Tag Archives: kids

The Volcano in my Heart

Okay, now I fully acknowledge that the story I’m about to relate to you is flagrantly insignificant in relation to events that occur around the world on a daily basis.

But part of the reason I’m sharing it is because I feel like these sorts of momentary, insignificant episodes, to which I too often respond badly, are contaminating my life with negativity. I want to let go of the anger in my heart, and not let it erupt in such awful ways, but then things like this happen, and before I know it I’m far too enthusiastically expressing my disapproval.

Remember how completely awesome (and around my childhood home, fairly rare) those cardboard tubes are that hold the wrapping paper? Well, yesterday my husband produced two of them by wrapping up birthday presents for our oldest. These tubes were smaller in diameter than usual and extra thick, rendering them quite sturdy. As a child I would have incorporated them into my play for at least a week, then hoarded it in my closet for years, occasionally pulling them out to use in some new and creative way (I was an only child until I was 13. Which helps explain why all of the sibling conflict I see between my children on a daily basis makes absolutely no sense to me.)

Our youngest, age 2 -1/2, asked me if she could have them.  I said yes. She played with them for about 15 to 20 minutes, even taking them outside, using them like ski poles, looking through them, tapping things, etc. Having a grand time.

At one point after she’d come inside and was still blissfully engaged in tubular play, our 5 year old son comes in. He asks her if he can have one. She, adoring him like a loyal subject does its king, immediately obliged. He proceeded to bash it into walls, chairs, the floor, and within 30 seconds it had broken in half. He abandoned it and asked her for the other one. Without hesitating she handed it over. He begins to bash the second one.

Enter a crazy, psychotic, raving lunatic, AKA their mother. Shrieking like a demon fresh from the underworld, I grab the still intact tube from him and howl about how he had just ruined everything for her.

Later, as I pondered it, of course he’s 5. It’s his personality to destroy everything in sight (PLEASE don’t tell me “He’s a boy” because there are boys who don’t destroy everything and girls who do. So just please don’t even go there. I won’t be able to hear anything else you say if you do because I’ll just figure you’re a genderist who assumes every single thing depends on genitals.)

But at the time, I was reacting to the horror of what I was seeing, the wanton wastefulness! The gratuitous injustice! The unthinkable evil of taking advantage of a person littler than you who worships the ground you walk on!

Absurd, I know. In the grand scheme of waste, injustice and evil, this wouldn’t even be let in the door. The Judge of all Horror would laugh and tell this incident to run along and play.

And why couldn’t I have just walked up calmly and said, “Dude, really? Give her back that one so she can keep playing. You got your share and now it’s destroyed,” or something similarly chill and wise.

If I could just stay up on the mountain in my mind’s eye, where everything appears to fit into the context of reality, and nothing is blown up bigger than it really is… Can a person live like that? And would it help, or would it just generate new problems?

Because I know that leaving my perspective down in the trenches of nitty gritty daily detail, where the bullets fly past my ears and the muddy bloody walls appear to be closing in, turns me into a very angry, overwhelmed individual that I don’t want to be. Down there, I feel like my only recourse is to explode out of the trench, gun blazing. That’s no way to live, and no way to parent.

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Pseudonyms for the young’uns

There seem to be two types of blogger parents on the internet: those who use pseudonyms for their kids, and those who don’t.

I think the only problem I have with the pseudonymers is that they inspire me to thoughtful reflections such as: Oh crap, are my kids in mortal danger because I’ve used their first names on the internet???!!!

Hope no one learns my secret identity!

Hope no one learns my secret identity!

My father is really big on privacy. This adds to my general paranoia. “Never tell anybody anything ever about anything! Less than that, if possible!” is the philosophy he raised me on. And this is BEFORE widespread use of the internet. This is just your average run of the mill caveman safety protocol, as far as he’s concerned. “What’s my name? None of your g.d. freakin’ business, you weirdo pervert! Jerk! Get away from me!”

And then I go ahead and say things like, “And Hank, age 4, dug a tunnel across our property line to bury and detonate secret fire crackers.” Or whatever crazy thing he’s done lately.  “Gwen, age 2, has stolen the neighbor’s gnome and has repainted its nose a flaming purple after removing its ears.”

I hear sirens at this very moment.

No one will ever recognize me in these shades!

No one will ever recognize me in these shades!

And the pseudonyms that bloggers use are always so painfully cutely adorable. “Munchkin scrumpkin jolly baby squid” or some such. Good lord, I already came up with names for these people, do I have to do it again?

Do these pseudonymers think that DSS or CPS, or whatever acronym the Child Police are using these days, has access to their blog? Because if this is true, I guess I’m genuinely screwed.

“Olivia, age 9, lined up Daddy’s beer cans on the fence so she and her friends could bet pennies on who could knock down the most by throwing empty shotgun shells at them.”

Why is the phone ringing?

Olivia is reduced to wearing a disguise to protect what's left of her privacy...

And if the kids hate that I’ve been talking about them and revealing their secret superhero identity, they can always change their names.

Like I did. Like my husband did.

Like my oldest did.

Names are a dime a dozen. My little petunia fluffy bunny nut.

The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent.

(Oh, crap, I forgot to change the names, didn’t I? “Go see who’s at the door, uber-cutey-love!”)

"Who's that trip-trappin' over my bridge?" Garth in battle helmet guards the family estate

Another Artist in the Family

I don’t know what it is about kids’ drawings. There are times I feel like I’ve been shown the answer to something terribly important, and I just have to remember the question.

Drawing by Gwen, 2.5 years old

My eyes try to make out the image, like a distant shape through the fog of my muddled brain. Like a muffled call through the chaos of my preconceptions. There’s definitely something there.

Live For This

A Kiss Amidst the Chaos

Two Beauties, No Beast

Cooler Than Thou, But Still My Baby

Night Nursing = Cavities?

Baby Girl has two cavities. Of all my five kids, only one other kid has ever had a cavity (knock wood!) and she got it when she was about 6 years old. And this is counting a 19 year old, a 15 year old, a 9 year old, a 4 year old and Baby Girl at 2 and a half years old. So, that’s a lot of years of potential cavities.

When I was about 4 months pregnant with Baby Girl I broke my wrist. I’d also been breastfeeding Hank, who was almost 2 at the time, so I was wondering if maybe Baby Girl didn’t get a whole lot of calcium with that kind of situation.

And like a moron, I asked the dentist his opinion. Nice guy. Friendly, young, approachable, listens intently.

“Oh no,” he assured me. “That wouldn’t have anything to do with it.”

Then he raised an eyebrow. “Did you breastfeed?” After I confirmed this and added, “Still am,” he nodded knowingly.

“It’s those night nursings. I see it all the time in breastfed kids. Very common.”

“Didn’t happen with the other four,” I pointed out.

“They got lucky,” he said.

So, if night nursing causing cavities was a COMMON thing, then wouldn’t FOUR of them have suffered from it, and just the ONE have gotten lucky???

Sounds to me like the others experienced a normal eating/tooth health situation, and poor baby girl got unlucky.

But what the hell do I know.

Dark Days of the Soul

I’m passing through the shadows. It’s really damn dark and lonely in here.

This isn’t how my life was supposed to be. If I’d known, when I decided to throw myself body and soul into mothering five children, that I would fail so often and so profoundly to help them find joy in life, that they would all be so frequently miserable, full of conflict, anger, disgust, resistance to any good thing, would I have carried on?

Nothing else I’ve ever done has even come close to being as rewarding as being a Mama. So if that vocation is such a pit of misery for everyone involved, then nothing else would be worth it either.

The only logical alternative is oblivion.

I open the book The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh. In it he writes:

Even if we are in pain, if we can see meaning in our life, we will have energy and joy. Energy is not the result of good health alone or the wish to achieve some goal — material or spiritual. It is a result of feeling some meaning to our life.

But what does it all mean?

I’ve always identified too well with the existentialists. I’ve always been able to see much too clearly how none of this has any rhyme or reason. All the explanations of some jealous, angry higher power torturing us into being so afraid that we will do anything to avoid even more torment in hell’s eternity… I’m certainly not going with that brilliant philosophy.

What does it mean?

Does it mean we prove how tough we are to just plod along, even when everyone around us hates everything and wishes we were dead, out loud, several times a day?

Is it worth all the misery for those couple of minutes a day when the kids get along and share a giggle?

Cuz here’s what it seems to boil down to: It sucks being alive. It’s hard, frustrating, at times agonizing, frightening, a constant, relentless struggle with someone or something. Even the richest, most spoiled brats in the world are still heavy with misery over some kind of drama, lacking, addiction, pain, sorrow. None of us escapes it.

What does that mean? What significance could it possibly have for people to carry on, slashing and smashing as best they can through the jungle of every day life?

I feel like if I could just get the point, I could be a better person, and relieve the suffering of those around me just a bit.

But instead of relieving suffering, I have actually created five new people with the infinite capacity to experience horrific misery.

I remember when my first was born, the thought occurred to me, I’ve given birth, and I’ve given death. I’ve just condemned an innocent soul to death. Hopefully not soon, hopefully not painful, hopefully in her sleep after many years of blissful existence. But nevertheless, however it happens, it was because of my choices.

No wonder people want to put off the responsibility on some higher power, who has the “Plan,” and they are just hopeless pawns in “his” game, trying desperately to follow “his” rules in order to escape punishment for the terrible shortcomings that “he” bestowed upon them.

Is that what it means? I have demonstrated my awesome ability to confer life and death, and now what? I’ve tried to be an example of enjoying good food, nature, books, ideas, enjoying the company of loving, creative people, and it works for a little while. But then they get bigger and their attitude becomes, screw you old lady, and the horse you rode in on. Get your lameness and cluelessness the hell away from me!

Ah, good times.

I want to be a beacon of light. My name, “Elena,” is a form of “Helen,” which means “torch.” The whole purpose of a torch is to be a tool to light the way. You don’t lead someone, and I don’t feel like a leader, you just keep burning and allow them to use you to lead themselves, shining your light as best you can.

But in this dark time, when all the air has been sucked out of my atmosphere, my little flame struggles and flickers and gasps for some kind of fuel to consume. Some kind of meaning to allow me to burn on.

Accomplishments

It’s one of those days where I wake up desperate to actually get something done. I want to dig in, work hard, and at the end, feel as though I’ve done something that matters.

Ain’t gonna happen. I can’t even finish a sentence around here, much less an entire project.

I couldn’t even get a shower yet today.

I couldn’t even get up on time, because my husband had, Oops! reset the time. So the kids missed their buses.

Writing a blog post is one tiny thing I do every day to feel like I’ve done something. So far, during this little amount I’ve written, I’ve had to get up FOUR TIMES to attend to Baby Girl hollering “Mama!” from the other room. Even though I set her up with chocolate milk and gave her carte blanche to scribble on my new phone book. Or rip it, or eat it, but for god’s sake just let me get through one sentence!

So you can see why I am less than hopeful about getting anything at all done, yet again.

But when you see that face… I suppose that makes me feel accomplished. I made that unfathomably absurd cuteness!

Don’t know how many years I can ride on the coattails of that particular accomplishment, but maybe it will get me through one more day.