Tag Archives: kids

A New Leaf

5 Aug

A little more than a year ago, Nia was plagued with worry. She obsessed and fretted about the smallest thing. For a 10-year-old, the worries were heavy and I — a natural-born stress case myself — didn’t always know how to help her. It also started to — get this — worry me. I felt like I was absorbing her feelings and carrying them around with me.

Naturally, all this lead me to venture into the dangerous world of web searching. I found several articles that made me worry more but I also found a few that offered relief. To make sure I covered all my bases, I also took advantage of a work program that offers employees a free counseling session. I came away with two things to help us both manage our anxieties:

  • The counselor told me to picture my worry as a streaker. (Yes, a naked person.) You may see one run by but you never chase after the bare body. We agreed to modify this to be age appropriate for Nia. She suggested an animal that Nia would never chase. The streaker thought is pretty funny though.)
  • One bit of online information I learned said to visualize a tree with a leaf about to break free. Place your worry on that leaf and then watch it fall and gently land in a stream. The stream then carries the worry away. I told this to Nia and she asked, “Could an animal also eat my leaf?” I’m thinking, sure. Whatever works. (Here’s a blog that has more about the leaf relief.)

Both of these techniques have helped us both but now it seems it’s Nate’s turn to worry and he just doesn’t relate to those. His little heart is filled with concern – so much so that I wonder if it’s been contributing to him sleepwalking. A few nights ago, I actually caught him opening his bedroom window while sleeping. We’ve since child-proofed his windows but the thought of him accidentally hurting himself while we all sleep was too much for me to take. I told him about the ways Nia and I have used to ease our hearts. He asked, “Huh?”

With that, I tried something different. My own thing. Last night, I cuddled with him before he fell asleep and I put my hand on his heart. I told him I was collecting all the worry from his heart so he wouldn’t have it anymore. He giggled as I gathered but then really let out a laugh when I told him I was going to eat all his worry. “I also have room for dessert,”  I told him, “so let me get that worry from your head too.”

Sure, kind of twisted. But you know what? I think it helped some. He went to sleep with a lighter heart and didn’t sleepwalk.

Of course, it could be because of all the other techniques we researched online and tried too (earlier bedtime, consistent sleep and wake time, quiet time before bed, earlier dinner, more water throughout the day …) but I want to claim the giggles as the victory.

I know it made us both feel better. (And me quite full too …)

 

Then Came Ten

27 Apr

Where did nine go? It was just here a sleep or two ago. The year was so fun, busy and marked with many changes for our (not-so) Baby Bean.

November 2012

November 2012

You sprouted like crazy. At the end of your Third Grade year, you were frustrated how the older kids would say you looked like you were a Kindergartener. Now, you may likely challenge some of those kids on inches. You are catching up to mine, now almost up to my shoulder. I had you sit on my lap the other day and almost cried. You will always “fit” there (love-wise) but it was then that I realized, you don’t fit there (size-wise) anymore.

Bean Sprout

Bean Sprout – April 2013

A braver Bean also started forming this year. “I’m auditioning to be Elfis in the class musical “Elfis,” you informed me. Out of your shy shell, you put on the costume, rocked the Wii guitar and sang in the microphone in front of three audiences of all ages. You memorized your lines and delivered them in character, getting giggles from the crowd. It was wonderful watching you on the stage and not even flinch when a child yelled out, “That’s a girl! My dad told me!” You even made one boy slap his own face when he discovered you were a girl hiding under that Elvis wig. What a moment.

In Character - December 2012

In Character – December 2012

The year of Nine had you caring about how you did in Gym Class for the first time ever. Each year, they offer medals for how many Phys.Ed. challenges students pass. They are handed out at the end of the year awards ceremony, along with the academic achievements. You always get “gold” for great grades and behavior but you’ve never earned a medal for athletics. You worked hard at this. You came home and practiced volleyball. You practiced stretching for several nights so you could improve your reach test. You succeeded. This athletic spirit also started showing when you ran in Mile Fun Run races. You pushed yourself and earned a place medal. Get it, girl!

Brother First | Sister Second

Brother First | Sister Second

Nine will also be known as the year when you began being ok with saying goodbye to your Barbies and dollhouses. I thought this would be a more gradual process but you made up your mind and started piling the dolls in a box. You gave eighty dolls to bring love to another child. It made room for a zebra-striped reading bean bag and a desk that will take you through high school or longer. You also want to paint over the princess crowns and castle lining your wall with a big purple stripe. However, while you are working your way to “older” things, you still find room in your heart for a few things from your “younger” years.

Annie and Nia

Annie and Nia – January 2013

Your interests also started expanding this past year. Your daddy introduced you and Nate to Star Wars and you couldn’t love it more. You watched all the movies and then watched all the movies again within a few weeks. You know more about the characters and events of the movies than I do and I’ve watched the movies more. The love of the movies has made you love all things Star Wars. Your Angry Birds Star Wars drawing is a great example of that.

Angry Birds Star Wars by Nia

Angry Birds Star Wars by Nia

You are such a considerate and caring person and it really showed this year. You have a helping heart and I’m amazed how you can easily play with children of all ages. Your patience and selflessness with younger children is beautiful. You also genuinely worry about others. You have a compassionate sense of right and wrong and try to protect people from being hurt. That includes yourself. When another student tried to hurt your feelings by calling out your “unibrow,” you calmly replied to her with, “I know I have one. So?” I know this is tough for you because you are a sensitive soul. I am so proud of you and often think of you to remind me how to react to things as well.

Protecting

Protector Bean

Helping Bean

Helping Bean

This year also meant taking boys more seriously. Well really, “boy” more seriously. You’ve had the same “boyfriend” since Second Grade but you never really blushed when you talked about him until this year. Now, things he says to you or gifts he gives you are very special. You keep them close and let us know about things that happened that day around him. All of this is comfortable for us because you are both sweet kids and you tell us EVERYTHING. Seriously, everything. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because I’m glad you share things with us. I know there will be a time when you will stop sharing. Thank  you for letting us into your world and trusting us with your heart.

Gift from a Special Someone

Gift from a Special Someone

Your heart also has so much room in it for your little brother. You love him dearly – even when you are nah-nahing each other. He looks up to you too and is proud of you. When you told us about your possible gold medal in P.E., Nate was the first to praise, “Great job, Nia!” I hope you two will continue to be each other’s biggest fans. I can’t explain how happy it makes me to see you showing unconditional love for each other.

Little Brother | Big Sister

Little Brother | Big Sister

It’s difficult to capture the beauty of your heart, Bean, but I hope when you read this it gives you a glimpse of the amazing young lady you are. You are a treasure to everyone who knows you because of your attitude, kindness and hope to bring happiness to others. One example of that is how you love to make up jokes to make us laugh. “Why is my coat on the floor? It’s tired because I wore it out.”

Silly sweetheart, I love you so much. Happy birthday, 10-year-old.

A New Star Wars Fan – and His Art

15 Jan

Nate experienced Star Wars for the first time over the Christmas and New Year school break and, of course, became captivated with the story and characters. He rooted for Anakin so much that he cried and cried at the end of Revenge of the Sith. I had to console him right up until he closed his eyes for sleep that night.

With that sorrow for Anakin, I’m wondering if I should be concerned Nate seems to favor the Dark Side characters. Based off his drawings, you can certainly tell where the Force is guiding him. The sweetness of his drawings makes it difficult to be too concerned though. Darth “Mole” doesn’t seem so bad through the 7-year-old eyes and ears of Nate.

"The Dark Side" as drawn by Nate, 7 years old

“The Dark Side” as drawn by Nate, 7 years old

Young Anakin as drawn by Nate

Young Anakin as drawn by Nate, 7 years old

Andrew loved the order they watched the movies too. He thought it was so cool how the kids were surprised at certain major plot points and their reactions made him feel like a kid again watching them for the first time. They watched the movies in this order: A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, The Phantom Menace,  Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith and then Return of the Jedi. It was a good plan.

Dear Sister Note about the Play that Wasn’t

27 Mar

The play was for Literacy Day. Nate’s class had been learning songs about vowel sounds, rhyming words and speckle frogs for weeks. He sang in the shower and at the breakfast table to Nia, rehearsing – complete with finger snaps and an air guitar. He excitedly asked if we could watch him sing. The night before the big day finally arrived. He fell asleep singing, knowing I was going to be in the audience to see him shine with the other Kindergartens. Then, hours later, he woke up with a terrible coughing fit.

Sadly, he would miss his play – too tired from a rough night and too sick to sing on stage. He sang for me at the doctor’s office (white-wall video at the bottom of this post) and wrote Nia a note:

Signed: Sweet, Sicky Boy

Translated: “Nia, sorry I cannot come to school today because I am sick. I can do another play next year. Don’t worry, Nia. I have a bad cough. One thing why I can’t come. Two, I have a cold.”

He later added, “I hope I don’t have it anymore and I wish you don’t have it like me.”

Sweet, sicky boy. I’m glad you are feeling better now.

And then she asked about September 11th

8 Sep

I don’t like to talk about it. People share their stories about where they were – what they were doing – how they reacted – how it made them feel – and I think that’s fine. I just would rather not share. If asked, I will. But, if people are in a group and talking about it – I choose to listen. I think, what does it really matter? Where I was? Recently though, I’ve talked about it more than I have in the past 10 years.

The television station I used to work for asked if they could interview me (along with others who were working on that day) to talk about what it was like for us. Because I want to help my old station, I said sure. (Here is that interview.) My memory of my events on that day is blurry but I remember enough to talk a bit about it. It wasn’t until Nia asked me about it that I realized – I’m going to have to talk about this. But not about where I was and what I was doing – actually about it. The heartbreaking tragedies.

It began all because her school called and reminded us to wear red, white and blue for their Patriot Day recognition. She told me, “That’s because planes crashed into the obelisks in Washington D.C.” I asked her where she learned that and she said her teacher told the class about it. Say what you want about Georgia public education but I am sure her teacher did not have that wrong and said New York City. That was the way an 8-year-old heard what her teacher taught. Her teacher taught about the memorials along with the events – Nia heard what she heard.

I proceeded to tell Nia what happened, to make sure she understood. Four planes with many people on them crashed into two very tall buildings in New York City called the World Trade Center Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. So many people died, Bean. So many. Here’s what happened during/after my explanation:

Five-year-old Nate was just getting out of the bath – he was chewing gum and was naked. He started blowing a whistle. Nia asked, “Didn’t the pilots see the buildings?”

I had to pause to think about how to tell her. “Well, you see, people who don’t like the United States, people call them terrorists, made the planes crash.”

Nate returns to blow the whistle, naked, after I just shooed him away. “Why didn’t the pilots tell them to go away?”

“Because the other people had things to hurt the pilots and took over.” In that same breath, I tell Nate to get dressed for the third time.

“Did everyone from the U.S. on the plane die?”
“Yes, baby, but there were more than just people from the U.S. on those planes and in those buildings.”

Nate, now getting dressed, chimes in with concern for the first time, “Did daddy die?”
“No, buddy, daddy’s not dead. But many families lost their daddies and mommies and even children in this.”

Nia adds a new thought, “Did the buildings break in half?”
“Kind of, yes. They collapsed.”
“Did they fall on other buildings near them and kill those people too?” Nia asks with more worry in her voice.
“Um, well, I’m not sure about that. There were so many people in those two big buildings, Bean. I don’t know about the nearby buildings.”
“How many?
“Thousands. How many are in your school?”
“Like, 800 or something.”
“Well, it would be almost four of your schools. That’s how many people died in those buildings.”
“Oh. My.”
Nate brings us back to kid speak, “What state were the buildings?”
“New York.”
“Spiderman lives in New York. Did he die too?”

No. You don’t get to read my response to that. Sigh.

I went from not wanting to talk about it, to really talking about it. Where were you when you told a child about it? I can’t even imagine the children who lost loved ones – or the ones who watched it happen. It’s so very difficult – and it hurts. I will never forget. Because of the loss and sadness – of course – but also because I think I’m going to be clarifying quite a few things with them over the years. I’m so – deeply – sorry.

Ten years on Sunday for many of us. Time has stopped for those who were just going about their daily lives at those places or had to say goodbye. I will remember.

Pants on Fire

24 Nov

Is lying a learned behavior/trait or are people born knowing how to fib? At four years old, it seems Nate is doing his best to improve his tall tale skills.

The most recent lie attempt involves a big “N” scrawled on bed sheets. We noticed it after we were addressing the broken fan light that Nate had caused by throwing a marker in the air (I’m envisioning, like a wild man).

When confronted about the graffiti-ed sheets, he started to stumble over his words and eventually told us:

“I didn’t do it. I threw the marker and it hit the light and then it came down and made that mark on the bed!”

Andrew responds, “Son, are you trying to tell me that the marker made an “N” all by itself?”

My mom and I: muffled, then explosive laughter.

Nate, rethinking his story: “No. That’s not what I said …(undig, undig, undig).”

Here is the mark the marker made by itself, according to Nate:

image

Here is the damage done to the lamp, caused by Nate:

image

That is one amazing and disastrous marker.

 

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Nia and “Selena”

21 Aug

Selena Gomez (an actress on Disney Channel’sWizards of Waverly Place“) has cast a cute spell on our little girl. Nia loves her show and her music and is now even calling one of her other dolls, Selena. I just wanted to capture all that has been Nia and Selena over the past week.

Selena comes with us on errands or entertainment outings. She came with us to the movies and sat next to Nia on the arm of the chair – enjoying “Ramona and Beezus.”

Selena is the music artist of choice anytime we are in the car.

Selena joins us for breakfast. (Finally, someone is eating slower than Nia!) She was served a pancake and a smoothie. Mysteriously, she made a happy plate and cup.

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