On parenting teens

At this point in time, Soleil is close to becoming a 14 year old. Luna will hit 12 soon. This is a fascinating time to parent children. We have a political mess in the US. Our children see it and are old enough to comprehend what hatred is being spewn from the other side. They see others pushing their ideas on people. They see their friends being pushed down with words and they are not happy.

Things parents need to manage with parenting teens:

  1. Bullying. It has never gone away. Zero tolerance doesn’t work. We push the kids to stand up for others, but goddamn that is hard to do. All kids are bullied and most kids join in on bullying even if you don’t think yours do. Yes. Mine do too.
  2. Sex. What? But Nance, your children are only 14 and 12 (rounding up). How can you talk about sex? We need to because the schools can only give so much information and we have to fill in the gaps. It’s our moral ground. There’s a rumor that a kid in 7th grade (in between my kids) has been caught sexting and she has had sex with several boys. A few boys have bragged about their sexual exploits. THESE THINGS EXIST. I have promised both kids that if they ask for a condom, I will hand one over, no questions asked. I will admit that I will ask if they want to talk about it.
  3. Gender. What is gender? Why do we not only have male and female? What does it mean to be transgender? They already have gay friends. They will meet a transgender person in their lifetime. Time to start building up the laizzez-faire attitude we want them to have. It doesn’t matter. It’s the other person’s life.
  4. Racism. It’s real. Kids don’t always see it. We address it often. We talk about systematic racism and blatant racism. We talk about how our economic system has worked against People of Color. We talk about how there’s little cultural history compared to European families. How does one deal with the entire group of blacks, who are mostly from different cultures 400 years ago, as one group because they have the same skin color? We talk about that.
  5. Rape. I’ve got two girls. They need to know when they can say no and how to keep saying it. They also need to know that yes is okay, but no has to be listened to. It’s scary out there. I know more than a few women who were date raped as teens. I’d prefer my kids not be in that group.
  6. Politics. Teens are starting to learn about politics. Whenever our kids start parroting us, we will suddenly start with the opposite side’s argument. This keeps them on their toes and forces a bit of thinking to happen. Yeah, thinking. We’re evil parents.

What do you discuss with your teens? I have more that we deal with on a daily basis (including Hamilton, the Musical), but these are the important ones.

Baby, it’s cold inside

I had never expected to be a soccer mom. I was not terribly athletic as a child. Okay, let’s be honest here, I sucked. I joined our girls soccer team and one day had to be pulled because the ball smashed my glasses, broke them and cut my nose open. So, let’s just leave it as I was less than stellar on the field.

In 2007, an ice hockey rink opened in our town. The guy who was running it was a former Olympian who had won the Hobey Baker Award. All I could think was that the girls would be invited to ice skating parties, and like their mother, they would cling to the boards for dear life. Maybe, just maybe they would be like Dr. Jay and skate well. He played hockey for several years in college on intramural teams. He even did pickup games on Long Island until he suffered a serious eye injury. So, we signed the girls up for lessons.

Fast forward to 2016. Soleil is now a hockey goalie. She plays for the East Coast Wizards and we hope that she can play for her High School Boys’ team next year. Luna. Oh Luna. She is getting ready to test for her pre-juvenile free-skate test for the US figure skating levels. She’s also working with a coach to test her pre-juv pairs test. Once she has that down, she needs to land her Axel jump before we will search out a skate partner.

I never expected the quick foray into skating lessons would get us here. At least 3 days a week during summer and up to 6 a week from September to April are spent in rinks. I’m a hockey/skater mom. This is bizarre. Every Sunday, Soleil gets up early so one of us can drive her to an hour long goalie clinic with the Boston University’s women’s goalie coach.

One July 1st, Luna and I will be attending the US Figure Skating Association’s National Theatre On Ice competition. She’s on one of 12 Junior level teams competing for the national title.

How did we get here?

The one about summer camp

This summer has been crazy with summer camp. We started week 1 with a lovely trip to Barcelona, Spain. I would not have traded that for anything in the world. Then a few weeks of sleepover camp, one week with both girls gone, and back to day camp and other things.

Camp has been interesting this year. We started with Girl Scout Day Camp. We quickly realized that both girls have kind of out grown this camp. It’s sad because it is close to home and easy to get to on the way to work. However, I have to accept the plain and simple fact that my girls are getting older.

Soleil is now 10. She is quite capable of handling some serious situations. She did a 2 week sleepover in NH this year. 2 weeks away from me. That’s HUGE for her. She was excited to see us during the break, but she did great! Luna is now 8. She’s very whiny as of late, but she is doing more sleepover camp and really starting to enjoy the independence.

I am torn about summer camp. When I was a kid, mom was a teacher. Camp was rarely an option. When we did do camp, I had some pretty bad experiences. I will never forget the treatment by some other kids.
However, this seems to be much better. Soleil and I were able to talk about some of her issues at camp, including a girl with a severe lack of coping skills. “J” was difficult and Soleil tried to work with her, but it didn’t work well. In fact, “J” hit her once. However, there were twins who begged their mom and dad to come to the session last week only because Soleil was in that session. That was cool.

Luna is still unsure about camps. She would rather be on the ice. She’s in an ice skating camp this week and coming home exhausted. She loves it. I am glad she is there, but man, she is tired.
She is suddenly blooming in her maturity on some items (but not her humor…that stays at the 12year old boy level), but back sliding in others. The fall will be a big test. She enters 3rd grade and the upper Elementary school. That is a BIG change for her.

Next year, Soleil has requested to go to overnight camp all summer with weekends home. We’ll see. Luna wants to do more overnight camps… Again, we’ll see. Me? I want to be off all summer… AH!

When good is good.

So, Dr Jay is down in Miami to be with his parents while his mom recuperates from her broken hip. I am playing single mom.

We went down to the American Girl Store on Saturday. I do spoil my girls here. I allowed them each $60 to spend. Soleil had earned a $24 outfit on top of the $60 (Because I bribed her to do her multiplication. Because I will use whatever motivation I can to get her to understand that if you tell yourself you can’t, you won’t. If you have a goal, you can reach it!) Each girl ended up spending $76, so I suggested they pay me back $10 of the $16. Soleil agreed and paid up right away. Luna still wants me to take it from her bank account. I still need to explain that it will come out of her piggy bank (she has enough, but she’s 6. ’nuff said.)

Friday, I got a chance to play scientist. The girls and I are reading a book where "a blown ostrich egg" was mentioned. Soleil asked what that was and I explained. She begged for us to do that with a chicken egg. So, out came the drill, a sharp needle to puncture the yolk and a straw to blow the air through without putting our mouths up to the egg. It took about 15 minutes, but we got everything out and then filled the shell with water and blew that until it was clear. It’s fun to just say "sure, let’s try that". I think I need to do that more.

Yesterday, Soleil got her first migraine and even fell asleep on the couch! If you’ve ever read here before, you know this girl doesn’t sleep!

Luna had a "glamor party", and came home looking like a 6 year old tramp. Then her cheeks broke out from the blush. I’ll have to toss it today, but I’ll let her keep the eye shadow.

Things are good. Life is good. I am missing Dr. Jay, but when I look around me, I can’t help but feel good. 


Homework- What’s the point?

We’ve been doing homework. When I say "we", I mean, WE.

Soleil has many more projects due at school now. One of these projects was a doll dressed in Native American (Wampanougue) clothing or as a pilgrim. Being Soleil, we had to SEW a doll and SEW the clothes. UGH over achiever. I helped with the patterns and pin basting, but she sewed and stuffed the doll. I made her do about 95% of the work (okay I sewed the hair on)

Now she has a report due on a book we had to read (we meaning Luna wanted to hear it too, so I read it out loud). She needs to make a diorama, include a summary, an envelope with 10 words from the story (I want her to pick out 10 Mohawk words just to fuck with the teacher), the characters drawn and named on the side of the box and a scene from the book. To get the supplies alone is homework for me.

And really? What is she getting from this? I don’t know… I really don’t know. We studied the clothing that the Wampanague wore before designing it (she did the clothing design and beaded it herself!). We discussed the book. I really don’t get the point of these home works.

Every parent I ran into in 3rd grade complained about the doll. They had to go get supplies. The instructions were open ended, so we had to let the kids decide what type of doll to make. We have spelling words, math and other things to go over every single day. Yes, the parents are expected to go over all of the work. I look at it and say "WHY????" Why are they giving so much to these kids? WHY WHY WHY?

When Soleil has to multiply by 5s she panics. Then I say : Big hand on the 4! and she can answer 5 x 4 in a fraction of a second. She gets it, but gets afraid of the wrong answer…

I think I am becoming jaded with American education.

Me time?

How does one really find me time?

Yesterday, after I finished my 4 hours of work, I sat down to read. I was able to mostly finish "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" in quiet. Then, I had kids, dinner, snow, mess, run out for 3 hours for shopping, etc.

I got my friend Becky a T-shirt that reads "If mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy. Me Time." She’s a widow, so she is mom all of the time. It’s not even a "dad has the kids for the weekend" type of parenting, it’s her.

How does she find me time? She stays up to ungodly hours of the night and lives on little sleep. It’s a habit she started after her husband died and she couldn’t sleep.

I don’t know where to find me time. I have so much I want to get done, and so little time to do it. Sigh.

How do you find me time? When do you read? Exercise? Cook? Bake?

Say what?

Last night, I had the joy of going to Soleil’s parent teacher conference. Yea me. NOT.

I hate these. I get to hear the same things, "She’s so smart, but she can’t focus.", "She’s a real pleasure to have in class, but she needs better self control.", and my personal favorite, "I love it when kids read, but I often have to stop her from reading because she needs to follow the class." Last night was not too different. We started with the book statement (yeah, I know…) and then moved onto the "real pleasure" statement. Fortunately, I had started the school year with speaking to her teacher about some of her issues (no-I haven’t gone into them and I probably won’t, but let me say, they aren’t considered special needs so she can’t get an IEP even though she really needs one- But don’t get me going or I will never shut up about the inherent unfairness of the system)

I was waiting for her teacher when the phonics teacher came out of the classroom. I had just discovered on Monday that Soleil went to a phonics class. This was very surprising to me since she has been speaking since 13 months old and her enunciation is the clearest I have heard from a child except when she calls hamstrings "hamsters", but that may just be confusion. Luna clearly needs help with speech and has only recently realized that the word "the" is spelled with the "TH" blend instead of the "D" she hears and says.

The phonics teacher took a moment to introduce herself and tell me a bit about Soleil’s classroom behavior. While doing well, I discovered that she needs extra help with her short vowels. Apparently, she can’t tell the difference between a short "a" and a short "e" sound when speaking. Um, okay…However, she is very fluent and emotive in her speaking and is a real joy to the classroom. After a few minutes of the explicit issues with my daughter’s speech patterns, I couldn’t resist, "I do have to point out ", I said in my best, calm voice, "that both my husband and I are from the mid-west. I am afraid she has learned how to speak with our accent."

Teacher stops and blinks. "Oh! I never thought about that." Blinks some more. I think the gears are moving in her head. I am afraid smoke will start pouring out of her ears in a moment. "Well, I’ll keep that in mind, but if you could help her when reading and speaking, that would really help."

Smiling my best smile that says that I am biting my tongue, I agreed and checked "You said it was her short vowels, right? And we should help her practice?"

"That’s the general idear".

I almost burst out laughing right then and there. A woman with such a strong Boston/New England accent is teaching my kiddo, who has excellent enunciation for someone who could be from Erie PA, how to speak. If she starts replacing random "ah" sounds with "er" sounds and replacing "ar" with "ah", I am going to have to hurt somebody.

Oh hi! You’re still reading?

Yeah, well, it’s been a wee bit crazy at Chez Spacefamily, so I haven’t been around much here. I have been on facebook and a friend challenged me to do workouts everyday, and I am trying to eat better (does it count if I have a salad and then Doritos?), and the kids have mucho activities and grandparents were here and hannukah…. I could go on, but your brains would explode. If anyone is still reading, of course!

I have a IRL friend who moved far far away, as in not only the west coast, but to CANADA’s west coast. She is homeschooling her kids, but in a new way called "unschooling" (ie- no set curriculum,class time etc). If you are interested, her blog is here. We don’t always agree, but I find her way of thinking interesting and sometimes wish it for my kids.

Our kids are fully packed. Most of my friends think we are crazy for letting them do too much. Sometimes I agree, but other times I don’t.

Soleil has: hockey (her choice), violin(her choice), Girl Scouts(her choice) and Hebrew School (our choice)

Luna has: figure skating (her choice), Girl Scouts(her choice) and Hebrew School(our choice).

Luna used to have piano, but she got fed up with it and we decided it wasn’t worth forcing. She now wants to learn guitar or flute. I am voting guitar since flute is something she can take in school and she is pretty good at coming up with songs. I can imagine her wanting to play around with chords and singing even if she doesn’t know music theory.

What does this have to do with my friend? I think about choices. Dr. Jay made is clear that he wanted the girls to learn about their Jewish heritage. Not just the religion, but the ethnic portion of the culture. How it is mostly recently that Jews are intermarrying, what have Jews done historically and what do Jews feel are their obligations to society (note: all forms of Judaism are different, but our temple is very big on culture and social help and giving back to society).Ok, I am good with that, even though I am atheist.

But the ice hockey? That was Soliel’s choice after seeing her cousins play. The figure skating? Once we got Luna on the ice, she was off! She started at age 3 and never looked back! Violin? When Soleil was 3, she saw a violin for the first time. From that point on, she wanted to play. We made her wait until she was 6 so she would be a bit more patient…

The girls have also done soccer (one wants to continue, one would rather try karate). We try to allow them to do what they choose. I don’t want to force them into something specific, although I did with piano and that was probably a bad thing to try.

My friend is very good with allowing her kids to choose their way. I do make my kids go to our public school. We will need to evaluate this as life continues. I’ve mentioned this before, Massachusetts is one of 5 states that does not consider gifted as a special need. Therefore, despite Soleil’s need for an individual education plan, she is left out. We may need to deal with this as time goes by. Luna is also gifted, but the principal at her school wants less pull out classes and more integrated approaches. This frustrates the hell out of her and I hear it EVERYDAY.

I don’t think I could do unschooling. I am not patient and I would want to teach in more structured settings. But then again, we discuss everything and anything in our family. When a girl noticed that "everything is made in China", we discussed why. I asked how much they thought groceries for a week cost. The answer they gave was $10-$20. When I reported closer to $100-$150, they were shocked! And then discussing world wages shocked them more. So maybe we do unschool.

Anyway, most of this is just food for thought babble. I am tossing ideas around in my head. I need to think more about everything.

Rolling the genetic dice

I sometimes am absolutely blown away by the wonders of our DNA. This twisting double helix, tiny and beautiful, containing all of the parts that make us up, hidden and exposed, dominant and recessive, active and dormant, is the core of all of us. I look at my daughters and I wonder how two children with the same parents could be so incredibly different?Here’s a quick chart of the differences.

 Luna  Soleil
 Loud  Quiet
 Extrovert  Introvert
 Wants to be read to every night Wants to read in bed every night
 Lots of friends  Not many friends
 No friend is close  All friends are close
 Is afraid that nobody likes her  Knows that only a few like her well
 Will goof  Is afraid to goof
 Follows rules even if they are not reasonable Will question authority wisely
 Likes to tease me to the end of my patience. Knows where I am ready to lose it and stops teasing me!





I understand the physical differences, but the internal, who these kids are differences, are so….DIFFERENT, it drives me crazy. Luna teases and teases and teases. Soleil will tease, but quickly stops when she sees that the person is getting upset. I can take Soleil on the playground and she finds a single friend to play with while Luna will have the whole playground wrapped around her finger. However, Soleil’s friendships run deep and Luna is terrified that nobody likes her.

Quiet.Loud.Goofy.Demanding.Plays well with her sister. Loves American Girl Dolls. These things are in common. But when it comes to other things, I do have to wonder.

Well, that was fun!

It’s been a terribly long week.

Luna’s been fevering

Dr. Jay has been feeling ill.

Last night, Jay had a horrible vertigo attack. The current thought is: Meniere’s disease, however, we need to have an MRI done on tuesday to rule out the "scary" things. Not going there. Okay? I am not going there.

I have to get through until Sunday… We have a Girl Scout event on Sunday that I have been helping organize. Worried that it will totally suck.

Okay- focus on the good things. Focus on the good things.