Saturday, May 22, 2010

Patient Parenting

Does everyone feel this way? You know, that your children are CRAZY?! I had a moment the other night when we were out with our friend, Victoria, where I felt true powerlessness to curb, moderate, control or STOP them from going completely out of control.

We had been out walking, enjoying the sunshine and the water and the fountains. We came upon this low red rock wall and as Des climbed up onto it, we noticed that the bright brick-red color of the rock rubbed right off onto his hands and clothes. He immediately began to rub his hands all over the rocks. He then wiped his hands all over his face. RED SMEARS. Then Zoe joined in and did the same thing, not leaving her clothes untouched. I was earnestly advising from the sidelines, my pitch going up, my voice becoming more and more frantic . . .

Mom? Who’s Mom? What is a Mom?

I was utterly unheeded. I was ignored. I was the wind in the willows. I was less than red dust smeared onto freckled cheeks.

I was too adult.

Victoria was beside me, at first fascinated, she let out little squeaks of surprised laughter. As I bellowed, as I plead, she became more delighted – she curled, she jumped, she eventually, joyfully, laughed and reached for her camera.

So I’m left to wonder about my will verses theirs. The Indigo Girls have this song called, “Deconstruction” one of the verses reads like this: Sculpted from youth/The chipping away/Makes me weary.

I’m weary with chipping.

My developing theory, based on experience and a wish for better parenting, is that it takes time for the countless values and rules to be processed by little minds virtually blank of the nuances of appropriate behavior. It’s a slow accumulation, like the ideas of Patient Capital – where investments are not aggressive ones demanding immediate profitable returns. But are more patient, generous reserves that prosper slowly and sustainably and that ultimately benefit more than just self.

Oh, and sometimes it’s good just to laugh.


Vika with Zoe – with a formidable person approaching in the background!


Arghhhh . . . TACKLED!


We are creatures out of your control!! Waaahaaaaa!




Here we are finally in front of our apartment building. We had to take a 25minute bus ride home after the incident. It was scandalous and rollicking good fun all the way . . . for them that is.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Zoe en Voice

I know a story of a girl who’s mommy flushed her down the toilet and then she flushed her back up and said, ‘Oh no, mysweetie’s in the toilet!’ And then she put her in the bath and then she was shiny and she washed the tub and it was shiny and then they were happy. And I know that. "

Our chandelier drops it’s glassy orbs regularly. I found Zoe holding onto one like a jewel and asked her about it, “I call it the Crystal of Change.”

Over dinner one night Z wondered about the beef in her stir fry, specifically where it came from. After I gently, generally explained, she became very stern having deduced the gore I didn't go into, “ O.K. That is BAD. BAD. BAD.” She gave me a severe thumbs down and continued, “They killed a cow and that is BAD. I’m not eating a cow ever again!”

Des has been trying to negotiate for a late night where we all stay up, as long as we want, and then all go to bed together. In the same bed. I have, so far, resisted. One night, Zoe felt suddenly triumphant as I continued to postpone and hedge on the idea. She announced wickedly, “When WE’RE grownups, we’ll send OUR children to bed and then stay up ALL NIGHT.” She then laughed a cruel laugh, “HaHaHaHaHa.”

Look at the sun in the water! It’s wonderful!

Mom, know what? I love you!

I want Grandma!

Zoe often has me pretend to be grandma. She’ll pack her bags and pretend to take a train and then ‘arrive’ calling me grandma. She’ll sit on my lap and tell me about her journey and say that she wants to stay with grandma forever.

I asked Zoe to wash the crumbs off her face. She informed me that she already did and explained that it was her “uncle” stuck to her face. She meant freckle.

Zoe: Des? I want to be the mom to your children.

Des: We can’t marry each other cause you’re my sister.

I’m done with that thing, I’m done with it!” Her response to my oft repeated phrase that I only help a girl who helps herself.

Can we get a rain-bella because it’s raining?

Look at the clouds! I wish I was a cloud . . . a pink one.

During the first few moments after waking up for a school morning, Zoe pulls away from a hug and looks up at me, “Can we go back to bed?” I let several seconds pass. She spoke up again, “Is that a ‘NO’?”

Mom, can you do something you did last year?

After a dinner prayer, before we ate our spinach quiche, Zoe grumbled, “I don’t like this food! I’m not grateful for it!”

Zoe: Am I beautiful?

Nathan: Yes! You are beautiful!

Zoe: Yay! (To me) Know what daddy said? I am beautiful!

I want to keep you and never lost you! I don’t want to ever lost you!

While brushing Zoe’s hair we hit a snag. To defuse the pain I asked, “Wow! Where did that tangle come from?” Zoe answered, “I don’t know . . . I think from God.”

Over a dinner Zoe was refusing to eat, Nathan was attempting to philosophically reason with her about the benefits of eating vrs. starving. Zoe ended the conversation thus, “I get to choose what I do!” and then added, after Nathan called her ‘stubborn’, “You call me that and I call you Malfoy!”

After teaching Zoe the term ‘body of water’ as we walking by our nearby river, she later referred to it as, A big water of a man.”

I asked Zoe one afternoon after school who she helped that day. She replied, “I helped nobody. I helped nobody two times.”

I wish Grandma was with us and even your sisters!

Desi Candor

Des had a wound that merited a bandage. This was a big deal because not all wounds get bandages – they think everything should be bandaged, even if it’s a week old. Zoe said with approval, “You’re Dr. Mom!” Desi added, “Zoe’s the Dr. of Love,” (she’d helped him on the playground when he fell) “And I’m the Assistant of Fun!”

I noticed a lot of little white fluffy things out on our balcony and I asked Des what they were, he replied, “I don’t know. It might be terminal bacteria”

I’m going to pretend I’m a porcupine now.

“Who taught you all this BRILLIANT stuff?” Des asked me after a homeschool lesson on teeth.

I’ve had a couple of conversations with Des encouraging him not to use the word ‘fat’ when describing people. One evening he was talking about a character in a movie he’d just watched and was struggling to find the right words, he asked me, “What’s the modest way to say FAT?” Before I could reply, he’d found his descriptive words, “One was a short, round, CIRCLEST kid!”

Since I was in your tummy, I’ve been scared of the dark.



Word: Instructions Des Distortion: Destructions

Word: Robbers Des Distortion: Robs

Word: Snot DD: Snod

Word: Disgusting DD: Excusting

Word: Ax DD: Ox

Word: Snickers (candybar) DD: Sneakers

Word: Skeleton DD: Skell


“I thought they’d give me lollipops for change.” He was explaining his first successful, sans mom, errand to the next door market for cucumbers.

My feet are all sogged. After walking through a big puddle of water in Tashkent.

Hi! My sweet little mommy!

Fanta and Sprite are better than Coca Cola.” Des explained. I replied, “Oh yeah? Why?” He answered, “Because Coke has KATHLEEN in it.” [Kathleen is his grandmother’s name]

Des recently said he was including, sandmuncher on his personal bad-words-not-to-say list.

In a previous post, I explained our family behavior enhancement Point System. Des reasoned one afternoon after an omission, “I don’t lose a point, I just don’t get a point!”

During an intense hugging session Desi shouted out, “I love everyone in the whole universe, even the bad guys!”

On a recent Saturday, Des&Zoe were in high anticipation to spend the day at the house of Desi’s friend Tanamirzah. D graciously included Z in his plans, before checking with the family. After finding out that she couldn’t go after all, Zoe was devastated! As the bell announced their arrival, I tried to usher Des to the door but he resisted, “Wait! I wanna do something nice for Zoe!” He disappeared into their bedroom and returned saying, I gave her my last piece of nice paper, permission to play with all my toys . . .” He turned back to the bedroom, “Look at her! It’s so sad!”

One of the (countless) things we’re working on with the Point System is turning off lights. Des recently observed Zoe leaving the bathroom and then gave me the play-by-play, “She was t h i n k i n g . . . She had an ‘OH!’ on her face . . . and then she ran back to turn off the light!”

During a happy a.m. cuddle, “Oh, WOW! We’re together! Even Zoe’s choking me!”

After hitting his leg on a hard surface and letting out a few tempered shouts. Des announced, “I didn’t cry! I didn’t cry! That means I’m getting better at getting bigger. You don’t cry when you’re bigger.”

I wish your parents called you Goofy Mom.

Des reported a middle of the night good deed, “I helped Zoe off the floor last night then went back to bed and HIT THE SACK!” I laughed heartily at this, then catching on, he began to repeat, Hit the sack, while I laughed on cue.

I’m an inappropriate movie.