Monday, October 25, 2010

Three years old

Despite turning only 3 years old today, Jesse knew something was up. I think he figured out today was his special day after I kept wishing him a happy birthday this morning, after he woke up. At one point this morning, while I was in the kitchen making Jen's lunch, he walked into the kitchen and danced side to side as he sang the happy birthday song. (This was sooo cute!)

Up until his special day, I'd been trying to figure out how we were going to celebrate it. Eventually, I decided not to have his birthday party anywhere and not to have a theme party, either. We just had a cake and ice cream thing at home. We considered inviting his one friend over, but since this was on a weekday, that wasn't doable since his friend would be in daycare.

For his presents, he got new pants and a toy car from me and hubby (he LOVES cars!), a PillowPet from Millie and Allison, and a pair of SpongeBob PJ's and Thomas the Train bath toys from Jennifer. I took a few pictures, which I plan to upload on my Facebook page -- just as soon as I find the dang cord to do that!

I keep thinking this is all a dream. My son is three years old, but I still have a hard time believing he is actually HERE! I am just really amazed and I feel so blessed to have my little boy in my life. Sure he gets cranky and has tantrums sometimes. and he wants to do EVERYTHING by himself. But I just love him SOOO MUCH! I give him lots of hugs and kisses every day. Every new day with him is a gift. Even Jennifer still says she is happy he is in our lives. He is really special and I'm thankful he is with us.

Happy Birthday, Jesse! I love you more than anything. You are one of my two favorite people in the whole wide world. Here's to many more birthdays.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Smarter than SpongeBob

Last night, as I was washing Jennifer's hair in the bathtub, she grew sad and told me that she had something to confess. I asked her what it was and she explained that the kids in her classroom thought I look ugly. (Here we go again, with the whole "looking ugly" thing! Sheesh! But with children, this kinda thing is inconsequential, because children are not mature enough to understand that there are burn survivors in this world.) I have visited Jennifer's classroom MANY times. The people there know me because I am there so much. (And I kinda have a face that's hard to forget and easy to recognize! LOL) So I have been there enough for her classmates to know what I look like.

This confession did not surprise me at all. I explained to Jennifer that it's only natural for children to think that, because they don't understand why I look the way I do. We discussed how some people try to cover up their scars with make-up and stuff. I told her I would never do that. I am not so ashamed of my face that I will cover it up for the world. I do wear make-up for special occasions, but not every day. And it's only BECAUSE of the special occasion.

I guess she felt bad telling me this because she assured me that she thought I was "beautiful" and she counted off all of the good things I have done for her and her little brother. That just warmed my heart. It's not every day a mother gets thanks and appreciation like that after giving so much of herself to her children every day. I let her know I was glad she felt that way and I appreciated how she told me that.

We talked again about my burn scars. I told her I couldn't do anything to fix it. I have severe third degree burns. The skin is destroyed and it can't be repaired. I told her some people wear skin-type gloves and coverings over their scars but I won't do that. That thought made her remember an episode of SpongeBob Squarepants, where SpongeBob wanted to have muscles so badly that he bought fake ones to show off. She recounted the episode, though I already knew it because I've seen it a million times. She said that was a stupid thing to do. I agreed and I told her I wouldn't do that. "I'm not going to be a fake," I said. "This is the real me, and I want the world to see the real me."

She thought for a minute, smiled then said, "You're smarter than SpongeBob."

I laughed and said, "I certainly hope so."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Never be nice to a stranger

This morning, I was alarmed to read that an 8-year-old girl was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a man who succeeded in luring her to his truck. A nearby adult who saw this shouted out to them and the man grabbed the girl and sped off with her. Thankfully, she was rescued by someone who recognized the abductor's vehicle from an Amber Alert, but not before a horrible thing had been done to her. Sexual assault can mean many things -- exhibitionism, fondling, sexual harassment and exposing a child to pornography, among them -- but the fact remains that this man put this child into a situation that was considered to be "sexual assault" and whatever it is that happened to her is something she will have to live with. It's so horrible the perverse things that monsters do to children in this world.

I keep thinking about how he managed to lure this child to his truck. I've gone over the "stranger danger" conversation with Jennifer many times. I have explained to her some of the tricks strangers use to lure children away from a safe area. One of them, such as asking a child to help them look for a dog, is one that actually happened (and which I saw for myself) but thankfully Jennifer was smart enough to tell him no. But even after that, I still had this conversation with her again later on.

Even so, she has sometimes forgotten safety rules and did things she was not allowed to do. One thing, for example, was reaching into a truck to pet a man's dog. The man was sitting there without a shirt on, for crying out loud! He could've grabbed her arm and pulled her inside. (She is lightweight so it could happen.) Afterwards, I lectured her AGAIN about tricks strangers use to get to kids but I don't think I'll ever need to ease up on that. As it is, I give her the "don't talk to strangers" warning every single time she goes out to ride her bike. I have also told her if a stranger tries to get to her, scream and run away. I told her if she screamed, it would attract attention.

But another warning about strangers I have given her is that she should never, EVER be nice to a stranger. Of course she knows she must be polite and respectful around grown-ups, but I have told her that when it comes to a stranger, don't be polite or respectful.

In fact, be rude.

Don't talk to strangers. Don't sit next to a stranger who asks her to sit with them. Don't help a stranger.

I know that this makes it seem like I am telling Jennifer to be selfish or disrespectful, but actually I'm trying to teach her yet another way to stay safe. We live in a world much, much too dangerous for children to be nice to everybody. Being nice to strangers, helping them find or move something and showing them where something is (such as her home) are all ways she could get kidnapped.

I remember a story my grandmother told me long ago. Once, as a young woman, when her husband was away for the night, she was awakened by a phone call by a man who asked her how to get into her house. "You don't," she answered, then hung up the phone and unplugged it. That story reminds me of how we DO need to be rude to strangers. I mean, why be nice to somebody who is planning to hurt us or do something terrible to us? I am the same way myself. I have taken many walks alone and men who try to talk to me are ignored or I just steer clear of them. I don't trust people I don't know well enough to trust -- and that right there is another important safety lesson a child should be taught.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Nine years old

It's been 9 years since she was born. Nine years of going through the ups and downs of parenthood.

I love her more than anything in the whole world. I love her when she is good. I love her even more when she is bad.

She may have a sibling in this family, but that fact will never ever replace the special place she has in my heart. She will always be my baby, no matter how old she may be.

Happy Birthday, Jennifer. I love you for always.