Parenting Rights

One of the things that I refuse to apologize for is how I choose to raise my son. I don’t think anyone starts off trying to be a bad parent (okay, most people don’t). However, for the sake of this argument we will say that many of you are good working people that love your children and you’re trying to do the best that you can in order to raise them to become independent and productive citizens. Do we make mistakes? Absolutely.

No one is perfect. We try things with our children. Some things work. Others need to be modified and some just don’t work. That’s why it requires us to keep working at it. To keep parenting. However, your fundamental right as a parent is that you can choose how to raise your children however you want.

Here are some things that people may question you on:

  • TV/Computer time – Researchers say you should limit the amount of screen time. I think it’s something like 30 minutes a day. Umm, I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. Munch gets about 30 minutes in the morning while he’s eating breakfast to watch his Ipad. He gets additional time after we finish homework and dinner. It is probably an 1.5 hours. So, he gets about 1.5 to 2 hours a day during the week. He watches cartoons only so I’m not concerned about the screen time. We read during homework time each day so he’s not behind. In fact they told us that Munch reads above grade level. Not surprised. His dad and I did so it’s not a big deal. He likes the Ipad, but if he acts up, it is taken away along with television and he truly misses it. No time out or no spanking. We take away what he loves most. Note: Find what works for you.
  • Multiple activities – When he was younger, I put him in activities that I thought he would enjoy. He was a toddler. He didn’t know what he would like. As he grew older, he decided that he hated Tae Kwan Do and didn’t want to do it anymore. So, we stopped. Munch made the decision that the only activities that he would like to do are: swim lessons, guitar lessons and soccer in the Spring. No fall soccer. We let him decide and we tend to stick to the schedule he wants. So, nope I’m not over-scheduling my son. Note:  Let your children lead you with this one.
  • Sleep time – The recommended amount of sleep time for Munch is 10-11 hours. Can I tell you that he never slept that long unless he’s sick and on sleep medication or truly exhausted? That has been a total of 4 times in his 8 years on this Earth. Because I get him home from school around 6:15 pm, he’s eating dinner between 6:45 and 7:00 pm. We then do homework from 7:30 pm to 8:30 – 8:45 pm. We do bath and play time before shutting it down. Munch will get one hour where he’ll watch his TV and sit and draw characters from his Ipad. Lights out at 10pm. He sleeps until 6:45 am. He sleeps between 8 and 9 hours. It depends on him. Note:  As long as he’s not falling asleep in class, he’ll be fine.

My point is this…you do the best that you can. You find what works for your children and you adjust as necessary. Don’t stress yourself that you’re not following the expert’s recommendations. As long as your children are happy, healthy and thriving and you’re doing your best focus on that. Allow your children to lead you into their interests. We’ve got this parenting thing!

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

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Woohoo! USA, USA, USA

After an exhausting night trying to watch swimming and gymnastics, I realized that I can’t hang. I’m too old. I have to work in the morning. I didn’t get to see all my favorites perform last night in all their sets, but I did stay up until about 11pm.

I am ecstatic this morning. I’m not a big Olympics fan, however, I will watch swimming (men and women’s), gymnastics, boxing and some track and field. I was glued to the TV last night watching the women of the USA team compete in gymnastics.  Then they gave me swim and I got to watch Michael Phelps kick butt.

This morning I caught recaps of the performances, read the posts and smiled. I am excited for the people that I wanted to win. I’m excited that Team USA cinched gold yet again. How awesome is that?

Here’s to Team USA.

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Disclaimer: I own no rights to these photos. A Google search was performed.

Random Rumblings – 7/6/2016

My life is good right now. I’m happy. I’m so ecstatic at where God has me at this season in my life that I can’t begin to explain the giddiness I feel when I open my eyes each day. This journey is both scary and exciting and I’m just allowing God to use me. Use me where he wants me to be.

My Munch is good. His soccer team finished third this season and he got his soccer trophy on July 4th during a rainy ceremony. He was happy. The rain didn’t bother him. LOL! To be young and not have to worry about your hair. I am happy that it is over. He is enjoying the summer having finished a STEM camp where he LOVED being there. It was $20.00 for 5 full days of learning and exploring STEM. I couldn’t believe that he would have enjoyed it so much. I’m now pressuring my mom to get one started at my church.

Munch and I attended the Universoul Circus at the National Harbor last week and although he was a little reluctant to go, he loved it. He had so much fun. He was dancing, singing, making me pay for everything he had his mind on. It was hilarious. But, the look of pure excitement was worth the $80.00 for face painting, pony ride, food, a light saber, pictures and parking.

I just started a new job so we’re not taking any vacations until September when we head home to Tennessee. I hadn’t been home in almost a year so I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and just enjoying the moment. We have a lot of in town activities and I’m taking him to a couple of amusement parks and the beach. No week-long trip, but some quality time spent playing in the sand and making memories together.

About my new job…I LOVE IT!

Yes, I really do. My team is awesome, my boss is awesome, my office is awesome. Awesomeness all around. I know it’s still new and shiny, but I’m thankful for the opportunity and just embracing the changes. I’ve already had my first one-on-one with everyone and my first staff meeting is scheduled today. Whew! I’m excited.

My dating life is good. Mr. C is still hanging in there. LOL. I think it’s mutual. What I love is that we meet each other in the space where we can have intelligent conversations that don’t offend. I like that. We’re adult. We disagree and we aren’t disrespectful with each other when we don’t see eye to eye. He’s inspiring me to be better. To grow in uncomfortable spaces and spread my wings. He sent flowers to my job last week and I was surprised. The reason “Just Because”. How sweet is that?

Finally, my life is still good even though I got into another car accident last week. Can you believe it? Yes, another one. A woman side swiped me as I was meeting Mr. C for breakfast. He was on the scene in less than 5 minutes trying to comfort and encourage me. She had just gotten car insurance and her license and spoke no English. But, she was very apologetic and admitted to her insurance company that she was at fault. Immediately.

I was impressed and thankful for her honesty and we’re both okay. Thankfully. I have damage to my car (which I’m trying to pay off and trade-in because it is bad luck apparently) but I’m still good.

That’s all folks. How’ve you been?

Second Grade: We’re in the Big Leagues

Last week I attended Back to School Night at munch’s school and I realized that second grade is the big leagues. Why? Because that’s when more homework happens. Munch is in a French Immersion school so not only does he have his regular french curriculum this year he is now taking Reading Language and Arts everyday so that they can make sure that he is reading in English so that he can take his standardized testing.

Wow! Lots of work. This is also the year in which he will get “real” letter grades to let us know how he is truly doing. I have to be honest though…I’m kinda scared. Why? Because many people don’t realize that munch is the type of child that you have to explain the big picture and end result too. You have to let him know why you’re doing something or he won’t do it.

Feel my frustration and anxiety yet? I have faith that he will be successful and that it will all go good, but I am anxious. One thing that I’m neurotic about is making sure that his homework is done and that I review what he did in after care. If it is not accurate, I erase and make him do it again. His dad just lets it go sometimes. At least that is what he did last year. So, I called his dad last night and explained that “We have to make sure that we are checking the School Max portal weekly and that we are reviewing his homework for accuracy and recognizing his strengths and/or weaknesses so that we can get him help.” He said, “Okay”. I said, “This is in addition to his regular homework from his teacher that we have to stay on top of it.” “Okay” he replied. I sighed. “Thank you for listening and I will send you a copy of the paperwork I got from the teachers.”

Munch is 7. He will have approximately 6 hours of homework a week. He takes Tae Kwan Do 3 times a week and swimming once a week. I’m wondering if this is too much. I want him to be a success in school, but I want him to find that work-life integration that we adults try to find. Fun and work. I want that integration to start now. I can’t think that he can be successful if I cut out all of his activities, but I don’t want him to feel like he’s overloaded. I choose two activities that are on him. Not a team sport. An individual sport.

Second grade is hard. French is hard. Parenting is hard. However, I am going to be optimistic and claim that he will have a successful second grade year no matter what. I have too because this kid right here….

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Deserves every bit of success.

Ah, the joys of parenting!

More BBQ, Soccer and the Dang Heat

So, munch had his soccer BBQ to honor those who participated in Spring Soccer last week and it was hot. The humidity felt oppressive and I almost died from heat exhaustion. Okay, maybe not but you get the picture right? It was hot. Dang June in Maryland.

Munch was more concerned about the moon bounce than the heat and was drenched. They ran out of water which made me mad, but thankfully my girlfriend’s husband went and got us some. Crisis averted!

Some parents were out there playing soccer with their kids, but since it was too hot and I’m too old, I just sat in my chair watching munch in the moon bounce. He really isn’t into sports when it comes to a moon bounce. Moon bounces will win every time. I’m not sure about fall soccer, but we will see.

The coach gave a brief intro about each player and when he introduced munch he said, “This player is more concerned about having fun and will always ask me at the end of each game or practice, Coach how did I do today.”
I knew he was referring to munch and I laughed. My baby has no competitive spirit. His spirit is about fun. Oh well!

Here are some photos from this season including his soccer trophy:

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Third Times a Charm

Last week munch took his swim test and unfortunately he failed again. Now, munch is in Youth Level 3 swim class at the local swim center and he can’t seem to get it together. This was his second attempt at swim and he missed more things on the swim card than last time.

When he climbed out the pool and ran over with his card, I already knew he had failed. How could I have known? Well, he couldn’t tread water for one minute. He was exhausted and had to stop twice. He couldn’t tread water and then do the breaststroke for 25 yards. It was like watching the first day of Level 1 swim class. He was struggling. He was out of breath.

But, I’m a good mommy. I kept putting my thumbs up and smiling every time he looked over at me. Why? Because he’s six and he needs my encouragement and support to not give up. He’s not crying (there was actually a little boy crying). He’s not acting like he’s going to drown (yep, this little girl refused to jump in because she was too afraid) and most importantly, he’s not giving up.

So, when I told him that he failed and would have to take it again, he started to cry. I said, “Munch, third time is a charm. We will get this. It’s not a race. You just have to develop your technique to move to the next level.” Lots of kisses to his face and I knew he would be fine.

Later though, I realized that it was probably my fault that he failed too. I fixed him a big breakfast 3 hours before class (hey, he said he was hungry) and when he took off his sweats and stood by the pool, I noticed that his belly was distended. More than normal. He looked like a starving child in a third world country. Ugh, no wonder he was exhausted. His belly was weighing him down.

Lesson learned.

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Not Munch’s actual stomach. This is a dramatization.

 

A Great Man

Our life’s journey is about the people that touch us – Stuart Scott

I’m not a sports fan. I don’t get into sports. But I’ve always been around sports. My brother is a sports fan. My ex is a sports fan and apparently every man I know likes sports. So, I know some things about sports (although reluctantly). I know what ESPN is. I know who Stuart Scott was and I am saddened by his death.

Stuart Scott died earlier this week on January 4th when he lost his battle to cancer. He was 49. He was an incredible sports anchor, a father, a son and a brother. Many other roles would describe this man. Too many to name, but know that he was a cool dude by many standards.

I  remember the first time I heard him say his signature “Boo- Yah” and almost died. I never knew people talked like that on television. I was witnessing a trailblazer. He was that man who had “swag” whether it be from anchoring at the desk or in his interviews. He was a rarity.

So, when I decided I wanted to write this piece to honor a great man it came as a surprise to me to learn so many things about Stuart Scott. ESPN did a great job. Thanks to the internet you can see old interviews, research his history and review photos of Stuart’s life. He loved ESPN and ESPN undoubtedly loved him which is what I read in an article written by Steve Wulf that..

“He was a trailblazer,” says ESPN anchor Stan Verrett, “not only because he was black — obviously black — but because of his style, his demeanor, his presentation. He did not shy away from the fact that he was a black man, and that allowed the rest of us who came along to just be ourselves.”

“Yes, he brought hip-hop into the conversation,” says Harris, “but I would go further than that. He brought in the barber shop, the church, R&B, soul music. Soul, period.”

Amazing huh? How many journalists can you name that are as smooth as he and can weave hip-hop and barbershop into an interview?  This man was brilliant. A man whose legacy will forever live on. He is worthy to be remembered, studied and included in our history books because he changed the game. Not just in sports, but in journalism as well.

His ESPY speech brought tears to my eyes. Stuart Scott reminded us that…

“When you die it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live. So live.”

That message is for everyone and not just those with cancer. Understanding that your life has purpose. Regardless of the time you may spend on this earth. Know that like Scott says “how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live” are important.

RIP Stuart Scott.

To check out his ESPY speech watch the video below:

5 Things Having a Boy Taught Me

I read this article entitled “11 Things Only Parents of Boys Understand” and smiled. Some of the things were definitely similar and relatable, but others I’m sure I will experience as Brennan ages. But, that list got me to think what things have I learned since having a boy? What are tips that I could share to other parents to prepare them? Have I learned anything or am I surprised by some of the things I’ve learned?

So, before we begin you must understand this…I never wanted children and when I did get pregnant, I knew it was a boy. I never doubted it. I didn’t need a girl, my sister already had a girl so a boy to love me unconditionally was perfect. My mom warned, “You could have a son that could be a daddy’s boy”. I scoffed and said, “Get real, he will adore his mother.” And you know what? He does. Now, he loves his daddy, but our bond is super strong and I love him more than I thought I could ever love someone.

His Hugs & Kisses Improve My Spirit

Whenever I feel overwhelmed with life or work, I just look to him to wrap his arms around me, kiss my cheek and say “Mommy, I love you.” It makes me smile and I begin to feel better. He is the best comforter I could ask for. Small in stature, but a big heart that beams with his love for me. Last year, I was going through an emotional rollercoaster and my son was the anchor that kept me together. I would literally have breakdowns and fall out on the floor and my son would come over and kiss me and hug me and say, “Mommy, I will protect you.” Not his job, but knowing that he was willing to protect me when I felt helpless improved my spirit and helped me to realize that I needed to get “a grip” because I am the adult and I need to be healthy and functioning for him.
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He Can Rationalize Anything

Brennan has always known his own mind and can rationalize any situation. Doesn’t mean that I agree with his rationalization, but I’m always impressed with how his mind works. Here’s an example: A couple of weeks ago his school had “Lockdown Drill” and he was telling me how he was the best hider and you have to be really quiet and hide so that no one knows you’re in the classroom or they may come in. I was mortified. I cried and his dad tried to calm me down saying “It’s okay. It’s the times we live in.” I was still hurt that my baby had to be taught that after the increased school shootings. He’s only six. The next night when I called him at his dad’s he said “Mommy, I need to talk to you about something.” I replied, “Okay, munch. What’s going on?” He said, “Mommy, daddy told me that you were sad yesterday when I was telling you about lockdown at school.” I said, “Yeah, I was kind of sad.” He said, “Mommy, you don’t need to be sad. Remember on Sunday when we were going to church and I saw that man get arrested and I said I hope I never get arrested and you said, you won’t because even if mommy and daddy are not there to protect you, God is always with you and he will protect you.” I replied, “Yeah baby. I remember.” He said, “Well mommy, I wasn’t scared. God was with me and he was protecting me like you said.” I just cried and thanked God for allowing me to be the vessel to carry this beautiful boy.
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His Aim May Never Improve

It’s true. Brennan can’t pee standing up without getting any on the toilet. It’s hilarious. I’m like dude, “I need you to work on your aim”. I know it takes practice and there are even some men who can’t get it in the bowl, so I’m not that hard on him. I just take the Clorox wipes and clean up the mess. Is it the end of the world? Nope. Do I actually sit on a wet seat if I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom? Yep. You get used to it.

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 He May Never Be All Star

One of the reasons I constantly put Brennan in sports is not because I want an all star athlete. I want a healthy child. I figure with one day of Physical Education a week, he really needs to get active. So, I put him in sports. He’s taken swim, soccer, T-Ball, basketball and Tae Kwan Do. Basketball and T-ball were an adventure. He never got the hang of dribbling the ball. He would pick it up and run around the court hoping the other players would tag him to try to get the ball. He liked tag. Basketball, not so much. His adventure with T-Ball was hilarious. He literally refused to play, practice or do anything other than sit on the bleachers next to me and his dad. When the coach would ask “Who wants to go up and bat?” He would raise his hand and run out with the other children. He would hit the ball and sit back down. Yeah, that was fun. How about soccer? The very first day of practice he begins to dribble the ball down the field and after 10 minutes grabs his soccer ball and walks over to the bleachers where his dad and I are sitting to announce…”Mommy, Daddy? Can we leave now? I’m no good at this?” We stared at him in shock and said, “No, practice hasn’t even started.” By the end of the season though he improved dramatically, it was his attitude changing that impressed me the most. So, soccer, Tae Kwan Do and swimming are it for now. He enjoys those sports.

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Jake from The Neverland Pirates is the Coolest

Yep, he loves Jake. According to Brennan, Jake is his best friend. He’s smart, has friends and has cool hair. Jake always gets the gold da blooms and defeats Captain Hook. Bored yet? I learn so much about cartoons and how my son’s character is developing because of his love for his favorite television show. He was Jake last year for Halloween and I still can’t get the sound of my niece and nephew laughing at his wig that came with the costume. She asked, “Is Brennan wearing a weave?” Nope, it’s a wig. He even made his real best friend Lauren be Princess Sophia for Halloween. When my best friend asked me to take her son trick or treating because she would be out of town and told me that her son wanted to be a pirate, I was concerned that Brennan would be upset. She said, “Don’t worry, his pirate costume is less flashy than Jake’s. He’s more authentic looking.” What? Yep, Jake doesn’t really look like the pirates in the movie. He even has a Jake book bag, lunch box, pajamas, swimsuit, towel and jacket. Not including the toys, books and action figures. Jake will rule your house!

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He Will Get Dirty & Sick

When I was younger, my best friend and I would say that we would grow up, get married and live next door to each other. Our children would grow up to be best friends like us. I would say, “Only mine will be in bubbles because I don’t want them to get sick or dirty.” She teased me for years. When I first had Brennan he had a wardrobe when he was still in my womb. Whites, creams and pale blues were optimal colors. Nothing was to light because he wouldn’t get dirty. I was too naive. The minute he couldn’t digest the formula and we went on a hunt for something that he didn’t hate was a wake up call. Formula stains don’t come out of a white Ralph Lauren romper. And surprisingly neither does a bowel movement from an exploding diaper. I had to realize it and just say I will buy him what I want and be okay if it comes out the wash looking dingy. I exhaled. But, sickness was something I wasn’t prepared for. It broke my heart when my baby boy needed a breathing machine because of all his respiratory infections at 8 months old. What about when he got bronchitis, got diagnosed with seizures and got swine flu? Yep, he was a sickly child and I had to accept the fact that kids (especially those in daycares) will get sick. It’s life. You just comfort and take care of them, use  your sick leave and thank God that you had the good sense to have a job where you have sick leave.


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I think that’s it. It’s hilarious how quickly they grow up and boys teach you so much about yourself. I’m looking forward to learning more lessons being with Brennan in cub scouts, a team mom and an officer in his PTSA. It’s an adventure with many trying times, but I promise you that you will love every moment of it.