Thursday, December 15, 2011

Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

 I absolutely love Christmas time. I always have.  But now that we have a toddler who is beginning to really "get it" it is even more exciting, fun, and meaningful. We've done a lot of preparing around here for the Holidays. Enjoy a few pictures of what we have been up to!

We made Hot Chocolate for the first time, prior to decorating our tree. 

Ryan LOVED his "Hot Candy" as he called it.

Ryan loved hanging ornaments. And every night as soon as it is even slightly dark he runs over to the tree and says, "Mama! I turn on da Kissmas twee!"

Ryan met Santa Claus for the first time and we got a very successful first picture with Santa. (Last year's I don't really count because "Santa" was my cousin Paul, who is skinny and young, and muscular, and looked nothing like Santa!)

Ryan and I made Pretzel/Rolo/Pecan Delights together. It was the first baked good we have made together.
He was most helpful in taking all the wrappers off the Rolos. Also, he preferred Bunny Crackers on top!:)

This has so far been a wonderful Christmas season. We can't wait for the big day! I hope you're having a wonderful Holiday Season, too!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Parenting Dilemma: To Say Something or Not

As most of you know, I spend the majority of my working time as a "Nanny" to my two adorable Nieces. Part of this role involves dropping off and picking up my oldest niece, Caitlin at preschool. Each morning and afternoon when I do this I spend about 5 minutes waiting outside with Ryan and Julia. They play, the dig in the dirt, pick up leaves, etc.  There are other siblings of the preschoolers there as well. There is one little girl who has a reputation as a bit of a trouble maker. Her grandmother is with her waiting for her brother to either go into or come out of school. On numerous occasions this little girl has treated Ryan poorly, and I am wondering what the best way is to deal with the situation. 

Side note: As with all 2ish-year-old children we are currently in the process of teaching Ryan how to share and be considerate of his peers. This is not something that comes naturally to a 2 year old, and Ryan is no exception. Though, fortunately (or not) he seems to save his worst behavior and complete refusal to share for his little cousin Julia, when we are home. So far I have not been in the position of having to discipline him in public, though I am sure the day will come. 

So, this is what played out outside of preschool: Ryan was playing with a leaf, happily brushing it back and forth along a fence. Said little girl, we will call her Sally, came up to Ryan and grabbed the leaf from his hand while yelling, "MINE!" Ryan looked at the little girl sadly and then looked up at me. 

In the few seconds I had before I reacted I thought the following things:
  1.  I don't want to embarrass this little girl's grandma.
  2. If I expect Ryan to learn to share and be sensitive, I cannot have a double standard and expect him to just "deal" when other kids don't share with him or treat him insensitively. 
  3. This is a great opportunity to help teach Ryan empathy. 
  4. If I react too strongly I will look like "that mom." 
So, I gently said to the little girl, "No Sally, that is Ryan's leaf. You need to give it back to him." She did not, and then her grandma  intervened. She took the leaf from Sally's hand and a complete meltdown ensued on Sally's part. I then took the opportunity to quietly say to Ryan, "That made you sad when Sally took your leaf, didn't it? (He said yes). That is why we don't take things from people. We don't want to make them sad. Sally needs to share with you and be nice, just like you need to share with Julia. Right?" I know Ryan is still young, and much of this may have gone over his head. But, these are the "teachable moments" that as parents we must jump on. 

And yet, I still feel bad that I made a big deal out of leaf. I think if Sally's Mom was there, instead of her Grandma I wouldn't feel so bad. Sally's mom is more responsible for her behavior than her Grandma is. But I wonder, should I have just picked up another leaf, given it to Ryan, and moved on? My gut tells me no. If I had done that I wouldn't have been teaching Ryan or Sally anything about the correct way to treat their peers. 

Ahhhh, parenting is filled with one challenge after another. I know that these "how to address situations with Ryan's peers" questions will only get more challenging as he grows older. This is just the beginning!

Have you been faced with a similar situation? How did you react? 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

System Failure

She was not yet 22. She was dying of Pancreatic Cancer. She had a 2 year old. She had been hospitalized at a local hospital for over a month. She came to our inpatient hospice late on a Thursday. I met her early on a Friday. She was ashen and thin, yet bloated around her abdomen from the growth of so many tumors. I didn't expect her to live more than a week. But I figured we had a little time.

I called the Social Worker from the hospital that referred her to us. I wanted to get a sense of what kind of legacy building they had done with this young mom. What efforts had they put forth to help this mom leave behind a legacy for her young daughter who would have no memory of her Mommy. I asked, "Did you help her to write letters? Or make a video?" Her response, "Oh, we don't do that that kind of thing." Oh, I thought. You don't do that kind of thing? Then, what is it you do?

I called this young woman's father to get to know her family. He had been at our facility late the night before when she was admitted. He wasn't planning to come in until around 5:30 when I would already be gone for the day. We had a wonderful chat. We talked about his daughter. What she liked to do, who she was, what she was like. I asked if they had any video of her. He said, "No. I don't think anyone we know has ever owned a video camera." I asked if he thought his daughter might be interested in making a video for her own daughter. I wanted to make sure she wouldn't be upset by the idea, given that it was so late and she hadn't yet done it. He said she would love the idea and I should definitely ask her about it.

So, I did. She immediately lit up. She loved the idea. But she wanted to "look good!" She wanted to wait until tomorrow when she would have everything she needed to "do it right." Her cousin (who was also her best friend) was visiting with her when we talked. She started to assign tasks to her cousin: Bring my favorite jeans. And I want a wig; My mom will know the one I like. Bring my make up, especially lots of eye shadow. Get me a purple shirt...Her cousin had a better idea, "I'll make you a shirt with a picture of you and N (her daughter)." She loved that idea. We had a plan. Her best friend was thrilled to have "something to do." I called her dad back and he too was thrilled to be able to be a part of this. He was going to make sure her daughter would be here in the early afternoon so that her mom would be most alert. Her dad said, "That's her best time of day."

I went home that night confident that I was going to help this woman die well. That her daughter would be able to "see" her mom when she was older. That she would hear her voice.

The next morning she wasn't coherent. She was no longer speaking. She died later that night. The video was never made.

The system failed her. No one made this important task of legacy building a priority when she was still healthy enough to do it. She was kept in a hospital for too long before the idea of hospice was ever brought up. The system failed her little girl. She will never again hear her Mommy's voice. That is unacceptable. We must change the system.

(Names have been excluded and identifying details have been changed so as to protect confidentiality). 

The Cam Fam has been Published on:

Scary Mommy