Teachers

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 When I was younger I played school. My students where my stuffed animals and dolls, including my Cabbage Patch Kids. My teachers would give me left over worksheets at the end of the year and I would be entertained for the whole summer. My siblings were much younger then me so they could not be used as my students. My children are about 2 years apart, making the oldest and youngest about 4 years apart. A great combination to have a teacher and some students.

My son was called the dictator. His sisters hated that they had to play school with him. He would be fine for the first little bit and then WHAM the girls would giggle or not do what he instructed and he was the meanest teach that ever taught in the universe. He did provide lunch and did school photos as well. Eventually the girls learned to say NO when he asked them to play school. The rule at our house has always been if you start something you need to finish it.

The oldest girl, the one who is actually going to school to be a teacher now, was much kinder. However she gave harder work that her students struggled to do correctly. She also was able to get leftover papers from her teachers at the end of the school year and a few times got some retired library books, if I remember correctly.

Nobody played school when the youngest was the teacher. All she wanted to do was stuff about animals anyway. So when she played school she did so with her stuffed animals. I think she probably had the most fun. Her animals almost always listened to her and they didn’t talk back as much as real people did.

They all have grown and discovered other things about themselves. They have grown and become three entirely different people. They all are passionate about different things and they all love to tell others about what they love. I hope they each continue to share their loves with the world and educate others along the way. The best teachers are the ones who have the passion to share with others.

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Reflection

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Seeing myself in them is not one of my favorite things. They tend to pick up my worst habits and traits. Reacting before I think, speaking before I consider my audience and procrastinating. Straight forward, strong willed, passionate, with a small  tendency to be loud. They have picked up others along the way. Compassion, kindness, willingness to help others and integrity.

I am a reflection of my parents as well. More of an opposite reflection. Everything I disliked about my childhood and the way I was raised I changed. I hope that my children will also make changes when they raise their own children. I am aware of the mistakes I have made raising my children. There were many, I hope that they turn those into a positive experience in their future.

K is for Kanga

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K is for Kanga and her baby Roo. The only mother I remember in the 100 Acre Wood. She was a good mother not only to baby Roo but Tigger too. T I double grr. He played with Roo because they both liked to bounce and also seemed to have the most energy of everyone. My kids really liked Winnie the Pooh growing up. Especially my son. Winnie the Pooh inspired imagination and tricked little kids sometimes too. When my son was 17, about 4 years ago, he finally understood Kanga and her baby Roo were a play on Kangaroo. I am glad he finally figured it out 🙂


Death

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Death is something that happens all of the time. There is no hiding from it, no running and no bargaining. First you live and then you die. The end of anything can be seen as the death of everything. My children have seen death a lot more frequently than I would have liked. Depending on how you view things you may or may not agree on the importance of the death they have seen.

I love animals. All kinds, doesn’t matter if it is a mammal, amphibian or a reptile. Heck it could even be a bird. Growing up I was only allowed one cat for the longest time. Then we had some dogs and some other cats along the way. I felt deprived. Honestly I did. Guess who made up for that when she had children? Any guesses? Yep I sure did!! And I have absolutely NO regrets.

When me kids were younger we went to get a kitten. Just one for the three of them to share. Of course we came home with three. Those kittens soon grew into cats and on one of the visits to the vet one escaped and was never seen again. Then we had to move and find new homes for the other two cats. In about a year we tried for a different kind of pet. This time we did hamsters. Three fun little hamsters, little bundles of furry fun. I was not a fan of these guys. First of all they bite, second they are not very smart and third these guys did not use their hamster ball. I believe this was our first round with death and my children. One day someone was cleaning the cage and didn’t latch the cover correctly and one of the little escape artists got loose. We assume this one died. He was never found again. We know where he was a few times as we seen evidence of the chewed cords and small piles of chewed paper. Lucky for me hamsters do not live for ever. I am not even sure that my children noticed the other two were gone.

Flash forward a few more years and another set of cats. This time I can say the cats lived out happy lives and again the kids didn’t notice when they were gone. One disappeared, later found in a wood shed years later and the other was struck down by a school bus. Thankfully the neighbors seen what happened to our second cat and took care of him and let us know later. During this time there were some ferrets that the kids got to visit at their grandparents house. Sadly this was the first animal death that they probably remember. The brown ferret was not nice so they didn’t have a lot of interaction with it. Therefore they didn’t notice when it wasn’t there like they did the white ferret. The white ferret had an allergic reaction one day and come home from the vet in a box. There were tears and a funeral was planned.

Then came the third set of cats. Two orphaned babies whose mom died right after birth, my children did not know the mom cat. These little angels had to be bottle fed and cared for in every way. The kids were older and up to the challenge. These babies grew and then found a sister in my youngest daughter’s cat that she saved from her cousin. About three weeks later my oldest daughter was hanging out with her cat and her uncle went outside and her kitten tried to follow and the front door slammed into her. This was heartbreaking for my daughter and myself. There was nothing that could be done for the kitten and another funeral was planned.

My youngest daughter also faced a small animal tragedy when her rat passed away the day after Christmas. She loved this rat more than you can even imagine. Even more than she loves her cat that currently lives in the bathroom. She was between 6 and 7 and cried for days. She is 18 now and will still cry over her long lost rat, Ord.

All of these animal losses created conversations about heaven and hell and possible afterlives. They each have their own opinions now that they are older. Their own views on what they think happens after death. My views are different from theirs as well. At times those views and opinions clash into very loud family discussions. An outsider may think we need an intervention yet the reality is we just need space to communicate and share.

Four years and four months ago my children and I faced our biggest loss with death. My very young mother passed away after a month long stay in the hospital after a battle with many illnesses that had been plaguing her for over a year. Every treatment created a new set of problems health wise for her. We had to make a very hard family decision one I still wonder about sometimes in my darker hours of sadness. This death is the one that has had the most effect on their young lives and mine. Redefined who we are and who we want to be. Has turned their young minds and hearts toward their current beliefs. Gives them pause to make impactful decisions about their own lives.

My children now mark time by before and after the death of Nana. Even now, over four years later, the stars are not as bright, the water not as clear and the grass not as green. We keep on keeping on though. With each passing day we take the time to appreciate each other and work on making an impact in the world around us. Death is an end, but only for the person or thing that has died. Whether it is a person or animal that death has taken from us time keeps marching on and we need to find our rhythm again.

Abortion, Adult Content and Apologies

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Raising three children as a single parent has many challenges, successes and adventures. These challenges, successes and adventures also change year after year. Depending on the ages of the children and the circumstances we found ourselves in. Facing some of the hardest issues head on I was able to successfully navigate my little ones into adulthood.

One cold, sunny, winter afternoon I was driving my kids to rent some movies. My youngest daughter wanted something about animals, my older daughter wanted a princess movie and my son was hoping for a Scooby Doo movie he hadn’t already seen more than three times. There was the usual he touched me and she won’t scoot over whining going on and then suddenly the car went silent. Some how I had missed the THREE protesters standing on the corner of the Planned Parenthood building. Some how I was distracted for just a few seconds and missed the AWFUL posters my children, all under the age of 11, were now staring at. One of them asked a question of what are they doing, why are they holding posters with dead babies on them, why mom, why? I asked them not to look and then explained abortion to their young minds and hearts. My heart was broken for their lost innocence. Thank you Planned Parenthood Protesters for helping me teach my children about the ugliness that is in this world, and yes that includes the posters you were so kind to share with them.

Flash forward a couple of years and to another drive. This time it was on the way to school after a rushed morning of finding shoes, fixing wiggly socks and finding our other missing book. The kids pilled into the car and off we went. The previous day they had spent some time with their father. I don’t ask a lot of questions when they come home, really just did you have fun and are you hungry. So I never really know what they were doing during those visits. I now know where they stopped because one of them asked me about a building we drive by every day. A building that is in a commercial/industrial part of town. A small building with covered windows, nondescript door and only one sign perpendicular to the roof that says XXX. Apparently their top notch father stopped here the day before. He just needed to run a movie in, and they all waited in the car for a few minutes. More innocence robbed from my children thanks to a thoughtless adult.

Apologies on the other hand are something they have been learning about their whole lives. They have also learned the art of how to accept an apology versus just forgiving someone because it is the right thing to do. Just because you accept an apology does not mean you forgive the person that did you wrong. It also means if you hurt someone else and need to offer an apology that your apology may or many not be what helps. Don’t apologize because I said so instead apologize because you feel it is the right thing to do to make the current situation better. Don’t apologize because someone else has a different view point than you. Instead remind them that it is ok to be different.

Raising my children to adulthood has been my biggest challenge and the biggest reward as well. I look forward each day to see how they manage and succeed in adulthood and use the skills they learned growing up.

Adventures with ADHD

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A wide opportunity to drug your child into zombie land. A creative title to describe bad behavior. A parental excuse for lack luster parenting. A convenient label for doctors to diagnose something they just cannot pinpoint. Another reason the teacher is unable to educate any one student at any given time.

This all depends on where you fit into the equation. Are you the child or maybe an adult suffering from ADHD? Are you a family member of a person who has ADHD? Do you know anyone with this disorder? Are you a doctor? What is your expertise on this subject? Have you done any research?

I am an expert on my children, I assure you I have done the research. It is a REAL disorder and it is not a one size fits all disorder. I have THREE children and all three have some degree of this disorder. They all have had different treatments and have had different degrees of success with controlling their ADHD. I have seen the violent side effects of medications that do not work correctly and the outcome of medications that do not work at all no matter what the dosage is. The one and only time I felt we got a medication right the teachers started calling to provide their feed back on how my child was now a “zombie”.

Our first diagnosis came after a failed spelling test in 2nd grade. When I asked about why we failed I was told that the clock was ticking loudly and the kids in the hall were also loud when they walked by. Our second came after some testing for another disorder in kindergarten for my third child. This is also the child that was accused of being the “zombie”. The second child has never been on medication because it is controlled simply by behavior modification rather than medication and the diagnosis was a later teen discovery.

Today I have two children off medication and one on. Time did help my children learn ways to cope without medication. They did not become suddenly cured because they got older and found ways to “behave”, instead they got older and learned ways to help themselves focus and stay on task. Not everyday is a success because sometimes impulses win over reason. We are lucky enough these days that our successful days out number our impulse days.