Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Lessons From Middle School

Oh yes, it has begun. My precious 12yo son is rapidly morphing into a teenager. I hear it regularly, “I’m bored.’ Ok, I counter, you can clean up your desk, walk your dog, dust, rake leaves, and on and on. And always the response is ‘No, I don’t wanna do that.’ Uh huh. Ok buster. That’s how you want to play it.

Last week, actually the past few weeks, my boy got a few of the hard learned lessons of middle school. Gosh, can you even remember middle school? I can, and it’s not pretty. It’s all awkward and gangly, pimples and squeaky voices. Trying to figure out where you fit into the scene.

And then you go and mouth off to a teacher. Well, ok, she was a sub, but in the eyes of the principal, they’re one and the same. Did you know that they really don’t care to be spoken to like that? Yeah, they don’t. When I picked him up from school he was acting a bit odd. More than usual, so I asked what was up. He refused to say anything til we got to the car. Ok boy, spill.

‘How mad would you be if I got detention?’

‘What? Detention? For what?’

Then he goes into great detail about the scene and what he swears he didn’t do, but the sub says he did. It was in PE of all classes! He argued her call on a ball game, and wouldn’t let it go, to the point of receiving detention.

Detention at his school is 45 minutes. On Friday. And no, they cannot do homework, they have to write a letter of apology to the teacher when they are rude & disrespectful, then sit there the rest of the time. Hmm, sounds like fun.

He was mad about getting detention (duh), he was mad at her for giving it to him, he was mad at the world.

So, seeing all of this I distilled it into a few points. Here goes.

1. When you mouth off to a teacher you get detention=not fun.

2. When you get detention, you get in trouble at home too.

3. Don’t be mad at someone else for something you did.

4. Don’t try to blame someone else for something you did or said. Accept responsibility for your actions, learn from it and move on.

5. Accept the consequences of your actions-detention- and move on.

If everything were that simple you know. Well, wait a minute, it kind of is. Don’t blame someone else for something you did or said. Accept the consequences of your actions. Accept responsibility for your actions. Learn from it and move on. Hm, I think I can do that. Now, if he will just learn from it and not get another detention!



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Responsibility is hard on a 10 year old

My husband and I have always tried to teach our children responsibility. To be responsible for their things, their actions, just your basic overall life skills.  My sweet boy got a hard lesson in it yesterday.

Last year toward the end of the school year, my son’s class was learning about 3 different animals: fiddler crabs, millipedes and some kind of frog. At the end of the lesson, the children were allowed to keep a creature of their choice, with parental permission of course! My boy wanted a millipede. they are unobtrusive little critters that would be kept in a closed habitat, so why not? I’ll let him learn about caring for a pet. Not only did he get one, but he got two and he was thrilled! I got him a container that was big enough for them and told him that they were his. He was responsible for their care and feeding, not me. I have enough to do with the care and feeding of the humans in our family!

He did really well with them this summer. They are low maintenance bugs and only need to be fed about once a week. At the beginning of the school year I would remind him about once a week to feed them and he did it. A few weeks ago,I told him that he should write himself a reminder on his calendar because I felt he’s old enough that I shouldn’t have to tell him every time.

I knew he hadn’t fed them and asked him last week if he had. No he told me. Last night I asked him if he had fed them. No, again. So now it’s been two weeks since these creatures have been fed. That’s a long time for an insect to go without food or water. At bed time when he decided he needed to feed them, he found one of them had died. He was very upset and distraught. It was so hard to see him that way. We tried to remind him that we didn’t know how old they were, but that also, this is the thing that happens when we forget to take care of our pets. I told him that we could bury it in a flower bed today and it will become part of our flowers and that helped a little.

 It’s so hard to step back and allow your kids to fail, but that is what we need to do as they grow. That is the only way they will learn responsibility, is by actually experiencing it, it’s not something that’s easily taught. He will learn that his actions, or lack of, affect others and in a potentially negative way. If I were to take over and feed his pets, he would think that I would always do that and he didn’t need to worry about it because mom will always take up the slack.  I’m sorry if I sound like a hard-nose mom, I’m definitely not. I’m trying to help my children learn the skills they will need when they move on in their lives and I”m not there to pick up the pieces.  I love that child more than anything and to see him that way was heart wrenching, but I really feel like he’s going to learn one of those lessons that we all have to get the hard way. I’m just glad that the stakes werent’ higher. I’d rather him learn it thru losing a millipede than doing something completely irresponsible and ending up in jail, or wrecking a car, or something else much more devastating.

Now, it’s time for me to go and hug him and tell him how much I love him.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Freecycle

Everybody seems to be using the ‘G’ word these days. I prefer the ‘E’ word, environment. As in environmentally aware and environmentally responsible. I think that really almost says more, to be perfectly honest. I try to be aware of what I’m doing and how it will impact our environment and what I can do to be more responsible. Seriously, if you’re responsible for cleaning up the mess you create when you’re making dinner, why not be a little more responsible for the mess we’re making of our environment? HULLO, BP!

I just got back from walking my dog and saw many things being throw out with the garbage that could have been recycled or Freecycled. Many larger cities now have recycling programs that are low or no cost to the residents. Here, the city has a twice monthly pick up of paper/glass/aluminum/plastics for the low low bargain basement price of $2/mo, which is billed on the city utility bill. How easy is that? My friend lives in St Louis, they have a FREE citywide recycling program and the city provides the large wheeled cans for the recyclables. We also have recycling stations that are totally free and accept more things than the residential pick up, such as cardboard, metal cans, motor and cooking oils, in addition to the others. These recycling centers provide jobs for people with disabilities or other barriers to employment. And the best part, other than keeping the paper/cardboard separated from the rest, I just throw my plastic/glass/cans in the same bin. I drive up, unload my bins and I”m on my way. Couldn’t be easier!

Now, the other way to get rid of unwanted things that I love is Freecycle! What is Freecycle you ask? Freecycle is a national network of people who are recycling in a different way.  for example, one of the things I saw this morning on my walk was a suitcase. It looked perfectly fine, a suitcase being thrown out with the garbage that will take up space in our local landfill, when someone else may be able to use it. Anything that may be headed for the landfill that someone else might be able to use, that is what you’ll find on Freecycle. And it doesn’t all have to be working. I’ve seen many non-working lawnmowers/string trimmers/washing machines and the like on there and people take them for parts, I assume. But seriously, why wouldn’t you want to pass something along to someone who can put it to use, versus trashing it because you don’t know what else to do with it.  A few other things I saw today that could’ve found new homes: built-in microwave, laundry basket, pink plastic princess play vanity, rugs. I’ll tell you who could’ve used each and every one of those things: Microwave-landlord/repair shop, laundry basket-college student/someone who’s recently moved out on their own, princess vanity-daycare/children’s shelter, rugs-animal shelter for bedding.  See how easy that was? You simply post the things you have to give away, people email you and you get to choose who gets what. They come and pick it up. Easy peasy. I”ve given away an old gas grill, an entry door when we had ours replaced, and our old dishwasher (it still worked and none of our local charities would pick it up).

If you are upset about the devastation in the gulf and all of the pollution being dumped, you should also be worried about your local environment, and our mother earth. Let’s all do what we can be it recycling the plastic shopping bags at the grocery, using reusable shopping bags (many stores give a discount for each bag you bring), recycling the normal recyclables, or joining Freecycle. It isn’t hard or inconvenient and once you get in the habit, you won’t think twice about it. I keep a bin in my kitchen and take it to the station when it gets full. We should all do what we can to reduce the needless garbage and pollution we are inflicting on our beautiful planet.

Check it out and get started today!


My Four Least Favorite Words

Of  late in my household, there are four words that I have grown to really dislike: It’s not my fault. It’s a familiar refrain heard all the time, especially by someone who’s guilty of something. What I’ve noticed about our culture, is alot of younger people (older people do it as well) refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions and it really pisses me off. It has to be something cultural, I think. ‘I’m sorry your honor, it’s not my fault, I didn’t make the gun, it’s the gun manufacturer’s fault that man died, he’s the one who made the gun’. No, I’m sorry, I don’t buy it.

He was already unhappy about riding the bus today. There were several kids goofing around on the bus on Friday, but my son was the one who was caught and got into trouble for it. He was upset because he wasn’t the only one, and I get that, but the other part of it is that if he’s messing around doing something he shouldn’t, he’s got to be prepared to deal with it. They were only throwing paper wads, but the bus driver didn’t know what they were throwing, all he knew is he saw my boy throw something. I explained that it’s his job to keep all of the kids safe and he’s in charge, he will do whatever he feels necessary to maintain control on the bus.

My children normally ride the bus to school, it arrives at 8:30.  At 8:15 this morning, my son announces he forgot to finish a report that’s due today. TODAY!  When I asked him how he forgot about this major report and why we didn’t work on it Friday, he said it was my fault for getting him excited about a friend coming over on Saturday. What??? I had to shut him down right there. It was not my paper that was due today, it was his. He knew he had to work on it, and yet he played all weekend and hung out with his friends as though he had no cares in the world. So, he quickly finished it and was worried about missing the bus. I told him I was more interested in the grade he was going to get on his paper, since he’s been struggling in this class. I also made sure he understood how unfair it is to blame someone for something they didn’t do, and he would definitely not appreciate it if it happened to him.

That was not the only time over the weekend he said the dread four words. He knocked a cup off of a table, making a bit of a mess. He stood there and pointed to it and said, ‘Ooops.’ As if he expected me to clean it up. I told him to clean it up. His response? “It’s not my fault, she put it too close to the edge of the table.’ I’m sorry, I don’t care what part of the table it’s on, if you knock it over,you clean it up. Simple as that. I told him to clean it up, you make a mess in my house, you clean it up, I”m not a maid.

He also used the four words in regard to hitting his sister. He was closing a door and she was closer to it than he thought, and it hit her. She was crying, but he said, “It’s not my fault.’ I’m sorry, but if you hit someone, even on accident, it’s your fault. Accept responsibility, apologize and move on.

This is not new in my home, accepting responsibility. I always encourage my children to be responsible for their actions, it’s what happens when they get into trouble, you have to be willing to deal with the consequences of your actions, positive or negative, so just be prepared for it before you throw the toy or hit someone, or get the praise for doing well. So, on our ride to school, I told both of them, I don’t want to hear those words coming from their mouths because it won’t fly. Deal with it and move on. I used the analogy of my running a stop light and telling the police officer it wasn’t my fault. I’d still get a ticket because whether I meant to or not, I ran the light. This whole culture of people not accepting responsiblity for their actions drives me absolutely insane. Man-up, deal with it and go on. Seriously!

So, if an airplane falls out of the sky, it’s not your fault. If someone runs a red light and crashes into you, it’s not your fault. But honestly, if you screw up, accept responsibility, deal with it and go on. Don’t blame someone else for your mistakes or short-comings, accept responsibility and move on. Just deal with it and don’t try to tell me it’s not your fault because I’m no buying!

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