Monday, November 12, 2007

Good parenting moments

My oldest child is a bit dramatic. Friday he came home from school totally exhausted and hungry. He quickly became frustrated that his dad was not responding to his continual pleas to take him fishing. "Dad, can we go fishing? Dad, what's your plan for bringing in the big catfish?" Can we get ready and go fishing now?" So, in his tired and hungry state, he started to melt down. "I'm never going to get to go fishing again! Dad will never take me!" etc. If you have kids you may have seen something similar. He wasn't really getting much attention, so he pulled the garbage can out of the corner cupboard in the kitchen and told us since he was so unloved, he was putting himself in with the garbage. He didn't actually try to get in the garbage can (because even the dramatic have their limits, and I'm sure it didn't smell good). He did crawl into the cupboard and shut the door. Normally I would have just let him come out when he was ready. He has ADHD, he doesn't stay anywhere long. But I knew he was hungry and would feel better if he ate something. Anyway, after a few minutes I knocked on the cupboard door and said, "O, prisoner of the darkest dungeon, would'st thou desire a small snack? Alas, all I can offer thee is a mouldy dry crust of bread and stale water, but if thou ist hungry, I will provide thee some food." Pretty good, huh? He knocked three times on the door, which apparently, is knight code for please feed me. I passed him some sugar snap peas (mouldy crust of bread). After a few minutes he came out feeling a bit better. If only I had remembered a cockney accent, it really would have been cool! Anyway, crisis averted.
So, this was a point I wanted to make about deployment (no I am probably never going to leave the deployment topic alone. Sorry). I think it was pretty obvious to me that deployment gives you plenty of opportunities to see your weaknesses as a parent. You are tired, stressed, the kids are stressed, and all they have is you. But deployment sometimes gives you the opportunity to think outside the box - be creative, do things you wouldn't normally do. During baseball season, for example, the boys wanted to get out in the backyard and practice catching and hitting. Normally, I'd turn that responsibility right over to my husband, the high school and college pitcher. Since he wasn't around, I stuck that child sized t-ball glove on my own hand and went out to pitch to the kids. It was great! I have wonderful memories of all my kids (even Emma), and several of the neighbor kids, out hitting the ball and running around our makeshift bases - the big pine trees in the middle of the back yard. The mosqitos were out, sometimes it started to rain, but we played anyway. We kept up the baseball for several weeks. Next we rode bikes in the evening, and even played a few games of dodge ball. I found myself outside more often with the kids than I had been, and I loved it. Now that Tracy is home, he takes the kids out in the evening and I can clean up dinner. I sometimes miss being out and active with them. Those were the good kind of deployment and parenting memories. There are a couple more moments I can think of - usually coming after I'm tired or sick or stressed past capacity. I guess a big parenting challenge that took a lot of effort was starting TJ with piano lessons, and helping him follow through. There were days when I was so angry at him I yelled and threatened to not let him out of his room until his dad came home. But we finally have a routine down, one that works for all of us, and that minimizes complaints from him. He practices in the morning before school, but after his siblings get on the bus. Then I take him to school, giving him a bit of one-on-one time with me (although usually this one on one time includes a lot of "put your shoes on! Where is your back pack? We have to leave now!) He is doing well, and won't admit that he likes being able to play (but I think he does). Ahh! The great parenting moments may be infrequent, but they are sweet.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Emu in our neighborhood

So, I was unloading groceries a few minutes ago, and had just fished our 24 pack of bottled water out of the back of the cruiser, when I turned around and spotted an emu or maybe an ostrich walking down our street. Seriously. One of those enormous birds, just strolling through our neighborhood, 20 yards away from me, with an MP following slowly along behind it in his police cruiser. It was like a little emu parade, but the emu wasn't waving or throwing candy. I must have spooked it when I said something like "Oh my .*&%" as I backed up to my house for my camera. When I ran out the side door breathless for a picture, the MP was at the other end of the street, out of his car, looking over the sloping lawn and large tree filled space before the airstrip. I loped toward him, hoping for another emu sighting, but he pulled by me, on his way out of the neighborhood. "What????" I guestured to him, and he just shook his head.
I thought this was a quiet neighborhood!
I couldn't resist attempting another sighting, so I ran home, jumped in the truck, and trailed the MPs. They were around the corner, 3 or four of them now, driving deep into the strip of grassland between the highway and the airfield. As they drove out of my sight, I gave up my quest, and headed back to the truck in time to see a pick-up truck with a horse-trailer pulling up to follow the MPs. Good luck! There was even a helicopter in on the action, an Apache, with it's menacing guns, circling overhead. Now that's good use of taxpayer money! Wonder if they will catch it before it reaches the highway? I sure hope so. I'm developing a certain interest in that emu. Hey, I'm hearing some sirens, and the helicopter just circled over my house. Maybe it's back. Excuse me, I may head back outside to look for the emu again. Or ostrich. Whatever. I wonder where it came from? Was there a mass outbreak at a near by zoo? What will I see next? A penguin? A tiger?
On second thought, maybe I'll stay inside!