I don’t like violence. I’m not a fan of super-violent movies. I cringe at the thought of someone physically hurting someone else. I don’t hit my kiddo when he’s in trouble. It’s something I feel strongly about (although I’m sure there will be moments when I feel like I want to slap a kiddo upside the head…hopefully I can take a deep breathe and not do it). So, anyway. When we were at Chick-Fil-A the other day I witnessed a little kid (probably 4 years old) hit my 3-year-old son, Rowdy, in the back. Rowdy was pretty clueless on what had happened. He kinda flinched and then turned around to see what it was. The hitter had already moved on to something else. I told my friend, “If that kid hits Rowdy again I’ll go hit him! Okay, I won’t actually hit him, but I’ll say something and find his mom!” So, go figure. He ended up hitting Rowdy again, basically two more times in a row. I quickly went into that play area, tapped that little boy on his shoulder and said, “No sir! No hitting! Where’s your mommy?” His big brother nearby immediately ratted him out with, “She’s right there. There’s our mom.” Typical tattle tale brother, right? Ha. And much to my surprise, their mom (whom was caring for a baby in addition to these two dudes) was getting up from the table to leave after witnessing our “playground drama”. When she and I crossed paths she said, “I saw it. I’m sorry.” I replied with, “It happened three times. Thank you.” Wait, what?! She apologized and made her kids leave? Wow. I would have expected their mom to be all defensive or maybe even ignore me. Hitter Boy must have some sort of hitting patten. She didn’t seem shocked whatsoever. Either way, it was really cool of her to handle it like that. Meanwhile, Rowdy was oblivious to my Mama Bear behavior, playing and laughing with the other kids. Look, this may seem like I overreacted, but quite frankly, I don’t care. When it comes to something you feel so passionately about, especially involving your young child, you just react the way your gut tells you to. My gut told me to stand up for my kiddo and for what I believe in. He can stand up for himself when he’s older. But for now (and forever, really), mommy’s got your back.
My oldest child, a beautiful 3-year-old boy, is truly a sweet, smart and unique little person. He’s kind, non-aggressive, loves his blanket and to cuddle. So when I was pregnant with my second kiddo (a now 2.5-month-old baby girl) I was sure that my son, Rowdy, would be the sweetest brother ever. I wasn’t shocked that he seemed overwhelmed and nervous at the hospital because he has a history of being bashful. There were lots of people in a small room where his mommy was on a hospital bed. That’s no fun for a little guy like him. Then the first time he saw her after the hospital she cried (of course), so he cried. I figured he would quickly come around when we got home, but that didn’t seem to happen. He acted nervous and bashful toward her, just like he acted toward all other strangers. She was, to him, a stranger, after all. He mostly ignored her, and certainly didn’t want to touch her, much less hold her. My hormones were still MAJORLY affecting my emotions. I cried a lot, mostly concerning Rowdy. I worried about his happiness. I was sad that he wasn’t excited about baby Romy. And more than anything, I was mourning the end of his only child chapter. I suddenly realized that he and I would do less things alone together, and that made me sad. But at the same time I was in love with my new baby girl. It was a crazy first couple of weeks, emotion-wise. But thankfully, it gradually got easier and my hormones began to calm the hell down. And even though I felt better and we were a generally happy and healthy household, Rowdy still wasn’t having much to do with Romy. It bothered me, but I was too busy to harp on it, which was probably a good thing. As the weeks went by, Rowdy would say more sweet things about the baby like, “aww, baby” and “needs bottle” when she cried. But the pivotal moment came just 2 days before Romy turned 2-months-old. My husband was sitting in a chair holding baby Romy when Rowdy suddenly walked up to them, touched Romy’s head gently and said, “beautiful” several times. My eyes got huge as my husband looked to me to make sure I was seeing what he was seeing. Then my husband, Ryan, told Rowdy, “Romy needs a kiss” and he kissed her head. Well sure enough, Rowdy followed suit and kissed her on the head 3 times. We were in absolute shock. This child didn’t even want to touch her the day before, and now he was kissing her head?! It was a beautiful moment that Ryan and I will never forget. We’re so lucky that we have gotten to witness so many incredible moments with our kids together (I mean, we managed to get Rowdy to take his first steps with Ryan watching from out of town via Skype – fate). Ever since that day, Rowdy has shown lots of love toward his new sister, and this mom couldn’t be happier. Witnessing this little person that has been our world for several years accept and love this new little person in our lives is most certainly the coolest part of this ride so far. Sure, he made us wait a couple of months, but those first 2 months of a new baby’s life are such a hectic, exhausting blur anyway, right?
I wanted to share this story to bring hope to any new parents out there that are going through something similar to what we went through. The disappointment and heartbreak I felt over this issue was no fun. And it proves that you just never know how your older kiddo is going to react to a new sibling. Even a sensitive child like mine wasn’t nurturing at all for a while. But the good news is that he came around (Rowdy does most things in his own time) and shows promise for a lifelong sibling relationship full of fun and love.
#5 Arts & Crafts – Every year we all see beautiful commercials on TV about summer weather with families frolicking about outdoors. Well, if you live in a place similar to my home town, you know that sometimes the summer weather is simply unbearable. 95 degrees with 100% humidity does not feel pleasant. Doing art projects is a great way to have some fun indoors where the air is cooler. And for those of you parents that aren’t super crafty like myself, some simple crayons, coloring books, paper and kid-friendly paint will do just fine.
#4 Watch a Movie – Speaking of indoor activities, there’s nothing wrong with simply watching a movie with your kiddos. Sure, we all want our kids to play outside, be creative and avoid being couch potatoes. But a family movie night once or twice a week in the summer is just fine and dandy. Plus, it’s relaxing, easy and involves popcorn. Perfect.
#3 Public Pools – Okay, so would I rather have my very own pool in the privacy of my backyard? Of course. But, I don’t. Which is probably good for now considering that I’m busy raising two young children. I don’t have time for pool maintenance. Hopefully I will one day though. Anyway, a good ol’ trip to the local public pool is just what the doctor ordered for energetic kiddos. It only costs a few bucks per person to get in. Plus if your kids are older and strong swimmers, you can just chill close by and soak up the sun.
#2 Chalk – As long as the concrete isn’t boiling hot (maybe a cloudy day would be best), sidewalk chalk can provide loads of fun and entertainment. Not only can you and your kiddos draw fun pictures all over the driveway and patio, but you can also use the opportunity to help them learn. Work on shapes, letters and numbers while using a variety of fun colors that the kids will love. And sidewalk chalk is only a few bucks per pack. I mean, come on.
#1 Water Hose – As you can see in the picture above, my 3-year-old loves playing with the water hose. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. It’s fun. It’s cool. It’s cheap (keep the water running low). And it promotes the child’s imagination (my kiddo created a mud puddle that he drove his truck and tractor through over and over). Plus, it makes for a super cute picture, right?