Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The best of both worlds

Yesterday, as I was reading a book, Jennifer came over to where I was and sat down. I could tell she needed to talk. Up until then, she’d been playing with her little brother. But now something troubled her. Something was on her mind. So I put down the book and asked her what was up.

She explained that she wasn’t sure how she could balance spending time with Jesse with spending time with her friends. For so long, she always wanted to run off and play with her friends instead of play with her brother. And on several occasions, I’d remind her she needed to spend some time playing with her little brother, too. I guess it finally sank in. Now she couldn’t figure out how to divide her time.

This question made me smile. I looked at her and said, “You notice how this is a brand new thing for you? You didn’t have this problem before Jesse came along.”

She thought for a minute then nodded with a smile.

I set about explaining to her that she’ll figure out how to balance her time with her brother and time with her friends. I told her that she could also have Jesse along when playing with her friends. Yes, Jesse is still a baby, but she has friends younger than her and it could work. Or we could all get together to play at a park.

And also, sometimes it will work out on its own. She’ll play with Jesse for a while then she’ll play with her friends. After a while, it will just happen on its own and she’ll figure it out.

I also told her not to stress on this. Just wing it. See what she can fit in with her brother and see what she can fit in with her friends.

This seemed to help her understand the situation. And today, she was able to spend time with her brother and her friend. They played together for a while, then they joined her friend to ride bikes outside. It helps if the friend doesn’t mind having Jesse around, but in cases that doesn’t happen, I step in and tell Jesse I will play with him. That helps him feel better.

There is still so much Jennifer is adapting to as far as having a sibling and being the oldest is concerned. I’m glad her dad and I can help her navigate these waters, since we grew up with siblings too (and her dad is the oldest), but I think she’ll find a way to make things work just for her. And her brother, too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years after 9/11

Today marks the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Up until now, my oldest child, Jennifer, who turns 10 next month, has not been made aware of the full extent of what September 11th means. She only knows it is a day her mom lights a white candle, cries a little bit and takes time to reflect.

She also knows it was a day that happened while I was still pregnant with her.

But up until now, she did not know what September 11th was.

Today, I told her. After 10 years, I felt it was time. As a child born that year, after that event, it was time for her to know.

When I explained to her what September 11th was, a mix of emotions washed over her face. She was shocked that such a thing had happened to our country. She was in disbelief that there are people, terrorists, who hate America and brought their hatred to our country on that day. She was saddened to hear that so many people died on that day. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost on 9/11/01.

I told her about what happened, but I would not allow her to see any of the pictures. I would not allow her to watch the shows on TV remembering that sad day. I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. I could not expose my child to that.

I still remember the shock and disbelief I felt on that day. I did not know about what had happened until after both of the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. An online friend I chatted with on the computer told me, “You need to turn on the news.” So I did. And I could only stare, in shock, at what I saw. I was horrified to watch the Towers collapse, knowing there were more people dying in that collapse.

I watched all of this ... and then I looked down at my very-pregnant stomach. Where my baby was safely growing inside. I remember looking at that stomach and thinking, ‘How could I bring a child into this world now?’

Was this the kind of world I wanted to bring a new life into?

I really struggled over these emotions. Why bring a child into a world that had such evil people? Where there was hatred so strong, lives were being taken away?

I talked with some online friends about this. It was really a difficult situation for me.

But even still, 10 years later, I remember what one of my online friends said to me that changed everything. She said: “Who knows? Maybe your child will be someone to make this world a better place.”

I thought of that today, during my conversation with Jennifer. I was reminded of it after something she said. She said, “I love everyone.”

I looked at her and asked, “Even the people who hate Americans?”

“Everyone,” she answered. “I love everyone. We should all love each other.”

My heart lifted when she said those powerful words. Maybe there is hope for this world yet.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Week One: Success!

This was the first week of the kids going back to school. I am happy to report that it went well.

These are my goals for the new school year:

  • Get Jennifer to the bus stop on time EVERY DAY that she is going to school
  • Get Jesse to the preschool at 8ish
  • Have a drama-free morning
  • Get the kids up at a sufficient hour of the morning where they don’t have to RUSH, RUSH, RUSH to get out the door
  • Have EVERYTHING we need ready and at hand so we don’t have to make last-minute decisions on clothes or hunt for a missing shoe (oy, those missing shoe hunts!)
  • See my kids off with lots of hugs, smiles, extra love – and NO SAD FACES because of a sucky morning.

Yes, it does seem like a tall order. But I am happy to report that we met ALL of those goals for the first week of school. HOORAY!

And … nobody missed a bath/shower. Nobody had incomplete paperwork or forms on the day of going to school. And everybody was well-fed and dressed before heading out.

Yay again!

Before the start of school, I did some serious planning. I decided on what kind of goals I wanted to meet for this year. We also went through ALL clothes to have school clothes in one drawer or in the closet, and playclothes in the other.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to buy school supplies for either of the kids. Their schools provide supplies. With Jennifer’s school, I pay an annual fee for the supplies. So it worked out well. All the kids got for the new school year were new backpacks (though Jesse got his during the summer). While the local paper ran articles about families struggling to afford school supplies for their children, I was grateful that we didn’t have to worry about that.

This year, I’ve had to make some changes, too. The kids know they can’t watch TV while getting ready for school, because then they won’t get ready for school. (That’s what caused some of the drama last year.) Same with computers. NO COMPUTER on school mornings. I have seen how I have to follow that rule, too. I’d get distracted watching the news on TV or checking email. So, no more of that for me! Because I did not drive them to school this week, however, I was able to do some early morning online stuff. But it just can’t happen for the mornings that I am the driver. I also can’t get my morning workouts until AFTER the kids are in school (they just take too long and I might not have time for a shower then show up being all stinky – yuck!). These are changes I’m totally okay with. The important thing is taking care of getting the kids off to school FIRST. That is the number one priority on school mornings.

And that rule just might help us have some other school morning successes in the weeks to come. At least, that is my hope!