Barely Hanging On

465 days of loving more all together, 36 days year 2

“But mommy, alllll my friends have lost a tooth, why haven’t I? It’s not fair. It’s so not fair. The tooth fairy will never come. I am so unlucky.”

This has been the standard statement shared passionately with me by my six and a half year old every night at bedtime for the past oh, I don’t know, eighteen months? Needless to say, the question has been getting old. But I get it. He wants to feel like a big kid like his friends. He wants to let go of his baby teeth. Okay, maybe I don’t totally get it because I don’t really want him to loose his baby teeth. I don’t really want him to be a big kid, but oh, I can’t deny his strong desire to grow up. I can’t deny the truth in his emotions; I can’t deny that growing up is going to happen; I can’t deny him the excitement of looking forward to loosing his first tooth just because I am not ready for the tooth fairy to be part of my life.

So every night for the past eighteen months or so, I have shared my somewhat standard statement,

“Oh buddy, I know. It is hard. But your teeth will come out when they are ready. Everyone is a little different and does things at different times and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a big kid just because you haven’t lost a tooth. It will happen soon. I promise, it will.”

And it did. One promise I made finally came true. Last Saturday, out of the blue #1 came running up to me and said,

“Mommy, mommy, I finally have a loose tooth!!! See, see?!!”

I looked. And I looked.  And I even wiggled it with him. And I have to admit. I jumped up and down with excitement with him like I was a six year old losing my first tooth. I was so happy for him. Seeing the sparkle in his eyes, the pride on his face, the joy emanating from every aspect of him, it was, well, contagious. My baby was so happy. No, my big boy was so happy. A little bit of my heart cried, but mostly it felt the happiness.

It’s been a fun week, being on tooth watch and all. Everyday at school pick-up I’d ask,

“And, and? Do we still have all our teeth?”

He would joke and say, “Nope! I lost it! Just kidding mom, fooled ya!”

Today was no different except this time he asked me,

“Mommy, when is it ever going to fall out?”

“When it is ready. That tooth is teaching you patience. It is teaching you how to stay calm when super excited!”

“ARGH!” he grumbled and curdled up into his car seat.

Fast-forward three hours. All four boys and myself are hanging out in the doctor’s office waiting to check #4’s lungs. I use the term hanging out loosely; really we were all trying to not bump into each other and bother each other in the cramped space! The only thing hanging out was #1’s tooth. As he sat there, I said,

“Hey, let’s check out that tooth. Maybe we could have Dr. K pull it out while we are here?” I then looked at it, touched it ever so gently and changed my statement, “Hey #1, that tooth is going to fall out any moment. It is barely hanging on!!!”

The nurse came in and started doing stats and everything. #1 sat patiently on his chair; his tongue not so patient as it pushed the loose tooth back and forth, giving me the heebee jeebez.

“Hey Nurse L, I have a loose…”

PING!

“What was that?” asked Nurse L.

“MY TOOTH! MY TOOTH! Don’t move it is next to your foot!” he screeched as blood oozed out of his mouth.

And sure enough, this perfect little white tooth lay on the floor. We scooped up the tooth and carefully wrapped it in a homemade gauze pocket.

“#1, yes, you may hold your tooth in your pocket. BUT do not take it out. You are a big boy with big teeth coming in and this is a big responsibility.”

“I got it mommy,” he said.

I knew it was risky but he was so happy, proud, and excited. I just couldn’t deny him of that by holding the tooth. And besides, I have to let him grow up and learn. Well, I must say I think he grew up a lot today, and not just because he lost his tooth, but because he lost it twice. Driving home from the doctor, I heard a very feeble,

“Mommy, I didn’t listen. I took my pocket out of my pocket. And I dropped it in the worst place possible.”

I didn’t think that was possible. I mean I did, but really, REALLY?!!

“Did you take the tooth out of the pocket?” I asked nervously.

“What do you think?” he cried.

“Where is it?”

“In the worst place possible, I already told you.”

Trust me when I say, this is one hole in the car you don’t want to have to put your hand in. It collects EVERYTHING. Gross! The things we do for love….

And that my friends, was the truth. There was no denying it. You know that small, dark hole that is folds and folds of fabric where the seat belt recesses into? The dark hole that collects cheerios and spilled milk and dust and grossness over the years, and in this case, three years? The hole that you can barely get a finger in to scoop things out? Yeah, that hole. That is where the tooth fell.

I got home and immediately started trying to get it out. #1 sat on the driveway crying. I felt so incredibly bad for him I felt the loss too. My heart ached with him.

“Will you find it mommy? I can’t believe I lost my favorite tooth. Now the tooth fairy will never ever come! I’m so stupid!” he whaled.

Meanwhile, three other children climbed all over the back seat and me as I tried desperately to get the small tooth. Every time they moved, the tooth fell deeper into the hole. Every time I thought I had it, I pulled out a blooming Cheerio. Every time someone moved closer to me, I moved closer to yelling. Every time #1 whaled, I thought, “yeah, I told you to listen.” Every time I thought that, my heart ached because #1 is struggling right now with impulse control. Struggling. While this taught him a valuable lesson about controlling his impulses, it was the worst way to learn.

Again, my heart ached with his. And instead of being empathetic, I let all my sadness and stress about not being able to find his tooth get to me. I was barely hanging on to calm. His not listening to me in the first place, my struggle with the reality of his struggling with impulse control, my not being able to make his heart happy, well it all led me to say rather snapfully,

“You know #1, I told you this would happen. You didn’t listen.”

I didn’t yell, but my words were full of shame and I could tell that I only worsened his wound. I didn’t like the taste of my tone one bit; I didn’t like that I separated us at a moment when we both needed a hug. This was such a big milestone for both of us; we both wanted it to be all sweet and perfect and yet, I was anything but sweet. Given the situation, I could have, no should have, been a lot more loving. And I feel awful. I can’t take back what I said. I can just apologize, which I did, and forgive myself, which I am working on.

At the end of the day, I am not perfect and nor do I need to be. I just want more good moments than bad moments. And at the end of the day, I am grateful that I was there when he lost his tooth and that we shared a not good, but an incredible moment together. And I am grateful that I didn’t totally lose it and starting screaming (as I totally would have done pre-Orange Rhino Challenge) because in keeping my quasi-cool I was able to do some awesome mini-van surgery with my neighbor. Together, we figured out how to take apart the mini-van and shake that tooth lose.

Yes, we found that tooth.
Yes, my son and I cried together.
And yes, we were both barely hanging on today for different reasons, both individually and with each other, but ultimately we found each other and that, despite the momentary gory details, made it a great day.

Munchkin fell asleep dreaming of the tooth fairy. Can’t help but wonder if he would have fallen asleep as happy if I had completely yelled and screamed at him over his mistake?

My Notes to Two Strangers

Dear Dad & Daughter at the restaurant tonight,

I apologize for listening to your entire conversation tonight. Yes, I completely, utterly 110% eavesdropped to every word you shared for thirty minutes. I just couldn’t help it. I heard one line and I was hooked. Your conversation was beautiful. It was inspiring, touching, heartbreaking, scary and affirming. Thank you for being in the right place at the right time. I needed to hear your conversation tonight, so thank you.

All my best to you; may you both continue to talk to each other as you did tonight,
A Secret Admirer, a.k.a. The Orange Rhino

*

My doctor’s appointment wrapped up early tonight and I had thirty minutes before the babysitter had to leave. I haven’t had any me-time lately so I decided to seize the free chunk of time and the beautiful weather and go sit outside for a quick dinner.

I sat down and ordered a beer and nachos and soaked up the warm weather, the breeze, and the absolute peace and quiet. Of course it wasn’t really quiet. There was noise all around but none of it was that of my four children asking for another napkin, another crayon, another trip to the bathroom or another French fry so to me, it was perfectly quiet. It was so peaceful in fact that my supersonic hearing picked up on the conversation next to me.

A teenage girl, somewhere between eight and twelfth grade (it is so hard to tell these days, you know?) sat across from her father nervously playing with her napkin. By the information she shared it was clear that she didn’t live with her dad, that her parents were divorced and that this was her night with him. They talked easily yet with a bit of tension. But still, they talked. He asked poignant questions, she answered politely. I heard their voices but not their words until she said this,

“You know dad, at this conference thing kids were talking about how at parties you raid the medicine cabinets at your own home. You then bring all the drugs to the party and dump them into one big bowl. Everyone then takes a handful, or two, of the drugs, and then chugs two drinks. It is really, really stupid.”

I sat there, my beer in my hand; my mouth dropped open and tears filling my eyes. My heart pounded with fear, really? Really this is what kids do? How frightening! And really, really this daughter felt comfortable to talk about drugs and actions with her dad? How phenomenal. I sat there all confused except for one thought: “way to go dad!”

The conversation continued. She shared more about how she was making new friends, how she wasn’t so worried about being friends with the cool kids anymore, how she didn’t want to be in the wrong crowd, just a good crowd. He listened quietly and nodded appropriately and then replied to her brave sentiments of truth,

“I am really proud of you sweetheart. It is hard to make new friends. It is hard to turn away from bad situations. I am so proud of you.”

He must have said it at least three or four times. Again, tears filled my eyes and all I could think of was, “way to go dad!”

The conversation continued, this time focusing on her upcoming graduation. She mentioned that some girls were buying fancy dresses; that she didn’t really care about a puffy dress, that graduation wasn’t a big deal. Again, her dad listened sweetly and replied ever so lovingly,

“Graduation is a big deal. I am proud of you. Your mom can take you shopping for a dress if you want. Or even I can, after dinner. We could go to what’s that place, JC Penny’s or the place with the JC in it?”

“You mean J. Crew dad,” she laughed.

“Yeah, we could go there. I’m proud of you. It’d be an honor to get you a dress.”

“Nah, it’s okay,” she said, “I’ll just wear something from my closet.”

Their dinner arrived and silence commenced. I of course had to interrupt it; it was time for me to get going and while they had talked and connected, I had written both of them notes and wanted to hand deliver them.

You see, as I sat there listening to them, watching them both try so hard to connect, yet connect so easily, I just wanted them to know how awesome they were doing. I wanted the dad to know how fantastic it was that he had raised a daughter who felt comfortable talking about drugs and personal struggles with him. I wanted the daughter to know how fantastic it was that she had found the strength to turn down drugs, to turn away from a bad crowd, and to now be graduating. I wanted them both to know how much their honesty and lovingness reminded me of my promise not to yell; how I hoped to have such conversations in the future with my boys, how I knew remaining yell free was one key to achieve that.

(Okay, pardon the grammatical errors. I was nervous writing the notes!!!)

I looked down at the two notes I scribbled on dinner napkins. I pondered doing nothing. I pondered crumpling up the napkins and not saying a thing. I pondered minding my own business, wondering if I would rock the boat by saying anything. And then I thought how nice it feels to be paid a compliment. I decided that the risk was worth it. I reached into my wallet and put some money inside the note for the daughter. I wrote next to it:

“I have four boys. I will never buy a graduation dress for a daughter. I know your parents would love to do so for you; trust me, it is an honor for them. But let this be a little contribution towards it. You deserve a new dress to celebrate.”

I nervously pushed my chair back and walked to their table.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I apologize for listening to your conversation. But I was just really touched and so I wrote you each a note. I hope someday that my boys feel as comfortable talking to me as you all talked to each other tonight. Best of luck to you both.”

I quickly left the napkins and scurried off, praying they wouldn’t return the money or catch me crying.

Today had been a hard day, a throw-in-the-towel type of day, an I-can’t-do-this-parenting-thing type of day, an I-don’t-want-to-do-this-parenting-thing type of day, an I-just-want-to-freakin’-yell-and-be-mean type of day. There is a lot I didn’t want today. But, let me tell you, hearing this dad and daughter talk drugs and good crowds and bad crowds, well, I do want that type of thing in my future. Big time. I want my boys to feel safe talking to me about everything and I believe that having a “yelling less and loving more” home is a great way to get there. I have been having to worker harder with the not yelling bit lately; my stress has made it harder to stay calm and I have truly wanted to give up, or rather, give in to the desire to yell. But witnessing this beautiful conversation tonight, well, it reminded me of the what I can have if I continue to yell less and love more and for that, I am re-inspired (and grateful!)

If you liked this post, read “I Just Want The Truth” 

Baby Steps ARE Big Steps

13 days of loving more year two, 442 days running total

Dear Orange Rhinos,

This is another, pull up your chair, grab a cup of coffee, tea, or wine and a box of chocolates kind of post. Expect typos, lack of clarity and a boat load of enthusiasm. Actually now that I am writing, forget the aforementioned beverages, it’s more like a champagne kind of night for me, for all of us. You’ll see why.

I wrote something in response to two comments today that got me thinking, really, really thinking. Several of you wrote about something you achieved, eluding that it wasn’t much; that you still yelled, but baby steps were taken and that is good. And then there was the question… “Right?”

And my answer…HECK YEAH!

Baby steps are BIG steps, big time!

Now, I don’t know what those of you who wrote those wonderful comments were feeling at the time and I will not presume to know. So I will just tell you my story. I am terrific at playing down small successes in my life. I don’t know why, I just do. But really, again,

Baby steps are BIG steps, big time!

Think of it. When a baby takes a first step, I don’t know about you, but I run for the camera, the phone, the video camera, the everything electronic to record it. To record the one, singular small, step. Shoot, even the quarter of a first step I recorded and then jumped up and all around like a happy monkey shouting for joy. “You did it! You did it baby! You walked!” It was a baby step literally but it was a BIG step and it was celebrated appropriately with hoopla galore!

Think of it. The first drop of pee in the potty. Not a full on pee, fill the potty (or in my case, spray the piss all over the potty) type of pee, but just a drop. I don’t know about you, but I have never been more excited about pee in my life until I saw the singular first baby drop ever so slowly drop into the toilet water. I think I called everyone I knew when each child peed in the potty for the first time. It was a little itsy bitsy baby pee but it was a BIG step and celebrated appropriately with hoopla galore!

And forget kids for a second.

Think of it. The first time you held a boy’s hand because he liked you and you liked him and you were “going steady.” It wasn’t any major stop the presses romance or full on intimate existence (shoot, I was what, in fifth grade, we won’t even talk about when my first kiss was…way too embarrassing!) but yet it mattered. It was a baby step towards the beginning of a relationship, it was a baby step at the beginning of a lifelong journey of relationships, but it was a BIG step at the same time and celebrated appropriately with hoopla galore! (How many girlfriends did you call? How many times did you write about in your diary??? I called lots and lots. And I think I ran out of ink for my pen!)

Oh there are so many baby steps in life. I do a great job celebrating the baby steps my kids achieve and that I experience as a mom: oh baby had first words, first food, first sleeping through the night, first laugh, first crying when I left. All baby steps…all BIG steps because they show signs of growth. And I truly celebrate and document them like mad. #4 sad Mommy today. Not just mama but mommy. I think the entire playground knows that because I shouted out with such glee!!

So why, why is it when I achieve baby steps in my life as a friend, a wife, a person, that I don’t shout with appropriate glee? Why do I play the success down?

As a friend: Oh I gave my name to someone new at the PTA, I shared a small secret about my life, I called and invited a new person to dinner. All baby steps…all BIG steps because they take courage…and yet I stay quiet and say, “yeah, well, I should have done that years ago. Everyone else has the courage. I am just shy. So, big deal” instead of sharing and celebrating.

As a wife: Oh I admitted I was wrong about which night was trash night, I said I was sorry when I knew it was important even if I didn’t feel it, I didn’t nag over everything, only every other thing on my honey-to-do list. All baby steps…all BIG steps because they required selflessness and embracing the relationship, not just the me-ship…and yet I stay quiet and think “whatever, that is part of marriage, it’s what I should be doing” instead of congratulation myself on growing.

As a person: Oh I didn’t dwell as long on fights with my mom, I did something 95% perfect instead of 110%, I acknowledged I was grumpy, too grumpy with my kids and made myself laugh to snap out of it. All baby steps…all BIG steps because they required mental talking and self control…and yet I stay quiet and think “yeah, so what, you still have room to grow” instead of shouting from the rooftops that I am trying and trying hard and that is HUGE and worthy of a champagne toast.

Oh, the list could go on and on of little achievements in my life, in all our lives I presume, that we deem to be baby steps that are really BIG steps. And, oh, I could go on and on sharing the list of my excuses for why baby steps are small and don’t deserve celebration. Yes, I am the queen at playing down my baby steps in life.

Enough of that. That bologna thinking stops tonight.

Am I saying every baby step needs a parade equivalent to Macy’s Thanksgiving parade? No (I acknowledge that there is a fine line between celebrating and bragging but that’s a whole separate post.) But for me, today made me realize I need to stop ignoring my baby steps of success and acknowledge them, even if just to myself. If I can celebrate every single baby step, literally and figuratively, in my children’s’ lives, then I can do that for me and I should do that for me. Positive reinforcement helped my kids take more first steps, more first bites of foods (green beans aside, they STUNK), more risks, more of everything and will do the same for me. Baby steps are BIG steps because the first step is often scary. It takes so much courage to let go of fear; it takes so much strength to do something that is imagined to be hard or uncomfortable. And it takes positive reinforcement to make those baby steps keep happening. So again, time for me to start embracing that…

Yes baby steps are BIG steps. And they are worth acknowledging and celebrating.

Cheers to all of us!!! (Source: www.Francetravelguide.com)

So forget the wine tonight. Open a bottle of bubbly with me and Toot Your Rhino Horn LOUD AND PROUD for being here and a part of The Orange Rhino Community. For showing up and trying. For succeeding. For succeeding by learning from a yell. For succeeding by not quitting. For succeeding by finding the courage to admit you want to change. For taking the BIG baby step.

(And then take two aspirin because I don’t know about you, but Champagne gives me a wicked headache.)

 

All my support,

The Orange Rhino

Today, I Want(ed) to Quit.

426 Days of Loving More!

Today was a really long, hard day. I mean Mondays always are so I shouldn’t be surprised. Daddy goes back to work after being home for 48 hours and the boys know they won’t see him until Saturday morning. Mommy goes back to being a bit more high strung because well, daddy is back at work and because there are five hundred and one places to drive to and things to do that slide over the weekend. And the kids go back to being even more high strung because of all the aforementioned reasons. Ugh, Mondays are not my favorite day of the week!

And today, well, today was an especially rough Monday because Daddy had been home for 10 days straight and we had all vacationed as a family together over that time. Re-entry into the “real world” stunk for all of us. Literally and figuratively.

The day started with realizing that the kitchen disposal had backed-up into the basement and dried, rotten food was all over a bathroom creating a stench that even a skunk would avoid. The upside? This explained why we had ants suddenly crawling out of the sink and the grout in the bathroom floor finally turned white again after layers of bleach and cleaning products.

The day ended with realizing that #4’s little cough was now a croupy cough and that he was still sporting a nice fever that could very well bring on a seizure and a trip to the Emergency Room. The upside? Lots of snuggles and falling asleep after a long crappy day with a little head nestled in my neck.

But oh, oh in between realizing the bathroom stunk and that a trip to the Hospital might happen, I also had the “opportunity” to realize that many of my triggers for yelling were still in fact triggers: endless unmanageable energy, endless whining, and endless clinginess. Oh, oh was it a day!

#1 had so much energy (anger really that vacation was over) that he was bouncing off any and all walls, even the imaginary ones outside.  If there was a wall, he was bouncing off it right onto another. And with every bounce his impulse control became smaller and smaller to the point that there was none and most behaviors that he knew were not acceptable were suddenly totally acceptable. Awesome.

#2 had so little energy because he woke up at the crack of dawn to try to say goodbye to Daddy only to realize that Daddy had already left. Cue Tears. All. Day. Long. Only with breaks to whine. So I guess he too actually had a lot of energy since he managed to keep up the crying whining gig all day. Fairly impressive stamina if I might say.

#3 had so much energy that he held on tight at pre-school drop-off and wouldn’t let go for the life of him. Then of course he had so little energy because he wouldn’t nap because he just wanted to be with mommy every second of the day.

Yes, with one feverish child on hip and one separation anxiety ridden child holding onto my leg, I wobbled around throughout the day trying to keep my own impulse control in check so that I wouldn’t bounce off the walls or start alternating between crying and yelling. Because honestly, that is ALL I wanted to do.

Cry and yell.

I wanted to cry that vacation was over and that I was back to the go-go-go of the school world. I wanted to cry over my struggles as how to best parent to my four wonderful, yet at times demanding children. I wanted to cry over all the stress in my life.

Yes, I just wanted to sit on the floor, throw my hands up in the air, and cry until all the chaos disappeared and everyone had magically gotten back into the rhythm of reality.

But I didn’t. I totally could have. I am fine with showing emotions in front of my boys; I am fine with showing them that sometimes people cry when stressed. But for some dumba*s reason instead of giving into my need to release the stress, I walked around grumpier than grumpy and positioned to yell at anything and everything.

I finally had it. I was done. I had had enough of trying to keep it together. I had had enough of all the crazy energy, the crying, the whining, the clinging. I just wanted to stinking scream at each child. I picked up my Blackberry and emailed my husband.

“I quit. I simply don’t have the energy or patience to not yell. It is so exhausting. I don’t care anymore.”

And then the phone rang. Right on cue. Phew.

“Hey – what’s going on? Are you for real? You can NOT quit. You do not want to quit. I know you don’t mean it.”

And you know what, my husband was right. I didn’t want to quit; I did care, immensely. I just wanted the day to get easier (and to go back on vacation!)  I didn’t really want to quit and start yelling, I just wanted a little of my son’s abundant energy to help me find a little peace. Realizing what I really wanted, well that kept me focused on finding said peace. Or at least finding a piece of the peace. Okay. A really small piece of the peace. (But peace is peace, right?!)

Was the rest of the day perfect and abundantly peaceful? No. I still had to talk myself down when a hockey stick was accidentally thrown at me.  I still struggled and took a thousand deep breaths when three adorable, but defiant and over-silly children, wouldn’t get in the bathtub and then one wonderfully persistent four-and-a-half-year-old wouldn’t go to bed because his pajamas were missing. And I still struggled and had to remind myself constantly to not rush my darling separation anxiety ridden sudden when he would  not go to the bed for the life of him.

But I didn’t quit. Because I knew in my heart of hearts, that even though things were tough, my boys were struggling for good reason and I was struggling with them for the same exact reason. They didn’t need me yelling at them for feeling exactly what I was. Nope. And because I knew in my heart of hearts that quitting, while tempting, was the last thing I wanted to do.

The Vicious, And I Mean Wicked Vicious, Cycle

421 days of loving more!

Originally posted on July 22, 2012
166 days without yelling, 199 days of loving more to go!

Dear #1,

You and I are caught in a battle that needs to end. We’re both in bad moods and we’re bringing each other down. We are spiraling downwards fast as fast can be and we are starting to affect everyone around us. I am writing this post as my way of reminding myself about my commitment to parent with more warmth and composure, two words that I would not exactly use to describe me lately. Sure, I haven’t been yelling at you. But I have not been the mom I know I can be either, the mom that I know YOU NEED in order to help you out of your bad mood. When I see you today after camp I am going to swoop you up and give you a big hug and tell you I love you a thousand times. I am going to hold you until you feel settled. Until you feel safe that we won’t be in a car accident again. Until you feel secure that you aren’t dying anytime soon. Until you feel comfort knowing that even if the babysitter is leaving, mommy isn’t going anywhere. Until you feel more love than you have felt from me these last few days. Because I love you. And you deserve my love, not my wrath…

big hugs and kisses,
mommy orange rhino

*

It’s a vicious cycle that my son and I get stuck in. When we are BOTH stressed and anxious, sometimes for the same reasons, sometimes not, we quickly get stuck being impatient, rude and quite frankly, annoying towards each other. My son starts acting out: hitting ME more, yelling at ME more, crying more, listening less, smiling less. I start acting out too: snapping more, saying no more, listening less, engaging less, smiling less. In the beginning of the vicious cycle, I try my hardest to stay calm, patient, loving and understanding. I try not to take his actions personally. I try to help him in the ways I have learned how. But the problem is, my stress counteracts all my efforts. Because my stress scares him. It makes him worry even more.

And I can’t hide my stress. According to my husband, I’ve always had a bad poker face. This week has been no different. In fact, it’s been exceptionally bad.

I can’t hide my fear that I too will die and leave my kids without a mom. I can’t hide my anger that I had to fire the babysitter at the worst possible time. I can’t hide my frustration that with everything going on I also have to deal with a car accident AND with three angry and sad kids that daddy went back to work after an extended vacation.

And I can’t hide my frustration with my son that his meltdowns are back, tenfold.

I am trying. I am really, really trying. Trust me, I am. Because I know that all my fears and frustrations are written on my face and THAT is actually making my son feel worse. It is making him more anxious, more stressed. My behavior is making him act out more.

Which of course adds a whole new level of stress to my day. Because when he acts out from stress and fear, it is HARD to stop. The meltdowns are enormous. They are physical. And sometimes they are scary. And when they get this bad, my son needs me to be calm, and patient, and loving. He needs me to be all the things I am incapable of being at that moment because I have my own issues.

And because his behavior is making me feel worse. Because like my behavior is stressing him out, his behavior is stressing me out.

So we play this little game. Who can drive the other person nuts faster? We each keep acting stressed and making each other worse. And worse. And worse. It ain’t pretty.

And it’s a pain in the a*s. Because it is exhausting, physically and mentally. Why can’t he pull it together? Why can’t I pull it together? Darnit, I didn’t sleep again last night. Darnit, he didn’t sleep either. Crap, now we are both tired and even MORE overwhelmed and persnickety.

Last Thursday I FINALLY snapped out of it. I finally put an end to the game.

I was REALLY close to yelling at him. Really really close. I had had it with the screaming and the kicking and the throwing pillows. I had had it with feeling like I was the only parent to have a child act like this. I had had it with feeling embarrassed by his behavior. I had had enough of ALL OF IT. I had had it with my week. With the stress. I had had it with him. I was done being patient. I was done being The Orange Rhino.

I walked away as a toy was thrown at me and went to seek solace in The Orange Rhino facebook page.

I looked at the computer screen. And I saw 44, no 45, no 48, no 60 new people had found my page and started following along. I was immediately reminded of my promise to my boys, to all of you and I stopped dead in my tracks. Seriously.

I looked at him and said, “#1, what is wrong? Why are you so angry? Why are you throwing things at me?”

He burst into tears.

“I am angry that the babysitter is leaving. Why doesn’t she love me?”

I held him in my arms so tight and rocked his almost 6 year old body like a baby. He crumpled into my lap and arms and sat and cried and cried and cried. Those tears kicked me in the ass. Those tears reminded me that when in a vicious cycle with him, he NEEDS ME. I AM THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR ENDING the cycle. I am the adult. I am the one who, no matter how hard it is, needs to find the strength and patience to give my son what he needs to “snap out of it.” I am the one who needs to stop and ask, what is going on?

When my son is in a bad mood, rightfully or wrongfully, I need to keep on loving him. When my son is struggling, I need to be an Orange Rhino. I need to find warmth and composure. I need to be patient and calm. I need to be understanding.

When my son and I are in a vicisious cycle of bringing each other down, I have two choices: make it worse or make it better. I finally made it better. It took me days to realize this, it took me days to GROW UP and realize my son needed me. But at least I finally did. And not just because it kept me from yelling, but because it allowed me to love my son more. And really, that is all he needed. To be loved more.

Truth or Dare?

408 days of loving more…

I pretty much remember all the “Truth or Dare” games I played in junior high school, shoot probably even before then. They were all the same. We sat in a dark room in a circle and all of us girls squealed out “not me, not me, YOU go first” while the boys watched us probably thinking, “Enough already, pick a dare!” And whenever it was my turn, I always pretended to hem and haw about which to do, a truth or a dare, when in reality, I always chose the same option: TRUTH.

Truth just always seemed so much easier to me when I was growing up. Dares were scary. Oooh…kiss a boy with my tongue! Oooh…prank call my crush and sing a love song. Oooh…run around the house screaming and angering the host family parents. Or at the older parties, gasp, oooh…take your shirt off! Um, no thank you. But, accepting a “truth?” Well truth was easy; all I had to do was give an answer. How hard can that be, right? Who do you like? When was your first kiss? Which actor do you want to marry? (For the record, it was always a toss up between Christian Slater and “Jake Ryan” from “16 Candles.”

Dare: Put a trashcan on your head and walk around bumping into walls.
Truth: Kids are stinkin’ adorable sometimes and this picture never gets old!

The way I saw it back then, I didn’t have to do anything for a truth but to say what was on my mind. A dare? Well a dare I actually had to push the envelope, I had to find courage and step out of my comfort zone. So yeah, no thanks to a dare.

But now, now I am older and wiser (ha!) Now, as I face more difficult emotional situations that require me to tell the truth in order to move forward, like managing one child’s anxiety and another child’s health scares, like figuring out how to balance mehood and motherhood, like dealing with the challenges marriage can bring, AND like admitting that I yell too much, I am realizing that truths are indeed dares.

In order for me to tell the truth, the REAL truth, I have to actually dare myself to step out of my comfort zone because telling the truth, the honest, no holds back, emotionally raw truth, is SCARY. Actually, it’s outright friggin’ more than scary. It’s petrifying and exhausting and paralyzing.  It means putting myself out there for criticism. It means admitting to things that I don’t necessarily really want to admit to. It means having to actually accept the truth and live with it once it has escaped my mouth and maybe even, gasp, deal with it.

Yes, truths are dares. They both take courage. So as I have aged and been faced with more truth telling my thought has pretty much been, “Yeah, no thanks to a truth…can I just kiss a boy instead please, pretty please?!”

But last January, as I saw the tears fall down my boys’ faces after I screamed a scream I’ll never forget, I knew it was time to stop hiding the truth. I knew it was time to dare myself to tell the truth about my yelling habits. I knew it was time to find the courage to change. It was as scary as scary can be because, well, starting The Orange Rhino Challenge wasn’t just daring myself to admit I had a yelling issue, but it was also daring myself to talk about a subject no one else dared to talk about. It wasn’t just daring myself to push myself harder than I wanted during challenging moments, but it was also daring myself to do something at which I might fail.

Starting The Orange Rhino Challenge was perhaps one of the biggest and best dares I have ever taken in my life. Up until last winter, I was pretty much risk adverse. I hardly ever stepped out of my comfort zone and yet, here I am, 400 something days of not yelling and I couldn’t be more happy that I stepped out of that comfort zone. Deciding to quit yelling and daring to tell the truth was scary but oh, was it freeing and oh has it helped me become a non-yeller. Someone said to me recently “The joy of saying the unspeakable, of saying the ugly and sometimes uncomfortable truth is that you can then label it, accept it, and begin to move forward.”

Yes. Yes. YES! This is the truth; I have lived this statement the past year and I know it to be true.

Telling the truth that I yelled too much took a huge weight off my shoulders. I no longer had to put all my energy into hiding my truth but I could begin to re-focus my energy on crafting a new truth. I could begin to develop the truth that “I yell less and love more one moment at a time.”

Telling the truth that I yelled too much helped me to finally say to myself, “ok, now that you have fin-a-friggin-ly identified the problem, you can create a plan to change and start working to resolve the yelling issue; you can finally go to bed without feeling guilty!”

And telling the truth that I yelled too much led me to the creation of The Orange Rhino Challenge which in turn led me to finding all of you, a supportive, non-judgmental community that has helped me move forward one day at a time.

That’s right. One. Day. At. A. Time.

Because even though I have gone over 400 days without yelling, every day is a new day with new potential to yell. Let’s face it; kids are awesome at giving us lots of opportunities to practice patience and not yelling! And so every day I remind myself about the truth I want to live, that I want to be a mom who parents with warmth and compassion and patience and understanding and love and of course all without the yelling. And every day I need to dare myself to live that truth and make it real.

And everyday I need to accept the truth that I am not perfect, but that I am trying my hardest and then dare myself to not just accept this fact, but really, truly embrace it and not let it ruin my day!

And everyday I need to accept the truth that I might be grumpy and close to yelling, and that when I am, that I need to then dare myself to forgive myself and let go.

And everyday I need to believe the truth that I can do this, that I can continue to dare myself each day to find the courage to keep finding all the energy, creativity, patience, empathy and love that is needed to not yell.

I can do this. One day at a time. One moment at a time.

And I double dare you to try with me 😉

*

In my life right now I have two big truths that I am trying to ignore, that I am too scared to fully admit, to fully talk about. Let me tell you this – they are eating me up. They are making it harder and harder to be the mom I want to be because they are weighing me down. As I reflect upon this blog post two things are clear to me. (1) The lessons learned from my journey to be a non-yeller are applicable to other aspects of my life too and (2) if I actually write about these two truths I am ignoring, if I dare myself to share them, well then I might just feel better and might just have an easier time at not yelling. Who is going to double dare me to share? Stay tuned….

Lesson from a Lost Lovey

401.5 days of loving more!

Well, crap, I lost one of my son’s loveys AGAIN. You would think I would have learned the first time…and the second time…and the third time…and the fourth time that no matter what “friends” stay in beds and cribs all day. But clearly, based on my digging through trash, and drawers, and cabinets and taking apart toys and furniture (again), I haven’t learned my lesson.  UGH. Why am I writing? I smell! I need to take a shower, then ice my knees from crawling all over the floor all night, and then ice my finger that I dropped not one, but two dresser drawers on as I hastily pulled them out in search of Mr. Bunny.

But, oh, oh the things we do for lost loveys!
And, oh, oh the agonizing heartfelt pain of losing a lovey.

Why is that by the way? Yesterday when Mr. Bunny was missing, my 19 month old didn’t care. He had his back up one so all was well with the world and yet I spent at least one hour looking for the lost lovey. One hour that I could have spent taking advantage of having Grandma here to help and actually checked off a few things on the to-do list. But no, I insisted on looking for Mr. Bunny. I just HAD to find him. Why?? Why am I more attached to my kid’s loveys than they are? Seriously?!

While they have cried over lost friends (loveys) in the past, eventually they move on and choose another friend as a best friend to snuggle with at night whereas I continue to dwell on how I lost track of such a sentimental friend; how I failed my kiddo. I know, sounds a bit extreme, but it just feels so awful because losing a lovey isn’t just losing a stuffed animal, it’s losing something so much more, it’s losing something that I would never, ever want to lose, that I promised myself I would never ever lose because of it’s importance…to my son and to me.

My son’s lovey is an extension of me when I am not there. It’s a guaranteed source of comfort for him when everything around him is falling apart. It’s a friend to hold in the emergency room when mommy has to use two hands to help keep the breathing mask on. It’s a friend to snuggle when I am out of the house and he misses me. And well, my son’s “lovey” isn’t just my son’s security item; I’m realizing that as I write this that it is also mine! Knowing that when all my efforts to soothe my son’s tears don’t work, that Mr. Bunny can magically make them stop, well, that gives me security. Knowing that my son has a friend that is soft and gentle and cuddly, a friend that can’t hurt him, that gives me security. And yes, knowing that my son still needs and wants a lovie gives me security that he is still indeed a child, that my baby isn’t all entirely grown up…yet.

Yes, I think I am most devastated about Mr. Bunny missing because I am just not ready to lose a symbol of my last son’s childhood. I know he and all my boys will grow up, but oh, even though these days can be hard and long, I am in no rush for my boys to grow up. And even though it was a big pain to have spent hours today looking for Mr. Bunny, I am glad that there are still loveys in my house to be lost and hopefully found! Childhood goes by faster than all the experienced moms told me and I am just so not ready to lose Mr. Bunny, the first lovey #4 ever received and one of the last threads to having a “young” child in the house.

My son’s lovey is something ever so special to both of us, something that I always want him to have when he needs, and let’s face it, it is something I always want to have around, whether in his crib, his hands, or in his memory box, because it reminds me so very much of his precious infancy, of his childhood. Mr. Bunny simply is NOT allowed to be lost. I will put him away in a safe place when my son and I are both ready to do so (okay, when I am ready to do so.) But tonight is not the night. Even though I conceded earlier tonight with a very heavy heart that Mr. Bunny was indeed lost, I will look again once more tomorrow. I am not just holding on tight to any symbol of the precious moments in my son’s childhood, but I am also holding on tight to the hope that I will find him!

Mr. Bunny where are you? WE miss you and love you!!!

*

I wrote the above after I called off the search party. Taking a break from looking cleared my mind. When I closed the computer to go to sleep, I had a new idea pop into my head. It donned on me that #4 has been on his tippy toes more and more lately, that he has been reaching his little fingers higher and higher, that he has been bound and determined to get into drawers that he can’t reach.  I ran to the one room full of drawers galore and like a child on Christmas morning and tore open the drawers with excitement and anticipation. Voila! Mr. Bunny wasn’t in the bottom two drawers but in the 3rd drawer…the drawer I thought he couldn’t reach! I grabbed Mr. Bunny and ran to my mother…

“See! See! I knew it! I knew he was in the house!”

I jumped up and down like a child. I was as happy as my son probably was when he finally got that difficult drawer open.

Which got me thinking.

When something really matters to the heart, remain patient, persevere and get on your tippy toes to reach higher. My son was determined to open that higher drawer. He didn’t quit when he couldn’t, when it got hard. His mind was on it and he kept at it. I have no doubt that he pushed himself up on those tippy toes, stretched his chubby little fingers out and then shoved Mr. Bunny in with all his might. I had this same attitude when I started The Orange Rhino Challenge but have sometimes lost my determination. I am going to embrace and remember this attitude whenever I want to quit. If #4 had quit, he wouldn’t have opened that drawer he couldn’t reach. Yes, then I wouldn’t have heartbreak yesterday but I also wouldn’t have been reminded to keep pushing myself when the going gets tough. If my 19-month-old son can push himself to reach higher, so can I.

I’m (not) Taking Care of Me.

398 Days of Loving More!

The first pimple was easy to attribute to P.M.S.
The first day of back pain was easy to attribute to “standing in one position too long.”
And the first night going to bed early was easy to attribute to “staying up too late the night before.”

But then when the second zit popped up in full force I knew it wasn’t P.M.S. as I never get more than one zit strategically located in the center of my face for all to see. And then when the back pain continued and got worse I knew it wasn’t just from how I stood because that back pain always goes away in a day. And then when I completely forgot an important conversation with my husband and couldn’t get out of bed the next morning because I was so tired, I knew it wasn’t from staying up too late.

Nope, all these recent ailments are from one thing and one thing only: STRESS. Or put another way, not taking care of me and trying to do too much. Right now, my body is trying to tell me something and it is sending out a pretty gosh darn clear warning: SLOW DOWN or you are going to have a meltdown.

Source: Google Images

And my body isn’t the only one telling me that, my boys are too. I didn’t need the throbbing pain of the pimple and my back to warn me, I just needed to listen to my boys. This past weekend I heard “Orange Rhino mommy, Orange Rhino” more than I have in weeks, months past and rightfully so. I have been completely on edge with them, grumpy as grumpy can be. And I know why, and my body knows why; I am simply not taking care of me.

A friend of mine always likes to remind me that if I am in an airplane and the oxygen masks drop down first that I need to put mine on first so that I can then assist my younger ones; that if I don’t take care of me, I can’t take care of them. It’s the truth. And guess what? I stink at taking care of me! While I have come a long way over the past year plus in learning that I need to take of me in order to be able to love my kids more and not yell, for some reason this past month I have completely forgotten the importance of it.

I know that for me, I need to get at least 7.5 hours of sleep to function normally AND nicely. I know that for me, I need to eat healthy and exercise to ward off grumpy moods and impatience. I know that for me, I need to interact with my friends to feel connected and therefore in a better place with my kiddos. I know that for me, I need to accept that I am not Superwoman and can’t do everything!

And right now I know that I am not doing any of the above. In fact I am doing none of the above and my body and my interactions with my boys are a perfect reflection of that. Actually, an imperfect reflection. I look all pimply and haggard. The bags under my eyes rival that of a zombie. The way I am walking makes the Hunchback of Notre Dame look like he’s standing up straight. And the way I am talking to my kids, the speed at which my heart is racing lately, the slight sweat that is starting in my hands, well it tells me I am close to completely screaming at my sons and I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.

This weekend I had one of the closest calls I have had in a long time to losing it completely. I was bordering on becoming the “old me” and it was the biggest, hardest, warning sign ever that I need to slow down and take care of me so that I can take care of my kids with the love, patience, empathy and calmness that I aim too.

But again, I am not very good at taking care of me. I am really good at saying: “oh, I just have to get one more thing done tonight, I can manage on less sleep.” And “oh, I’ll start eating healthier tomorrow” or my favorite “but I really like being productive, it makes me feel happier.” Yes, these things might be true in stand-alone cases but not all together. This weekend proved that to me as I flirted with going absolutely ape sh*t on my son all because I was so worn down that I could barely control myself. I could barely control my emotions, my reactions, and my voice. Fortunately, my son squeaked out Orange Rhino before I became a charging rhino, but still, that moment was so close to out-of-control that it slapped me in the face. It shook me awake and screamed at me: “ENOUGH LADY! Start taking care of yourself now!”

So I am declaring the rest of March as “ME” month. My goal this month is to take care of me; to force myself to take breaks when I am tired, to force myself to find 5 minutes to play, to force myself to let some things go, to force myself to slow the heck down! Yes, I am going to “try” to slow down so that I don’t have the epic meltdown that I was headed towards with great (and loud) speed.

It might mean that I say no to more things and say yes to less things, but that is how it is going to have to be. It might mean that I write more because writing relaxes me and helps me figure out stressful issues sometimes, or it might mean that I write less because I need to go to sleep or connect with a friend.  And it might mean that I get less done because I am taking a bath or gasp, watching T.V., BUT I need to accept that so that I am more relaxed and have more love to share with my kiddos…and myself. Because right now, this burning the rope at both ends, well it’s leading to my boys and myself barely feelin’ the love and it just ain’t working for me anymore. I had my wake up call this past weekend and I am not ignoring it.

I am going to take care of me so that I can take care of my boys.  I am going to love me a bit, even if it is hard to do so, even if it feels selfish, even if it is hard to find the time, because simply put, I want to show more love to my boys than I have lately.

On that note, time to ignore my to-do list and go take a bath and go to bed early! 

Managing My Anger.

393 days of loving more!

This is a hard post to write.
You know, sometimes it is just really hard to share the truth.
And not because it is that horrifically awful but because I don’t want to hear myself speak the truth. Because I don’t want to relive the truth. I don’t want to feel the frustration and disappointment all over again.

And that is what I feel right now.

Yesterday wasn’t a good day. I simply wasn’t the mom I hope to be, I wasn’t the mom I know I can be but more so, I simply was NOT the mom that my oldest needs me to be. I wasn’t there for him yesterday. I wasn’t there for him. And that just breaks my heart into a thousand pieces. He is so young and trying so hard to navigate his social anxiety and he needed me to help and instead of being as patient and empathetic as I know I can be, I was snappy and irritable.

Did I yell at him? No. (Phew. Then I would really be feeling dreadful.)
But did I pick him up less gently than I would have liked when I put him in time out? Yes.

Did I keep piling on expectation after expectation on him when I knew he couldn’t handle them, or anything at the moment and just needed me to help him calm down? Yes.

Did I start to get all exasperated with the situation instead of crawling under the dining room table with him and just holding him, and loving him, and telling him how much I love him and that it will be okay? Yes.

Like I said, yesterday wasn’t such a good day.

My son hid under the table because he was struggling. He was overwhelmed and angry with me for saying “no” to something and didn’t know what else to do. It was actually quite brilliant – he made a fort out of the chairs so no one would bother him and so he wouldn’t bother anyone and get in trouble. He built a fort to protect himself…because I didn’t offer him the safety that he sought.

My son barricaded me out. And while it is wonderful that he demonstrated how to handle his emotions on his own, it still was a hurtful reminder that I wasn’t there for him. That I saw his S.O.S. signs and ignored them because I was frustrated at the moment. That I sensed my OWN S.O.S. signs that I was losing it and ignored them because I was tired and embarrassed by his behavior in front of our guests.

I don’t like any of the definitions of Anger so a while back I created my own. I try to keep myself in the G and under range otherwise yelling becomes more and more tempting!

Yes, I sensed that I was Annoyed and I let it grow to Negative feelings. I started thinking, oh he is acting so awful, instead of thinking, oh he is acting so overwhelmed and wanting help. And I let that negativity push me into an awful state of Grumpiness where all I did was be short and snappy with him instead of patient and loving. (By the way, short and snappy? Not really helpful in situations like this!)

I would love to lie and say that when I sensed I was heading past the grumpy stage, when I sensed that I was headed towards Exasperation (and potentially yelling) that I walked away and listened to all the advice that I share with you on my blog – like having a hug-of-love instead of a tug-of-war, like stomping my feet like a Rhino to stomp out my frustration, like “snapping” out of it – and that helped me keep my growing anger tame and helped me be more loving, but I didn’t.

And I would love to lie and say that even when I knew I was being overly snappy, even when I knew I wasn’t reaching my hands forward to pull the chairs back to go under the table with him but rather abruptly putting them on my hips in pure exasperation, that I finally heeded my S.O.S. signs and walked away for a breather so I could squelch my growing anger.  But I didn’t.

Oh and I would love to lie and say that I finally sat patiently on the floor near him and waited for him to come out of hiding instead of leaving the room, but I can’t. I can’t lie.

But what I can do? What I did yesterday. After feeling disappointed in myself that I let myself get past level “G” of anger, after feeling disappointed that I let myself get all exasperated instead of using one of my tips to get to a place where I could be empathetic, after feeling disappointed that I didn’t do what I know I needed to do in that situation, I finally said to myself the one thing I say to many of you all when you feel frustrated from yelling:

“Forgive yourself. You are only human. You are not perfect and you don’t need to be. Pick up and move on to the next moment.”

Yes, I am only human. I am not perfect. And that’s okay. Yes, I don’t yell but yes I do still have moments where I wish I parented a little better, a little softer, a little more lovingly. Yes, yesterday was one of those days. GOSH how I wish I tore back the chairs and grabbed my son in my arms and held him like a baby and told him “I love you. I know it is hard and I know you are frustrated with yourself and with me. But we can get through this, okay? Just let me hold you and love you. We both need it.”

GOSH how I wish I did that because then I wouldn’t have felt all frustrated, sad and annoyed with myself later that day for not staying as cool as I like. But again, I didn’t pull the chairs back and I did get more frustrated than I like but dwelling on it longer than I did would not make matters better. Dwelling on it yesterday, and even today, will just bring me down and keep me from being able to try my best in the next challenging moment. And dwelling on it, well I learned early on that dwelling, especially when I feel like I “failed” is a big ‘ole trigger. Yes, it is pretty hard to keep my emotions in check, it is very hard to keep them G rated or below, when I am dwelling on something.

So yesterday I forgave myself, I loved myself and celebrated that I didn’t yell and eventually when I did all that, well I was able to love my son how he deserved and how I wanted to. It was a little late, but better late than never….

*

I wrote this post Tuesday. Today we had another hard moment. But today, I immediately dropped to my knees and went under the table with my son. I can honestly say that if I was still dwelling on Monday’s episode (which by the way, the old me would have been), I wouldn’t have been able to go under that table today because I would have been in a huge twit still, completely incapable of remaining calm and loving. Yes, I would have been stuck feeling even more exasperated. So yeah, not dwelling feels way better.

 

 

Rumor Has It.

386 days of loving more! 

I’ve written a lot about my oldest son and his emotional struggles.
I’ve written a lot about my third son and his speech delay.
And I’ve obviously written a lot about my fourth son and his seizure activity.

But I haven’t written a lot about sweet #2. I am not sure why. It certainly isn’t because there is nothing to write. There is plenty of good, and plenty of not-so-good. If I had to guess I haven’t written about him because of all four boys, he is the one that I have figured out the least. I “know” generally speaking how to help my first, third and fourth sons with their issues because I understand their issues. Although there is no perfect clarity, I at least have a roadmap and a group of people to support and help me with their distinct challenges.

But #2, sweet #2, well, I am still working to understand how to help him. He struggles to fit in and has been picked on and excluded more than a four year old should be, which is perhaps why I don’t write about it. It is outright too bloody painful to admit and share. He struggles with impulse control more so than typical for his age group, which is perhaps why I don’t write about it because I feel judgment and labels will come flying. And he struggles with always feeling not good enough and well, sometimes I feel I contribute to that.

But you know what else, he gives the greatest hugs in the world. He rubs my back sometimes…just because. He tells me he loves me first thing in the morning right after he asks me “how did you sleep mommy?” And he has a zest for life that is absolutely, positively 110% inspirational.

Rumor has it that despite his struggles, which can be a turn off to me at times, and to his classmates and his teachers, he is an awesome kid. Wait, that’s not a rumor. It’s true. My second son is awesome. Like all of us in this world, he is just trying to find his way and as his mom, I am just trying to find my way to support him because the last thing that I want to be is another reason he feels picked on or not good enough. Not the rumor, but the truth, is that I just want to love him as much as I can. And sometimes that means letting him be right. Because sometimes, being right doesn’t really matter.

We were driving in the car last week and the song “Rumor Has It” by Adele came on. #1 started singing.

“Rumor has it. Rumor has it.”

Then #2 felt the need to sing too.

Puma has it. Ooooo Ooooo Puma has it.”

“That’s wrong! It’s Rumor has it. R-U-M-O-R!” said #1.

“No, it’s PUMA. I swear.” #2 insisted with such a passion that I almost thought he was right. I felt the need to intervene and correct him, why I don’t know. Maybe because he is also in speech therapy and is working on his R’s?

“Actually #2, it is rumor. Rrrr-umor.” I said sweetly and patiently.

“NO Mommy. It’s not. I heard it with my very own ears. I’m pretty smart you know. Really smart actually. Trust me, it’s Puma has it.”

“Sweetie, is sure does sound like Puma but it is Rumor.” I said again. And again, why? Why was I making such a big deal of this? Fingers crossed the song would be off the radio soon and it wouldn’t matter anyway. For the record I can’t stand this song. Can’t. Stand. It.

“NO MOMMY! YOU ARE WRONG AND I AM RIGHT!” He said to me ever so loudly and this time with tears in his eyes. He wasn’t crying…yet. The tears were just caught in the corner of his eyes, waiting to fall out as they always do. As they always do.

Hugging my number 2. Gosh, just looking at this makes me cry. Oh how I love him so!

#2 cries a lot. He cries when he gets picked on (understood.) He cries when no one sits next to him at birthday parties (the crying understood. The not sitting next to him? Not so much. He is awesome and funny and has a heart of gold.) And he cries when he tries so hard to say something right, when he tries so hard to be liked, to be a part of something.

Those small tears were the best gift ever to me. They reminded me that sometimes, being right really doesn’t matter. That sometimes, letting things go and moving on is not only okay, but necessary. This was one of those cases.

“Okay #2, you might very well be right. You do have good hearing ears, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.”

The refrain played again.

“See mommy, Puma has it, I told you so. I am SOOOOO smart.”

And I was sooooo smart for letting go and accepting that it really is a rumor that it’s necessary as a parent to always be right. Because letting go, letting my son be right over such a small thing to me, but a huge thing to him, well, it gave him a moment of self confidence that he so desperately seeks…and needs.

*

So often I yelled because I wanted things my way because my way was *obviously* right, ie. how to clean up and organize the basement. As soon as I learned to let go a bit and pick my battles more carefully, yelling less became infinitely easier.