Model Behavior

January 26, 2013 at 7:58 am | Posted in Kids | 10 Comments
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“Children with Asperger’s Syndrome need very clear and concise social guidelines,” said Brady’s wonderful and well-meaning therapist. “Social norms and behaviors are like a foreign language to them. They need to be taught very specifically how to handle social situations. Brady will mirror your behaviors and reactions to the world at large. YOU are his best and more important role model.”

Oh great.

Maybe that’s why my kid can swear like a truck driver. (But honestly, why give truck drivers the bad rap? The expression should be “swear-like-a-Catholic-school-raised-middle-aged-marketing-professional-turned-housewife” because really, I am amazing at it.)
Monty

Or maybe that’s why he falls apart at the slightest frustration. Demands perfection from himself. Lies in bed and worries at night. Falls in love with every animal he meets and then frets about them for the rest of his life.

But I can’t say I’ve ever thrown myself on the floor when a stranger in a store smiled at me. Or shouted “Nipples!!” when someone asked me how I am today. Those are pure Brady.

This behavior modeling thing is a lot of pressure to put on a mother who already puts a lot of pressure on herself. I’m back to that perfection thing again: If I’m not a perfect mother, how can I raise incredible kids? Notice I didn’t say “perfect” kids. I don’t need my kids to be perfect, just me. Something about having no regrets. How will I live with myself if they don’t turn out all right?

And what is the ‘perfect’ behavior to model for your kids anyway? Is it ok to show them your weaker side? Like that you get completely pissed off, too, when you can’t get that last drop of (organic) ketchup out of the squeeze bottle? (You paid about $4 more for it, you damn well better get to enjoy it on your locally-grown bison burger. Or your Ballpark Frank. Whatever gets you through the meal.) Is it a bad thing for them to see that you lose your patience while driving and drop a few choice words?

(Recent conversation in the car:
Brady: “Cut it out, you jerk-off!”
Me: “Jerk-off?? Where did you hear that?”
Brady: “You say it, Mom, when you’re mad at some idiot in front of you who’s not going fast enough.”
Me: “Oh… uh… Well, don’t say it, it’s not nice.”
Better than some of the other words I’ve chosen in the past, I guess.)

What about when I’m tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted? How about when I’m Cute Bradyhormonal? Are you trying to tell me that my kid’s going to grow up to be a chocolate-gobbling, wine-swilling, weep-at-Hallmark-commercials wussy boy? Or what?

This parenting stuff is hard, and it’s totally compounded by having a child you needs a lot more from you than your average kid. And don’t most parents hand down a whole heap of crazy to their kids anyway? Haven’t we seen some of the best and brightest come from really screwed up homes? And vice versa – nuts from seemingly perfect backgrounds? I know we’re dealing with something different when it comes to Asperger’s because these beautiful children are so very literal and need such clear and complete guidance. But really, how badly can I mess it up? (Ok, probably pretty badly if I’m not careful. Maybe Mommy needs a little more herbal tea…)

So I ask you, how did your parents contribute to your complete and total insanity? And what are you doing to wreck your kids’ lives? Also, if it takes a village to raise a child, can I send Brady over to your house when he’s really driving me nuts? Then you can explain why it’s not ok to leap into the chair of an unsuspecting guest, rake your fingers through her long dark hair, and throw your blanket over her head in a crazed giggling fit. I’m sure you can handle it.

xo

Mommy’s Modern Life

July 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Beauty, Horses, Kids | 2 Comments
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I drink organic tea with piles of Equal in it.

This is just one of a plethora of paradoxes that plague my everyday existence.

I drink the organic tea because I recently read that the Lipton Tea I had been drinking for years was found to have traces of nasty carcinogens and pesticides in it. And because, in general, I like to eat/drink organic or as farm-fresh as possible as often as possible.

I use the chemical-laden Equal artificial sweetener because I don’t want to get fat.

The list goes on and on.

I seek out the most all-natural, BPA-free, GMO-free, fragrance-free, dye-free, rat-poison-free, bug-particle-free body washes and lotions for my children. I wash them lovingly in these products, thinking what a great thing I am doing for them. Then I tromp upstairs to my own bathroom and slather myself in anti-aging creams and potions filled with ingredients lists I cannot pronounce, much less attempt to comprehend. Sure, there are a few “shea butters” and “chamomile extracts” thrown in there, but for the most part, those suckers are filled with nasty plastics and nano-particles that will probably have my skin looking “plump and fresh” long after my dried up carcass is in the ground.

I love my animals like they are my children and want to save every one of the abused and suffering ones in the world. “How can anybody do that to an animal?” I intone, referring to some abuse case or another, all muffled through intermittent chomps on my cheeseburger. Who’s saving those cows, Draghetti?

(sigh) I also:

  • Seek out the most organic, paraben-free, no-animal-testing lip balms I can find, then slather my lips with semi-permanent lipstick every morning. What type of self-adhesive polymers do you think they use to make that stuff stay on your lips all day – even through that hefty plate of nachos??
  • Try to save the planet by recycling every scrap of paper, shred of cardboard and cylinder of tin I can find, then drive off to the redemption center in my giant, gas-guzzling SUV.
  • Buy my cats high-end, all-natural cat food, then apply poison to their skin in the form of Frontline Flea & Tick repellent. (But how else am I supposed to keep the buggies off??)
  • Ditto for the horses: I give them all-natural supplements and perfectly balanced diets, then apply a thorough spraying of chemical-laden bug spray. Hey, the all-natural ones just don’t work that well, and I don’t want to get bucked off because a horsefly just bit one of my geldings on the privates!

Last week, my mother brought cheese puffs to a party at my house. “Cheese puffs??!” I snorted, “Don’t give any of those to my children!!”  Later that night after everyone was gone, I realized I had been too busy to eat dinner and went straight for my secret stash of Ring Dings. Who am I fooling, really?

Back in the day (not really sure what that means, but the ‘young people’ say it so it must be cool), there was this funny little cartoon called “Rocko’s Modern Life”. It was about an Australian wallaby and his bewildering journey through life, where he constantly encountered ironies such as mine. I often think of that little character as I purchase organic vegetables wrapped in carcinogen-emitting plastic. It all just seems to be part of the modern world. No matter how hard you try to eat/look/be healthy and take good care of the planet, some of that new-fangled scientific stuff is going to sneak in. I guess I’ll just have to shrug it off and keep trying.

Besides, nothing is going to get between me and some really good wrinkle cream. Or a fresh box of Ring Dings.

xo

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