Kids will be kids, Life, Mornings, NaBloPoMo, parenting

What I Do “Right”, According to My 6 Year Old

Today was my morning to bring the Little Mister to school at Grandma’s House of Remote Learning. We backed out of the garage and waved at Mr. KK in the window. After a few waves I put the car in drive, turned the wheel, and off we went down our long driveway.

“MO-O-O-OM!” Little Mister whined (loudly) from the backseat.

“What is it?” I asked. We literally just left the house, what could be wrong already?

“I didn’t get to say goodbye to Lance,” Little Mister huffed at me. Lance is our neighbor’s dog, a gigantic white horse that barks incessantly at all hours of the day and night. There is no love lost for Lance.

“We didn’t get to say goodbye and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!” Little Mister yelled, crossing his arms across his chest and scowling out his window.

Ah, yes. Of course it was my fault. You see – we have reached the stage in childhood where everything is my fault. My child literally blames me for every bad and horrific thing that happens. Here are some examples of what has recently been my fault:

  1. Little Mister stubs his toe on the kitchen chair, while I’m 15 feet away at the stove.
  2. The wifi blips and the movie we’re watching cuts out. Totally my fault.
  3. Little Mister is building a tower of animals that is not structurally sound to begin with and the entire thing topples over. MY FAULT.
  4. Little Mister tells me he doesn’t want a cookie, so I put the cookies away. Little Mister then has a tantrum because I put the cookies away without giving him one. Mom’s fault!
  5. Little Mister runs and jumps on a bean bag pile, misses, and bangs his knee on the hardwood floor. Even though I’m in a completely different room, you guessed it: my fault!

So today, when I drove away from our house on our way to school without letting Max say goodbye to the dog who was not even outside, and was told it was my fault, I couldn’t let it go.

“So you not saying goodbye to Lance is my fault?” I ask. Not because I need clarity, but because the accusation is so ridiculous.

“Yep,” he says. “Just like everything else.”

Ouch.

“Let me ask you,” I say, as if I’m talking to a thirty year old, and not my 6 year old who apparently thinks I’m responsible for all of the horrible things in his life. “Is there anything you think I do right?”

Little Mister thinks about this for a minute.

“You cook right,” he says.

Cooking! Ok, I’ll take it.

“Anything else?” I ask.

“Hugging. You hug perfectly right.”

Awww. Now we’re talking.

“What else does Mommy do right?”

“You play with me right,” he says. “And you watch movies the right way.” I’m not quite sure what the right way is to watch movies. Maybe, staying awake? Lying on the couch? Singing all the songs?

“Wow, thank you!” I tell Little Mister. “It makes me feel good to hear all those things that I do right and that not everything is my fault.”

Little Mister sighs, obviously growing tired of our conversation. “You don’t do everything wrong. But it is your fault I didn’t say goodbye to Lance.”

Who was not even outside! I want to scream. But I keep my mouth shut, another thing I do right. Sometimes.

Only Child Pandemic
NaBloPoMo, Pandemic, parenting

Parenting an Only Child During a Pandemic

The pandemic has been hard on everyone. But there is one group of people who are challenged each and every day, drowning in guilt and desperately needing a break. Their heroic efforts must be recognized.

Please, a moment of acknowledgment for: the parents of only children.

No one experienced a quarantine with a child quite like the parents of those children with no siblings. No built in playmates or distractors.

The KK household is unique in that three only children live here. And each of us had a different reaction to being home with each other 24/7 for months on end:

Mr. KK: “This is great! I love all this family time!”
Me: ((thinking to self: where in this house can I hide to be alone?))
Little Mister: “Can you play with me? I’m bored.”

Starting in March, the Little Mister left his daycare one day and just never returned. All of a sudden he went from spending every day with other kids, playing and learning, to spending all day with two (boring) parents who were trying to work full time, simultaneously feeling guilty for not playing with their child. Super fun times.

On top of being stuck at home, we don’t live in a “neighborhood”. Our house is on a main road, and while we live down a very long driveway with a secluded yard, our neighbors consist of (also boring) married 50 somethings, not exactly exciting for a 5 year old. So the Little Mister’s playmates because Mom and Dad by default. So while working all day long, Mr. KK and I were juggling entertaining the Little Mister while keeping our sanity (and our jobs).

At first, we tried to keep Little Mister on a schedule, because – after all – one day he’d be going back to daycare and would need that routine. After a few days of pulling a kid out of bed against his will (I was finding it hard to answer the question, “Why do I have to get up? Where are we going?”) we made the decision to let him sleep as late as he wanted to. I know for some kids that would mean 6am – maybe 6:30am – wake ups. But our kid was a sleeper, so some days we wouldn’t see his little bed head emerge until 9 or 10am. This little plan accomplished two polar opposite things: 1. Mr. KK and I had quiet time in the morning to get a jump start on work, so we felt less guilty about needed to break or an hour in the day to play with Little Mister and 2. It was near impossible to get Little Mister to be at a decent hour because he was getting up late and not exerting enough energy in the day to be tired. (Hilariously, Mr. KK and I were exhausted by 8pm every day, so there were night when we all went to bed at the same time, and 99% of the time I was the first one asleep in the house).

Playing with neighbor kids wasn’t an option, and neither was playing with friends. I had us on lockdown, and I knew exactly where we were going (nowhere) and doing (nothing). I didn’t have those same details for friends of ours. So with no other choice, we found ourselves with fluid work schedules (and understanding employers): squeeze as much work in as possible while also playing Octonauts and Paw Patrol.

And while there were some days that we were both so busy at work that it had to be a “movie day”, the last thing we wanted was for that to become the norm. It was time to get creative, and give Little Mister things to look forward to.

Indoor camping. We moved the furniture, blew up the air mattress, popped in a movie and made deconstructed s’mores (a ramekin parfait of crumbled graham crackers, a spoonful of Fluff and a drizzle of hot fudge, topped with more crumbled graham crackers). Mr. KK was a trooper and slept on the air mattress with Little Mister. The first camping night I slept on the couch. Subsequent camping nights I snuck off to my bed.

indoor camping
I hope I never have to sleep on an air mattress again in my life.

Outdoor movies. The patio that Mr. KK built last year was our refuge this year. We’d set up comfy seating, pop some popcorn and wait until the sun went down to turn on our favorite movies. Disney+ was a godsend during these crazy times.

Scavenger hunts. Little Mister loved these! Hand drawn pictures (because we couldn’t read yet!) made it easy to explore the yard and find everything.

Can a girl get some props for her visual scavenger hunt?

Swimming. Thank goodness it was summer and that both sets of parents have pools. This was going to be the year we hired a private swim teacher, but, oh well. There’s always next year. (The 2020 Mantra)

Drawing and stickers. Being a lefty, Little Mister wasn’t a super confident colorer or drawer. That changed this summer. I would draw a “scene” for him and he’d decorate it with stickers and then spend hours using his imagination playing with them. Or, I’d draw characters from his favorite show and we’d color them and cut them out and play with them. I’m waiting to be recruited by Disney for my mad drawings of Simba and Mufasa to illustrate the next Lion King sequel.

I mean, just look at that Rafiki!

Being home with an only child the last 8 months has been hard. I unrealistically thought I could be an amazing employee and an amazing mother; however, I quickly found out that on most days I felt like I was half-assing both jobs.

I learned that I can’t be everything to everyone, all the time. I learned that it’s ok to be human. I learned that kids (well, my kid) remembers staying in and baking cookies with me more than he remembers family outings. I learned that sometimes it’s going to be a movie marathon day, and that’s ok. I learned that I am horrible at playing Batman, but I’m a really great at making up stories and imagination games.

I learned that even when I felt I was failing, I was succeeding in Little Mister’s eyes. And most of all, I learned that I needed to give myself a break.

Kids will be kids, NaBloPoMo

The preschooler rating system.

IMG_2534
My rating tonight after shutting the TV and announcing it was time to start our bedtime routine.

If you live in my house, you are constantly aware of the type of job you’re doing not only as a parent, but as a human being. Why? Because our preschooler has developed a very detailed rating system that puts Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes to shame.

That’s right, at any given time, Mr. KK and I are given immediate ratings and feedback, delivered through the complex rating system knows as: Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down.

Imagine if you could use this rating system as adults in real life???

When your waiter at a restaurant asks how you like your meal, you could give him a big Thumbs Down.

At work, when someone in a meeting throws out a ridiculous idea, you simply reply with Two thumbs Down.

And, after a decent first date, instead of the awkward kiss at the front door, you can give them an enthusiastic Two Thumbs Up!

But back to parenting.  Just how does one earn this prestigious Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down rating? I’m glad you asked!

Here are just a few ways you can earn a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down rating in our house:

  • Ask Little Mister to wash his hands before dinner. Rating: Thumbs down.
  • Shut off the TV when it’s time to go to bed. Rating: Two thumbs down.
  • Say yes to dessert. Rating: Two thumbs up.
  • Announce that it’s bath night. Rating: Thumbs down.
  • Ask Little Mister to brush his teeth. Rating: Thumbs down.
  • Remind Little Mister that he needs to put shoes on to go to school. Rating: Thumbs down.
  • Read two books before bed. Rating: Two thumbs up.
  • Mr. KK and I try to have an adult conversation. Rating: Two thumbs down.
  • Limit TV intake to a normal amount. Rating: Two thumbs down.
  • Try and hold hands in a busy parking lot. Rating: Thumbs down.
  • Give Little Mister the ‘Thumbs Down’. Rating: Two thumbs down.

Not everyone can have this educational rating system in their house. In order to do so, you must have a very opinionated preschooler with a strong will and award-winning frown face.

My current rating: Thumbs medium. I’ll take it!