Three Morning Morsels

Parenting is like riding an endless pendulum set between hair-pulling frustration and spirit-soaring inspiration.  Within the space of 15 minutes, a parent can find herself along many different points on the pendulum's path.  Take this morning for instance: frustration, reprimand, surprise, and gratitude, all in the space of a car ride to school:

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On our way out the door this rainy morning, I double-checked the raincoat status of my young charges.  Lady E's response: "It's in my bag!"  15 minutes later, at school, I discover that by "my bag" she meant her soccer backpack, not her school backpack.  Whuck?!?!  So...Lady E...when I asked if you had your raincoat, you thought I was just confirming that you were leaving it behind in the backpack we were not taking with us to school???  Again: WHUCK?

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Car trips to and from school, as the last week has reminded me, are fraught with arguments.  Lots of bickering, sniping, and hurling of insults.  Lots of general nastiness.  Last Thursday, as I circled around a local bakery after school, searching for a parking space so I could take my kids in to get a treat, the general nastiness was in full effect.  And bing!  The light bulb went on.  No bakery.  No treats.  No rewarding this behavior.  I set a decree: Henceforth, I will not be taking my children for any after school treats until the car rides to and from school are devoid of meanness.

They were not happy.  As I drove away from the bakery, bitter that I was not going to get an afternoon latte, the kids were silent and sullen.  It was an improvement on the bickering.

Friday: no treats.

This morning: before I had even pulled away from my house, the verdict was in: no treats.

And then I got a shock.  When I said "Remember guys, we won't be going to get any treats or snacks until I don't have to listen to car-fighting anymore," my oldest child said: "That's a really good solution, mom."

Huh?  You -- my teenager -- think I had a good idea?  REALLY?  Wow.

Proof that sometimes I know what I'm doing AND that what I am doing works.  Sometimes.

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Little T is learning to read.  Her older sister sat down with her the other day and read one of Little T's kindergarten readers with her.  This morning, she told me that she remembered reading those "decodables" when she was a K-er.  She said:
I remember sounding out the word P-O-N-D, and saying puh-ah-nnn-duh, and figuring out how to do that.  And Mrs. Payne said: 'Very good Lola!  That was very good!'  And I got two stickers in my book that day!
What a great memory to have.  I do not remember learning to read, but it seems that my daughter remembers the moment she was handed the keys to words and sounds and books and stories.  It started with a pond, a great teacher, and a couple of stickers, and she hasn't looked back since.  Thank God for teachers like Mrs. Payne and for memories like that one!

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Parenting, like my kids, makes me dizzy.

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