January 8, 2020

times they have changed, plus a Curly B.O. crackup

I have noticed lately that things that were once an automatic for my older kids are not necessarily happening on the regular with the younger guys.  I am NOT too pleased about it, but refuse to beat myself up too much.  Life is just super busy and as much as I love consistency, I cannot control the shift that happens as kids get older. 

As I proofread this, I thought I had made a typo and inserted the word 'shit' instead of shift, and even though I didn't -honestly that word fits here too.

I even used this irritating phenomenon as one of the stanzas in my annual Christmas poem:

Curly thinks watching TV each night (even after late night dancing) is an automatic deal,
I barley recall a quiet house full of younger kids, reading stories and enforcing bedtimes that were real.  

I am here to tell you our evenings do not even resemble that predictable schedule that we once followed . . . . well, as predictable as life with 6 kids and a husband who worked 3 or 4 evenings a week till 9 pm can be anyway.  On nights when Coach was home he joined in our nightly routine - the rest of the time I was the heavy.  

We ate dinner at the table at a normal time (that became less 'normal' as kids joined soccer, basketball and baseball teams and became more 'pick up your plate and bring it in the car with you).  Kids read books before bed when they were old enough to read alone . . . before that, we read to them.  I reminded kids to get in the bath or shower, and they filed up to their bathroom and came down shiny and smelling lovely and dressed in cute jammies.  Homework happened.  The television was rarely on.  In the summer they wrote daily journal entries.  There was order - other than the craziness my kids were prone to . . . 

I started a thing that I called 'eating in isolation' so on nights when I was trying to hold down the fort and the natives got restless, I occasionally lost my shit and ordered the rebel-rouser into another room to finish their dinner in solitary confinement.  Anyone in the kitchen who giggled at the troublemaker's antics that often continued from two rooms away barely survived my evil stare.  

Too bad I wasn't blogging back when the gang was tiny.  I would have some real tales to tell.  I still remember some of them, and better yet I was quick with my camcorder and I have much incriminating video clips.  The day Ed dumped liquid hand soap on the bathroom floor and then 'ice skated' in it stands out.  He was not always on the straight and narrow.

Fast-forward to 2020:  the kids go to bed LATE.  When Lad was 12 (as Curly is now), I think his bedtime was 8:30-ish . . . firm.  Curly gets home from dancing at 9:30 and then usually eats AGAIN, finishes homework (maybe?), and tries to sneak in a few minutes of Impractical Jokers or some show.  

I trust that the kids still do homework. but I only know when they don't bother to do it if a teacher complains (um, I'm zeroing in on my friend, Reg).  

Inserting another part of my lengthy Christmas recap poem:

Reggie's least favorite class is Spanish where all he can say is "No hablo espanol,"
We fear that the shock of high school homework in the fall will take a real toll.

Our school GAVE my kids laptops.  Prior to that we had no electronics.  Whatsoever.  We have owned an Xbox for a few years now and it might one day be blamed for the cause of my premature death.  Now my kids (again, Reg!) pop open those laptops and pose with concerned expressions as if they are accomplishing lengthy term papers, but in reality I know computer games are being played.  Reg angles his computer in such a way that I cannot see the screen.  The rule is that he HAS to sit at the kitchen table so I can see what screen he is on.  Since I am in a state of constant motion, that is NEVER enforced. 

Reading?  Oi-ye.  Mini started out not overly excited about reading and thankfully ramped up big time.  She is now a speed reader who can finish a book in record time.  Ed would read a book in high school if he had time - like when he went on the Europe trip, but with school sports and a ton of AP classes and college applications pleasure reading didn't happen as much as he would like.  Lad WAS a great reader as a kid, but hello Xbox.  (I just typed Xcox accidentally, I corrected it but considered just letting that 'unintentional' sentiment just hang there.)

My real concern:  Curly.  I cannot find a book that this girl enjoys.  I suggest stuff and she reads a few pages of it and then grills me:  'Wait, WHY did you think this book was funny?  It's so dumb.'  We have found a few titles that have interested her, but she is one tough customer and I still harbor some hope that she will discover the joy of reading.

Toss some serious Irish dancing in the path of a kid I am BEGGING to read more and you may as well ask me to find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.  It ain't happening. 

Over break it occurred to me one day that I should have instituted a mandatory daily reading time for Reg and Curly.  I verbalized this regret and they both scoffed at me as if I asked them to rearrange every bookshelf at our local library.  'We are ON BREAK!'  Sigh.

Curly reading in the car last night. 
When did a picture of my kid reading
become such a novelty? 
Sniffling and sobbing.
I told Curly that if she read Little Women aloud to me, then we could go see the movie at the theater.  We don't go to the movies often, so this sort of motivated her.  She started reading the book the other day on our way to dancing class.  She is totally underwhelmed by it.  It irks her that the girls call their mother 'Marmie.'  Not to mention, nothing is really happening.  When she learned that Beth gets to stay home from school for being too shy, she was jealous.  She loves school, but this all happened the night before the dreary return after Christmas break.  Besides, if she relied on my to home school her, well . . . epic fail.  Just look at her reading interest as exhibit A.

Still it is a quick read and I am hoping that reading during our dancing commute might spur her interest in some sort of book at some point.

Side note:  she got in the car last night and I saw a younger girl leave the studio. 

Me:  I didn't know that little girl got bumped up to your level.  How's that going?

Curly:  OK.  She's pretty annoying and even thought she is so little she has the WORST B.O. ever. 

Me:  Oh, well some kids get B.O. earlier than others.  Lad and Tank had B.O. in like kindergarten.

Curly:  Oh my gosh - that makes sense because they are the grossest people in our family.

Me:  (almost losing control of the car as I shook with laughter)

Curly:  I mean they aren't ugly or anything but they just make the biggest messes and they always leave their socks everywhere and they have bushy eyebrows (really this only applies to Tank) and they sweat the most.  Well, Reg is definitely the smelliest kid in our whole family right now - but that JUST happened, which is more of a normal time to smell bad.  

Me:  (trying to catch my breath)  Well, yes Reg has some issues like working so hard in basketball that his dang deodorant just fails him.  His foot odor though, WOW.  (So, if Xbox does not kill me, then an unexplained death could be blamed on offspring's foot odor.  Reg and Mini's feet - it's a toss up at the moment.  Both life threatening.  Shout out to Santa for thinking to give them each odor fighting tools in their stockings.  Practical Santa rocks).  


Bibliomama said...

It must be SO interesting (and crazy-making) to see how different habits and personalities shake out with six different kids in the mix (the ice skating in the soap is hilarious, because it wasn't my kid probably). I would say do what you can to encourage reading for Curly but don't kill yourself over it - it just doesn't happen for some people. My son was a reader for about a year and a half when he was of the age for Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Warriors series, and he reads when he has to for school, but he's not a READER, like my daughter (thank goodness I got one). And actually I agree that the girls calling their mother Marmie is annoying. :P Oh, and I totally read 'can't control the shit'.

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

Peter used to love to read. And once video games came into his life he stopped. Now the only reading he does (other than required school reading) is on sports websites.

Sarah has always hated to read. Always. But once they took Pretty Little Liars off of Netflix she asked for the book set. I immediately ordered it and am delighted when I occasionally find her reading. Probably not the greatest books but at least she's reading.

Anonymous said...

The soap story reminds me of the time, I was probably 8-ish years old, I had a friend over and we covered my kitchen floor with dish soap and water for “ice skating”. My mom walked in awhile later, completely unaware of our antics, and slipped. I don’t remember how mad she was because I’m pretty sure my friend and I booked it out of there!

Ernie said...

Bibliomama - I feel so much better about Curly's lack of interest in reading if YOU say it is not a big deal considering how many books you read last year. And yes, there are some interesting different personality traits in this crowed. The really crazy thing is that Ed and Reg who are 100% Coach's side didn't get any teeth until they were almost a year, had similar eating habits, and they are both win-or-die-trying types who are uninterested in animals whereas Lad and Tank were always totally into nature shows about wildlife, and had teeth at 4 mos., etc.

Beth - I am not exactly cracking a book open at every turn here - I wish I could find more time for that, so that might be a factor. I didn't really develop an interest in reading until I was an adult - so maybe there is hope.

Anonymous - That 'friend' would have gotten his butt kicked off of our 'friends to invite over' list. Ed did it, but he was my kid and he was 3 years old so I could only capture it on video and fume and then try for hours to get the soap off the floor.

Busy Bee Suz said...

None of us can control the shit or shift.
I think instead Of sending the dinner time offender away, you could’ve given yourself a ‘solitary dinner’. 😆
Our Lolo was a major reader....books for kids years older than her, encyclopedias, dictionaries, you name it. Linds liked to read when she was small, but then realized there was a TV and it was easier. She was always my lazier kid. I wasn’t a big reader as a kid, but loved it in my 20’s before kids and read almost every Steven King and Danielle Steele novel I could get my hands on. Now I have to force myself to stop it with my laptop and the TV....damn new technology.
There could be worse things for them to not make a habit bathing. BO is terrible!

Ernie said...

Ha! Yes - better that they don't read but get their B.O. under control. When Reggie was really little we had to buy special deodorant for his feet because they sweat so much that they cracked and bled and the pediatrician told us this would help. Flash forward to his teen years and WATCH OUT WORLD - there is no deodorant that can manage his sweat.

Now that I have joined a book club, I am amazed that I manage to carve out the time to read a book when it is not summer and I am laying next to a pool. Even a few pages while I wait in the car to pick up a kid from practice helps.