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

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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hand-me-down headache

My most beloved mommy buddy hates two mommy jobs more than any others: packing lunches and the constant sorting of outgrown clothes. How I can relate to both!

Take today, for example. 4C desperately needs shorts. We're about to go to Disney...in the middle of August...with four kids. Crazy much?! So, I am frantically gathering enough shorts and shirts for each kid to have two outfits per day to handle the profuse sweating (and consequent whining) that I know will take place.

So, I grabbed my coffee and headed down to the "store," as the kids call it.

Of course, the two tubs that I needed were on the BOTTOM of the stack. So here I am, trying to lug the damn things through a 24" pass-through, and I'm cursing out 4Daddy who, although he's done nothing "wrong," sits on the couch with the kids and his coffee, dozing away, while I do my dreaded mommy duty. No reason, of course, that this has to be my job, except that I know better what we have, what she needs, and what passes as an acceptable outfit. And, by outfit, I mean something that's clean and not torn. A Gymboree mommy I am not.

I drag out the tubs, call 4C down, and spend NINETY minutes pulling things on and off of her to see what fits, trying not to show my irritation that she wants to go up and show 4Daddy every darn thing that fits, that she can't do her own buttons or take off her own dress, and wondering why the hell I saved SO many outgrown clothes from 4A.

Then, I remembered.

Rewind five years when we were in the throws of figuring-out-treatment autism with 4A. For two years, that girl could not STAND to wear clothes. This is a kid who only finally wore jeans for the first time in SECOND grade because she desperately wanted to be like the other kids at school. When she found a stretchy, soft pair that she could bear, she went running to the school bus stop and proudly yelled, "Jeans Team!," to the other kids, who looked at her like she was beyond wierd. My heart broke just a little bit that morning. But, I digress.

During those two naked years, I nearly went insane. I used to insist that she wear clothes at least while we were in the store. So, I'd roll her up to the front door of the store in nothing but a diaper (she had screamed, at this point, from the moment she saw me readying for us to leave the house), forcibly dress her while she screamed her head off, drag her through the store screaming while everyone stared at us, and then rip her clothes off as we left the store while she continued to scream. Our beloved Dr. Steve, 4A's behavioral psychologist (and the man who, quite literally, saved my life, our marriage, and our family), had us make two bins: one for tops and one for bottoms. When we needed or wanted to leave the house, we set a timer for three minutes and left the room. If she was dressed before the timer went off, she got her incentive. If not, we forcibly dressed her (as many times as it took, no matter how much she screamed, kicked, or stripped), and she got no incentive and a time out until she could stay quiet for three whole, seemingly never-ending, minutes (the first time we tried this time-out method, it took her 2.5 HOURS to stay quiet for 3 minutes...two and a half gut-wrenching, mommy sobbing HOURS, my friend).

That, while it eventually worked, of course, was an excruciating time for me. I mean, for shit sake, when we'd try to take the damn kid for ice cream, she screamed her head off about getting dressed like we taking her out for a root canal.

When we finally got that system to work, it was still a struggle to find things that she could wear...nothing quite seemed comfortable enough. Like a maniac, I had this idea that if I just bought the "right" fabric, style, whatever, she wouldn't put up a fight. Consequently, we ended up with a LOT of clothes during that two years. Hence the overflowing tubs of hand-me-downs in the "store."

So, as I wrapped up my "shopping" session with 4C this morning, watching her beam with delight at each "new" outfit she found, bursting with excitement to show off her selections to her dad, my heart swelled with joy. To remember how far we've come with 4A, to experience 4C's organic and spontaneous joy that I missed out on the first time around with 4A, our wonderful fortune to have so much when so many have not enough. Shame on me for treating this job with such drudgery and disdain.

Resolved again to never forget the luck, blessing, and wonder of having a child who develops typically just the way she's "ta-posed to," as 4C herself would say.

And, here's 4A, circa de age 3 years, in one of the first outfits she successfully put on without a tantrum. I was SO proud that day. SO PROUD!

And, I didn't forget about Quiet maker: kid-friendly batik...life just got in the way. Stay tuned...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Final day of Camp COOL!

Ahhh...we're almost there!

Around March, it hit me that these kids would be home with me all day every day for THREE months. EGADS! So, I dragged out my calendar (the old fashioned paper kind, thank you very much) and began to rough in my summer calendar. 4A saw me doing this and started BEGGING for Mommy Camp. What is Mommy Camp, you ask?

A few years back, Mommy Camp was a big mistake. Another mom of four and I put together a mommy camp for our 8 with themes, crafts, stories, and snacks for three hours each day of five consecutive days. While my kids enjoyed the heck out of that week, I, frankly, did not.

So, when the begging for mommy camp started, I knew I could do it (because mommies can do EVERYTHING, 4C routinely informs me) but needed a much smaller scale.

I decided I could handle a 4 full days with some free and cheap field trips and a few playdates. I didn't want to spend much, and I wasn't up to all the effort of a theme this time. We like crafts best, so I planned a ton of those. I did not give the kids input on what we did, save a few "do you want to do X or Y?"-type scenarios. I mean do I look like I want to spend four full days and $5,000 at Chuck E Cheese? I think not. And, of course, as always, my main goal was that everyone ended the week breathing.

4A named our camp Camp COOL this year (of course, she subsequently decided that name was "lame" and wanted it to be called "Mommy's vacation lame-o camp," but that's a story for another day and a martini).

I'll spare you the minutiae of all we did, but over the next few days, I'm going to share with YOU a few of the things we tried that are worth their weight in quiet!

So, here you go, my friend, my first QUIET MAKER!

(I know you're drum rolling and quaking with anticipation....)

Quiet maker: scavenger hunt breakfast

Mom time spent: 10 minutes
Kid time spent: at least 30 minutes

Prep: The night before, pack each kid a breakfast in a brown bag, labelled with her name (and even embellished with cute drawings, tic-tac-toe boards or drawings to color in, if you like, just don't forgot to plop a pen or crayons in the bag). Pack treats, stuff they love that you won't regularly buy (cereal in little boxes, individual bottles of chocolate milk, sleeves of donettes). Using post-it notes, make a series of clues to lead them to their "Campers' Delight breakfast in a bag." Hide those bags well! The better the hide, the more quiet you'll get.

Scavenger hunt breakfast in action: Call the kids to attention with a rousing rendition of Revelry on the kazoo and present them with their first clue. What fun! And you, my friend, just bought yourself enough time to SIT DOWN and enjoy your first cup of coffee.

Come back tomorrow to learn about Quiet Maker: kid-friendly batik name banners.