Laugh at Yourself

Tuesday morning started the way pretty much every morning begins in my home. The iPad alarm went off at 5:30am. I hit snooze repeatedly until I eventually dragged myself out of bed at 6:15am, reminding myself that I have to go to bed earlier the night before.

Doing loads of laundry, a sink full of dishes, preparing dinner, putting a toddler to bed, looking over a few work documents, paying a couple of bills, and checking homework all in the evening somehow never add up to me going to bed at 10pm like I aspire to do.

Either way, I dragged myself out of bed, walked in the room to make sure the boys were awake, then I shuffled back to my room to get myself dressed. At 7am I made my way into my Beanie’s room. She was already sitting up on her bed ready to start the day. Seeing her little 3-year old “just-woke up smile” always takes the place of a cup of coffee, which works for me, since I don’t drink coffee. I just love that little face! As I begin to pull out her clothing for the day, her smile grows wider as she notices that I picked a new dress that she has never worn before. She loves her tights and dresses. As I help her to dress herself, she can hardly speak clearly because her excitement over her dress is just too big. But from what I could make out, she is speaking of her plans to show Daddy her brand new dress. Once she is fully clothed, I then attempt to put her school shirt on her. It’s a cute little blue number that the children are required to wear everyday. Well, she is not with this plan at all! She does not want me to cover her dress. She grabs the shirt as if it is attacking her and screams “NOooo!!, I want to wear my dress”. I start to engage her in a conversation to explain that technically speaking, she will still be wearing her dress if I put the shirt over it, but then I think, it would probably be best not to get into this power struggle with her. It’s just too early for that.

So I decide to just pack the shirt and persuade her to wear it once we get to her school. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

As she runs out of her room to show Daddy and “her boys” (as she likes to call her brothers), I brush my teeth, pack my lunch, and grab some last minute things to pack for the office. I throw on my coat, I put baby girl’s coat on her, and we are out the door.

When we arrive at her school, I immediately remember that she has to put on her uniform shirt. I begin searching through my many bags. No shirt. Under the stroller? No shirt. Her book-bag? No shirt. I search those same places once again, hoping that somehow the shirt would manifest in round 2. No shirt.

What the heck!! I just know that I packed that shirt!
My daughter’s teacher watches as I look frantically around for the shirt and after a few moments, she explains to me that it is fine and not to worry about it. “Just have her wear it tomorrow, mom.” her teacher says to me with a gentle smile. While I appreciate her understanding, I can not find peace within myself because I just know I packed that darn shirt! But either way, I have a bus to catch, so I kiss my Beanie and I head on to the bus stop, all the while, scratching my head about this shirt situation.
When I arrive to my office, I remove my jacket, say my good mornings to my teaching staff and head to the main office to check my mailbox.
As I enter the main office, which is not yet filled with all it’s staff or the hustle and bustle of the many guest that visit on a daily basis, I reach into my mailbox, pull out a stack of mail, and step back on what I immediately recognize is not the hard floor that I had been walking on all this time.

I look down and discover what I am stepping on. It’s none other than my daughter’s uniform shirt!! What in the world!!?

I look around the empty office to see who could have placed this there to mock me about the confusing morning that I had just had. Who placed that shirt behind me on the floor? But there is no one in the office. I’m standing there alone.
As I reach down to pick up the shirt, the entire memory of my steps from this morning come flooding back to me all of a sudden. I remember exactly what happened this morning. It all make sense to me now.

I hadn’t lost my mind. I did pack that shirt. I just didn’t pack it where most people would have normally packed a shirt.

It wasn’t in my bag, it wasn’t under the stroller, it wasn’t in my daughter’s bag. I had “packed” her shirt under my arm!! Yup. You read it correctly. In my effort to multitask this morning and keep my hands free, I had shoved her shirt in my arm pit. This was a practice that I had done many times before since becoming a mother of three because well, you don’t get another set of hands when you have more than two children,which is just not fair. And while this is something that I truly don’t understand, I have to just become more creative to move from point A to point B. And so, like some kind of winged bird, I tucked the shirt under my arm, threw my sweater on, and kept it moving. With that shirt nestled in a safe place, that morning, I brushed my teeth, my daughter’s teeth, packed lunch, opened a stroller, and put on my coat all without that shirt budging from between my armpit and my sweater.

Yes, this morning, I had displayed a special set of skills that had helped me to maneuver through my morning and avoid the tantrum of a three year old. The only problem is… I had forgotten.

As I picked the shirt up off the office floor and interestingly enough, tucked it back under my arm so that I could carry my mail in my hands, I was thankful that the office was empty at that moment, because the laughter that erupted from inside of me would have surely concerned any staff member that was sitting there. I could not stop laughing at myself! As I walked back to my office, I replayed the morning over and over in my head and amused myself at how many things I had done with this shirt under my arm. Do you know how tightly I had to be holding that thing there while popping open a stroller and not allowing it to budge one bit? Come on, that’s skills!!!
This situation had absolutely made my morning. For the rest of the day, every time I thought about it, I smiled at the thought that as a mother and wife, who is also a full time director of two schools, sometimes I just have to juggle. I do what it takes to make sure that I don’t drop not one ball. However, sometimes in the process, I’m finding, I might occasionally lose a marble. And when that happens, I just have to laugh at myself. After all, it’s better than crying over a misplaced shirt, that will eventually turn up one way or another.

Talk to you soon,
Serene

Share with me: Tell me a time that you had to laugh at yourself.

Review Time: That Physics Show

Review: That Physics Show

Location: Elektra Theater,  300 W 43rd St, New York, NY 10036, United States                                                                                                                        Our Show time: 3pm

“I learned  more in these 90 minutes than I learned in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade”. 

These were the words of my 13 year old as we walked out of “That Physics Show”, an off- Broadway production that my family and I were fortunate enough to be given tickets to see. The premise of the show? Well, the name says it all: “Physics”. It was 90 minutes of Einstein meets Bill Nye the Science Guy. My son’s reaction to the show took me by surprise. Throughout the entire show, he looked less than amused. I guess it was that “don’t let them see you smile, laugh, or enjoy anything about life” thing that teens do. His 10 year old brother, however, knelt in his chair, sat on the edge of his seat, stood blocking the people in front of him, all to see experiment demonstrations, one after the next. He also whispered the occasional “I know what’s about to happen” in my ear, followed by a sped up narrative of what was about to go down so that he could beat the experiment to the outcome and have the satisfaction of saying “I told you!!”

As for me, I was pleasantly surprised that both of my boys ended up enjoying the show. My first instinct upon sitting in the small theater was concern that they were going to be bored. Well, actually, my VERY first instinct was to scout out the “Exit” signs. Having all three of my children (and my mom) in the small space automatically triggered my anxiety and had my spider senses tingling. But once that was established, I was concerned that the boys were going to stare at me some point in the show and say “Really mom? Really?” They were already giving me that look when I told them we were going to a show about science.

“That Physics Show” was carried out primarily by one man, David Maiullo, with appearances by his two assistants who said very little, but provided him with all the props needed to set him up for each of his “tricks”. When the show first began, he explained to the audience that he is a physics demonstrator at Rutgers University and that it is his belief that physics (and practically all sciences), would be a lot more interesting if they were taught in a hands on manner. While I definitely believe in that theory, I thought that his college vernacular would have my children snoozing in no time. With terms like “Laws of Conservation of Motion”, “Inertia”, “Isobaric Pressure”, and “Uniform Circular Motion” I thought surely they would lose interest. However, this was not at all the case as he presented some pretty amazing demonstrations to go with each tongue twisting term. Furthermore, as he performed each experiment, he tapped into the audience members’ inner scientist by posing questions like “what do you think is about to happen?”, followed by an enthusiastic  “let’s find out!” My ten-year old was always up for the prediction and waited to see if his hypothesis was correct. I, on the other hand, stayed silent not wanting to predict anything and run the risk of looking silly in front of my son. For example, did you know what would happen if people filled balloons with hydrogen instead of helium? Well, I didn’t know! (Don’t judge me). But my son knew and when it happened, the wide smile that filled his face was enough to indicate that this show was right up his alley.

After the show was over, everyone had an opportunity to take a picture  with the star of the show. My 10 year old stared at him with respect and admiration. My 13 year old gave him his props and told him how he wished all science classes were taught in this manner. My mom was just happy to get out with her grandchildren. And my 2 year old was able to keep it together with a little help from the iPad and some headphones for the last 30 minutes of the show.

Yup, it was a great 90 minutes: an outing with my kids, educational, and fun. Definitely time well spent.

Would I recommend this show?: Yes.

Who would I recommend this show to?:

1. Parents of a curious child

2. Middle school students (it’s a great way to show them how the things they’ve learned actually applies to real life).

3. Educators who need a little reminder that teaching should not be filled with lectures.

Pros:

1. A very interactive show that keeps the audience engaged.

2. My teen liked it! A teenager liked something that his mother chose to do. Enough said.

3. Extremely accessible from the NYC train station. The “A” train to 42nd street Port Authority, followed by a 50 foot walk from the train station.

4. The different physics concepts were broken down into simpler terms so that children as young as 7 or 8 years old could understand and connect it to their everyday lives.

Cons:
1. The seating was all one level, making it difficult for shorter children to see the stage.

2. Some of the experiments/demonstrations were anti-climactic while others kept me in suspense. It was like an entertainment sandwich; great experiments followed by things that I could have done at home, followed by things that absolutely wowed me. I am not sure that this is a true “con” per say, because it still held the attention of my children, and I guess that’s all that matters.
Overall Rating:

Four peas in a pod! (Out of five)
Talk to you soon,

Serene
Share with me: Have you seen the show already? What did you think of it? Do you plan to see the show? Let me know you thoughts once you see it.

Pot of Sweet Peas

A Free-Range Helicopter Parent

Recently on Nightline, there was a story about Free Range Parenting. Now, if you are anything like me, who had never heard of this term, then you’re probably saying, “What the heck is Free Range Parenting!? When I think of free range, I think of chickens”. But Free Range Parenting is exactly that same concept.

 Free Range Parents allow their children to roam freely outdoors without adult supervision.

In the Nightline segment this freedom was given to child who was six years old allowed to travel for over a mile with her 10 year old brother . The thinking behind this practice is that it fosters a sense of independence and encourages children to problem solve, thus building self-esteem.

This parenting style is looked at as being the polar opposite of another parenting style known as Helicopter Parenting.

A Helicopter Parent is on who hovers over their child constantly, watching their every move. Helicopter Parents are overly-involved in every experience that their child has from their successes to their failures.

After watching this news segment, I began to reflect upon my own parenting style. What kind of parent am I exactly? Both of my boys who are now 12 and 9 have traveled together through the streets without adult supervision. They have been given permission to go to the store without my husband or I being present starting as young as 8 years old. But I don’t know if that would make me a Free Range Parent. Each time they were about to go on these small journeys by themselves, I was always the one with my nails digging in the furniture and my heart leaping out of my chest. And it was always my hubby saying “They have to experience these things or they will never learn”. So maybe I’m just married to a Free Range Parent. But every time he says it, I know he’s right. As someone who studied child development, I know that there is something to creating these experiences for young children. In school I learned all about the great psychologist Erik Erikson who became well known for his pyschosocial stages of development in children, with one of those stages being Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt which begins in children as young as 18 months. Children who are given a sense of autonomy gain a sense of confidence, while children on the opposite end feel a sense of shame for their shortcomings and they doubt their ability to succeed at tasks.

So I know that letting my boys travel by themselves is just another one of those things that they have to experience if they are to gain more self-confidence.

So is it so bad if I follow them down the block hiding behind bushes so they never see me following them to the store and back? So what if I get the number to the store beforehand and call to make sure my child reached the destination and left so I could begin timing when they will walk back in the house. And so what, I have beads of sweat running down my neck when my 12 year confidently asks, “Mom, can I go to the store? I need a snack”. What matters is that I don’t show them the panic inside. What matters is that I teach them the dangers that are out their and give them guidance on how to avoid those situations from carefully crossing the street to not speaking to that creepy person on the corner. If I show them my fear, they too will be fearful and fear has never made anyone productive in life.
You see, we are raising children who have to be in school without us and they have to navigate around the school yard and cafeteria without us. And they have to take tests without us and they have to encounter bullies without us. And through all these experiences they will have to make quick decisions without us. I don’t want to give them a false sense of security that makes them think that T and I will always be right there by their sides through all their experiences. Sure, once they are back reunited with us, we will talk about their day and give advice on how to handle some of the things they face. We will even question how they handled a specific situation; and not to judge them on their choices but to gauge their thought process. But at the end of the day, though it makes me sad to say, my children will not be with me forever and they won’t be little forever either. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best when she said, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot”. I need my children to feel strong, confident and courageous.

So am I Free Range Parent? I don’t know. Mentally I know it’s the right thing for building character and a sense of responsibility. Emotionally, I’m scared out of my mind because, hey, I watch the news everyday. So how would I classify my parent parenting style? Well, simply put, I have the mind of Free Range Parent with the heart of Helicopter Mom. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

Share with me: What kind of parent are you? What kind of parent would you like to be? What kind of parent were you raised by?