School Meetings and My Pagan Daughter

The long awaited meeting finally occurred and I hope some forward movement will happen regarding my son’s school situation. I went into the meeting in a state of hyper vigilance. I probably could have felt a speck of dust land on me, but I wasn’t nervous. My son’s teacher had already made cultural and economic differences an issue prior to the break, so I was prepared for some undercurrent and was particularly aware of how I was being perceived. My son is biracial but few people are aware of it based on his appearance. From what I’ve observed in my interactions with his class, he is one of two white “appearing” children, the other being a girl. On further thought, being one of the perceived culturally different kids in class could pose some barriers that might not be there if he blended in. I do know that his teacher is wrestling with her feelings about me and after I was invited to share our story about what was going on, she pushed back from the table, her body tensed and she sat back in her chair. I recounted the points I had shared earlier in email, what I was observing, and what I needed moving forward. Even though I felt emotional at times, and I am prone to bawl my head off in any situation, I refused to fall into the “white woman’s tears” syndrome in this context where I couldn’t afford to distract people and lose sight of the issue.

I know that school personnel in general are subjected to a lot of crap from parents. Based on earlier conversations with me, I know my son’s teacher went into this situation on the defensive due to that fact, as well as her perception that I am culturally ignorant and economically privileged (although if the latter is true, we would have never met in the first place because we would have lived in a nicer part of town with a higher performing school). I’m not sure if the meeting today made any progress on how we interact in the future and the perceptions we have of each other, but everyone at the table did agree to communicate more frequently and treat the resolution of the concerns as a partnership. Other staff will be looped in as to what is going on with the teasing and name calling, the principal has scheduled a formal “restorative” conversation with one of the boys who is at the center of the conflict, and my son’s teacher, at least for the next couple of weeks, will shoot me a brief note at the end of the day about how the day went and anything out of the normal both in terms of my son’s behaviors or others’ towards him. While the meeting was productive, the climate was awkward and tense between all of us in our different roles, contexts, and assumptions. I hope that what we have initiated can be a positive experience moving forward where the elements of that climate can transform. I appreciate the questions and concerns that have come my away about my son’s school situation and wanted to provide this update for people who are interested.

On a lighter note, my daughter has started signing her name accompanied by an image of a pentagram, or in some cases, the pentagram simply is her signature. Kind of like what Prince did in the 90s. “The child formerly known as.” There are several “mainstream” ways this can be interpreted (like my daughter, the pentagram appears to have been associated with Satan) so I am somewhat amused. I will leave you with a sample:

n-star

Circled Pentagram

A circle around a pentagram contains and protects. The circle symbolises eternity and infinity, the cycles of life and nature. The circle touching all 5 points indicates that the spirit, earth, air, water and fire are all connected.

-taken from http://www.angelfire.com/id/robpurvis/pentagram.html

Chin Hairs, Chronic Pain, Stuffy Noses and Memory Loss, No Problem

I’ve been on this serious regimen of health improvement over the past month, ever since the visit to my doctor. At the prompting of some readers and friends, I opted to give a chiropractor a go. If you have mentioned to me over the past month that I need to try this, nice work, you have had a profound influence on my behavior. I have also been seeing an acupuncturist thanks to another friend of mine. All of this has been made possible by a healthy balance in my health flex savings account at work, which I need to drain by the end of the state’s fiscal year (June 30) with a couple months’ grace period. The balance in this flex account has been a huge source of angst for me, because as you may know, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Yes, I am switching to an HSA for next year to avoid this in the future.

I’m starting to see a big difference in my overall attitude and the way I feel physically. A lot of the nagging back and neck pain has been reduced and instead of experiencing big dips in my mood, the dips seemed to have lessened. Small dips. This has helped (to some small extent) to manage my reactions to my tiny trolls better.

My son has been tracking with me on this self-improvement mission. He is continually relaying valuable information that he acquires through watching commercials on TV.

When he sees me get the tweezers out:

“Momma. You know those black hairs on your chin? I saw on Grandma Sosa’s TV that there is a machine that can zap those and make them fall right off your face.”

When I was struggling with allergies:

“Momma. I saw on Grandma Sosa’s TV that they have medicine that can help your red, itchy nose feel better. Do you know that?”

This morning on the way to school:

“Momma. Did you know that over the summer kids can lose 400 things of learning because they are not in school? Kumon helps your children remember so they don’t lose all of those things.”

I almost died. “Did you see that on Grandma Sosa’s TV?” I asked him.

“No. Actually I saw that on your TV.”

Have I mentioned that my kids are brilliant? I know some of you who know them personally might have some knowledge that would give you room to debate this. Don’t.

I am also trying hard, so hard to get some time to myself. Literally this usually ends up being time WITH myself, which is not always very exciting, but maybe it is allowing me and the kids some space to appreciate each other more and to recharge. ❤️

Annoying the world. One person at a time.

Today I met my neighbor for the third time in three years. I’m not sure why I don’t see her more often. After our brief reunification, I decided that she really needs to move into my head. She came over wanting to see how my security doors were installed.
“Now this doesn’t make much sense. The hinges are on the outside. That’s just not where my mind goes when I think of security.”
Crap, I think. She’s right. Why haven’t I noticed that in the 3 years they’ve been installed? Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. My burglar came in through my window. I doubt people would stand outside a house with a screwdriver when they can just knock a window AC unit in and climb through.
“Let’s go look at the front door, too” I offer, hoping the outside hinges were an anomaly. Nope. We stand outside, chatting for a few more minutes. Somehow the conversation goes from security doors to homelessness to home remodeling and meth labs, AC BTUs that won’t blow our old electric wiring, belly dancing to treadmills and exercise. My favorite topic. Unsolicited, she offers advice.
“I just moved a treadmill into my house. Craig’s List. That’s all you need to do.”
“Well, you should see my house. Nothing more can fit in there.”
“It’s a lifestyle choice. Put it in front of the TV. You either do it or you don’t do it.”
I just then notice the lettering on her T-shirt. I try not to stare at women’s chests. Lord knows we experience that enough from men without our sisters doing it too. Her shirt says “Annoying the world. One person at a time.” I believe it. Meanwhile, a man who I assume she knows is poking around her front door. She follows my eyes.
“Hey. HEY!!! What are you doing?” She screams across the street.
“Uh oh hey yeah I’m looking for a guy. Uh, a Hispanic guy and yay-high.” He motions with his hand, kind of ducking and dancing back and forth on his feet. Real descriptive.
“Yeah well that guy doesn’t live there.”
“Uh sorry about that. My bad.” Man shuffles off down the street. Neighbor looks back at me.
“I think I love you.” I tell her. Bold. Confident. Guts. I’ve learned the hard way not to talk to people like that.
“I’m a single woman. I know who is supposed to be on my street.”
Shoot. I’m falling short. I have no idea who is currently living in the house directly to the west of me. I ask her.
“Oh yeah. Great guy. He’s subletting from Mark. You know the people with the two big pit bulls?”
Yes. Yes I remember the pit bulls. They hunted me in my yard one day. One stood next to me, quiet, unmoving. I remember I stood just as still, not breathing, the fear emanating off of me, seeing my life flash before my eyes before his owner called him off of me.
“Yeah he has a daughter. Real nice people. And that guy….” She points across the street. “He thought my yard was giving him weeds and he mowed my lawn and put weed killer in it.”
Nice. I need to spend more time at home. Perhaps I could get free lawn care if I let my weeds grow long enough.
My neighbor continues to chat on and I start to drift away…lifestyle choice…single woman…confidence and boldness. I am hit with the sudden realization that I’m boxing myself in. Metaphorically speaking. Nothing else can fit in my house because I’ve crammed my house full with all sorts of “furniture” (excuses and notions about what life should be like for a person in my circumstances). Putting a treadmill in front of my TV because I’ve got too much furniture in my living room is really the least of my issues. And the woman from across the street, the one who is annoying the world one person at a time, is unraveling my tightly coiled mindset in my yard, right in front of my insecure security door.
It is amazing how one mundane conversation that takes place in less than five minutes can shine light on my dark thought processes about who I am, what my life is about, and what I willing to do and not do and for what reasons I make those choices. Not unlike the doctor’s office last week where my excuses about my inability to take care of myself weakly rolled off my tongue and floated away, dissipating immediately, like popped soap bubbles. Convicted is how I’ve been feeling lately, in most areas of my life. I need this feeling to keep building momentum.

Whippets and Subarus: The Challenges of Fragility

This week was an intense week for every thing with moving parts in our family. It started with our dog, Smoke. Smoke is a Whippet. This makes her possibly the most nervous and fragile being I have ever come across. I mean, it couldn’t be that she lives in a home with two rambunctious tiny trolls who are continually fascinated by her. One tiny troll draws her pictures and tapes them to her crate, while the other uses a toy stethoscope to listen to her delicate heart regularly.

Smokes spends the greater part of her days trembling in the furthest corner of her crate, with a permanently worried countenance as she surveys every move in our laundry room (unfortunately she “missed” the burglar who spent some time with her in the laundry room two summers ago as he emptied my laundry basket so he could fill it up with household goodies). Smoke has been a little under the weather lately. She spends about 23 hours, rather than her normal 22 hours, curled up or stretched out in deep sleep (with one eye open, trembling) either in her crate or in the back yard. She has been pooping in the house during the night, and now has even taken to pooping in her crate during the day while I’m at work. Needless to say, I was concerned and took her to the vet last weekend. I learned that she had a serious bacterial infection which had pretty much taken over her fragile body and she required antibiotics and probiotics (looking at these words spelled out, I feel as if they must cancel each other out). The vet was able to prescribe perhaps the most horrible tasting antibiotics known and as usual, in a friendly, confident voice, advised me to wrap them in something Smoke likes to eat. Yeah. Roger that. That is a no-go, Ms. Veterinarian.

I spent the first four days of this regimen, twice a day, getting my hands bit up by razor-sharp Whippet teeth as I tried to place the pill in the back of her throat. Fortunately, my co-worker rescued me with a pill popper that he used on his cats. Coincidentally, this is the same co-worker that almost lost his sh*t listening to my tirade about reserving cars last week. I’m pretty sure he was trying to prevent me from having a psychotic break with his pill popper offering. After a trial run, the popper worked like a charm.

Meanwhile, my lame Subaru (I worship it in the winter months, and curse it the rest of the year), incurred another $300 of repairs after having its dumb engine rebuilt (for $7000) last summer. I argued with a feisty service person over the phone all day Monday. His name was Fred. I encountered Fred in my dealings at the shop last summer but didn’t have to work with him. This time I did. He was loud, arrogant, argumentative and talked really fast. When I asked him to repeat things, he would slow down and talk louder, enunciating every syllable as if I was hard of hearing. He “graciously” “warrantied out” a few items that needed to be replaced after I pressed him about what did I really spend $7000 on last summer. He shocked and awed me with fancy car terminology, trying to make me think that engine coils, engine wires and spark plugs were not part of the engine in the car and therefore should not be covered under the warranty for the rebuilt engine. I don’t know a thing about cars (my brother Erik was on speed dial that day) but I was willing to bet that these parts were involved with the engine somehow so I went all in on the argument. The car is running now, but I’m looking at Ford, Chevy and Jeep for my next car. And doing my best to avoid Fred until that happens.

Wow. I’ve just used nearly 700 words reliving my broken dog and car experiences. I haven’t even gotten to the doctor appointments for the humans in the family. These incidents will have to wait until the next time, but mark my words, the entertainment continues.

SmokeySmokey snoozing in the backyard, with one ear up to monitor troll activity

a mindful life

The other night, after returning home from a family visit which left my kids knocked out in the car, I seized the opportunity to watch a Redbox movie that was already a night late. After transferring the tiny trolls to my bed, fully clothed and peacefully sleeping, I turned on The Intern, which featured Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway. I had intended to just watch the first half and then call it a night, but I found I couldn’t turn it off. I was entranced by the main character, Ben Whittaker, played by DeNiro, who had signed up as an intern for a senior intern program at an e-commerce company owned and operated by Hathaway’s character.

A widower, Whittaker is 70 years old, lives in Brooklyn, is disenchanted by retirement and looking for a way to feel needed, a reason to wake up every morning and a place to be. What struck me about DeNiro’s character was the peace, the generosity, and wisdom he brought to each life he touched. Throughout the movie, scenes showed him quietly observing the people and activities around him, listening patiently, enjoying moments wherever and with whomever he was sharing them. Doing Tai Chi in the park with his senior counterparts, taking his boss’ daughter to a birthday party, and delivering powerful snippets to snarky stay-at-home moms or Hathaway’s unfaithful husband, DeNiro never wasted a word or an opportunity to demonstrate love to the people he cared about, all the while setting and maintaining beautiful, healthy boundaries.

It was definitely a scripted life, but it left me feeling inspired. Setting boundaries and living in the moment. Little did I know, seeing this movie would totally set me up for sessions at a work conference that started for me this week. Today, I attended a session on mindfulness. It was fascinating because it was all about being present in the moment, and in part, being able to protect oneself (setting emotional boundaries) from events and people that we encounter throughout the day that could harm us or cause destructive emotions or responses in us. I probably could have used mindfulness first thing this morning during an episode with my daughter.

Daughter: “Momma, I want to wear my unicorn pants. Where are they?”

Me: “They are in the laundry.”

Daughter: “Ugh. You are so rude.” (I have no idea where she learned this phrase but she is using it constantly lately and often out of context). “I don’t love you anymore.”

Son pipes in from a far corner of the house: “I like you.”

Me: “Thanks buddy.”

Soon after, my daughter, for the second time in the past week, emerged from her room wearing all stripes. Not a single color on her matched or went with one another. Must be nice to be able to wear horizontal stripes all over your body in wild, mismatched colors and still look adorable. With hot pink cowboy boots and giant, dark sunglasses.

Unbeknownst to me, I was about to spend half my day learning about mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy and the other half of my day learning about how to attend to my vicarious trauma at work. Who would have known that a career in corrections would come in handy when dealing with 4-year old girls?

Several events this evening, moments that would have sent me over the edge even yesterday, offered me the opportunity to practice a different approach with the kids. I probably didn’t handle the situations perfectly, however, the movie and the conference sessions put me in a different space. I actually “observed” my thoughts, rather than letting them serve as fuel for emotion, as I experienced my impatience and exhaustion with the kids and their antics. This process churned out some different behaviors and responses for me. Far from perfect, but maybe I’m making progress.❤️

 

Yeah…I am that parent. And my plan failed. 

Recall my earlier post about those loser parents at the elementary schools I visited in December who were like “my kid is so cool and smart, can your school cut it?” Yeah, I put in for the lottery to get my son into one of those schools. And my plan failed. My rejection letter arrived Friday after 5 p.m. Not unlike that Friday afternoon when your boss comes up to your cube flanked by two security guards and an empty cardboard box and escorts you from the building (although that’s never happened to me, it happens in the movies so it must be real). Sorry, your kid did not “win” a place at any of your “choice” schools in the “choice” lottery. Dear parent, you have lost the lottery in terms of a top education.

I should have anticipated this. The only thing I’ve ever won in my life was a pass for free Stroller Strides classes after I had my son. That kind of luck just does not run in our family. At the end of the letter, it read something like “Don’t worry, you are guaranteed admission at your boundary school.” My boundary school. The invisible boundary that creeps up from the school and wraps around my humble home, “you belong to me.” Great. Between my home and my boundary school, just about a month ago, there was a burglary gone wrong and a double shooting. Oh and then there was the kid who burnt down his mother’s entire condominium complex because he was mad at her for something…the tomato plant man who sleeps in his front yard and gets drunk and beats up his mother so frequently that we have a parade of emergency vehicles on our street at least twice a month. The two kids last summer who, while trying to steal a car, ran out of gas in front of my house and ran from the police.

Those are just a few of the residences, and events, that lie between my house and my boundary school. Despite the fact that this is Colorado and my closest neighbors are armed to the gills, I still managed to be burglarized myself two summers ago. Yes, I have a confession to make, I tried to get out of sending my son to my neighborhood school. I am that parent. I had a chance, and I took it, and my plan failed.

If I’m just looking at the school alone, physically, it’s not a bad building. It is just that it is one of the lowest performing elementary schools in the entire district. The school website has a lot of misspellings and the “letter from the principal” hasn’t been updated in two years. It does not meet state academic expectations and an improvement plan on the state’s website shows that few, if any, of the recommended action steps towards improvement have started.

My babysitter, bless her heart, has offered to let me reside at her address on paper. She technically lives in the same neighborhood, but in a different district, and apparently on the right side of the tracks where the police are concerned.

I need to go visit my neighborhood school, instead of driving around it slowly and apprehensively, like a weird stalker. I need to see if there is some incongruence between the scores and the chaos of my neighborhood. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. Maybe I will be that parent who writes a blog two years from now saying, “I stood by my neighborhood school and I haven’t regretted a single minute! All you people who run to charters are wimps! I support my community!”

On that note, don’t hate me. Sometimes I’m honest to a fault, even when it makes me look like a jerk. But parenthood is a journey, and there is lots of pressure out there to have the smartest, coolest kid and pursue the smartest, coolest schools. I believe there is a reason we lost the lottery. Let’s see what happens.

Let’s Step Outside, Johnny. It’s Time to Deal with the Wrath of Momma

My son has an “oral” issue. It started when I began feeding him soft foods. When was that? Three or four months? The years slip by…He would insist on following every bite of food by sticking the two center fingers of his left hand into his mouth. If I didn’t let him do this, he would scream at the top of his lungs and stretch out as far as his little body would take him. I could see every rib in his chest and his whole body would shake and turn red. Blood vessels would pop out of his forehead and neck. Needless to say, I thought he was having some type of demonic reaction. Rather than calling for an exorcist, I continued to allow him to do this fingy thing, thinking there must be something going on and the alternative was death.

Flash forward five years. He still sucks those fingers. The dentist tells me that while this is not the end of the world, he will most likely need to have a metal bar installed in his mouth in the next couple of years to correct his bite if he does not stop. Over the years, we have tried yucky sprays, gloves, band-aids, continual reminding, continual hand-washing, and prizes for going fingy-free. He has learned to control it for the most part during the school day. However, he has replaced the fingies with chewing. He chews everything that costs Momma something to put on his body. Jackets, sweaters, shirts. He chewed a hole in a new t-shirt the first day he wore it. In an attempt to keep clothes on his upper body, his teacher recently made me aware of something called “chewelry.” Chewelry appears to be slang for hard rubber objects that you can wear as a bracelet or necklace. You can order these online, and they are not the cheapest things (his new necklace cost me his chewed up t-shirt 3 times over). They are safe to chew and easily cleaned. I ordered one.

We eagerly awaited this blue lego-looking chewy item for five days. My son, nicknamed “Sucky McGee,” by Momma (a name that he loathes), was thrilled when the chewelry arrived. After he carefully washed it, it was the first thing on him the morning after it came, and we were set to meet a new day of hole-free clothes and jackets. When I dropped him off, there was one other child at school, who thought that the lego necklace my son was sporting was the coolest thing ever.

Unfortunately, the coolest necklace ever was not around his neck when I arrived at school that evening. After a line of questioning from Momma, where the necklace appeared to have been dropped on the playground, wrapped in his naptime blanket, or put in his cubby, it finally came to light that the lego was hidden deep in his pants pocket, sans necklace. My heart sank. I stopped my frantic searching and interrogating and asked my son flat out, “Did someone tease you about your necklace?”

Uncomfortable silence, then the dreaded answer.

“Yes.”

Of course, the first things out of my mouth were “what did they say?” followed by “who was it?” And then the heat rising in my neck and face. I was searching for brilliant and reassuring words to make this situation all better for my son, but not before my instinctual reaction, which was, where is this little “Johnny” – Momma needs to have a “talk” with him.

Although my son was not receptive to discuss the teasing incident right away, we chatted briefly about it later that night. My best take on this was trying to explain in five-year old terms why people tease people, and also that different people have different ways of thinking through things and if his was chewing on something, preferably not his clothes, then that was damn fine. Then we tried out different responses he could have if he was teased about this in the future. “Screw off” was one that I suggested. Not so good.

I know that this was just the first of many incidents to come. As I watched my kids eating dinner last night, I got anxious, thinking that maybe this parenthood thing wasn’t the best idea for me. Particularly since my first response to his story was wanting to go punch a 5-year old in the nose. And what about my daughter? Girls are horrible. They are cruel. If this kind of stuff is hereditary, my daughter will be the one getting bullied by a girl who is either cute and popular or ugly with big teeth who wants to be the friend of the cute and popular girl. My son is probably lucky that he is a boy. And I am probably lucky that “Johnny” was long gone the other evening.

Can You Accommodate My Child’s Brilliance at Your Average Elementary School?

Hi. My child has an IQ of 140, can juggle fire and is an accomplished French chef. He was recently contacted by NASA to lead the next space mission to Mars. He is only 5, but reads at the college level. Tell me, can you accommodate such brilliance at your elementary school, here in the suburbs of Anytown, USA?

These were the types of inquiries I witnessed on a recent elementary school tour for parents of KINDERGARTNERS and FIRST GRADERS. Personally, I was just wondering how much I have to pay for the after school bug collection club if little Johnnie decides he wants to join. Does your school offer an art program because he likes to draw. Will he have any homework at night – I hope not too much because he loves zoning out for an hour after school in front of mindless Disney programming while I make dinner…

Maybe I should just succumb to the inevitable label of “Parent Who Celebrates Underachievement.” I haven’t even become the parent of a first-grader yet and the parents on this tour terrified me. I was about to pick my son up and shove him back up into my womb right then and there on the tour. I wondered if they would have all brought their kids on the tour, like I did, would their sons and daughters have been dragging about 20 minutes in, complaining about how hungry and tired they were?

It makes me nervous when one of my kid’s teachers says that he or she is a baby genius. I think teachers and daycare providers are especially skilled that they can even get those words out of their mouths with a straight face. My suggestions to parents who hear this message from their child’s teacher: this doesn’t mean they are suggesting that your kid should just skip elementary school altogether. Please don’t go around telling the rest of us parents on your school visit that little Barbie is applying for Mensa membership and you are not sure if this school is adequate for her. It won’t be if, in class, she is sitting next to my daughter, who stuck her finger in a pencil sharpener last week to see how it felt. Maybe your questions should not be directed at the principal, but at the parents of other potential enrollees. My kids get excited over stinky farts, love hunting for tiny spiders in my bathroom, and can cut play-dough with scissors for hours with the best of them. My child will be your child’s “compadre.” Are you ready for that?

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Daycare Recap: Momma, I Found a Sausage in My Chicken

I really love my kids’ daycare. When I first enrolled my son, I couldn’t imagine how I would pay the weekly fees. Now, 5 years and one more child later, I have come to learn that it is one of the more affordable daycares in the area. I have invested tens of thousands of dollars into the first 5 years of my children’s lives. It has definitely been worth it. Not only for the love, education and support my kids receive from the teachers at this school, but also for the entertainment that their daily experiences bring to my life.

Lunch Menu
Until my daughter became more verbal, my son had led me to believe that the only things served at lunchtime were bread, water and orange slices. This menu was not unlike some of the lunches I witnessed while working at the local jail, minus the baloney. He never deviated from his story and he was very believable. A recent conversation on the car ride home revealed a much more diverse menu.

Callie: Hey momma. Guess what I found in my chicken the other day at lunch?

Me: What?

Callie: A sausage!

Caleb: No silly. That was not a sausage, it was a hot dog!

Me: You found a hot dog in your chicken? (Thinking: Wow – the food is a lot more processed than I thought!)

Caleb: No momma. Callie, that was a corn dog.

Me: There was a corn dog in your chicken?

Caleb: NO! We had corn dogs for lunch yesterday. We had chicken today.

Me: Did you eat the corn dog?

Caleb: No. They make me throw up.

Theological Studies
From what I hear from their teachers, my kids are really smart, but maybe they tell that to all the parents. One time, just minutes after her teacher told me that she was a baby genius, I found Callie crumpled in a pile next to a fan in my bedroom, crying. “Momma, it won’t turn on.” I was quite shocked that she didn’t think to plug it in, since over the past couple of years she has witnessed Caleb and I struggling over cords and outlets and I have delivered numerous speeches on electric shock.

Of all the subjects they cover at school, Caleb always excels in biblical studies. Yes, you read that right. The first time I took biblical studies it was in college and I barely passed with a D-. I was disappointed to learn this past quarter that he was struggling with the dramatization of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It just wasn’t something I expected him to struggle with. I’m not even sure how to get him up to standard on that one. A tutor?

Rules to Live By
My daughter is a staunch recorder (not follower) of rules. Based on what she says at home, it seems that her teachers run a tight ship at school.

“My teacher says we can’t touch each other.”
“My teacher says we can’t share food.”
“My teacher says we have to wear pants with our swimsuits.”
“My teacher says we can’t hold our friend’s shoulders while standing in a line.”

Then there is the list of things that are just plain forbidden (I fear that many of these are a result of her actually engaging in said behavior):

“My teacher says no kissing people”
“My teacher says no biting people”
“My teacher says no eating trash”
“My teacher says no eating food until we pray”
“My teacher says no eating people”
“My teacher says no throwing toys at people”
“My teacher says no kicking people”
“My teacher says no taking your pants off at school”

In the end, I have no doubt that the messages and stories get convoluted in the short distance between the classroom and my car. I do know that as financially painful as it has been, it has been worth every penny.

6 Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

1. Make them carry their own luggage. They will learn to appreciate the art of packing light and identifying only the necessities for travel. This also allows momma to pack 4 extra pairs of shoes to ensure proper footwear for all occasions.

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2. Download hours of TV programming for the flight. If you have a decent Internet connection speed at home. People who have near dial-up speed connections may only be able to download 7 ten-minute episodes of Peppa Pig in 24 hours.

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3. Be conversant with all forms of television in order to provide ongoing TV viewing once you arrive at your destination. For example, when you don’t speak dish, you are screwed.

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4. Create fascinating living spaces in their room in an attempt to keep them interested in sleeping in their own bed (and not in yours) during the trip. Getting enough sleep will help you avoid the embarrassing dilemma of sleeping on public benches (although scrap this tip if you are hoping to have one uninterrupted meal).

THIS:

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NOT THIS:

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5. Encourage your kids to get out and engage the locals. They will improve their social skills and learn to expertly navigate any situation. Here, my daughter is asking a resident for directions to the bathroom. She ended up securing a date with his son for the next night.

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6. If all else fails, bury the most troublesome at the local beach.

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