7 Gifts to NOT give for Christmas!

present2_1785835bMost toys aren’t made with parents in mind. Most gift-giving is well-intentioned but can be woeful for us mothers and fathers who have to live with the gift. So I’ll make it simple for you. Here’s what not to give the children in your life.

  1. Anything that has more than 5 parts in the box. It’s OK if the parts assemble together permanently, but if they don’t, put the box down and walk away from that aisle. I swear, that 125-piece food play set was sent from Satan himself. Items will get lost, trampled on, thrown, strewn all over the floor and eventually end up in the trash can.
  2. Anything that doesn’t have an on/off switch. Because nothing will drive you to the brink of insanity like a toy that can’t be shut off.
  3. Anything that doesn’t have volume control. Yes, that singing Elsa doll is oh so cute and the little girl will be delighted. But after two weeks of hearing “Let It Go” belted out over and over and over at full blast, it will take everything within the parent’s power not to beat the every living crap out of the doll. If the volume can be lowered, such as LeapFrog’s Scout, the toy’s lifespan just got longer.
  4. Anything that requires special markers or paper to work. For example, Crayola’s Color Explosion Set. Sure, it’s cool. But it’s advertised as “this Crayola Color Explosion set offers kids endless surprising fun.” Guess what? It’s not bloody endless. It’s 18 pages and that’s it. For a 3-4 year old, that’s gone in perhaps 3-5 minutes. Then they ask for more, the parent is empty-handed, staring at a sobbing child. So if you must buy something like this (because it is cool!), include lots of extra paper or markers so that it’s not a bust within 10 minutes.
  5. Any toy that requires an internet access. There will be war within the household if the toy is a hit and the kid wants to take it everywhere where it just becomes useless. This is one that you really need to check with the parent on. If the child is old enough to understand internet access is not everywhere, then it’s OK. But if not, then the tantrums will be epic and endless.
  6. Check if the toy requires special batteries. Batteries that are beyond AA or AAA are a problem. God forbid the battery is CR2032. The parent will either spend an entire paycheck in Target getting what’s needed, or have to wait a month for a bulk shipment from China.
  7. Do not get a gift that is not age appropriate. Getting a 5-yr old a gift that is meant for an 8-yr old only means the parent has to constantly interact/explain the toy and eventually, it gets tossed aside by frustration.

TIPS:
Things you can do to make the parent love you –
1. If the toy requires batteries, bring them along too. Few things are as thoughtful as this gesture, no matter what the toy.
2. Check with the parent what the child is into. If he/she has a set of something (e.g. My Little Pony dolls), ask which one the child is missing and commit to the parent to buy that one missing piece. Then follow through.
3. If the gift requires assembly, make sure the necessary tools are included in the package. But still refer to #1 above.

So, what are your pet-peeves with your kid(s) Christmas gifts?

Forget Ragged Mommy, Meet the Ragged Teacher.

Seriously, I am overwhelmed at the depth, length and breadth of information that has simply to be entered into systems for record keeping, let alone actually teach the class, prepare lesson plans, keep strictly up to date with state mandates, all the while, try to keep a jovial or at least civil face to the students.

My 6-year old in doing very well in her new school. She loves it, I love it. Still, I’m alarmed at the information thrown at them. For example, here are her courses for the year:

courses

Seriously, kindergarteners now have social study and science. I can’t even begin to describe the website portal that parents have access to. Every single thing they do, I can see on this portal, as well as how my child has performed. Guess what? The poor teacher has to input this information every day or every week. For eighteen students. I can click on each of these subjects, open up the attendance records, see the individual aspects studied weekly as well as the grade again. Holy crap. I kid you not, as a parent, it’s almost a full-time job to keep up with the information flowing forth. I can’t even fathom what the heck these teachers have to do to get it all in there. And that’s just the main portal.

Then we also use Study Island, which (oh joy!) covers the Common Core standards for reading and math. Here are both that she has to complete over the course of the year. We’ve now begun getting assignments here for homework.

Study Island1Study Island2

THIS IS JUST KINDERGARTEN, PEOPLE!!!!!! It blows me away. Again, having said all that, whatever way it’s being done must be OK for the kids because my child still jumps into the car as happy as can be. We get homework on a Monday and have to hand it in on Friday. I usually insist we blow it all out on Monday night while she’s still fresh from the weekend and that way she’s free for the rest of the week. When it comes to the online testing, I do have to fight myself to not lean her towards the correct answer. I must be doing well on that issue because she did fail a test so we redid it, with fewer distractions around, and she did just great.

Books she's covered this month.
Books she’s covered this month.

As a parent, we have to keep a reading log every night because there’s a very heavy emphasis on reading at her school. Reading can mean we read to her, she reads to us, or a combination of both. Basically, they want to ensure expose to books. They have an Accelerated Reading program and for every book a child is involved in, they complete a little test (3-5 questions) and get points for correct answers. It sounds pretty bad but with every point added, rain drops are added to a sunflower and they get to make the sunflower grow. My little girl has been gobbling up the books just to make that sunflower grow and covered more than enough this month to be involved in the monthly AR celebration.

Then, our overworked teacher also keeps up a classroom website on shutterfly to send out information or downloads. The poor woman has to be working at least 12 hours a day. In our parent/teacher conference a few weeks ago, she showed us the Dolch list of sight words that the kids are tested on at the beginning, middle and end of the year. From our old school, I know how to motivate my girl with sight words so I took the entire list and made sight sheets, Here’s the PDF list of Sight Words if you’d like to use them. Feel free. I offered them to our teacher and she was so grateful, she sent it out to all the parents. Every week, I add a new sheet to the fridge and at night, we’ll go through the words. My girl loves it when she nails a word she didn’t know before. So this method works very well for us, right now.

It’s every teacher that gets worked to the bones, day in and day out. No matter what the grade, no matter what the subject. The paperwork involved alone is mind-boggling. I can easily spend an hour every day going through the various portals and websites gathering information. And I’m not the one teaching.

So for the love of God, be nice to your child’s teacher. They don’t work 8am – 3pm, having this cushy life with long vacations and days off. They work their asses to the bone, every single day.

The CTFD Method Is the Greatest of All Parenting Trends

Stolen from here.

18u6d7ln7v69rjpgI know many people want to stay current with the latest parenting trends—attachment parenting, minimalist parenting, Tiger Mother parenting, et al. Well, I’ve stumbled upon a new technique that will guarantee your child grows up to be an exemplary student and citizen. It’s called CTFD, which stands for “Calm The Fuck Down.” And that’s not a message to give your kids. It’s for you.

Using CTFD assures you that — whichever way you choose to parent — your child will be fine (as long as you don’t abuse them, of course). To see it in action, here are some sample parenting scenarios and how CTFD can be employed:

  • Worried your friend’s child has mastered the alphabet quicker than your child? Calm the fuck down.
  • Scared you’re not imparting the wisdom your child will need to survive in school and beyond? Calm the fuck down.
  • Concerned that you’re not the type of parent you thought you’d be? Calm the fuck down.
  • Upset that your child doesn’t show interest in certain areas of learning? Calm the fuck down.
  • Stressed that your child exhibits behavior in public you find embarrassing? Calm the fuck down.

Yes, using the CTFD method, you’ll find the pressure lifted and realize your child loves you no matter what, even if they’ve yet to master the alphabet. You’ll also learn that whether or not you’re the best parent in the world, as long as you love your child, they’ll think you are and that’s what matters. Plus, CTFD makes you immune to those that prey upon the fears of new parents, like pseudoscientists and parenting authors.
To use CTFD, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Calm the fuck down.
  2. There is no second step.

So, ignore all those other parenting trends and stick to CTFD. You’ll be glad you did and so will your kid.


Playwright and screenwriter David Vienna is the author of TheDaddyComplex.com and exquisitely crafted drunken emails to his friends.
This post originally appeared on The Daddy Complex. Republished with permission.
Image via Kellie L. Folkerts/Shutterstock.

A Day in the Life of a Mommy.

7:00am – That damn alarm goes off. Rat Bastard.
7:07am – Fully dressed & ready for the day, I go wake the 6-year old tropical storm for school. The 3-year old is up already.
7.15am – Make it downstairs by carrying each child individually.
7:16am – First tantrum of the day because the 3-year old’s pancakes are too hot. Thankfully, the 6-year old takes them.
7.17am – Tantrum escalates higher when I refuse to give the 3-year old a chocolate sandwich for breakfast.
7:20am – Peace negotiations calm the escaped mental patient as we agree to “hot chocolate coffee” which is warm milk with Ovaltine served in a cup.
7:25-7:50am – Make sure 6-year-old is dressed, brushed teeth & hair, while persuading 3-year-old that I am not abandoning him.
7:50-8:20am – Drive oldest to school.
8:25am – Make coffee for me.
8:26am – Youngest needs to play doctor and examine me.
8:30am – Listen to hubby rant about work. Drink my coffee while he talks. Wonder if it’s too early to put Bailey’s in my coffee.
8:49am – Hubby leaves for work. Mental patient is satisfied that I am in situ and goes to the backyard to write letters & numbers with chalk.
8:50am – I sit down.
8:51am – Youngest demands to get dressed. Dress him but he dislikes his shirt intensely and demands another one. I allow this to occur because he has only about 5 shirts that he will wear and today, I tried a new one unsuccessfully.
8:53am – Go upstairs to get an approved shirt and notice that my husband has not made our bed (again, as in every.damn.day) even though he is the last one out. Make our bed. Grab green shirt for the boy.
8:57am – Put a bandage on the number 4 repeatedly.
9:00am – Check bank balance to see if I have enough money in checking for small grocery shop.
9:07am – Put Pocoyo on TV so that I can stare in hopelessness at the kitchen I need to clean up.
9:15am – Receive call about some tax news. Have nervous breakdown and begin research while I plonk kid in front of TV.
10:25am – Clean kitchen.
10:40am – Feed the beast.
10:50am – Check coupons for shopping.
11am – Pack up rugrat and head to store.
12:35pm – Back from store and have to convince 3-year old child that I cannot deliver Christmas today.
12:36pm – Unpack groceries and begin cleaning the kids’ bedroom. I don’t look in the playroom. That would be scary.
1:58pm – Have some lunch for myself and the smallie.
2:05pm – Begin searching online for Christmas toys.
2:15pm – Actually spend time snuggling, tickling & kissing my son.
2:45pm – Leave to pick up oldest from school. On the way home, discuss with her how a star didn’t make the apartment building currently under construction.
3:15pm – Home, snack, and start doing the week’s homework. This takes an abnormally long time today because we normally can do a whole week’s worth of homework in 45 minutes. But today took two hours because she needed everything to be perfect and I refused to spell out words for her (suggested to me by her teacher). As soon as I walked away, saying I was starting dinner, she completed all the remaining homework in 5 minutes. More than had been done the previous hour. All the while, I had to keep the 3-year old away from his sister. At one point, he found the numbers on the printer in Daddy’s office and decided to wreak havoc on it. So when I locked him out of the office, another epic 10-minute tantrum started. I’m surprised someone didn’t call the cops for the length, volume and pitch of his screams. Sigh. I need a drink.
5:15pm – Start cooking dinner. I am taking the bowls and utensils directly from the clean dishwasher, because I have neither the energy or motivation to actually empty it at this point. It’s pasta tonight because it’s easy and both of them will eat it.
5:37pm – The boy refuses to eat the pasta.
5:40pm –  He declares his bum is sore and needs cream. Oh joy. The excitement just never ends.
5:43pm – Begin picking up the strewn toys all over the floor that the escaped mental patient threw while I was doing homework with the kindergartener.
6:00pm – Make daughter’s lunch for school tomorrow and save in fridge.
6:09pm – Begin the mental countdown to kids’ bedtime. It used to be 7:30pm but I found that 7pm worked just oh so much better for me.
6:10pm – Try to breathe slowly to lower my blood pressure. TV is on and three shows have been declared. One hour to go. One hour to go. I can make it. I can do this.
6:15pm – Begin texting husband who does bedtime routine that the clock is ticking.
6:16pm – I sit down and play Candy Crush to escape reality for 5 minutes.
6:25pm – play with the kids, lots of laughter, kisses and tickles.
7:15pm – World starts falling apart (youngest is so tired now). Daddy on his way home so bedtime will be soon.
7:20pm – Chaos ensues so I usher everyone to the bathroom for teeth and potty. We’re done here.I sit in precious silence as Daddy takes to them in their bedroom.
7:30pm -8:00pm – Silence over. Daddy is done with bedtime. Talking with hubby about our day.
8:00pm – 9:30pm – ME TIME.
9:30pm – Head to bedroom and contemplate having a shower that I desperately need, but just have no motivation for.
9:45pm – Go to bed, catch up on Facebook, take a deep breath.
10.45pm – Sleep. Hopefully.

unnamed (1)

Time for the yearly letter.

239Every year, on the kids’ birthdays, I write them a letter. I tell them about their year, the things they like, highlights of the year, major milestones and how much they are loved. Every year, the date of my letters are becoming less exact as the years get busier and busier. So it’s time to carve out an hour today and get my girl’s letter done. Because over this past weekend, she turned into a 6-year-old.

Last year, I also started a little questionnaire to record the small things she likes. Only a few things changed from last year’s answers but that’s what growing up is. Little unnoticeable changes until all of a sudden, a grown up is staring back at you. Disclaimer: I didn’t author this questionnaire, I found it on the interwebs somewhere.

1.What is your favorite color?
2. What is your favorite toy?
3. What is your favorite fruit?
4. What is your favorite tv show?
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
6. What is your favorite outfit?
7. What is your favorite game?
8. What is your favorite snack?
9. What is your favorite animal?
10.What is your favorite song?
11. What is your favorite book?
12.Who is your best friend?
13.What is your favorite cereal?
14.What is your favorite thing to do outside?
15.What is your favorite drink?
16.What is your favorite holiday?
17.What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
18.What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
19.What do you want for dinner on your birthday?
20.What do you want to be when you grow up?

I can’t believe she is six years old. WTF. We’re getting suspiciously close to 10, and before I know it, she’ll be in her teens and I’ll be public enemy #1. We still have the discussion about her growing up. You see, I’ve asked her to stop growing. She’s perfect just as she is and I don’t want a thing to change. She did note to me that she can’t reach the top of the shelves yet, so she does indeed need to keep growing. I told her I’d get her whatever she needs but she retorted that won’t help when I’m dead. Ooooookkkkkkkaaaaayyyy then. Thanks.

Dental Saga Complete!

unnamedYesterday, the day came where my 3-year-old was due for sedation to get two fillings, a cleaning, x-rays and a fluoride treatment. Catch up on his fear of the dentist here. The pediatric dentist office was kind enough to ask all their staff to come in early, making us #1 for the day. Unfortunately that meant we had to be there at 6:40AM but the positive of that is I didn’t have a child wailing for food or water for hours. We arrived at 6:30AM, and I told my little mental patient that we were at the dentist to fix his boo-boos on his front teeth. He likes that particular office amazingly, just not any dental work. He protested lightly but I think he knew the protests weren’t going to change anything.

We started out the morning well. While we waited for everything to get set up, we watched SpongeBob in a private room and we’re all feeling good. The pediatric anesthesiologist arrived to re-inform me of what was going to happen. At no time would my son be aware that he would be in a dental chair. While we were in our private room, watching TV, he would give my boy a shot of something (think kiddie Valium) to make him unaware of what was going on. So I held my boy while he instantly figured out that the fun was over and someone was doing something to his leg. He screamed, he cried, I hugged him tightly, I kissed him profusely telling him that everything would be OK and after a minute, he quieted. His eyes were open but no one was home. The nurse came in, took him to the dental procedure room, and I sobbed like I was never going to see him again. God, what a horrible, horrible feeling that was.

Honestly, the staff just couldn’t have been nicer. They delivered coffee and bagels while I waited in my private room. They updated me every 10 minutes as to what was going on (IV was in, X-Rays were done).  I was overwhelming relieved to learn all his other teeth were free of cavities. It was just the front two  because they crossed over a little when he was 1, catching food in between them. Both needed minor fillings and that was it. Instead of the hour they had allotted, he was done in 45 minutes. I was told he was in recovery and I could go see him. I ran back and found my little zombie.unnamed (1) His front teeth were perfect, the fillings invisible and the white color restored. While holding my precious boy, the nurse tried to get him to drink some juice, and asked that I push fluids all morning. I was then visited by the pediatric dentist and the anesthesiologist. The dentist said everything was superb, see you in six months for a cleaning (I can’t even process that right now). The anesthesiologist informed me the meds are flushed out by the kidneys so that’s why they wanted us to push as much fluids as possible. 

We came home. After an hour, his head cleared but as I was warned, his body needed to catch up to his head. He was trying to walk around and simply falling over. So we had a little battle while I tried to keep him on the couch for another hour or so but basically, by early afternoon, he was back to himself.

Here’s what I take away from this experience – not all pediatric dentists are alike. The first one last year was recommending putting caps on his teeth because he had the beginning of cavities there. That was my WTF moment. The second dentist, yesterday’s dentist, preferred a much more conservative approach. Oh, and because the procedure only took 45 minutes, the anesthesiologist only charged me for 45 minutes of his time. Later yesterday afternoon, I got a phonecall from each of the pediatric dentist and the anesthesiologist checking on my boy, who is doing fantastically, by the way.