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Nov 04 2010

Parenting and patience

Parenting requires levels of patience that don’t exist in this particular space-time continuum. We’re talking levels above that of a middle school teacher at an all-girls school, above that of Lindsey Lohan’s parole officer, above even the levels of patience required by Martha Stewart’s prep team. Inhuman levels of patience is kinda what I’m going for here.

Let us worship at the altar of The Goddess of All Obviousness. Leave an offering of “DUH” and the sacrifice of a gullible young woman.

Last Friday’s #gtchat was on Parenting with Patience. Please go read the transcript for resources and an outstanding conversation. But the long and short of it is…parents of gifted kids are exhausted. And when Energy leaves the building, Patience is right behind her locking the doors and setting the alarm. This entire conversation could have been about me, and it was humbling to realize my patience is thinner than an Olson twin.

Did any of you see the commercial before Halloween for making your own Rice Krispie treats? Black and white ad, mom and her 2 or 3 (can’t remember) darling children, all dressed up, making Rice Krispie treat ghosts. I saw that one night and nearly burst into tears. I’m not that mom and can’t be that mom. I simply don’t have the patience. In fact, the last time I tried an activity like that, I was pouring rum straight into the Coke can.

I used to think I had more patience than I do. And then I had children. My patience is used up with “get dressed” and “good Lord, quit whining and get in the shower” and “for the thirtieth time in as many minutes, no you may not have a snack because dinner is almost on the table!” I know many other moms have these same problems, so allow me to share a few others: “sit down and work on your writing while I clear the table…no…seriously dude, sit your butt down and do it! I’ll be there in a second! Quit arguing! I’m coming!” and “just pick a book and write it down in your reading log. No, I have no idea how many minutes you read this week, I just know I haven’t been able to pry books out of your hands. Just write something down and I’ll sign it” and “put down the Legos. Yes, it’s an awesome invention and I love it, but you have to work on your math now. Yes, I know, but you still have to do it. No need to freak out on me, just sit.down.and.do.it.” I’m sure those are heard in other homes as well, so I’ll ratchet it up one more notch: “I know you miss your best friend, but he moved away a year ago and you talk on Skype every week and don’t start spiraling down now!” and “get off the dog for the love of God she’s already growled at you how can you possibly miss her signs telling you to GO THE HELL AWAY?” and “do you need me to go squish you so you can calm down?”

Tonight the boys had a Cub Scout pack meeting, where prizes were given away for popcorn sales. Their pack sold an unholy amount of popcorn. Like, the cost of a small rural Iowa home amount of popcorn. Last year A sold over $900 in fluffy popped goodness; this year he barely cracked $300. Same with J. I just didn’t have it in me to focus them on that goal, and tonight they watched their friends earn special prizes for selling more than $500. Felt like I failed.

Through his GT pullout program, A has the opportunity to participate in the Invention Convention. It’s like a science fair for inventions, totally up his alley. It’s this month, and I can’t bring myself to start him on the project. I just don’t have the patience.

I didn’t decorate for Halloween and I’m dreading pulling everything out for Christmas. I just.don’t.have.it.in.me.

It’s as though I use up every bit of…more than patience, really…every bit of ME to get through the day and I just don’t have any left for the sprinkles of life. The boys’ Halloween costumes? What they wore last year. Decided on 20 minutes before they left. The boys’ extracurriculars? Scouts, and just enough to stay in the pack. It’s not that I want them to be running hither and yon in activities, but…

I just feel that the boys’ childhoods are slipping away and I’m not doing anything to make them special. We didn’t carve pumpkins, last spring I don’t think we colored Easter eggs, and I’d almost be just as happy going on vacation with the family than decorating for Christmas. Making Rice Krispie ghosts would just result in fits and fights and me wondering if 2:30 on a Sunday is too early to crack open a fine Merlot.

I don’t know what the answer is, or if there is one. I just know that I am mourning my sons’ childhoods, because they have a mom who can’t get her shit together enough to make bits of life special.

They deserve better, and I simply want the answer to improved patience to bring that to them.

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  1. kim/hormone-colored days

    Some days I can relate. A common saying around here is, “We never yell the first time, and usually not the second or third either.” And yet, there is a whole lot of yelling.

    It’s too bad the kids don’t hold onto the memories of when we were all younger and more fun.
    kim/hormone-colored days recently posted…Nearly Wordless Wednesday- Veggies at the Halloween PartyMy Profile

    1. Jen

      LOL! The boys would have lurved me when I was young, I had more patience! LOL! I like your saying…and yet there’s a lot of yelling here too. Hm. Maybe I’ll start using your saying in the back of my head.

  2. kate

    Wow. Loaded your life with stereotypes much? Seriously, what do your kids have to compare their childhoods to? TV commercials? How does your childhood stack up to those utopian blurbs of “reality”? Mine doesn’t compare at all.

    Your kids are going to have their lives to remember and the moments that advertisers think are special to them won’t even be a blip on the radar when they’re grown ups. YOU know your kids. YOU know what is special to them. I’m going to bet taking them to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield is something they’re going to remember long after the store bought Rice Krispie treats are gone.

    Seriously. Cut yourself and your kids some slack, the only life your living is your own. Enjoy it.

    You’re doing a great job, don’t let the marketers SELL you something different.

    1. Jen

      It’s not so much the marketers selling me something, it’s me just wanting to have some family traditions and memories. Maybe just for me. I know the boys will remember other things, but I don’t want to look back and remember little past just getting through the days, which is what I feel we’re doing now.

  3. Benoit

    It’s the same scenario here, with the kids. I just allow them a little extra time to react (to disconnect from the book/game/mind)…and a lot of pré-Time when I begin asking them to do something (ex: I ask them to “switch off the light in 5 minutes”…15 minutes before time. Even if I have to repeat, there will be no more light at the wished hour).

    I think that the only thing we, parents, should offer to our children is moments of tender loving care. The bond, the émotions are far more important than memory of anecdotal facts.
    Don’t try to be a perfect mom (what is a perfect mom ?). Love’em, let’em play and discover the world by themselves…watch’em play and grow, rest in peace of mind.
    Love, Love, Love …that’ll be enough !

  4. Sarah

    The fact that you are so worried about these things shows you love your kids. And in the end that is the best thing you have to offer them, the best Thing any parent can give their child. Love. And it’s free. They are going to remember Chicago and Disney World and you helping them even on rough days.

    Gah…. I should be talking to myself on this too… But I’m just at the point of rolling my eyes at the TV when utopia shaped rice crispy treats show up.

    And for a laugh ( or cry, or excuse to open a bottle of Zin). We could always toss M and A in the kitchen with yours and let them make rice crispy treat turkeys. I mean, hardened
    marshmallow can’t be THAT hard to clean off of…..
    Sarah recently posted…How…My Profile

    1. Jen

      Yeah, but *I* want the happy memories, and I feel like we don’t have them.

  5. Trish

    Well, sure in the art-directed, stage-managed, soft-focus, professionally acted commercial making Rice Krispie treats looks idyllic, but we live in the real world, and that’s OK! I’m sure your boys will someday FONDLY remember how Mom made them do their homework and kept their lives running smoothly. They will tell amused stories about all the ways they tested your patience and sanity. And they’ll have lots of special memories, and they might be of things that aren’t even registering with you right now — I remember “fishing” in a puddle with my dad when I was about 3 or 4, and that probably didn’t seem special at all to him at the time, it probably just seemed like a way to get hyper-child to sit still for a moment. 🙂

    1. Jen

      I don’t want the commercial, I just want some family traditions that don’t involve a testing of my sanity.

  6. cms8741

    Whe our bos grow up, te will remember a dedicated mom wo loves tem. Te artificial “memories” (like colorig eggs, etc.) wo’t be as powerful as our love for tem. Tat’s wat matters most. So go give ourself a break, ad please pour me oe of tose coke ad rum driks.

    P.S. Please be patiet wit tis commet, as m computer as apparetl lost te abilit to tpe some importat letters.
    cms8741 recently posted…you MUST watch this inspiringMy Profile

    1. Jen

      Mentally I know this, but I still want to be able to have those family traditions and memories. It’s just too hard most of the time to do!
      And gotta tell ya, this comment cracked me up with all the missing letters!

  7. Heather

    De-lurking to say “yes, yes,” and “oh, god, yes!”.
    I’m feeling that shock of recognition, because I might have written this with different details. I never seem to have enough left over for the sprinkles, either.
    Hang in there.

    1. Jen

      Yes! 🙂 Glad you delurked. 🙂
      I want the sprinkles. And I want the sprinkles without the guilt of saying no first. Sigh…Hang in there yourself babe.

  8. Sue

    My workshop series starting in Apr. might help. Go from my home page to my weblog. If nothing else it’ll get you a couple child free hours on the first Sat. of ea. mo. starting in Apr. at Bodyworks Yoga on 2nd St. in Petaluma.
    And we all need more real vacations than we tend to get. I totally agree.

  9. Brynn

    I can really relate!

    If you’re like I am, you’re not necessarily trying to fit into a “perfect television family” mold, just trying to have some sort of tradition (Easter egg dyeing, Pumpkin carving, Christmas cookie decorating…whatever) that doesn’t end with “WHY DID I EVEN TRY THIS?”

    I think it’s part of the lost hopes/expectations we’re continually confronted by with our unique kids. And for me, it wouldn’t be as hard if I didn’t have plenty of good friends who CAN have those little moments with their kids. I hate to admit being jealous of my friends’ experiences where this is concerned…not jealous of their kids – I wouldn’t trade mine for the world – just of their ability to do some of the things that I loved doing when I was a kid. That’s just another one of those things I keep to myself 😉
    We’re doing the best we can under incredibly challenging circumstances! It’s beyond tiring being on trial in the courtroom 14 hours a day! Sometimes I’m even jealous of Lindsay Lohan’s parole officer….

    1. Jen

      YESYESYES!!!!! You get it! It’s NOT wanting the perfect TV mold, it’s the wanting to have family traditions without the craziness! I feel like we’re not creating those because it’s not necessarily worth the trade-off.
      Your comment was right on. Dead on. I’m also jealous of others’ kids, simply because they’re able to do things we’re not always able to do. Brynn, you get it!

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