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parenting – Mommy of Many®

Archive for the parenting Category

Starting the Day with a Huge Dose of Mommy Guilt

September 4, 2013

Lex came into my room, and buried himself in my bed under pillow and blankets, clearly upset. I asked what was wrong and he told me about his dream, that I had dropped him off at daycare and there was a fire and the teacher didn’t care.

I rubbed his back and told him that I was sorry for his bad dream and that he never went to daycare, that I was with him every day that he was little and that when he went to preschool, that I went too and worked in the school.

He piped back, “You dropped me off at daycare at the Y and I hated it!”

Ugh! He did! I think I only made it through 2 whole workouts in all my times of trying to take him there. I told myself, over and over again, that he would get used to it and that it was just a matter of him not wanting to be there because he was so used to being with siblings and there, he was on his own because his siblings were in school. But nightmares, 4 years later?! Talk about starting the day with a huge helping of Mommy Guilt!

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Well That Explains It!

August 8, 2013

Yesterday I had one of those terribly emberrassing Mommy Moments, where you have a child who’s acting out so badly and you just can’t get them to stop. This usually happens with an overtired toddler, but this was my 7 yr old! We got home and I put him straight to bed. He ended up sleeping for over 4 hours and I figured that being tired was the reason for his meltdown.

Then I got home from work today and found him lying in my bed, watching a movie on the laptop and hot with a fever. Ah ha!

How many times have we, as parents, been able to look back and better understand why our child had an issue…any issue? I’m out of the practice of dealing with toddlers, so his behavior didn’t make any sense to me. But it sure does today!

Doing the Dance of the Children and revisiting old lessons~

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He’s Breathing Too Loud!

March 5, 2013

Here’s the scenario;

One kid is doing something harmless, but that another kid finds annoying. So the annoyed kid tells the first kid to “stop___”. Kid one wasn’t doing anything wrong, but now does whatever the action was (and sometimes, it’s simply breathing “too loud”) extra, EXTRA annoyingly.

I am then caught between the kid who was needlessly annoyed and the kid who is now purposely being annoying. And let me tell you, it’s AMAZING how loudly a kid can breathe when they know it will further annoy a sibling.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Learning How to Support Positive Body Image in my Boys

March 4, 2013

When I was growing up, I was surrounded by sisters. I’m the oldest of 9 kids and 8 of us are girls. My parents got their boy at the end. So, most of what I knew about kids when I became a parent involved what girls thought, felt and dreamed. As I began having my own kids, I was blessed to get a, nearly even split of boys and girls. And suddenly, most of my girls are out of the house and I find myself raising 3 boys. I’m still fumbling through getting a grasp on what might be going through their heads at any given moment.

The other day, Lex called me into the bathroom for some assistance and I found him sitting on the pot. He looked at me and then pointed to his thighs and said, “if I’m so skinny, why are my legs so fat?”. Fat?! There isn’t anything fat about this kiddo! I knew I had only that moment to help him see his legs differently. I explained that when we sit down our legs spread out a little and that what he was seeing where the strong muscles in his legs that help him run so fast and ride his bike so well and that because he does those things, his muscles get bigger and stronger and help him get even further.

He was suddenly proud of his legs! He told me how long he can jump on the trampoline and how fast he can ride his bike.

In that short interaction, I realized that boys struggle with body image, just as girls do. Yes, I’ve read articles about eating disorders occurring in both boys and girls and depression occurring in both genders. Of course, I know that boys aren’t  just pillars of confidence, roaming the earth. But I didn’t know that my, very fit and healthy 6 year old son, would be scrutinizing himself! I’m grateful he vocalized his wonder and that I was able to help him form a positive opinion of himself.

Lesson Learned!

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Hey! I’m Kinda Feelin’ Jipped!

January 31, 2013

I’ve recently “liked” a couple of pregnancy and birth pages and they’re fantastic! I love all the amazing pics of women giving birth in the way and environment of their choice. They have photographers capturing all the wonder of the event and husbands/partners/co-parenting significant others (making terms up for things I don’t know the label for) are joining in, being super supportive and experiencing as much of the baby’s birth as possible. Then there are the breastfeeding pics and posts. All beautiful. There are many strong, amazing women out there that are making the decision to be fully present in the experience of becoming a mother, no matter the # baby it is.

Only one problem…

All this amazingness is making me feel like I never experienced giving birth or breastfeeding. There were no photographers, no uber supportive/rubbing my back/getting into a tub of water with me, husband-no tub of water for that matter. No home birth and heck, for my last birth, my biggest supporter was my 12 yr old daughter, who was great, but did her best to make sure she stayed near my head the entire time.

I breastfed while toddlers climbed on me, while I pushed a stroller with 2 or more other children in it, while I grocery shopped, while I made dinner, while I did mundane and needed household chores, while I was 1/2 or entirely asleep and there was no one documenting it and putting a lovely lens to the whole thing to show how beautifully natural, loving, life-giving and super fantastic it was.

I never had a belly cast made. Never took belly pics in my bathroom or bedroom mirrors (there were no “smart phones” with cameras) and never, once, had professional pics taken with the glowing and gushing father of all these kiddos. What the heck?!

How is it that I had 9 kiddos and am now feeling like all the new moms out there are sticking it to all of us Old Geezers who finished having babies too soon to be truly amazing? I don’t like it!

I’ll go thumb through the endless baby books, photo albums and scrapbooks that I put together on paper filled with lignin that’s slowly eating away at the only precious images I have that prove that in my day, we were as amazing as we felt we could be and it was pretty ok.

Seriously though-Here’s to you, Moms of the Next Era! You’re making me wish I could do it one more time.

Mommy of Many

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Tummy Troubles

November 27, 2012

For the last few weeks, we’ve been battling some issues with Lex. All of a sudden, he’s started having uncontrollable bowel movements. Some days, he’s been in the bath or shower 4 times. At first I thought he had gotten a flu bug. Then it kept going. I took him off of all dairy products, which were a pretty decent portion of his daily intake; milk on morning cereal, butter on toast, string cheese for a snack, cheese on sandwiches, yogurt for breakfast or an after school snack, chocolate milk for a treat…After 2 days of no dairy, we had an accident-free day. Then 2 accident-free days. Then he went to his dad’s house for the weekend and he was back up to 4 accidents a day. When he came back to me, we went back to completely dairy-free, but the accidents kept coming. So I cut out gluten and anything processed and tomatoes and all juice. After 2 days of eating only plain veggies, almonds, apples and chicken with nothing on it, he was back to being accident-free.

Yesterday I took him to the Dr. because I want to rule out the possibility of a parasite. After-all, he is an adventurous boy, who spent much of the summer tromping around in the greenbelt next to our house. He brought me tiny dead fish and picked up snakes. Who knows what made it’s way into his mouth and then his system. But after hearing all I had to say about the history of Lex’s bowel movements (over the last 3 years, since he’s been potty trained), the Dr. insisted that he is blocked up and afraid to go to the bathroom. He would have no other word or idea about it. He declared with great confidence that he knew exactly the problem. Never mind that I’ve been through that with one of my other children. I remember the pain they were in. I remember rushing them to the Dr., afraid it was an appendix or something terrible. Never mind that Lex is in NO pain and told the Dr. this. He sent us off for xrays and told me to give him a tablespoon of mineral oil once a day. I can’t wait to get those xrays back and hear his explanation for why they don’t show anything!

So we wasted a day at the Dr. I took Lex to school today with his lunch packed and instructions in the office to call me if there’s any issue.

I’ve been given the name of a Dr. in the area who helped my cousin with her children’s food issues and also the name of a chiropractor that’s close by who does stick-free allergy testing. Into the unknown I go!

I’m really hoping to get some answers soon! Lex is looking pale and thin (he’s never been a heavy kiddo, but he’s pretty thin right now).

Prayers and suggestions are appreciated.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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An Open Letter to the Tooth Fairy

August 29, 2012

This certainly  is not the first time I’ve discussed the Tooth Fairy. Over the many years of Lang kids losing teeth, there’s been plenty of times to talk about the Tooth Fairy’s services. But this is the first time I’ve written directly to her. I’m sincerely grateful for her flexibility and willingness to accommodate our specific needs.

Dear Tooth Fairy

Thank you for making occasional midday trips, when you were overbooked the night before. It is truly appreciated. I know Max will be SO happy that you didn’t forget him. As a M.O.M., I know you NEVER ACTUALLY forget to visit a child who has lost a tooth, but sometimes children question that fact.

So again, I thank you for your daytime, Kids-are-at-school visit. You are Good Stuff!


Doing the Dance of the Children…One Tooth At A Time~

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It’s Not Like He Didn’t Warn Me

August 23, 2012

It’s Day 3 of Back to School and at exactly 5:08 Lex showed up in the kitchen and went to the garbage can. I told him to go back to bed. He didn’t move. I asked him what he was doing. He didn’t move. Then…throw up.

I can’t say I didn’t have warning. 11 1/2 hours ago, when we were all at the dinner table and I was doing my motherly duty of making sure the kids eat a variety of foods and finish the minuscule portion of whatever food they’re saying they hate, he warned me. At least 3 times he said that if he ate it, he’d throw up. And at least 3 times, I assured him that he was overreacting and that he needed to eat it. He did, and here we are. I guess it’s no school for Salmon Boy.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to learn the hard way. About 20 years ago, Kateri sat at the dining table and cried over minestrone soup. I said pretty much the same things to her that I said to Lex last night. And sure enough, she ate it and sure enough, we had minestrone soup all over the floor afterward. Guess what I’ve NEVER again served in my house.

Well, I know that I won’t stop serving salmon, but I will stop insisting that Lex eat it. He did his job, he tried it. He was also kind enough to warn me of the outcome. Either he’s a visionary or he’s stubborn enough to make sure he was going to be right. Either way, no more salmon for Lex.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Life Isn’t Fair

August 20, 2012

It’s true! Life is just not fair. How can it be? Some people have some things available to them and others have different things available to them. It is just not reasonable to think that everyone will be afforded the same opportunities…even if they’re from the same family.

This is what I’ve been dealing with, mulling over, praying about and ultimately having to make a decision on. My kids each have their own talents, personalities, strengths and weaknesses and over the years, I’ve had to make very individualized decisions for each of them. At one point I had to make the decision to keep one of the kids home for a year and 1/2 so that we could find out what it was that just wasn’t working for them in school, where the holes were in their education and understanding, and how to fill those holes to help my child become a better and more solid learner. This decision has ultimately created a stronger, more confident student, person and athlete. I’ve had to decide whether or not to allow one of the children to participate in their school’s, optional, 2-year Kindergarten program. The kiddo was academically solid, but still had plenty of classroom wiggles that needed to be worked out before they could become a successful (in the opinion of me and the kindergarten staff) 1st grader. That child did the 2 years and has been a completely solid, and self-motivated student, ever since. I’ve also had to make the decision to allow a child to be moved forward a grade. They were so bright and motivated that they were truly working, consistently at a level beyond their grade and classmates. This child has gone on to a fantastic school career and is helping unlock fantastic things for themselves and businesses that they’re working for. I had to make the decision to send my 14 year old son to a boarding school, far away from home (at his request, mind you) to see if there was something that would better feed his mind and spirit. It was a tough decision, but it created a strong young man who is self sufficient and driven in all aspects of his life. None of these decisions would have worked well for any of my other children. They had to be completely based on the individual that was being focused on.

I have recently had to make another such decision.

Last year, when we moved, most of the kids settled into their schools. They made new friends, played sports and pushed forward in their new environment. But one of the kids had a harder time than the others. They tried sports and tried being social, but it just never clicked and I had an unhappy kiddo, all year long. So I made them a promise. I promised that I would seek out other schooling solutions and that they wouldn’t have to return to that school when the new school year came around. And I kept up my end of the bargain. I asked questions of people. I searched the internet. We went and toured a boarding school. I looked into a local Catholic school. Nothing was the right fit. Then the offer was made. The offer by family friends to have that child live with them and go back to their school in San Diego. I immediately felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders but at the same time, I knew is was going to be a sore subject with the other siblings. Why was this child able to do what they ultimately all wanted to do? I wrestled with the ramifications of allowing one child to leave home, live with another family, live a life that I could NEVER offer to them and be able to get the education that was worked so hard for in the years before we faced retirement and divorce. The door was being opened to this beautiful opportunity, but only for the one.

After much conversation, prayer and thought, the decision was made to say yes!

Today, Maddi starts back at Cathedral Catholic H.S. The very place that 2 of her sisters have graduated from and that she and Anna spent their Freshman year. When we left San Diego one of the saddest things for me was giving up the level of education that my children had been receiving in the private, Catholic schools there. Their dad and I had made many sacrifices to give them the opportunity to have the very best education we could find. There is nothing in our new area that comes close. I can’t change that and I can’t change where I live. If I were able to move back to San Diego and continue giving my children what we all had, I would. But that’s just not a possibility. But just because all of the kids can’t go back doesn’t mean I shouldn’t allow the one who’s being given the chance, to take it. Yes, this has left siblings unhappy. I am sorry for that. I really am! But just as decisions have been made for others on an individual basis, I have to look at this individual and allow for her growth.

This summer before she left

2 years ago with her sisters at CCHS

A very tough decision!

Congratulations to Maddi on her first day back! We will be praying for you and expecting you to work hard and make the most of this opportunity. And most of all, you will be missed. It’s never easy to send one of the kids away, no matter how great it is for them.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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10 Days of Good Stuff

July 22, 2012

People always wish each other well. And now that we have instant access to each other’s daily lives and routines through social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, we each receive daily bits of good luck and inspiration from those connected to us. But it’s not often that those well-wishes turn into action!

About 6 weeks ago, a long-time friend from San Diego was following me through social media as I was Doing my daily Dance of the Children and juggling my new work schedule and she sent me a message, saying that she was going to try to come hang out with me and the kids and lend a hand. I thanked her and kind of laughed the whole thing off. However, a few weeks later, she arrived at my door for a 10-day stay at The House of M.O.M. I was SO grateful, knowing I’d have company, extra hands and help with keeping the kiddos entertained! But I was also really nervous. People who don’t have a house full of kids don’t ACTUALLY know what they’re in for. I was concerned that after a few days of laundry, dishes, entertaining kiddos, playing board games and noise, that she just may head home, shaking her head.

Surprisingly, I was wrong!

She was fantastic at entertaining kids, listening to ideas, playing games and being patient! Not only that, she’s a fabulous organizer! You should SEE my game cupboard! Everything is neat and tidy. I also have to mention that she’s one heck of a spider catcher! She caught the HUGEST black widow that any of us have EVER seen. It had been hanging out in my garage for about a month (that I know of). She caught it and turned it into a cool observation piece for the kids. Yes, it’s gone now, but for a few days, they got to observe it.

I just want to say thank you. Thank you for taking a few days out of your life to lend a hand and make things run a little smoother over here. You are appreciated!

Wait! Did I mention that we went to Tahoe?! B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L trip! It was a day trip that I wouldn’t have taken, if I hadn’t have had company to show off to. I hope to do it again, soon!

Doing the Dance of the Children and a little ahead of the game because of a friend’s thoughtfulness~

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Change the Scenery-A M.O.M. Tip to Relieve Frustration

June 3, 2012

In the time that I’ve been quiet over here, I’ve been learning new ways, and revisiting some old ways (I can foresee a Learning Lessons post brewing) to parent. And one of the things that I’ve practiced (and am learning to revisit) over the 23 years that I’ve been a mom, is to change the scenery.

When things are getting crazy-you have things that MUST get done and your kiddos aren’t cooperating and seem like they’ve been possessed by a demolition team of starved hyenas, scoop them up and GO! You MUST all leave the situation to change it. Take them outside, put them in the car, walk to the park. Whatever it is to remove yourselves from the madness, do it! This doesn’t mean you’re abandoning the tasks you need to get done, it just means that you realize that they won’t get done if the situation doesn’t change.

You’re in change, Mama…so change it.

Taking a little bit of time to help everyone refocus is going to change the situation, improve the behaviors and release the frustration that’s surely mounting in you…and them.

After the amount of time that your need to feel the stress released, explain to them what’s going to happen-You’re going to go back to your task. They are going to read/watch a movie/play in the back yard/have quiet time in their rooms…Whatever it is that you decide. Lay out the plan and then go back to it.

I promise that your frustration will have diminished and that, for at least a little while, you will be able to get your tasks done. But this bit of M.O.M. advice is to be repeated, over and over again as each situation arises.

Good luck Mamas. Through love, support and good tips, we will all make it and have less stress as we go.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Grateful for a Memorial Day Break!

May 28, 2012

With gratitude for all who have given of themselves for our country, I plan to enjoy this rare day off with the kids!

I know I’ve been silent over here for the last few weeks. It’s been a whirlwind!

As you know, I started working full-time for a marketing agency as their Social Media Manager. I’ve enjoyed taking care of promoting small businesses and events through the social media outlets of Facebook and Twitter. Good Stuff! I’ve learned a lot in the short time I’ve been at the agency. One of the things I’ve learned is that this is the wrong time for me to take on full-time work. Unfortunately, it’s just not feasible for me to be in an office from 8-5 right now. With summer fast approaching and some personal issues that my kids are having, it’s become clear that I need to be at home as much as possible. So after only 3 weeks on the job, I’ve given my 30-Day notice. I will continue to work into mid June and then it’ll be back to part-time work for this M.O.M. Perhaps after summer I can look at that option again, but right now I’m needed at home. ~sigh~

In other news-Kateri graduated from college a couple of weeks ago! With the help of my sisters and some friends, I was able to take 4 days and go out to celebrate her achievement with her. I hadn’t been out to her since her Freshman year, so this was a LONG overdue trip! I was so SO proud watching her! She’s worked hard over the last 4 1/2 years and now she’s onto Grad School. Her dad and I were both able to be there to watch this marker in her life.

Before the Baccalaureate Mass

After the mass

Receiving her diploma (pic captured from the live stream that was watched by family members at home)

A new graduate!

Celebratory drink

I can’t believe my baby girl, the one who started my journey of adulthood and motherhood is a college graduate! Wow! Life really flies by!

Today I’m going to spend the day with the kiddos at a friends’ pool enjoying some Mommy chit chat and watching kiddos enjoy a day of relaxed fun. Lex will spend a good portion of the day in a Ninja Class, while the rest of us are at the pool. In case you didn’t know, Lex’s lifetime aspiration is to be a Ninja and one of my client’s is a martial arts studio and today they’re offering a fun, introductory class to all things Ninja. Good Stuff!

My little ninja will get some swimming time after he learns the tricks of the trade. Pictures to follow!

That’s it from over here. Just taking it all One-Day-At-A-Time and spending a good portion of each day in gratitude for all the fabulous people who are in my daily network, who step up to help me make it all happen. I am a fortunate M.O.M. to have several loving, giving, helpful people in my life and the lives of my children.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Happy 23rd Birthday to My Oldest! Seems Like a Good Time to Write a Birth Story

April 1, 2012

I belong to several Mommy networks and websites and I’m constantly seeing moms who take the time to write their children’s birth stories. It’s something I’ve never done, but on the occasion of my oldest kiddo turning 23, (Ummm…23! That’s a real-life adult!) I thought it might be a good time to honor her beautiful life by telling the story of her arrival into this world. I figure I better do these things before Mommy Brain completely takes over and turns into dementia and I can no longer share ANY stories!

So let’s see…

It was March of 1989 and I was at the waddling stage of my pregnancy. I was sick the ENTIRE pregnancy and felt like I couldn’t get enough sleep. I was a High School Senior and had stayed on campus until sometime in late February or early March. I was living in the foothills of Northern California and it was chilly and still a little icy at our house. We had rock stairs from the driveway to the house and I slipped and fell hard on my bum. At that point I was just too sick to be a successful student and a teacher was coming out to my house each afternoon to make sure I was staying on task and on track to graduate with my class (which I did! And might I add that I did it with a 3.6 GPA.) I was due May 2nd and was starting to feel like it really couldn’t come soon enough. I lived at home with my parents and 8 younger siblings. I was single and didn’t really have a master plan for how life was going to go after Baby arrived, but I knew it was all going to work out and that I was going to keep and raise this lil bundle and that God would point me down the paths I was to journey.

About a week or so after I fell, I lost my plug. Now, let me say, again, that I was 17 years old. I had not taken any parenting or birthing classes. I had been around PLENTY of babies, so babies were no mystery, but pregnancy and birth were things I was learning as each step unfolded. I hadn’t been told about the mucus plug, so losing it was somewhat shocking. I think I told my mom and went back to bed. I remember thinking, “yuck”.  Another week went by and on March 31st I was feeling sick and had a slight headache. I had a regularly scheduled appointment with my OB, so my mom and I headed to my appointment. I told him about my headache, that I had lost my plug and that I was feeling sick. He asked if I had any contractions and I said, “no”. He decided to do an exam and I will NEVER forget it! He checked me and came right up into my face and said that I was dialated to 5cm and that he could feel a foot! I was in shock! I was in labor?! Today?! Now?! So let’s get this straight, he felt a foot?! A foot isn’t supposed to be what’s down there! So that lump I’d been rubbing wasn’t my baby’s bum, it was her little head! I really wasn’t sure what this all meant, but my mom made some phone calls and we headed to the hospital. Her father and I weren’t in a relationship at this point, but he headed over to the hospital for the surprisingly early birth of this little miracle baby.

I napped the rest of the afternoon away. I wasn’t in any pain and never felt a single contraction. I woke up and my back ached. I was in transition! Baby was on her way! My room was suddenly filled with interns and doctors and anyone they could gather up to learn from this birth. They wheeled me in and prepped me for an emergency C-section. Since I was delivering at 35 weeks and the baby was breech, it meant I had no other options (that I was aware of). My mom was in the room with me and my father and the baby’s father watched from the window in the room’s door. From that point, all I can remember is feeling VERY out-of-it! It felt like it was hard to breathe and I could feel the pressure of them tugging on my stomach to get Baby free. And then suddenly, there she was! I couldn’t hold her right away because of my sedation, but my mom held her for a moment and then they whisked her away to the NICU. She was having some trouble, but nothing serious. Her dad was able to go into the NICU and be with her. Those are sweet moments that I’m glad he got to have with that teeny little bundle. She weighed in at 5lbs, 2oz and I named her Kateri Lee.

23 years later I have to say that I had NO idea how it would all unfold, but I worried and prayed and worked as hard as I could to give her a good life, a solid home and siblings to keep her annoyed, loved and on her toes. I know that every parent is proud of their children, as they should be, but I really have to say that Kateri has blown all my expectations out of the water! When you start out that young and that unsure, you just hope that the little life you’ve been entrusted with turns out better, stronger, smarter than you and she has done all that and more. Next month she graduates after 5 years of college with degrees in Theology and Humanities. She’s touched many lives in her beautiful and loving way and she’s made me smile on countless days that I felt like it was too tough to do so.

She belongs to the world and it is a much brighter, fuller, richer place because she’s in it!

Here’s to you, Kateri and to a life that’s being beautifully lived!

Doing the Dance of the Children and So Proud to do so~

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No BS Friday

March 16, 2012

It’s Friday and I’m just saying it as it is. Thursday evening didn’t end smoothly and this morning didn’t get off to the best start. I’m recognizing that I can do things better and that sometimes kids get angry just because they don’t like chores or other imposed things from parents. And I’m saying it like this because I know I’m not the only parent out there that drops into bed feeling frustrated or defeated and who wakes up to face another day of trying to do it right, only to have it all seem like it must be going wrong.

It’s my goal to live life with a focus on the good and the many blessings that come to me each and EVERY day. And while that is an important goal and focus, sometimes it gives people the impression that there isn’t great struggle over here. So I’m making sure there’s no BS on the table and telling you all that I feel your pain and frustration and I’m down in the trenches with you. Sometimes we do need a good cry and sometimes the proverbial dishtowel gets thrown in. It’s ok to feel defeated, overwhelmed, overworked and alone. Just make sure you let it out, take a good look at it and then go pick up that dishtowel (the dishes still need to get done!) and take a second and different look at it all. It will look and feel different after you allow yourself a few moments of self-pity.

Ok! Now to pour some coffee, call or text someone who will make you smile. Set a goal of doing one thing, JUST ONE THING, with a little more patience or kindness or whatever it is that’s going to make you feel accomplished toward a greater good and get back into the fight.

I’m going to go pour my coffee (3rd cup…don’t tell!) reapply my makeup and make that phone call and then, well…then I’m going to get on with this day.

Doing the Dance of the Children, Right Along With You~

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The Chuck E. Cheese Incidents

March 13, 2012

You’ve likely heard about the recent incidents of kids being left at Chuck E. Cheese restaurants-two different places, two different types of families, two sets of circumstances, one societal attitude.

Let’s take a look-In one instance, a 3 year old girl was left at the restaurant after her separated (or divorced) parents had attended an extended-family function with their daughter and other family members. Each left the function believing that their daughter was with the other and didn’t find out about their oversight until they saw their daughter’s picture on the evening news. “How could this happen?!” This the question on everyone’s minds.

Here’s how-Imagine Dad…he’s getting ready to leave the event, after an afternoon spent in a crowded, noisy, kiddo-filled restaurant. He starts saying his goodbye’s. He asks where his daughter is so that he can say goodbye. Someone points in a general direction and says that they just saw her with cousin, So-N-So. He glances in the direction and either sees his daughter with said cousin/friend/Aunt or doesn’t see her and decides it’s too crowded to go roaming about looking for her and surely he will talk to her in the morning after they’ve all unwound from the busy day. Off he goes~

Imagine Mom-She’s, likely been chatting with relatives and friends and watching her little one play with the attending friends/cousins/aunts/uncles/grandparents, etc. The party is winding down and she’s helping pick up trash and saying her goodbyes. She doesn’t see her daughter and asks the friend or relative next to her, if they’ve seen her. They say, “Oh, yeah, she was just over there (pointing in a general direction). When no one sees the little girl, the relative or friend mentions that Dad was just looking for her and that he just left. Mom, finishes cleaning up and chatting, presumes Dad has Daughter and off she goes~

Should either or both parents have had the presence-of-mind to call the other and confirm that Daughter is with the other? Of course! But how often have we let things slip through the cracks when we are tired or “certain” that we need not worry and therefore, don’t check?!

Now, let’s look at the second instance-

A busy mom of 10 (please keep-in-mind that I know nothing of this woman’s living situation or parental practices. I know what you know, that she has 10 kids and that her 5 yr old was being celebrated by her 9 siblings and 10 other children, as well as various adults), throws a birthday party at the popular kids’ restaurant to celebrate one of her many children and after a hugely busy day, she leaves the party, probably loading kids up, birthday presents in-tow and heads home. Perhaps some of the siblings went home in other cars, getting rides from friends or relatives. She gets kids to bed (likely moving through the house, saying things like, “get to bed, it’s been a long day and we have to get up for school in the morning”. I can even imagine a sibling trying to approach her, wondering where their roommate is, and in her tired, Mommy-brained state, she probably shushed, said sibling and sent them to bed without listening to their concern.) and when she gets up the next morning to get everyone moving toward making it to school on time, she realizes with, what I am positive was, great horror that her birthday girl is missing. MISSING!

Both of these situations can be judged harshly, but my point in writing about them is that, while things surely went wrong and oversights happened, these mistakes are not beyond the scope of what can happen to ANY of us. You’re shaking your head and thinking, “no way! NO WAY! It would never, NEVER happen to me. I wouldn’t let it!”. Ok, good for you! Bravo for always having your ducks in a row and hitting every wicket! But me, well, I can see how it could happen. Is it a horrifying thought? YOU BET!!!! It’s the kind of thing that keeps me up at night and makes me stick to lists and counting heads. It’s the kind of thing that makes me call people and double, triple check what’s going on. But could it happen to me and one of my kids? Yep! And it COULD happen to you. I just want you to see that. Just take a moment to think of these parents a little differently and see the human aspect to what happened. Do they need to do things differently, better? Yes they do. But is it likely that they feel so very, VERY awful that they will not misstep again? It sure is! Until I hear the news report that they were on drugs or passed out in a drunken stupor, I’m cutting these parents some slack, on the belief that they feel badly enough without the rest of us virtually stoning them.

There but for the grace of God go I.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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