children. joys and challenges

First Born of My Heart

Big Son turned eighteen the other day. I cried. (Of course.) He rejoiced. Of course. As we helped him celebrate the occasion with a social gathering of his friends (aka a party), I reflected on the journey I’ve taken with this first born child of my heart. There are pro’s and con’s about being the first. You get your parent’s undivided attention and all their enthusiastic energy as they discover the joys of caring for a puke-poop-tears machine. But you also are the guinea pig for their mistakes, their earnest yet misguided devotion and the full suffocation of alllllll the advice of those fifty-something birthing and parenting handbooks your mother ruthlessly ingested while growing you.

I was twenty one when I got pregnant and I had no experience with little people whatsoever. (My mother had three housekeepers and a revolving team of caregivers to help look after my three little siblings so I never had to pay attention to them at all. Not until they were old enough to be useful – do chores and play Little House on the Prairie with me.) I thought the baby would pop out and I would take him to lectures with me in a fashionably accessorized backpack. No problem. (true story) The Hot Man and I were students in Wellington at the time, so every day in between lectures, I would sit in the library and read every single book on pregnancy, infants, nutrition, breastfeeding, immunizations and more. I knew every single thing that could possibly go wrong with my unborn baby. Every single neural defect he could possibly be born with. Every single infection he could possibly get. All before he was even an emergency C-section delivery at 30 weeks. I was so busy with research and mental preparation that all we had ready for that premature mewling baby, was a bottle of Napisan for soaking nappies.

It took awhile for my heart to catch up with my research. I fell in love with my first born slowly, over many nights painfully shuffling to stand over his glass box incubator and watch him sleep. Watching nurses feed him through a tube in his nose. Watching them cut his tiny foot every day and squeeze out tiny droplets of blood while he screamed, so they could check his jaundice levels. The feel of his precious paper-thin skin against mine as they let me hold him. They said, ‘Lay him on your chest so he can hear your heart beat, feel you breathing. That will help him breathe on his own.’

Are you sure? I’m so big compared to him. My heart beats too loud. My breathing’s too panicked. I held him close, terrified I would hurt him. But slowly, slowly that tiny child felt right. Slowly slowly, our hearts beat in time and we breathed in unison. And slowly, slowly, a spoilt self-obsessed clueless 21 yr old found inside herself – a mother’s heart. By the time he grew big enough and healthy enough for us to take him home, I was fierce formidable Mother-Extraordinaire. (And Fiapoko Supermother as well.) Ready to take on the universe to protect, teach and nurture my son.

jade3

Big Son has endured much as our firstborn. Here’s only a few of the “Things I know Now which Big Son wishes I Knew THEN…”

1. Don’t spend many hundreds of dollars trying to organize a momentous 1st birthday party for your kid that is so stressful you and your poor husband almost get divorced. Because your kid wont remember any of it and he will go to sleep twenty minutes into the massive party anyway. (Hugging his new teddy bear from Uncle Cam.) And its a good thing he wont remember because you will be so stressed and on the edge that you’re mean, nasty and awful anyway.

jade1

2. When your 5 yr old kid gets invited to a fancy dress party, don’t slave over a historically accurate, authentic Hercules costume complete with battle regalia and then force him to wear it even when he cries. Because you’ll get to the party and discover all the other kids are just wearing raggedy old Superman t.shirts. Or a pair of fairy wings. And your poor kid will be miserable and feel totally out of place and cry harder.jade2

3. Yes you should teach your kid all about the sanctity of their physical bodies and even use all the correct terminology for their bits’n’pieces, very important with helping them to stay safe and confident. But you shouldn’t forget to also tell them there are appropriate times and places for shouting out such information. Otherwise, your 4yr old will be at the extended family gathering after your grandfather’s funeral and inform his cousin in a very loud voice, during the quiet of a prayer to bless the food – “See that? Its the pig’s penis. Wow, thats a really big penis!”

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4. When your 11yr old son has a Christmas present exchange in his class at school and you are to busy to take him to buy a gift for his classmate…don’t assure him, ‘don’t worry, I’ll bring the present to the class party already wrapped for you. Trust me!’ And then you buy a lovely sparkly ring and matching bracelet and gift purse from your mother’s shop Plantation House (because you don’t want to drive all the way into town) and your mother giftwraps it in organza bows and ribbons. And you both sigh over the perfect loveliness of such a gift. DON’T DO THAT. Because your unsuspecting son will give his classmate the aforementioned gift and she will unwrap it IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CLASS and everyone will start teasing him about giving her an engagement ring. ‘ooooh, he loooooves you!’ And the girl will try not to cry. And your kid will try to macho through it while dying inside. And be very mad at you for a long time after.

jade6Yes, these are only a few of the horrors my son has endured with me as his mother. To protect the guilty, I wont share any others… Let me just say, Big Son announced the night before his birthday, “Mum, this is the last day I’ll be a child. Tomorrow I will be a man!” And I said, “Oh yeah? You planning on moving out tomorrow and getting a job?”

I tease him but I know all too well the clock is ticking. My days with this child are numbered. Next year, he will be at University and we will be many miles away living in Samoa. He will do all those things young people do when they first leave home. Rejoice. Eat a lot of junk. Stay up late. Skip class. Party a little. Experience what being ‘broke’ really feels like.

And I will be far away,  doing what most parents do when their kid first leaves home.

Missing him. Wondering if he’s getting enough to eat. Worrying if he’s warm enough. Chastising myself for not preparing him better to be on his own. Praying for his safety. Sending him money when I already agreed with the Hot Man that we shouldn’t spoil him, ‘You need to learn how to budget son…’ Ha. Calling him every so often and striving to sound casual and happy, ‘Just wondering how you’re doing son?’ (Instead of bawling my eyes and heart out on the phone and begging him to please come home.)

So each day I have left with him in my control care, I will celebrate all that this First Born of my Heart is to me. The baby that he was, the child that he sometimes still is, and the young man he has become.

Yes you’re ‘a man’, Big Son. I’m proud of you. Thank you for teaching me how to be a mother.

But it doesn’t matter how old you get – to me – you’ll always be that little boy who needs the beating of my heart to help you find your way, to help you breathe on your own, to help you stand alone.

Being a Parent Sucks.

Sometimes it sucks being a parent. When they’re babies, you cant wait for them to get big enough to make their own food, see to their own hygiene and possibly massage your feet and tell you what a wonderful mother you are. Then they grow up and start thinking for themselves and you wish they were helpless infants again that did exactly what you wanted because they had no choice in the matter.

I’ve been super-stressing lately about Big Son. This is his last year of high school. I want him to be an academic MACHINE, churning out perfect A’s and slaying people left, right and center with his brilliance. I want him to be the first name they think of when its time for university scholarships. Heck, I want him to eat, breathe and sleep schoolwork and career goals.

But young adults have this nasty habit of doing whatever the hell they want. It’s very frustrating. Big Son says he wants to go to University and become a lawyer. But he takes a rather relaxed approach to making those goals happen. Sure he goes to school and does a bit of work here and there. But he aint living and breathing schoolwork. In MY opinion, he’s not very focused on his future at all. And we all know that my opinion is THE most important one around here. Dammit.

Two nights ago, my frustration went nuclear. I raged at Big Son about his sub-standard committment to his studies. Too much sport, too much girlfriend, too much texting. Not enough schoolwork, reading, and that foreign concept called, ‘Hard Work.’ “There’s only eight months left in the schoolyear and you don’t have a hope in hell of winning a scholarship! It’s time to get real about your future. You’re headed nowhere… blah blah.” The very worst of the academically-aggressive-fiapoto-psycho-Wendt Side of me had taken over of all semblance of common-sense and decency.  It was rather epic. He may have cried when it was all done. I know I did. I apologized. But the words had been said.

Yesterday we went to Big Son’s school for the Pacific Scholar’s Awards Night. He said he was getting ‘a something.’ I was feeling bad about my Tyrannosaurus-sized blow-out at him so I told the Hot Man we should all go as a family and support our son. ‘Even if he’s only getting a certificate saying he spelled his name right.’ We made a couple of ula lole ( candy lei’s). I had the kids dress up nice. ‘I don’t want the teachers to think we’re bush people. Wear your Pumpkin Patch dress so they will think we are refined bush people.’ Big Daughter complained because she had a Japanese test to study for. I told her to zip it and take her text book with her. That way people will think we’re EDUCATED global citizen bush people!

We went. Big Son got a certificate for passing NCEA. We clapped. We put his ula lole on him. Little Son whined through the keynote speaker’s address, When are we going home? I wanted to twist his ear but of course I didnt. That would only confirm our bush people status. We’re not that kind of bush people. We wait and twist their ear when we get home…ha. I gave Little Son that silent but deadly look. The kind that conveys mayhem and destruction and strikes fear in a whiney child’s heart. He was suitably impressed and there was no more whining.

Then they presented awards for 1st, 2nd, 3rd in each level. I mentally prepped myself not to cast envious looks upon the parents of children who WERE academic superstars. I will remain impassive and calm. I will not get mad that my son is lazy and unfocused. I will not throw rotten eggs at the proud parents of children who are not lazy. I promise.

They announced 3rd, 2nd. We clapped. Then they announced 1st. The Top Pacific Scholar. They said Big Son’s name. I was too stunned to even cheer CHOO-HOO like a proper bush parent should. Big Son got his award. It included one hundred dollars. My initial reaction to that was indignant on his behalf. A reaction that conveniently forgot that I’d just been lamenting his laziness.  Ohmigosh, he works his butt off all year and all he gets is one hundred dollars?! Couldnt they have gotten a company to sponsor a decent financial reward? Hello, in Samoa the top student at SamCo was getting $1000! The top student at RLSS was getting an all-expenses paid trip to the USA! I wanted to shower my son with hundred dollar bills myself, right then and there. Long, colorful strings of hundred dollar bills. (That I would then take back to the bank the next day. Because they were just for show. You know, to make all the other parents feel bad about themselves.)  Except I didnt have any hundred dollar bills. We had no more candy lei’s to put on him either. So we just clapped. (We are rather useless islander parents…)

Big Son smiled. A lot. He looked proud. Happy. The first thing he did was hug me and say, “See mum? Do you still think I have no hope in hell of getting a scholarship?”

A genuine bush people mum would probably have snapped, ‘Salapu!” And taken him home for some re-educating. But I often fail at being a bush people mum… I hugged him back. And tried not to cry. I was so very happy and relieved that in spite of his OUTWARD APPEARANCE laid-back approach to schoolwork – my son IS on track to achieving his academic goals.  And yes, I felt rather guilty about my epic lecturing. It was a good day to be proven wrong.

Teachers and parents congratulated our son. And us for being his parents. I smiled in a dignified, reserved manner. Befitting the parents of an academic superstar. Because of course, such an achievement is no big deal beause we are academic superstar/global citizen/refined people and this kinda thing happens all the time. Ho hum. So blase. Until Little Son had to ruin it by exclaiming really loud in a really unrefined way – “Its so awesome! You won a hundred dollars! What are you gonna buy?” I knew I should have left him in the car

When it was all done, we took the family to dinner. To Burger King of course. Like good bush parents. Where Bella hugged everyone and announced, “This is the bestest day ever. This is the awesomest family ever!”

And I told Big Son he could pay for it with his award money.  Just kidding son!

Sometimes it does suck to be a parent. And sometimes it’s downright fabulous.

jadepric

The World according to a Beast

More evidence I’m a bad mother – the very NON.PC vocab of my 3yr old Beast. At her preschool she is …

* best friends with someone she calls, “Chinaboy.” But darling, what’s his name? “Chinaboy! I already tell you!” And then she catches sight of him arriving with his mum and she yells, “There he is! Hi Chinaboy!” And I die.

* mad at a little girl for pushing her, “You know the White Girl? She be mean to me.” Umm darling, which little girl are you talking about? The Beast stares at me like Im really stupid. “The White One! Over there!” And she points to a sea of swarming fair-skinned children. I give up.

*amused by a little boy with freckles who likes to do an odd little dance in the playground. “That boy with the spots on his face – he’s so funny!”

*Entranced by the turbanned father of one of the students, “Ooh look he’s got a donut towel on his head! Look at his head mama!” Shh..”But look!” Shh..don’t point. Don’t be rude. “But he’s got a donut on his head! Can I have one too? Hey funny girl, your dad’s got a funny donut on his head!”

And then off she runs to play. With Chinaboy, White Girl, Boy with Spots on his Face and Funny Girl with Donut-head father.

I wonder what they all call her? ‘The Bossy Beastly Brown Girl’?

Stupid Shoes.

So today I was stupid and wore shoes like this to the mall.

I traipsed around after my two teenagers while they spent their birthday money. Do you know how incredibly tiring / boring / painful it is to go shopping with people WHEN YOU’RE NOT THE ONE BUYING ANYTHING? I never noticed it before. I used to spend the whole day in the mall.I could shop forever – like the Energizer bunny with a Gold card. And still have energy to try on all my purchases ten different ways when i got home. But today was different. Twenty minutes into the first clothes store and my feet started to ache. Waiting for Sade to try on one, then two, then three different pairs of black pants and my feet started to feel like I was shoving them into rusty eleni cans. Offering my wise opinion on her every clothing item and my face was frozen into a concrete smile. Yes you look great. No you dont look fat in that. Yes that color suits you. Ohmigosh could you please have mercy on me and just hurry the hell up?!

Then it was time for her to buy a pair of shoes for church. By then I was hobbling. Hanging onto railings for support. Leaning on my child like I was 80plus years old and forgot my walker at home. Imaginary blood was seeping out of my stupid shoes as my feet slowly gave up their fragile grip on life. They were delirious now and imagining they were reclining on the sandy shores of Lalomanu beach. Like this.

In the shoestore I collapsed on a chair. And waited. And while I waited, my eye was caught by some ballet type flat slippers. Like this.

Normally I wouldnt be caught dead even considering such shoes. But it was a dire emergency. I took off my torture boots, slipped on some slippers and was instantly transported to a heavenly dimension. I was floating on cotton candy clouds of comfort. And marvelling in marshmallow mists of luxury. I had to buy them. Of course. My feet were grateful. I was amazed. I looked at all those other women in the mall who wear sensible flat shoes and now I know what they feel like! I thought everybody endured stupid amounts of pain and suffering whenever they put shoes on. I guess i was wrong. Sensible flat shoes. What a revolutionary concept.

The damage to my feet had already been done though. So now I am sitting at home with my feet up. Ouch. Covered in bandaids and contemplating what I learned today.

1. Shopping is no fun when you’ve got buckets of children. Single, childless people dont know how good they’ve got it. I used to get that buzzy high whenever I had spent my day shopping. A Kahlua’n’Coke kind of exhilirating high. (Minus the Kahlua.)Now, I’m just exhausted. Every piece of me aches.
2. Women who wear stupid shoes to the mall and look happy, are not human. They are androids with feet of robotic steel.
3. I will never realise my dream of being a supermodel like Heidi. Or being best gal-pals with Posh Spice. Because THEY can wear stupid shoes AND shop for their children AND make it look so effortless and painfree.

I Want your Power.

Can you beat the Crunch?
I covet the powers of a rugby league coach. Today I went to another of Little Son’s league games and I am in awe of the man who trains them. Imagine if you will – 13 boys all as hyper and (rotten) as my Little son.And yet, this man has them moving like a well-oiled machine. He speaks with a minimum of words and amazing things happen as a result. He says RUN! They run and dont stop until he says so. He says TACKLE! And they charge like rhinos on crack. He says, ‘STOP TALKING!’ and there is nothing but silence rippling across the field. One boy gets knocked down, winded and starts crying. The coach says, Get up! suck it in and run through it. Get back up and out there now! The boy sniffs, staggers to his feet and runs after the ball again. Pain is magically forgotten. Wow. The man doesnt gush with praise either. The boys win. Coach asks, “Do you think you deserve a cheer?” The boys nod eagerly, yes we won! Coach snaps, “No you dont! You let that other team score 2 tries! Double training this week! Running double laps, now!” And all the boys get out there and do it. WITHOUT COMPLAINING. My jaw drops. Coach doesnt have to bribe, wrangle, argue, convince, persuade or kiss-butt to make great things happen. The only positive reinforcement he offers is naming the Best Player of the match. Winner of this worthy honor gets a Crunchie Bar. And yet these boys are completely over the chocolate moon if they get the week’s Crunchie.

This team is unbeaten so far this season. They win every game with an embarassing number of points. This coach is obviously doing something right.

I am in lustful awe. I want his coach powers. I want them bad. Do you know what I could do with that kind of power?!

I would say to my Fab5 team, ‘Do the dishes!’ And dishes would get done. Without me needing to declare a ceasefire. Without me having to wade through a tangled web of warfare. ‘It’s your turn to do them! No its not, I did them last night. Yeah, but you didnt do them properly so i had to wash them all over again. Did not. Did too!

I would point to JB’s room and say, ‘Clean up this mess!’ And he would see exactly what I see – the week old lunchbox food, the dirty socks that are coming alive with microbes, the clothes that he artfully arranges everywhere EXCEPT for in the drawers or in the closet. He wouldnt ask in an aggrieved voice, “What mess? I just cleaned it this morning!” No, he would just nod and snap to it. Cleaning, vacuuming, sorting and then he would dash to scrub the bathroom too. Just because he wanted to impress me with his comittment to the team’s cleanliness.

And if a child got a cut, a scrape, a bruise,a bump – and came running with a sniffle for a bandaid. An extra cookie. A day off school. I would snap, ‘Suck it in! Get up and run through it! Get back out there!’ And they would.

Yes, if I had Coach’s power then the Fab5 would hang on my every word. They would try to read my mind. Anticipate my every wish. I would speak less and they would DO more. There would be eternal happiness and peace in this house. I want it BAD.

Im not quite sure how to get me some Coach power. I think I shall begin by stocking up on Crunchie Bars. (And then try not to eat them all myself.) Do you think JB would clean his room better if there were crunchies hanging in the balance?

The Favorite.

Ask just about any parent if they have a ‘favorite’ child – and they will usually bluster until they’re blue in the face, that NO, of course not. Dont be ridiculous. I love all my children equally. Exactly the same.

I’m going to risk death and dismemberment and say – they’re lying. Big time. It is impossible to love all your children EXACTLY the same because they are all different and at different times in your parenting life, you will alternately love them/detest them/despair of them/be confounded by them. How do I know this? I have five children. I am one of six children. Im one of gazillions of grandchildren ( my grandfather had 24 children. Don’t ask.) In a nutshell, I have had heaps of opportunity to study out for myself – this conundrum of parents and their favorites.

Favoritism – both real and imaginary – runs rampant in every family. Just ask any kid on the street. Or living in your house! Children are rabid dogs out for blood at the slightest hint of favoritism. Injustice. “His piece of cake is bigger than mine!” “She got 3 presents from Santa and I only got 2!” Even teenagers work that no-fair-favorite angle. “You let her go to a birthday party at night, how come you wont let me go to a party at night?” (Umm because she’s 7 and it was a fully adult supervised event at McDonalds while YOUR invitation is to a dance party rave at some unspecified location with unknown numbers of unsavory people all imbibing uncertifiably disgusting amounts of unlicensed liquids…NO WAY IN FLAMING HECK!)

Kids will use some of the weirdest things to pin favoritism charges on their parents. Like illness and special conditions. When we were growing up, my kid sister was a constant sickly worry to my parents and so she always got special food, special treatment. Which to the rest of us translated to “She’s a spoilt rotten favorite brat! No fair!” Two of my children are gluten intolerant and dairy makes them queasy. You’d think this would make their siblings feel sorry for them – as they scoff down chocolate cake and buckets of ice cream while the sorry pair are sipping on soymilk. Nope. Little Son is constantly accusing us of mistreating him, “You never buy ME special soya ice pops! Its not fair.” (Roll my eyes. Whatever. Whine to somebody who cares.) Sometimes the whole favorite whinge just annoys me and I want to scream: “You’re right! I cant stand you – thats why Im treating you this way. Everybody else is the favorite EXCEPT you!”

My dad knew the trick to successful neutral Switzerland parenting. He worked on building a separate relationship with each of his children. One where he talked to you like you were an adult. (even when you were an irritating 8yr old) Where he made you feel like your opinion actually mattered. Each of us always knew we had a connection with our Dad that was independent of any other sibling. Thats why, each of my sisters will tell you that …”I’M MY DAD’S FAVORITE!” I have a lot to learn from his example.

If Im being totally honest, I would have to say that while I love ALL of my children – sometimes I like being with one more than the other. I like hanging with Sade when she’s in a joking mood – that girl is so funny I dont know how we’re even related. I prefer JB’s company when I’m tired, sick or stressed – he’s the calm, helpful, responsible one that knows just what to say and do to soothe any situation. If I need a super quick, super fast helper with a project or some housework? Then the Demon is the one I want with me – eager, energetic and never complains, he’s defn my favorite at choretime. The Princess is gentle and kind – always my choice when i want to be uplifted or reminded that motherhood is a blessing. And the Bella Beast? When she’s not screaming or stamping her foot at me – she’s my favorite for snuggles, kisses, cheeky grins and hugs.

So do I have favorites? Yes I do. And then sometimes, I dont like any of my children at all. (shock, horror) Those are the days when I wish all of them would disappear and leave me to enjoy the bliss of solitude. Aint nobody the favorite then!

(That’s alright though – Im sure there’s some days when I’m not their favorite mother either.)

Rock this Tooth Fairy

The truth hurts.I can be a really horrible person. And a nasty mother.

My 7yr old son is very fiapoko. That means – he’s a little knowitall. He argues with his teacher. Contradicts his father. Corrects his mother. Mutters under his breath at his big brother. And generally irritates us all to death. So much that I find myself at times, reverting to childish, evil mother behaviour.(Cue wicked witch laugh here.)

Last week his sister’s tooth fell out. She carefully stowed it away for the Tooth Fairy. Her rotten brother announced, “The Tooth Fairy isn’t real you silly! It’s just your parents giving you money.” Sister’s lower lip trembled, “No! The tooth fairy is real, so there!” Rotten brother sneered knowingly and laughed. “No its not. Dont be such a baby!” I was tempted to fasi him.

That night the Rock sneaked into our house, dressed in a glittery tutu and wings the Tooth Fairy (aka ME wearing trackpants, 3 sweaters and a hoodie because its so damn cold) came to take sister’s tooth when she was asleep. The next morning, as Little Sister expressed joy over her money – Rotten Brother just had to jump in again with his two cents worth. “Mum and Dad left you that money. The tooth fairy isnt real. You dont know anything.” I really wanted to fasi him.

Today one of the Fiapoko’s teeth falls out. He is jubilant. “Haha! I’m gonna get some money tonight! Im gonna buy chewing gum and a candy bar from the dairy ! Haha!”

I give him the evil eye. “But I thought you said the Tooth Fairy wasnt real?”

He shrugs and gives Little Sister a defiant stare, “That’s right. The tooth fairy isn’t real.”

I smile. Sweetly. “Well I’ve got news for you then. Tooth fairies only want teeth that belong to children who actually believe in them. You dont, so give me your tooth so i can chuck it in the rubbish bin.”

He tries to protest. Whine. Telling me “No, I believe! I believe!”

I am unmoved. “No. You’re just saying that now because you want money. You’re absolutely right. The Tooth Fairy isn’t real so its a waste of time saving that nasty ole tooth. Get rid of it. NO MONEY FOR YOU!”

He was sad. I wasnt.I was jubliant that i had finally got one over this knowitall child. Ha. Gotcha! He skulked away to sulk in his room. I didnt. I did the touchdown victory dance. Yeah, that’s right! Can you smell what the Rock is cookin!? hmmm, now who’s the child here?!

So, no – not one of my better mother moments. But at least i didnt give in to the desire to fasi someone.

The only Tooth Fairy I want visiting me.

People that make me laugh, cry and just think.

So I do a lot of blog hopping. And lurking. Some of my fave blogsites are those where people chart their journeys through the crazy world of parenting. Ones that either make me laugh, cringe sympathetically, or get rejuvenated to keep plodding along on my own mad mother road. I appreciate good writers who take the time to inspire me with tales of their own parenting journeys. I wanted to spotlight three of them and encourage you all to check them out – if you havent already!

1.LE FOLAUGA : Seti Matua. This blog is an oddity because I confess, Seti is one of a sparse few bloggers that i follow who is a man. A dude. A guy. Now, I dont know if its because most men are horrible bloggers or because I’ve been discriminating against man bloggers! Either way, Seti’s blog is always a thought-provoking and enjoyable read. He’s the former Editor of PolyInsider.com, South Pacific Insider Magazine (SPIMag.com) and PolyNation Magazine. His work has appeared on SamoaLive.com, PacBiz.org and in Spasifik Magazine. Seti writes a lot about sports (so dudes should like that…) but my fave are his posts about being a father, something he knows alot about because he has FIVE boys. He writes, “I was born and raised in the United States, I still consider Samoa my homeland. I currently reside in Lehi, Utah with my wife Jennifer and our five sons. I enjoy writing about people who are making a difference. There’s nothing like a great, feel-good, success story that provides our children and youths with positive role models to emulate.” Check out one of Seti’s posts from this week.
http://lefolauga.com/2011/05/25/whats-wrong-are-you-seriously/

2. RABBIT IN THE HEADLIGHTS :Vern. A long time ago I was roaming the cyberworld and stumbled upon this woman’s blog. Fell over and then couldnt get up. Read some more and didnt want to get up. Read some more and laughed so much I really couldnt get up. I’ve been a dedicated follower ever since. This is why I love the blogworld. Me and Vern are Twilight worlds apart – geographically, ethnically, racially… – okay in plain english – she’s a white mother raising her family in the American heartland and I’m a brown one screaming at my family in the islands. So different and yet, I totally get her humor and approach to staying sane in parentworld. I love just about every single one of her posts so it was a struggle to pick one to share! Check this one out and then keep perusing.
http://rabbitintheheadlights.blogspot.com/2007/04/family-night.html

3. FAGOGO MAI SAMOA : its a secret…. Once upon a time, I knew a little girl in my English class at SamCo who was witty, clever, beautiful and shy. (back then she really was shy. Truly.) The little girl grew up, got married, embarked on a career and a thesis and started a blog. And it was super funny, witty, incisive, and not shy at all! If you like intelligent sarcasm with your parenting sagas and screamingly funny humor with your political commentary – then THIS is the blog for you. I dont know how she does it all with babies and study and work and blog but she does and Im glad because its a rockin awesome read.
http://savaii.blogspot.com/2010/10/live-love-land-sex-and-money.html

Zumba YOU.

Last nite I went to my first Zumba class.

You know those people who are smooth and sexy on the dancefloor? Who can execute every step with effortless grace and make it all look so incredibly easy? And who can join the instructor on the front stage and strut, shake and boogie with confidence and style?

Yeah, Im not one of those people.

But you know those people who’s idea of a great time is to dance non-stop all night (even if nobody else is on the dancefloor…) And when they dance they’re in their own world – a world where they’re JLo’s lead backup dancer OR starring in a Burlesque show with Aguilera OR outshining all the showgirls in Vegas? And so when they go to a Zumba class and the instructor breaks out some complicated steps – they dont care because they just do their own moves anyway? ( I mean heck, who needs an instructor when you’re kickin it with JLo after all?!)

Yeah Im one of THOSE people.

So I had a blast at Zumba. And while I was shakin and swayin and steppin and grindin – I had an epiphany. I should take a course and be a Zumba instructor! YES! Can you think of a more perfect profession? You get to dance like crazy, have a blast, shout at people to step this way and that, have a room full of people completely fixated on you (because theyre terrified if they blink then they’ll miss a step and be forever Lost) – all that AND you make money. Not to mention, you’ll get disgustingly fit and healthy. I could see it all…my future as a Zumba babe. I would spend my days blogging/cooking/cleaning/writing/ choreographing and shopping for new Zumba outfits. Then at night I would transform into this raging hot, confident and bootishakinlicious Zumba woman. (Okay that sounded a little R rated…but you know what i mean.)

I came home on an endorphin-fuelled high and told the Fab Five about my plan. I even busted out a few Zumba moves from my class. Yeah check this out!

They watched. They laughed. They begged me not to be a Zumba instructor. Because apparently having a mother who shakes her bootylicious self for money is uncool. Embarassing. Especially if she shakes it the way I do.

Oh Zumba you!! Why am I cursed with children who insist on stabbing a knife into the heart of all my dreams and aspirations?! I am undeterred. Guess what three things Im doing right now? (since amazing women like me are brilliant multitaskers) Watching a JLo music video, doing laundry AND designing my very own Zumba instructor outfit…Im thinking a few feathers and a little glitter wont go astray… Got to dress the part you know. Ask my dancing buddy JLo. She’ll tell you.

I have sinned.

On Sundays I go to a Parenting class at church. Instead of going to Sunday School. Because I usually havent done the scripture reading assignment for Sunday school. Because Ive been too lazy busy. Anyway, its a great class where we learn lots of great stuff about how to be better parents. Yesterday’s topic was “Effective Communication in your family.” Oh goodie, i thought. This should be fun. Im a great communicator in my family!

First the teacher went through examples of NEGATIVE communication. And as each example was read out, I grew increasingly uncomfortable and disbelieving. Because not only do i say just about ALL those things, I also couldnt see what the heck was wrong with most of them?! Check out these examples:

Eg 1 : ‘Why on earth did you do that? What’s wrong with you?!‘ Umm, just said it this morning. Child blocks toilet with entire roll of paper. For the zillionth time. Who can decipher the logic behind child’s actions? Not I. Instead must resort to asking the unanswerable question…Why did you do that!

Eg 2: ‘It’s all your fault!’ Hello! It usually is. – Who else drew on the wall. Threw all their clothes on the floor. Left their shoes outside in the rain and ruined them and now thinks Santa Claus is going to fork out for some more. In May. Who didnt bring their PE uniform to be washed and now has nothing clean to wear today? Who didnt finish their homework and now its due and theyre stressing? WELL IT WASNT ME!

Eg 3 : ‘Stop your complaining. When i was your age I had to do this, this and that…‘ Damn straight! These kids have no clue how good they have it.

Eg 4 : ‘You better stop that or you wont be able to sit down for a week!’ Well, I’ve never said that. Because i say, Stop that or I’ll kill you. Figuratively speaking of course.

Eg 5 : ‘You always get upset about the littlest things. You’ve got to toughen up!‘ Do I not say that to the Princess every other day? The child insists on crying at everything. Even if the teacher is telling off some other child, she comes home crying about it.How is she going to handle the teenage jungle years? Isnt it my job as her mum to make sure shes tough enough to handle all the rough stuff in life?

Eg 6 : ‘You drive me crazy!’ Okay, so I’ll admit I was a little unbalanced BEFORE i had the children. But its totally their fault that I’m a raving lunatic now. They push me further over the edge. Everyday. Is it my fault Im being honest with them?

Yes, according to the principles of good family communication, I have sinned many times. I threaten, criticize, pass judgement, berate, belittle, and dismiss. But I didnt want to accept that conclusion. I came home and told the Fab Five about my class. And they couldnt stop laughing at the examples. And they had more to add…

“How about when mum says, You better wipe that look off your face before i slap it off!

“Or my favourite, You better get down from there or you’re going to fall down, crack your head and die!”

“No, the best one is, You’re such an ungrateful brat. I gave you life and now you cant even do this one thing for me!”

“Or this one – Stop bugging me! Stop hanging around like a bad smell! Youre worse than a mosquito. At least I can squash a mosquito..”

“Its so funny when she says, I dont care what your brother did to you. Just go back and punch him. I’ve got better things to do with my time than referee you people!

“And that time I fell out of the tree, I told you not to go there. You didnt want to listen and now you’re hurt. Serves you right. Now go cry to someone who gives a damn.

Their examples went on and on and on. Until I told them all to be quiet before I tape their mouths shut that yes, I suppose I was kind of a terrible communicator. I had to admit that hearing my words come out of their mouths was very enlightening. And humbling. So I promise ( and you can all be my witnesses) that I will speak MUCH nicer to my children from now on.

What things do YOU say to your children…that you probably shouldnt?