9/9/2017

Teaching Our Daughters About Relationships Parenting

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I remember my mother explaining to me the sort of man I should marry. “Leslie,” she said when I was around 12 years old and only just starting to look at boys curiously, “The sort of man that is good for marriage is one that has plants in his apartment, can’t dance well, and wears tassel shoes.”

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Breaking this down, I know she had good intentions. A man who keeps plants alive is caring and doesn’t shy away from responsibility (this could extend to dog, cat or hamster for that matter). A man who can’t dance well, as she explained, means he’s not a “player.” He’s not out picking up chicks at the clubs and he doesn’t think he is smooth and full of himself.

And that last one? Well, it was the late 80’s so her logic at the time was that he cared enough to be somewhat pulled together but not overly flashy. 

My daughter is almost 13 and it occurred to me the other day that I, too, have imparted a sort of “The type of person you want to be with” wisdom recently. 

8/3/2017

On Raising The Future, Or The Future Raising Me Parenting

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I found out a few months ago that my daughter identifies herself as bisexual, or more specifically, pansexual, but I had to look that up because I really don’t understand the difference. This information was secondary to the suicide threats and other information that flooded the front of the queue of New Things I’m Learning About My Daughter.

The beautiful thing about learning So Many New Things About My Daughter was that I could sit down with her at the table that day, iPad in hand, and look her in the eyes, all of her secrets now in my own mind and heart and still on the device between my hands and honestly tell her, “I’ve read everything you’ve said over the last few months and there is nothing here that makes me not love you. Now. Can we talk openly? Because I’m here and I’m not going anywhere and you’re not in trouble at all.”

That conversation took place on the Wednesday after we learned about her suicidal thoughts. That conversation took place on the day I will Never Regret My Words. That conversation took place on the day I started being a real parent, an honest mother, with a truthful relationship with one of the most beautiful human beings I’ve ever known.

Tonight as I watched In A Heart Beat she came down to give me a hug. Since The Day I Do Not Regret My Words, we have a mutual understanding; I know all of her shit and am here to give her a hug any time she need it. And she takes me up on this, knocking on the bathroom door when I’m trying to make-my-hair-pretend-to-be-young-again she will say shyly, “Oh, I just wanted a hug,” and I’ll tell her to hold on, one sec, and I’ll grab my robe and open the door because By God Woman, if you want a hug, a hug you get! It’s sort of a rule now. Sort of like how my mother said to never pass children selling lemonade without buying it, there are no hugs turned away when requested. Ever. Period. 

Tonight, though, she didn’t just need a hug. She was coming down because I was upset and she knew it. Like most children, my children don’t like to see their mother upset. This bothers me but I understand. I want to make it OK for any of us, all of us, at the same time or otherwise, to be upset. It’s OK to feel too much and to cry and to want to smash the living fuck out of the air because it’s suffocating your thoughts and sobs and stifling your spirit. But that wasn’t the lesson tonight. Tonight the lesson was more tender. 

6/7/2017

Three Weeks Later Parenting

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I don’t know about your children, but mine seem to have a very small memory for some things and an elephant-like memory for others. I look at them and wonder where this comes from but then I remember a conversation I had a few hours ago about something I’d completely forgotten while bitching about something I can’t let go of.

Let’s call this “Human.”

My children are quintessential human. Nobody tells you this when you’re pregnant and having dreams about birthing a taco. 

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They have their own emotions and perceptions and thoughts which are always wrong, and not looking at the bigger picture and so self focused, JEEZE, SERIOUSLY, like humans can be. Like I can be. So I try to empathize.

5/20/2017

Teenage depression, hope, and resources for suicidal ideation Parenting

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Before I go in to a long winded update, here are a few things to know immediately:

For parents: Call 9-1-1 if your teen has a plan for suicide and has a willingness to follow through and will not go with you to the ER. Do not be ashamed. None of the staff will fault you for this, in fact, they will hug you. It's ok. You're not alone. They're not alone. Ok? Ok. Now, I can let you know how our experience is, so long as everyone is safe. 

-------- Update from this post and all your wonderful replies. One week later. --------

Reaching out to The Internet can be a mixed bag. Sometimes you get coal and sometimes you get Ice Cream Sundaes with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Y’all provided some amazing ice cream when we most needed it. I can’t say thank you enough.

5/13/2017

A guide to parenting a suicidal teen Parenting

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When you left the hospital with your first born, you joked about how ridiculous it is they let you take this entire human home as if you have any clue what you’re doing. She seems so fragile compared to every car on the road between the hospital and home and HOW THE HELL LONG IS THIS DRIVE because it wasn’t nearly as long from the house to the hospital before.

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You all struggle to figure each other out. It takes time. There’s a lot of crying. Sometimes it’s even the baby.

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She grows and grows and becomes a spirited human that you marvel at. In many ways she’s stronger than you are. She teaches you about kindness and imagination. She grows and grows and becomes a young woman. In many ways she is braver than you are. She teaches you about friendships and my little pony and anime and how freeing dancing in the car is at stop lights. And then one day it changes.

5/9/2017

The Littlest Birds Sing The Prettiest Songs[1] Parenting

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He slammed against the large window and flew backwards in what I personified as frustration. “How did he get in?” I ask the table of strangers all working near me. “The front door,” a woman answers from the other end. We all laugh. Of course! He took the same way in as the rest of us.

Twenty minutes later I’m standing in the back near the bathroom. The bird flutters between windows, pecking at each and quizzically wondering how to get on the other side. I’m assuming he feels this way, at least. I recognize that feeling.

My own little bird has been feeling trapped. She’s trapped in a system. She came in the front door, like everyone else, and found herself in a box of glass windows made of expectations she didn’t know existed. Her free spirit that was such an asset before is a source of frustration and pain. She doesn’t fit in. She’s not set up for success here. She’s too young to know what options she has or that the world outside isn’t just an extension of this ridiculously cruel joke. She feels powerless to make a change so she slams against the glass window in frustration and backs away hurt and helpless. She’s lost her song and we aren’t sure what or how to help.

I watch as someone opens the back door where the bird is becoming more frantic as he searches for a way out. The lady smiles at me as I acknowledge the simple gesture. We are silent but we know this is the only solution for the increasingly manic bird. 

Earlier this week I sat down with my own bird and opened a door. I gave her a way out, a safe way out, an option or two. When she wanted to run away, I drove her to a new place. I let her flap her wings frantically to show her anger and frustration and then I let her know we would always open a door when she gets stuck. She doesn’t know that as big as her anger and frustration and hate is in her body, her body that can’t contain all this emotion and volatile energy, is equally met by the magnitude of love and space and acceptance that we can open on her behalf. 

5/3/2017

Inside Voice Balance Parenting

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Teachers or parents who work with, or have, pre-schoolers and Kindergartners use the term “Inside Voice.” It’s a vocabulary word you don’t normally hear at a business meeting where other terms like “Synergy" or "Tech Disruption” get tossed out as if they had actual meaning. Nobody ever says, “Let’s use our Inside Voices.” Although I think they probably should.

Parents and Teachers use this word, ironically, loudly in order to tell the child to stop yelling in the store/house/meeting/car/market/coffee shop. “USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE,” I may or may not have been caught yelling at the three year old who was singing Baby Beluga at Top Volume. 

Now that I have a near teenager and near double-digit dude, “Inside Voice” doesn’t come up as often. Sure they might be loud and rambunctious but “Inside Voices” and “Outside Voices” aren’t a thing. Now I can yell, “SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR LIKE TEN MINUTES,” and they will listen and comply immediately. (I’m kidding. I never use the F word with them.)  (I’m kidding again. I don’t know why I’m lying to make friends, y’all already know me.) They just laugh at me if I yell to shut up and continue on. 

I’m the model mother.

Lately, though, “Inside Voice” is taking on a new meaning. In the silent bliss that is the three minutes after the youngest gets on the bus for school and the house is completely silent, I heard myself whisper to nobody at all, “Use your Inside Voice.” I nearly startled myself with this idea, looking around half expecting to find a kindergarten teacher standing over me. “Use your Inside Voice,” I thought again. Interesting.

4/5/2017

My daughter is my hero ADHD Parenting

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I’ve been getting a lot of calls lately. I answer and hear a sniffing, shaky voice on the other side. It’s barely audible. It’s my daughter, reaching out from her adolescence, searching for some guidance. 

She is my hero.

Her world is beyond her now. Her confident and spontaneous childhood is being replaced by the expectations and uncertainty of puberty, of the public school system, of unspoken rituals. When she feels like she doesn’t know what to do, she calls me from school. Sometimes I don’t know what to do, either, so we breathe together. Sometimes we cry together. She is brave for calling, for being so vulnerable from the science room’s telephone. She is standing alone in the empty classroom, the tile cold and hard below her feet, the room dim from missing lights and the emptiness of first lunch, and she stands there holding the phone with two hands, alone, but not alone.

She is my hero.

When she is at home she is still our Lolo, the one who stormed in to our lives like a tornado, making everything fresh and new and uncertain. She’s the same girl who creates worlds and characters and imagery. She still leans in to her dad when we watch Dr. Who, still dances with me in the front of the car while I ferry us around, doing our best arm motions and head bobbing to the music.  She still plays with her brother, a small if decreasing portion of the day, where they coordinate minecraft tools and build houses across the street from each other.