Thursday, March 26, 2015

When Some Little S#$t Gives Your Kid a Hard Time and You Don't Punch Them and You Turn It Into a Growing Opportunity For Your Kid

So there's this kid in my daughter's class, and he was in her class last year, too, and how to put this... he's sort of a jerk. And I base this not on secondhand info from my kid, I base this on my own observations because I'm lucky enough to have weekdays off and go on many field trips so I've seen for myself, the kid is kind of a jerk. Now, I can remember last year thinking that, in very general terms, second graders can be assholes. I remember this because I remember talking about this with a friend who has taught second grade and who I believe straight up said, "Second graders are assholes." If your kid was not an asshole in second grade, or if you're thinking, well, mine will NOT be one of those in second grade, more power to you. That's awesome. But I'm just saying they can be.  Third grade doesn't seem to be that way so much but you know, they're kids, and I know my own kid has hormonal changes going on, the type of changes that I didn't see until I was like twelve and she's nine, so I'm sure that's a factor with some of the boys, too. That being said, I stand by my opinion that this kid, we'll call him Jerry (because Jerkface Jerry), is a bit of a jerk. A troublemaker. A pain in the butt. The kid you see on the field trip and think wow, I'm glad that I have MY kid.

So for whatever reason, Jerry has got MY kid on his radar. There have been a couple of little incidents I've heard about where he's being a jerk to her and at least one time where he was encouraging some of the other boys in the class to also be jerky. And I'm like well, he's a boy, they can be so dumb (because really, is it ever too early to let your daughter know this?), just ignore him. Which reminds me of my dearly departed mom telling me this when I was a kid and my little brother was driving me up the wall and I was like well, how about he not be a jerk and then I have nothing to ignore? But her advice was golden: If you want to tease someone and you don't get a reaction, then you're going to stop teasing that person because how fucking boring is that? So this is what I'm going for with the kid.

Yesterday she comes out of class, and I can tell she's been crying, and she says that Jerry said she was "ugly and pitiful." So my first reaction was an honest one. I said, "Wow, that was really jerky of him." Some of her friends appear to check on her and I was like look, do these guys think that about you? No, they don't. And whose opinion matters, theirs or Jerry's? Oh, and I'm not sure if it was yesterday or another time but it came up that Jerry also called her fat. First of all, she's not fat. Second of all, even if she were overweight, eff you, Jerry, for calling her fat. And apparently he started in on his jerkiness by calling attention to the fact that she is not a fan of elevators or heights, because on the last field trip she mentioned this (I was with her in the elevator) and the field trip before that it involved sitting in a balcony.

Anyway, we came home and spent some time cuddling because no matter how much you know some jerk's opinion doesn't matter, it still hurts. Especially when we're super sensitive and my poor kid has my genes so she is SUPER sensitive, which is another reason why she's a great target for Jerry, because he figures he can make her cry. She's not even crying when we're cuddling, but she's bummed. So this makes the mama bear in me want to go to the school, pick up Jerry by the scruff of the neck, drag him over to some bushes, and just leave him there. Because this is my baby and he's hurting her with his words. I said maybe I should say something to him.  And she says, "Yeah, Mom, and use your STERN voice." Which cracked me up because apparently I have a stern voice that comes out on the 4th time I'm telling my kid to do something, and I love that she picked that adjective because it sounds so parental. But then I thought you know what, I'd like to give my kid the tools to deal with this. So here is what we came up with for now: Should Jerry decide to drop a jerk bomb on her, she will just look at him for a minute, and then in the most uninterested voice she can muster, with a blank look on her face, she can say, "Huh. That's interesting." Nothing more. I am hoping her lack of reaction coupled with this condescension that even a nine year old boy should be able to comprehend, that she completely fries his circuits and he deems teasing and/or bullying her to be boring, an exercise in futility because there are no tears and impassioned insults from her (because yes, she is sensitive, but she will also express her feelings and tell you EXACTLY what she thinks of you). 

This morning we're in front of her class and I see Jerry and I swear to goodness that I had this visceral longing to go upside this kid's head. I don't even believe in corporal punishment and I certainly don't believe in handling conflicts with physicality (which is obviously different if someone were in a position being forced to defend themselves which I suppose is a whole other can of worms), but I'm just admitting to all of you that I wanted to clobber this kid. Instead I said, Jerry, have a great day. I know he heard me, but he didn't even meet my gaze. So I said, and this time louder, Jerry. He looks at me. Have a great day. He mumbles, okay. But I'm thinking yes, you little jerk, have a great day so you don't decide to fuck with MY kid because you have your own set of issues. Do I have compassion for Jerry because I'm sure his jerkiness is stemming from stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with  my kid? Yes. Do I still think he is a jerk who better leave my kid alone? Yes.

We're in third grade. When I was in a third grade boys didn't even know I was alive to tease me. I was as quiet as a little mouse and flew under the radar for most of my academic life. But my kid (and yes, I'm biased) is beautiful, she's smart and sassy, and she speaks her mind. She has moments of shyness and moments of extreme sensitivity, but she will not be able to fly under the radar the way her mother did, and frankly, I'm glad about that, even if it means dealing with another Jerry here and there. Or this particular Jerry from now through junior high because at least in high school boys might not be as much into name calling, right? I mean I'm forty-five in June and I know boys still bug me. They still make my heart hurt, they still do stuff or don't do stuff that drives me nuts. But obviously I've got a bigger tool box with which to deal with boynanigans than my nine year old. So I'll continue to be there for hugs and support and advice and encouragement (when she was less than enthusiastic about going to school this morning I played Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" while she was in the shower), and I will not pick up boys bear-style and drag them away from the classroom and throw them into a ditch made just for jerks. 

Being a kid can be tough. Being a mom can be tough. But I know we'll get through it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sometimes You Need to Cry it Out and Type it Out So I Am

So here's the thing. When you lose a parent, and those of you who have lost parents will back me up on this, life is never the same. It goes on, you have happiness and laughter and fun and love and everything you had before, but it is never the same, ever. Lately I have reckoned it to part of my insides being crushed. Like picture my heart, for lack of a better organ that is closely related to love even though it has nothing to do with love, but it's in the middle of my body and I always tell my kid that her grandma is right here, and I put my hand on my chest and and on her chest, and I say that she's right in here forever. So picture my heart, except one part of it is just scrunched. It's not as filled out and bursting with life and love as the other parts. And it's always going to be that way. And I think when you have no parents left in the world your heart sort of feels like this. And I'm sure people will say the same thing about the loss of their partner or amazingly heart crushing loss of a child and I don't know about these things so I can't speak to them but I'm sure they would say the say the same thing. I can be going along with my business, either I'm at work or I'm at home and I'm watching TV being lazy or I'm hanging out with my beautiful daughter or I'm talking to Chief or whatever. And then for some reason it hits me: This grief that makes me feel as if I'm going to literally collapse, that everything will stop and that everything is horrible and will never be right again. I can be playing Words With Friends on my Kindle, the cool one I won at the work Christmas party, and remember how in her last weeks Mom would ask to see it so she could look on her Facebook, and only be able to hold it for a minute while her finger tried to move the page up, because she was just so tired and so very week. And I would take it from her and watch her fall back to sleep, knowing that her body just didn't have any nutrients or oomph but that holding that Kindle for a just a moment or two made her feel normal and I think she wanted to look normal to me, like hey, we're here, and I'm dying, and we all know it, but let me see what's happening on Facebook. It reminds me of her bravery. She never once said to me or to my brother, I'm scared. I remember when the oncologist first told us it was stage 4 cancer, with an unknown source, which just meant, I'm sorry, this has spread, and you're mostly screwed. We were all sitting in the office, Mom, and my brother and I, and I remember she looked at me, her eyes wide, like, are you fucking kidding me???? As if to say, they found this cancer, but we just lost my husband and my kid's father a year ago, are you fucking kidding me right now? I will never forget that look. I will never forget her telling the doctor in the ER, she was there over two months after that day with the oncologist, and after the scans had shown her mostly clear and that showed that chemo hadn't needed to start yet, when the ER doc said, so what if it looked like chemo would probably not help, would you still be willing to try it? And she was so weak, and so tired, and she said, I just want to keep fighting, we'll keep fighting. And I remember when I got off work at 9 pm and went to my brother's house to pick up my daughter and we got in his truck so we could talk, and he told me that the doctor had told him there was no way Mom would ever be able to eat again, that if anything they'd have to feed her with a tube, if that would even work. That conversation in the car is what I will always remember as the beginning of the end, when my brother and I cried and then pulled ourselves together so that we could go inside and hug our kids and act normal. And I will always remember a day in the hospital, when it was just me and Mom, and she was still strong enough to sit up in a chair for a little bit, and we sat there by her hospital room window, which looked out onto the roof. And watched these birds, I think mostly crows. And we watched them for a while like we were watching a funny nature show or something. And I held her hand. And I remember her smiling as we watched these silly birds do their thing. And what a strange thing to remember of that time but I always will. It will always remind me of her bravery.  Of her desire for normalcy. Of her ability to find humor at times when so many would find no humor and would spend all their time crying. She's not here and part of me is crushed. Forever deflated it. There's nothing that can fix that. But it doesn't mean I don't laugh and find joy and that the other parts of my heart will ever stop being filled with love. Those other parts are just bursting with it. But I needed to cry for ten or fifteen minutes and write all of this down and I'm not going to read it or edit it so if you read all of this thank you, for letting me share and for letting it be one long rambly paragraph. But I just needed to tell you guys how much I miss both my parents and especially the one I talked to every single day, who sometimes seemed to exist so that I always had someone to say, "It's going to be okay. You'll be okay." And who would cheerfully say, "Hi, baby girl!" when I called her. I miss talking to her on the phone a few times every day. I miss silly chats with her while I'm at work. I miss everything about her. But I know that she's still here, that she lives on through me and my kid and my brother and his kid. But I miss her. So if reading this makes just one person call their mom or dad then all my rambling was worth it. Call them and hug them and tell them you love them. As often as you can.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Learning As I Go on This Mom Gig and Other Random Stuff in My Head Today

Random stuff first.

I was watching Iron Chef America  on my DVR and it's a grilling battle with three of the Iron Chefs against these grill master dudes from Australia and one of the judges is the guy who plays Jason Stackhouse, who I knew was hot from the one season of True Blood I watched (LOVE the books but could only get through season one of the show), but what I didn't know is that he is Australian so he's even hotter when he's talking with an Australian accent. And the Australian grilling guys, bless their little Australian hearts, I want some subtitles because much of what they're talking about is going right over my head but their food looks delicious. Anyway, here's a picture of Jason Stackhouse and you can be the judge and yes, I know he's like 12 years old and usually I like them older and manlier but sometimes, whatever, I switch it up:


Thanks to one of my new favorite shows, The People's Couch, I recently watched this clip from Drunk History which is one of my new favorite shows now after finally watching a whole episode. It's genius. And being drunk in and of itself is not always hilarious. It can be sad or infuriating or awful, but on this show it's hilarious and you learn stuff. Believe me, I've been subjected to some super awfulness in my life due to drunks, which is totally different than a person who is not a drunk getting drunk and telling a story about history in a hilarious way. I'm madly in love with this show and the lip syncing and that's all I'll say, go watch it. Seriously, watch the clip. Did you know that about Rosa Parks? Because I did not.

photo credit: youtube.com

Okay, this mom job. I don't have to tell you guys, sometimes it's hard. For some of you it's hard all the time. I do not happen to have that particular gig. Mostly mine is pretty easy. But sometimes I feel like I'm botching it SO HARD. Like that my mom license is going to get revoked.

Swimming lessons. Tomorrow is the last day of our second 2-week session at our local pool. And still my kid is pretty fearful of getting her face in the water. Like the other kids are dunking and she's sorta putting her face in a little bit. Like, she can't let go. And the other kids like to jump in, this thing they do at the end, and she and this other girl are not fans so the teacher today just let them slide while these other kids reveled in the aweosmeness  of making a big splash and I sit there having this awful thought:

Why can't my kid just be like these other kids?

Well the immediate answer is that she has my wiring. I have a history of being scared of everything, like, literally. As a grown-up not so much but my childhood and teen years and early adulthood had a shit ton of fear in it. I blogged about my phobic past before, and since this kid is made up with some of my DNA it should be no wonder that fear holds her back. So I feel like a guilty shmuck for thinking COME ON. JUST DO IT.

And we have had several pep talks about it. Or what I hope are pep talks. Like honey, I'm here, your teacher is here, there is even a lifeguard here. Nothing is going to happen to you. Because while one kid who is not wired like mine is like oh, well, I might get some water in my nose, that would kinda suck, my kid is thinking, SURELY THIS THING IS GOING TO MAKE ME DROWN. And what's crazy is that she LOVES being in the water. She's always the last one out of the pool, and next week we are going on vacation and will spend a huge portion of our time at a beach or at the pool. But it's just that she hasn't been able to let go so I feel like she's learned some stuff but that she's sort of treading water, literally.

So we're getting her dried off and changed and I'm like so honey, what's the worst case scenario? And she's like, THAT I'LL DROWN. And I'm like, but we know that is not going to happen, so what is it really? And she doesn't even want to talk about it so I'm like, that you'll get water in your nose? Okay, so, then you'll move on and that's part of learning, right? So she's really not feeling this "pep" talk so we're walking out and this kid is all, "Bye, Kayla!" super cheerful and all and she barely looks up but throws out a "bye" and I sit her down and I'm like, what's up with that? Because it's not the first time she's done that and it makes her look like she is just MISERABLE. Like that she has the most horrible home life and her parents beat her and that life is terrible. And it's not, and she doesn't feel like that, but she has come across like that before. And so we get in the car and I'm doing that thing I hate... where I'm going on TOO MUCH. I'm not being mean or mad but like I'm not listening to the part of me that is saying, Jen, SHUT UP. Enough already. 

And my kid being the sensitive kid she is has some tears in her eyes and she's like I'll try not be like that (regarding her aloofness) and I'm just like Jesus. My heart feels all broken.

Because ALL I care about is whether or not she is happy. That's it. There are things that are important to me in this life, but NOTHING is as important to me as her happiness.

photo credit: aleopardwithstripes.blogspot.com

So we were both totally fine and joking around about stuff a few minutes later but I really just felt at that time like why can't it always be easy, all the time? Why can't I always know what to say and how to say it? Because it's on the job training, I guess. There's no way to prepare for everything that will happen, for every situation, for every fear. There's just no way. And I'm human. And I'll have to tell myself that as long as I'm still thinking a) keep her safe and happy and b) don't raise and asshole and c) tell her over and over and over how much I love her then I guess I don't suck as badly as I could. I wanted to share this because I just know someone who reads this will be able to relate.


photo credit: leighchristian.wordpress.com

Lastly, the weirdest thought occurred to me this morning with regard to my mom. I miss her so very much, every single day, several times a day. And it dawned on me that the day before I had had a feeling about her being gone that I couldn't describe. Because it wasn't sadness, it wasn't anger, and it wasn't peace. It was just sort of empty. Which I found a little scary because it's like, is it just that there's this piece of me, maybe a teeny tiny piece of me, that's just dead? That's empty, that's hollow, that can't be filled with anything? And in a way I think that's true. And on the other hand I can't help but wonder if it's some weird feeling on the way to feeling some peace. I don't know the answer. If I figure it out I'll let you know. In the meantime, thanks for letting me tell you. And about all this other stuff, too. I'm going to go hug on my kid now. 


Friday, May 23, 2014

Loaded Cauliflower Modifié

Doesn't stuff sound fancy when you say it in French? I took Spanish in school and I'm a big fan of that language but French sure does make a recipe sound fancy.

So a friend posted this recipe on Facebook and I just started drooling all over the place because dang, it was just all bubbly and cheesy and bacon-y so most anyone would do the same thing. And it had cauliflower which is one of my most favorite vegetables because it's so versatile, so when I see a recipe that excites me and it has to do with cauliflower the odds of actually eating some vegetables skyrocket. Which is a good thing.

I mean seriously, just look at this:

photo credit: parkersgeneral.blogspot.com


So, even though I'm plush size (a recently coined term to describe the fact that I'm cuddly, you can use that) and I eat horribly and have no sense of portion control at times (at many, many times), I still love the challenge of trying to modify a recipe and cut the fat and calories, especially when it seems like a no-brainer, as in the case of this recipe.

We'll talk numbers. Here's how the original version breaks down. Thanks to myfitnesspal.com (the place where I'm supposed to be logging my food but ummm of late, not so much), I can plug in the ingredients and get some nutrition info. When this recipe was posted on Facebook it used Colby Jack cheese, so that's what I used. I also sauteed my mushrooms first with some butter and garlic powder, just to bring a little extra flavor. The serving size refers to 1/8 of a 13 x 9 pan.



IngredientsCaloriesCarbsFatProteinSodiumSugar
Cauliflower - Raw, 1 head, large (6-7" dia)2104511725220Ico_delete
Sour cream, 0.5 cup2465244610Ico_delete
Mushrooms - Raw, 1 cup, pieces or slices1520231Ico_delete
Land O Lakes - Butter With Olive Oil, 0.5 tbsp45050450Ico_delete
Market Pantry - Colby Jack Shredded Cheese, 2 Cup8001672481,6000Ico_delete
Oscar Mayer - Bacon, 6 slices (14g)210018127800Ico_delete
Best Foods - Mayonnaise - Real, 4 tbsp36004003600Ico_delete
Green Onion - Green Onion Raw (Whole), 3 medium (15 g)1530161Ico_delete
Add Ingredient

Total:1,90171160843,10722
Per Serving:238920113883
I wound up using 5 pieces of bacon on my modified version, simply because that's what fit on the small baking sheet I pulled out. For me, I found this to be plenty. And another note about my bacon: my favorite turkey bacon is the Oscar Mayer turkey bacon that looks like this:
 
photo credit: www.simplygroceries.com

But Target was out of that one so I used the Oscar Mayer Selects that's listed in my recipe. When I cook this bacon, I'm usually at work and I heat up a couple of pieces on a paper towel in the microwave for one minute and 30 seconds and it comes out pretty crispy. This time I cooked it in the oven (and I've had turkey bacon cooked in the oven before that was THE BOMB) but this came out a little limp, which made me sad, but it was still good. Next time around I would work on that and also use my old standby bacon even though it's loaded with nitrates. My other modification was with cheese. In addition to using the reduced fat version, I also used half as much. And I'm a cheese NUT, and I found this to be perfectly acceptable. I also used an orange cauliflower like this

photo credit: squashblossombabies.com

which I think adds to illusion of cheesiness. Anyway, here's how the modified version breaks down.

IngredientsCaloriesCarbsFatProteinSodiumSugar
Cauliflower - Raw, 1 head, large (6-7" dia)2104511725220Ico_delete
Market Pantry - Colby Jack Reduced Fat Shredded Cheese, 1 Cup360424326400Ico_delete
Oscar Mayer Selects-no Nitrates - Turkey Bacon, 5 slice150013107000Ico_delete
Land O Lakes - Butter With Olive Oil, 0.5 tbsp45050450Ico_delete
Green Onion - Green Onion Raw (Whole), 3 medium (15 g)1530161Ico_delete
Trader Joe's - Light Sour Cream, 4 tbsp (30 g)80454604Ico_delete
Best Foods - Light Mayonaise, 4 Tbsp (14g)14041405000Ico_delete
Add Ingredient

Total:1,0006062642,20325
Per Serving:1258882753
Pretty cool, right? And it was DELICIOUS. Another note about this stuff. The whole tablespoons and cups and stuff confuses me. Because I'm just not that bright. And I'm not a measurer. Which is not a real word. But if you scoop out 4 tablespoons of sour cream, for example, it makes almost half a cup. Even though when you Google how many tablespoons are in a cup, the answer is 16. So I don't know and maybe someone can help me with this because my brain hurts. I'm not a scientist or a recipe master or anything, I'm just telling you what I did and maybe you'll try it, too!