warm fire in the fireplace. And  then she turned around and what to her wandering eyes did appear? The old man in the red suit sitting in a corner.  She may need therapy.

All the other kids were like “Santa! Cool!” Even Casey walked right up and gave Santa a high five. Ireland was screaming in the corner. Totally traumatized.

After the pictures, Santa asked the kids what they wanted him to bring. Ava says “fart putty”. Landon says a “unicorn”. Emma’s list went on so long Santa’s eyes glazed over.

I love those kids.

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The only way we could get Ireland in the picture was for Nina to hold her. And she’s still trying to escape. Back row: Ava and Landon, front row: Ireland, Nina, Casey and Ivy.

 

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Emma, Paisley and Aiden with Santa

 

The fantasy vs. the reality

I love my grandkids. Adore them even. They’re the cutest, smartest, talented, most amazing kids I’ve ever known. I love them to the moon and back a zillion times. I’m certain most grandparents share the same sentiments  about their own grandkids. But I wonder how many are brave enough to admit, although we love them with our entire being, we don’t always like them?

I’m not talking about the grandparents who live a good distance from the little ones. Those grandparents have an excuse for the longing to hold and cuddle and see a snaggle-toothed smile. I’m talking about the ones, like me, who see the little ones on a daily basis. You grow intimately aware of their little quirks. And sometimes, it pains me to say, those little quirks can be downright painful. Annoying. Irritating. Fingernails on a chalkboard.

Shaw Photography Group

Photo courtesy of Shaw Photography Group

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was supposed to resemble a Hallmark commercial or a Rockwell painting. All the little grandchildren gathered at Grandma’s feet while she reads The Night Before Christmas to them from her rocking chair. Their upturned gazes are loving; their smiles content as Grandma reads the story while, simultaneously,  lovingly showing the pictures.

Well, the reality is:

It’s hard to read upside down. And when you’re reading to as many different ages as I have to, one of them, if not two, will call you down if you miss a word or skip over a part because it’s impossible to read it from a weird angle. Once they start reading on their own, forget making up the story as you go.

The toddlers have the attention span of gnats. So they’re up and down, up and down, wanting to touch the picture, wandering off, wanting to turn the page before you’re finished with the current page (and remember, the ones who can read call you down if you skip a sentence, or page)

They don’t always get along. Like a lot of the timeForget holding hands and singing Kumbaya. It’s more like pleading “can’t y’all just get along for a minute?” The siblings fight with the siblings. The cousins fight with the cousins. They get huffy. Feelings get hurt. One or two, or three, will start crying and sometimes it gets physical. The good thing about that is my grandkids will know how to defend themselves. They don’t shy away from a fight.

They can screech at ear-damaging decibels. You know those monkeys in zoos? The ones that scream at you with such intensity it can stop your heart? They have nothing on my grandkids. They know not the meaning of “indoor voice.” Five of my nine are Scorpios. They have to have the last word. The screeching can go on until my eye starts twitching.

They don’t like the same food. Which makes lunch time a hit-n-miss. Paisley likes jelly, no peanut butter. Ivy wants cereal five times a day. We have to hide the bananas from Ireland (tummy reasons) or we experience the ear-shattering screeches – see above. Aiden doesn’t like Cheez-its. He likes fruit snacks. But Ivy likes the brand of fruit snacks Aiden has so she doesn’t want hers, she wants his. Back to the screeching. Casey likes to dump whatever is in his bowl (cereal, spaghetti, etc) on his head and wear the empty bowl as a hat. And then look at you as if he’s saying “What? You’re not supposed to wear it on your head?”

497 Barbies and they all want the same one. Back to the screeching. I do believe even if we had 497 of the same Barbie, they’d fight over it. Suck it up. And consider investing in a good set of earplugs.

Shaw Photography Group

Photo courtesy of Shaw Photography Group

They don’t always like one another… but, they do always love one another. They defend one another (when they’re not fighting), they cry to see one another (they love spending the night with one another), and they put their arms around one another when one needs a hug.

All in all, I guess the reality isn’t all that bad. It’s not bad at all.

 

Is it okay to teach sneakiness?

Although I think they’re perfect and would give my life for any one of them, I am centered enough in reality to know my grandkids may have a few flaws. Don’t even get me started on Ivy and her “the world revolves around me” thought process. She’s three so I’ll let her believe it for a while longer.

Shaw Photography Group

Emma, Ava, and Paisley. Photo by Shaw Photography Group

But the three middle girls, Emma 8, Ava 7, and Paisley 5, are starting to develop a trait that is driving me nuts. The girls are trying their hands at being sneaky. It’s a pet peeve of mine. It instills distrust. I’m not talking about planning a surprise birthday party. I’m talking the act of purposely hiding something in order to deceive. Probably way too serious a description for this post, but I had to throw that out there.

So the girls are trying to be sneaky every now and then and I’m now faced with a situation. Note the keyword trying.

The matronly grandmother in me should be happy they really aren’t very good at it. But the still young-enough to appreciate being a kid in me grandmother wonders if it would be so wrong to show them where they went wrong and got caught.

Example number one: Several weeks ago, Ava was grounded from her ipad for disobeying. A few days into the grounding, she was at home with the younger siblings and Aunt Debbie while mom, dad, and myself cheered on Landon at his baseball game. Sometime during the game, Allen gets a text from Ava’s ipad. Aunt Debbie doesn’t even know how to turn the thing on so the person sending the text had to be Ava. Of course Ava failed to tell Aunt Debbie she was grounded from her ipad.  Busted.

Teaching moment number one: If you’re grounded from your ipad, don’t text your parents!

Example number two: Emma’s one of those school kids who eat lunch at 10:45 because of school over crowding (another subject) so she’s pretty hungry when she gets home around 3:30. She gets her snack and all is well. Most of the time she, along with the others, sit at the kitchen table to eat their snacks. On this particular day Ava was too pooped to play so she curled up on the couch for a nap. Emma brought her cookies in the living room, which is a no-no. I told her to take them back in the kitchen and when she finished eating, then she could come back to the living room. A minute or two later, she comes back into the living room and quickly turns her back to me, like she’s suddenly interested in Max & Ruby showing on the tv. She stands there for a minute, her back still to me, and I notice her right arm bending at the elbow in, oh, about 60 second intervals. I told her to turn around for a second and when she does, her poor little cheeks looked like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter.

Teaching moment number two: Break the cookies in half before coming back into the living room so you don’t have to cram the whole thing in your mouth at once. Geez.

Example number three: Anytime sweet little Paisley’s hands are behind her back and she’s looking you square in the eye, chances are there’s something in those little hands she doesn’t want you to see. She will even do this funny little sideways walk so she can maintain eye contact, all the while those hands are behind her back.

Teaching moment number three: Mothers and Grandmothers are all knowing. We may not know what you have behind your back, but we know it’s something you’re not supposed to have. Give up.

Years ago when Garey and Nina (my kids) were young, Nina came running in the house and told me Garey was up in a tree at the edge of the woods, smoking. I casually walk out there and sure enough, there sat my twelve-year old son in a tree, smoking. I looked up, he looked down, the fear evident on his face. I calmly said, “Son, the first time you decide to drink beer and get drunk, which you probably will do sometime in the coming years, please don’t do it while you’re sitting in a tree.”

 

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