Well, the cat’s out of the bag

Well, the cat’s out of the bag

First of all, I want somebody to tell me why the cat was in the bag. Or, maybe more importantly, how did you get the cat into the bag? Is there a special cat-bagging technique that my husband and his vet tech friends should know about? Because there seem to be a lot of cats in a lot of bags lately, and nobody really knows how they got there.

BUT ANYWAY!

Obviously, there’s been something wrong with my brain cells lately. I’m wondering¬†about proverbial cats in proverbial bags and don’t know how to ring doorbells, but there’s a good reason for that.

Remember when I said the Mister and I have a few major projects going on that were distracting me from my regular posts?

Well, we do.

We’re having a baby.

baby announcement

ūüėÄ Yes, yes, we are quite proud of ourselves.

I alternate between “Aww, we’re going to have a baby. I just want to hold all the babies, and I can’t wait for my baby to get here” and something that sounds a bit like

“AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH WHAT HAVE WE DONE WHAT WERE WE THINKING WHY DID WE DO THIS WE’LL NEVER HAVE ANY MONEY LIFE AS WE KNOW IT IS OVER AND HOW COULD WE EVER HAVE THOUGHT THIS WOULD EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER BE A GOOD IDEAAAAAAAAAAAA…”

Yeah. There are up and down days.

But mostly good. Six months to go and I can sort of see the walls in what will be the baby’s room behind all the boxes and piles of homeless stuff that has nowhere else to live.¬†It’ll get there.

Someday.

Probably on or around October 20…..

[October??!!! Good grief what am I doing sitting here at work. There is WAAYYYYY too much to be doing to be going to work. We¬†need to read the books, we need to buy the furniture, we need to clean the house, we need to buy a fence, we need to have a yard sale, we need to….]

Pray for us. We’re going to need it.

-The Mommy ūüôā

[Good gracious, somebody’s going to expect me to be their mommy??!! Shouldn’t you have to pass a test for that or something??]

 

Sticks and Stones

Yesterday morning in bible class (fifth and sixth-grade girls), I was finishing up a lesson on people and things we should pray for, and the last point was to “pray for our enemies and people who may not like us or agree with us.” (Very applicable in today’s world, I might add, but that’s a topic for another time.)

One of my students, a young girl who is rather eccentric sometimes, popped her head up and asked, “Why would I pray for the people who don’t like me? People are so mean to me. Everybody thinks I’m weird.” She¬†explained how she no longer rides the school bus because certain kids were so mean to her that she couldn’t stand to go to school. She talked about how she only has two friends in the school, but they don’t have any of the same classes, and nobody else ever wants to talk to her and sit with her at lunch.

I didn’t know what to say. I came out with something about how people can be mean and life gets better as you get older. I said something about how everyone has a soul and we must try to love and pray for their souls, even if we don’t really like that person. I went on about how we are God’s examples in the world, and we might be the only Christians those mean people see every day.

That’s what I said, but what I was thinking was completely different.

___________________________________

I remember the day it started.

I had a friend from my fifth-grade class, Nikki,* who lived down the street . We played in each other’s backyards a lot, and I remember a specific day when we spent several hours playing computer games in her basement. We invited the new girl across the street, Kate,* who was also in our class, to come over.

The next day I went back to Nikki’s house and knocked on the door. She answered, but obviously didn’t really want me to come inside. I heard Kate down in the basement, but I left anyway. I thought surely it didn’t matter.

Over the next month or so, I began to notice my classmates, those I had considered my friends, stopping their conversations when I walked up and making an effort to shut me out of activities. For a long time I thought I was exaggerating this in my head.

I still remember one specific afternoon when I rode my bike down to Nikki’s house and knocked. Her mother told me she was across the street at Kate’s house swimming in the pool. So I walked over and knocked on the privacy fence gate; I could hear my “friends” laughing in the water. Instantly, the splashing stopped and there was a lot of whispering. I let them know I could hear them and asked if I could come in. The reply came back: “Well, uh, we were really just about to get out and, uh…”

“Oh, well can I come and hang out with you after?”

“Oh, uh, well… we’ve got some stuff to do. We’re gonna be really busy. Maybe later.”

I heard my name and loud laughter as I walked back to my bike. That’s when I knew for sure that I wasn’t imagining it.

The last few months of fifth grade and the following summer were pretty¬†miserable for me. I didn’t get invited to slumber parties or play dates, nobody wanted to come over to my house and former friends would duck into stores if we happened to pass each other in the mall.¬†Those seem like such small things, but they add up after a while.

I never found out exactly what Kate had told people to make them act this way, but I know it was all tied to her. Life got better when I entered a middle school with multiple feeders – not everyone there had heard whatever was being said about me – but years later, at the end of my freshman year of high school. I found an unusual entry in the back of my yearbook:

I’m sorry. -Kate

It had been four years. I had made friends. I had moved on, and I didn’t really need an apology anymore. So it wasn’t the words that got to me, it was the fact that I hadn’t made it all up. I hadn’t been pretending to be ignored for the sympathy points. It was real, and the girl responsible knew it was real all those years later.

____________________________________

I say all that to say this:

Looking back on that year – which I am grateful was only a year, many kids go through entire lifetimes of emotional isolation – I’m not glad that it happened, but it did teach me something:¬†Other people can only change you if you let them.¬†

You can’t reason with a bully. Adults tell children that they can, but the simple fact is that the things people say and the way people treat you isn’t about who you are; it’s about who they are, and only you get to decide if you’re going to be the same way.

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

That is my absolute favorite quote, and I have used it to remind myself of my own capabilities many times over the years.

Nobody gets to decide who you are on the inside. Nobody gets to decide if your creativity is “weird” or if your imagination is “stupid.” Only you get to decide that, and only you can decide if their hurtful words mean something to you or not. And that’s so much easier said than done.

Unfortunately, most kids just have to survive it and try to come out the other side with some of themselves intact. In a perfect world, there would be no bullies. But in an imperfect world, the best we can do as parents is try to teach our children to be kind and to love who they are to the point that other people’s words don’t make (much of) a difference.

Raise the child who sits with the kid who’s alone, and be the adult who pulls that kid aside and tells them that who they are is important. You have no idea how much good you can do.

 

*Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

 

 

 

What was that noise??!!!!!

I’m not a parent yet, so I don’t know off the top of my head when human children start sleeping soundly through the night, but I do know it’s probably before they’re a full year old. And certainly before they’re seven years old – which is supposedly the human equivalent of how old Meera (almost) is now.

Our problem right now, actually, isn’t that she doesn’t sleep through the night (although sometimes she doesn’t). The real problem is that she’s sleeping TOO WELL.

Right before we left her on the island for Christmas break we had started the bad habit of letting her sleep on the big bed with us at night. Thankfully, being made to sleep in her kennel while with the dog sitter broke her of that expectation (mostly), and we’ve finally graduated to sleeping in our own beds.

Which has only one down side: This dog has CRAZY dreams!

It wasn’t a big deal when she’d mostly sleep on the rug beside the bed because there wasn’t anything for her to bump into during her violent mongoose-chasing spasms. Even when she’d sleep on the end of the bed our legs somehow kept her from moving around too much. But ever since we got back from the holidays and she started sleeping primarily in her kennel, she kicks the walls and rattles the door and wakes me up in a panic at least once a night. And she barks in her sleep, which has always sounded like she’s barking underwater and is incredibly cute during the day, but at night it scares the poo out of me. A few nights ago I bolted up in bed and shook Matthew awake because she was growling – and not just sort of sleep-growling, but really growling, as if she was wide awake and defending us from something.

But she wasn’t, because she was fast asleep and probably cornering a chicken or something.

I’m glad she likes having a big blanket in her kennel. I’m glad she only comes up to the side of the bed to bother me half as much now. I’m glad she apparently has good dreams. But it would really be great if she could somehow learn not to throw her kennel into the bathroom wall four times a night and give her mother small heart attacks. It’s really starting to affect mine and the Mister’s sleep cycles.

On a similar note – do any of you dog owners or trainers out there have suggestions on how to keep a dog awake against their will? Meera likes to take a nap at about 7 p.m. while we’re watching TV after dinner – which of course means she doesn’t want to settle down and go to bed at 10 and leave us alone. Ideas?

From Four-legged Children, on Two-legged Children

I realized this weekend that I completely forgot about having a Thursday post. If anyone noticed, I apologize. If you didn’t notice, my feelings are hurt. But either way, if you’d been part of the week the Mister and I have had, you would understand.

We’re still living in puppy land waiting for our new apartment to be move-in ready. We are a bit disappointed with the way the housing situation is going, since our new landlord assured us that our apartment would not only be cleaned quickly and ready for us to move in over the break, but also that there would be no problems with the unit and that it would come stocked with basic kitchen appliances, utensils, cookware and tableware. None of these things has turned out to be true. She told us the house was ready for us to start moving in yesterday, but when we arrived with a load of our belongings we found the bathrooms in mid-repair, half the house dirty and electrical wires hanging out of the wall in a state of mid-examination. Welcome to St. Kitts, one of the few places in the world where unkept promises and terrible service are both expected and considered acceptable.

We’ve also had three more centipede encounters since my last post, the last two of which were a fully-grown 10+ inches long and one of which bit a friend’s foot and caused lots of screaming and panic on all sides.

But the biggest revelation from this past week is the constant reaffirmation of the fact that the Mister and I are not mentally or physically prepared to have children, third world country or not.

You parents out there will read this post and laugh at our expense, I’m sure. But, to make up for not having a Top Ten Thursday list last week, I will give you a Top Twenty-two list of valuable lessons these puppies have taught me about my parenting future.

1. In one episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon explains that women are naturally more likely to be woken by high-pitched noises so we will be able to hear our babies crying. I have proven this absolutely true, as I seem to be able to hear the tinkle of a dog tag through concrete walls and floors with two fans whirring and from a deep sleep.
2. There are not enough toys in the world to occupy three children (or in our case puppies, which are basically the same thing). The floor is covered in chew toys, plush animals and tinkling balls of all shapes and sizes, but the only toy worth playing with is the one currently in someone else’s mouth.
3. They will never give you enough sleep. Ever. Even on the one morning they mercifully allow you to go back to sleep on the couch, it will still be an intermittent nap, punctuated by frequent yelps and shouts of “No! We don’t chew on people’s faces!”
4. You have to constantly be making sure they are chewing on something acceptable and not destroying mommy’s best pair of flip-flops.
5. If they all suddenly go quiet, that’s not permission to relax. That’s a sign to get off the couch in panic and make sure you can account for all of them. (See item #4.)
6. You punish them and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And then sometimes it backfires. Like when you swat one for howling senselessly in the middle of the night and you wake in the morning to a pool of retaliatory pee in the kitchen floor.
7. Listening skills deteriorate over time, especially when the listener in question seems to feel that your commands are increasingly irrelevant. Why would I let you take me inside to protect me from a giant poisonous bug when I could be running through the tall grass in the dark getting stung all on my own?
8. Some things in life are certain, like death and taxes. Poop schedules are not one of those things.
9. They are always hungry. Always. Even if they just ate a heaping bowl of food and then stole some from the other children. They will still eat mouthfuls of paper in order to chew into the food bag and find some more.
10. Loud noises are often made for no logical reason other than to annoy the fire out of whoever is in charge at the time.
11. Just because they bark and howl at the unexpected visitor doesn’t mean they won’t run for cover behind mommy’s legs when that stranger tries to touch them.
12. Your dreams revolve around caring for and worrying about them. So much so that you sometimes wonder whether you were ever actually asleep or not.
13. The first few times you lose sight of them outside, you panic and call their names, clapping your hands and running to look around corners. As time goes on, you cease to look and just start to figure they will turn up on their own at some point.
14. When you have three, there will always be one that’s left out. It would probably be easier to have four, that way everyone should always have a playmate. However, if we can’t handle three we certainly should not have four, so we will be stopping at two.
15. They want to sleep all the time…except while you’re asleep. They wake you up at ungodly hours of the morning and then sleep for most of the morning and afternoon and don’t want to go to bed at night. You know that, logically, you should keep them awake during the day so they will sleep at night, but you just don’t have the energy because you’ve been awake since 5:30 a.m.
16. Sometimes they crawl over to be sweet and snuggly. Sometimes they crawl over to let you know they are about to poop all over the place. These actions look EXACTLY THE SAME! Always ere on the side of caution.
17. Sometimes the one you expected to be the most challenging is actually the best-behaved. It’s during these moments when you do a double-take to make sure you still have all the right ones.
18. You become overly concerned with bathroom habits. Who pooped and how long ago? How much? Did it look normal? When did they pee? About how much came out? Etc.
19. Things that never seemed complicated before, like leaving the house to pick up a pizza with friends, suddenly require a ridiculous amount of preplanning.
20. You begin to take an absurd number of pictures and post them online. These pictures will all feature the exact same thing and you will check back frequently to make sure everyone in the online world appreciates them as much as you feel like they should. If they don’t, you will take this as a personal offense and consider using this criteria to clean out your friends list.
21. At the end of the day, no matter how much they’ve driven you crazy, it still breaks your heart to hear them whine about going to bed alone.
22. There really is nothing better than warm snuggle time.

What lessons did your children (or your pets) teach you about parenting? Did you learn anything you didn’t expect to learn?