28 September 2010

Aspie quote of the day

quote of the day from our beloved eldest, the boy with no filter: (thank you, Asperger Syndrome)

"Mom, are we having these hamburgers for dinner tonight because you are too lazy to cook something else for us?"


In his defense, he amended his comment a moment or two later, "what I mean is, that since you are sick, this is what you decided to make."

Ok, so he's learning.

24 September 2010

Mealtime ordeals averted, sort of

In our house, after many years of setting mealtime rules and adjusting and readjusting them, I think we've settled on something that works.

Our philosophy comes from experience and books.  What we do is this:

I prepare dinner.  I make sure there is at least one item on the table that each person will eat, whether it is rice or pasta or even just bread and butter, I know that the kids will not go hungry. 

If one of the boys does not want to eat the meal I have provided, he can pour himself a bowl of cereal (nothing sweetened) and have as much of that for dinner as he wants, but no dessert.  We always have a dessert option and if they at least try each item on the table, they get dessert.

There is no clean plate club here.  We want to encourage the boys to try new things and old things again and again, reminding them that their tastes will change as they grow.  But, we don't want to make meal time a battleground.

The rules are set, there is no debate.  If they argue, they get one chance to stop and after that, they suffer some kind of consequence.  The main thing we stress at this point is respect.  We remind them that when they are rude and complain about dinner, it hurts my feelings since I worked hard (sometimes not so hard) to prepare the meal.

We also don't want sweets to seem like a forbidden item.  So, they can have dessert each night, assuming all the rules have been followed.

Of course the rules are tested from time to time.  One of the boys argues over dinner any night the offering is not one of his favorites but he usually backs down when I remind him of the rules.

We had a big battle a few nights ago.  One of the boys began whining when he learned we were having Chinese dumplings, rice and stir fried veggies.  I want to remind you that he could have had a small taste of the veggies and dumplings, filled up on rice and still had dessert, but he whined and whined.  I reminded him he could have cereal, and he asked for a sweetened cereal.  I reminded him that that is not an option.  He then announced he was just going to go to bed hungry.

This all was probably caused by the fact that he was already in a bad mood due to a large amount of math homework, but reasoning with him got me nowhere.  I put an end to the discussion quickly and continued with the meal preparations and then the meal.  About mid way through dinner, he caved in and ate a bowl of cereal, then another and another.  Then he showered and had time to play before bed.

I find that if we just don't make a big deal about the issue and we don't fall into the trap of the debate, things eventually go our way- the right way!

Tonight's dinner is a fish with spicy sauce over rice, salad and Challah bread.  One of the boys will eat the fish, salad and rice without the spicy sauce, one of the boys will eat the spicy sauce over the rice, with no fish or salad, one of the boys will eat it all and one of the boys will just eat rice and salad.  Everyone will enjoy the bread and, barring any unforeseen hiccups when the boys are reminded about the small taste of everything, we will have a lovely family dinner.

We also set the tone of the meal by asking each child, first, the best part of their day, and then the worst.  This keeps communication open and gives us a peek at their day.  I highly recommend it.

Bon appetite!

20 September 2010

Terrible horrible no good very bad day

Did anyone else read that book when they were kids?

Well, yesterday was one such day for me.  It didn't start out that way.  It started nicely enough, despite some of the boys complaining about going to religious school.  They went off to school and I watched the children of the teacher.  It was fun to get my baby fix.

The boys came home and we all had lunch together and then set off for Cox Farms, which has a fall festival every year.  They have huge slides set up on hay, hay "mountains" to climb, rope swings, hay rides, baby animals and more.  The kids love it, and we won tickets via  the great site:  http://www.dullesmoms.com.

When we got out of our car, though, we realized we had a nearly flat tire.  So, we took the boys around the festival together for a while and then Horatio headed out to the car to change the tire.  Unfortunately, the dealer put the lug nuts on so tight, he could not get them off.  Roadside assistance took 45 minutes to arrive and they couldn't remove the lug nuts either!  So, they called a tow truck.  I called a dear friend, who came to the rescue of the 4 tired, sweaty, cranky boys and me, while Tom waited for what ended up being about 4 hours for the truck to arrive.

I took the boys home, got them showered and fed and off to bed.  Then, just before going to bed, I remembered I'd put my ID in my pocket, so I went down to the laundry room to get it, only to find it wasn't there.  I looked everywhere and could not find it.  SO, I can add that to my list.

I have to take the car in to the shop to get the tire fixed or replaced and get myself to a military base to replace my ID.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, but it could have been worse if I'd been there alone with the boys and Horatio had already left on his pending deployment.

SO, I can be thankful for life's little favors, no matter how hard they are to spot.

16 September 2010

The trouble with potty training

Potty training is trouble, no matter when you start or how eager the child is.

My first son had many developmental delays, so it did not even occur to me to train him until he was over 3 years old.  Then, over winter break, we took away the diapers, let him run around with no pants on, and in a couple of days he was completely trained.  Done and Done.

Many of my friends had begun training their same aged kids a year before and were still battling messes and puddles.  Their job was complete at around the same time as mine was, but it took them many months, rather than a few days.

I took this lesson with me as I planned to train number 2.  He threw me for a loop, though, when at just over 2 years, he said he wanted to wear underwear and pee on the potty.  I knew it would be a mistake to tell him no, so I went with it.  He was in underwear from that point on, but refused to go number 2 in the potty.  He'd ask for a diaper to do that.  I had always said I would NEVER do that, but it is next to impossible to force a child to do that in the potty before they are ready, so I figured I was lucky he was in underwear and just went with it, until he was a little over 3 years old and we were expecting the arrival of number 3.  I began to push the issue a bit and finally had success with him, at right about the same age as number 1 was when he was fully trained.

Number 3 was a completely different story.  He was 2 1/2, realized his brothers were sharing a room and he was alone.  I told him he could move in with them when he had no more diapers...  done!  We had a few set backs, but he was the exception.

I've already addressed the issue of number 4 in this blog.  I felt the need to train him because his "friends" are trained.  I felt he wasn't completely ready, but went ahead with it.  The method we used for training him was pretty successful, but at 2 years, 9 months, he is still working things out.  He has anxiety about number 2, so I have to watch him very closely or put him in a pull up so that I don't end up cleaning up a mess on the carpet.  YUCK!  I think I put too much pressure on him and he has had some regression, so I am backing off.  I reward the successes, talk about the accidents, but don't get upset by them, and, I am pretty sure that by the time he's 3 1/2, diapers will be a memory.

At least I hope so!

Bottom line- don't push it if it's not working.  Let your kids guide you.  Each one is different, but most kids will train by 3 1/2 and if you wait, it probably will be easier, but you have to do what works for you and your child.

13 September 2010

Shaping our kids

Who is socializing kids these days?  If parents don't take care of their own kids, who will?  Do some parents think that the world will take care of their kids?  Do they think that their kids will somehow, magically develop into good citizens without an ounce of guidance?  Is it the responsibility of our schools to shape our kids?


When did this happen?  When did parents forget that they are responsible for their kids?  Who turned over the shaping of our future to strangers?

The reason I am on this rant stems from an event I attended with my children this weekend.  It was a family event for a class my kids are taking.  The organizers had put together a great program of crafts and snacks and about 25 children moved from table to table, enjoying the activities.

At one of the tables, the kids could make candied apples using honey, frosting, sprinkles, chocolate chips and more.  As you can imagine, this was a popular table.

I watched with horror as a 10 year old girl took a spoon to stab a hole in the plastic seal on a container of sprinkles.  She did not have the patience to pause to ask an adult for help.  She jabbed at the seal 4 times before the plastic gave way and sprinkles burst out all over the table.  She then took the spoon, poured sprinkles over her apple and into her mouth, spilling more over the table and onto the floor.  She then looked up and laughed, "I'd hate to be the one to have to clean that up!"

Her mother watched as it all transpired.  In response to her daughter's comment, she giggled back, "maybe YOU should."  But, it was clear she did not mean it.  She just turned and continued her conversation.


How can a mother let this happen and even condone the behavior?

In what universe is this behavior ok?  Am I the only one disturbed by this kind of conduct?

I really had to restrain myself.  I wanted to walk over to the 10 year old.  Look her in the eye and tell her to put the apple down, clean up the mess and leave the room.

Why did her mother not do this?  When did parents stop parenting?  Do they want to be their kids' friends?  Are they afraid that their kids won't like them if they set rules and insist their kids think of people other than themselves?

Yes, it's hard to be the bad guy sometimes and it's hard to listen to our kids cry because they want things, but we are parents.  We have to teach our kids right from wrong.  We have to teach our kids to be patient and to work for things they want.  It is our responsibility to shape our kids and when they turn out to be whiny, rude, messy and without motivation, the mirror is the only place to look for whom to blame.

06 September 2010

Clean up

The boys have to make a group effort at cleaning up the basement every couple of weeks.  They just have so many things that end up all over the floor. 

Play is a big part of their lives, and with that comes a mess, so, clean up has to be a part of it too.

No matter what, though, clean up time brings conflict. 

It starts with the claim that the youngest brother is the cause of the mess.  With the blame comes begging for help.  Once we get past that, the boys want to know how much they have to clean before they can quit.  My answer never changes, "all of it."

Usually, they ask for a reward for when they finish cleaning.  I usually say that the reward is a clean play area.  But, I always compliment the effort they've made and the job well done and make sure something fun follows the job. 

Kids will only do as much as we expect of them.  It is very important to have high expectations.  Sometimes we have to help them reach the goal, but if we don't expect them to achieve, they probably won't.

Praise is an important part of the process, but too much praise can backfire.  If the kids get too much praise, they stop doing things for the reward of the personal accomplishment and do it only to receive the praise.  We want our children to strive for success for the sake of personal achievement, not for the compliments we give them. 

Praise and reward the effort more than the achievement and you will foster desire and drive in your children.

The clean basement is the reward.  The joy of having an open space is the prize.  They fight it, but they do it and they make the effort together.  Every aspect of the job part of the learning process.  It all helps them grow and develop into productive, happy young men.