Thoughtful Thursday: Material Things

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My son recently had a birthday. He’s officially at a stage where I toe the line between being awesome and being a total bane. Sometimes the harder I try, the more estranged he gets. This is parenting. It welcomes with open arms and stabs you in the back.

I presented my growing boy with a kindle fire as a gift this birthday. I’m happy to report that he loves the gift. A thank you is always preferred over a set of eyes rolled so far to the back of the head that only the whites show, so I felt pretty proud of myself.

Last night, however, the boy dropped the kindle. It was more of a horrific, slow motion fumble like they replay during the big game. Of course the screen is now spiderwebbed. At only a week old.

I grew up in a low income family who didn’t have much. I valued everything I had, and I still do. As a parent, I want nothing more than to give my children things and opportunities that I didn’t have growing up. Only, there have to be limitations in place. To my son, the kindle was like receiving a new laptop. And it felt that way to my wallet when I bought it.

But now it’s broken. He’s upset, I’m upset. It’s something new and fancy and you don’t take care of anything!

I’m not replacing it. I’m not repairing it. I’m disappointed at the way in which the accident occurred. Better choices and more thought would have prevented it.

So, now, I’m contemplating what I feel is an utter lack of regard for how hard I work to provide things for my children. I can’t help it. And I don’t want to spend another cent on electronic things that will end up in the trash. But in a material and increasingly electronic world, how do we, as parents, monitor these things? How do we regulate them?

I see kids younger than my son who have iPhones, and I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on something that will probably lead to more trouble than anything else.

So, parents, can you relate? What limitations have you set? Or do you provide all the hottest new electronic gadgets your little darlings desire?

*image via Pinterest*

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Messy Monday: Evil Snowman

Oh, no! It’s Evil Snowman!

Evil Snowman may eat your children.

Evil Snowman may eat your children.

In honor of those who like to celebrate Christmas in July, I’d like to share the story of how Evil Snowman came to be.

Picture it: Christmas, 2013. My daughter and I are bored one afternoon, so we decide to make Christmas ornaments. I’d already completed the dutiful gathering of craft supplies, a hodge podge of items that didn’t look like they’d amount to much in the packages. But, oh, we didn’t know then that we possessed an arsenal with which to craft Evil Snowman.

Here’s what you need to make your own minion of snowy evilness:

Styro-balls (I purchased mine from Dollar Tree)

Wire (coated works best; any color you choose)

Paint Markers (or Sharpies)

Construction paper (for the top hat)

Foil snowflakes (for the scarf of death)

Toothpicks, painted (for the arms)

In my mind, we would end up with a cute little Frosty-type snowman who could hang from our tree and bring fresh Christmas cheer to the sad and dilapidated ornaments that we’ve been packing and unpacking for a decade. But, friends, let me tell you, when you give a child a paint marker with which to make a face, there’s something about their innocence that brings out the evil in the project they’re working on. Two dots for eyes, I said. A dot for a nose. A mouth.

He hangs, waiting. The reindeer won't come near.

He hangs, waiting. The reindeer won’t come near.

And so, Evil Snowman was born. He’s guarded by a toy soldier, but the soldier is wise to fear him.

Have you made your own dastardly ornaments? Please share. Evil Snowman has few friends and would love a new victim…er, playmate.

 

 

At the Library

I don’t visit the library as often as I once did–work tends to prevent or postpone a lot of things we’d rather do, wouldn’t you say? This past Saturday, however, my son woke before the alarm he’d set and we headed to the library. (I must admit that it’s difficult for us to make it to the library on Saturdays because I want nothing more than to be lazy and drink coffee until noon on the weekends. So, since the library in our little town closes at noon on Saturday, I’m sure you can see where the problem lies.)

 

Reading: It's never too early or too late.

Reading: It’s never too early or too late.

At any rate, we made it. My son is more of a gamer than a reader, so of course he dives straight into the computer station. My daughter loves books just as much as I do– and I’m giddy about it!– so I sit and watch as she scours the aisles full of colorful covers. I can’t help but wonder about the history of the stacks. How long have these books been shelved? When was the last time a reader checked the lonely looking volumes out? I imagine each book as an individual personality, each clambering for attention as my daughter passes, much like a lively farmer’s market where vendors exercise no shame in yelling about their meager offerings. If these books had arms, would they reach out and pluck at the fabric of her shirt? How would their voices sound if they could talk? Would the YA mystery novel call out in a cool, gravelly voice, accompanied by Psst and Hey, kid!? Would the fantasy novel release butterflies and fairy giggles while a sleeping dragon blinks awake in the background?

Meanwhile, my son is oblivious to the magic of books as he tap-tap-taps on the keyboard. I suppose he’s finding magic of his own in the gamer world, but I just can’t relate to that vision as easily. I’ve pushed books on him enough that he’s started coming around a bit, and I know that one day he’ll actually sit down to read a book by choice. I wonder with which voice that book will call out to him?

Kids Say: Thoughts on Body Image

Today I heard a funny story. Well, funny in an Omg, you’re kidding, right? kind of way.

My boss lady, who has a son slightly older than my own boy, overheard a conversation between a co-worker and myself and stepped out of her office to join in. The conversation revolved around normality and how normal is relative. (What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly, right?)

Anyway, Boss Lady tells us how her son expressed his desire for “normal” parents. I laughed, of course. (I’m the type to act extra crazy when someone tells me to be normal.) I stopped laughing and reached down to scrape my jaw off the floor when Boss Lady showed us the picture of her son’s idea of “normal” (i.e. how he thinks she should look).

This photo, found in the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, is the photo she showed us. See that busty brunette in the bottom right corner? That is the image that Boss Lady’s adolescent son thinks she should reflect.

The women in this photo are all beautiful (although I confess ignorance as to who most of them are). It would be impossible to deny that. Besides, that’s not the point here.

The fact that a son would see this photo and suggest to his mother that this level of beauty is what she should aspire to brings to light a battle women have fought for ages: self-image and the shadow media casts on that image. It’s true that the media has diversified its advertisements over the years, and yes, I realize this photo is from a swimsuit edition (of course they’ll be beautiful). I get that. And I applaud these women for their beauty and tenacity. The modeling world isn’t always pretty, I’m sure.

But…

Even with the small expansion of diversity throughout American media, that a young boy would hold this image as “normal” shows that perhaps we haven’t come as far as we think. It’s still all about the beautiful people, and for the beautiful people, that’s fantastic. But not everyone looks this way. Boss Lady’s kid knows that, yet this image of perfection is ideal.

Yeah, he’s a kid with raging hormones and I’d bet that the above definition of beauty isn’t the end-all of what he finds appealing. I’m simply dumbstruck by his idea of normal.

Still, what woman wouldn’t want to look like any of the above women? That, too, is undeniable. Regardless of how confident we’ve grown in our self-image, given the opportunity to morph into this sort of perfection, many (if not most) would take that opportunity.

What do you think? Has the general perception of beauty evolved? How would you feel if your child suggested this image was normal/standard?

Tweet me @PuddledThoughts

Live. Love. Write.

Kids Say: Valentine’s Day Expectations

This is the first post of what I intend to be a regular column of sorts. As a mom, I’m often surprised into laughter by my kiddos’ views on the world, so I thought I’d start sharing some of those moments. Enjoy!

Valentine’s Day is Friday. I know, I know. Another commercialized holiday that boosts sales revenue rather than promoting societal value. Yeah, yeah. Just gimme chocolate, okay?

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In all honesty, V-Day makes me a little uncomfortable. It’s laden with expectations that, perhaps, we feel obligated to live up to on this day that’s supposedly about love. Sometimes, however, you encounter the unexpected.

My son is eleven and he has a “girlfriend” whom he only sees at school. (I think most early relationships begin this way.) He’s been mentioning her more and more of late, so I wasn’t too surprised when he asked to buy a box of chocolates for her. My reaction was more of a grin-and-shuffle while humming “we’ve only just begun.” And, yes, he did say I was embarrassing him. (A mother’s joy, don’t you know.)

My son has five dollars and a dilemma. In one hand he’s holding a shiny box of chocolate. In the other hand, a cap pistol. This, my friends, really got me started. How could I not chuckle in the face of this age-old dilemma? Love or toys? He vocalized his struggle, holding up each item in question, letting me know that he really wanted both things, but money (as is usually the case) was problematic, because he didn’t have enough. So, we compromised. He settled for a lesser box of chocolate and only had to borrow one dollar from me to get his toys, too.

While all that above was a learning experience in itself (for both of us), here’s the real kicker: He ate the chocolate. Not all the chocolate, mind you. Three pieces, missing because he thought it would be cute to arrange the chocolates to resemble a face, and to do that he had to eat a few. (His sister ratted him out, or else I wouldn’t have known.)

Aside from the fact that he ate some of the unsuspecting girl’s candy, he saw no problem with it. When I asked how he would feel if someone gave him a partially eaten box of chocolate, he simply shrugged. No big deal. Apparently, it really is the thought that counts– which is something I’ve tried to teach both my children. Looks like that lesson was a success!

I’m reminded of my own doubts concerning the expectations of V-Day. I’m sure the girl he planned to give the chocolates to would certainly expect the box to be unopened and whole. My son would have expected her to appreciate the thought. The thing I’ve discovered is that what we expect someone to expect isn’t always what they actually expect, if that makes sense. So, dear friends, I urge you to chill out this Valentine’s Day. If you give a gift, give a thoughtful gift, and for goodness sake, don’t eat the damn candy.

In the words of my son: Lesson learned.

Now, excuse me while I have some chocolate.

(Image via Coral Actives)

Live. Love. Write.