4C, 4 Momma, 4D, 4A, and 4B

4C, 4 Momma, 4D, 4A, and 4B
Most of the Four me (and you) fam

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Save yourself some time; help a child in need

Kill two birds with one stone today, my friend. Hop on over to the Mission: Mikayla auction. There are some way cool items up for grabs, including a few summer sanity savers that I out together (and have either already featured or will feature here on the blog). Bid with reckless abandon. ;) Don't wait! The auction closes on 6/7/12.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Mommy's guide to summer survival," part 5: movie cave

Quick (this post) and dirty (me) today. Gotta grab a shower before 4D wakes up, so I shall dump and run.

During the super hot days of summer, when we've begun to run out of ideas....or....on a day where mommy has not a shred of patience left....we do a MOVIE CAVE!

I'm not really sure how the name came to be, but I suspect it was 4B's doing. They like it super dark like a movie theater...or, you guessed it, like a CAVE. I'm also really not sure why they dig this so bad; I suppose it's the pomp and circumstance of it all. Normally, we just throw a movie in upstairs and grab our own snacks.

Not for movie caves though. Oh no! We go ALL out for movie caves.

Movie caves around here go something like this. I pick a handful of movies and the kids take turns removing one that they don't want to watch until only one is left. Someone complains about what's left? They don't participate. It's happened only one time. ;)

While I fix the snacks, the kids get into jammies, drag their sleeping bags to the basement where it is SUPER cool, and generally get ready. I make a big pot of popcorn, fill up BIG drinks, and create a "tray" for each cherub. The "trays" are just clean, empty bread loaf pans, but they're just the right size, and the kids, even the littles, can carry them down the steps without dumping (most of the time). I fill up their HUGE water bottles with a drink I don't usually serve (e.g., Koolaid or fruit punch or lemonade or the like).
Kids "trays" for movie cave.

The kids then select candy from the candy jar to fill a small bowl. No refills on candy! Each kid also grabs a glowstick from the stash.

Every kid piles his or her items into his or her "tray" and carries it downstairs. While the movie starts, I tape the windows, turn of the lights (so we can enjoy the glowsticks) and make a cuppa. We lounge together and enjoy the cool! Or, I go to the bathroom by myself, eat something while sitting down, or tackle an item or two on my never-ending, ever-growing to-do list.

Monday, May 28, 2012

"Mommy's guide to summer survival," part 4: creating a "bored" bucket

I tried this idea last summer. I scoured the internet and found a list of cute "I'm bored" to-dos for the cherubs. Put them all inside a cute bucket. Stashed bucket on top of fridge. Kids broke into it the very first day. The first one they pulled about did me in; took me FORTY FIVE minutes to track down and set up all supplies. Thereafter, 4B pulled one after another, practically, until they were all gone. Lasted a week.

Needless to say, we learned a LOT about what this family needs out of a "bored" bucket.

This year, I scoured Pinterest and the web for lists of "bored" bucket content, ideas for making the bucket, and instructions for use. Found plenty for all but the latter. Decided to put together my own in a way that actually allows it to serve its purpose, which, so that we're all clear, is to keep them out of my hair! Together-time is something these guys and I have LOTS of; it's alone time that I'm after, frankly.

I also want it to be something that they enjoy. Summer is for fun, not chores! I don't feel the need to punish them when they're bored; I do feel the need to help them (minimally) get back on track to having their OWN fun when they need it. Your goals may be different; you'll tailor this to serve your own family's needs, of course.

So, without further ado, I give you a tutorial and printable list to create your very own BORED BUCKET!

4Family's summer "bored bucket" for 2012.

The bucket itself
The mechanics of actually making the physical bucket are fairly simple. I used a re-purposed Tupperware container I inherited from a friend, printed out this template (from HomeSpun Threads), cut and backed with scrapbooking paper, affixed with packing tape.

You can make yours as fancy or as simple as you like. The bucket itself is not really all that important. In fact, the less cute you make it, hopefully the less often they'll want to use it, right?

I needed mine to be unbreakable. The absolute LAST thing I need is broken glass with a barefoot toddler and another mess to clean up. Right? Right.

Setting guidelines for bucket usage
You'll see that I attached "rules" to the outside of our bucket. You may not want or need rules; rules, if you use them, will set the parameters for what you consider to be acceptable use of said bucket.

Our rules are as follows: "As a family, we may only use this jar two times a day for FREE! If you need to use it again that day, you will have to pay with two punches on your screen card OR a chore of mom's choice. Once you pick a paper out of the bored jar, you may not pick again for at least two hours."

Given 4B's infatuation with last year's attempt, I thought he could use some guidance. My goal for this bucket is to infuse their summer with a bit of fun and creativity, which, ideally, will springboard them into excited working-together fun!

But, you are the mom of your tribe. You are in charge. You throw down the gauntlet however works best for what you need.

Filling your bucket with meaningful to-dos

The real "meat" of the project is the CONTENT. This is where my experience last summer was so helpful. I scoured a few bored jar templates on Pinterest. Nice, super cute containers, but the content was either marginally inspired or stuff we've already tried and done. So, I created our own content list. You can download a copy here.

Here are some helpful (I hope) guidelines for creating your bucket's content.

If you use my list, you'll find little notes/hints in yellow after some entries. These notes will lead you to sites where you can create items needed for the to-do or give you a reminder of what you need to gather supplies-wise.

I learned last summer that anything I'm willing to put in that bucket for them to do better be something that they can instantly find supplies for or I'm going to be running around like a mad woman. 

We do have a craft closet full of crafting goodies (like pipe cleaners, tissue paper, sequins, pom poms, popsicle sticks, googly eyes, jingle bells, acrylic paints, fabric pens, etc.). We do have a bin full of coloring and paper supplies (crayons and markers and colored pencils, white paper and construction paper). We do have a drawer with pencils and pens and tape and other office supplies. I do have a scrapbooking stash with decorative punches and fancy papers.

But, I wanted to make sure that things were EXACTLY where I could get them fast AND I wanted to avoid running out of a "staple" supply directly before a to-do that necessitated such supply was drawn.

As such, I this summer, I put together a bored tub of my own to accompany our bored bucket. In my tub, I have stashed things above-and-beyond what my craft closet and coloring and office and scrapbooking supply stashes contain: such as, empty and dry 20 oz soda bottles with lids, empty toilet paper rolls, cotton balls and Q-tips, dry beans, bingo games already printed out, postage stamps and stationery supplies, addresses for cousins and teachers and grandparents already printed onto labels, outdoor acrylics, tacky glue, masking tape, construction paper, sponges for making sponge balls, supplies for making balloon pong, glow sticks for movie caves (I plan to do a movie cave post this week...stay tuned!), a few bags of candy for "prizes," nature scavenger hunt lists already printed out, clipboards with pencils attached via yarn, plastic lids of all sizes and varieties, graph paper. Some of these things I do have in other parts of the house but was fearful would run out or go AWOL when the time came. Other items, I kept in their usual place but just beefed up the supply.

However you work it out for yourself, I caution you STRONGLY to review each and every to-do you cut and fold and drop into that bucket to assure that they meet the following criteria: are they age appropriate for your brood? are they things you're comfortable with them doing solo? do you have the supplies where the kids can grab them when they need them? Ideally, they will use this bucket without your help; as such, do yourself a favor and do the heavy-lifting up front.

I sat down with my printable list of content and went through each item individually, assessing what supplies I needed, whether I had them on hand, and whether they warranted inclusion in the bored tub in the garage. I made a list of supplies to buy and one of supplies or items to gather around the house. Bought and gathered and dumped in bin. Printed out a list of all items I had stashed in that tub; taped that baby right onto the tub. Stashed tub where I can easily get it in garage.

After that was all done, I printed out my list, cut them down to size, folded them up, and dropped them in my bucket, with a silent prayer that they might just work as intended.

Friday, May 25, 2012

"Mommy's guide to summer survival," part 3: family post office

I am SO excited about this one. And, that excitement pales in comparison to my kids' excitement, especially that of 4B.

4B, being a boy, isn't a huge fan of writing. He also inherited 4Daddy's sloppy handwriting, and 4B hustles through all writing tasks. The result? Work that is sloppy and not quite his full effort. Both his AMAZING K and 1st grade teachers recommend practice, however we can get it.

4B is also the only of my children who seems to need entertainment. Odd because he is, on some level, the easiest of the bunch, but he seems to need the most busy management...as in manage his ass to stay busy so we don't come to blows! ;)

Hence, the creation of our FAMILY POST OFFICE!

It'll probably help make this seem more awesome if you envision artful photos taken with a super nice camera and beautifully done/coordinated product. Our life just doesn't work that way. Plus, the KIDS did the work (as they should, in my opinion).

Here's how our family post office works. Anyone can send mail to anyone at anytime. Mail includes notes, drawings, trinkets, money, candy, you name it! If you can find it and you want to part with it, send away! 4B even put together a helpful list of hints for his sisters about what they could send. (Truthfully, I don't know if I've ever seen this kid so jazzed about one of my ideas!).

Mail MUST include a "to" address, a "from" address, and a "stamp." The five-and-under crowd is excused from this rule. However, I have printed out labels for her with everyone's names before.

Outgoing mail is placed in our family mailbox, which we keep by the front door on the main floor. (Please excuse the mess; four children live and play here.)

Once a day, usually before bed, the postmaster empties that family mail box, checks the mail for to and from addresses and stamps, STAMPS it as received, and delivers it into the individual mailboxes, which we house on a bookshelf in our bedroom.

That's it. Easy peasy, and the kids LOVE this. So much. SOOOO much.

Here are a few recommendations/ideas that we learned along the way. But, of course, you absolutely MUST embellish, elaborate, and redesign as to make it fit for your family.

How to make your family's post office
I wasn't interested in buying a bunch of stuff to make this fly. Sure, it would've made the pictures so much cuter to have it all match-y and uniform. But, cheap and easy and kids working solo were more important to me.

Accordingly, our family mailbox is a shoebox with a hinged lid. 4B really needed it to be "covered in bricks," so one morning over breakfast, he colored the bricks onto white paper, and I trimmed and folded and taped his bricks so as to cover the box. Our flag is card stock with a brad so that it can be raised and lowered (it's non-laminated and flimsy, but we don't care!).

Our individual mailboxes were made from empty milk cartons and granola bar boxes. We covered them with wrapping paper and/or drawings and stickers. Except that 4B used his trinket box that he made at his ill-fated stint at Cub Scout camp last summer. He wanted Mario to sit up top, for some reason. 4C had made a paper mailbox at preschool for Valentine's Day. Some wanted flags and some didn't. 4B wanted to make everyone's name tag for each box. 4A wasn't havin' it (of course), so she made her own.

To make it "official," I made a family post office sign with freebie clip art.

Being postmaster ROCKS!
By far, hands down, the most enticing part for everyone is being postmaster. I bought a date stamp at Walmart, which has a "received" setting and lets us reset the date every day. Oh my goodness! You would have thought I bought them a bar of gold! Best $16 I ever spent, my friend. The bigs are serious as a heart attack about that stamp. If mail doesn't have the requisite to or from address or stamp, it goes back to the sender as undeliverable. Dead serious. Our way cool stamp looks like this one...

I had toyed with buying a super cute "postal cancellation" rubber stamp on Etsy, but the thought of an accessible stamp pad and a super investigatory toddler made me weak in the knees. There are also really cute rubber stamps of a "postage stamp" that the kids would've loved, too. Dig around and find what works for you.

Supplies for your family post office
To start out, we filled our supply bin with index cards and neon notepaper that we bought at the dollar store. Pens and pencils and some stickers. We also save those "send your payment" envelopes that we get in bills after we pay them electronically. When those run out, we use cheapy dollar store envelopes.

For stamps, I downloaded a few free printable stamp coloring pages and then printed them as contact prints. 4C, who is VERY seriously practicing her scissor skills for Kindergarten this fall, cut them all out. We use a glue stick to affix them. I draw my own stamps on mail that I send, but the kids REALLY love sticking on these "official" ones.

You can find ones to adapt to your use here.

Whenever I find junky old note cards at the dollar store or a garage sale or we get free cards from a charity, I throw those into the stash. We also cut the fronts off of greeting cards and birthday cards that we receive and then use those as postcards (on the backs, I draw a "to" line at the top, a "from" line at the bottom, and leave the center blank for drawing or writing).

What to mail

For the bigs, I ask them silly questions, asking them to reply back to me through the mail. They also love a list of items that they can check off as yes or no. 4B and I play tic tac toe through the mail, too.

They draw lots of pictures of LOTS of horses for 4D. ;)

For 4C, who is almost 5, I draw a picture and write the word, and then I leave her a line to copy the word. Her siblings usually read her notes to her, and she LOVES to write the word and send it back to me. She and I also take turns embellishing a scene through the mail. I"ll draw sunshine. Then she sends it back with a tree added. Then I send it back with a flower added. Then she sends it back with a bee added. Ad infinitum.

The kids LOVE to receive pennies and quarters, sticks of gum, temporary tattoos, and band-aids from me. They send each other little trinkets (erasers and silly bands from their own stashes). I've also sent "get out of chores tomorrow free!" cards. BIG hit! I've also mailed them a picture from when they were babies with a little note about the outfit or stage of their life or event. They LOVE those! I've also printed off connect-the-dots pages or mailed pages torn from a workbook or coloring book with a note asking them to complete and mail back for a special treat (a coupon for 15 minutes of extra reading time after lights out, usually).

We make free printable coupons here.

There you have it, my friend. Super fun, super easy, super cheap, and keeps them super busy. Happy mailing!

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Mommy's summer survival guide," part 2: a few printable teasers

OOOOOHHHHH!! I am SO psyched about this little series! Bursting at the seams. You are going to LOVE this!!!

To whet your appetites, I give you these fantabulous linky-doddles.

FREE printable technology punch cards, which I dare to hope will curb 4B's incessant Wii- and DSi-ing.


FREE printable door hanger that you can use to let neighborhood friends know when your tribe IS and IS NOT free to play.

Do me a favor, will you?

Start your summer sanity-saving work NOW! Do not smile, say "That's a KILLER idea," and bookmark (either electronically or intellectually). NO WAY! That is not how a mommy is going to survive this summer.

Do this instead. Click on the link. See the pretty site? See the great idea? See the freebie? That's a good girl. Now, download. Done? Great. Now print. All set? Super. Grab those two (or more) pieces of paper that you saved and put them in a folder or an envelope or a baggie and mark it "Summer." Stash it in a spot where you won't lose it (you're going to add to it, and you're going to make a better saver-spot, but you'll have to wait for that).

I have been doing a tiny bit of work each day, prepping my survival kit, and I can't tell you the immense joy I positively KNOW I will feel on 6/13...our first real full day of summer.

The next one is a goody, too, and FREE! Stay tuned...

Friday, May 11, 2012

New series: "Mommy's guide to summer survival", part 1

I don't know about you, but the end of this school year seems to be RAPIDLY approaching. I'm excited to have the kids home (no sarcasm...honest!), but I don't know if I'm ready.

Those of you who know me in real life know that I am a planner and an organizer by nature. In my mind, I'm always a few weeks ahead of where I am in real time. Not in a checked-out way, but in an "it's-coming-and-if-I-have-a-shot-at-enjoying-it-I-better-plan-for-it" way. Nothing make life more un-fun than a mommy unprepared.

So, as I prep my own little family towards Summer Break 2012, I thought you may appreciate joining me for the ride.

Here's what I'm planning for our little "Mommy's guide to summer survival" series (aside from numerous trips to the liquor store to restock): a HUGE list of activities to include in a summer "I'm bored" jar and the BEST way to use said jar, links to kick-ass printables to make your summer a breeze, creating summer kits to keep the kids busy (a spy kit, a collage-making kit, and more), building your birthday and Christmas gift stash over the break, and surviving the summer camp rat race with sanity in tact.. I may come up with more ideas along the way, but there's where I'm starting.

Check back (and often) for more in this series. The way I look at it, the more we stick, together the better chance we have at survival.

First up will be the "bored" jar tutorial-ish post. Stay tuned...it's a GOOD one!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hodge podge

Life over here has been hectic, to say the least. Everything seems to pile up in the spring, doesn't it? Dance recitals, promotion ceremonies, teacher appreciation, planning out summer camps and trips, wrapping up Girl Scouts and sports and classes. It's been a whirlwind.

I've been meaning to post about a few things, and here they are, in no particular order...

Dentist reminder
My littlest one had her 6 month checkup at the dentist. She went, sat in my lap on the chair, opened her mouth wide when asked, and quietly sat there for her exam. Reminded AGAIN of the joys of typical development. It's still remarkable to me, after all these years. If you remember, that was NOT our experience with 4A.

The joys of typical development
4C is getting ready for her dance recital. I had attended the last class to see the routine, and I bawled my eyes out, seeing her following the teacher's directions and participating just because she wanted to...no social story, no reinforcement, no talking with the teacher. Last night, she and I showed up to the strange and HUGE auditorium for the dress rehearsal. She put on her rather scratchy outfit, climbed up onto that stage, stood in the HUGE and BRIGHT and LOUD space, and did exactly what her teacher told her to do. And, she was overjoyed to do it! Damn my crazy ass, but I bawled AGAIN. Seeing that typical development, that enthusiasm, that WANTING to do and be a part of something just because it feels good to do it, still trips me up. Still. Probably always.

Helping rescue amazing kids in need
If you haven't had a chance yet to visit the Hidden Treasures Auction blog, I encourage you to visit in early June. You'll find lovely handmade and other treasures, and 100% of your payment goes to help a family bring an amazing kid home to a loving family. You can learn more about the horrific and inhumane treatment of these beautiful kids here. Some of you have been moved by Katie's story and have asked how you can help. There are so many ways, and I thank you for asking!

  • Make or buy something to donate to the next auction. 
  • Donated a gift card to a national chain (Target, McDonalds, Starbucks). Got one as a gift that you won't use? Great...pass along to this great cause.
  • Purchase two of the next birthday gift that you buy for a child and donate one to HT. 
  • Purge your gently-used book, children's toys, and DVD collections; donate items. 
  • Log on and BID (and bid HIGH) on these great items. 
  • Print out a picture of the next child up to come home, put it on your fridge with a baggie, and encourage your kids to fill that baggie with change; match their contributions and donate to that child's loving family.
  • Post a link to the next auction on your Facebook page; encourage your friends to bid.
  • Share the story of these amazing kids and their families with everyone you meet. Tell them about these auctions. Spread the word and the link.
Recovering from spring break
4A has had a hard time recovering from Spring Break. This happens every year. The week or two before break, the kids are wild and the teachers are tired. Things slack a bit. It's natural and normal and okay. When the kids come back from break, the hammer comes down, and things get back to business. Natural and normal and okay again. Most kids enjoy the heck out of that slack before break and get their shit together quick after break.

4A does not. The slack before break doesn't trip her up too much any more, but the hammer post-break makes her NUTS. In her Aspie mind, the rules changed before break. When she returns from break, she expects the slack version again. Makes her nuts that the slack is no longer the rule. We get her back on track every year with extra reinforcements and hyper-viligant use of the behavioral plan. But, there's the extinguishment burst (meaning that the behavior is worse before it gets better because she's trying her darnedest to make the teacher go back to the slack). We're just about back to normal, and it feels good.

I am reminded this year, though, that I need to be better about reminding the teacher of this pattern in the month before the break. Add to 4A's rule book for fall...check!

I'm also reminded how tricky 4A is. She gets a LOT of support and has for a VERY long time. That's a great thing, and it allows her to be super successful. But, because she is so successful, often times, the folks on the team (myself included) start to forget. She starts to do so well that I seductively think that she's finally "getting it" or turning the corner. Supports disappear, and she's a mess. Ipso facto, the success is support driven. I know she has autism. I'm in complete acceptance (and adoration) of her. But, I think I still hold out some hope that she will "learn" her way out of it. This was another good reminder of the permanancy of her wiring.

So, 4A had been FAILING her timed math fact (multiplication) quizzes. This is despite early intervention math twice a week before school, 5 minutes of flashcards or math fact iPad games each day, and a trial test each evening. She was wearing my (and her teacher's) ass out!

The brilliant Dr. Steve came up with a plan. Revised it when she outsmarted the plan. Revised it yet again. We have now successfully closed ALL loopholes, and she is earning her way out of doing the practice tests by proving to us that she knows the facts. Five days of a correct answer on a given fact means that fact disappears (replaced with a new one that she doesn't know). Once we are confident that she's learned the facts, then we can work on increasing speed.

Sounds silly, I suppose, but she knows that there is only one minute of time. If she takes her time, she doesn't have to do all of the problems. She misses the point, of course, that doing it quickly and doing them all correctly yields a "good" grade. A "good" grade creates a happy or proud feeling; that feeling is a social construct. As such, we have to replicate that "feeling" artificially.

We've successfully learned x0, x1, x2, x3, x4, and x5 such that no finger counting or array drawing is involved in those any more. Even on a test with ONLY those problems that she knows cold, it still takes her 90 seconds to complete 16 problems. So, now, she gets a 75% or so because she can at least complete 3/4 of the 16 problems in the minute given. We're getting there.

Hurting and healing a momma's heart
I was picked on a lot as a kid. My family moved a lot, and being the new kid was hard. In fact, in 4th grade, when I was new to a school, the other kids formed an "I hate Hollie and Jenny" club on the playground to gang up on me and the other new girl. Years of therapy later, it doesn't hurt any more, but I VOWED that my kids would NOT bully. Period. No room for discussion. Intolerance was the only parenting option for me.

Well, 4A called a kid a dork on the bus. Poor, sweet little kindergartener...when she would see him each day, she said, "Hi dork," in her dry, monotone Aspie voice. I heard about it from her teacher. I tried to stay calm and rational. I really did. She has autism, I told myself. She doesn't understand that her perceptions are to stay in her head and not come out of her mouth. But, autism or not, name calling is not acceptable in our family; a broken rule has a behavioral consequence, but more importantly than that, when we make mistakes, we try to fix them.

When I asked her about it, she fessed right up. I told her that she hurt his feelings. She gave me that blank look of non-understanding. I told her that her biggest fear is that people think she's a baby; how would she feel, then, if someone walked up to her and said, "Hi baby." Know what? She cried her eyes out. She realized, then, how bad it must have hurt.

Okay. So, to fix mistakes in this family, we apologize and try harder next time. We worked through her apology. Me: Why are you sorry? Her: Because I shouldn't have said it. Me: Why not? Her: Because it wasn't true. Me: Then why did you say it? Her: Other kids call their brothers dorks all the time. Me: (after explaining the difference between name-calling amongst siblings and amongst children who are not related) If you know that our family rule is no name-calling, then why did you say it? Her: I was trying to look cool in front of my friends. My heart broke.

So, we rehearsed her apology a few times. Little sweet boy gets off the bus, and she apologized, very genuinely. "I'm sorry I called you a dork because it's not true and because I was just trying to be cool in front of my friends." Without missing a beat, she then turns to me and says in her dry, monotone Aspie voice, "Can I go now?" CRINGE! I was SO embarrassed.

She made a genuine, honest, real, thoughtful apology, and she had to go and ruin it. Sigh. I then had to reinforce the apology but disincentivize the editorial comment at the end of said beautiful apology. Bigger sigh.

Being a mom is super hard. As a mom, I try my very, very best to teach these kids right from wrong. Not "Right" from "Wrong," but what we consider, based on our values, to be the rules for living a decent life. We talk about it. We practice it. We reinforce it. And guess what? It doesn't always work.

They are still people. People have autonomy. They have free will. They get to make their own choices. They make mistakes. Sometimes, they know the rule and chose to break it.

I have to remind myself that her choices are a reflection of HER and not me. I know I am doing "right" by her, meaning that I am doing my very best to teach her to be honest and kind and fair and decent. Sure, I screw it up sometimes (we all do; even those of us who won't admit it), but I'm doing a good job. And, my "good," I mean the very best that I can given my circumstances. Whether or not I could do "better" is really not an appropriate question. Sure, YOU might do it differently given what YOU know and who YOUR children are. But, given who I am and what I know and who they are, I feel like I'm doing the "right" thing for them.

There are as many ways to parent children as there are parents. There is not an objectively right or wrong way.

It can be really, really hard to lose sight of that when our children disappoint us. Or, more importantly, when someone else's child does something that would violate one of our rules for our children. It is very, very easy (and dangerous) to jump to conclusions about someone else's parenting. "Well, my child would NEVER do that because I ________ (insert your verbiage of choice: teach her not to, spank her so she knows not to do it, won't allow such behavior, wouldn't tolerate it, etc.)." (And, I'm really not talking about myself and my parenting in this situation here; I'm talking about being a parent generally and rushing to judgment about the parental link between or cause of a particular child's behavior.)

A child's behavior is a reflection of them and their choices, not a reflection of that child's parent. We parents can do our level best to teach them the "right" way to do things, and they still get to make their own choice. Sure, some parents don't give a shit. Some don't try. Some don't care. But, I think most of us DO care and DO try, but our kids still get to make their own choices about who they want to be in the world.

That is a very uncomfortable pill to swallow.