Mom's Release

The trials and tribulations of a mom of four great kids!

7 ways to Survive Teaching Your (First) Teen to Drive

Another driver in the house…how did we get here??

As of the end of November, we have a third driver in our house. I guess, technically, we have 2-1/2 drivers, since he can’t drive by himself yet. I have but one thing to say…Oh. My.

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Never, as we were having one, two, three and then four babies, did it ever occur to me that at some point, they would all be licensed to operate a motor vehicle. I remember very clearly how excited I was to turn 16 and get handed my learner’s permit, so I want to be excited for him. But then, I think about the fact that I have to teach him to operate said motor vehicle…preferably, calmly…while I’m in it! (There must be an oxymoron in there somewhere!)

So! Staying calm (not necessarily my forte as of late) while teaching the teen to drive. Add to that, being in a heavy, moving vehicle, capable of hurting any passerby on the sidewalk…well, that just ups the degree of difficulty of the whole “staying calm” thing! Since I’m sure I am not alone in this endeavour, I have come up with a list of tips for when you find yourself with 16yo who needs you to teach them to drive:

1. Make it clear BEFORE you start that your instructions are to be followed to a “T”, at the exact minute you give them. This is particularly helpful for those teens who like to assess the situation in their own minds and then decide what they think should be done (we have one of those!).

2. Don’t pick their first time to drive during rush hour, in twilight, in a busy intersection! In trying to be the good mom and giving him opportunities to drive, when he passed his learner’s test, I offered to have him drive the few blocks from our house to the community fitness centre to pick up his siblings. He was very happy to do so and off we went….during rush hour, in twilight, and had to turn left at a very busy intersection (did I mention this is a bad idea?!). Talk about stressful…for both of us!! I didn’t even consider the fact that really, he really needed time in a parking lot or quiet area, learning to start, stop, turn the wheel, come out of a turn, etc. He did very well, considering he really had no idea how to make a left turn(!) and we arrived without incident…but I was in desperate need of a glass of wine when we got home!

3. Start by taking them to a parking lot and/or quiet neighbourhood, with very little traffic, so they can get used to all of the things listed in #2, above. It will make a huge difference and they will thank you for it…and he did!

4. Give them a chance to make left turns…first in low traffic , quiet neighborhoods and then in busier intersections…they need it to pass their test and they’ll thank you for that, too.

5. Surprise them every now and then by asking them if they want to drive…without them having to hound you to do so. You’ll score big “cool mom” (or dad) points for that one!

6. Bring along your spouse as back-up…they say that misery loves company, right?!

7. KEEP CALM and have your wine ready for your return from the drive!

Oh, and you might want to make sure your insurance is up to date!

Love to hear how everyone else managed to make it through this parenting milestone!

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6 Ways to get Them to Flush!

Seriously. What is up with that?! How many times have I gone in to use the bathroom only to find the toilet not flushed? It’s like my kids have an adversion to flushing the toilet! No amount of my prodding, reminding, yelling (I try not to do that one, but c’mon man, I’m only human!) and even trying to be funny about it will convince them it has to be done. Even “Oh look! Someone left me something in here!” doesn’t work…makes them laugh, but flush the toilet? Not so much. I can’t understand why it doesn’t gross them out to go in and find a “present” there themselves! Sadly, they don’t seem to notice.

So, desperate times, call for desperate measures. I’ve come up with these 6 ways to get them to flush (keeping in mind my kids are all over 9 now, so I’m not being mean):

1. Put a sticky note on the wall behind the toilet: PLEASE FLUSH!!

2. Write lipstick notes on the bathroom mirrors: FLUSH THE TOILET??…to remind them while they’re washing their hands.

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These weren’t particularly helpful for my kids after the first week or so, so I’m bringing out the big guns!

3. Tell them they have to use the bathrooms when they’re not at home because they are not allowed to use the ones in the house without flushing. Haa!

4. Make them go outside. Tell them if they don’t start flushing the toilet, they will have to use the bathroom out in the yard (that one didn’t really phase my 9yo boy, but it grabbed the attention of the 14yo and 16yo!).

5. Duct tape the toilet! This one will be great for the kids who think you’re joking and go in to use it anyway…wrap that puppy up so they CAN’T use it! Haa again!! (Although, this might make it difficult for you and your husband to use it when you need too…rats!)

6. Lock the bathroom door from the inside! (and then hope your kids aren’t like mine and figure out how to “card” the door!

<sigh> OK, I know this is all normal kid stuff and I’m thinking this might be a battle better left un-fought….but I had a great time plotting to fix it! LOL!

Anyone have any other ideas??

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Brilliant Idea to Limit Chaos at the Dinner Table!

Dinnertime is one of my favourite times of the day.

Or at least it used to be.

We make a great effort to eat all together…an increasingly difficult feat as they get older. It’s our time to all be together and chat about the day. I pride myself in being a good listener, but sitting at the table last night, I (sadly) realized I’m not such a good listener anymore. Six at the table, five trying to talk, all at once… I seemed to be the only one even attempting to listen. My brain was fuddled, the noise level was rising and it was next to impossible to hear anyone, let alone actually listen! The scene: the 15yo talking about his math test, the 13yo talking about her science test, the 10yo (who is so quiet it’s a struggle to hear her when she’s the only one talking) talking about reading, and the 8yo (almost screaming at this point because he’s decided it’s the only way to be heard at our table) about how “hard” his math homework was (not to be outdone by the 15yo)… then the hubby started in with the work chat…and my eyes started to cross!

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Then came my stroke of genius!

I raised my hand to speak (making them laugh and stop long enough to hear me) and said I had a great idea. I told them they each had a day to talk at the table, uninterrupted, about whatever they wanted…thereby making it possible to listen AND keep the noise level at the table to a dull roar. I even gave my hubby a day, so my eyes didn’t cross quite so often!

Oddly enough, they didn’t find it quite as ingenious as I did…but they said we could give it a try and so far, it’s been really funny. When we sit down to eat, they count through each other to see if it’s their turn and are so excited if/when it is! The quiet doesn’t always last long, but at least each gets a chance to get something out on their day.

My fingers are crossed it becomes a process that sticks!

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Looking Up

He’s taller than me.

And she’s almost taller than me.

When did THAT happen?!?

I have to say, one thing that I am having a very difficult time with (there are many, but in this post, I’ll stick to just this one!) is the idea of my children passing me in height…one’s already there and now I have another one hot on my tail!

When I first had our beautiful, little bambinos, they were all so tiny (especially the first one, who was a preemie) and never in a million years did the idea of me looking up at them ever cross my mind. Never. And for years (15, to be exact), I continued to look down…now I’m looking up and I don’t like it.

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I can’t even explain why it bothers me. I’m not short, not tall, quite average, I would say. I’ve been taller than my mother since I was about 12 or 13, but she’s only 5′, so that really wasn’t much of an accomplishment and given that I’ve been the “tall” one in my family, as far as the females go, I guess I just always assumed the kids and I would be the same height. Completely unrealistic, I know…but I think that’s it. The day we measured (back to back, the others all watching with excitement) and determined my 15yo had actually passed me, I was hit with this heavy, sad feeling. I guess it might have made me feel less of the “supermom” I’ve spent many years trying to be…how can I be a “supermom”, saving him from everything, when he’s bigger than me?!? (Maybe, too, it might have a teensy bit to do with the control freak in me…but I’d rather not go there!) I guess perhaps it happens on purpose because the older he gets, the less I’m supposed to  be there to save him and the more he’s supposed to learn to save himself. Interesting.

In any case, I think it’s something I’ll have to get used to…as I said, the 13yo is quickly approaching (her legs almost reach my waist, I swear!) and then there are two more bringing up the rear, who I’m sure will overtake me before I know it!

Anyone else out there feeling anything similar as their kids are rapidly growing up?

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“They bury dead people?!!?”

Here’s a conversation between me and my (then) 4yo on the way to swimming class one day as we passed by a graveyard:

4yo: Mom, what’s that?

Me (answering very matter-of-factly): Oh, that’s a graveyard.

4yo: What’s a graveyard?

Me (again, answering very matter-of-factly):  It’s where the bury dead people.

4yo (incredulously!): THEY BURY DEAD PEOPLE?!?

Me (laughing at the tone of his question): Well, yes, they do.

4yo (Still in total disbelief): WHY do they bury dead people?!?

Me (now laughing harder at how surprised he is): Well, what else would they do with them?

4yo: Ah, just leave them on the ground…?

Me (now I’m in a fit of laughter, picturing all the dead people lying around on the ground in the graveyard and what a horrific sight that would be!):  Ah, they can’t do that…be pretty gross…

4yo: Why would it be gross?

Me (now looking up at the sky, wondering how far this conversation is going to go before he’s satisfied with the answer): Well, it would make quite a mess if they left the dead people lying around, no one would know who was who…the stones tell who the people are that are buried there, so people can visit them later, know when they died, stuff like that.

4yo (again, in total shock): WHY would anyone want to VISIT a DEAD person?!?

Me (desperately trying to finish the conversation at this point, instead of falling into the huge hole I seemed to be digging): Well, sometimes people like to bring flowers to put on the graves…makes them feel better.

4yo: Oh, ok.

Conversation over…yes!

Fast forward 7 years when my youngest (then around the same age) and I are in the car on our way to hockey practice and we pass by a graveyard:

Other 4yo: Mom, what’s that?

Me (laughing, remembering the conversation I had 7 years ago): That’s a graveyard.

Other 4yo: What’s a graveyard?

Me: It’s where they bury dead people.

Other 4yo: THEY BURY DEAD PEOPLE?!?

And so it went, almost the exact conversation I had with his brother, 7 years before, one I never would have even thought to have. Always so enlightening to see a child’s take on things that we, as adults, never give a second thought.

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Warning! Overreacting causes brain damage!

So, my husband and I are sitting quietly last night, I’m knitting and he’s reading, when he comes out with this GEM…the number one cause of brain damage…overreacting!  First thing that goes through my head…”Great!  I’m toast!”

As much as I hate to admit it, I am the queen of overreacting.  I don’t mean to be and even really try hard not to be, but it seems I am just destined to overreact…to almost everything.  Kids leave the lights on…I overreact.  Kids leave their clothes all over the bathroom floor…I overreact.  Husband leaves his socks all over the house…I overreact.

Wait a minute!  I seem to see a pattern here!

I tend to overreact when the folks in my house keep doing the things I ask them nicely (the first 4 or 5 times) not to do, over and over again.  Hmph!  If that’s the case, I don’t have to feel quite so guilty for overreacting and can now place the “blame” for my loss of brain function on their shoulders!  Wow…I feel so much better now…so glad I thought that one through!

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7 Rhetorical Questions I Can’t Stop Asking!

I walked into the living room a few days ago and it looked like something exploded! My head (of course!) started to spin since I had already tidied it (at least) several times that very day. I asked, “Why can’t they put something away before they get something else out?!”…my husband answered with, “Too many rhetorical questions!” I realized he’s right…and out popped an idea for a blog post! I made a list and here are 7 of my most common ones:frazzled-lady1

1. Why do they have to leave every light in the house on…

2. Why can’t they wipe the counter when they’re finished…

3. Why don’t they ever flush the toilet?!?…

4. Why don’t they answer the phone when it rings…

5. Why can’t they answer me after the first time I call them…

6. Why do they go through so much toilet paper….and…

7. Why don’t my questions annoy them enough to stop doing this stuff?!?

Of course, the answer to all of these rhetorical questions is simply because they’re kids! And I love them for it…but putting it to paper helps to ease my stress level a teeny bit!

Any particular rhetorical questions you find yourself asking now and then??

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