The Problem with Time

It’s cliché by now. All those more experienced mommies wagging their figurative fingers at you, telling you to enjoy every moment because after all, “The days are long but the years are short.”

And it’s totally true. IT TOTALLY IS.

(But it doesn’t make you feel better when you’ve already experienced a year’s worth of annoying child-caring and it’s only 9am.)

Anyhow, I blinked and my baby, (not the current baby, but my baby for the last four years), Glow Worm, is now four years old.

FOUR YEARS OLD.

I remember when Cookie Monster (7.5) was four and I thought he was SO BIG. After all, compared to the newborn Glow Worm, he was huge. As for Gamera, I don’t recall her ever being four.

I mean, obviously, she was four. (And come to think of it, it was a lot of crying. I mean, 5.75 is a lot of crying, but 4 was even MORE crying. OMG IT WAS EVEN MORE CRYING.) But for some reason, Gamera always seemed older than her actual age and I constantly thought she and Cookie Monster were the same.

But Glow Worm.

Glow Worm has been my baby for the past four years and even though it seems as if he all of a sudden became a big boy over the summer, it still has caught me completely by surprise.

And now that he is four (OMG, HE IS FOUR!), I still find him so very small.

In my mind, he’s still a baby. At least, that’s the excuse I give Gamera and Cookie Monster when they complain that I’m not being fair and letting Glow Worm get away with shit they couldn’t even dream of getting away with.

Part of it is because Glow Worm was such a late talker that he only started being intelligible (and still, half the time we’re not sure if he’s babbling away in Chinese or English when actually it’s CHINGLISH) and he’s also short for his age. And part of it is because compared to his older siblings, he really IS a baby.

But mostly, it’s because I’m in rampant denial.

HOW CAN HE BE FOUR?

He was always such an independent baby, and now that he is four, he is even MORE independent.

This summer, he was in full time school in Taiwan just like last year. But because this year, we had Sasquatch (9 mos), I did not get to spend much time with him after school. We had the hour between his pick up and the older kids’ pick up time, but once Hapa Papa joined us in Taiwan, he took over that pick up.

I didn’t even realize how much I missed that time with Glow Worm until the week was over.

In fact, it took me awhile to even realize that I had barely talked to or spoke to Glow Worm until the week was almost over.

I know.

FAIL. FAIL. FAIL!!

Now that we’re back home and he is starting up preschool again (and for more days than last year), I am missing him a lot. For some reason, he has switched to Hapa Papa being his favorite so Glow Worm no longer fights to sleep with me at night, so I don’t even get to snuggle with him in the evening or at night. (He just informed me today that he loves Papa when I asked him to kiss me. Like he would be cheating on Papa if he kissed me. Hmph.)

Joni Mitchell is totally right. (To be cliché yet again.) I did not know what I had until it was gone.

I mean, Glow Worm now will occasionally still seek me out in the morning and snuggle with me for about five minutes, but then he’s off and running and has no time for me except when it is most inconvenient. (Like when I’m trying to appease Sasquatch and Glow Worm MUST sit and squirm in my lap because OF COURSE.)

It’s not only with Glow Worm, of course.

I know that though I spend a lot of my time with all my kids because I’m their primary caretaker, it’s not focused or necessarily quality time bonding. (To be honest, it’s a lot of reading Chinese and English and nagging.)

However, Gamera and Cookie Monster fight to sleep with me at night (they now have to take turns and the loser gets Hapa Papa as consolation prize). But even then, it’s hardly quality time because they want to spend time and talk to me but I’m trying to put Sasquatch down.

Incidentally, Sasquatch has been a punk lately and refuses to sleep at the boob because he now likes to ROLL AROUND WHILE NURSING and now I have to rock him to sleep in the rocking chair and yes, I know I should sleep train but FFS I just broke down (and sold) the crib because he’s never in it and since he can now walk – OMG HE CAN WALK UNASSISTED – it’s not safe to have him put himself to sleep in my bed.

So as a result, I’m mostly annoyed at Gamera or Cookie Monster for not being quiet and wanting to actually have a conversation with me and they’re sad because I’m mean and as Cookie Monster says (to guilt me on purpose), “I just want to spend time with you, Mama.”

And then I feel like a giant asshole. Because HE WANTS TO SPEND TIME WITH ME. BECAUSE HE LOVES ME.

Whereas I am done with being hugged and kissed and only want some uninterrupted alone time.

I should clarify. They DID fight to sleep with me at night. But now that we finally re-arranged their room so that it’s truly their room with a twin over full bunk and trundle bed, plus moved all their clothes from the family closet to THEIR room in their own dresser, THEY ALSO WANT TO SLEEP IN THEIR ROOM WITH HAPA PAPA.

OMG. Did I mention that the reason Gamera no longer wants to sleep with me is because we moved all her clothes into her room AND SHE DOES NOT WANT TO WALK?!?

Dr. T says I should consider spending a little bit of quality time with the kids every day. Like, play games with them or draw with them or read with them or SOMETHING that is NOT homeschool. And that even though I constantly say I birthed siblings for a reason, that perhaps my kids would stop being assholes and trying to get my attention in negative ways if I actually paid them ANY attention at all during the day.

And then perhaps also, bed time would go a bit easier.

I know Dr. T is right.

I also sense my time with the kids slipping away and soon I will be old and my kids won’t want me at all and I should be grateful that they love me despite my being a crotchety dick because after all, I’m the only mother they have and they still want love and affection THOSE BASTARDS —

SO.

So.

So, Hapa Papa and I have decided to take turns taking a kid out for a date each week. (My mother already does this and it’s a big hit with them. They LOVE being the only person with a beloved adult.) I also am trying to make sure I spend quality time with the kids each day (although perhaps not individually).

I suppose that won’t actually kill me.

I might also enjoy myself and feel better as a parent and human being.

Thus far, I have spent time playing a board game with the kids one day, and playing my beloved (but ignored) logic games with them another day. I even spent quality time with Glow Worm.

I guess it was enjoyable and my heart might have become slightly less Grinchy.

Anyhow, am I the only one who doesn’t spend quality time with my children because I spend such a massive QUANTITY of time with them? How do you ensure that you get meaningful moments with your children? Let me know in the comments.

Stuff I Reluctantly Learned from Homeschooling, Vol. 7

Wow. Has it really been 3+ months since my last post about what lessons I’ve learned from homeschooling?

Since most of it was a blur, I’m not sure how much I will have to say about 2016Q4. But since I’m a completist, I will give it a go. Here then, (with my shortest preamble yet!) are the lessons I reluctantly learned while Homeschooling for October – December 2016.

1) When the kids are having a hard time listening and following directions, it’s best for everyone to take a break. Even if the break lasts a month (or two).

(ie: Mommy needs a time out.)

You see, few things infuriate me as much as children who don’t listen or follow directions.

Also I hate sloppiness. And the fidgets.

And I particularly hate when they look at me instead of the zhuyin (Chinese phonetic system) when they are reading and aren’t sure if they are reading correctly.

I mean, do I look like I have zhuyin and can tell you how the word is pronounced?

Friends, pregnancy makes me really pissy. 

My poor, poor children.

I was so mean to them and so impatient and quick to anger and scream.

I cut short many a lesson due to me completely losing it and yelling at full blast on their every stumble or perceived imperfection.

Nothing encourages language retention and making mistakes and learning for fun like a mean dragon fire-breathing mommy.

I have since learned (and re-learned) to just take a break. And to repeatedly tell Cookie Monster and Gamera that it’s not their fault that Mommy feels awful and that they are wonderful and beautiful and smart and that the time out is for me and not because they are bad.

But mostly, I broke my children and tried to put them back together after they burst into tears because they couldn’t please their mean mommy.

Trust me when I say that everyone is glad that Sasquatch is out instead of in.

Apparently no longer being in constant pain makes me a much more pleasant person.

2) Accept help.

I am a control freak. Everyone knows this. But even us control freaks need to acknowledge their desperate need for help and assistance sometimes.

Thus, it was with great relief that on rare occasion, my mom would listen to the kids read in Chinese (I’m talking on ONE occurrence – but it was still appreciated!!), or Hapa Papa would have the kids do math.

It was especially easy because I wanted Cookie Monster to do repetitive drills/workbooks to make sure he not only understood the concept of addition/subtraction/multiplication/division but to do them so often they became automatic.

Gamera was a little more difficult since she can’t read and her Singapore Math books require a lot more reading than Cookie Monster’s rows and rows of math problems. So, that required more effort on the part of Hapa Papa but hey, it’s not like I had to do the work.

3) Outsourcing homeschooling is AWESOME.

I mean, this is really why most people do NOT homeschool and send their kids to either public or private school, right? Having someone else do the teaching is fantastic!

Of course, I prefer the flexibility homeschooling allows. But my willingness to also hire private tutors or have them attend small classes is a great way for my kids to make friends with other kids (albeit, few of them), as well as give me a break from at least some of my children.

4) Paying for things in advance is a great way to force your kids to persevere in classes.

My kids were less than enthused about attending outdoor education classes. But after me telling them they had no choice because we already paid for these classes and HFS they were expensive – my kids grumbled for weeks.

But they went and had a good time.

They had such a good time that after awhile, the real reason they hated going no longer was as much of an issue. It just became something they had to do. (They didn’t like the fact that we had to leave before 8am to get to class on time and drive a long time because it cut down on their morning iPad time. Spoiled little brats.)

Now, they very much enjoy class and even don’t mind going to class in the rain. (They’ve even been brainwashed because Cookie Monster told me that rainy days are the best because then Mother Earth gets her water. Also, he gets to jump in mud puddles.)

This even applied to my kids and their kungfu lessons. Since they took such a long break from kungfu in the summer, it was hard for them to get back in the swing of things. Their muscles were sore after classes and because they were more advanced than they used to be, the forms were harder and it required more effort.

So, of course, they complained.

They complained because since we missed so many weeks in the summer due to our Taiwan Trip, we had to make up the sessions and often went to kungfu 3-4 times a week. Apparently, that is too much for them.

Well, again, the fact that we had already pre-paid came in handy and I brooked no dissent. After awhile, they again got used to the new reality and their bodies adjusted and they are happy about kungfu again. (It helps that they just got their yellow-black belts and have upgraded to a more advanced class.)

5) Homeschooling is flexible enough to withstand a lot of disruption.

I briefly touched upon this in the previous points, but seriously. I was worried about how being miserably pregnant and then happily unpregnant but with a newborn was going to affect homeschooling.

I need not have worried.

Yes, yes. We skipped a lot of actual schooling at home because I had a baby and all. But you know what? They played a lot with each other, still had their other classes, and in general, we took things slowly.

And because we adjusted our rhythm and tempo, my kids did not suffer really and since they’re pretty far ahead on math and yes, even Chinese reading, I wasn’t really worried.

Also, despite the fact that I still had to shuttle them to a lot of classes, it was STILL a lot easier than shuttling the kids to and from “regular” school. The thought of dealing with pick up/drop off and the traffic and rush in the early mornings hurts me.

Our laid back lifestyle was MUCH better and much preferred.

Plus, kids learned a lot about babies, helping with cooking, and home responsibilities. That is also learning. 

Alright. I think that’s the gist of the last three months. Here’s to another month of homeschooling! Happy 2017!

Things I Didn’t Realize I Needed to Teach My Children

I have had quite a day full of mishaps with my children. I swear, they are smart kids, but also extremely dumb. If we were early on in the evolutionary chain, humankind would have died out.

Our branch would have come to an immediate and abrupt end. And it would be deserved. Utterly and totally deserved.

Is it sad to say that my kids would win the Darwin Awards? Or some other awful kids do the darndest things awards?

Here then, are some of the things it never occurred to me to tell my kids NOT to do.

Clearly, the fault is all mine.

1) Don’t stick your finger in your butthole and then put your finger into your mouth.

2) Don’t push your sibling off a five foot retaining wall.

3) Stop shoving your finger into your butthole and finish your bath.

4) Don’t draw all over the piano keys. Oh, and the bookshelf. And the books on the bookshelf. And the wall. And the carpet. And the window sill.

In fact, please only draw on paper. BLANK PAPER. No, not your homework.

No, not your siblings’ homework, either.

5) Don’t dump Elmer’s glue all over the carpet.

6) Don’t jump from the couch to the rocking chair. For God’s sake, please stop jumping onto the rocking chair.

7) Don’t climb the toy kitchen. It will topple over. In fact, please stop climbing everything in the house. I don’t feel as if I should have to bolt down every item in my house.

8) Don’t crawl into the washing machine.

9) Don’t sit on my face with your naked butt. Sit on Papa’s face instead.

10) Don’t poke holes into a brand new Amazon box with pencils. Especially when the box is full of air/heater filters.

Hmmm… after reviewing this list, I realize that the main one I didn’t expect to say was the first one. After that, I get it. My kids are just kids. Stupid and not really good at figuring out natural consequences from their actions. But the first point? THAT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS.