What makes a good parent?

Posted On June 30, 2008

Filed under Bear, family, life, parenting

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I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about what makes a good parent.  Maybe its been all of the news articles or maybe it was Father’s Day, but its really been on my mind.  I have been reading Mama Rock’s Rules by Rose Rock and I realized that I am still not the parent I want to be.

I still remember meeting Bear’s girls for the first time.  We were having a BBQ and just getting to know each other.  The one thing that really sticks out from that day is that I was thinking, “Wow, what a great dad…”  Even though we were just in his backyard, he knew exactly where each kid was and what they were doing.  When they came up to talk to him or ask a question, he would squat down so that he was at eye level with them and completely engage them.  There were times that day that he played with them and other times that he just watched them.  When it was time to eat, he made sure they all had food and drink before he would even go near a plate himself.  There were so many little things that he did that day, there is no way that I could list them all.  He just lit up became so full of life and purpose when they were around.

Since becoming part of The Tribe, whenever I get in a tough spot or feel like I am not sure what to do, I always turn to him.  He always seems to know how to handle any situation, even when he is upset.  I know people will say that comes from experience but with him it is not just experience.  There is more to it then that, he instinctively protects them and their best interests, like a Bear protecting his cubs.

His protective instinct started over 15 years ago, when The Mother Hen was born.  He was in the military at the time and very young but he had read about SIDS and crib-death.  His wife at the time wanted almost nothing to do with The Mother Hen, so when they brought her home from the hospital he was the one who took care of her.  For the next three days, he neither slept nor ate because he refused to put The Mother Hen in her crib, fearing that if he did she would get hurt.  He wouldn’t set her down for a moment or let her out of his sight.  After three days of not hearing from him, his best friend at the time went over to his apartment.  Aaron found Bear exhausted but still very protective over his infant daughter.  Aaron had to argue with him for several hours before he would finally get some rest.  Aaron promised to hold onto the baby and not set her down for the next few hours, if Bear would sleep.  Eventually, Bear learned how to set up the crib so that The Mother Hen could sleep in it and he would feel secure.  But, he still spent most nights sleeping in the rocking chair in her room.  Even today, he doesn’t sleep right unless all the kids are in the house and he still goes and checks on each one of them at least once throughout the night.

Bear is an amazing parent and an awesome guy.  I strive to be like him as a parent as much as I can.  He is so good at it that people have stopped telling him what a great job he is doing.  I am probably the worst offender of this because I look up to him as a parent and I don’t tell him how great he is.  I just wish that one day, I will be half as good at being a parent as he is.

Lost Treasures

Posted On June 28, 2008

Filed under life, parenting, self, The Tribe

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I started cleaning out the back seat of my car yesterday because it was really getting overloaded with things.  As a whole, we have the habit of leaving empty wrappers and empty juice boxes on the floor of the car.  But, over the past year or so, I have found some very interesting things.

  1. A small child sized, pink toed sock – As far as I know, no one has ever left the car without their socks on…
  2. Several rocks – Courtesy of The Tyrant
  3. Crushed-up multi-color goldfish crackers – Or as I called it kaleidoscope vomit
  4. A bubble wand – but no bubbles or bottle…
  5. 2 Shrek trivia cards – probably from a Happy Meal
  6. 4 pony tail holders – I can never find any in the house, they all end up in my back seat!
  7. Teddy Graham limbs – Just arms and legs, no heads.
  8. A rubber ducky – I am not even going to ask where this one came from myself.

As I write this, I am wondering a few things.  First, how did I end up with one sock and second, when did I lose control over the contents of my car!  I use to have cool stuff, like candy bar wrappers and now, I end up with bath toys!

America, where did we go wrong with our daughters?

Posted On June 25, 2008

Filed under bonding time, parenting, The Tribe

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I caught this story in the national headlines… A teen pregnancy pact made by 17 high school students.  I am sure that tons of people are going to be blogging about this but I am back on my soap box.  I just don’t understand where the parents are for teens these days.  Do they just figure that since the kids are now 13 years old that they can start running their own lives and the parents no longer have a responsibility for their kids?  Or have we just become that selfish that we don’t care about what happens to our children?

A while ago, Jamie Lynn Spears announced her pregnancy to the world.  A young cousin to the girls was also pregnant so seemed like a good idea to have a talk with them about it.  I will never forget what they said when I asked them what they thought about teens getting pregnant.  Here is what they had to say about the topic.

The Mother Hen – “I want kids, one day… you know like when I am 30.”

The Show – “I am never having kids, they are too much work.  I see what you guys have to put up with.”

The Tyrant – “Babies are dumb.  All they do is sleep, poop and throw up on you.”

I can’t help but wonder how many parents missed the opportunity to hear what their kids had to say on the topic.  Can you imagine that some girls want to get pregnant so that they will feel loved?  To me, that says something and it is not a good thing.  How many times do we miss opportunities with our kids to do something else we would rather do?  How many of us are sending the message to our kids that we don’t love them? 

I am not saying that I am perfect or even that people should talk to thier kids the way we talk to ours.  I am just saying, next time you are in the room with your kids, take a moment and remind them that you love them and care what they have to say.  You would be surprised how much insight they really have sometimes.

Tribe-y-oke

Posted On June 24, 2008

Filed under bonding time, family, parenting

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Whenever we are in the car for an extended period of time, we always end up singing some of our favorite songs all together at the top of our lungs. I have come to think of this habit as Tribe-y-oke and here are some of our favorite songs to scream.. er.. sing.

We don’t always like the same songs but we always try to find something silly or meaningful to yell out together in the car.  It is way better than listening to arguments and usually ends in fits of laughter.  Some people think it is weird, some people think it is pretty cool…  I am just glad we have fun and we can do it together.

Signs, Signs, Everwhere there’s signs!

We were driving in the car the other day and we saw a sign that said “Signage available.” This started a great debate amoung the tribe. Is signage even a word?

The Tyrant brought up a Spongbob episode where Mr. Krabs says it. The Mother Hen chimes in, “That is a cartoon, so it doesn’t have to use real words and I don’t think it is a real word.” The Show wonders, “But is if is not a real word, why is it on that sign?” Bear rolls his eyes at us, “You guys are crazy… Some body pease save me from this conversation!”

So, when I got home, I went so Wikipedia. And according to them signage, is in fact a real word. Mystery solved!

I finally understand, Dad…

I will always remember my favorite Christmas present from when I was a kid. I was about 9 years old when my parents gave me a set of Fisher Price adjustable in-line skates. They were the kind that you wore tennis shoes and tightened the skate around them. I don’t really even remember if I asked for them, or it it was just something they thought we might enjoy. At first thaw, I remember being very excited because I could finally go and try them out.

The first ride was pretty painful because I spent more time on my butt then on my skates. The second and third were better. By the end of the week, I couldn’t stay off of them. When my friends would ride their bikes, I would skate along side them. My dad use to watch me all of the time when I was skating. He use to insist that I stay close to the house, so that he could watch. I use to get so mad because I thought he didn’t trust me or was too scared that I would get hurt.

As I got older and I got new pairs of skates, he still would insist that I spent some time skating near the house. He would tell that me that he enjoyed to watch me. Being a kid, I didn’t understand so I thought that he was just smothering me. I use to deliberately try to not skate near the house. I would even take my skates off down the block and walk the rest of the way home.

When I started college and there was less time for fun, I stopped skating as much. He would ask every time that he saw me if I was still skating. I would say “No, too much stuff to do.” He would always look disappointed and I was never really sure why. I wasn’t sure if he thought that I was getting overweight or if I was less healthy or something.

But, on Father’s Day, I finally understood. I was sitting with him watching the girls and Bear play with his dog Max. They were running around, laughing and having fun. He and I just sat there and watched them for a while. That is when I finally got it. I was an awkward kid and I still don’t really fit in well with my family, but when I was skating I was truly happy and having fun. He would enjoy watching me have fun, just as I enjoyed watching the girls on Sunday. So Dad, I finally understand why you wanted to watch me so much. I am sorry I was kind of a butt-hole about it.

The moment ended, as all touching moments do. Bear announced that it was time to leave. The Tyrant asked, “Why Daddy?” And Bear said, “Because Sonny wants some peace for Father’s Day, you dog terrorists!”

Happy Father’s Day!

Posted On June 15, 2008

Filed under Uncategorized

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First, I wanted to say Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there in blogger-land. I hope that you all have a good day.

Second, I wanted to wish Happy Father’s Day to my dad. I hope you like your gifts!

Finally, I wanted to say Happy Father’s Day to Bear. Thank you for sharing your day with me, as well as the girls. I hope it turns out exactly the way you want it to.

So much for that trick…

Posted On June 12, 2008

Filed under Bear, parenting, The Tyrant

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As a parent, from time to time, I find myself spelling words to Bear so that the youngest won’t know what we are saying specifically. I know all parents have done it and it is a pretty useful thing when you are talking about upcoming trips either the fun ones or the not so fun ones.

Tonight, we were all eating dinner together and Bear asks me, “When are we going to the z-o-o?” I replied, “I am not sure.” The Tyrant’s face lights up, “Sweet! We are going to the zoo!” Bear looks at her, blinks and then huffs, “Stupid second-grade reading level!”

It is the end of an era, we will no longer be able to spell out small/medium sized words to trick her. I couldn’t be more proud of our little first grade graduate.

P.S. I am moving! I got myself one of those fancy domain names. I will now be available at http://www.lifeandtimesofawickedstepmom.com. I will leave this site up while I transition over but please start using the new address. I am eventually going to change blog hosting too.

We shall have grips like Iron!

Yesterday, The Tyrant managed to get silly putty all over the couch and her shorts. Bright, neon yellow silly putty… The Mother Hen, Bear and I started trying to clean it up. (Thank the intar-web for GoodHouseKeeping!) As we are sitting there scrapping silly putty of shorts and the couch, I looked over at the The Tyrant and asked, “How did this happen?” And she looks at me with tears in her eyes and says “I don’t know!” (This link goes to a classic parenting skit, it is a must see!)

I shook my head and continued scrapping. After about 20 minutes of scrapping, The Mother Hen and I both have cramps in our hands but it is finally coming almost all the way off. The Mother Hen said, “I need a break, my hand hurts!” I looked at her, as seriously as I could, “No you can’t, you must keep working! We shall have grips like IRON!” We both starting laughing and continued to scrape.

Next, we started dabbing cotton balls of alcohol on the yellow remnants. The Tyrant, who was still showing little remorse for what happened, started playing a video game. I almost lost my temper completely. Instead, I very firmly said “You are going to have to stop playing that game.” Bear said, “If you are truly remorseful as you told me you were, you would be trying to help us instead of playing that game.” The Tyrant drops her controller and very quietly asks, “Can I help?” Bear, who is working on her shorts, looks up and says “Yes, you can tell us how this happened.” The Tyrant says again, “I don’t know!” Thoroughly frustrated, Bear leaves the room to pre-treat her shorts so that they can be washed.

After about a half hour of dabbing, the couch is almost clean. The Tyrant has gone back to her video game and The Mother Hen is mad because she has been working and her younger sister is just sitting there. So, in the snarkiest tone possible she looks at The Tyrant and says, “That’s okay, when we have grips like iron I am going to use my grip to strangle you!”

They way we think…

Posted On June 6, 2008

Filed under family, life, Out of my element, self

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So, I was in the car with my mom the other day. Something I usually avoid as much as possible. She and I just don’t really understand each other much and talking for extended periods can become awkward. But, she said she really wanted to talk to me and it seemed like a good time to do it.

The first thing that she tells me is that she finally realized something about me. She said, “People think differently and that is okay, but I think I finally realize that you and I think differently and that is why we have to try so hard to understand each other. Your Dad and your brother think the same way that I do. And, it must have been really hard for you growing up with all of us. I think you are brilliant and you use your mind in ways that the rest of us just don’t understand. You and I just don’t think the same. Sometimes I wish I thought more like you, so that I could understand you better and so that you wouldn’t have had it so hard.” I was stunned into silence. (Pretty amazing if you ask most people that know me.) So, she continued,
“I just feel really bad that you had to adapt and you had to work so hard at getting along with us and we never even met you half way.”

So, I looked at her and said, “That’s stupid. If you are going to carry around guilt for not understanding me and not getting the way I think, that is just stupid. If you want to feel guilty, go ahead and feel guilty but not over me and not over this.” She didn’t really know what to say to that. But, we continued to talk and she said she would work on letting the guilt go.

This conversation with her really made me think about my relationship with the girls and Bear. Growing up, I always felt alone and like an outsider. I don’t want anyone to feel that and I try really hard to make sure that it doesn’t turn out that way for any of them. But, I thought about it a lot over the last few days. I realized that the five of us laugh at the same jokes, cry at the same sad movies and always try to include everyone. Maybe we try to hard.. there is family movie night, dinner is always eaten together, and no one sits on the side lines for group activities (even the teenager gets involved!). But, I really don’t care if we try to hard to include everyone. Its better than not trying at all.

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