Sunday, July 29, 2018

I See You

I see you.

I see you every day making a difference.

I see you smile when you're exhausted.

I see you kneel down so you can speak on eye level.

I see you covered by lamination while you sit on your floor.

I see you frustrated when someone has another question at the never ending staff meeting.

I see you sending emails at the most ridiculous of hours because you spent all day teaching.

I see you typing each parents' name carefully into your distribution list because hell hath no fury like a parent not receiving emails.

I see you spending more time with my child than your own.

I see you helping my child learn more than I ever thought possible.

I see you continue to put forth effort even when the student is reluctant.

I see you put my family first.

I see you and your extra snacks just in case a student forgets theirs.

I see you and your Wal-Mart bill because inevitably supplies run out and get lost.

I see you and your car in the parking lot way before 8:00 am and way after 3:30 pm.

I see you lesson planning and then redoing them when the children need to be retaught.

I see you being honest with parents.

I see you continue in this profession when most people think you barely work.

I see you appreciate the tiniest of gestures because someone finally noticed your dedication.

I see you and your pride when a student achieves something great, big or small.


I see you sweating on the playground making sure the students are safe.

I see you opening a million juice boxes or chip bags while trying not to puke from the cafeteria stench.

I see you conferencing with students, parents, colleagues all to ensure success.

I see you and your desperate need to use the restroom because you cannot leave your students unattended.

I see you eat your lunch in seven minutes because there are more important things that need to be completed.

I see you have no time.

I see you taking work home each night and on the weekends.

I see you attending professional development during the summer while the public says you're on vacation.

I see you and your crazy amount of unused personal days because parents get angry when you are absent.

I see you prepping for all outcomes.

I see you teaching the at risk, the average, the above average, the gifted, the learning difference all in one classroom.

I see you putting your life on the line to protect my child.

I see you being mom, dad, therapist, nurse, and teacher without a simple thank you.

I see you and the mountains you move because you are capable of a level of motivation that is inspiring.

I see you and the love you have for your career and know this is why you continue.

I see you and the joy the students bring you and know this is why you continue.

Teachers.

I see you.

Teachers.

I thank you.



Friday, July 27, 2018

Operation $40 Part Two

Need the back story? Read here.

What was supposed to be a lesson in "you are privileged" and need to understand "tough times" quickly turned into many lessons that I did not expect and a realization on my part that I cannot actually teach poverty. Yes, I can expose E1 and E2 to other parts of the world and we can volunteer our time in helping others, but I cannot actually teach what it is like to grow up in poverty. I have never been in fear of my lights being shut off or being evicted. I have never lived a life in which I could not afford the basic needs. I know I am privileged and giving my children a privileged life, which I cannot change or apologize for. What I can do is try to engage in meaningful conversations with my children, help them learn the value of hard work, the importance of budgeting, and an understanding that they have it better than many.

So.....
With her food taking up a small section of our counter and $19 (not 40) in her wallet, we began the life lesson first thing Sunday morning even though the hubs literally said, "Oh..we are still doing this?"

E1 woke up and eagerly had one of her coveted croissants for breakfast. Lunch was plain pasta and cupped pears. This pasta was the first lesson of many. E1 cooked her own pasta -  she filled the pot with water, turned on the gas stove, learned to add olive oil and sprinkle salt into the water, how long it takes water to boil, and how to tell if the pasta is cooked. While I supervised, E1 learned to cook a basic meal.  She was nervous and excited and proud. So proud that when I offered her to empty the dishwasher for some money, her response?
"What's the point of doing the chore? I still have money."
SIGH. Case in point why we started this damn lesson.
A few snacks were had: pudding and a granola bar.
Dinner was interesting as she ate microwavable Easy Mac and successfully peeled her potato and cut it into slices to make fries. E1 is a master of peeling potatoes...I can thank Hanukkah traditions for that!

What the hubs and I noticed this Sunday was E1 did not waste her food. She ate everything she cooked. E1 also only ate when she was hungry. One cannot eat because they are bored if one does not have enough food. E1 also felt independent which was a good thing because the week was just starting.

Monday's breakfast was a croissant again....whatever. We had lunch plans scheduled, so E1 brought her wallet and had previewed the menu so she was all set. I reminded E1 to put her wallet in her purse and because she is the smartest child I know she did not listen. Shockingly, the nine year old did not listen. We stopped at a store before lunch. As we were leaving the store, walking to lunch, I asked E1 where her wallet was.....DEEP FUCKING BREATHS because it is not with her. She left it "somewhere" in the store. "Maybe on a shelf?" I gave her the eye glare that I learned from My Aunt Cheri and trust me, this eye glare could be used in terrorist interrogations. E1 walked swiftly to the store and because she is one lucky bitch or because G-d didn't want me to lose my shit, she found her wallet.

E1 got her own bill at lunch and ordered the cheapest lunch option and water to drink. #winning
She learned how to face bills the proper way when paying cash and learned about tax and making change. All in all she was a good sport while we were out to lunch.




When we got home I asked her again if she wanted to complete a chore for money (sweeping the kitchen floor). This time, after finally paying for a meal, she agreed to sweeping. Because it is E1 and because she is a child, the job was quickly done and done in a half-ass manner. Half ass job gets half ass money....THAT pissed her off. I told her in the real world she might have been fired and not paid at all. An eye roll and back to reading her Harry Potter was the reaction. E1's dinner was tuna fish and canned pineapples. She paid me $1 and "bought" another potato - the love of fries is strong in my young Jedi.

Tuesday E1 woke up more willing to participate? Hungry? With a realization I was holding firm? I am not sure why, but she asked for a "big job" worth "a lot of money." Um....How about she cleans out the garage? After eating her daily croissant (seriously, what the fuck with the croissants?), she got to work. Tears and sweat were experienced. Each time she thought she was finished, she wasn't. There was no half assing this. After E1 truly finished cleaning the garage one of the best unexpected lessons happened. E1 said to me, "I get it. I get why daddy is so tired when he comes home. Hard work is exhausting." My heart filled with such pride, I almost ended the week right then and there! (But I didn't)



We went back to school shopping and were headed home when Miss Money Bags asked me to stop at the froyo place...funny how when E1 is paying the yogurt and toppings weigh in at single digits.


E1 ate more Easy Mac, pudding, cupped mandarin oranges, and bought another baked potato from us along with butter and cheese.

Money total: $36.

E1 started with $19, earned money for sweeping and doing a damn great job cleaning the garage, spent money at lunch, froyo, and on baked potatoes and fixings. We reminded E1 that we would double anything she saved.

Wednesday is no longer hump day. It is forever burn a hole in my pocket day. Like a girl without a care in the world and so much money she clearly thought she was rich, E1 spent the day spending. Of course we couldn't leave the house before she ate a damn croissant. Chick Fil A for lunch, but an adult sized meal because she could afford it....a double scoop of ice cream with sprinkles in a waffle cone later on that day because... she could afford it and my favorite part of the "let me piss away all my money" day was dinner.....a shirley temple, an appetizer, and a main course.




Each instance, E1 had her own bill. Each instance she physically counted her money. Each instance, I thought would be her last. Nope, not at all because she is a child. This is when I realized she cannot begin to understand poverty. She has never been exposed to it, never met anyone living in poverty, never even heard a story. And let's get real, all the poverty she has seen during our trips to other countries is eventually forgotten because she is a child vacationing to other countries....privileged. So, I began to focus more on budgeting, money management, saving, etc.

Money total: $7.07

Oh Thursday, you were no fun. E1 realized she wasted all her money. She did not realize this on her own, but more from me asking E2 where we should go for dinner and/or a fun treat, etc. After truly realizing she made a mistake and saying "I get it. I swear I understand the saying money doesn't grow on trees" we decided to spend the day at home playing and doing summer work. I am not sure if it was the poor diet or the lack of money or just that she is almost ten, E1 lost her shit. I SO love preteen tantrums....is there a "stop being an asshole" pill? No? Just checking.

Because she's a week away from 10 (I will cry about this later), we have been practicing her being home alone. So while she was pissy and rude and less desirable, I told E2, "Let's go." E1 was flabbergasted that I was leaving. I reminded her she was old enough to be alone and since she was being icky, we were leaving and when we got back I hoped her work would be finished and her attitude would be better. E2 and I left for about 15 minutes and just because I am a jackass, I let E2 walk into the house holding her Icee. E1's face said "Are you fucking kidding me?" but her words said, "I'm sorry."

The last day, Friday, arrived. Cereal for breakfast because the damn croissants were finally finished. E1 spent no money again and kept reminding me she had $7.07 and daddy said he would double it and it is so awesome that she has $14.14!!!
E1 was feeling great until her bitch mom reminded her that at one point she had forty dollars and had she not blown it all Wednesday on a ridiculous amount of food, she would have EIGHTY dollars.

Cue the angry tears and the return of the attitude.

I will say overall I am happy we did this and I do believe E1 learned many things - work ethic, the value of a dollar, how to save money, budgeting, self control, tax, tipping, responsibility, independence, and the best lesson of all - don't fuck with mom - she never caves.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Operation $40

If you are my Facebook friend, you are already excited to read this post. But for those not on Facebook or for those that hid me a long time ago because I post way too many pictures of my children and essential oils, here is the story.

Friday
The hubs and I are having a conversation and all E1 overhears is the word "spam." She asks what it is and I tell her it is a term for junk mail, in regards to email. E1 responds saying she thought she read somewhere that spam is food. We both then explain that yes it is a type of canned meat, how it is inexpensive, and many people still buy it and eat. Then came the kiss of death.

"Gross. I am glad we have a lot of money and don't have to eat food like that."
I believe she said rich, the hubs says I misheard. Either way, I wanted to strangle my daughter.

I get it, it isn't that bad what she said. But it is. You didn't hear her tone. You didn't see her facial expressions. And you certainly don't fully know E1. This child, along with her sister, are growing up privileged. I know they want for nothing. I know how we are raising them- cruises and Disney and everything in between.  But, I also know that when we go to Target, I do not buy everything they ask for each and every time. I know I say no. I know I make them wait for birthdays and Hanukkah. I know they say please and thank you. I know they are grateful. Or I thought I knew. It is quite apparent E1 has no understanding of the value of a dollar or how hard we work to provide the life she leads.

Do I expect the almost 10 year old to truly understand the value of a dollar? Absolutely not. But I do expect her to understand on a level what privilege is, to not think certain foods or restaurants are weird, and to appreciate how quickly money comes and goes. The hubs and I already knew E1 needed a money lesson (hand her a dollar and it gets lost, give her $5 and it is misplaced, gift card - spent in 10 seconds flat). And her attitude pushed us over the edge to go ahead and teach this lesson, NOW.

After we explained to E1 about money, working hard, professions, cost of living, etc, she STILL had attitude and insisted she was rich. "You aint got shit" was my exact response. Her response, "I have $40. I have my own money." Oh fuck....the attitude is strong in this one. Like her mother, this bitch must learn everything the hard way.

While the hubs began to waiver in our genius evil plot, my teacher mode personality took over and I jumped all over this. The solution? E1 has $40 to spend at the grocery store for the week. My know-it-all daughter with stubborn personality thought this idea was brilliant. So brilliant that damn idiot told E2, "I am buying my own food and you cannot eat anything I buy - it's all for me." News flash - E2 is not going to want your food, trust us.

Saturday

As E1 woke up, I had realized some things. We have lunch reservations Monday and the girls typically eat Chick Fil A on Thursday after E2's therapies. The hubs and I spoke about new rules and how to follow through with the "beat the smugness out of our daughter" operation. We called for E1 to get her wallet. We sat E1 down and told her to count her money again and we would discuss the week's rules afterward.

Are you even fucking surprised to find out this smart ass does not have $40? She has $17. I am so glad my crazy smart daughter is so full of herself she didn't actually know how much money she had. So typical.

Seventeen dollars.  
This is going to be a great week.

We told E1 she had $40 for groceries. We were giving this to her. The $17 is her spending money for fun. I reminded her about Monday's lunch and Chick Fil A. I told her there could a be a frozen yogurt date with friends.....we cannot predict play dates. People need a budget and when that money runs out, the fun is over. E1 was still all too happy to participate. I pulled up the menus for the known meals out and then the fun faded. E1 was shocked how her $17 wasn't going to go past Monday's lunch if she ordered what she really wanted and got a drink.  (Let the learning begin)



We went to the grocery store. E1 paid attention to name brand and store brand, learned canned or cupped fruit is cheaper than fresh, bought items that did not require the freezer or refrigerator. We also had an amazing discussion about how "good for you food" is way more expensive than processed food and how eating healthy costs a ton more money.  As she put food in the basket, we told her how much money she had remaining. We then made a deal. Any money she did not spend, we would add to her $17. E1 really liked this idea. We reminded her again the stove, oven, and microwave would cost her money and the only free items she could have are utensils and plates and water. We finished up grocery shopping and E1 was able to add seven dollars to her 17.

In the car, E1 handed us $5 for microwave, oven, and stove use for the week. E1 can do chores to earn more money through the week if she chooses. E1 can also save her money and have us double it. The week is from Sunday morning until Friday night. 
(I am leaving town Saturday and let's get real - I am the tough parent in this parenting duo)

Starting tomorrow E1 must eat only the food she bought and pay for any meals out now using her $19.  (Her original 17, plus the 7 left over from the grocery store, minus the 5 to pay for the stove, microwave, and oven.)

This is going to be epic.

Just now E1 said, "I have a feeling I am going to regret agreeing to this."

I told her she would for sure regret it, but it is going to be the best damn lesson she ever learns. And to never again make the mistake that she "has money" or that "we are rich" and that people's income is a private matter and something no one should ever be judged by.

I cannot wait for tomorrow.
Stay tuned!




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 3rd Birthday, Tomboys!




Time sure is flying! I cannot believe the blog is three years old. From projects to funny stories to trials and tribulations, I have written about it all. Thank you to all of you for supporting me and sharing the posts that spoke to you. This blog has reached thousands of readers world wide! It was always my hope for all of us to feel supported and never alone.

I cannot wait to see what this next year brings for my family and our lives! Thank you again for making The Adventures Of Tomboys in Tiaras a success.

The top 10 posts for the past three years are:

10. Gray

9. Procastination

8. Real Family

7. We Don't Do Cold

6. Framily

5. Because I'm an A**hole

4. Thank You, Kindergarten

3. The Answer

2. Unwanted Membership

1. Tell Me Again




Sunday, July 1, 2018

Framily

Summer is in full swing! School ended, we said goodbye to kindergarten and third grade, and started summer with a bang. The girls and I took a road trip, we went our annual family cruise, and just this past weekend, the hubs and I went out of town, just the two of us.
(He had business, I had free time 😊)

During my free time, I had the pleasure of having brunch with my friend and her son. But it wasn't just any friend and he isn't just any child. This little boy is E2's biological sibling, her brother. His mom and I became Facebook friends shortly after his adoption and have had wonderful conversations and enjoyed many laughs over the phone. Our relationship was strictly via technology until recently. I had dinner with my friend last month when she was in my hometown and now I got to have brunch with her and her son in their hometown.

Our first date, just us moms, was so fun that of course I was all too excited to see her again. Then the reality of meeting her son crept into my brain. I do not process things out loud. I think about every scenario in my head, make decisions, and move on. I rarely ask for advice so when I do, I must really be struggling. So in my head (a dangerous place to be sometimes) I processed meeting a little boy that is my daughter's brother - but not really, but really.
I processed meeting a little boy that looks so similar to E2 if they were together, you'd ask if they were twins.
I processed meeting a little boy that could have been in our family, but for numerous reasons we said no (thankfully) to a third child.
I processed meeting a little boy who will one day turn into a young man and perhaps be a part of E2's life.
I processed the emotions my girls will feel when they learn about him.
I processed meeting a little boy my children know nothing about.
I processed meeting a little boy that I have watched for the last five years on Facebook and wondered if in real life, he and E2 were as alike as they seem.
Then I processed the ultimate emotion - would I feel regret for not adopting him after I met him.
And then I processed the guilt that came with even thinking I would have regrets. I know he and his mom are meant to be, but somehow meeting him, my daughter's family, was an experience that had my heart pounding.

I originally processed the last question when I first my met friend. And after that dinner I knew I had no regrets - they are the perfect duo, the perfect mother & son. I knew they were meant to be after she adopted him and we learned his name. I knew they were meant to be in every picture of him growing up and in every smile he brought to her and her family. I knew this. I know this.

But meeting him in person, this made me think about it again. Meeting a child that is your child's genetic sibling that your own child and her sibling have no idea about is pretty intense. It is a wild ride of emotions and like every 41 year old Jewish woman, I have many emotions.

Morning came and my friend and her son picked me up at the hotel and as I knew, he was the cutest little boy! And like any other five year old meeting a stranger, he did not talk to me. This made me laugh. Didn't he realize it was a big deal we were meeting? Nope. He is a kid and his mom made him have a brunch with some loud blonde lady. He had no idea our relationship and that is the way it was supposed to be.

As he walked, talked, whined, played, cried, ate, laughed, and carried on like a typical five year old boy there were many instances when I felt like I was looking into a mirror. I could see E2 in him. I could see myself in my friend. I could see what we shared. Meeting him proved to be a strong case for nature. He and E2 share struggles. They also share a smile that could melt anyone's heart.

But I was caught off guard by the case for nurture more. Yes, he and E2 share so much genetically, but what makes them cry, laugh, smile is totally different. While I loved hearing him laugh, it was not me that brought the happiness out - it was his mom. When he cried, I could not soothe him - it was his mom he needed. His favorite show, what he likes to eat, his mannerisms when he speaks: all resemble his mom. His favorite toy, his hopes and fears, what makes him unique - that I do not know. His mom does. He is her child through and through.  Just as I know E1 and E2 from head to toe, inside and outside, she knows him. Her son. Her family. Her child.

Experiencing this was a true blessing. He and I bonded over Snap Chat and making silly pictures together. His favorite - the dog so we could stick out our tongues at one another. I received a great big hug from him when we said good bye and knew, yet again, all was as it should be. He waved bye, holding his mom's hand and walked off proving a five year old boy has a better sense of direction than I ever will.

As I told a friend today, meeting him was like meeting any other friend's child.  The circumstances between us are extremely rare, but there was not an ounce of regret, anxiety, sadness. All I felt was a genuine joy in meeting a special little boy that made my friend a mom. A joy that can only be felt by a true friend. A joy that comes from being more than friends. A joy between "framily."