Bullying

So the Teddy is having problems with a boy at school, and I am sad to say that when I approached the teacher I found out that it is him who is the bully, not the other kid.  That is something that I think no parent wants to hear…isn’t bullying a bad reflection of your parenting?

I found out about it when he told me this other little boy had been hitting him.  He was really upset, crying and saying he didn’t want to go to school.  So I went and had a talk with the teacher, at which time I found out it is Teddy that is doing the hitting.  The following week I arrived at school a few minutes early to pick him up, I was watching in the window of the the classroom, watched him lead this boy into trouble (by climbing up on the table, encouraging the boy to follow him and then getting down before the teacher saw, leaving the boy to get in trouble all on his own)…after which he promptly stomped over to the boy and shoved him HARD with both hands down to the floor.  At that exact moment he looked up, saw me looking in the window and started to do a pout thing.  Then the teacher came along.  I decided to just walk away, perhaps that was the wrong thing to do, but I thought at this time they are under the teacher’s care, it is up to her to take care of the dicipline and rule her own classroom.  I don’t believe that parents should step in like that.  Perhaps that was wrong, but that was what I did. 

Anyway the minute class ended and I walked in.  Teddy ran to me crying and so upset.  He said “Mama ____ hit me”.  I said “No I saw you and you hit him”.   For three days everytime he heard the word shcool he said ” Mama _____ hit me”.  I dont’ know what to do.  I have tried talking to him about it.  I have let him know I saw who did the hitting.  I have told him hitting other kids is wrong, what else can I do?  The teacher tells me that Teddy and this particular boy seem to have a real problem with one another, they can both play fine with either children, but cannot play with each other.  In fact Teddy won’t let this boy come near him or any of the kids he is playing with, he gets quite mean to him.  My biggest concern in all this was Teddy has been in this school since the end of November, why did it take for me to ask about a problem before I was told that my son is being mean and hurting another boy.

I hate the thought of my child being the bully, bullies cause lifelong problems for other kids.  I don’t know how to stop him, he is a big boy, but that shouldn’t automatically make him the bully.  The monkey is also big and he doesn’t bully kids at school.  I wonder if it is because Teddy came into the year part way through and felt he had to make a way of making sure the other kids were nice to him?  I don’t know, perhaps this boy was being mean to him and his reaction was just to be meaner?  In the Teddy’s defense I must add here that Monkey insists this other boy hits all the kids in class and that he is very mean.  So I guess Teddy just decided he would be meaner to this child to ensure he didn’t hurt him?  I dont’ see justification in that, just trying to reason out here what is going on.

Sometimes I wonder if it is because his brother is sometimes mean to him.  I need help to teach him how to get along with kids and use words instead of fists.  Now I have given up arguing with him who is doing the hitting, since we aren’t getting anywhere why beat a dead horse.  So instead everytime he says “Mama ___ hits me” I say “well, when he hits you, you need to say, please don’t hit me I don’t like it”.  Any suggestions on what else I can do?  Is my child the only bully out there?

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My Favourite Age

I always thought my favourie age with kids/babies was the small baby stage (about 1-4 mths).  Not the newborn stage where you are so tired, falling asleep sitting up happens frequently and if you are honest with yourself you should probably not even be driving because you are seriously impaired by the lack of sleep in those first few weeks.  I think for me it always hit hardest around week two.  At around 4-6 weeks though you seem to find your groove.  Your body adjusts to waking every 2-3 hrs through the night, your baby sleeps quite a bit of the day and you just have this cuddly little angel to enjoy.  I always thought that was my favourite age. 

Then when the monkey was 3, I thought, I think this is my favourite age.  I started to think HOORAY, I have gotten to the “good age”.  You know that golden ticket where they are past the toddler years, they become a bit independent, but not so much that they dont’ need you anymore.  The years where you can go to the washroom by yourself or eat dinner without them crawling in your lap and either taking over your plate with slobber and messy hands or dumping the plate all over you.  I was thinking yeah for three, I love three.  At that age they can have a great conversation with you, they are learning and absorbing so much of the world around them and their way of processing it is nothing short of entertaining.   This “honeymoon” so to call it lasted an entire year, I thought I was in the clear!  Then the monkey hit four, why is four so hard?!  He is demanding and can’t wait for anything.  If he has a question or a want he repeats it over and over until he gets what he wants or drives those around him totally mad in the process.  Four is killing me, four is not my favourite age!  I guess though it is a big time of change for him, getting ready to start school in the fall.  Maybe at four they are smart enough/old enough to realize that we know they showed us at three how independent and well behaved they could be, so at four they are thinking hold on need to pull back a bit here so I still get all the love, attention and spoiling my younger siblings get.  Maybe, hopefully this is just a phase, I want my sweet monkey back!

Two…does anyone have anything good to say about two?  God it is a terrible age.  I think it is hard for them at two.  Their bodies are changing so much they are growing and learning at an incredible rate.  Perhaps they are starting preschool, or an organized activity (such as soccer, gymnastics) etc…all of a sudden the world opens up at two.  Programs have spots and their little lives change along with their changing bodies and minds.  I think what they go through at two is a lot for them and they don’t always have the verbal skills to express it.  Teddy does, he has been speaking in full sentences since about 15 months, so now by 2.5 he has a quite a good vocabulary and is very expressive.  He does have a temper though, wicked scary temper.  When he is about to blow you just know you  are in for it…I wish I could carry ear plugs for some of his fits.  To say they try my patience is being polite about it.  The interesting thing though, is even at his young age he is aware of his temper and learning to control it.  It is not unusual to see him “self time out”  he will sit under a table, go to his room, or just generally find a quiet place to be all by himself.  I find that amazing, if he has the opportunity to be left alone, perhaps to steam it out by himself, think things through etc he doesn’t have a meltdown, the next time you see him he is totally fine, happy, laughing and playing.  He is so much like me it is scary!  He likes to be alone with his thoughts and if you stop him, watch out here comes the explosion, but if you let him all is ok. 

The only other thing I have to say about two year olds is…do all of them tell lies?  The monkey told a few lies at two, less at three.  Now he will start a lie or fib and if we ask him if he is telling the truth and remind him that being honest will get him in less trouble, he will be honest.  Teddy however…he has just started to tell lies.  Until recently, if he did something wrong or bad, he would just say, I did it.  No regret, no shame just all out “I did it”.  Nto anymore, now he will even argue with me that when he is telling a lie it is the truth!  Ah two years old, all I can say is I am hoping for the same Shangra La with his three that I had with the Monkey’s!

Now I get to my current favourite age…16 months.  The princess is 16 months old and just amazing.  She is so sweet and learning so much.  She repeats everything we say in this adorable little baby voice.  She is branching from two and three word verbal strings to full sentences.  It is truly an amazing developmental time to watch.  She is expressive and knows what she wants, yet still sweet and innocent.  I didn’t enjoy this age with either of my boys, I found it an easily frustrating age where I was too tired and had no energy for their boundless energy.  I will insert here that when both the boys were 16 months old I was about to have another baby.  So I was tired and not sleeping well and focused on either being pregnant or a newborn.  For the first time I am enjoying all that is 16 months, it is an age that is a lot of work.  They are getting bigger but still want to be carreid around, they are verbal, but not fully expressive, they are demanding, yet still sweet.  I am having fun with this age for the first time ever. 

I am glad that #4 is not on our heels and it is giving me time to just sit back and enjoy what is already in front of me.  I am sure as they progress through the years, my favourite age will continue to adjust and change with them.  There will always be a special place in my heart though for that sweet innocent baby who sleeps and cuddles, content to be held all day.  I truly do love babies!

Clothing Optional?

Sometimes I am sure that my kids were nudists in their past lives.  The LOVE to be naked.  I am nuetral to their love of nakedness, I neither encourage nor discourage it.  If they want to be naked so be it, let me make it clear here that I am talking about in our own house, not running through the streets etc.

Anyway that being said my inlaws HATE it when the kids are naked, even in their own house.  It makes them totally mental.  They carry on and on about it.  Today I got a call at aork and also had to listen to a 10 minute rant when I got home about how the monkey was so bad today…so I said, what did he do that was so awful?  He took his clothes off and played in his room, the basement and the family room for 2 hrs, refusing to get dressed.  Ok it was 38 degrees celcius with the humidity today…seriously what is the problem with a 4 yr old running around his own house naked?  I dont’ know if I am wrong here, should I be concerned about this?  I think I should add here that he knows being naked in public is different than at home ie at swimming etc he will ask if it is ok to get undressed to change if other people are in the change room.  He has never once ripped his clothes off at school and gone running naked through the gym, so clearly he senses the difference between home and public.

I don’t think the human body is shameful, I don’t think it is right to teach kids to be ashamed of their bodies.  I don’t think we should have to cover up at the gym or swimming change rooms in that awkward trying to squeeze into my clothes under my towel way.  I suppose I should add here my father was a nudist, actually literally lived in a nudist camp for several years so I was taught to be comfortable around naked people my entire life.  As a European my father always said he didnt’ understand us North Americans and our nudity issues.  So I guess based on my upbringing I am biased, I was taught modesty yes absolutely, but I was also taught to be comfortable at the sight of my own body and others, I want my kids to be the same way.  I don’t want them to be scared to get changed for gym at school or afraid to pull down their swimsuit on the beach and change into clothes to go home.  I want them to know that to a certain age it is totally ok to run around their own home naked…to what age I am not sure, I suppose to the age that all three siblings are comfortable with.  I want to be able to change in front of my kids without worrying that it will embarass them or make them feel uncomfortable and I want to be able to do it without feeling like I have to cover up and hide from them.

I hate it that my in laws are so opposite from me in this matter.  What I hate more is that they refuse to respect the fact that I am the parent and if I say the kids being naked at home is ok then it is ok.  FULL STOP, no room for discussion, don’t you dare yell at them for it.  I guess that being said perhaps I need to talk to the kids and explain when grandma and grandpa are babysitting nudity is not ok…but why should I? I think that would be confusing to them.  A naked body is not always about sex, a naked breast can be about feeding a baby for instance, but as North Americans we are totally uncomfortable with this because we are taught from childhood that a naked body is only about sex, I don’t want my kids to feel or think like this.  Perhaps I am an idealist…and idealist raised by a hippy nudist! LOL

What is Normal?

What is normal when it comes to families?  Growing up I always thought mine was on the side of dysfunctional at times even embarrassing, probably the furthest from normal possible.   So where to start?  My parents were divorced, but remained best friends, they had no custody arrangement, my dad took us when he wanted to, never showed up when he said he would and would suddenly appear out of the blue when we were least expecting him and stay a few days. There were many years where my divorced parents lived in the same house together, though as friends and both having relationships with other people.  My mom did a lot for us, but didn’t believe in changing her life for us, we were dragged to parties here there and everywhere.  More than once we got in the car thinking we were just going out for the day and ended up moving across the country.  As early as grade 2 we came home from school by ourselves, my mom getting home from work around dinner time.  Our family was loud, rowdy and expressive to say the least.  One thing is for sure we all know what we think of each other at all times good or bad.  Family fights were almost “normal” or happened regularily anyway.  As my one cousin often said we always have drama.  So I grew up thinking these people aren’t normal, I dont’ belong to them…I craved normalcy as a kid, teenager, even in my early twenties.  You know what though, we ate dinner together every single night, everyone who lived in the house, we talked about our days, we didn’t and still don’t keep secrets, we never missed a holiday or birthday and we never stayed angry.  We yelled, we fought, we threw hamburger (honest to god there was a hamburger incident it is legendary we were scraping hamburger off the walls for weeks) and we remained friends, we remained family.  Live and let live.  We truly are the good the bad and the ugly, but we don’t care. 

So now I have in laws, they think they are normal.  To the outside they appear normal, there is no drama, no fighting, no yelling, no arguing.  When extended family is over it is not rowdy or loud.  No one ever throws hamburger or beer at one another.  That being said, my husband doesn’t speak to his siblings, beyond a barely audible hello, my mother in law is a nervous wreck when her own sister is over for dinner, lest something not appear perfect, and my favourite?  They keep secrets from one another to the point that half the time we have no idea what is going on in one anothers’ lives.  If someone is “embarassing” (say involved in drugs or money problems) they are ignored, gossiped about daily, never confronted (no interventions here) either avoided by the family or treated civilily in public, but ignored completely when the community isn’t looking.  Raised voices outside of the hosue is the biggest faux pas, showing a flaw or a blemish is unthinkable.  They never eat dinner as a family unless there is extended family present.  When they do eat together there is no talking, everyone is either reading the paper or watching TV.   Is this normal?  Is it normal never to sit down and eat a meal in the family home just the family, never to sit around the dinner table talking things out?  Is it normal to exclude the embarassing relative from your family?  To ignore your problems with one another?  Is it normal to look like white picket fences and June Cleaver on the outside, when on the inside you look like green pepper welfare burgers and Peggy Bundy?

So now I wonder, was my family ever really so bad?  Do I just have a new appreciation for them.  Who defines what is functional and dysfunctional anyway?  Are we more functional if we hide everything and our life appears to work but is full of lies, gossip and secrets or are we more functional if we yell scream, lay our blemishes out there for all to examine never feeling any shame or wrong because of it?  I don’t know I now sit here and think I spent 27 years wanting normal, wanting functional, craving life without drama, only to realise we all have drama, it is unavoidalbe but if normal is keeping secrets and hiding that drama…you know what, give me abnormal any day.  I love my family and now 4 yrs into having  in laws I realize they were never so bad afterall!!

My Biggest Parenting Mistake

So here I sit mom of 3, 2 boys and a girl ages 4 (the monkey), 2.5 (the teddy) and 15 months (the princess).  I love them to bits, they are my pride and joy.  I enjoy reading blogs and have been for quite a few years now, so I finally decided I will start putting all the ramblings in my head down.  So here goes nothing.

I have made a huge parenting mistake, it is our bedtime routine.  I don’t believe in “crying it out” never have.  So I stay with my kids until they fall asleep, both for naps and for bedtime at night.  When I had only one it was easy, it was nice actually I rather enjoyed it.  Bedtime routine consisted of dinner, bath, then bed.  When the monkey was still small I would hold him, actually I used to sit in the rocking chair in his room with him and rock him to sleep, as he got older and moved into a big boy bed I would lie down beside him and scratch his back or hold his hand until he fell asleep.  I loved it, he never cried I was never stressed bedtime was always a happy and relaxing time for us.

Then the Teddy came along, bedtime got more difficult and stress started to surround it.  Teddy hated to sleep and struggled to stay awake (still does actually).  Through 2 years of trial and error I found what works best.  The thing is with Teddy it is a timing thing, if I get him to bed 5 minutes late, that’s it we are done, it becomes an all out smack down struggle he gets so overtired he starts acting up, which means he keeps his brother and sister awake which means I get stressed out and it turns into a bad situation.  Out of the 6 nights so far this week (Sunday to Friday) he has been asleep only one night before 10:30 pm.  For me that is too late, it means he is grumpy the next morning, I am grumpy the next morning and no down time for me.  I need that downtime!

The princess is still pretty easy, she is still in that hold and cuddle phase of sleep.  I usually bring her in her brother’s room and hold her/rock her until she sleeps, they I take her to her own bed and come back to finish with the boys.  The monkey is easy, I just say monkey it is time to sleep now, do you want me to hold your hand or scratch your back.  He picks one, I tell him to close his eyes and withing 3 minutes he is out.  Teddy not so much, he is up, he is down, he doesn’t want his back scratched, oh he does want it scratched, he is hungry, he is thirsty etc etc and the list goes on.

Anyhow here I am wiped after a week of incredibly late bedtimes.  Stressed from not being able to get anything done around the hosue or have any time just to myself all week and thinking ok so I have done it, I have made the biggest mistake and now how do I fix it?  Can you go back and undo the wrong?  At 2.5 can I teach him that he now has to put himself to sleep?  AND does that mean I have to give up the cuddling with The Monkey and the Princess so he doesn’t feel jealous/abandoned/left out?

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