The letter P.

You guys, I fell asleep writing this last night.

I kinda want to leave it how it is because it slowly doesn’t make any sense which is exactly how life goes. I won’t do that to you. I’m re-writing P. And now I have Q to write today too and this is the point where I regret starting this A to Z writing challenge.

I struggled with P yesterday.

P is inappropriate – penis, poop, period, puberty, pimples.

P is boring. Pregnant. Oh, hell no. Pinterest. Meh. Purple. I don’t know. Pancakes! I suck at turning pancakes. There. That’s all I have on pancakes.

I decided to go with the mother of all Ps.

The letter P.

Parenting.

Parenting is a broad subject. I mean, what are we talking about here? Helicopter parenting? Newborn parenting? Teenager parenting? Biological vs. adopted parenting? Mothers vs. fathers? Step parenting? 

I’m not an expert. I’m not an expert at anything really. Even writing – am I an expert? “NO!” shouts every English teacher. I’m definitely not an expert on kids. I have two. I only know my own experience.

Unsolicited parenting advice on the school-age years? Maybe it’s more of a heads-up.

That’s the letter P for you.

  • If you have a daughter, you will need a bonnet. No, not for cutesy pictures when she’s an infant but for school dress-up projects. I don’t know why no one ever told me this – there are times in your kid’s school life that they will need to dress up like a pilgrim, the wax museum project, or a Civil War era woman. There’s always a bonnet and long skirt involved. Start looking now. And get your son a top hat.
  • It’s totally cool that your 2nd grader doesn’t know how to tie shoe laces. I still need to teach Kate. No one from the school has said anything to me about her velcro shoes. We’re cool.
  • Opposite sex parents are heavily favored. If you lost the lottery in passing your sex gene along, the school helps make it all ok. The father-daughter dance. The mother-son Kansas City Royals game. What about the mother-daughter? I’m special too, damnit. Oh! No, I don’t want to volunteer to plan an event.
  • Summer camps are worth every penny. Sure, it’s hard to shell out $400 for a 4-day, half-day camp for two kids but it will feel like a two-week vacation. Start saving money now. These things should have been paid for in February of 2014. The kid’s summer camp is a breath of fresh air in the middle of summer. A glorious Monday through Thursday in half day solitude. Bonus! Your kids will be exhausted.
  • You’ll ugly cry on the first day of Kindergarten. You’re a newbie parent. Us older parents – we get it – it’s a sad day. I give it one year and you, too, will be toasting your kid off to first grade with a coffee in hand, a skip hop back to your car, and the biggest smile on your face that will rival your wedding day.
  • After-school activities might just kill you. Financially and emotionally. Dinners are quick. Weekends are gone. It’s fine. We’re all fine. We totally have a life. I heard some great advice from my ear doctor – what? – cherish the time in the car. It’s really the only time you have trapped in an enclosed space with your school-aged kid. Use it to talk to them and tell them, “in my day, I didn’t have iPods to play with in the car so talk to me.”
  • Don’t you worry. If you have daughters, they will talk to you. And talk. And talk. And talk. WAKE UP! She’s talking again. I don’t have sons so I don’t know if they talk as much but the rumors are they don’t. I could be wrong, maybe it’s school-aged kids in general. My kids won’t shut up. I’m rambling. I’ll stop.
  • Long division will appear in your life again. It’s complete bullshit.
  • Foreign languages start earlier. This may vary from state to state or even district to district. My kids speak Spanish. They started learning Spanish from a girl named Dora in preschool and they never stopped. They know everything I learned in middle school. Middle school teachers no hablan ingles. By high school, my kids will be fluent in yelling at me in Spanish cuss words and I’ll be giving them the blinking Dora stare.
  • By the way, it’s called middle school. If you dare drop the words “junior high” your kids will scream at you. “No one says that anymore, mom! Stop it. That’s embarrassing.”
  • Practice equality with the kids. Your kids will remember. Kids won’t have any memories from before ages 4 or 5. Only you will remember your baby’s first step or your toddler using a plunger to plunge the potty training toilet. The school-aged years are fun because not only do you remember what happened but so do your kids. If you eat lunch at school with daughter number one, daughter number two will find out by recess. She won’t confront you that day. Oh no. She’ll file that shit in her brain. She’ll confront you months later and will threaten to tell her teacher that her mom plays favorites if you don’t eat lunch with her too.
  • Practice creativity because the parent projects are heading your way. Oh, yes. You will have homework such as printing off pictures of the family at midnight or interviewing Google headquarters. The parent at-home projects are 50% of your kid’s grade. The other 50% is to show off your parent skills in the hallway. I saw that on Pinterest, nice try. 
  • Remember that lice is not a medical threat. Lice isn’t a medical threat but it will make you want to set your house on fire because an arson charge is easier to deal with. Stop scratching your head. You’re fine.
  • Get a calendar. The school calendar will become a full time job. You won’t be able to memorize anything; it’s overwhelming. You will spend at least an hour of your life per week filling in spaces. If you let go of the calendar, your crazy mom will show because your life and your kids’ lives will collapse.
  • Dress your kids in something you would wear. My point here is that you will naturally want to make your kids’ lives better than your life at that age. I will never forget the day my junior high math teacher pointed out to the class that I was wearing roman numerals all over my shirt and she was so proud. The class busted out laughing and I’m just going to die right here in that memory.
  • Get a backbone. The insults are coming. You will be called the worst mother ever by your daughter and your daughter doesn’t even know why.
  • “Hi, this is the school nurse calling…” This is how your day gets ruined. Plus a doctor’s bill.
  • You’re always exhausted. Unlike new parents, you sleep through the night undisturbed. Doesn’t matter. You will fall asleep in bed while working on your favorite hobby. Parenting – it’s like magic.

___________

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P.jpg

No, thank you.

I thought I was in the clear for a few years.

Scott and I are deep into the school-age years of parenting.

It’s the years some might call the “honeymoon of parenting.” These are the years when the kids are independent enough to make their own dinner or take a shower yet aren’t old enough to roll their eyes and take off in their car.

Hm, honeymoon.

“A honeymoon is the traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in intimacy and seclusion.”

This ain’t no honeymoon. 

This is re-living your childhood. I don’t have any memory of being an infant or toddler. I barely remember kindergarten or even life-changing events like my siblings being born. The pieces I do remember from my early childhood probably stem more from looking at pictures than the memory itself.

I couldn’t pull on my own life events to help guide me as I raised my babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Scott didn’t help either. Like every parent, we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. Once Emma learned how to talk, the first thing we did was film her saying “tequila shots!”

Our daughters are in 5th grade and 2nd grade.

Without calling my kids out and embarrassing them with the details – they each tried out for two separate things they’re passionate for. They both didn’t get it and other kids did. They both got the “sorry, you’re not good enough” slip handed to them on their way out. To make it worse, they happened to receive this news on the same day.

They both came home in tears. That’s an understatement. Let me try again.

They both came home with their heart ripped out, humiliated for even thinking they were good enough, they swore every kid pointed and laughed at them, and they vowed to never pursue anything that required a try-out. I know the feeling. Whether it comes from a teacher or a peer, someone telling you you’re not good enough feels like a slap in the face.

And then the girls pulled out math homework and the world came crashing down again. We had a rough night.

The real world caught up to the two babies we have no idea how to raise. The world where everyone makes the team ended last night. Emma and Kate learned that there are kids out there better than they are. They learned about rejection.

“No, thank you” is hard to hear, even as an adult.

I told the girls they are braver than I was at their age. As a child, I didn’t even try-out for anything. If it involved a stage or drawing attention to me, I didn’t want to do it. My rejections came more from friendships. Scott’s rejections were always sports-related. Even now, I told the girls every book they read in school has a pile of authors that received rejection letters. Rejection comes with the writing territory. I expect the answer is no and often it is. But that doesn’t stop me from trying again because I have to be good if I heard one yes.

I realized the only way I handle rejection is through maturity, something both girls don’t have yet.

The girls are still hurt.

I guess the point of this post is parenting is hard. You trade sleepless nights for toddler tantrums. You trade toddler tantrums for your preschooler yelling, “tequila shots!” to the class. You trade “tequila shots” outbursts for facing rejection.

But I don’t need to tell you that.

Scott and I went to bed last night feeling worthless because our kids felt worthless. The same memories of rejection we felt as kids showed up again. Our kids are going through the part of life we remember.

I hope they come out with more courage.

___________

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