Friday, December 30, 2011

Good riddance or the sun will come out tomorrow

For a year that seemed to start out with such promise, it sure went to crap pretty quickly. Can't say I'll miss 2011 much, it was a year marked mainly by grieving and coping. It started with the death of my grandmother in law, then my sister nearly died giving birth, it took a sharp turn down with the death of my father in law, thought it hit bottom when a close friend died of a heart attack at 39, but only hit rock bottom when J had to have surgery to remove brain tumor tissue again. Tack on struggles with O, and my doctor wanting to put me on meds for high cholesterol and triglycerides, and you have the cherry on the shit sundae. It gets hard to try and prop yourself up against these waves, while at the same time trying to buoy up the rest of the family. First you have to find the strength to reassure yourself everything will be ok, then convey and convince everyone else that is the case too. You question, you dwell, you think, and in the end, you have to live life as it comes and do the best that you can, you never know when it will end. We almost had a friend die two days ago, when he fell on is head trying to mash down the garbage in his can, that's just stupid. We'll carry on in 2012, we'll continue to try to help O with his issues, I'll do everything I can to make myself healthier (although I turned down the meds, to try and lower the numbers on my own), we'll continue to grieve, miss those that died and try to help my MIL, and we'll struggle along with the specter of J's tumor, always worrying, knowing she may have to face it again. The last one is the hardest thing, knowing what you have had to go through, knowing how hard it is, and then thinking you may have to go through it again.

As you can see I was dealing with a lot and so never published many blogs, I'd start one and not finish it, or didn't want them all to be doom and gloom, or just not have time to write. To flush out 2011 I'm going to publish all the ones I started but never finished, then I have a funny O story I'll write and publish for 2012 to start things off right.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Parent in crisis

I am in the midst of parental crisis, I alternately want to pull my hair out and scream, or break down and cry. I'm just not sure what to do with O lately, everything seems to be a battle with him, from dinner to homework, to how he talks to and treats his brother and J and I, to how he talks about himself. I have reached a point where I question what I can/should be doing as a his father, because things shouldn't be this hard. On J's recommendation, we've started reading a parenting book. Nothing makes you feel like a shitty parent more than one of those. Basically it makes you feel like you have permanently scarred the little darlings with how wrong you have been doing things, and that they most assuredly will be meth addicts robbing liquor stores by their teens. Have I really been doing things so wrong all this time? Is it too late to fix? Have I raised the two boys differently, because they sure act differently. You start to go through every interaction you've ever had with your children, wondering where it all went wrong. I'm trying to implement ideas from the book, although perhaps I should read more than a third of it before I do. For some reason my attempts don't go the way the book says they should. I try not to be too hard on myself, because I know some of it is a function of O's personality. I also wonder what did I do so different with Q that he behaves differently, or perhaps he'll end up there too in three years. I almost feel like I have a teenager in an eight year old body, and I fear for what our dealings will be like when he actually hits that age and we have the added bonus of dealing with raging hormones. I wonder if a lot of it isn't just a desire for attention. It gets hard when you try to talk him about something he's done and he turns dramatic and starts in with his new favorite sayings, "I know, I'm such a jerk!", or "I'm just an idiot!", neither of which has ever been told to him or even insinuated. But, it gets the desired response of us telling him how wonderful he is. My biggest challenge lately is remaining calm when he tells me, "you'll regret this!", followed by some sort of threat. Unfortunately that probably comes as a response to how we have dealt with him, making threats to take away tv/computer/video game time, unless something was either stopped or accomplished. Trying very hard not to do that now, as my father taught me, never make a threat you don't intend to keep. As per the parenting book, we're trying to empower him, by giving him choices, thereby he learns to be responsible and doesn't have something t rebel against. That works great, till you give him a choice and he says "neither, what do you think I am an idiot?!" I better go read more of the book, to find what I answer to that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Looking for the crossover friend

Friendship is very interesting. As you move through life, it comes in many forms, and changes as we age and our lives change. Our first friends are usually family, parents or siblings, because they are who we are around and who we know and trust. Outside of family, our next friends come about through proximity, either neighbors, or from class at school or church. From that point we form friendships not just through proximity, but through shared interests and personalities. I see this starting in my boys. Their friends are based mostly who they are in class with. With O, he has been friends with kids one year, only to disregard them the next because they aren't in the same class. Within class, his "best friend", has shared interests, but I also feel they are both a bit socially awkward and match up that way. With Q, he is friends with the kids he plays sports with at recess, he's kind of a jock, he hangs out with the jocks (not to stereotype at such a young age). I will watch with interest as my boys go through school to see how and who their friendships are. Often, your friends from elementary aren't your friends in junior high, who aren't your friends in high school. who aren't your friends in college, who aren't your friends as adults. Some people are lucky, they can form deep lasting friendships from elementary to last a lifetime. Mostly it's not so easy, as circumstance change, so do your friends.

An interesting side note to this is how Facebook has allowed people to reconnect with past friendships from years past. Oftentimes the links that once made you inseparable are no longer there. I have found examples of long lost friends where the conversations could go on for hours even though we hadn't seen each other for twenty plus years. Then there are the others where it is hard to find how you were friends before. Being friends as kids is much different from being friends as adults, it doesn't matter if they were junior high or college friends, it's different as an adult with children.

It's hard to be/make/keep friends as adults. The first issue is time, between work, family time, extended family, and spouse time, it's hard to find the time to put into cultivating good relationships. I have a couple that I would refer to as really good friends, and we are lucky if we get together with them twice a year. Which brings up another issue, no matter where the friendship came from (pre-spousal relationship, my friend, her friend, work friend), the spouses have to get along. If not, then there isn't much chance you'll spend much time with them. Time is precious, I'm not spending it with some douche I can't stand. Since there is very little time to spend with friends at this point in life, it's hard to cultivate those deep relationships, adult friendships are more transitory, someone to do things with, but not to share your deepest secrets and wants. I could name my best friends, but they are my best friends because I know they would be the ones to be there if I ever needed anything, not because I talk to or see them all the time.

So at this point in life, nearing forty, with two school age children, a stay at home dad, with a busy working wife, where do my friends come from. Either people from my wives work (and really, she sees enough of them daily, let's keep work and home separate, except Jim, because I love him so), or the parents of my children's friends. That can get tricky, just because my son likes your son, doesn't make us simpatico. Quick example, Q is friends with a BYU fan, nuff said. It can go the other way too, I made friends with a dad of a girl in O's class, very nice guy, liked him alot. His daughter cannot stand my son, nor, as a result me, to the point that her brother's favorite thing to do to upset her, is to loudly and slowly say O's name.

It would be nice to find the friend that you have history with, that your wife gets along with his wife, and that you have similar current circumstances and views, of course you would never be able to coordinate schedules, would exchange Christmas cards, and maybe get together once or twice a year, only to say we really need to do this more often.

A disclaimer to my wife---You are my best friend and truly the only friend I need, and this blog in no way, shape, or form, is a questioning or indictment of our love and friendship!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Am I becoming "that" person

One of the pitfalls of stay at home parenting is that most of your daily interactions are with children. This can be wonderful and rewarding in its own way. It can also leave one craving some adult interaction/conversation. This is on top of the rewarding conversations with your spouse, which mostly revolve around the children and your day with the children. Unfortunately, this can lead to overreaching to find a conversation. I think I am a naturally friendly person, years of working in retail have made me comfortable talking to people I don't know. My dad gets a kick out of it, like when I would talk to and make friends with the people in the lines at Disneyland. He took to calling me "Mojo Matt" whenever I would talk to people. What I worry is that I am talking too much, being too friendly, perhaps even giving too much information. In my lust for conversing, I will talk to just about anyone, teachers, other parents at school, grocery store clerks, receptionists, waiters, random people shopping, just about anyone. In my haste to do this, I wonder the impression I am making. I wonder if I am coming off extremely needy and a bit too forward. Sometimes in my head as it's happening, I will worry I am talking to much, dominating the conversation, but I can't stop myself. One problem with these encounters, is their fleeting nature, they are but a temporary fix. It's like the drug addict getting a score, sure he's high for a while, but that only lasts for so long, and then needs to score again. They are a vapid passing, unsatiating once the moment has passed. I guess it could be worse, I could go around talking to myself.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Is it depressing in here or is it just me?

After writing the blog about my grandfather, my mother in law asked me to write one about her mom. I happily obliged and started writing a blog about the woman I affectionately referred to as the Helenator. Before I could finish it, the Helenator passed away. I finished it, but didn't publish it, because I wanted my mother in law to read it first. I was also worried that my blog was becoming a "death blog", if only I had known what this year had in store for me. That was in January the Helenator passed, but other happy things were happening, a quick getaway to Phoenix with just my wife, and a niece to be born in March. February came and went well, an amazing trip to Phoenix which included reconnecting with an old friend. Then March came in like a lion and exited like a rhino stampede. It started with the call that my sister who was planning an at home natural child birth had to rush to the hospital. The updates were sparse, her platelet levels were dangerously low, her organs were in danger of shutting down and the baby would have to be taken by c-section immediately. She was suffering from HELP, which I had to look up, but it's like severe pre-eclamsia. The hardest part was being hundreds of miles away with no knowledge of the situation and no way of finding out. After the fact we found out the dire nature of things, basically my sister almost died. Once she had recovered one of her nurses told her she thought for sure she was going to die. Fortunately, both she and the baby came out the other side healthy.

Editor's note:
This was written after my father in law had passed away in March, and I saw the old friend in Phoenix in April a second time, only to have him die 2 weeks later. It was before we found out about J needing surgery again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snap! Crackle! Pop!

For a few months now, I've been having some discomfort with my shoulder and with my knee when I run. I know the knee issue is a tight IT band, and I've gone to a running clinic to learn to run correctly to fix it. At my annual physical I asked my gp about my shoulder, he tested my range of motion and told me it's arthritis in my AC joint. I tend to disagree with his diagnosis, but he's the one with the MD, it's just my body. I figured before I go and have another doctor want to scope me, I would try an alternative. So today I went to see a chiropractor, or if you prefer, a back quack. My sister-in-law, swears by the guy and how he has helped her and her family. I went in without preconceptions, it is worth a try. I had to fill out the usual patient info sheet. I thought about not mentioning what my problems were, I figured if he's good he should know without me telling. Decided it might be more helpful in fixing the problems if I mentioned them.

Editor's note:
Turns out, all it took was a new mattress and a gel foam mattress topper (on the chiropractors advice) for my shoulders to feel better. Some good stretching made my knee feel better.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sexism in the pre-school

I knew the day would come, but I thought I had another year. We just signed Q up for full day kindergarten for the fall, and now I am faced with what to do with myself when the boys are both in school all day. I thought he'd go half-day, but his teacher recommended full day, and now I've got a lot more time on my hands come August. I have put some thought into what to do, but not much. I've thought about doing some volunteering, but I'd have to find a good cause. I figured I would maybe join a gym, and finally get back into really good shape, but that wouldn't take up that much time. I figure I'll keep the house more clean, but that's easier with the boys at school not messing it up. I could catch up on all the movies I haven't watched (now that would be productive!), or become a soap opera/talk show fanatic, eating bonbons on the couch. I could blog more, of course with the boys in school all day there would be less to write about.
I could get a job, although not sure what I would/could do and it would have to fit into a specific schedule. I thought about possibly teaching pre-school at O and Q's school, I love little kids (and they love me), and it would work schedule wise. That idea intrigued me, so I asked the principal what that might entail. It would start with a resume and essay on my "view of America" to the corporate offices, then an interview and Wunderlich test. Easy enough, although the school owner and I don't see eye to eye politically, so I would have to word my essay carefully. From there, they would decide my qualities/qualifications and place me in the school and grade they determined (based also on where and what grade they need teachers in). I told her that wouldn't work because I only wanted to teach pre-school at that campus. What she said next has gnawed at me all day, she told me it was VERY unlikely I would get to teach pre-school because I am male, and they rarely have male pre-school teachers. She said that parents are more comfortable with female teachers, even through the early elementary years. I am offended by this, I wouldn't care if my child had a male teacher, but maybe I'm the exception. I am curious what other people think, are they really uncomfortable with a male teaching their young kids? Is the worry that a guy must be a pedophile because he wants to teach young children? It probably just goes back to sexist societal views, like the gym teacher is supposed to be a man, or women should should stay home birthing babies. As a stay at home dad, I thought we were getting past a lot of those bias's. It reminds me of when I worked retail, and a woman shopper would ask for one of the women to gift wrap, because I was a guy and wouldn't do it well. Sometimes I'd let it go, but mostly I would say "sure, but I'm the one who taught everyone else to wrap, and am better at it. But if you want, someone else can wrap for you". I don't like sexism, or being told what I can/can't do, but I guess the point is moot, since I don't want to go through the process if I can't teach at the campus and grade I want. It's okay, I probably don't fit their ideal in many ways, other than I would do a great job, I love kids, and kids love me, but I'm not what they're looking for.
I guess it's back to the drawing board for what to do, I'm willing to take suggestions and ideas if anyone has any. I'm sure to keep me from becoming a serial blogger, people will come up with lots of ideas. In the mean time, I'll imagine how little I can get accomplished with all that extra time alone this fall.