Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mean Girls

You know, one of the (many, many) things I was unprepared for as a mother was the social dynamics of childhood. Clearly, my memory is either very selective in that I don't remember a thing about it, or things truly have changed in the last 30 years. Were kids always this mean?

My daughter regularly comes home from school with tales of playground power struggles. This has been going on since she was 4. Best friends one day, not friends the next...it's a crazy cycle of meanness. Is it all about dominance and power? Are girls really that insecure that they need to be cruel to each other to feel better? This has happened at three different schools, with three different groups of children. It makes me wonder - is this an epidemic?

Some girls come by it honestly -- their mothers are the same way. So, is it nature then, or nurture? Or a little of both?

I try to encourage my daughter to always be kind. To always be accepting. To not let these things bother her. To branch out and seek other playmates when she's told she can't play. To be sure to let other children play with her, because to be told "no" makes you sad.

I'm not so naive as to think she always follows my advice. Heck, I'm not so sure I always follow it.

But the truth is, I know she's in for a long, hard ride. Because, at almost 40, I'm still dealing with it. I'm wise enough now to distance myself from toxic friendships -- the women that need to be queen bee. The ladies who deliver back-handed compliments, the moms who like to compete, the women who make a point of ignoring you, and then make a point of letting you know they're ignoring you. I feel sorry for those women. It's the playground all over again. Some people just never grow up.

It happens...but you can deal with it. And that's what I'm trying to teach my daughter. Be the bigger person. Don't let it get you down. Be secure in who you are. Know who your true friends really are.

But it's hard. How to resist the urge to tell my daughter that the reason that this little girl is being mean to her is because the little girl is immature and insecure. Explain THAT to a 5-year-old. When what I'd REALLY like her to do is punch the little girl's lights out. Or have a wicked comeback ready to put said little girl in her place.

But isn't that the problem? In encouraging my child to be mean right back, aren't I reinforcing what I'm trying to overcome?

Wow, it's hard to show kindness in your heart when you can taste meanness in your mouth.

But I'll trudge on, hoping that I can give her the tools she needs to overcome these dramas.

Until she has a daughter of her own and has to deal with it all over again.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Itchy Buns

Of all my children, my almost 6-year-old daughter is the most high-maintenance when it comes to sleeping (luckily, I have extremely low-maintenance sleepers, so comparatively, it only SEEMS extreme). She has to have her blanket (this humongous, gosh-awful pink and purple princess nightmare) and ONLY her blanket covering her whole body, with the fuzzy side up and if it's cold, any additional covers need to cover her in a certain way. Then she needs to be tucked in like a burrito. After kisses, hugs, arm rubs, singing American Pie, nightlight, music on and door cracked just the right amount, oh, and more hugs, she's so exhausted she falls asleep right away. Whew!

Not uncommon demands for young children, no?

But when she wakes up during the night, this maintenance takes an unusual turn.

She's not one to wake up wanting water or because she had a bad dream. She awakes and starts screaming for Mommy. SCREAMING. Groggy and usually a little perturbed at her proclivity for hysterics, I stagger down the hall only to find that...she wants to snuggle. Or she wants her arm rubbed. Or she demands to know what we're having for breakfast. Or she has dry skin. Or her nose hurts when she pushes on it. Or her lips are chapped. Or she can't stop yawning (?). Or that her blanket has fallen out of her bed.


The latest? Itchy buns. Her backside.

Her buns.

It's the dry skin thing again, taking on a life of its own in the latest of her midnight afflictions.

Last night she called for me again. Not one to jump up and run down the hall at the first holler, I ignored it. Quiet. I must have fallen back to sleep. Suddenly, I awake with a start to find her looming over my head. In the dim glow of the 100 or so nightlights upstairs, I see her wild-haired silhouette.

Her: "My bottom itches." In her famous pre-hysterics whine.

Me: trying to comprehend what she's just said, "What?"

Her: whining more loudly, "My bot-tom ITCHES." You dummy.

I see that she's got her hands down the back of her pants, sleepily scratching her backside as hysteria starts twisting her facial features.

This has been going on for about a month now. Usually, I traipse back to my bedroom, rummage in the medicine cabinet for the Eucerin, traipse back to her room, apply the Eucerin, arrange her blanket and various and sundry other covers, and traipse back to my room to drop back into bed, usually with an exasperated sigh.

Tonight, I'm ready.

Me: "OK. Turn around."

Total confusion ensues (hers) as lickety split, I spin her around, dip into the cream, rub my hands together, and apply to the offending backside. Pat her gently, smile and say "There. Better?"

Her: "What just happened?"

Me: "You'll feel better in a minute. Now go to sleep."

Motherhood truly is a learning experience. And with any luck, she'll remember these times and be inspired and amazed by my maternal efficiency.

Or so I can dream.

But only if I can stop the buns from itching so I can actually get some sleep.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Me Likey (Are You Reading This Richmond Mommies?)

Hey Richmond Moms!

If you're in the Richmond area, check out some resources I've had the good fortune to stumble upon. You might even score for Mother's Day!!!

If you haven't been, go directly to this site. RichmondMom.com is an amazing site and excellent resource for all you local moms. Full of great articles, events and promotions, it's designed to be the ultimate resource for moms in our area.

Kate Hall, the creator, is a dynamic mom of 3 who was inspired by her children and her needs as a mom to create a resource for the rest of us. I had the good fortune of meeting her recently and she's sweet, smart and totally together. She's constantly building the site to include more and more resources that are important to moms, including great shopping deals! Yay!

Check it out soon, and often. And be sure to sign up for the Savvy Saver card for exclusive discounts to local retailers. For us recessionistas, sale is NOT a four-letter word!

Another gem you must discover for yourself RIGHT AWAY. Local aesthetician Peggy Cummings has developed a little enclave in the heart of Westhampton. It's an undiscovered jewel, a preppy-zen retreat, a little slice of heaven. And I bet you didn't even know it was there! Yes, right there at the crossroads of Libbie and Monument. If you've ever met Peggy, you know she has the best skin ever. And you know that skincare and makeup is her passion. She offers a full array of services (find her full line here). And be sure to check out her specials. If my skin would look like hers, I'd go every day!

Rosemary's Photography
Another local gem is Rosemary's Photography. She has a small studio in her home in the west end, and she does on-site work as well. Check out her galleries. Love this.

And this is one of my all-time favorites. She got this shot of my daughter at a 4th of July party. She's super creative, and she's super reasonable (and that's always a good thing).

Ask for Rosemary, and tell them Jennifer G. sent ya!