Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

Target Tantrum

Today, I got to listen to a tantrum at a check-out counter, and inside I bowed down to the growing-up gods and said “thank you, thank you, thank you for getting me past that stage.” I have this experience a lot these days when I am at the library or at the grocery store or a restaurant. My heart goes out to the parents enduring the rage because I have so been there. (And not to say we won’t go there again—I see the potential, but it will likely involve heavy door slamming within the confines of our own home).

It happened at Target. I was there with my two kids and one of Ty’s friends, who dutifully came along on our errands so he could get out of his mom’s errands (because, after all, if you’re with a friend, the errands aren’t quite so painful).

Anyway, I let the boys hang in the toy department while Leah and I were in another area and they were happier than pigs in…well, you know. When I went to round them up them, I noticed a mom and her two daughters also trying to escape the toy department without anything in hand. The mom was, at any rate. At a rapid pace.

Next thing I knew, her younger daughter, maybe about five, was charging down the aisle after her mother with something in her hand and huge tears rolling down her face. “I waaannnnttttt thhiiissss,” she was wailing. The mom, to her credit, kept moving and didn’t even stop to talk about it.

About fifteen minutes later, we were at the check-out counter, and we could hear the same girl sobbing loudly at another counter. Except for this girl’s tears, you could have heard a pin drop. Everyone was listening, and the woman in front of me turned to Leah and said, “I’ll bet you didn’t cry like that.” Uh, wrong.

The thing was the kid wasn’t angry so much as utterly heartbroken, and panicked that she really wasn’t going to get this thing (and she wasn’t—her mom silently paid, knowing she was being stared at by the masses, trying not to feel completely humiliated, and then headed for the exit with her younger daughter left behind to follow when she was ready, which turned out to be immediately in a flurry of escalated wails). I really felt sorry for the kid. And I felt sorry for the mom, too, and I can imagine tonight’s conversation and the eye rolling with her husband when the kids are in bed. 

But I was impressed. That mom had such grace. I know I wasn’t that together, and I’m ever so grateful my kids are the ages they are because I don't think I could do it again.  


Weekend Jaunts

Cowboy Camping
Leah went cowboy camping with her horse buddies and teachers at Cowboy Campsite just east of Sedro-Woolley. If I didn’t have a horsey daughter, I never would have known about this place. Horse folks own campsites, which they have tricked out with little outbuildings, signs, and cowboy-themed paraphernalia. They bring their horses for the weekend to ride the network of trails on the nearby DNR land (I think that’s who owns it). For horse people, riding trails and camping out with the horses is pretty much the bees’ knees, I’m learning. Leah came home wiped out and happy.

The Museum of Flight
  While Leah was camping and riding, we were driving to Seattle to check out the Museum of Flight in south Seattle. If you haven’t been here, it’s worth a visit. And if you’re the parent of young boys, you must check it out. Airplanes and war stories galore. The museum documents the history of early aviation with the Wright brothers and others who contributed, as well as the role of aviation in the two World Wars. Lots of war stories. I learned so much (I think I must have slept through in history class). There’s also an area devoted to space travel, as well as a huge room filled with planes, and even some historical flight attendant uniforms on display, some of them really bad—the 70s, no surprise. Ty was disappointed that we had to leave at closing time, and that, I can say, is a first. 

Olympic Game Farm
We did a driving tour through the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim while we were visiting my sister and her family. It hungry elk2actually feels a bit like a mini-Yellowstone, but unlike Yellowstone, it doesn’t provide any education to the visitors about wild animals. Well, it does, actually: Do Not Get Out of Your Car. But people don’t follow directions very well. They didn’t get out of the car, but they hung out their windows and through their sunroofs. They tried to pet the zebras, who were said to be capable of biting. And although all the signs said not to feed the bison, the staff sells loaves of bread at the farm’s entry to feed all the other animals (Grizzlies, yaks, zebras, and elk), and do you think people stop with the bread when they get to the bison? But of course not. And here’s the other thing about animals and feeding them. They get habituated to the bread, and they chase your car down even if you don’t have bread. They’re not running or anything, but watching massive elk and bison eyeball you through your window and then walk right up (the elk) and lick them is darn unnerving. Especially since we were told to keep the car moving because it’s bison mating season, and recently they’ve damaged a lot of cars. Of course, everyone stopped, and for me it became a game of choosing where to stop so we didn’t get caught in a bison cluster behind an idiot car. Maybe I’m just too uptight about following directions, but I just wasn’t up for experimenting. And if you have your windows down to throw the bread out (everyone but us), the elk will stick their heads right into your car. I felt a little like I was in the mammal version of Jurrasic Park. We didn’t buy bread, by the way, because I have a thing about not feeding wild animals, and though my kids were disappointed at first, they fast changed their minds when they saw the elk heads going inside cars. After Yellowstone, where you’re not even supposed to get too close, this place is kind of freaky, but it was still fun in a perverse, bad-movie-kind-of-way—an education on the habits of people more than anything. 

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New Clothes

We have been taken over by name-brand mania in our house. Names like Aeropostale, Hollister, and Abercrombie. Leah tosses these brands into her conversations like they’re familiar friends, when, really, they are distant relatives who would laugh at her plebian togs if they could. Everything is “cute” these days (if she deems it such), and she longs to have names plastered across her chest. Preferably one of the above-mentioned. It’s almost as if finishing fifth grade triggered some kind of clothing hormone. All the girls have it. And the ones who don’t are falling behind fast.

Leah is going into sixth grade at one of the public middle schools and her awareness of what’s cool/not cool has become the focus of her young life. Unfortunately for her, she has a mother who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about fashion, although once in a while, she—her mother—thinks maybe she should do something about her Value Village wardrobe. My sister-in-law and teen-age nieces feel sorry for Leah, can’t help chuckling that she loves fashion when her mother hates spending money on clothes. I figure it’s the cycle of life—whatever it is your parents hate or ignore or aren’t even aware of becomes a bit of an obsession. (For me, it’s new furniture.)

It’s not that I don’t like nice clothes, and for the record, I do not deny Leah. I just don’t like spending boatloads of money on things that will be yesterday’s news in six months. But I still remember the young lust for certain clothes that comes with being a middle schooler, so I indulge her as much as budget allows (and she gets a dose of my views on advertising and everyone looking the same and what fits into the budget). Today, we headed to Plato’s Closet, the new consignment teen chain in Bellingham. Leah’s little figure isn’t there for many of the tight T-shirts (thankfully), but we found a couple of sweatshirts she liked. And then off to Target for inexpensive jeans. My daughter has inherited a certain amount of my thrift and says she would rather spend her money on name-brand sweatshirts than jeans.

I have a thing about conspicuous names on clothing—it almost makes me twitchy, especially in places like Plato’s Closet, where Hollister sweatshirts have their own rack (and cost $22 second-hand so I’m guessing they’re $50 new). I much prefer a little insignia placed somewhere no one will notice, and I’ve told Leah as much. But if she wants to wear Aeropostale—which she does—and it’s on massive sale or she can find it second-hand, I’ve decided I will let her.

When we get home after our shopping trip, she's so excited about her new duds, she drags her unsuspecting eight-year-old brother into her room to show them all off. He dutifully sits for the fashion line-up.

“If you were a girl, Ty, would you like this?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” he says. He watches her pull out her various new shirts and comments where necessary when she asks what he thinks. “Hey, Leah, watch this. This is how a crab would walk if it had just four legs.”

I find myself chuckling in the dining room at her desperate attempts to get someone, anyone, to care as much as she does. Even though I have a hard time spending money on looking good (hmm, maybe I could learn something from Leah), and I don't like splashy names on clothes, I do find Leah's enthusiasm pretty contagious. I'm glad she's so excited about school, even if it's mostly about what she's going to wear. It could be a whole lot worse. 

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Summer Painting Project

So, here’s a way to get your kid’s bedroom cleaned up: let her paint a wall after she cleans it. And we came up with this even before Randy Pausch died on July 25. In case you don’t know, he was a computer-science professer at Carnegie Mellon University with pancreatic cancer who advocated, among other things, letting your kids paint their bedroom walls. I didn’t find this out till after he died and after painting the wall. And all at once, the wall feels bigger now than a mere painting project. It feels like a tribute. Leah's wall

Leah was so stoked about the idea, she spent a whole day—and I’m not kidding—going through her stuff and putting it away or sorting it into one of three bags: recycle, toss, give away. Suddenly we could see the floor. And she admitted she actually liked it that way. Till now, she’s always maintained she prefers her room “messy” (read: disaster zone). I’m telling you, Randy (is that too familiar?) must have been onto something with the bedroom painting. 

We went to the paint store and she chose all shades of blue swatches, and when we got home she taped them up on the wall and studied them for a day. She settled on a deep cobalt. “I want to paint polka dots on top,” she said. Polka dots? Right away I was wondering about the work involved, the days of drying time, but she had it all figured out. “We’ll sponge them on. It won’t take long.” Martha Stewart would be proud.

Two days later, her wall was blue. We traced chalk circles around a plate, and we sponged lime green, white, and turquoise polka dots. (The latter two from our basement stash.) After the paint was dry, we wiped off the chalk marks, and she had textured polka dots that remind us of snowballs.

She loves it. It did turn out well, I must say. We made a good team. Me, the work horse, Leah, the visionary. Best of all, she has become room-proud and doesn’t let clutter build up (which, now that I know about Randy, kind of pales as the point).

Ty is inspired and is asking when we can paint his room in polka dots. All the walls, not just one. I’m still waiting for him to start tidying the clutter.  But we may do it anyway just to honor Randy’s memory. 

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The Electronic Life

Ty learned some valuable lessons today in his quest for a PlayStation 1 controller. In case you’re not up to speed with electronics (I’m only just coming out of my cave), PS1 is the original and is considered prehistoric. I learned this about a month ago. I’m sure Ty’s electronically inclined friends think he’s way uncool. He knows this to a point, but he’s so happy to be part of the craze, he doesn’t care. (A friend of his the other day said, “Your mom doesn’t let you play T games?” [That’s “Teen” to the uninitiated.] “That sucks.” Really? Am I that out of touch?)

I wasn’t happy about the PS1 acquisition, in case you were wondering. Ty bought the whole shebang plus games at a neighbor’s garage sale in June. I didn’t find out until late that afternoon because he was so sure I would be furious. I wasn’t, but I wasn’t happy. When it comes to virtual life, I’m a self-confessed Luddite. Oh, we love You Tube around here, and I watch trailers on, but I am not into boys—and it’s mostly boys—spending hours on end trying to control a race car, or shooting Star Wars characters, or even snowboarding. Half an hour is barely okay with me, and at other people’s houses, I have no idea what parents allow or if they care. Around here, I make Ty read for half an hour to earn equal time. He can also do math, but he always chooses reading and usually easy reading at that. 

Anyway, Ty decided he needed a second controller (for his friends that will never get to play video games here), and he decided pawn shops were the way to go. I told him we would not drive around and that he would need to make some phone calls first, and he would need to do the talking. Bless his heart, he did. He learned about the Yellow pages, how to say thank you at the end of the call (no, you don’t just hang up), and how to check off the shops that don’t have what you need.

At last he located a shop that had a controller. I had promised him I would take him, so off we went. He paid exactly $3 of his allowance money (I likely paid at least $8 in gas but oh well), and I told him he could test it at home to see if it worked. He was ecstatic.

Alas, we think it doesn’t work. He tried it every which way but all the images just sat there, waiting for a functioning controller. His disappointment was palpable, but he didn’t even mention the loss of $3 or expect that maybe I could pay for it. He knew it was truly his bad luck. And when I told him we couldn’t return it to the pawn shop (could we?), he just sighed.

In an effort to bolster his frayed euphoria, I suggested Craig’s List. Like, as in posting a want ad. “I’ll bet you get someone who wants to give it to you, Ty,” I said. He was skeptical, but we posted an ad—our first ever foray into Craig’s List—and then he went off to his grandma’s for the weekend. (And what we’re doing without the kids is another topic unto itself.)

Lo and behold, I got a call and an email within the hour. Both parties have PS1 controllers to give away. Ty will be thrilled when he finds out. Now I’m just a little worried we may be inundated before the weekend is out.

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