When The Shoe Is On The Other Foot (It Takes A Village – Chapter 4)

Lately, my two oldest kids have walked home from school.  That is not a problem, since we just live down the block.  I go to pick them all up and as I drive the two smaller ones home, the two bigger ones walk home together.  I figure it’s good that they are getting exercise and I am hoping they are bonding a bit on the walk home.

This week the two oldest kids have also gotten dressed and ready to go to school without a fight.  Marie has always been easy to get up, for the most part, but for Patrick it’s like pulling teeth out of a lion’s mouth.  Very painful and very loud.  So when Patrick started getting up on his own and being ready to leave on time, I was shocked and impressed.

When that happens, I have been willing to drive the older two to school early if the other two won’t get out of bed.  It’s a reward for the two that got up without a fight and a motivational tool to get the other two sleepy heads out of bed faster.  However, I would really like to have all of them up and ready to go at the same time.  But beggars can’t be choosers.  You know what I mean?

So the other day, I decided to give the two oldest kids some extra independence.  They had 15 minutes before school started and instead of driving them there, I gave them the option to walk to school if they wanted to.  Personally, I would have ridden to school, considering the fact that it’s an uphill walk.  I told them I would drive them, but if they wanted to walk, they could.  So they chose to walk to school together.

Having the two older ones walk to school for the first time was a bit scary, but I knew I would be right behind them as soon as I had the other two up and dressed.  Plus, I used this opportunity as a way to get the two little ones up faster.  I told them that we needed to get moving, so we could beat their siblings to school.  They liked the idea of waving at their siblings as they were walking up a hill.  LOL  Yes, there is much love in our household.  LOL

So I got the kids dressed and out the door in record time.  There was about 7 minutes left before they were going to be late.  We got in the van and headed up the hill.  I was a little worried at first when I didn’t see the two older kids walking.  But as we got to the top of the hill, we saw them stepping onto the outskirts of the church property.

As we drove by, I slowed down some and rolled down the window.  I asked them if they wanted a ride, but they refused.  Patrick was several feet ahead of Marie and Marie was whining for him to wait for her.  They were carrying their backpacks, which I had offered to bring to school for them, but they declined the offer.  So we pulled into the school parking lot and waited for the two older kids to catch up.

As we walked into school together, with 4 minutes to spare, I realized that their tennis shoes were soaked from the morning dew.  You see, they didn’t cross the street to walk on the sidewalk, because the morning traffic on that street was busier than normal.  So they walked on the side closest to our house and the school…in the wet grass.  Yep, Mom messed up on that one.  But it was something that could be solved.  As I said goodbye to all of them, I promised to return in a minute with some dry shoes and socks to change into.

It wasn’t until I was driving home, that I realized that this was the opportunity I was looking for.  My sister had given me this idea, to show my kids what I go through every time they make me late for work.  This was the perfect time to give my two oldest kids a little life lesson.  So I grabbed their shoes and socks and headed back to school on a mission.

When I got there, I found the kids and helped them get their shoes changed.  While I was helping them, each individually, we had the following conversation:

“Hey, remember how you felt walking to school this morning?”,  I asked.

They replied, “Yeah.”

Then I said, “How you were sort of stressed and worried about being late for school?  And then when you got there, you were really tired and out of breath from the walk?”

Each one of them answered, “Yes, I remember.  I was warned out.”

I replied back, “Well, that is the way I feel every time I am late for work, because you won’t get out of bed to get to school on time.  So the next time I tell you that I need you to work with me, because I am going to be late for work, I want you to remember this feeling.  Then maybe you will be a little more willing to help me out in the morning.”

They nodded their head in agreement.

Then I returned them to their class and walked out of the door, feeling pretty damn pleased with myself.  Now, they might not remember this later when I need them to.  But for one brief second, they witnessed the type of stress I deal with every time I try to get everyone to their proper places in the morning.  It’s like trying to move a mountain sometimes and it really makes me tired.  And I wonder why I’m so tired all the time.  Maybe from some unnecessary stress???

I would like to give my sister a shout out for the idea.  I don’t know what I would do without you, Sis!  You really have filled Mom’s shoes well and I’m very thankful for having you in my life.


Good Mornings??? (It Takes A Village – Chapter 3)

I’m sure that I have ranted at least once or twice about how my kids don’t care about getting to school on time.  It’s a daily struggle to get them up in the morning and get them out the door on time.  Even though life has changed some since I have become unemployed, that fact is still true.  Mornings in our house are very stressful.

Even more so, when I have a substitute teaching job that I need to get to on time.  I’ve had a few times that I was in a rush to get to work on time, because my kids did not want to get up for school.  As I was zooming to work, with my hands gripping the steering wheel so hard my knuckles were white, I had flashbacks of my old working life.

I thought to myself, “Oh yeah, I remember this hyperventilating feeling.  This is the way I felt every morning, Monday-Friday, when I had a full-time job.  Boy, I don’t miss that.”  No wonder why I was always so stressed out and why I would get to work feeling exhausted.  My adrenaline levels were always at the highest point in the mornings and when I would finally sit down at my desk at work, I would collapse into a pile of unproductive jello.  Then I would spend the entire day, pumping myself with caffeine and sugar, in hopes to get some energy to make it through the day.  God, I do NOT miss those days.

However, those days are about to start-up again, since I am getting more and more substitute teaching jobs.  Which makes me a little scared and pissed off, to tell you the truth.  I have an opportunity to substitute teach at a school in October for 3 weeks.  This is big, because it will be for the same 5th grade class, so I will actually be able to see if I enjoy teaching on a daily basis.  However, the job will require me to be there by 7:30am every morning.  Which means my kids will need to get their rears out of bed in the morning and get to school by 7:00am.  Considering the fact that they are normally slipping through the school door at 7:59am every morning does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about this.

However, I have a choice to make.  I can either turn down this sub job, because it will be too inconvenient for my kids or I can take the job and make my kids grow up and take more responsibility.  I had to think it over a bit, but I decided it’s time for my kids to grow up a bit.  So how do you do that?  Well, my big sister gave me a great idea and I put it into play the other day.  Wait until you see what I did.

Tattling Mama (It Takes A Village – Chapter 2)

If you recall, I said I had a few incidents lately where I had to snitch on my kids.  So let me tell you about Incident #2.  This one happened yesterday with my youngest son Christopher.  I was working Aftercare at my children’s school for my friend (Ann’s teacher).  She had a dentist appointment to go to, so I said I would fill in.  Ann’s teacher has the younger group of kids in Aftercare, which means that my three youngest were in my class.  That is not a big problem, except when your kids don’t want to listen.

I’m not sure why, but Christopher was wild that day.  Actually, they all were.  Most of the things Christopher did were just annoying, but he went too far when he decided to run out of the school building and into the school parking lot, ON HIS OWN!  I saw him do it, Thank God, so I could go after him.  However, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I had a classroom full of kids I was responsible for, that I couldn’t leave alone.  Yet, my son had run out the door and could have been running into traffic as we speak.

There is another teacher that works Aftercare for the Middle School students, so I told Marie to go get her to watch the little kids.  When I noticed Marie walking at a normal pace to the other room, I had to emphasize to go QUICKLY!  One would think that moving quickly would be your automatic reaction, however, my oldest did not.  Oh brother!!!

As soon as the other teacher rounded the corner, I asked her to watch my class and then I was dashing out the door with Patrick right behind me.  We found Christopher in the parking lot, just waiting for us to come after him.  I snatched him up and I gave him a few smacks on his butt.  I scolded him, as I carried him back into the building.  Then I planted him in a chair and told him not to move a muscle.

I was so angry, scared, frustrated, worried, relieved and exhausted from that little incident.  Luckily, I had seen him leave the building.  If he had left the building without me being aware of it, this story would have been a lot worse.  Because, once you leave the school building, the doors lock behind you.  You have to press a button to call for someone to let you in.  However, Christopher is not tall enough to reach the button.  Now, do you see why I was so upset.

The other teacher was gracious enough to let me leave early that day.  I got everyone home and as I was sitting at the kitchen table, I sent my friend (the Aftercare teacher I was filling in for) a text that said I would not be able to fill in for her anymore.  As I was typing it, tears ran down my face.  I cried because of what happened and what could have happened.  I was crying because I was having to let my friend down.  My friend has needed me in the past, because sometimes her life does not cooperate with her work schedule.  I hated to have to tell her that I couldn’t be her backup any more.  I was still angry, frustrated, and embarrassed that I could not control my own kids.

Needless to say, Frank heard all about it when he got home.  Christopher’s punishment was no ice cream and no tablet time for the night.  I know that some of you are saying, “I’d have beat his butt.”  He got another spanking before the night was through, however Marie and Christopher just laugh when you are spanking them. So that does not get the same response as no ice cream and no tablet will produce.  When I told Christopher ‘no ice cream’, he acted like I cut off his left arm.

When I took the kids to school this morning, I had a brilliant idea.  I made sure Christopher was the last one to be dropped off.  After I gave Christopher a hug and kiss goodbye, he went to join his classmates in the center room.  That is when I had a little talk with his teacher.  Their class has been discussing safety and learning what police officers and fire fighters do.  So I asked if she would address the importance of boundaries and how they are there for our own safety.

His teacher was really on board.  She said she would address the class about that, but also pull him aside and have a little chat with him.  She said they have already discussed that they are not to be leaving the building without a teacher.  So yes, I snitched on my son and I’m pretty proud of it.

It takes a village to raise a child.  We all have different roles in that village and we all have different ways that we influence that child.  My son knows that I love him unconditionally.  He is not afraid to push the envelope with me, because I am his mother and I am his safety net, so to speak.  He trusts me enough to push my patience farther than he would push his teacher, because he feels safe with me.

That fact is like a double-edged sword.  It’s great to know that I have his trust and that our relationship makes him feel like I will have his back, no matter what.  But it’s bad when I am trying to instill in him the importance of following rules that are there for his own safety.  I know that he did not realize all the bad things that could have happened to him that day.  He was just trying to get my attention and be funny.

So when things like this happen and I feel like my kids don’t fully understand what I am trying to teach them, that is when I ask for help from one of the villagers.  It’s not that they honor or obey their teachers more than their parents.  It’s the fact that another adult is conveying to them, in a different way, how wrong they were.  That message will hit home with them later, when they think back at what mom said before.  Then they will realize, ‘Oh crap, Mom just told the teacher on me.  I better straighten up.’

You can’t out-fox a fox…unfortunately, my child’s haven’t figured that out yet.


Mom’s a Snitch & Proud Of It! (It Takes a Village – Chapter 1)

Have you heard the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’?  Well that is very true.  Yet, the roles that we all play in a child’s life are different.  Although the parents are expected to be the authority figure in their child’s life, there are other adults, like teachers, that have a big impact on your children too.  Which is why I had to snitch on my kids the other day.  Like they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat!

Incident #1 happened earlier this week with my dear and loving son Patrick.  We were headed to school the other morning and everyone was in their normal chipper moods.  {Insert a LOT of sarcasm here!!!}  Anyway, the kid’s were getting out of the van and Patrick was angry about life in general, partly because he was tired and didn’t want to go to school.  As he grabs his backpack from the van, he asks me if I placed this little plastic container in his backpack for him.  I told him no and explained that I didn’t know I was supposed to be in charge of that duty.  He huffs around in the parking lot, arguing that he asked me to do it this morning.  Then he calls me a not so nice word (another word for donkey) and storms off to school.

Okay, I get that he is mad and the fact that he calls me a ‘donkey’ doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that he says it loudly in the school parking lot (correction, the Catholic school parking lot).  So I get the little kids into their classroom and before I leave Ann’s classroom, I tattle on my son.  🙂

Ann’s teacher, which is also Christopher’s God-mother, is a good friend of mine.  She always asks how I am doing and she knows that I will tell her the truth.  So when she inquired about my morning, I told her in a quiet whisper how my oldest son called me a ‘donkey’ in the school parking lot.  She stifled a grin and gave me kudos for not murdering him on the spot.  Then I went home to get some cleaning done.

Little did I know that my good friend would take it upon herself to guide my son a little bit that day.  After school, while I was picking the kids up, Ann’s teacher tells me that she put a bug in my son’s ear today.  When I asked her what type a bug, she told me that she had pulled Patrick aside and told him that she knew what he called me this morning and that his mother works her buns off to help care for him and he needs to be a little more Christ-like and practice the fifth commandment to ‘Honor your father and mother’.  I appreciated her helping me out.  God knows I try my best, but sometimes my kid’s don’t notice that.

The comical thing is that when Ann’s teacher told Patrick “A little birdie told me you called your mom a bad name this morning.”, he thought the little birdie was his little sister.  LOL  So when I mentioned to him later that I heard he had a talk with Ann’s teacher, he blamed Ann for tattling on him.  I was quick and happy to correct him and tell him that I was the one that told on him, not his little sister.  He then called me a ‘donkey’ again and I laughed.  Why did a laugh, because this time he said it in a joking tone in the privacy of our home.  I’m okay with that.  It’s when the name is used in anger, in public, that I have a problem with it.  Besides, I’ve been known to refer to him as a ‘donkey’ from time to time too.  I guess you could say it is a term of endearment in our household.