Saturday, January 30, 2010

The boy who cried wolf, or something akin to that

Recently Gabriel has suffered the consequences of being reliably disrespectful or naughty.  Twice now, he has not been believed when he was not responsible for a negative situation, and has been "found guilty" before full evidence could be reviewed.  It makes me sad, but on the other hand, I'm glad that he's learning this now, and not 10 years from now.  Perhaps there is hope that he will discover that he must BE trustworthy in order to be trusted.

Two weeks ago as we played at a park, a crying child was escorted to her parent by another child, and the other child explained to the parent that "the boy in the red shirt pushed her and stepped on her because she wouldn't get out of the way."  The crying child was small, 4ish.  Gabe was wearing a red shirt...he's nearly 7.  I really didn't want to believe that he at nearly 7 he would have the lack of self-control and audacity to push and step on a smaller child over whether that child would move or not.  It surprised me to think that he would even be interested in playing near a child that young.  Nonetheless, at that point, he was the only child in the area that I was aware of that was wearing a red shirt.  I yanked him out of the playground, sat him down next to me and began reading him the riot act, as he angrily tried to correct my understanding of the situation (for which he was then told -angrily- do NOT talk back to me!)  Then I looked over my shoulder to find a 4ish aged boy in a RED shirt pushing and kicking his way through the playground equipment.  I felt so bad for not believing my son.  But based on past behavior, it was not out of the realm of possibility that he would have done such a thing, and I jumped to what seemed a logical conclusion.  Of course I apologized profusely to my son, and all became well again.

But this week, something else has happened, and its just so disappointing, and frustrating.

As I was folding laundry yesterday afternoon, I realized that a shirt in Gabe's laundry did not belong to him.  It was a school uniform shirt, but it was from a store we don't usually shop at, and it was in a size much larger than we have yet purchased for him.  Normally, the only way he would come home from school in a different shirt than he left in would be if he had made a trip to the nurse's office for one reason or another, or had spilled something like paint all over himself.

I decided to assume he'd been to the nurse's office and asked him "how'd you end up in the nurse's office last week?"  He grunted and said "I don't wanna talk about it."
"Why, what happened?"
"I already told enough people."
"What did you already tell enough people"
"How I ended up in the nurses office"
"Will you please tell me?"
"Fine...three girls kicked me and punched me and through wood chips at me so I had to get a clean shirt."
"Why would three girls do that to you?"
"I don't KNOW!~ They just kept yelling YOU SUCK"
"Were you playing something else first?"
"I already talked about it!"
"You're not in trouble right now, I'm just trying to understand how three girls were kicking and punching and throwing wood chips at you."
"That's all I know."
Well.....daddy was more successful at getting information about the event and as it turns out, a game of tag turned nasty and Gabe ended up in the nurses office asking for an ice pack for his eye, his nose (which he did come home with a skinned nose on Wednesday) and his knee, and then got a clean shirt.
No note or phone call came home this week about any of this, (and we KNOW he had been at the nurse's office because that's the only place to get a clean shirt, which means at least ONE adult knew about this, and Gabe claims that at least 4 adults were told) and we were completely unaware of the situation until I did the laundry and found the shirt not belonging to him. What I find frustrating is that Gabe claims that when he told the adults he told, they all asked the girls what happened, the girls lied about it and then walked away with no consequence.  And realistically, it is once again, not out of the realm of possibility that Gabe would have been playing something obnoxious and have stirred up his own trouble and tried to blame it on somebody else.  But the fact that (according to him) the episode was brushed off and the girls who clearly injured him (his nose was skinned, it clearly bled) suffered no consequence, because Gabe's reputation is such that the adult's didn't believe his side of the story, is SO FRUSTRATING!

We know Gabe is not perfect, but his behavior has improved so greatly at school this year that I really had believed he had started to build up some trust.  We believe his side of the story (to the extent to which he told us everything...and we are certain he omitted as much as possible.)  His behavior at home on Wednesday points towards something having happened at school that day.  It had actually crossed my mind Wednesday afternoon to ask whether he had been bullied that day, because he was so unusually sullen and deflated.  But I didn't ask.  And I regret that.

I guess the point is that it makes me sad that my son who is working very hard both at home and at school to prove to those around him that he can and does make good decisions, is still so damaged by his past decisions that its an instant reaction by adults to discount his side of the story.  But like I said earlier, I hope that since he is young this will be corrected soon, and that he will be given a chance as he grows older to show himself FIRST to be trustworthy.  Because he truly is becoming trustworthy.  But I'll admit, it feels like a gigantic leap of faith to extend to him the trust which he was worked so hard to earn.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I thought we were Friends?

Do you ever get so involved with a story that you begin to feel a fondness not at all unlike friendship with the characters?  It happened for me the first time as a child, probably while reading either The Secret Garden, or Little Women, I hated that spoiled rotten Colin but sneaking him out to the garden and telling him to get up and walk sure sounded great, and I really wanted to be Jo's friend so I could convince her she was foolish to ignore Laurie.  It's happened a few times since as I've grown older I've attached myself and inserted myself into various stories.  I admit it.  I think its one of the wonderful things about reading, its a harmless escape into an alternate universe.  Its imaginary.  Its ok.  

But something unique has happened recently, and I'm afraid its really quite foolish. Cave Man and  I have been enjoying the show "Long Way Down" (Via Netflix) and I'm afraid I've allowed myself to "make friends" with Ewan McGregor and his good buddy Charley Boorman as they've ridden motorcycles from Scotland to the tip of Africa. Its really quite silly, but I'm laughing at their silly antics like its all an inside joke between the four of us.  When Ewan's wife showed up in Malawi, I was so excited for him! And so bummed for poor Charley who never really loved the idea to start with, but was an awfully good sport when it all came down to it.  Its the most ridiculous thing ever.  Really, EVER.

I've never been the girl to develop a celebrity crush, or to really think much of fame or famous people.  Maybe I'm just too practical.  What's the point, right?  But I will admit, I feel as though I'm on a first name basis with these guys and their crew, and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if they showed up at a family picnic.  In fact, I think I would be a bit crushed if any one of them walked past me and didn't recognize me as their long lost friend from their trip to Africa. 

Silly, isn't it?  I guess even a Cave Mom can surprise herself once in a while.  But I think they'd like me, because I  I would have karate chopped Dai in the neck when he found his "lost" passport...all in good fun of course ;)

Go ahead, laugh at me, because I'm cracking myself up with this one, but if they showed up on my doorstep asking for a spot of bet I'd make them some.  And then I'd ask if they brought a slide show with them, just for old times sake, you know?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Boom Boom Pow

If we're facebook friends, you know that during Christmas Break we had some excitement in the neighborhood. On more than one occasion, we believed to have heard multiple shots of gunfire.  The worst of the events was one night when 8 shots were discharged and they sounded like they were directly behind our home.  The fire department located directly behind our home told Sheriff's deputies that the shots sounded like they were fired on their front porch.  Sounded about right to us.  We looked out (that's a no-no by the way, you're not supposed to look out when you hear gun-fire, you're supposed to call 911 and stay out of windows`-which begs the question, how will you give 911 ANY information AT ALL if you didn't see anything?) didn't see anything, didn't like what we heard, but decided to go back to bed.  But I couldn't really get back to sleep.
As I tossed and turned, I realized I was seeing flashing lights coming in through the bedroom window and looked out to see a Deputy scanning the back wall and area adjacent to the street.  I thought "oh, nice!  apparently it really WAS from right behind us!"  he looked around for a little bit and went on his merry way.  15-20 mins later (4:15 in the morning) our door is being banged on! Its Sheriff's Deputies.  Apparently one neighbor thought the gunfire had come FROM our home.  I guess its a good thing CaveMan hadn't cut himself shaving or anything, because I'm pretty sure the only reason they didn't ask to come in was because he didn't have blood on him.
Anyways, that was all nerve-racking enough, but then on three other occasions, we believed we heard random gunfire.  I was beginning to feel very unsafe, and you can see by the time of this post, I'm not sleeping too well these days.
We are 99.9% certain we now have the mystery of random gunfire solved.
As it turns out, there's a drunk dude with a drunk girlfriend who live just across the street from the Fire Department.  They apparently have a penchant for fireworks.
This afternoon we thought we heard gunfire again, looked out again (I know, I know!) and low and behold, there were these two brainiacs setting off fireworks in their backyard! (Fireworks are not only annoying at 3:00am, they are also illegal in the State of Arizona).
This would explain why the Deputies never found any shell casings when we (Cave People and Fire Fighters) all KNEW the "gunfire" was directly behind our home (the drunk dude lives directly across the street from the Fire House, which in turn is directly across the street from our house.)
Even though setting off fireworks is one of those things we would normally not call the cops about, we did today.  I don't think they'll be setting fireworks off anymore, that is assuming they were sober enough to remember that they've received a ticket for doing so.
Knowing now that the "gunfire" was most likely just fireworks, I feel a little silly for getting so aggravated.  I feel like I should be able to tell the difference between  gunfire and fireworks.  But even Cave Man who had been on a firing range this week thought it was gunfire this afternoon, so I guess I'll forgive myself.  But I do feel better now, and safer.  Now if I can only successfully retrain my body to go to sleep sometime before 12:00am!  Because lets face it, no matter how late I stayed up, it never stopped anybody from doing anything that made me jump at my own shadow! (which happened on two occasions during Christmas Break as well.)
Next step is to laugh at it.  Probably tomorrow.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

okay, we'll take a stab at it

First of all, yes, I know, I need to change my background.  I'm busy.  I will do it.  But not right now.
Its been a whirlwind of a week! A very happy whirlwind, but a whirlwind nonetheless.

Occasionally life presents you with opportunity you never even knew you wanted.  Sometimes you try something new and it goes well, so you keep up with it a bit because you like it, but you don't really expect much out of it other than your own enjoyment.  Then an opportunity shows itself, and you really start to wonder, "how did I get here?" (Anybody else singing a Talking Head's song now?)

I am currently experiencing one of those moments in life when I ask myself "how did I get here?"
And the answer goes something like this:
I walked into the neighborhood public school to enroll Gabriel in Kindergarten, something didn't sit right with me.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew he was not going to attend that school.  We went to my inlaw's home, a postcard was on their kitchen counter for a charter school.  I looked at it, thought it might be worth checking into.  We visited the school and decided it would be a better option than the public school, and enrolled him.  The second week of school Gabe brought home a flyer for a TaeKwonDo class after school.  We decided to enroll him.  He liked it well enough.  We began taking him to the evening classes occasionally, and then to a fight-class.  JP and I watched the classes through the window.  I really wanted to be inside learning what Gabe was learning.  We hated the gym we had joined.  It was glitzy, shiny, unfriendly.  It wasn't us.  We wanted to quit, but didn't want to sit on our butts with no exercise options.  We did the math and figured out we could quit the gym and join karate.  I took a class and LOVED it.  Then JP decided he wanted to join too.  A new school year begins, 20+ new kids enroll in the afterschool class, the instructor's need help, I've quit my job in the meantime and there is no reason why I cannot help once a week after school.  A semester passes and I'm asked if I would consider taking on teaching another class at another location.
Now JP and I are opening a part time taekwondo school this coming Tuesday.  With that we begin an internship that leads to instructor certifications which are desirable for future opportunities.

So although the path is quite clear to me now, if you would have told me a year ago that I would be opening a Taekwondo school I would have laughed at you! But I feel totally at home with this.  It actually feels like the natural progression.  I guess its just the opportunity I never knew I was looking for.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cavemom confessions-Bad Parenting

A few years back, in an effort to improve the tone of our home and encourage better behavior from our son Mr. Cavehair and I decided to try the reward system.  The punishment system wasn't working with a 3 year old cave-child who was wild as a hyena, and we were exhausted.  We quickly discovered that offering a reward for good behavior instead of punishment for bad behavior turned out a generally more desirable outcome. has backfired on us.  BIG TIME.

Almost 4 years later we have discovered that we have created a child who cares to do nothing positive unless it involves a reward of some sort.  He bargains, he negotiates.  He actually has said "If I take my shower in only 8 minutes will you take me to Target to get a Lego Star Wars set?" (The answer is clearly NO, and he's never been rewarded quite THAT ridiculously, but still he's tried.) We created a child who wants to know what's in it for him before he decides whether he'll cooperate or not.

That was brought to a swift halt the week of Christmas.  After 6 weeks of horrible, no good, very bad days leading up to Christmas, we could take no more.  It was time for clear consequences.  The first one came in the form of a letter from Santa explaining why Santa could not bring the requested Nintendo DSi.  Santa brought the remote control helicopter, because cave-boy's behavior had been excellent at school, but Santa did NOT bring the DSi because cave-boy's behavior at home had been bad enough to nearly put him on the naughty list.  Santa called for a drastic improvement in the behavior at home towards cave-boy's mother and father should cave-boy expect something like a DSi in the future.  Then Mom and Dad stepped in with a new way of saying what was expected and what the outcome would be.  Whereas once we would have said something like "if you eat your dinner, clear your place, and get your shower quickly, you can earn 30  mins of wii" we are now saying "After dinner, the family is playing wii, however, if you do not eat your dinner, clear your place, or take your shower quickly, you will not play with the rest of the family."
Nothing about what we ultimately do is changing, but Caveboy's response is changing.
So far so good.  We're almost 3 weeks into it and we're seeing improvement.  But what I don't know is how much of the improved behavior is that Christmas is no longer on the visible horizon and so all the angst about it is gone for now.  I guess only time and perserverance will tell, but I sure hope its working the way we think it is because I do not want to be the one responsible for raising a man who will not do anything for anybody unless there's something in it for him.  That's no way to live.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Butt Labels-The Joke's on You

Nothing screams "I wanted something, ANYTHING, with this brand's label on it SO bad, but all I could afford was this lousy sweatsuit" more than sweat-pants with butt labels.  Plus, it also screams I DESPERATELY want you to know that I am wearing this label.  Because, lets face it, a cute pair of shades sports only a tiny little graphic someplace that most people will miss, and if they don't see my label, they won't know what awesome taste I have! So it makes sense that stamping a label across your butt is the best way to ensure that all around are made aware of your exquisite taste in label purchasing.

But picture this:

A woman with a tiny, but extremely saggy butt goes walking by.  The butt is adorned in full-coverage fashion with the word "Juicy".  You say to your teenage daughter (fascetiously) "why do you wish you had 'Juicy' stamped across your butt so bad?" to which she replies "my SAGGY butt?  Its 'Juicy' alright! Ripe and prime for pickin!'" (underwear wedgie)  Your other teenager overhears only part of what has been being said and says "are you guys talking about farts?"

Well, the atmosphere erupted in uproarious laughter when it was decided that the term "Juicy" was some kind of announcement as to the condition of the last gaseous expulsion from the very behind it adorned.

Go ahead, throw those sweats in the trash now, even if you just got them for Christmas, because really, the next time you wear them in public, the joke's on you!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bring it on!

Here it is, our new decade! I remember thinking 2010 sounded SOOOOO far away. Well, I would say 2020 sounds far too off in the future to even consider, but I realized just the other day that I will still have two teenagers in the house come 2020, so it can't be that far away! (Nor could it make me THAT old!)

I'm not one who gets too excited about New Year's Resolutions, but I have to admit, I've had quite a bit on my mind the past few days, and it all seems kind of resolution-y, so I guess I'm making resolutions this year.  My thoughts have turned to the efficiency of my home, the way I parent, the activities we're involved in, etc.
My schedule has totally and completely changed with the new semester, new year, new decade, etc.  Looking at those changes I see some opportunity to improve the way I do some things and consolidate a few things.  I'm looking forward to Monday's now being my free day instead of my crazy day, but I still don't know how I'm going to deal with 8:00am church schedule and a husband who doesn't get home from work until after 6:00am on Sunday mornings.  I'll go ahead and say it, I've seriously considered not going.  I do NOT want to go alone with the kids every week.  But I also know that not going in no way solves my problem.  I'll still be alone with the kids, just not at church.

Our Christmas this year was a totally different kind of Christmas than we've celebrated in the past.  We had about 8 days of Christmas (no I'm not confused about which holiday we celebrate, just happened to have that much Christmas this year.) spending every day with family members from one side or the other.  Gifts were fewer and smaller, but time with family was increased abundantly.  My favorite part of Christmas this year was the 4 days in the mountains of California, blanketed in snow, fire place burning, fun games, good food, wonderful time spent with loved ones.  We were so grateful to be able to accept the invitation and join my family.  The worst part of Christmas vacation was also in the mountains where JP was sicker than a dog for all but the very first day.  He got in a good romp in the snow and then proceeded to the basement where he stayed for the next 2 and a half days.  I felt so bad because we were having so much fun and he was just sitting in the basement with a blanket and a TV.  Of course, since we don't have cable at home any more, it was probably a nice relaxing treat and being sick gave him an acceptable reason to hibernate with the cable.  The funniest part of Christmas was when my mom said the funniest/most accidentally inappropriate thing a mother in law has ever said to her son in law.  I may blog about it at Valentine's day. We'll see.  I *think* I have permission to write it down, but it was a doozy, so I want to be sure. (mom, do I?)
We also had a good time at the annual family Christmas bowling party here in AZ, and enjoying a casual dinner and impromptu (grand)children's production of the Nativity, and visiting the Christmas lights at the Mesa temple.  I love the life size nativity they have on the grounds, it seems so authentic to me.

So now we're looking forward to the new year and whatever it has in store for us.  Already some things we thought were in store appear not to be, but other opportunities may make themselves known.  I'm actually kind of loving the "unknown" that the new year brings with it.  Last year's unknowns were largely positive, so we feel hopeful that this year's will be as well.

Now, up with my butt, off the computer to do something a little more productive.