Monday, December 19, 2011

Advice needed - family relationships

When I was a kid, my mom was paranoid about my sister, my brother, and myself. She was worried about everything. She considered her primary goal as our mother to keep us safe, at any cost. We could never do a lot of things other kids did. For example, we lived in an extremely safe residential area, about 5 blocks from our elementary school, but were not allowed to bike to school until several years after our peers. We could not go away to summer camps. When my twin sister and I both got accepted to the university we went to, my mother deemed it too dangerous and insisted that if one of us go, the other had to go too, and we had to room together.

One of her primary ways of keeping us safe from strangers when we were young was to constantly tell us all the terrible news stories about bad things that had happened to other kids. (I'm assuming in retrospect that they are true, but for all I know, she made them up). Stories of kids who were abducted, tortured, killed in various ways. Kids who went into public bathrooms alone, who allowed strangers to speak to them, kids who were "too friendly". I remember feeling panicked as a child after she would tell me these stories. I think they helped me grow into an adult who is anxious, uncomfortable around people I don't know, and really socially awkward. I'm sure part of it is just who I am, but I can't help but feel that this contributed. Certainly it gave me a lot of fears and nightmares as a child. (Ironically, my mom never understood why I had so many nightmares).

Turtle is a very cautious little boy, but Tadpole is bright, cheery, friendly, and outgoing. At the Christmas party we had last week, I saw her in many different people's laps. She likes other kids and people with dogs at the park. She says hi to everyone whenever we go out anywhere.

My mother has commented on her friendliness several times, and has said "we'll need to do something about that", or something to that effect. The first time it happened, I was alarmed but didn't say or do anything, just filed it away in memory. Now I'm getting concerned, and I'm not sure how to handle it.

Luckily, in some ways, my mother can't handle watching the kids alone, so I'm never in a position to have to refuse to allow her to babysit or spend time with them, since I always have to be there anyway. Also luckily, she doesn't see them THAT often - twice a week at most, and usually only once a week. But on the other side, there are plenty of other things she says and does that I'd like to shield my kids from - her snobbish attitude, her racism, her elitism. As a parent, she was overanxious, overprotective, overbearing, controlling, and manipulative. I don't want her to be close enough to them to pass any of her issues onto them. On the other hand, she is their grandmother and I don't believe in completely cutting off their relationship - she has her good attributes, and I don't want to shield my kids from all the negative things in their life, either.

Now that I'm writing this, I am thinking I shouldn't say anything, just be always present and always careful of what she's saying and how she's saying it. But ... I am uncomfortable and unhappy to have to be on alert at all times.

What would you do in this situation?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat

Wow, I didn't realize that it has been so long since I've posted. We've been really busy with the holidays, or rather, I have been busy. My husband isn't much of a holiday person, and my kids are too young to get it, so I do it all myself. I've been shopping and gift-wrapping and tree-and-house-decorating, and pretty soon I'll be crafting, baking, and Christmas-card-writing. I don't know how it will all get done in 10 days. Yikes!!!!! 10 DAYS!!!!!

Last night we hosted my husband's local company Christmas party, and it was fun! I had to work my arse off getting the house in shape, and my daycare called to say not to bring the kids in on Tuesday because she was sick, so it was like PANIC! It all went well, and somehow the kids even took good naps so I could get stuff done. Whew!

In the meantime, though, life has been really busy and I honestly don't see it getting easier even after Christmas. I'm using all my baby-free daycare time to get ready for Christmas, and so unpacking, organizing, cleaning, etc. has been put on hold until after the holidays.

Also, our contractor has all but disappeared, saying he has no money and had to take some other jobs to make some money, so our remodel is not exactly on hold, but having one person work on your house for about 5 hours per week makes for very slow going. It's annoying and we're starting to get really upset.

The kids are doing great! Turtle talks talks talks all the time now, he probably has about 30 words, maybe more (including animal sounds) and repeats us like crazy. Tadpole isn't really talking much (don't they say that girls usually talk first?), although she babbles and SHOUTS constantly. She clearly understands us, though, and is extremely active, on the verge of being hyper. They are so much fun! I didn't know that this age would be so fun.

I'm hoping they don't get overwhelmed with toys for Christmas. So far I've got them 3 or 4 toys to share, plus tricycles, and I know my mother has gotten them each a stuffed animal, book, 2-3 toys, and several outfits (she always goes overboard). I know my sister is making them some cool stuff, and I have no idea if my brother is doing anything. I also don't know if my in-laws in Italy are doing anything, but I doubt it. I suspect they'll make up for it the next time we see them, though. I'm REALLY excited about the first Christmas that they're sort-of aware of what's going on, and spending time with my side of the family. It definitely makes up for those years of wishing with all my heart to have little ones around for the holidays.

So here is a question for anyone with knowledge of daycare - if you can't bring your kids in because the daycare person is sick, should you have to pay for that day? Should I ask for a discount next month? Or see if she can take them some other time to make up for it? Anyone know what the usual rules are?