Thursday, November 29, 2018

Spoiled Or Just Being Six?

If I could figure out how to put a face palm emoji in the title, it would be there.

I didn't mean to raise a spoiled little brat. In fact, it's the furthest from what I had envisioned for my children. I've tried my damnedest to make sure my children are well rounded with a good understanding of the world around them. Up until this point, I have refused to apologize for the life we've given our children. Yes, we're able to afford the things my children need and quite a bit of what they want. We can take vacations and time off of work without worry.

All my children have to say is, "mom I need..." and boom, it can be at our doorstep in two days (thanks Prime). They're treated to an endless supply of arts and crafts, new toys, treats, and more thanks to daycare. I've never really thought how that could be misconstrued by their little minds, but I truly believed that when I gave the message loud and clear that this was part of my job, they'd understand. And they do to a certain extent.

Honestly, my children are privileged and I realize that. I realize that with every long weekend they instantly think we're going on vacation. They've come to expect eating at restaurants on the weekend, trips to Target for things we "need," a shopping trip to Old Navy once in awhile, and all of the perks that owning an in-home daycare comes with (aka-trips to the toy store). For the most part, they're grateful for what they have and what we give them. They say thank you, and mean it, when we do something fun that requires us spending money. However, I've also become very aware that they don't fully grasp what privilege is and how it affects them.

It all started with Alexa. As in, our very friendly Amazon Echo Dot device that we have in multiple rooms of our home. We have programmed Alexa to turn on and off lights, to play our favorite music, to answer our odd questions, to tell us the news, and more. Some days she's my favorite "person" in our house. Inevitably the boys got one in their room over the summer and she begged for her own. I resisted at first as she's only six years old.

Then Miss Alexa in the boy's room started causing fights. The six year old would sneak into her brother's room and listen to music, then refuse to get out when they caught her. This resulted in ear shattering screaming and fights between the three of them. To avoid further ear damage, I ordered Elizabeth her very own Alexa.

For $20 Alexa showed up in the usual box and I set that box in Elizabeth's room to surprise her. She was ecstatic about "my very own Alexa for my room." She asked to open her. I said no, but eventually gave in and told her, "you may open up the box, but leave it in your room so we can set it up when I'm done working today." Simple enough directions. It gave her what she wanted, but in a way that I could be sure Alexa was safe. But Alexa wasn't safe. Two hours later, Elizabeth casually mentioned, "my Alexa doesn't have a cord so you're going to have to buy me one."

"What do you mean she doesn't have a cord? Alexa comes with a cord."

"No she didn't!" Elizabeth shot back. There might have been a little Veruca Salt stomping action at this point, but I was starting to feel my blood pressure rising by this point so I can't say for sure.

"Bring me the box and I'll show you."

"I can't. I don't have the box anymore." This is when the water works started (on Elizabeth's part, not mine yet). Thinking back on it, she probably realized she f*cked up, but she should know by now that tears don't work on me.

"What do you mean you don't have the box anymore? I told you you could open the box but to leave it in your room. Where's the box?" I questioned, as my voice began to raise.

"I took Alexa out and threw the box in the trash." 

"You what? Which trash?" Her snotty tone combined with her expectation of me to instantly come up with a new cord was making me see red. I fully realize she's six, but this six year old needed to check herself.

The next ten minutes were a blur of me digging through our kitchen trash which contained old food and dirty diapers. I produced bits and pieces of the box because she apparently thought ripping the box up to bits was a great idea. I finally found what I was looking for. The insert that contained a brand new cord for her brand new Alexa. I showed it to her. I resisted the urge to yell "told ya!" at my six year old, but the anger did pour out. At one point one of my daycare kids, because yes, in complete truth, there were still a few daycare kids left who were witness to the entire event, said, "ah, Ashlen, you're yelling at Elizabeth."

I do a decent job of keeping my cool during the days, even with my own children. However, I just couldn't with this. I had made a point of making a big deal that she, at only 6 years old, got to have an electronic device in her room (we're old school that way), that she had to take good care of it, etc. And she did the complete opposite of what I had asked of her. I couldn't hold back, especially when I stood holding the ruined cord with bits and pieces of green beans and water dripping from it.

Surely I had not raised children that expected luxuries such as having devices in their bedrooms and surely I had not raised children to just disregard their brand new things. Plus, since I was completely irate by this point, she put a box in the trash instead of recycling. What kind of heathen was I raising??!!? I was mad. Mad at her for blatantly disregarding anything I had said to her, including the simple instructions I gave her for opening the package. Mad at myself for raising a child who didn't really care that her cord went in the trash. Mom will just buy a new one, right?

I don't really know how to handle the situation. We spoke briefly about the event, but the real problem I have, the underlying issue, how do I make her not spoiled anymore? As I re-accounted the event to my husband, with tears in my eyes, I asked the question innocently enough. His response was, "she's only 6. She doesn't get stuff like that." He might as well have thrown that cord right back in the trash and asked me for a new one too.

No, no, she understood that she got a brand new "toy" that was just for her. She understood my directions and went against them. She understood that there was something she would need for this new "toy" and all she needed to do was ask for it. She understood that I would get it for her and it would just show up. I'm not sure how I feel about this situation, other than take her brand new, never used Alexa away for the time being.

It's not easy to admit one is raising spoiled brats, but am I? Do my children expect too much? Or are they just being six? If I could go back to the time when I debated what brand of formula to supplement with that would be great. That's much easier to deal with than teaching my children about privilege, spoiled brats, giving, and what to expect from life. Parenting Insert a thumbs up emoji here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

November Weekends

November seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. As usual, life got the best of me and I've failed at updating the blog. November was full of pizza movie nights (okay, only two), colder weather, birthday parties, time with family, and more. 

Friday night dance party, instrument practices, pizza, and movies. Those are my kind of Friday nights.

The programming committee (that I'm a part of) for the Museum came up with all of this! Which means I've been spending quite a few Saturday's at the Museum. I feel guilty for coming up with a bunch of ideas and not being there for them.

Elizabeth had dance practice every Saturday in November, so the boys were with me. We enjoyed our Saturday morning Caribou coffee stops.

We spent an afternoon at the Civic Center to see a Livewire production of The Ugly Duckling. It was awesome!

After the play, we let the minis run through the skywalk,, then we headed to The Hall for drinks, dinner, and time with friends.

Sunday mornings are for sleeping in...even if it's just for a little bit. On this particular Sunday, I was asleep in bed when Elizabeth tapped me awake, "mom, can you open these bubbles please?" (long pause as I open them half asleep) "and can I go outside and blow the bubbles? I don't really think you'd like them on your carpet or the other floor. I'll put boots on." I had to get out of bed for a picture of this: bubbles, boots, shorts and a tee on a rainy, 40 degree day. 

This lasted all of 6 minutes before she was right back in my face asking, "mom, can I blow bubbles in your bathtub please??? It'll wash off when you shower whenever you decide to shower." Brilliant and a slam at the same time.

The minis made forts in the boy's room. They made a giant pile of clothes to jump into from the bunk bed. Sometimes (or most of the time) I don't really care what they're doing as long as they're not fighting with each other!

So, we're not a totally vegan family, however, I am vegetarian and making a conscience effort to eat less animal products. Surprisingly, the minis have been on board with this as well (although, as the main meal prep person, they don't have much of a choice) and we have several favorite vegan recipes and treats. We tried this a few weeks ago and two of the minis (and myself) prefer this vegan mac to regular mac and cheese.

Friday nights usually find me at home in sweats. This Friday night I went to a craft show with my mom and sister. This is where I found the reusable sandwich bags and I instantly regretted not buying more!

The minis joined me at the Museum for a busy Saturday morning. We had just enough time after our shift to visit Santa (as a family!) before heading to a little friend's birthday party.

Birthday games, pizza, and running around (on top of a busy day) made for exhausted minis. I can't honestly remember what Hubs and I did for the night, but judging by the numerous pictures I took of the cats, I'm guessing we put on jammies and Netflix. 

November was birthday party month. The following day, we went to a birthday party for my Aunt Cindi. The minis played board games most of the day. Their favorite this month is Clue.

The minis are in charge of gift wrapping for all of these birthday parties. Just think, their wrapping skills are getting better (hard to believe, huh?). The ripped portion on the top makes me giggle because I had a gift card taped to it, but the oldest mini ripped it off and taped it inside of his card!

"O.M.G. mom, these pumpkin bars are so good. Why do yours taste different?" Probably because I make vegan pumpkin bars and these are the yummy ones!

We stopped at Michael's for craft supply shopping. The minis instantly spotted these and begged to get every color so they could be ready to go for next summer. These might be going in stockings for Christmas.

Our haul from Michael's and Dollar Tree. I didn't come home broke either!

Sunday nights are hard, especially when we've been busy all day/weekend. It's a rush to get everyone into bed at a decent hour, no one wants to listen, and there's only a certain amount of time to do get my to do list complete before the start of a new week. I've made a plan for our December weekends to have plenty of down time so there's no major breakdowns from any of us (Hubs and I are included in this).

Daycare by day, writer when I need an escape, and programming coordinator for the Des Moines Children's Museum by night. I've had to make a few late night trips to the Museum to drop off supplies for programming events I scheduled and forgot about. Someday, when I'm a grown up, I'll be organized. Or so I tell myself.

The weekend before Thanksgiving had us at dance practice all Saturday morning, errand running, and attending more birthday parties. The minis were rock stars and kept up with the craziness of the weekend. We also decided it was the perfect weekend to demolish the basement (don't ask me why because it will now be completely torn up until January). The highlight was eating Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for lunch and going to The Grinch movie with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Jenny.

"No mom, we have to take a picture because that's what you do!" Nevermind the sun directly in their eyes.

We love Trader Joe's soy chorizo and numerous other products. We bought a lot for our Thanksgiving meals, but I loved these chocolate ornaments. We had to test them out, but managed to save most of them for the Christmas tree.

I spy a little cat waiting for a bite. Spoiler kitty cat: is soy chorizo, not meat and it's spicy. Soon after this was taken, kitty cat would soon find this out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sometimes THEY'RE The Ones That Can't Let Go

A few nights ago I wrote about how the hardest part of parenting (for me, at least) is watching my kids grow up and not need me as much anymore (obviously there's some awesome benefits to this as well), but sometimes, sometimes they're the ones that can't let something go. Mostly this comes up when they're home from school on summer break and they just have to do the things we've done for years and years and years (Pizza Parlor Day, Ice Cream Shop Day, etc.) or at holidays when they remember a specific craft or activity we've done that they love.

I have a pile of toilet paper roll ghosts from Halloween the past four years. I'm over tp roll ghosts and Santa faces. Anyways, last week the minis overheard me talking about doing Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for daycare. To tell you the truth, it's one of my favorites and all of the kids love it too. So it doesn't surprise me that my minis remember it so well. Last year they cried because they missed out on it because of that important thing called school.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving celebration is not a good enough excuse to miss school. But they insisted on being present for the celebration. So Sunday lunch found me microwaving popcorn, pouring jelly beans onto their plates, and setting up a kiddie table (one that they're much too big for) in the living room. Just so they could have their Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

They also had a mini panic attack (see what I did there?) when I informed them I wasn't going to do a Thanksgiving Day Eve meal for daycare. I've been busy and didn't feel like cooking my usual full Thanksgiving meal the day before spending a full day celebrating with family. But their pleas and the look on their faces got the best of me. Yesterday and today I spent in the kitchen cooking and baking (and making food that I'll actually eat!). This resulted in a very full day for me and a day of nonstop fun with friends for them.

Our menu included: cinnamon Butter Braid, caramel rolls, vegan raspberry pies, maple glazed roasted carrots, brussel sprouts salad tossed in a Dijon dressing, mashed potatoes (made vegan style), rolls, and turkey. While the mashed potatoes boiled I was also referee for their flag football game.

 Two kids took the morning to make place cards for everyone. I thought it was adorable.

The set table

This was one of the traditions I was willing (and kinda happy) to let go, but the minis weren't having it. Despite being tired and a long list of things to do, I'm happy I took the time to do both of these things that they couldn't go without. I'm never sure when this might be the last one and quite honestly, as I type this sipping champagne to celebrate the holiday, I'm happy I did these without complaint. To the happy memory bank these two days go.