Midnight Triage Parenting

It was 12:58am when I heard the knock on my bedroom door. I can tell you this with certainty, because I had to hit the “home” button on my phone so I could have a modicum of light as I navigated the dog-filled carpet from my bed to the door. (Only one dog was nearly stepped on.) It was a rushed walk, as my 10-year-old had informed me through the closed-door that his stomach hurt and he thought he was going to throw up. His younger brother had a bout of tummy unease over the weekend, so this was a legit concern.

As I opened my bedroom door, I found my middle child laying in the fetal position, rocking on the floor. “My stomach hurts. My stomach hurts!” He was wailing. I got him up and told him to head to the bathroom. I feared I knew the next act in this nausea play.

And that’s when I noticed my oldest child’s bedroom door was also open. She looked at me from her bed and cried, “Mom, I don’t feel good. I have ninety-six nine.”

What? My midnight brain has no idea what this means. I have to ask her to explain.

“Ninety six nine!” she sobbed, “on the thermometer! I have a fever!”

Oh. 96.9. Okay, brain, let’s do math in the middle of the night, shall we?(I feel like midnight mental math should be deserving of a cookie or at least a sticker or something.) The average body temperature of a human is 98.6, meaning she does not have a fever.

Here comes the midnight triage parenting. I imagine this scenario is a lot like those scenes in the old TV show, MASH. (Awesome show, by the way, I totally loved it. And, a former boss once referred to me as “Radar,” which I definitely took as a compliment.) In MASH, when a chopper would arrive full of injured soldiers, the doctors and nurses had to decide – who needs the most help at that very moment?

So, there I stood at – let’s go with 1:00 am, since it probably took about two minutes to climb over the dogs, open the door, make out what my child was moaning on the floor and head down the hall. It’s 1:00am and I have not one but two kids now telling me “I don’t feel good!” You know what case made it to the top? The potential vomiter. My 10-year-old son was told to head to the bathroom, while my 14-year-old daughter was told to go to bed. I told her (I hope compassionately) that she did not have a fever and that sleep was her best option. And yes I meant it. And yes, she had to go to bed.

Then, I turned my attention to the 10-year-old, got him calmed down, and what felt like nine years later, back in bed. At that point, I was wide awake. Just me and my mom guilt.

I should have tried to treat my daughter, too.

I should have been nicer. What did I say?

I should have patted her head and told her she’d feel better soon.

I should have offered her a cool rag for her head.

So, instead of slipping back to sleep, I laid there thinking of all the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. And then… I tried to shift my thinking to the fact that I needed to count my blessings. My youngest was feeling better, my middle one was falling asleep and my oldest appeared to already be asleep. And, we can check “first back to school illness” off our list.

When it’s midnight and you’ve just woken up by a sick child, you are forced to make decisions. Those decisions grow exponentially with the number of kids that are awake and needing your attention. And boy can those midnight decisions be difficult!

What about you? What do you do during Midnight Triage Parenting? How do you handle it when more than one is sick?

 

 

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Absolutely Disgusted

The title may be misleading, as a mother of three, I typically write about children’s bodily fluids. This time, I am disgusted for another reason entirely. I watched a video of a local teen being savagely beaten by a group of girls that once claimed to be her friends. My stomach turned watching this clip of video, video that was shared by the alleged assaulters on social media.

The TV station interviewed the parents of the girl, a 17-year-old, who went to a party after her “friends” invited her there. Unbeknownst to her, they were not inviting her to have a good time. They invited her so they could beat her, mercilessly. The video is hard to watch. I cannot even imagine being that poor child’s parents and having to watch that. I want to drive to my teenage daughter’s school right now, scoop her up and tell her… well, I don’t know what I would tell her. And that’s the point of this post.

One of my best friends told me about this story this morning. I was appalled. She told me I should really discuss it with my 13-year-old and even have her watch it. At first, I couldn’t understand why that would be a good idea. What could I tell her to be cautious of? What if a friend invites her to a party and they really only want her there so they can beat her? How would that help – to make her scared of her friends’ true intentions? But, my friend went on to explain that the video not only shows this group of girls beating this teenager, it shows other teens sitting by and watching. One of them even video tapes the whole assault. And they do nothing to stop it. Nothing.

THIS is something I can talk to my daughter about. We always tell our kids not to bully other people and to speak up if they’re being bullied. But what about when they witness someone bullying – or in this case – beating another child? Because that’s what this group of teens are – children! Any one of those kids could have at any moment said – wait, stop. Heck, if they were scared what the other kids would say, they could have secretly texted their mom or dad with what was going on. They obviously had their phones! So this, this will be what I talk to my daughter about tonight: being the voice of reason.

If you’ve ever taken a psychology class, you’ve read about mob mentality. According to a publication by South University, “When people are part of a group, they often experience deindividuation, or a loss of self-awareness…. they are less likely to follow normal restraints and inhibitions… which can lead to the provocation of behaviors that a person would not typically engage in if alone.” And that’s when violence enters the picture.

What’s that saying we use with our kids? “If your friends were all jumping off a bridge, would you do it, too?” Well, after watching this video, yeah, they just might. Or, if they didn’t jump – maybe they’d push the kid in front of them.

Talk to your kids. Tell them. This is not okay! Think for yourself. Know when something is just stupid. If they can’t do that, ask them how they’d excuse or explain the behavior in which they are about to take part to you or their grandma. Because speaking up could truly be a life-saving act.

A Morning in Quotes

This morning was slightly more chaotic than usual. My husband, who usually makes the kids lunches and drives them to school, is out of town. So, it’s all me. Yeah, I know, moms do this every day. But you see, we have a system in our house and the system works! So, I’m proud to say I was proactive and made the kids their lunches last night. Oh, and before I fell asleep I saw a friend’s post of her daughter harvesting kale. Kale, I thought. We have kale. I can make a healthy breakfast for my kids. (Another Brilliant Mom Idea.) And with that, I give you the following one-sided conversation which is essentially a summary of the two and half waking hours I spent with my three kids this morning.

Good Morning!

It’s time to wake up!

Do you still want to work out with me?

Guys, this is mom’s time. If you’re just going to argue, go back to bed. (I work out every morning and they always want to “help” which typically means they sit on the couch under a blanket and watch me workout.)

Stop fighting over the blanket.

Put away your blanket.

Come on guys, let’s get dressed.

Seriously you guys, go get dressed.

Get off the couch.

It’s time to wake up! (See how we’ve circled back?)

Yes, its green stuff. It’s kale.

Kale won’t actually kill you.

Did you wash your hair?

Then why is your hair still dry?

No, you cannot wash your hair in the sink.

Yes, you have to wash your hair all the way to the front.

The shampoo doesn’t wash out by itself!

Stop hitting your brother.

Go to your room. You can come out when you behave yourself.

You can have the toy back when you can be kind to one another.

Where is your lunch?

Did you remember your lunch?

Is your lunch in your backpack?

Where is your coat?

Why don’t you have socks on?

I love you, have a great day!

No, you cannot bring your whoopee cushion to school.

Summer Brain Drain

My soon-to-be 4th grader has a handwriting journal he’s supposed to be doing every day this summer. There’s a question prompt for each day – you know, things like, “If I had a super power, it would be….” Children’s abilities to find a way to shorten an exercise like this never cease to amaze me. Like, “My favorite color is_______ because…….” And the child responds with, “My favorite color is red because it rocks.” The end. No more.

Meanwhile, my soon-to-be kindergartener comes home from preschool typically lamenting the fact that he’s had to work on “projects” – aka, writing his name, coloring shapes, etc. Pretty much all the prep-work for kindergarten. If he hates it now…

And my soon-to-be 7th grader is happy to just read, which I think is great. She brought home a book she was given at the library that seemed a little dark to me. And yet, we’re loving reading it together.

I’m really trying not to overload them with too much. BUT, I’m also wanting to keep my kids on track and prevent summer brain drain. I found some useful worksheets online. http://www.education.com/worksheets/all/ Oh yes, I’m sure my kids will be just loving me for it. I at least want to make sure to keep my 4th grader’s handwriting improving. As of now, it’s looking like it’ll head down the path mine took – serial killer/doctor signature/hieroglyphics.

Do you make your kids do homework over the summer? Oh, and how many of you are already back to school? I just saw a friend post that her daughter started her first day back today. It’s still July!

Death, Kissing and Parent Teacher Conferences

My kids say a lot of weird stuff. So much so, I have an entire category dedicated to it on my blog. So, by now, it really shouldn’t surprise me when they come out with something completely off the wall. And yet…

Here are the prize winners from this week alone:

“I don’t want to go to death!”

My 9-year-old son was reading aloud a section of the bible that talked about how kids should be respectful to their parents, or they would be put to death. (Matthew 15:4) It really struck him as important, so he told his brother and sister to listen up, as he repeated the passage. “For instance, God says ‘honor your father and mother’ and ‘anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father and mother must be put to death.'” Upon hearing this, our 4-year-old says, “But, I don’t wanna go to death!” Later that night, he brought it up again after supper, when the other kids had left the table.

“I don’t want to go to death. I’ll hide. I’ll hide in the refrigerator! He can’t get me in the closet, right? When?! When am I going to death?”

“Spin the bottle? I love that game!”

The award for the most alarming statement goes to my 12-year-old daughter who, seemingly out of nowhere announced in the car, “Spin the bottle? I love that game!” Turns out, she was reading her comic book and saw the game being played, which reminded her that she loves it so much. Thinking (and praying and hoping) that maybe she innocently had it confused with another game, where maybe you just spin the bottle and nothing nefarious happens, you know, like kick the can, I asked her, “Honey, what happens in spin the bottle?” “Oh, you spin the bottle and whoever it lands on you have to kiss.” Panic. Slight panic rising up. Yes, yes, I know she’s getting older and she’s going to experiment with things and I should get used to change and she’s growing up and does anyone have a paper bag I can breathe into? “So, sweetie, have you ever played spin the bottle?” “No, but my friend has at a party and she told me about it.” Insert conversation about not doing things we’re not comfortable with and how we can always say no and get out of situations like that…

“What? They’re going to put me to death?!”

After parent teacher conferences tonight, I arrived home armed with notes from my 6th and 3rd grader’s teachers. My son asked if he could see his report card. I said sure, having forgotten about the fact that I put a sticky note on it, with my reminder note to write a post about my preschooler’s thought that he could hide from death. My 3rd grader stared at his report card, without even opening it, and quietly read the words, “‘I don’t want to go to death?’ MOM, what did you and my teacher talk about?!”

Oh yes, raising kids is certainly interesting. I just wish I had a hidden microphone to catch all the other crazy stuff they say. You know, the stuff I forget to write down. What crazy things do your kids come up with?

The Quitter’s Curse

I remember distinctly my senior year in high school.  The stress. The classes. The homework. The internship. The paying job. The homework. The college application essays. The scholarship applications. The little sleep. And with all the stress and the attempts to keep my grades up, I was eager to sign up for the easy elective. The slight glimmer of hope in my otherwise busy and stress-filled senior schedule. It was the equivalent of underwater basket weaving. It should have been cake. It was pottery.

Those first few classes seemed easy enough. We sat around the wheels as they spun. Our wet hands clasped around mounds of clay. Forming the grey mess, pulling it higher, slowly, and digging our fingers into the top, stretching out, carefully some piece of art to take form. A vase. A plate. A bowl. A cup. Something beautiful would emerge. Those first few days, we watched as our instructor so gracefully drew his hands up around the wet clay, a masterpiece emerging. Then, mimicking his moves, we tried this ourselves. Small, nervous giggles turned to outright laughter as several of us lost control of the wet canvas, the clay becoming quickly lopsided and flinging violently off our wheels. It was funny. At first.

Soon, the rest of my class was excelling, surpassing my still limited skills. Pottery did not come easy for me. I needed easy. While others finished project after project, lining up their As in the shelves for the kiln, where after they’d color them with beautiful designs, my projects had yet to leave the wheel. Not one.

As the stresses of my senior year weighed me down, the nagging applications constantly whispering a reminder of their incomplete state, I found myself more and more frustrated with the demands of what should have been my Easy A. Pottery was supposed to be my outlet. Something to take away the stresses of my daily life. And yet, here it was, reminding me of everything I couldn’t be. Everything I was not.

Maybe it was a rash decision. Maybe I’d thought it through the way a 17-year-old does. I walked down to the office and demanded to speak to my counselor. I’d never sought him out before, seeing him only in passing in the halls and on the days he’d sign off on my schedule for the semester. But now, here I was in front of him, asking, pleading, demanding that I be transferred out of pottery. I didn’t care what class he transferred me into, I only knew I didn’t want to be in this one for one second longer.

What he said at first surprised me. Like pottery I thought, this too, would be easy. Getting out of a class, something I’d heard of but never tried for my self, seemed like it should be a simple matter of paperwork and my life would get easier before I’d even left his office. But, it wasn’t going to be that easy. “Why?” he’d asked. Why did I want out of the seemingly easiest class the school offered? My response started with logic and soon let way to tears. I couldn’t take it. He gave me the speech I’m sure he’d given hundreds of students before me, the “don’t be a quitter” speech. He told me how quitting was a slippery slope, a dangerous path to allow myself down. He said if it started with pottery, where would it end? What if I quit every time something got hard? This logic only enraged me. I was not a quitter. I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing and I just needed to make this one really hard thing go away. After a few more canned speeches, he saw the twitch in my eye – the one that was birthed by late nights, little sleep and a pottery wheel that spun out of control in a way that summed up my teenage existence – he finally conceded. I managed an even easier class – late arrival, followed by helping out in the cleanup of a coffee machine. It was bliss.

Years later, at any given hardship in life – be it work related or a chore I really would rather not do, or even a diet, I would recall his words to me. About how becoming a quitter is a curse you set upon yourself. Tonight, I found myself the one handing out the canned speeches, the monologue of “what kind of life will you lead if you quit everything?” This speech is directed at my 6th grade daughter. Her spinning wheel is sports. She thought they’d be easy. She thought they’d be fun. And now, well, now she wants out.

How easily she must forget, it was just two weeks ago, she begged to quit basketball, just as her team was in the final week of the season. Now, she’s berating me with tales of how boring and hard wrestling is. Wrestling, the sport she begged to join. Just a week into practice, she says it’s too hard. Her coach is too stern. She’s not having fun. “But you made a commitment to your teammates,” I tell her. It is to no avail. She doesn’t care. She just wants to quit.

Speech after speech, question after question, she just pulled the covers higher over her shoulder, and rolled in bed away from me. I wasn’t giving her what she wanted. I told her to think about and I left her room.

I see now what my counselor was warning me about – a life filled with the easy way out. The road most traveled. He didn’t want that for me. And I certainly don’t want that for my daughter.

So, now what? What do I do? Let her quit? Let the quitter’s curse take root in her? I tell her about the scripture I have printed out and taped to my desk, “Do everything you do as if you were doing it for the Lord and not the people.” It has no impact on her. She can see no way of honoring God with her wrestling, just as I could find no way of honoring him with pottery, especially given the amount of profanities that typically streamed from my mouth as the unruly clay would fling off my wheel.

Molding another person’s character is a very difficult task. Lots of people quit that, too. But this is a responsibility that I will not falter on. Of this I am sure. What I don’t know, is what to say or do to convince my daughter that quitting is not an option.

My Life as a Taxi Cab Driver

No, I’m not adding a new line to my resume – but I might as well!

My two oldest school aged children have joined sports teams. “Ah, how cute!” you say. “Add that to their college applications,” you suggest. Yeah – it’s great. Until you look at my new schedule on paper.

Next week, for example, my daughter has a game in one town at 3:30 and my son’s game is at 5, in another town, 45 minutes away. Did I mention I don’t get off work until 5 – in yet another town? GAH!

How are you supposed to make it all work?

My girlfriend and I were just discussing scheduling this morning. It seems there’s always something. Every night, an activity. And at some point, you have to fit in homework and other little things like eating and sleeping and actually interacting with your child in a more meaningful way than just barking out the commands, “Get in the car! We’re late!”

Has life always been this stressful for every generation? I swear, as a kid, I went to school, did my homework, did the chores, played Barbies and maybe – just maybe – watched a half hour of TV on one of the five available channels. When did things get so complicated?

What’s your solution to life in overload? How do you get around without changing your title to Taxi Cab Driver?

 

 

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