Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pajama day for Kindergarten?!?

I have had to add some information to this post - since way too many of the negative comments come from people who jump to one conclusion about some of my comments.

First - you might want to actually look up the Meriam-Webster's definition of intimate.  I would have thought that fairly intelligent people would have been able to figure out my usage of it... but evidently not. Here is the definition from the dictionary:  1.) a.  INTRINSIC; ESSENTIAL;   b.  belonging to or characterizng one's deepest nature  2.)  marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity (~ knowledge of the law); 3.) a.   marked by a warm friendship developing through long association;  b.  suggesting informal warmth or privacy;  4.)  of a very personal or private nature. 

Intimate as I use it here is used as the last definition.  I find it amusing and at the same time disturbing that the negative posters equate intimate with sex.  How sad. Sex isn't necessarily intimate - however, I would charge that love and trust require a degree of intimacy.  Further, IF you actually read the post and don't jump to conclusions before you finish - which I  believe people are doing here...  PJ's are worn at bedtime - not to school or the shopping mall.  Anyone who wears PJ's outside of the home - I do have to question your character.  It's that simple.  What do you have to prove by wearing clothes inappropriate for the day/weather/season?  So, here's the rest of the original post.  I am a mother who prefers to teach my children right from wrong every time I see something that comes up and can be considered a teachable moment.  Not like the moms who think they are loving their kids by giving them whatever they want or allowing them to do whatever every one else does.  The school stopped having PJ day after 2009's.  I would have to say it wasn't on my complaint alone...

Well, imagine my surprise when I picked up Kenzie the other day and she began to talk about "Next week we're going to have a pajama day at school."
That raised my eyebrows. I told Kenzie that I didn't think she would be going to school in her pj's, and that I would be talking with her father later. When we got home, I read the flier in her backpack and just shook my head with wonder at how a school could justify this kind of activity.
When Roy got home, I told him about what Kenzie had said and what was on the flyer sent home with her. I told Roy that I felt pajamas had no place in a school - to which he replied that she should be kept home. My thoughts exactly.
When picking up Kenzie from school the next day, I approached her teacher and asked her about the pajama day, and she began to talk enthusiastically about it. I told her I found it highly inappropriate that the school would allow young children to wear pajamas to school and that Kenzie would not be going to school that day.
I got a call from her later that day. She said that it caught her offguard that I would say anything in front of the other kids or parents. She said I shouldn't talk about these things in front of other parents and should call her at home or she would be willing to stay and talk with me privately.
The thought running through my head at that moment was, God forbid should I express an opinion that is contrary to the school's curriculum or one that perhaps other parents are thinking about but perhaps are afraid themselves to say anything. What she needs to understand is that every teacher needs to get used to my open and blunt way of expressing what I think about inappropriate activities or curriculum at public schools. Get used to it, folks - I don't mince words.
She then wanted to know what my objections to the pajama day were. I gave them to her, and she began trying to expound on how the kids are just 5 or 6 years old, and they're so innocent, and the school has been doing this for - oh, as long as she can remember! Even her son did it. And its fun for the kids.
Well, I guess that makes it alright then, huh! In my opinion, these were not reasons to do it, they were excuses why it is still going on. There was no educational rationale for children to go to school in their pj's, bring their blankets or sleeping bags, and their stuffed animals.Let's just talk about what's "fun". There was a time when the good ol' boys would go out on a Saturday night and either terrorize, torture or tie a knot around a black man's neck and string him up in a tree - all in the name of "fun". And I'm sure they considered that a tradition, of sorts... That doesn't mean it was the right thing to do.

Some people get a real hoot out of setting fire to cats. That doesn't make it the right thing to do.

And fraternities love to torture pledges with drinking alcoholic beverages until they pass out or die from alcohol poisoning - and the frat brothers must think that is great fun - but that doesn't make it right.
I told Kenzie's teacher that the argument she gave me wasn't good enough for me to change my mind, but just for the sake of being fair, I thought I'd gut-check my thoughts on the whole situation with someone I trusted, just in case I was over-reacting.
I called Dr. Laura Schlessinger. She agreed with me on every one of my points concerning the matter. That's all I needed. Her opinions are based in logic, not feel good emotions, and her first priority is protecting children and doing what's right. So I trust her.
So, Kenzie is being kept out on "Pajama day".

There is no good reason for children to wear intimate apparel to school. I send my daughter to school to be educated, not to be titillated by what even she understands is a taboo outside of the home. Children are more sophisticated than the school administration is giving them credit for. And because children are so impressionable while growing up, it is even more important to be certain that inappropriate actions on the part of others are not “normalized” and made part of the mainstream.
When children are allowed to do things considered taboo by society at large (Does any serious business allow their employees to show up in sleepwear?) and it is made into a “fun” activity, they internalize and begin to associate that other things in life that are considered taboo and inappropriate might also be fun. This sets a dangerous precedent.
Once you begin to make excuses for one thing (no matter how innocent it may seem at the time) you will make other excuses for other school related (or friend related) events so that your kid won't be left out of some activity, and eventually, it becomes easy to excuse the more dangerous activities with serious consequences. If year after year the schools have inappropriate activities, and you allow your child to participate in them, it sends the wrong message to the children. The kids internalize the message that if it is fun, just do it. If it is taboo, or if it is slightly risque, just do it. And then parents wonder why their kids are having oral sex as pre-teens.
There's yet another layer to this - and that is teaching Kenzie how to stand up for what is right. It may not be a popular stance to stay out. But as I told her, there will be many, many times in her life that her friends or other people around her are going to be doing something that she will either know isn't right, or her gut will tell her that something is quite kosher about the situation. Listen to your gut and stand up for what you know is right. Your friends or the other people around you might make fun of you or alienate you, but then, those people aren't your real friends, because a real friend will look out for your best interests, and they won't want you to do something you know is wrong. And the people who try to get you to go along with them? They are not people you will want to hang around with, because they really don't care about you or your welfare.

Standing up for what you believe in isn't easy to do. But it is the RIGHT thing to do.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I am a fool

I'm not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. I never will be. That I accept. This parenting thing with Jia is making it painfully clear to me - I'm not sure if I'm doing the right things or not when disciplining her. It's like I'm finding my way with her, with both kids, to find a balance and approach that works best. Is it like that with every parent? I suppose if I wasn't such a type A personality, I might be able to handle things better. Or is that a delusion on my part?

Our first adoption went so smoothly. Not the mechanics of it, but the bonding, attachment, Kenzie's acceptance of us, her quiet, easy-going ways... I kept saying she was such a great kid because of her personality, because of the kind of kid she was - that we were this happy family because we ended up with a child who was easy to parent. My husband kept saying that it was also because we were good parents... that we had a hand in her being such a good kid. I only believe part of that - if we had been abusive parents, she would not have been this happy, sweet, loving, child that we have brought up.

I had doubts about my parenting skills, but began to believe (just the faintest little bit) Roy's version of why Kenzie was such a wonderful child. In doing so, I lulled myself into thinking I could handle anything that came our way with our second child. Everyone said to me that going from one to two kids is not twice as hard, it's ten times as hard.

They hadn't met Jia.

It's not ten times as hard, it's far more than that.

From the start, we were overwhelmed with her touching everything in sight, not listening to us, and generally not taking anything we tried to teach her seriously.

Jia is super smart - I see it every day. And I don't want to dampen her exuberance. She can be a really fun and funny kid. And she is really enjoying life - eating it up like six scoops of your favorite ice cream... except I'm the one who's getting the ice cream headache.

It's been difficult... and I'm not used to having a kid (who, by the way, is more like my personality than Kenzie is) with so much going for her, but for whatever reason, she just isnt' getting it. And then I realize, it's not that she's got problems. I'm the one with the problem.

She's a normal kid.

This is what a normal kid is like. This is what REAL parenting is all about. Jia in many ways reminds me of my brother Richard. She is super intelligent - and I can tell because she is talking in fairly complete sentences and can tell you what is going on and I guarantee that you'll understand everything she's saying - and it's only been three months. She is logical, but not in calm way (how do I explain this...?) She can figure things out for herself, and is great at explaining how something is supposed to work or what order we do things in or she'll tell me what order she expects something to happen in - and her order is extremely logical.

At the same time, I have had to tell her for the thousandth time not to do something, and she'll be doing okay and then BAM! She looks you straight in the face and does it anyway. Is it forgetfulness? Is it defiance? Or is she assuming that because we let her do one thing (like allow her to play with a program on Kenzie's computer) that she thinks she can touch anything she wants on Kenzie's computer - such as the on button - to which she turned off Kenzie's computer the wrong way...) If she's testing me, then she gets what she's testing for... another time out.

At least now, with the time outs, I can sit and talk with her while she throws her kicking and screaming fits and she understands what is being said. In between, she stops and wants me to hug her, and then she lays back down and screams and kicks - frustration, mad, anger, and the ever present phrase "I'm not happy." No shit, kiddo!

I don't know about her, but I'm insanely, deliriously, giggly happy to have a kid who refuses to listen to what I say or follow my directions or take to heart my suggestions.

I have to joke about it, because if I can't make myself laugh, I'm going to be doing a lot of crying. And I don't like crying.

I think one of the hardest things for me is, she'll start a crying jag when she isn't given her way, and when I make some kind of comment about something else, she immediately stops crying and smiles, as if there was nothing wrong. So why was she crying??? Was it real hurt or anguish??? Or was it manipulation??? I have no clue - I know nothing about her life in the orphanage, so I have nothing to guide me. My philosophy is that unless I know what happened, doing nothing is better than reacting to an unknown. I pretty much ignore the crying anymore unless I know that there was an argument between her and Kenzie or that she got physically hurt.

Maybe she is settling in. Maybe I'm getting a little better. Maybe things aren't going to be all that bad after all... because yesterday was a good day. Instead of time out, I talked with her instead. Like when she took an erasable marker and marked all over a plastic bowl she had. Kenzie brought it to me and showed me (ever the little tattle tale) and I had Jia come to me. I took the marker from her and asked her if the marker was for writing on bowls. She said no - she knew she'd done wrong and was doing her best not to break down in tears. I told her that if the marker could be washed off the bowl, she could have her marker back, but no more writing with it on anything other than the book it was meant to be used on. But if it didn't come off, I would keep it until she wanted to use it for the book, but she would have to give it back to me until I was sure she would use it correctly every time.

You could literally see her holding her breath as I washed the bowl. Kenzie was, too, but I think she was secretly hoping it wouldn't come off. It washed off easily, and I told Jia she was very lucky, gave her back the marker and just said, "No more marking on bowls, plates, or cups... only use it in the book." She shook her head yes (visibly relieved but also big tears in her eyes). I hugged her and let her go on to play.

And the whole day was like that - no getting angry, no "monster mommy" getting crazy with her head spinning in circles (a joke between Kenzie and me - something that makes her laugh at me because I am not always a calm person). I spent yesterday talking with Jia to let her know what she was doing wrong and what she could do right. Until the evening.

I dunno about you, but goofing off with a tooth brush in your mouth, not brushing your teeth when told to, and running around with the tooth brush in your mouth is a capital offense in my house. (Ok, that's a joke - but the running around with the tooth brush in her mouth is something she knows she's not supposed to do, and too dangerous not to emphasize with time out. That is, time out with a talk while she is being punished.)

The one thing I am grateful for is that she is learning she can ask me for things. Last night, she asked for me to hold her. So I did. I held her and rocked her. And we had plenty of cuddle time for both of them yesterday... so maybe that was also a factor in keeping calmer - for all of us.

I know Jia will begin to catch on to our rules and family dynamics. I'm hoping Kenzie's jealousy will calm down a bit. Things will begin to settle down at some point. And I am working to calm the "monster mommy" inside to a purring kitty cat.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jia's Pain

We have lots of picture books around the house with pictures of Kenzie in them from the time we adopted her to fairly recently. Many of the pictures are when she was under two years old. Jia loves looking at these books. We also have many items of Kenzie’s that we have saved since she had been a baby. The dress we adopted her in, her baby squeaky shoes… and Jia asks whose they were.

It breaks my heart to have to tell her each time that they were Kenzie’s. She always asks “Where my baby shoes/dress/Name Item Here?” “Why don’ I have baby picture?” “Why you not adopt me baby?”

She is truly hurt and is having a hard time understanding. She doesn’t understand why she wasn’t adopted as a baby, like her Jie Jie. She keeps asking if the pictures I took of her adoption last year are her baby pictures. I try to explain to her that her orphanage just doesn’t allow their children to be adopted as babies… that those kids who can be adopted are going to be adopted as older children.

I really wish her orphanage wouldn’t wait so late to send the kids’ files to the CCAA. I was told they do that to be sure the kids didn’t have any health issues. But that is no guarantee… who’s to say that the apparently healthy 4-5 year old won’t later develop some kind of illness? It’s impossible to truly know this. And personally, I don’t know of one parent who, after adopting their child, found out that their little one had a physical ailment that would have put them in a special needs category if it had been caught early on and would have said “Well, I’m not keeping her/him – they’re not healthy!” We adopt these children to give them love and whatever else they might need. Including whatever medical care they will need if they end up developing or we discover some hidden problem. I think most families are realistic enough to know that you won’t get a perfect child - just a child that needs you.

The sooner these children are in families, the better off they will be. There are too many issues that arise from being in an orphanage for longer periods… and it’s harder on the children to adapt to their new situation.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Done deal - thanks everyone

It was pretty much unanimous. The header is now officially changed. I'm thinking I want to do something dramatic like that for each season of the year. I look foward to finding something to photograph this spring to add to the header. I'll do a vote each time - since I will probably have more than one I like and I'm horrible at choosing. We've had a few days of exceptionally nice, warm weather, and I'm dreading it when the cold returns... and it will. For crying out loud, it's not even mid-February and we've had weather in the 50's and 60's. I love it...

Again - thanks to everyone who responded with their views. I think you are all awesome and I like your taste in photos. LOL!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I'm looking for a new header

I have two pics I took yesterday while out in the snow. I like them very much and I really wanted something more neutral... I love my girls, but I prefer a header that doesn't go overboard with the kids... I dunno - just feel like one of these would be better.

Which do you like?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Snow Play

Since Tuesday of last week, we've had snow on the ground... but for most days, it's been too cold to go out and play. Well, for mama, at least - I have no boots or snow gloves, and I get cold fast Ok, I'm a wuss!

But the kids had a great time the two times I've had them out to play. First time was at my mother's house. As you can see, Jia doesn't like cold weather, either. It was in the mid-20's and I didn't let them stay outside for long - but at least they got in some play time.

Then today, the weather was in the upper 40's and the snow was melting away - so out the kids went to build their snomen. It was all about the play - and they had a great time sliding and wallowing around in cold, wet, hard snow. I don't know how they did it, but they managed to roll up some small balls and create their version of snowmen...