Tag Archives: children

Playing Favourites

I love all my kids. To distraction. I am frequently asked which of them is my favourite. I always answer that I have four favourites. They each have their own unique character, strengths and weaknesses.

I suspect that if I sat down and wrote out pros & cons (no, that doesn’t sound right) – strengths and weaknesses of each child, there may be one or two front runners. But that doesn’t factor in emotional connection etc.

Growing up I was aware that I wasn’t my Gramma’s favourite. My mum never ever made us feel like she preferred one of us over the other, but my Gramma was a different story. She was a woman of strong character and opinions. (Gee, I wonder who takes after her?!). I was never resentful – that was just the way it was. The sibling in question, who was the favourite, well, he always denied it.

Maybe I didn’t feel resentful because my other grandparents spoiled me rotten, being the only granddaughter amongst lots of boy children. Who knows?

Were you the favourite growing up? Were you aware there was a favourite? Do you have a favourite child? Is it ok to have a favourite, even if your kids will never know?

Sometimes

Sometimes the kids, they surprise you. After a day of telling them off, and picking up after them, because after your bazillionth reminder to pick their socks up off the floor, they still haven’t heard you, and after a day of slowly watching your hair turn grey (or fall out) after their latest antics, they can do it, they can totally remind you just why you love them so much.

It can be a simple hug at bedtime, or an “I love you” thrown over their shoulder as they go to brush their teeth. It can be the instinctive act of catching a brother as he trips over his own feet, or sharing a forbidden piece of candy with him. It can be as trivial as “I remembered to put the seat down” and as big as “I folded all the towels when the dryer dinged, Ima”.

There are days when we totally need reminders of why we love these little people. Sometimes we just take it for granted that they are there, in much the same way that they take for granted that we will always be there for them, picking up their socks and cooking their meals and nagging the heck out of them.

Take a moment to remember why you love the little people in your life. Cherish that thought. Savour that feeling. Make it your mantra. Because you know, you know 1000%, that these kids will test you more tomorrow and the day after. And it’s only because you love them so darn much that you look forward to everything they will throw at you and will accept it with grace and fortitude, because you are Mom, and you know that all this testing is helping them to grow up to be decent human beings. Life lessons must be lived to be learned.

Embrace it all, the good and the annoying, because it is a blessing to have our children in our lives.

WWYD – Child Is Stealing

I received this letter from a reader this morning – your input, dear reader, will be much appreciated. This letter was only edited for spelling.

Hi Hadassah,

You don’t know me, but I’ve been a fan of you and your blog for many months now, and now when I have a problem I thought maybe you and your readers could give advice. It’s a problem that kept me up this Friday night, and I don’t know whether I’m over reacting. Please feel free to edit/cut/delete.

I have 4 children, aged from 11 to 17, all with different personalities and needs (I’ll call them child1 (oldest) to child4).

Child3 is very talented at science, and goes to extra classes once a week in the evening after school. Child3 also needs a lot of sleep and finds it difficult to concentrate, so I give her a small bar of chocolate to help her get through the evening. The classes are very difficult but it means that she can start a degree during the last few years of high school if she wants.

About a few weeks ago I saw some chocolate bars on sale, and bought enough to last her for a month. I put the bag on a table in the house, and after a day or two discovered the bag had disappeared. No-one admitted to taking it. My elderly father was visiting us for a week at the time and he has a sweet tooth so I thought maybe he took it but I don’t think he would do that and of course I didn’t want to embarrass him by saying anything.

Child3 buys some cookies and puts them in her bedside drawer (she shares with child4). Child2 sees her eating one. A day or two later Child3 discovers that she has less cookies than before.

Seeing that the chocolate bars disappeared, I bought more and this time didn’t put them on the table but put them in child3’s drawer. Later we see that instead of 4 there are only two. Again I buy another few to last to the end of year, and again they disappear. A few days ago I entered Child2’s bedroom and see what I immediately recognize as chocolate stains on the sheet next to the pillow. Since Child1 and Child4 had been eating bread and chocolate spread I immediately jumped to conclusions but Child2 said she had no idea what the stains were and didn’t know how they got there. A day later the stains were gone.

Child1 is always looking for something to eat, but buys with his money. If he buys on credit from the local store he always tells me and pays me. Child 2 is trying to lose weight, so in theory won’t eat fattening things. This said, she isn’t losing weight. Child4 gets on very well with Child3, and also buys snacks for herself with pocket money.

My problem is this: Obviously I suspect Child2, but when asked she gets very emotional and hurt that we always suspect her. Child3 caught her looking in her drawer, but she said she was only looking for her deodorant which had disappeared! Why didn’t she look for her sister to ask her? How can I get her to admit the truth? It may be only chocolate, but it’s a slippery slope when you start doing something wrong, and suspicions grow.

Child2 never had enough money to go out with her sister and friends to the movies, and marveled that her sister could, while also buying lots of other items. Now I’m thinking that she has been taking money from us, bit by bit, or also from her siblings. No-one keeps a close check on how much they have (there was no need).

I would love proof of who is doing the stealing, and to know if it involves money as well. Can this be done without the knowledge of anyone but me? I’ve told Child3 that until we know I suspect all 3 siblings equally but she has her suspicions.

I hate think that a child of mine is a thief. I don’t know who it is, what they have been stealing, how to find out who it is, if I need to know who it is, and how to deal with it or if to ignore it. Lots of questions and no answers.

Motherof4

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Full disclosure with kids

In this day and age it seems as if no one has any secrets any more. Facebook and twitter and blogs and texting – well, some people use the internet to record every waking moment, every thought, every event. With some of the new applications out there, you can even update your location with maps and everything. (I briefly signed up to foursquare. I deleted the app from my Blackberry yesterday. Not for me).

Some of my friends have their kids as Facebook friends. I don’t allow my children to have Facebook accounts, so I am not worried that they will read something on my page I don’t want them to see. In fact, I won’t add a friend’s kid unless they are over 18 and I know them well.

Our kids are used to knowing everything real time. But how much is too much information? We sit down and talk to our children about the dangers of drugs and smoking. It has to be an honest conversation if we want them to really understand the consequences of certain types of behaviour. But then again, if you were a pot-head as a teen – and your child / teen asks you if you ever inhaled – do you tell them the truth? Perhaps a sanitized version? Perhaps the truth with a huge disclaimer along the lines of “we didn’t realize back then what consequences it could have had, and now I regret it”?

I have told my kids that smoking is bad for them. They know their grandfather smoked a heck of a lot and died at a young age. They also know that if I ever caught them smoking they would be in trouble. “It isn’t the cigarettes that would kill us, Ima would kill us first”. But it’s totally hypocritical of me. As a 17 year old starting college I smoked. Silk Cuts to be precise. For 3 months. I tried hard but I couldn’t get addicted. Thank God!! If the kids ask me if I ever smoked do I tell them the truth? That I did it to fit it with all the other students who were puffing away? That it did nothing for me except make my clothes and breath smell? Or do I lie and say I never smoked? I try so hard to be honest and open with my children – but where do you draw the line?

How about disclosing a previous marriage? Do kids need to know about that? Sometimes people have had a “starter marriage” – first marriage, totally wrong for each other, lasted all of 10 seconds, everyone moved on to bigger and better things, leaving just a tiny little blip on the horizon. Do children of the subsequent marriage have a right to know about the first one? Is it any of their business? Is it a part of what makes them who they are, or is it not necessary to their life? I have a couple of friends who had babies in their teens as unwed mothers and gave them up for adoption, moved on with their lives, got married, had more kids – when do those kids need to know about their mother’s story? Never? What if that child comes looking for his / her biological parent?

As the children get older the boundaries seem to blur a little – their maturity level makes them more understanding and trustworthy. They can handle uncomfortable truths. But does that mean we need to share all those family secrets that we have been withholding up until now? How much is too much?

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Question for divorced parents

(Inspired by an email I received)

Let’s say you are divorced with young children – ages 9 and 12. If you are the custodial parent, or it is your week with your kids,  and the other parent is having a birthday, is it fair to expect you to remind the children that it is their other parent’s birthday? How about going so far as to give them money to buy a card, and going with them to do so? Would you remind them to call their other parent to wish them happiness on this special day?

Let’s flip this – if you were the other parent, and your young children neglected to contact you in any way, shape or form on your birthday, would you be hurt? Who would you blame?

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Ah children!!

Today’s mail brought two items for my eldest son. (Why can’t they address my bills to him??) One was a package containing 2 Mike and Ike packs. He had eaten some Mike and Ikes a while back, and they tasted weird to him. So, being my son, he complained to the company. They sent him a lovely letter apologizing for the poor quality, suggesting reasons for said poor quality, and some free Mike and Ikes for his trouble.

The second piece of mail made me laugh. My 12 year old son has been learning about writing letters in English class. How to address an envelope, how to start and end a letter etc. So for an assignment they had to write a letter to someone, address it correctly and mail it. He told me 2 weeks ago that he wrote to his oldest brother and was eagerly waiting for his letter to arrive. Here follows the letter (which by the way was written on paper, but stuck onto a card made from sandpaper!!):

Dear Lenny

I am writing to tell you that it’s very nice that you don’t punch me all the time and you semi-like me. But I’m not so sure but hey we’re all human. I plan on repaying you somehow. I look forward to you not killing me.

I’m sorry for constantly insulting you. Thank you again. Many thanks for that.

“a world without me is like me without food”

Without Wax

Your Bro

PHF

PS could you do something about Prince ChatterBox for me.

Well, I do have to say that the layout of the letter is correct, and the envelope was correctly addressed other than leaving off “Montreal, Quebec”. The sandpaper card cracked me up – I am wondering if that was deliberate or not. I hope my son will keep this card for posterity. Would love to see what Prince Hockey Fan will think about it ten years from now.

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WWYD – lost library book

You and the kids go regularly to the library; you expect the kids to keep track of the books they borrow; you have a special place set aside for keeping the library books so you can return them all without having to look like crazy.

You return the books to the library, take out some more, and you go home. In a week or so you get an email notification that one of the books is overdue. The son who borrowed it swears up and down and sideways that he returned it. He remembers, he says, putting it on the pile. The kid is trustworthy and you believe him.

You talk to the librarian, tell her that it isn’t lost, that you know it was returned. It’s happened before. They told me once that I hadn’t returned a book and later they called to say they had indeed misplaced it and found it on their shelves. If the book is lost you have to pay for it, if the loss is contested it has a different designation. The librarian gave a long lecture that you listened to, and yet you still gently insist the book was returned. She huffily agrees to mark it as “misplaced in library” and off you go.

Your son is cleaning his room for Pesach and oh no what have we here?  The “lost” library book is found between dresser and wall. He tells you straight away and wonders what will happen now.

Do you:

a) Return the book to the library in person and apologize profusely to the librarian, perhaps dragging your son with you so he can apologize;

b) Just drop it in the drop box in front of the library and think about it no more and give your son a stern lecture; OR

c) Sneak it into the library and leave it on the shelves so that they can “find” it.

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Sorry Kid, I need to ignore you for a while…NOT!!

You see, apparently I am so obsessed with building my reputation, my “brand” as a mommy blogger that I am neglecting my kids.

An article, entitled “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand” was published in the NYT recently and it is the most ridiculous load of codswallop I have ever read.

The author lumps us all together, how we are all in it for the money (what money, pray tell?) and the furtherance of our careers, and we are all about the SEO and stuff like that.

Yes I hang out on twitter and facebook for inspiration and friendship, yes I blog, yes I am a mommy, yes I am a writer hoping one day to have a career in that field. Do you know what inspired me to develop my writing talents? There are 4 reasons – my sons. (Well 5 – my husband too). Writing about them preserves the memories forever. Raising them has given me perspective on so many different things. I would not be who I am without them. Not even close.

I hate the term “mommy blogger”. I write about other things than my kids. But that’s really who I am.  My boys are my raison d’être and there is no way on this earth that I would put money or blogging before them or my husband.  My children are the most awesome children in the world, and I choose to share this with the blogosphere. Having a blog has enabled me to enlarge my social circle and learn from other moms and dads. If eventually it makes money – who will benefit? Not just me, the whole family will.

I just didn’t appreciate the tone of the article. The author visited a mommy blogger conference, buddied up with the ladies there, and then shot them down in her article.

“Teaching your baby to read? Please. How to hide vegetables in your children’s food? Oh, that’s so 2008.

The topics on that day’s agenda included search-engine optimization, building a “comment tribe” and how to create an effective media kit. There would be much talk of defining your “brand” and driving up page views.

You know. For your blog.”

The tone at the beginning of the article, some of it quoted above, was dismissive. But those last five words that I quoted just total got my dander up. Pooh poohing mommy blogs. Like we are a waste of space.

My kids are proud of my blog. They ask me daily what I wrote about and how many people came over to comment and chat. It starts many interesting discussions around the dinner table (dinner which I cooked, and shopped for myself, oh the horror). They tell people their mother is a writer and cooks better than anyone. What more could one want??!

I am a Mommy Blogger and I rock!!

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Children are important!!

I just got off the phone with my girlfriend. She was livid.

She had gone to the Chassidic section of town to pick up some danishes at Cheskie’s, an awesome bakery that piles on the pounds before you even enter the store. There was a bunch of women inside yammering away in Yiddish as if they had no cares in the world. She bought what she needed and left.

As she left the store she noticed a baby carriage parked outside with a 4 month old baby sleeping peacefully in it. She checked her watch. She got into her car, made a quick phone call or two, and yes, the baby was still there unattended while its mother was nowhere in sight. 10 minutes go by until the mother (we presume she was the mother) comes out of Cheskie’s and pushes the stroller away from the store. My friend didn’t want to leave until she saw the baby was safe, but she also didn’t want to go in to the store and confront the mother.

You leave a baby alone in a stroller outside a store for ten minutes??!! I would never do it not even for a minute, a second! When my kids were little I wouldn’t even leave them in the car while I ran in to pick up a carton of milk. How can someone just leave their baby there and trust no one will kidnap him / her, or do something equally dastardly? How can she not care about the baby’s safety?

Cheskie’s does not have room for strollers inside, that’s for sure, but she could have parked the stroller and left it outside, and carried the baby inside with her. She left the baby outside, in the cold, and didn’t come out to even check on it once. What kind of mentality is this? “God will watch my child while I am in the store gossiping with the other ladies” – well, trust in God is all well and good, but it’s your job, woman, to look after the child that HE blessed you with. How can you have such a cavalier attitude to this poor sweet innocent babe?? If something had happened to your child you would have been distraught.

My friend is a sweetheart. She doesn’t like to make waves and was worried only about the baby. Me, I am sure I would have waited till the mother came out and given her a huge chunk of my mind. Not that it would have got me anywhere. Maybe it would have made me feel better. What if the police would have been called? Is that child neglect or child endangerment?

Would YOU ever leave your infant or young child outside a store for ten minutes? Ever?

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Dear KoD,

I am going to tell you three little words that every man likes to hear. You. Were. Right. Yesterday evening I didn’t feel so well, scratchy throat, blocked sinuses, and I was cold, oh so cold. You brought me Advil and took my temperature. You tucked a blanket around me while I watched TV. You told me I should think about postponing my drive back.

I awoke this morning feeling really cruddy. You took my temp again, but thankfully, it was normal, no fever. I took some cold medicine and told you repeatedly “I will be fine”. You wanted me to stay another day, to rest up and feel better, before driving home. I should have listened.

BH nothing bad happened on the way home, and I did arrive safely, but there was a period of about an hour when I really had to concentrate harder on the road, because I wasn’t seeing too clearly. I had developed a fever, as soon as I realized it I took Advil, but while I was waiting for it to kick in, the road tried to play tricks on me. I was going to pull over to the side, but was worried that I would fall asleep at the side of the road for hours and not be home for the kids after school. The worst of it passed, and I was safe.

I should have listened to you. I was worried about getting the car back on time to the rental company. I could have just called them and paid for an extra day, as you had suggested. I was worried about the kids – but if I really needed them to they could have stayed with their dad an extra day. I just don’t like changing plans mid-stream. I missed the kids – I wanted to see them.  But they would have been fine without me for another day if it had been necessary.

You told me you would have waited on me hand and foot if I had stayed, until I felt better. That sounded so special and awesome, but it would have made it even harder for me to leave the next day. Truth is, sweetie, I never want to leave you. It will be 18 days until we see each other again. 18 long days without seeing your awesome smile or the twinkle in your eye. Having you pamper me for an extra “found” day would have eventually made the pain of separation worse. So I applied my stiff upper lip, and soldiered on. But I wish I hadn’t.

But rest assured, KoD, that your step-sons are taking good care of me. Our eldest prince has put on his chef’s hat and is cooking supper. The others are busy hugging me and asking me if I am ok a bajillion times. So far I have been brought tea, and juice, and milk and cookies and a lego construction project. Squiggy even offered to unpack for me (so long as he didn’t have to do the underthings…lol).

It is so hard to decide the right thing to do. I am a mother first and foremost. But my position as wife is just as important. And if I don’t take good enough care of myself my ability to perform either role will be severely compromised. I was not raised to put myself first. But there are times I need to learn to be a little selfish. I think this was one of them.

Thanks for putting up with me, Dude. For letting me be the ME I need to be, even though it exasperates you sometimes, I’m sure.

Just do me one favour? Next time I am being stubborn, remind me that you are usually right, and that I even documented your rightitude this time?? Thanks.

Your QoH

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