Friday, May 25, 2012

The Memory Project

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.  ~The Wonder Years

Today marks sixteen years passed, and while I was thinking last week of what I wanted to do to try and celebrate my mother, I realized I'm facing a new challenge born from her death. My children don't really know their Nana.
Monkey is usually the one who tries to guess her identity in pictures, but Scootch doesn't recognize her at all. He's convinced its always funny pictures of me. I tell them as many stories as I can, but since I only really knew her as a child myself, it isn't much. I have plenty of pictures of when she was a child, but once she became the photographer of the family there are very few occasions where her face filled the frame. So my idea is really a call for help.
I want to make my children a memory book of their Nana. My mother touched so many lives, and knew so many people. I'm hoping that I can petition for everyone to share a remembrance or a photo of her and I can print them into a book that will share her life and (mis)adventures of her adult years. Hopefully it will help my children learn why certain things they do make me laugh and tell them they're just like their Nana. Or why sometimes a certain smile or way they tilt their head makes my heart squeeze. They carry her within them everywhere. I hope this will help them know it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Story Girl

You have learned something.  That always feels at first as if you had lost something.  ~H.G. Wells

The Monkey is reading! She has been doing well with her sight words and flash cards at school, but a few nights ago, before Daddy left for his business trip, she asked him if she could read the bedtime story she had picked out. And she did. It was a little halting, and definitely took much longer, but she read the whole thing herself! Her new favorite thing about bedtime is now reading her story of choice on her own to the rest of us. I see so much of myself in her, especially when I come into the living room and see her curled up on the couch sounding her way through a book. There is so much I want to share with her. I know I should take it slow, but I can't wait to share all my favorites; Little House on the Prairie, The Secret Garden,  Mandy, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Ramona, Bunnicula, Tom's Midnight Garden.....I have a whole Tupperware tote full of books. I hope she's up for it. :-)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Gift of Conscience

There is an ongoing battle between conscience and self-interest in which, at some point, we have to take sides.  ~Robert Brault

The Blistex lip balm, purchased with a five-finger discount

It has been a trial of months with the Monkey. There is a whole shopping list of unwanted and unwarranted behavior that she has been displaying since she started Kindergarten, but I was really hoping it was all in the name of adjustment and peer pressure. Hoping in vain, it seems. As much as I know every child has to push to define boundaries and limitations, my fingers were crossed that her past lessons and upbringing would steer her in the right direction. Apparently, she is in need of a refresher course.
Monkey has been sneaky from an early age. I remember how she used to slink off to the pantry when I was busy with a baby Scootch, and try to sneak food. She never quite realized that the wrappers have a distinct crinkling noise when trying to be opened by little 3 year old fingers. She has been hiding and lying for awhile now. The fact that she always tries to hide the evidence of her hair cutting experiments and other destructive pastimes clues me in that her conscience is already well developed and functioning. Its just a little disheartening that she ignores it - just like everyone else. For a few weeks now she has been coming home with assorted items she doesn't own - like a ZhuZhu Pet - and falsely claiming she got them as a reward from the prize box at school. But yesterday she upped the ante in her arsenal to shoplifting a chapstick from Walgreens. Cue the parental embarrassment.
The biggest hurdle with all of these trials is the eternal lying that precedes, surrounds, and follows the incidents. She lies when you ask her what she's doing. She lies and makes up fibs when you catch her doing something she's not supposed to. And afterwards there is no possible way to get the real story from her in her own words. Its always a conceded confession after we've interviewed three separate witnesses about the event and confronted her with our findings. To say I'm at a loss is a gross understatement.
The hardest part of the whole ordeal is the aftermath. Monkey's groveling takes form as this;

repurposing and wrapping my things to give me as "I'm sorry" offerings. These two happened to contain three pairs of my dangly earrings in one, and my body spray in another. I also get homemade cards covered in pictures and "I Love You"s. As a Mother, its nice to know that she still loves me enough that she wants to make me happy by giving me presents and making me cards. But I also wish I wasn't given a gift tainted with guilt and repentance. Stealing my things to wrap them and present to me as a peace offering is still fostering the whole element of theft and deception, and I feel like by doing it, she's ignoring and discrediting everything we just talked about in regards to what she was doing was wrong.

So many things I'm reading indicate that dishonest, kleptomaniac, five year olds are the norm. Besides growing a stronger conscience, its also supposedly helping them define their concept of self and others - mainly that parent's aren't the mind reading creatures their children think they are. Kids at this age are learning they can keep secrets from others by lying. While I have to swallow this as a parent, and acknowledge that its actually a good thing from one perspective - because it shows she's progressing well psychologically - I still can't help but not like it. Especially when I don't see her realizing the ill of her ways. And doubly so while she's using up all of our wrapping paper.