Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mom mom

So. Many of you seemed to be intrigued by my Mom mom, the 80 year old woman that has aided in the development of Billy's cursing vocabulary. I really should state that Mom mom isn't completely responsible for Billy's cursing, but we do hear a lot more of "you don't know shit from shiola" after one of Mom mom's visits. (seriously, what is a shiola anyway?)

I am not even sure where to begin to tell you about Mom mom. She is definitely one of a kind. She is just like any other nice elderly Catholic woman, except she doesn't attend church regularly, she curses a lot, she loves to "play the slots" and she says "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" quite often but I assure you she is not praying. She is by far one of my most favorite people in the entire world.

I will be 33 in June, and I know how fortunate I am to still have a living grandparent and even more so to have one that has been such an integral part of my life. When I look back at all the important events, they always include the memory of Mom mom there to support me. She was even in the room when I delivered Billy, looking pretty terrified but I think, none the less, amazed that she was able to witness the birth of one of her great grandchildren. It was actually one of the only times that I have ever encountered her to be speechless, believe me it doesn't happen often.

Although we are separated in age by 48 1/2 years, Mom mom is definitely one of my best friends. We talk on the phone just about everyday, sometimes twice. She gets irritated with me when I call the neighbors if I can't reach her. I explain to her that if she just got one of those life alerts, we wouldn't have this problem but she just tells me "to go shit in my hat". (I have been trying to figure out for years why anyone would be shitting in a hat, but I guess to each his own) We also attempted to encourage her to possibly move into a retirement home last year after she fell and broke her arm but she quickly shot that down and told us that she was not going into any "god damn facility" and that we could "shove that up our ass". The hubby and I have offered her on several occasions to live with us but she refuses to live with anyone. I will hand it to her, she proved us all wrong and went back to her place at the beach after her arm healed and picked up exactly where she left off before the fall. To say she is tough, is an understatement. She tells it like it is and I never have to wonder what she is thinking, although sometimes I would prefer for her to keep a few things inside of her head. At 80 she still takes care of herself, she is never one to make excuses and losing her independence and having someone take care of her is simply not an option. She is kind of my hero.

Our relationship has evolved quite a bit over my 33 years but we have always had an unexplainable bond. When I was a child she was my protector, and as I became older she was one of my biggest supporters but now as as adult I can honestly say she is my great friend. I am so grateful to have had her input and support while I am navigating motherhood. It's one of the things that I have enjoyed the most with her. She understands the demands of  being a mother to all boys with a husband who works many hours. She has been there. She understands my want to have a little girl in this family has nothing to do with being unhappy with my sons but more the need to have that different type of dynamic that comes with a daughter. She always tells me "well, maybe you will just have a granddaughter instead". It always warms my heart at the fact that maybe I provided that dynamic for her, even if she had to wait an additional generation.

I used to try to barter with God and ask that if he could just make sure she saw me graduate college and that turned into if she can just see me get married, which turned into if she can just be with me through the birth of my first child and so on and so forth. I realized that it would never be enough because I wanted her here for all of it, for everything. The logical part of me understands that it is not possible for her to be a part of my life forever, but my heart struggles with the fact that there may come a time when I will not be able to share with her a funny story, the days happenings or discuss how much she despises Joe Flacco, who she loving refers to as a "Hayseed". Sorry Joe.

So that is my Mom mom in a nutshell. I am sure she will pop up in future posts because she is such big part of my life but for now I hope you have an understanding of what a pretty awesome lady she is. Now, does anyone know what the hell a "hayseed" is?

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Bully

In my last post, I wrote a letter to Spiro to celebrate his birthday. I touched on the fact that the world and the people in it scare me at times... "You are growing up so fast. Sometimes, I get scared about all the crazy things in the world and that one day soon you will be confronted with them." I didn't realize that that day would come this week.

Spiro came home from school on Monday very excited about the fact that he had nabbed the highly coveted classroom job of "Teacher's Helper" this week. In all honesty, this job was made for him. Helping is his thing, Responsibility is his thing. As "Teacher's Helper", one of his responsibilities includes holding the door open for the class to go outside for recess. On Tuesday, as the last child filed outside and Spiro was closing the door, a little boy came back and smacked him in the face and walked away.

We were made aware of the situation when the hubby picked Spiro up from school. Spiro had told his substitute what had happened and the boy was sent to the office. We were told that the boy hit our son because he was told to do so by another student. I'm not sure which disturbs me more, the fact that a first grade child thought it was okay to hit my son or the fact that a first grade child had the ability to manipulate another child to hit my son.

I understand that for some people, they would file this away under "kids will be kids". Simply put, I can't, I won't. This is a big deal for us. We made this a big deal to Spiro. We chose the politically incorrect route of telling him next time "hit him back, and tell him never to touch you again". Is this the right way to handle out? I don't know. What I do know is that sometimes you have to fight fire with fire and that we are, at times, forced to play in a game with rules we didn't choose.

Although the hubby wanted to pull "a hand that rocks the cradle" and jack the little boy up and tell him never to place a finger on his son again, I explained to him that despite the fact I did indeed feel the same way, I was pretty sure that jacking up students is "frowned upon" by the school and that maybe we just needed to calm down a little. We took a few deep breaths and explained to Spiro "that no one ever has the right to put their hands on you or hit you. That we think you are pretty freakin' special and wonderful and we think that you are and always will be worth fighting for. We want you to think your worth standing up for also. We never want you to start a fight or be a troublemaker but you always have the right to defend yourself. We don't care if that moves your name on red or places you in the seat of the principals office. We just want you to know that you are one the most important things to us and the thought of someone making you feel sad, hurt or not special... kind of breaks our hearts."

Spiro was nervous to go to school the next day and face the little boy. He asked to stay home from school, which I quickly made him aware was not an option. I explained to him that we don't run from our problems because they will never go away. That he needed to walk into school with his head up and proud that he is Spiro. That he is still the same smart, kind, responsible boy that he was the morning before and that no one can change that unless he allows them to. He went into school and that afternoon when I picked him up from school, he had an apology letter from the little boy.

When I get sad about my boys growing up, it's because of these types of experiences that I know they will continue to be confronted with. I really thought I would have a few more years to prepare Spiro for stuff like this. Seven years just wasn't enough time to help him decipher between being kind and standing up for himself. I'm not even sure if I know how to balance that yet. I'm confused as to how to explain to him to be tough when the going gets tough but not to let that toughness take over the kindness in his heart. How do you teach a child not to become jaded? It's as though I have forgotten to read a book that I am now forced to take a test on and I'm left trying to skim through the cliffs notes in 5 minutes for the answers.

I wrote this post yesterday but with no time to edit, I left it for today and left the house to pick up Spiro from school. Billy and I waited outside, like we always do, for Spiro's class to be dismissed and when we spotted Spiro, who do you think he was walking with side by side, chatting and laughing with? That's right, the little boy who had hit him two days before. I inquired about his new buddy after we all piled back into the car and Spiro told me. "I forgive him Mommy, we're friends. I think he might have just been having a bad day." That's my Spiro.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another year older...

So, my mom was a little upset by the fact that the cats out of the bag about the "Breakfast Club". (if you haven't read Censorship or maybe not you can do so here) She seems to think that I was exaggerating about how old we were when my brother and I watched the movie. Being the good daughter that I am, I would like to retract the statement that we were 7 and 4 and say that we were maybe around 9 and 6 years old. (she seems to think this is a more accurate reflection) She felt that the ages of 7 and 4 were a dig at her mothering skills. Your worried about your parenting skills being in question, when Spiro is learning about Hookers at bedtime and Billy is cursing at people in Greek?  In any case, I can say with confidence, we were not of the age that the Motion Picture Association of America recommends for an R-rated film.

Dear Spiro,
7 years old today, buddy. Hey, that was the age that Honey and Pop allowed me to watch the "Breakfast Club", oh wait...Wow, where did the time go. It seems like just yesterday that Daddy and I were on our way to the hospital excited, scared and completely naive to all the ways that you would change us and our lives forever. March 9th will always be a very special day to me, not just because it is your birthday but also it is the very first day that I was a Mommy.

You have taught Daddy and I so much in your 7 years. We have learned all about patience,  how to survive on just a few hours of sleep, unconditional love, to always shield when changing a baby boy's diaper, selflessness... We learned from you, many things that we never even knew existed inside of us and Daddy and I will always be grateful for the knowledge you have provided.

We are so proud of you, Spiro. You amaze us everyday with your kind spirit and willingness to help others. Please don't ever lose those qualities. Remember that it is okay to let loose once in a while. The only advice I have for you right now is to not be so hard on yourself and always stand up for yourself, even if it is a little scary to do so. It's okay to have a "yellow" day once in a while, don't worry we all have them.

You are an amazing brother. I see how protective you are of Billy, especially when we are away from our house. I know it is tough at times to have a little brother, Mommy has one too. He bothers you and ruins your toys sometimes and you both get angry at one another but in time I can promise that he will become your biggest supporter and one of your best friends, just like Mommy and Uncle Tim. Just be sure that you are that for him also.

You are growing up so fast. Sometimes I get scared about all the crazy things in the world and that one day soon you will be confronted with them. Remember, that Daddy and I trust you and your judgement and that trust is a very difficult thing to find again once it has been lost. Fear can keep you safe but sometimes it prohibits us from doing what feels right in our hearts. Don't let fear ever stop you from doing what you feel is right. Daddy and I will always help you conquer fear, we are getting pretty good it at by now.

We hope this birthday and every birthday is as magical and special for you, as it was the day you joined this world. Happy 7th Birthday, my love. We love you to the moon and back


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Censorship or maybe not...

I know it has been longer then usual since my last post. Writing for me comes from somewhere deep down inside. I usually write things in my head first, I sit with them for a while, until the moment when I feel like if I don't write them down, I might burst open and lose those thoughts forever. I will never write a post on this blog just to share something, anything. I never want it to feel like a job or chore because that simply negates everything this blog is for me. Some weeks I may have plenty of things to say, other weeks I may not. Sometimes my thoughts are consumed by people or stories and I am unable to concentrate on anyone or anything else. Sometimes, Bravo is running a Real Housewives Marathon of whatever city and I can't pull myself off the sofa, away from the television. Last week was pretty consumed thinking about my friend Shannon and her girls as they confronted the one year anniversary of the death of their beloved husband and father, as well as, my Soul Sister who lost her grandfather this week.

I came from a family where my parents never really censored much from my brother and me. I don't know if it was from lack of effort or just good, old not knowing any better. In any case, we were definitely exposed to more than most children probably were. I am going to go out a limb here, but I am willing to bet that most 7 and 4 year olds could not recite the dialogue to "Breakfast Club". My brother and I could. (and still can) We were also, unfortunately, present for many of their irrational actions during their divorce and even at our young ages we understood how completely irrational they were. They were young when they married, had me when they were 22 and 21 and divorced by the time my brother and I were 8 and 11. My brother and I joke all the time how lucky they are that we turned out okay, because their parenting skills were limited at times by age and unhappiness. They were struggling to find their place in the world and ultimately that place was separate from each other. My parents have always been upfront with us and few things were ever taboo to discuss with them. It is actually one of the best things they did for us, as parents. The hubby and I try our best to balance being open with our children with allowing them to be exposed to ideas or subjects that are appropriate, however, just like my brother and me, my children have also been blessed with imperfect parents and although we try, we fail, a lot. Let me provide you with two examples if I may...

Both of the kids have televisions in their bedroom, judge me if you want, but a girl needs the evenings alone with a glass of wine and her DVR. Spiro excitedly told me one morning over breakfast, that he had found a new show the night before called King of Hill that was really funny.  
Great!  What kind of show is it.
It's a cartoon, Mommy.  
Awesome, enjoy!
Can I record it!
Absolutely, Buddy!
Two weeks later I walked into his room to turn off the television after he had fallen asleep and King of the Hill was on, and they were talking about Hookers. Wow, this is weird I thought, when did Noggin start discussing Hookers? I legitimately had no idea what King of the Hill was, I had assumed (wrongly) that it was just a regular, G rated, children's cartoon. Spiro now understands the difference between "adult cartoons" and "age appropriate cartoons", as does Mommy. Fail.

I assure you that our limitations as parents are not just limited to making inappropriate television available to our children either. One summer day last year, my husband and I were relaxing on our deck while the boys were playing in the yard. Billy had come up to the deck and began doing something that my husband didn't want him to, so he asked him to stop. Billy turned to him and told him "skata sta moutra sou". The hubby's jaw dropped and he told Billy very sternly, never to say that again. I just sat their like the little, one language speaking, American that I am and was all  "Geez, what are you getting so bent out of shape about, you wanted them to speak Greek." The hubby explained that Billy, at 3 years old, had just told him to go "shit in his face"."Well he certainly didn't get that from me! I guess the speaking Greek thing just came back to bite you in the ass."  Of course, the hubby blamed it on his father's lack of censoring his Greek language around the kids. I explained "All I know, is that you guys better get it together because I am fairly certain that if this type of language pops up while we are in church one Sunday, the Priest is not going to be pointing fingers at the little American wifey, he is going to be looking straight at you and your parents." 

I don't think anyone ever masters parenting. Parenting for us has basically been a series of missteps and blunders. If you are lucky enough, you will take notes along the way to understand what not to do the next time. (We have a lot of notes to refer to.) I know that, as a parent, I have not only benefited from all the things that my parents did right but more so from their mistakes. I am a better mother to my children because of my parents' hindsight. I am not sure, but maybe my parents wouldn't have allowed my brother and I to watch Breakfast Club if they could go back to do it all over again. I know that I monitor television much more now since the King of the Hill situation and Billy does not curse in Greek, any longer. (he has been known to throw out an English curse word once in a while, though. I just blame that one on my 80 year old Mom-mom, because she seriously has the mouth of a sailor. Don't worry, you will hear plenty about her later.) I know that these are not the first mistakes that the hubby and I have made as parents and I am sure they are not going to be the last. I think Maya Angelou put it best - "I did then what I knew how to do. When you know better, you do better." and I think that's all that any of us can truly plan for.