Sick Little One

My Little One is sick.  A cold, making her stuffy, sore throat probably from her nose draining, and she feels worn out.  This is a peppy teenager, very energetic, so when she just wants to lay on the couch with a blanket you know she feels lousy.

Of course she wouldn’t stay home from school yesterday, and today she has basketball games to cheer.  I’m giving her Dayquil, which is about all I can do from work with her at school.  She also doesn’t want to miss math class.  I give her points for not wanting to miss class or cheering the games.

After she went to bed last night she texted me (I was downstairs) and asked me to come up to her room, which I did.  She wanted to be hugged, and she wanted me to lay on the bed next to her for a few minutes.  This is a rarity, so I gladly hugged and kept her company.  I was actually a bit sad when she told me goodnight and gave me a kiss on the check, to let me know I could leave the room.

Both of the girls loved to cuddle when they were little, but of course grew out of it as they got older.  I’m only called Mommy now when they are sick, need help, or need money.  I understand, and actually I’d probably feel weird if they called me Mommy at a school event because that isn’t who they are.

So, even though I dislike Little One is sick, I admit it is nice to be needed, and for her to want hugs, and to want Mommy to take care of her.  By the end of the week she’ll be fine, and bouncing off the walls, and ready to go conquer the world.  And for me to drive her around to conquer the world!

The Same, But Different

People often tell me how much my girls look like each other.  Or have the same mannerisms, or even personality.  When Little One went from contacts to glasses, at school the next day she heard from everyone how much she looked like her big sister.  People who know Little One first will tell Oldest One how much she looks like her little sister when they meet her.  I know the girls don’t mind when people say that, so I always smile, and say they do resemble each other/have the same smile/wave the same way.  And they do.  But, they don’t.

It’s obvious they are related, but as their Mom I see the differences.  I really don’t think they look alike, even though they do.  I see them with totally different personalities, even though they have a lot of the same quirks.  I’m sure it is because I’m their Mom that I see all the differences, and that I want to celebrate their differences, even as I think it is great people see them as so similar.

As the Mom, I’ve learned that it’s important I do see their differences.  The other day Little One had her friend over, and they were watching TV in the family room with me.  They were watching Sponge Bob, and the commercials were all toys for younger kids, so I make a joke about the age of the viewer being targeted and her age.  Oldest One would have come back with some smart remark, and on we would go trying to up each other with remarks, and laughing.  Little One got mad right away, turned off the TV, and took her friend upstairs.

I’ve always tried to be very fair with the girls, and make sure I meet their needs in the best way for them, and not their sister.  But no matter how hard I try, it doesn’t always work.  And, as I saw the other day, even how I joke with them needs to be different.  I don’t see that as a bad thing, just something I need to be mindful of.  I want my girls to grow up to be strong woman who believe in themselves and their capabilities.  I don’t want to ever make one feel inferior to the other, or that they have to be each other.

Yesterday I let Little One pick the movie (one of the too many Hallmark Holiday movies we’ve got on the DVR) and we had a great time watching the movie, getting mad at the mean character, and cheering for the main character.  We even made plans to do hot chocolate one night this week.  Oldest One would not have liked the movie, been bored, and started on her phone.  She would have been completely on board for the hot chocolate.  Different kids, different likes.

I’m glad the girls don’t mind other people seeing how alike they look and act.  I’m glad they are close enough that they even point it out to others.  I just need to remember, and embrace, their differences, so that they feel understood and loved for what makes them special as individuals.

I Don’t Want Them to Cry

Dating.   Relationship.  Boyfriend.  All words as a parent I’m just not that fond of.  And luckily haven’t really had to deal with.  I’ve seen Oldest One’s friends go through relationships and angst, and I’ve even hugged some as they cried because the boy didn’t want to be with them anymore.  Oldest One had a couple of boys hurt her feelings, but she didn’t really date.  Little One has already had a boy make her cry.  I know it is a part of life, but I hate to see my girls cry, especially over a boy who just isn’t worth it.  Yes, that is so parent talk to say that.

Last night I stayed up late to chat with Oldest One. We talked about grades, and her roommate, and an upcoming sorority event she is really excited about.  And then she mentioned B.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard about him, but I wasn’t too excited to hear he was back, because from a parental view he is nothing but bad news.

She met B along with a bunch of other kids in the dorm when school started. She thought he was cute, and he seemed to like her.  Then he started to spend time with another girl in the dorm, G.  But G said she wasn’t spending time with him, he said he wasn’t spending time with her, but yet there they were together.  And it seemed they were, from what she heard from others in the dorm, losing their clothes when they were together.  It happens.  Then it turned out B had a girlfriend back home.  Quite the player, at least in my mind.

So Oldest One and I talked about it, after she quit talking to him. We talked about how it was better to find all this out about him early, and about how she wanted someone who would treat her a lot better than that.  Someone who would respect her, and wouldn’t lie about things.  You know, someone decent.  Because there was nothing I heard about this kid that was good.  He’s young, he can do what he wants and say what he wants, just not with my daughter.

But last night she said they are talking, and there were circumstances she didn’t know about. She of course didn’t go into those circumstances with me.  I asked her why she would want to consider being with someone who lied and didn’t respect her, and she went back to these circumstances.  Apparently these circumstances absolve him of all lies and rude behavior.  I said if she wanted to be friends that’s great, be friends with the world.  But don’t date someone who doesn’t respect you and who isn’t nice to you.  I asked her what she would say to someone telling her all of this.  Apparently I overstepped my parental bounds at that point because she got irritated with me and cut that conversation off.  But not before telling me he might be one of our Thanksgiving guests.  Yippee.

I have a lot more I’d like to say to her, but I know I have to let her get hurt if she decides to date him. It’s not like I didn’t have a B in college, I did, and I’m pretty sure he was worse than this guy.  And a whole lot older.  But I remember how much it hurt, and I wasn’t even in love with my B.  But I sure liked him a whole lot, and I was willing to overlook a lot of things I shouldn’t have.  It was a good learning experience, and I know I have to let her have her learning experiences with relationships.

I just don’t want to see her hurt, and upset, and crying. I don’t care that it’s a part of life and growing up and figuring out who you are and what you want in a person.  I want to keep my daughters from getting hurt, which is impossible.  So I’ll do my best, instead, to be there when I’m needed.  I’ll listen when she needs me to, and try to not criticize and put B down.  When things don’t work out, I’ll support her, and send a lot of chocolate.  Most of all, I’ll continue to love her unconditionally.

Halloween Mishaps

It’s Halloween! I still have no idea what Little One is doing, but Husband took her to Goodwill, and she has everything she needs to be a Hippie.  With her long, straight, brown hair and what they bought she will look great!

I started thinking (again!) about other Halloweens, and since Oldest One isn’t here, about her specifically. And I realized that Halloween was a holiday in which she twice managed to be gimpy for.  I think there was a third, but right now I can’t remember it.  I’ll blame that on medication and not age!

When Oldest One was in 2nd grade a classmate’s Mom decided to have a party for her child’s birthday on Halloween, after school, ending in time for the kids to go trick or treating. Oldest One’s best friend’s Mom, CM, offered to take her.  While at the party Oldest One took a turn on the trampoline, and her ankle got twisted.  Just in time to be wandering the neighborhood asking for candy.  She was in tears figuring she would miss it all.  Since Oldest One was small for her age, I pulled out the umbrella stroller, said she could sit in that, and away we went.

CM was very helpful as we went through the neighborhood, and held Little One’s hand as we crossed streets so I could push the stroller. At one point I was lowering the stroller into the street from a rounded curb.  I guess someone thought it would be funny to throw a bunch of ball bearings right there to see how many people they could get that night.  I started to push the stroller into the street and both the stroller and I were tripped up by the ball bearings, and Down We Went!  Seriously, I was on my back in the street, and the stroller had landed so Oldest One was on her back, with her legs up.  I got myself up, got Oldest One up, and we decided to call it a night.

Then, in her junior year of high school, oldest one hurt her knee at cheer. She came out of a tumbling pass in the wrong place, and the bottom of her feet squarely hit the mirrored back wall.  Husband had to go out to the carpool’s car and carry Oldest One in.  Her knee swelled up to about three times its normal size; she had a bone bruise and she sprained it, but luckily nothing requiring surgery.  She was on crutches for almost two months.  Halloween came right after this, so she couldn’t go out.  Her friends all piled in the house around 7p, spent time with her, then left with her bag.  They came back later that night with a bag full of candy for her.  I think someone took a picture of her looking pathetic on the couch with crutches, and then showed it at the door with her bag when asking for candy for her.

Oldest One also did great getting sick at Christmas, but I won’t go into that now. Bad as it all seemed at the time, these are now Oldest One stories we bring up and laugh about from time to time.  I Love My Family!

Being Alone

As a parent you don’t get much alone time. You get the kids off to school, you go to work, you get the kids from school, you get them to activities, you get them home and to bed.  And you try to squeeze in spouse time and bills or housework.  At least that is how it could be for me.  So I learned to enjoy the drive to and from work.

I work 15 miles from where I live. In freeway time that is a 45 minute drive from September through March, and over an hour if there is an accident.  The rest of the year it’s about 30 minutes.  In the morning I turn on my favorite radio station and listen to the morning team, and the music they play.  On the way home I plug in my iPod, or listen to the CD Oldest One made me for a birthday gift.  It’s luxurious time alone, where no one needs me or wants me, and where I can transition from home to work, or from work to home.  I really enjoy my drive time, which is one of the reasons I don’t carpool or take the bus.  I’m selfish, and I won’t give up my time alone in the car.  Another plus is I don’t get upset with traffic delays, because I’m on me time.

As I’ve been at home since June I haven’t had the drive time. But something weird has happened; instead of enjoying the quiet of the house when I’m alone, and the me time, I now dislike being alone.  Too much time with just myself makes me sad, and a bit depressed.  I used to enjoy the brief bits of time alone in the house.  Now I just cringe.  I’m sure it has to do with medication (which I loathe taking) and the situation, but knowing that doesn’t help.

Husband had to go into work today. He’ll be gone about 3 hours.  Our work buildings are close to each other, so when I’m at work it’s a treat when he has to go in.  We drive in together in the morning, and drive home together in the evening.  He’s the one person I’ll give up my me time for.  Today he’ll have to pay to park (I drop him off and then park in my work space), and I’ll be alone in the house.  I have a book series I’m reading (yes, it was so good I allowed myself to buy book 2!), and of course blogs to read, but I can feel the loneliness setting in as soon as the front door closes.  It’s only a few hours!  Geez, show some backbone Broad!

I don’t like these new feelings, and want them to go away.  I want to enjoy time alone again in the quiet of the house.  I know I’ll get there again, once I am able to leave the house and get life back on track.  But right now, today, it’s not like that.  Maybe I’ll get the dogs riled up, barking and chasing each other.  It’s hard to be lonely when silly dogs are playing.

Halloween is Coming!

Halloween is in a few days. I like Halloween.  I enjoy seeing the little kids dressed up cute, and I love the candy.  Oldest One and I have a thing for candy corn, which Husband and Little One think is very wrong.  I know you can buy candy corn all year, but it only feels right to eat it around this time.

I’ve done a lot of Halloweens with the girls. Oldest One wasn’t quite 2 months old for her 1st Halloween, and I dressed her up in a clown outfit my Mom bought to hand out candy.  Sometimes all of us dressed up, and sometimes only the girls.  It was always a big deal at the beginning of October to talk about costumes, and figure out what to get.

I love looking at the pictures of past Halloweens. Little One wore a great lady bug costume one year that Husband made huge wings for.  They both spent a couple of years in the toddler blue and purple clown outfit, complete with a shiny blue tinsel wig and lipstick red nose.  Little One went as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz one year, and she looked just like her, except her skirt was sparkly.  Sparkle and glitter are very important for my girls.  One year I ordered a pirate costume for Oldest One, which was too short when we got it, so she had to wear shorts underneath to not flash everyone.  Last year, her senior year, I bought her the Sandy from Grease outfit of black leather pants and the black shirt.  I curled her hair, and she looked amazing.  Her friend dressed as Danny, and they were so cute together.

This year Little One was supposed to be cheering a football game on Halloween, but parents and athletes weren’t too happy with that (I was fine, candy is expensive!) so the game was moved to Thursday. Little One isn’t sure what she is going to do, but all I know is she has no costume, and time is running out, and teenage girls can get very upset if the costume isn’t right.  Husband has to go buy candy, but that is the easy part.  Oldest One needed 3 costumes, but traded with friends so we didn’t have to buy all 3.  I’m hoping to see pictures, but since she was a cat at the sorority meeting last night, and I didn’t get sent anything, I’m probably not going to.

I think I understand why those whose kids have left home might not be as excited about Halloween. It reminds you of the fun you used to have dressing the kids up and taking them out, and that those days are over.  That everyone is getting older, including you.  That time marches on, no matter how much you try to slow things down and live in the minute.  That those pictures taken through the years are worth more than any artwork.

Well, I think right now I’m going to go get my valuable artwork, and spend some time with it. And then eat some candy corn.  And brace myself for the costume chat with Little One.  Because I want to be fully in the moment this year, and remember it always, so feeling sad is tempered with feeling grateful all of us made it through sane.

The Hovering Helicopter

Helicopter Parents. I’ve read articles about them, and how not to be one, and I try.  I’m sure in some ways I am, because I worry about the girls.  But I’ve always tried to let them solve their own problems, because I won’t always be able to help.

When Oldest One was in 6th grade – I think – she ran for a class office.  We made posters, and helped her write her speech…the usual parent things.  Problems came about when the girl she was running against started to take Oldest One’s signs down and put them in the trash, and started bad mouthing her.  Oldest One told us about it, and that the principal had called the other girl in, and her parents were called.  We talked about it, and how she felt, and what she could do about it.  Ultimately the other girl won, and Husband bought a beautiful vase filled with flowers for Oldest One to cheer her up, and which did put a smile on her face.  A co-worker berated me the next day, saying I should have made a big deal of what the other girl did, and I should have demanded she be taken out of the running.  Basically, she was saying I didn’t do enough.  I told my co-worker I could have done all of that, but what would my child have learned?  Life isn’t always easy, people aren’t always nice, and you don’t always win.  Better for her to find those things out now, and learn to cope, then to be a 20-something having a major meltdown at her first job.  Oh, and Oldest One went on to hold offices in high school, so, yes, it all worked out.

This was all brought to mind as I texted Oldest One today. Although she went and paid her parking ticket last week, it is still showing on her Bursar account.  I have to pay the balance on the account today, and I’m not including the ticket, since I know it’s paid.  I texted her to remind her to go to the Bursar’s Office with the receipt to have them remove the ticket charge.  She is busy today, can she go tomorrow is what I received as an answer.  She can, but there might bet a late charge, so I told her she needed to make sure it was removed along with the ticket.

Could I call the Bursar’s office myself? I could, although since she is 18 I don’t know if they would talk to me.  But I don’t want to.  She needs to start handling this stuff herself.  I’m reminding her, but ultimately she has to do it herself.  She needed to go to Student Health, so I told her to take her insurance card, pay for the visit with her debit card, and I’d put the money in her account to cover it.  Because she is old enough to make the appointment herself.  She still needs our help, and our advice, but she is at college now, and needs to start doing things and figuring out things.  I haven’t talked to any professors or her advisor, because I shouldn’t.  I don’t want to either.  But I’ve suggested she do it, when the situation seemed to indicate it would help, and she did, and it was a good result for her.

Letting go is tough. Kids grow up too fast for us parents, and our instinct is to throw our arms around them and protect them from the world.  Doing everything for them is one of the ways to do this.  But it doesn’t help the kids grow and learn, and understand what to do next time.  I’m always just a phone call away, and I’ll always stop what I’m doing to listen and to chat.  But it’s time for her to start making her own appointments, and to figure out how to get the Bursar to remove a charge that has already been paid.  Bigger challenges are on the way, and if we don’t give our kids a chance to conquer the little stuff, how can we expect them to be prepared for just living?