Creating connections with Adoption Choices families

Posts tagged ‘childhood’

The Ladybug Sandbox

It all started with the red ladybug sandbox.

K was 2 and I decided she needed a sandbox.  The ladybug was the perfect size – not too big, not too small – and K loved it.  She loved it before we even put sand in it.  She filled it with the little plant id tags from my garden, stepped in and started filling her bucket with plant tags.  I loved it because for the first time since K could move, I could sit.

We started going to playgrounds.  There was the sunny playground with the great train.  There was the wooden playground with the dog statue.  There was the Veres Street playground at Mom and Dad’s house.  We loved them all.  K enjoyed the climbing structures more than the swings but she always made time for the sandbox.  We packed a snack, sometimes lunch and stayed for hours.  The leaving was never fun but honestly leaving anywhere at that point in K’s life was a challenge.  And really, who wants to willingly leave a playground?

We decided to expand the offerings at home.  I did the research and declared that we needed to go with one of the more expensive choices because they marketed themselves as “splinter-free.”  What can I say?  I was a relatively new mom at the time.  I believed it was in my power to keep K’s life splinter-free not realizing that the required mulch underneath the play space would provide more than its share of splinters.  We started with a sandbox and climbing area and would ultimately add a swing set.  I can’t begin to count the hours we spent visiting playgrounds or using the masterpiece in the backyard.

But somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention, the swings in the backyard weren’t really for swinging anymore.  K and her friend G would sit on them and chat for hours but they didn’t swing.  They had gotten too big to go down the slide or climb in the fort.  But they loved to sit on the swings and talk out of earshot of the adults.  Visits to public playgrounds had stopped a while before.  We were too busy with other things.

The backyard playground began to show its age.  The ladybug sandbox was more pink than red and the lid hadn’t been opened in ages.  The mulch had been ground into the dirt and lost its battle with the weeds.  The girls realized there was just as much privacy in K’s bedroom and the swings stayed empty.

A neighbor’s granddaughter was having twins.  The baby’s arrival would make five children.  Could they use a swing set?  The neighbor came and looked at ours and thought this family would enjoy it.  Kids could climb on it and swing on it again.  We were thrilled they wanted to take it.  Yet,  I’m glad I was away the day they came to take it down.  You see, it was just yesterday that my girl was three and we sat on the steps and watched the men put it up.

K and I drove by the wooden playground the other day.  Or I should say the place where the wooden playground was.  The powers that be decided it was too old or too unsafe so it was taken down.  It was replaced with a much smaller, rubber/plastic kind of structure.  “I can’t believe they changed it, Mom.  That was a great playground.  Do you remember how we used to go there?”

Yes, K.  Yes.  I remember.

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Twins–Independence from each other isn’t so easy

I am so happy I have my own room now…..but am I really?

Just a few weeks ago, we finished the transition of moving Bruiser into his own room (aka the office).  He was so excited to have his own room…….new bed, cool karate mural on his wall, many shelves and drawers to put all his “STUFF.”  Bruiser loved the whole idea of being given a room that he could call his own rather than sharing with his twin sister.

The big day comes……………the awesome captains bed is scheduled to arrive in a few days but Bruiser insists on staying in his new room with an air mattress.  He goes on an organizing binge: all his stuffed animals are arranged perfectly on his bed, the action figures are all poised to protect from attack, the books are in perfect order from smallest to biggest.  The clothes will wait until the captains bed arrives.

Well, with all the wonderful anticipation…………the transition was far from seamless.

Night #1:  Bruiser is out bed every 5 minutes.  First it is I need a drink, then I have to go to the bathroom, then I am going to help JJ clean his room, then I am going to see if Princess is ok in her room alone, then he comes in (11:30pm by this time) to tell us that although Princess is sleeping, he thinks that she is scared without him in her room.  So 3 hrs in new room and 8 hrs in old room.

Night #2: Big meeting between the twins………outcome is that Princess must sleep in new room with Bruiser for one night.  Well another late night of chit chat and giggling.

Night #3: Twins beg us to let Princess sleep in new room.  But at this point, we refuse to be persuaded or manipulated by two 6 yr. olds.  Bruiser in one room and Princess in the other.  Although the twins continued whining and moaning for 2 hrs.  protesting our insistence that each sleep in their respective rooms, we remained strong and stuck to our plan.  By 10:30pm, both were asleep.

Night #4: Bruiser’s new captains bed arrived and he carefully folded every piece of clothing and placed it in its’ precise place.  The organization process took at least 2 hours but it was finally done.  Bruiser went to sleep exhausted from figuring out where everything belonged.

Since then, Bruiser has not looked back.  He loves his new room.  Now….we just need to figure out what to do without our office.  But that will be a problem for another day.

Creating Childhood Memories: Traditions vs. Tasks

Recently, my husband and I attended a seminar by a family therapist that focused on creating meaningful childhood memories.

So we were given homework…….like we don’t already have enough.  We were told to come up with a list of situations that will remain everlasting memories in our children’s lives.   With high hopes that this list will be packed full, I came up completely empty except for the yearly apple picking trip, annual family vacations, our summer trips to Cape Cod and holiday celebrations.

Think…think…think.  As I try to come with some other examples, I think about my days…..up at 6am to let dog out, wake up JJ, make breakfast, wake up our 5 yr. old twins,  get JJ off to the bus stop, make sure twins are dressed, washed and teeth brushed, make their breakfast, wake up husband, feed dog, walk dog,  make lunch for twins, feed husband, run out the door at 8:42am to get kids to school on time, go food shopping, pick up dry cleaning, go home and unpack food, grab coffee, time to pick up kids from school, attend to various temper tantrums and marathon pouting, look out for bus, prepare snack for JJ, help with homework, pick up some of the “toy” cyclone that has taken over our house, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up after dinner, prepare for baths, brush teeth, twins to bed, JJ to bed, husband to bed, walk the dog, and finally bed for me.

So that is what a traditional day looks like.  No traditions…..no time for anything.  My day is filled with running from one task to another.  Now with this evaluation of my daily routine….there is no time to develop traditions that lead to meaningful childhood memories.  The memories my kids will have are of a frazzled mom who runs around like a crazy woman—trying to do everything for everyone, all necessary things that need to  be done but none that I deem memorable.

Unfortunately, this left me sad feeling that my life was not being lived to the fullest, especially in what I was providing to my kids.  Good thing is that I was forced to evaluate my choices in life.

When I reported to the therapist leading the seminar, she made me realize that although they are not the easiest to identify but the
memories are being created in even through the most mundane tasks.

So now the traditional day looks very different to me.  Up at 6am for some quality time with our cute and very loving dog,  go into JJ ‘s room to
wake him up with cuddles and a kiss on the cheek,  make breakfast for the kids ensuring they have it just the way they want,  wake up
the twins…and let them know that they have 15 minutes to cuddle with their dad,  making lunches has a whole new meaning as this is some mother/son time that JJ and I share as he eats his breakfast, I spend time chatting with Princess and Bruiser as they eat their breakfast and
as I down my first of many cups of coffee and the list goes on.

I have learned that it is all perspective of how you look at things.  My children will remember lots:  how they help me bake in the kitchen, how
Bruiser and I put together awesome Lego structures, how Princess and I work together on art projects, how all us root for JJ at his little league games, and most importantly, our family dinners—together.   My kids will have wonderful childhood memories of a strong knit, loving family that is happiest when we are together—no matter what we are doing.

Following a Child’s Dream: One Brick at a Time

Five years ago, David and I were drafting a “Dear Birth Mother” letter thanking potential birth moms for considering our family.  We expressed our commitment to provide the child a loving home and the opportunities necessary to let him follow his dreams whether those dreams include shooting hoops, painting portraits or building castles.  So when our youngest son (I’ll call him Bruiser) became obsessed with Lego, we were excited to encourage him.

His 2010 holiday gift list included a Lego storage bin, Lego travel box,  Bionicles,  Heros, Star War Legos, City Legos, Lego cars, Lego robots…….do you see a trend?  Each night of Chanukah, Bruiser received a Lego set and insisted on putting it together.  These building sessions typically lasted two hours or more yet our son could help no longer than an hour before his eyes would begin to droop.  However, his stubborn conviction to get the Lego vehicle, robot or city done has never waned.  Between yawns, he would give me encouragement (or orders—you decide how you want to think about it) to carry on and finish the Lego set. 

The eight days of Chanukah have come and gone…… all the hard work of putting together $30, $40 and $50 Lego sets is done for now.  The awesome creations lie in disarray.  The Star Wars men are missing legs, the fire truck stands without its ladder, the castle is without turrets, the dragon lacks wings, robots are now headless, and race cars have no wheels. 

Regardless, every morning our son, with a grin from ear to ear, grabs his Lego bin, fills it with every Lego brick, wheel, and accessory that he has and carries it down a long flight of stairs.  He spends three or more hours each day putting together and taking apart vehicles, monsters, and buildings.  At night, he gathers up all the pieces from the den, puts them in the Lego bucket and drags them upstairs.  The cycle continues day after day.

Dear Birth Mother….our youngest son is being given every opportunity to follow his interests.  He is a talented architect, engineer, and builder but most importantly, he is a wonderful son.

            ———————————————————————

Adrienne is a recently unemployed (correction-not so recent) mom of a pre-teen son (JJ) who has aspirations of owning a sports company, a set of boy/girl toddler twins—one (Bruiser) with a compulsion to build and hoard, and the other (Princess) a diva in training, a Havanese (cute, fluffy dog) velcro-ed  to my ankle and a wonderful husband, David, who keeps the family happy and wife sane!

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