Spoiling Our Kids & Blaming Them For It

I admit that I don’t ask much of my child.  In part because I don’t run my house as my parents did, nor do I have the same financial issues or job requirements.  In short, I’ve given my child very few responsibilities, and, I’m sure, it shows.

From time to time, he’ll get snotty with me, and when I go off, I mention how I would never have done this as well as all the responsibilities I was expected to fulfill as a child.  I don’t know why I do it because it’s obviously not effective in getting what I want.  Probably because I don’t know what I want at that moment in time. I’m guessing I want him trained like I was; however, I’ve not taken any time, given any attention, or been willing to be consistent in training him.  His “failure” is really MY failure.

I’ve always known that when there are kid troubles that we should look to the adults.  It’s our job to model for them and act as guides.  Thing is, we’re really not that interested in doing so.  We want to TELL them what to do, we expect it done to our satisfaction, and then we’re mad when it doesn’t happen.  That’s just crazy, and it’s the best recipe for having poor relations there is.  After all, look at all the romantic relationships that fail due to communication and expectation issues.  Duh!

What really brought this home for me was a blog post that my cousin, Tiffany Heth, posted to her Facebook wall.  It’s called “Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make”.  Now, we all know I’m not Christian, nor is my child a teen (yet).  However, that doesn’t mean I might not find something worthy and valuable in the article.  And indeed I did.

The article points out that spoiling kids isn’t just about access to money, it’s also access to too many opportunities.  I would include in that giving them experiences that aren’t age-appropriate.  We give and do for our children as a matter of fact, but then we’re pissed when they EXPECT these things.  Yet, if we really look at it, we are the ones who created the problem.  Remember, start as you intend to go.

One of the issues of the “modern world” is that kids today have too much.  This has probably always been the case.  But it seems that we never consider that parents these days GIVE too much.  Perhaps we should reflect as to why we do this.  For if we truly want to make changes, shouldn’t we start with ourselves? I would venture to guess that I’m not the only one with self-discipline issues.

Or is this where someone throws out “picking my battles”?


The Last Year

I’m still struggling with things, not to the extent I was, but still.  While I don’t show signs of depression, it’s clear that something, personality or mentally, is getting in my way.  With that in mind, let me review the last year.

  • Amelia died at the start of the last school year.  I still miss her.
  • My mom’s heart valve replacement surgery and recovery.  This was much more extreme than I imagined.  I spent a lot of time worrying.
  • Family financial issues — not mine.
  • Mental health issues for my family — mine and others.
  • The death of my aunt in April.
  • Ongoing school issues ranging from a lack of support, being vilified, being put on leave, and finally being told what I’d planned for a year wasn’t going to happen.  Oh, and being “encouraged” to transfer.  Funny, I filled out the form and nothing happened.  Nothing like the stress of not knowing.
  • My own mental concerns — depression (and treatment), irritability, and ongoing evaluations for potentially being ADHD or even having PTSD.
  • My brother’s death in August.  More striking than I originally wanted to admit.  I have concerns about my own mortality — do I get to live past 46?  Wishes for a better life for everyone.  Dealing with the past that I thought I’d buried.  I’m not as evolved as I want to believe.
  • My grandmother’s mortality with stage 4 colon cancer.  Again, the shifts in dynamics are huge.  While never close, I know that this closes the chapter on my relationship with my father’s family.  It is highly unlikely that I will really see them again.  Despite all dysfunction, I don’t know that I am ready for that.
  • The feeling that I’m an only child.  My relationships with all my siblings has been strained.  With Michael gone, who was my only full-sibling, now it’s just me.
  • More issues at work.  I know I need to own my part, I just wish I knew why the other part isn’t owned.  I guess I really want to know why I wasn’t transferred.
  • The upcoming termite tenting.  This seems to be a bigger task than I’d originally conceptualized.  Had I really paid attention, I would have pushed for this to be done over the summer.  Oh well…  At least I have time off to devote to it.
  • Other family dysfunction.  The amount of gossip is too much.

I suppose with that much happening, I should be proud to still be coherent and standing.  On the other hand, it’s hard to admit that I’m not as functional as I want or need to be.  Worse is not really knowing the right solution.

I suppose, like everything, it will come in its own time whether I like it or not.  Until then, there is work to be done.

Stream of Consciousness

Normally I’m so very in touch with my feelings.  Normally.

Normally I can name them even when someone doesn’t want to hear them. Normally.

Yesterday normal stopped, and it hasn’t restarted yet.  I don’t have words for my feelings.  In fact, they’re lost, rumbling around in my brain, not sure where to go.

You see, my brother, Michael, died yesterday.

Since I don’t live near my family, my communication lifeline is a phone.  Of course I was at school.  Students come on Wednesday. There’s so much to do. My friend, Carol, was with me correcting some of my bigger mistakes.  Then the text.  He had been taken to the hospital, and my mom was going up.

The calls back and forth trying to figure it all out.  My sister, Christine, called to tell me.  I didn’t cry.  I still haven’t.  I don’t know why.

Some might blame my anti-depressant, but I don’t think that’s it.  I think it’s that, because we didn’t really have a relationship, I didn’t lose anything.  Which is just horrifying, sad, pathetic, and awful.  To think when someone leaves that you’re sad because he was so young (46), he had children just out of high school (19 and 20), that he’d already had heart problems but that he went to the doctor every three months so why?  My thoughts aren’t “I’ll never see him again.”  I rarely saw him, and when I did it was for short periods of time.  I’m not thinking, “I’ll never hear from him.” We didn’t call, email, FB post, comment, send letters or even carrier pigeons. In fact, I have the same relationship with him that I always had.  One of hearing about him, but not experiencing life with him

I’d like to think that this feeling of being numb is just shock.  I’d like to believe that at one point I will fully mourn the loss of my brother.  Yet, perhaps, I’d already lost him a long time ago in old battles, perceived hurts, judgments, and estrangement.  Perhaps the only thing left to mourn is the place where we come together as family, united, and have a real, authentic relationship with one another. There is no chance of that ever happening now.

Yet, he will live on.  As an organ donor he was able to donate many, many parts so that up to 100 other people can benefit.  His eyes, bones, veins, heart valve, and skin will all help other people.  Because he was stationed overseas in the first Iraqi conflict, there were organs that couldn’t be used.  Yet, to improve the lives of many in death is a wonderful legacy.  As my niece pointed out, whoever gets his skin is lucky.  He had the most beautiful skin — clear with a gorgeous complexion.

So to my brother who died at the same age as our father, I say good-bye.  I wish I had known you better.  I wish we’d made each other better, stronger, and happier through collaboration rather than being separated through competition.  I wish you’d had a happier life — fulfilled.  I hope in whatever is next, for you were a believer, that it is an afterlife worth being in for eternity.  I wish you great love.  I’m not sure you always had that.

Rest in peace.

I’ve Been Claimed

For the past two months or so, my desire for a cat has been huge.  I’d been missing Amelia terribly, and I was ready for a new furry, family friend.  While I had imagined that I’d replace the carpet, and then go to the shelters, no-kill fairs, etc. to find a cat or two, that isn’t how it worked out at all.

On Friday, May 25th, there was a message on our community yahoo group that a cat needed a home.  Her name was Socks; she was three years old; spayed; declawed in the front; and very friendly.  After talking to Taed, I called.  Unfortunately someone had beat me to the punch, and she was already claimed.  However, the woman took my number “just in case”.

Just in case means I was called a day later because the other person had never followed through.  This time, I was given the “owner’s” phone number.  After much back and forth, the family I drove to South San Jose Sunday evening.  While I wanted a cat, I wanted to make sure that she would be willing to accept us.

What we found was almost heartbreaking.  Her family LOVED her.  Their situation was one where they had taken her in as a stray when she was a kitten since she had claimed them.  Their older cat, not happy about the situation, was actively mean to her.  However, since the house was two stories, the older cat claimed the upstairs and Socks had reign of the downstairs, minimizing their interactions. Unfortunately the family had moved to a one story house meaning that the older cat was attacking Socks regularly.  Rather than get rid of the older guy, they opted to find a home for the younger, more loving pet.

I had to ask if they were sure.  After all, this cat had found and claimed them.  She loved them and even wound herself around the baby’s legs.  The family was sure, and they decided that we would make a good family for Socks since we already cared about her well-being before taking her.  They cried when we took her.  They loved her so much.

It’s been a week, and at first, Socks wasn’t too sure about us or our home.  Now she owns the place.  More specifically, she owns me.  She will sit on my lap for (what seems to be) hours, she sleeps on me when I sleep, she lays next to me in bed, and she makes sure to visit me while I’m working.  The only hand she wants petting her is the one that is working the mouse.

It feels good to have a cat again. I still miss Amelia, but it’s time to move on and find a place in my heart for another.  Plus, I’ve already been claimed so Socks has every intention of occupying my heart like she does my lap and my bed.

Our new kitty, Socks.


Sunday Morning

Are you awake?
Are you going back to sleep?
Anything planned for today?
I’m opening the window shades.
What are you getting? Diet Pepsi.
Have you checked Post Secret yet?
Yeah, nothing too interesting.
Facebook is quiet too.  NPR had one article.
Click, scroll, reading over shoulders.
Shorthand conversations, articles sent back and forth.
Waiting to hear cuddle.  For the day to begin.
Sunday morning ritual.

Keb and Camping

One of the rights of passage in schools is the science camp experience.  Mind you, not for me.  I had no idea such things existed until I became a teacher.  I can’t even claim it’s the last 20 years because I hear people talk about how great their experience was 30 years ago.  I just missed some boat.

Which is fine for me.  I honestly don’t love nature.  I mean, I like plants.  I find flowers pretty.  I can dig hanging out at the ocean.  I love the oxygen nature supplies, but I don’t really want to “commune” with nature.  I feel no need to be in it for hours at a time.  I prefer society.

Even as a teacher, I didn’t want to go to science camp.  The other teachers at the school were amazed.  Why? Because it’s like a week off work in most cases.  You do some supervision, you can hang out with your class if you like, there are responsibilities, but for the most part you are free to do what you want.

What I want is to sit on my butt watching TV and playing with the computer — WiFi please.

Now Taed has a much better attitude towards all experiences, and he was a Boy Scout growing up (he achieved Eagle Scout status).  He’s much more positive about nature and will push us to experience it.  I think he camped fairly often as a child, AND he attended science camp in 6th grade.

Wouldn’t you know that Keb inherited my attitude? I’m sure being assigned to the “girl” side of the bus didn’t start it right.  He didn’t pick his cabin mate well, and declared him and “a**hole.”  He disliked his field leader because he was often admonished for talking.  He was offended that he didn’t get a 4-Cs award (we asked him if attitude was a judging criteria!); although,  he said he was very nice and very enthusiastic for the first day.  Whatever happened to dampen his spirit sucked the joy out of his experience.  He didn’t recover the rest of the week.

I asked him if he remembered the purpose of going.  He said he was told it would be “fun and educational”, but that it was neither. He said he would have rather been at school. Unfortunately, I tend to agree. What’s weird, though, is that I don’t express these thoughts, and he still seems to know them.

It’s usually like father, like son.  In this case though…

That poor kid!

Pinnacles National Monument

Whine, whine, whine.

The drive was too long, so was the hike.  No bats in the caves, unlike.  It wasn’t too pretty.  It’s wasn’t too cool.  I won’t go again.  I’d rather stay in school.

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OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it sure wasn’t great.