- Family and Parenting
How I Survived Their Childhoods
Three sons and the adventures of us all...
Just a few stories about my boys that were learning experiences for me. I know they don't come with instructions, so perhaps you can get something from this stuff too. Whether it be a new angle on handling kid's everyday issues or just a giggle. My parenting style is one that always tries to see things from the perspective of the child. I try to always remember what it felt like to be a kid no matter how old they are. I plan to make a series of these , one lens at a time.
But we already have a boy! - Jacob Thomas Kalakosky
Our second child was born the day before our first's 2nd birthday. I recall going to the doctor for my ultrasound around four months pregnant and being so surprised when he told me we would have another boy. I told him, "But that can't be, you see we already have a boy. Look again?" Guess that's not how it works. A boy it was. Jacob Thomas Kalakosky.
We had two children in diapers and my husband worked in a grocery store for a bit more than minimum wage. I quickly became the queen of grocery savings and budgeting. I figured out how to feed all four of us on fifty dollars a week. Ok, the baby did nurse, but still fifty bucks wasn't bad really. My menu had been calculated down to the cost per serving and I was so proud. I knew exactly how much a slice of bread cost us. (seven cents)..I only shopped at thrift stores, but I liked those anyway.
My mornings were filled with nursing Jacob and keeping Jeffrey entertained. Barney helped quite a lot. I still hate that damn song. We went for long walks around the neighborhood, usually ending up at Dairy Queen or 7-11. Then there was lunch, more kid shows all with too much singing if you ask me, then nap time. Oh blessed nap time! I could count on Jeffrey to sleep a good two hours in the afternoon and while Jacob was not as reliable to sleep he was very content to just sit with me and relax. Jacob was such the opposite of his brother. I knew all kids were different but I was not prepared for just how different they could be. While Jeff was a sturdy fifty pounds of two year old, Jake was small for his age and much more fragile. He was very blond and his skin was nearly ethereal. They shared the same blue eyes, though and their love for each other soon became obvious.
Jeff very much was a daddy's boy and so Jacob became my shadow. He shied away from anything new or different from his routine. He hid behind my skirts each time someone new was introduced to him. On the other hand, Jeff was the first to approach anyone who looked interesting, (sometimes to my chagrin) and announce his presence. It went something like this.."Hi! I'm Jeff and what's your name?". He was fearless in social situations. The kid didn't have a shy bone in his body. Then again, he also didn't have a quiet one either. He stage whispered, really believing he was being quiet. For example, there was the time he asked me in his "quiet" voice why the lady in front of us had a tummy right there, on top of her knees. She was standing at the time. I saw her face turn red, down to her neck. I had never been more horrified! I did my best to apologize to her. She was gracious about the whole thing.
Before Jacob was born, I wondered if it were possible to love another person as much as I loved my first born? I found out.. There is exactly enough love for however many children you have.
Jeffrey at 6 months
Erik Joseph Thomas
Erik is the youngest of three sons, the wildest, most brazen, fearless human being I have ever met in my life. He was always saying the very first thing to occur to him . While that can be hilarious, most often it was just awkward and I was usually left to explain whatever came out of his mouth. Enough time has passed that I can Look back and laugh at some of these, still wondering how I got such an interesting kid. He does things because, as he puts it..."I've never done THAT before." The old tried and true mom saying of "well if your friends all jumped off a bridge, would you?" doesn't apply to him. In fact, he would most likely say.."They jumped because I did." Why, I would ask, would you even do such a thing? His ready made reply of "well I've never done it before" or "just to see what it felt like" is all I would likely get.
He's the youngest, but until age six he was raised as an only child. His brothers lived with their dad when he was born and he had all my attention all of the time. He learned to type on my lap at our computer and I'm fairly sure he types faster and more accurately than me .
He was learning to count and kept getting frustrated. I thought I might be pressuring him so I said :Just count the way that you like best." He looked puzzled for a second and then he began to count, much more quickly and easily than before to my surprise....backwards. I wondered why he was so comfortable with his method . Later that day, we were waiting for a computer game to start and I realized he was counting backwards just like the timer in the game. Oh boy! This could be a sign of things to come. I had no idea how right I was.
These days, Erik is glued to one electronic device or another most of his waking hours. He does go outside to ride his bike and hang out with his friends but he never gets annoyed if it rains and he has to stay in, like we did when we were kids. I recall hearing on the television commercials for some toy or promotion, "kids ask a parent before using the phone." Now it is "kids ask permission before going online" Weird.
Erik was the first person to really make me feel..well, old. It happened one day after we had gone to see the movie Superman. He was saying something about the part right after Superman changed his clothes... in the elevator. Elevator? I asked him, "Don't you mean in the phone booth? Superman always changes in the phone booth." His reply was "What the heck's a phone booth?" Oh dear, yeah.. I felt old at thirty eight. He is a challenge at times, but definitely worth it. They all are.
Jeffrey age 5
Bring on the Paparazzi! - pictured - Erik, 8 years old
Each of your children gets their own level of photographic exposure. It's usually the first born that gets the most pictures taken between birth and kindergarten, or actually whenever the second child arrives, whichever comes first. Then, the next one gets an average number of pictures for his or her baby book. The poor soul who happens to be the last born normally gets shortchanged, and is lucky if he even has a baby book. In our case, Jeffrey was in pictures a lot. I mean a whole lot. It was 1992 and armed with my trusty 110 kodak camera, I became a snap happy new mom. I took pictures of everything. There were shots of him eating, and sleeping, and playing of course. I even photographed him getting his diaper changed. Yuck. Not sure what I was thinking. There is nothing about a dirty diaper that needs to be immortalized. I have every holiday and birthday in three photo albums, one teddy bear baby book with most of the pages filled in, and the corny questions answered fully.Our family tree, locks of hair, first drawing and name tag from preschool are permanently adhered to this book. I was this child's biggest fan, and isn't that the way it should be?
Jacob was born second. I brought him home from the hospital on Jeff's second birthday. My two year old looked into the car seat at his new brother and frowned. He knew it was his birthday and he had been waiting all morning for us to get there so it could begin. I asked him why the sad face and he looked me straight in the eyes and stated "I say bike!" he pointed at Jacob and said ."Baby not bike..go" I grabbed my camera only to find I had used all the film in the hospital. Damn. I then knelt down to try and explain that our new baby wasn't just for him, he was for the whole family. My husband and his mother were fussing over the new baby, and I put on a Barney birthday video in the VCR and went next door to get Jeff's new bike. It took me four trips to get all his presents. I sent Dad to the store for film, and the birthday was a success. Jeff had his bike, grandma had her new grandchild, and I had my film.
The quality of my photography was not the best back then. I blame it on the fact that you had to wait until the store processed your film ( I always got doubles..always) to find out if you even had a good shot and if so, was the focus and lighting right? What a difference from the digital cameras and editing features avalaible today. Jacob got his share of baby pictures taken but I was more selective with the shots. There were more cute Easter pictures and no potty ones. He can thank Jeff for that. Oh, and I stopped getting doubles. I'm not really sure why I did that to begin with..I nearly had to be bribed in cash to let go of any of them. Erik came along just as I was just discovering the digital camera and the quality was much better.. I could see what I was doing and if I didn't like a shot, there was this handy little delete button. So many cool features to edit with! My poor Erik has been solarized, pixelated mirrored, pinched, skewed, swirled and inverted too many times to count .He is so much fun kid to photograph though.It helps that he loves the camera and he is famous for making the most unusual face just as I am taking the picture. He likes to have his picture taken and not once have I heard from him "Mom! Enough already!" He doesn't make those faces as much as he used to, hopefully it's because he's getting a little more mature these days. He's eleven and just starting to be aware of how others see him. By others, I mean girls. DOES he have a baby book? Oh dear. I'd better go check on that. I'm kidding, of course he does....somewhere.....I just know it's here someplace.
Take pictures ..so you don't miss a thing!
To make your own memories last forever...
Tell the truth or not the truth?
How honest should you be to a four year old? Depends on the four year old.
One day, my son Jeffrey looked up at me...so innocently and asked, "Mommy, ya know that shot I gotta get at the dotter's?" I nodded and smiled at his version of the word doctor. He was due to get vaccinations prior to going to preschool. "Yes, what about it?" Well, I's jus wonderin...mommy is it gonna hurt?" In an instant, my mind reeled four thousand directions. Should I lie? Should I just be straightforward, and risk having to hold him still for the doctor? I took a deep breath and went with the honest answer. I said to him, "Yes, it is. You can't go to school without it though." Then I added quickly, "It will just hurt for a few seconds. I promise you that with all my heart." He pondered this for a moment. He looked at me with his big blue eyes and said, "alright then. If that's the way we gotta do it. You telled the doctor that I'm not even sick?" He was looking for a loophole.
I explained to him about how vaccines prevent sickness and he looked less than thrilled. "and how long zactly IS a few seconds? Like a commercial on T.V.?" I told him no, not that long at all. It was more like... the time it takes to dip a french fry into catsup. He brightened then and said, "I can do that soooo fast!" He seemed satisfied with that. I have learned that you should really only answer whatever the child is asking, and no more. Too much information just gets things complicated. Trust me, if they want to know anything more, they have no trouble asking. The "why mommy" stage almost drove me insane.
I had all but forgotten the conversation until that evening at dinner my dear child said to his Dad, " I gotta get a shot and Mommy said it's gonna hurt." My husband looked at me as if I were crazy for telling him that. "Honey, I also told you it would be over quick, didn't I?" He nodded solemnly and said "I just don't know how come I gotta get a shot, and you don't." I told him that I had already gotten all my shots and now it was his turn.
Trying to quickly change the subject, I said "Who wants cake?" All talk of shots were quickly discarded, as we ate our chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate chips sprinkled on top. Well, I would have used chocolate sprinkles,but earlier that day Jeffrey and Jacob and I ate them all during a particularly stirring episode of Barney and Friends.
Jeff age 4 and Jake age 2
Erik Joseph Thomas 2008
"Children seldom misquote you. They more often repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said."
Which is easier?
Are boys or girls easier to raise?
Boys will be boys - no matter which toys they play with
One Christmas, in 1994, my little boys asked Santa for dolls. Yep dolls. My husband was nearly unable to speak. His visions of gay sons were spiraling out of control, and his imagination had already ran away with him. I felt it was quite healthy for boys to play with dolls. How else were they going to learn to nurture and hold a baby? How would they practice being gentle and loving? I was having a hard time convincing him of this, however. Once I explained to him that if playing with gender specific toys cause homosexuality, then wouldn't I have turned into a lesbian by now? After all, I had plenty of Tonka trucks in my day. He for once, could not argue with my logic.
So, out to buy the dolls we went. I had always dreamed of having at least one daughter. I had two incredible boys instead. I was so thrilled to be choosing dolls though! I picked out the most frilly, curly haired beautiful dolls that we could afford. They were great too! On Christmas morning the kids were so happy with their new babies. I took pictures and it seemed to be alright even with their dad.
My idea of them learning to nurture and cuddle babies was soon out the window. So m,uch for the idea of gentle and loving. They dragged these poor dolls around by their hair, their feet and by the end of the week one doll was missing an eye and most of her curled blond locks. The other doll ended up with a black marker scribbled face and a hole where her ear once was. Both dolls lost their shoes and socks the first day.
Oh well, even if I was wrong about what they might learn from having their own baby dolls, at least I taught them that boys and girls have exactly the same rights to any toys they chose to play with.
P.S. I would love my children no matter what sexual orientation they are. I am their mother and my love doesn't depend on anything. It is a given.