Mornings are hard for grownups. Mornings are hard for kids. Mornings are the worst, really. And I need the smallest person in the house to brush her teeth and get herself dressed and omg why do I have to say these things over and over and over every morning. SOS.
“How many times do I have to tell you…”
“Ooooh Apa you hate it when people say that to youuuuu.”
Mornings with a kid were making me into the person I don’t want to be. So I started leaving her notes.
Everyone loves notes.
The notes were great. The notes worked. But then I had to write notes every morning. Because if I didn’t, the kid would be reading for an hour and not dressed and would never ever eat a single morning thing.
The notes got an upgrade to something more permanent. Because mornings are always the worst, but we don’t have to ALSO be fighting about the regular stuff in between.
I might need to make myself a fancy list. Maybe then I’d eat something more than a gallon of coffee. Maybe.
“Can you always tell when someone is queer?” She hesitated, and nearly not finishing the question. We sat at a window seat for dinner overlooking the busy street. Provincetown on Memorial Day is what queer looks like, I wanted to reply, as we were surrounded by drag queens and rainbows and poodles in tutus. It was her first time there, and she was starting to understand. And along with that understanding, she was beginning to piece together the stereotypes that go with all of it, and the problematic erasure that comes along for the ride.
I’m not going to tell my kid about the bombing, this time. And yes it’s the privilege of being unaffected enough to not have to, I know. After the Boston Marathon bombings here, I know the other side of that, too.
I know all the reasons to tell her. I’ve written some of them here before, but this time feels different. Too close to her childhood, maybe. Too close to her understanding that those were kids just like her. Too close to why is everything so terrifying.
I’m scared a lot of the time. She will be too, soon enough, I imagine. But she doesn’t need to be yet.
I don’t want to tell her. And if she finds out and asks more? This time, I’m keeping it simple. Vague even. Maybe for her. Maybe for me. This time is too many times. This time is too much. This time shouldn’t be again.
I’ve turned off the radio. I bought a subway pass for the week and left the car at home. I don’t want to hear about it. Let’s go to the playground. Let’s take the way too old dog for a way too long walk. Because being a part of something bigger sometimes starts in the neighborhood.
This time, I don’t need to know every detail. I’m not going to solve the world’s problems by scrolling through Twitter. I don’t need to process or wonder or hear any of it to know that this, again, is devastating. I don’t need to tell my kid and I don’t need anyone to tell me. Not this time. I can’t do it this time. This time is just too many times. There’s nothing left to say.
This post is sponsored by WeeSchool, the all in one parenting app from birth to age 3. All opinions and stories are mine, though. Because Roozle. Download the WeeSchool App here by June 1, and you can register for free, lifetime access to all premium WeeSchool content and features.
“How old is she?”
“Oh! Is she walking yet?”
She doesn’t stop for a picture as much as she used to. She rolls her eyes more when I start a conversation on purpose to teach her some kind of lesson. She argues. She responds to all things with, “My body, my rules.” This is 7 and a half. This is second grade. This is new, as all childhood phases are. Because this is growing up. And sometimes, this is a challenge. Mostly for me. My parenting tricks don’t work anymore. Especially the ones for bedtime. Sometimes nothing works except independence. Except letting her sort it out. Except showing up to check in, setting super clear limits and expectations, and always following through with all of it. Parenting is still a lot of work. Parenting is still this imperfect game of having a strategy and also figuring it out as we go.
I don’t have a lot to give her, but I still teach her to give. I teach her that when you don’t have money, you can give time. I teach her to donate the things she’s grown out of. She thinks about the things she doesn’t need and how others might need and want them. She considers the things she likes and puts that stuff in the bags too, because if she likes it, someone else will like it too. She fills the bag on her own and we go together to drop it off.
Do kids like it when parents say no to them?
No. Because they really want to do the thing.
Because they really want to say, do, go, and be how they want. And get what they want.
Do kids like it better when parents say yes if they ask for something?
Yes. Because they get to do the thing that they want to do.
What happens when you ask for something and I say no?
I say “okay!”
Did you always respond like that?
No. I would get mad because I really wanted the thing and I wanted to do or go somewhere and I felt like you didn’t hear me and that I wasn’t getting respected or getting to do what I wanted to do.
So that made you feel mad and frustrated?
What is different now?
I get tickets whenever I say, “Okay.” I get mad inside, but I know that I want to get a ticket because each ticket is a dollar and I can buy something that I want.
So what do you do with your body and your words to get the ticket?
I be nice and I say “okay” because I don’t want to be mean.
Is it okay to ask for things?
Yes and you shouldn’t do it THAT much.
After a shopping trip full of Can I have that? Why? Why? Can I have this? Why? Please? Please? Why! I pulled over on the way home to google “How to get your kid to cooperate in a grocery store.” It wasn’t helpful. We went home and I made the kid cover our back window in things she’s thankful for because OMG WHY. It was a hard day. As a single parent, I have to say no more than ever. My budget is tight. And a kid who goes back and forth between two homes asks for a lot. Without the consistency of a single home, it all sometimes rises up into TOO MUCH. We got there a few weeks ago. How am I raising a kid who can’t hear the word no? Is this normal? Did I do this? And how on earth can I fix it? At some point in my stumbling through the internet for a solution, I came across the idea that it’s good for kids to ask for stuff. It’s good for all of us to learn how to ask for help, ask for what we want, ask for what we need. The problem isn’t with the asking. It’s with the reaction to hearing no. And with that, I found the solution.
New rule: ask for anything you want. You can only ask once, because once I’ve answered, I’ll just repeat that I’ve already answered. If the answer is no, you have a choice to react or respond. A response is to accept the no as what it is. To trust that I have a reason for it. To drop it. To react is to FREAK OUT IN PUBLIC. I’ve been there too many times. I can’t anymore.
When you respond, you earn half a ticket. When you react, I take a ticket away. Tickets may be saved up and turned in like earning an allowance for chores (she also earns tickets for chores, so these tickets just get added in).
And with that? Everything changed. She still asks for everything. I still try to say yes when I can. When it’s reasonable. When it’s safe. When it’s appropriate. And I still say no. A lot. Because there are lots of asks. And there are limits. But now? There are tickets not freak outs. There are responses, not reactions. And I now have a 7 year old who reminds me to respond instead of react, too. Thanks, Roozle.
What about if you asked for something, like having a sip of my beer?
I would think about it and I would change my mind because beer is alcohol and I don’t want to go crazy.
If you were really curious about it, how could we respect your curiosity while taking good care of your body?
I would use the 5 senses!
The 5 senses are: smell, hear, touch, taste, and see.
Oh good idea! Just like we do with trying a new food! We could do that with a drink you might be interested in so you could be curious about it, and we could just skip the tasting part!
No, because we taste it.
But you can’t taste alcohol. So we’d skip that.
Yeah, skip it.
Do you think that the work we do about me saying no to you about stuff helps with the times I have to say no to keep you safe?
Yes because I want to be safe and maybe because I’m used to hearing no now and yeah.
Good. I’m glad. I don’t like to say no to you, I’d rather say lots of yes’s to you, but sometimes I have to say no as a parent to keep you safe and because sometimes we all hear no. It’s good for all of us to practice responding instead of reacting, even grown ups. Have you noticed that I’ve been working on that?
Can I type now?
(typed by Riley) Yes.
Do you think I’ve been doing better responding to you instead of reacting?
(typed by Riley) Definitely because I have heard you say, “Okay.”
This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org. I am working with them as a #TalkEarly blogger this year to help them “Empower parents to be confident about their own decisions regarding alcohol, model healthy, balanced behaviors, and create a foundation for starting conversations with their kids from an early age.” Let’s all do that. Because that totally rules.
This kid knows her style. From the first time I put her in baby overalls and she cried and pouted all day, she’s had a lot to communicate about style. This is a kid with fashion opinions. A kid who takes what you give her, once she has approved the choices, of course, and makes it all her own.
So when Crazy 8 asked if she wanted to try out some of their clothes, I took one look at their site and replied YES PLEASE. Because this? This is Roozle Approved. LEOPARD TIGHTS OMG.
When the boxes arrived, she ran inside, changed, and posed. Because Roozle. So fancy. And this is way better than the uniform she has to wear at school.
I wish you could’ve heard her gasp at the sight of this. Those snowflakes ARE GLITTER. She stopped BREATHING.
Yes, my love, you can dance on the table. Maybe just this once. You need a stage. This is serious. Now please take a breath. It’s okay. The glitter can handle it.
And a few days later, it was the big moment she has been waiting her whole life for… A WEDDING. She had dreamed of this moment since she knew how to have fashion dreams and here it was, the fanciest wedding I’ve ever been to, her first, in New York City on a Friday night. How can you get fancier than that? So she took all her fancy new clothes and jewelry (The Crazy 8 necklaces have those kid clasps so she could do it herself and she was SO PROUD) and made it all her own, with #Roozlestyle. Because that’s what she does.
Thank you, Crazy 8 for making Fancy Roozle’s dreams come true. All of Roozle’s clothes and shoes and jewelry shown above were provided by Crazy 8, Roozle’s style is all her own, all opinions of Roozle’s style are mine. She’s my favorite. It’s an honor to get to parent a kid who knows her way so well. Ironing board photobomb courtesy of The Metropolitan Club, NYC. Maybe next time we get real fancy, we’ll pick up a bit before our hotel room selfie. Wedding courtesy of Lizzie and Howard. May all their fancy dreams come true. Crazy 8 is officially Roozle Approved for all your fancy kid fancy needs.