Friday, January 28, 2011

This week my son was a spool of thread ...unraveling

Some days I wish I wrote about food. Splitting open a crisp red tomato, its lushness spilling across the cutting board. Chopping cucumbers in neat, concise, perfect circles. Crumbling blue cheese over pasta al dente. These...all offered up with a smile and a bon appetit.

Instead my son slips from my grasp like loose spaghetti, and I keep trying to pick up the noodles with my toes. Forgetting that I can still use my fingers.

Please don't slip away, BOY! This is what my fear cries. Because he is still here. Of course he is. But, there is an undercurrent now of crisis, and my heart beats to a discordant rhythm. This week my son was a spool of thread ...unraveling.

He...couldn't focus, up and down, disruptive, noise outbursts, inappropriate...

And I've been there to see it. It is like stepping on tacks without flinching.

Yet today after school there was a calm. A focus. He has a mission. Before his snack he must complete his Reflection form that came home. Because he gave his teacher a pinky promise. He dashed for a pencil and put the words down. One right after another. It was a little flag of HOPE. Waving. I'll be O.K., Mommy. I will.

Tonight he plays Monopoly with my husband and GIRL. Pink cheeked, her eyes shine on her brother. All of them huddled together over their money and property. Hoots and drama.

My BOY is dressed in Scooby Doo pjs and a winter cap with dangling tassles. He is my son and he is precious.

We will wend our way through this new phase. We always do. And it will be alright. But, like cutting into an onion, it is multi layered and brings tears...

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The fatigue has done a tattoo march down her spine

JCK finds that parenting is a lot like life. Some days are golden. And some days? Are just bloody hard. She's depleted. Out of patience. Out of coping skills. Out of even finding the vocabulary for her own thoughts. Her footing is precarious.

She wonders if the universe is conspiring against her? Because it feels personal.

She can't control anything, and she thinks she can. It's laughable, really. Yet, a battle she just isn't going to win. The irrepressible feelings, the highs and lows, the failures - all of it, hers.

Yesterday was a day when communicating with her son was like picking gum off her shoe. Or being in that dream. You know the one. The nightmare where everyone is talking in slow motion and you can't move away... your limbs stuck in space.

Today her boy kept getting hurt. First a very hard wallop of a tire swing in motion to his cheek, then a bent finger, and at dinner he thought he was choking -was panicked, hysterical.

The journey with BOY is one that is meant for JCK. No doubt about it. Yet, having a child with challenges sometimes feels brutal. There are days when JCK is winging it. Doing the best she can. That's all she knows what to do.

Sometimes, JCK wishes she could crawl into bed, hide, and pull the covers over her head. The fatigue has done a tattoo march down her spine. But, she can't... because her family depends on her. And, they need her now most of all. So, she WILL rise to the occasion. She will be a grown-up. Or, give it her best shot. No matter how flawed. But, secretly she wishes...she could sleep through the tough parts. Yes, she does...


Painting "Between Darkness & Wonder" by Chuck Gumpert.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why JCK's parenting is SUPERIOR

Can a regimen of free falling, no homework, harmonizing on pots and pans, and hours of independent play create happy kids? And what happens when they thrive?.

A lot of people wonder how JCK raises such stereotypical free spirited kids. They ponder what JCK does to foster such free spirited geniuses and fun loving prodigies, what it's like inside the Motherscribe family, and whether they could do it too. Well, JCK can tell you, because she's doing it. Here are some things her children, BOY and GIRL, are never allowed to do:

• attend a party at Chuck E. Cheese

• have a play date less than twice a month

• spend hours on homework

• complain about not spending hours on homework

• watch Mommy write or Daddy on Facebook

• stay up past 8pm for any reason

• declare Jack O'clock for JCK

• play any instrument other than the banging of pots & pans

• not play the pots and pans parental death march.

What JCK understands is that nothing is fun until you're good at it. To get good at anything you have to explore, and children on their own always want to create, which is why it is crucial to override their preference for constant parental badgering. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where some Parents-from-another-Planet tend to give up. But if done properly, the JCK strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious play, play, play is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is overrated on that other Planet. Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it's climbing, sleeping through the night, not screaming or covering themselves with mud—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once really-fun activity really, really fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more at leaving the parents alone.

JCK can get away with things that Parents-from-another-Planet can't. Once when JCK was young—maybe more than 8 billion times—when she was extremely respectful to her mother, JCK's father happily called her "flower petal" in their native HummaHummaDingDong dialect. It worked really well. JCK felt lovely and deeply moved by what she had done. But it didn't damage her inflated sense of self or anything like that. JCK knew exactly how highly he thought of her. JCK didn't actually think she was too loved or felt like she wasn't a piece of rare chocolate.

The fact is that JCK can do things that would seem unimaginable—even legally actionable—to Parents-from-another-Planet. JCK can say to her daughter, "Hey Cutie—how was your day?" By contrast, Parents-from-another-Planet have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of "wealth" and never ever mentioning the f-word, which abounds at JCK's house. And their kids still end up in therapy for OCD and negative self-image. (JCK also once heard a Father-from-another-Planet toast his adult daughter by calling her "ugly and incredibly garbage-like." She later told JCK that it made her feel like.... garbage.)

Don't get JCK wrong: It's not that Parents-from-another-Planet care about their children. Just the opposite. They would give up nothing to brutalize their children. It's just an entirely different parenting model.

There are all these new books out there portraying Mothers-from-another-Planet as scheming, callous, over driven people indifferent to their kids' true interests. For their part, many Parents-from-another-Planet secretly believe that they don't care more about their children and are willing to sacrifice them over open flames. Whereas JCK, seems perfectly content to let her children turn out as individuals and not automatons. JCK thinks it's a misunderstanding on both sides. All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. The Parents-from-another-Planet just have a totally different idea of how to do that.

JCK would like to give you a couple of examples of her "Parenting in Action", so to speak. Or, why her parenting skills are well... frankly, top notch. JCK knows that you are chomping at the bit...waiting for JCK to make The Reveal. And so, without further ado...

Why JCK's Parenting is Superior:

1) JCK lets her children take risks: On Monday, JCK got out of the shower, dried off, and got dressed. She was comforted by the sound of silence...until she realized that it shouldn't be silent, because it was a holiday. JCK rushed outside to find the side door to the garage JCK walked inside to find her daughter perched on a stack of concrete blocks, in the process of climbing up on the roof of the garage to join her brother...who was already ON the roof.

2) JCK teaches her children to fend for themselves: If JCK is not in the immediate vicinity, and one room away is too far a distance to find her, and her children are hungry...they will help themselves to snacks and water. BOY has learned how to vault the kitchen counter. GIRL, although by different method, is also up for the task. She will lift a chair double her size and carry/drag it into the kitchen in order to climb up to reach the stash.

Although, but two, very simple examples of Parenting Strategy, JCK hopes they will inspire you to new parenting heights. At this time JCK must go, due to her house once again being silent. Which can only mean one thing. Her children are yet again...reaching for the stars. Literally...

JCK would like to thank Amy Chua, author of "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior" for inspiring her to write this piece.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

where they will not be judged by the color of their skin

Last night at bed time, GIRL had a lot of questions. GIRL had been learning about Martin Luther King, Jr in school. In children's chapel at church, they had talked about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. GIRL wanted to know why the words in the African American spiritual, "Oh Freedom," said that before I'll be a slave, I'll be buried in my grave. JCK explained, as best she could, about slavery in our country and how all of it led up to the Civil Rights Movement.

Today JCK is deeply grateful for her daughter's school teachers:

"We decided that even if we painted ourselves blue, or if we shaved off all our hair off, we would still be the same people. We tried to see that it doesn't matter what our outside looks like, but that all the qualities that make us a person are the things that we have inside our hearts. We have family inside our hearts. We have love inside our hearts. We have friends, culture, likes, and dislikes."

And, most of all, JCK is grateful that her GIRL asks questions. Even when JCK has a hard time answering them...

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today."

"I made a Birthday card for Martin Luther King Juniors, Mommy! It was my idea"
Card by GIRL.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Isn't it obvious that JCK is making a Bold Stand for Womenkind?!

Most of the time, JCK is quite OK with her locks of steel. Occasionally, she yearns again for a raven do, or a multi-blended blond look. But, JCK's yearnings are occasional. Didn't she state that in the previous sentence?

However, there are those times that catch JCK unawares. Like when she is asked if she is her own children's grandmother. JCK's ego does not like this. Nor does her vanity. Of which JCK has healthy doses.

JCK's mother likes to point out that in truth JCK could be a grandmother. JCK does not think this is the point, or helpful. In fact this further sends JCK over the edge.... JCK believes everyone has limits. Sometimes mothers push them, no matter how well meaning.

JCK wishes now to change the subject, as she appears in danger of revealing her grim underbelly.

However, and there always seem to be more ...."howevers" in JCK's life. Why God, why?

However, yesterday was an example of situations that boggle JCK's mind and send ripples down her flat derriere. It all started with BOY's swimming lesson.

BOY and JCK are working on a new understanding. If said BOY works hard in his swimming lesson & exits in 15 minutes (having changed from wet suit into street clothes) from the Boys locker room, JCK's BOY earns 30 minutes of computer or TV time. His choice.

BOY is no longer eligible or willing to be in the Girls locker room. He is 7 and classified as an official BOY. So, JCK and GIRL were waiting in the lobby of the Y, chatting and whatnot, waiting for BOY. A woman who can only be identified as Another Mommy suddenly appeared behind JCK and called out: JCK?

JCK: Yes?

Another Mommy: BOY doesn't have any pants.

A multicultural panoply of patrons were quite interested in this disclosure.

JCK: OH! Thank you.

JCK then leapt up and muttering to herself that she thought the pants were in his bag said she would have to run to the car, and could Another Mommy please tell BOY that JCK was going in search of BOY's pants. Another Mommy was quite happy to help on this adventure.

So, JCK rushed to the car and pants. She did find another bathing suit, so clutching this to her heart, she panted back up the flight of stairs and ran into the lobby once more.

JCK wishes to note that GIRL was very patient and good during this process of JCK's workout.

JCK then made her way to the door of the Boys locker room and peered discretely inside. There was BOY awkwardly trying to stretch his shirt over his underwear to maintain his dignity.

JCK: BOY, I couldn't find your pants. I know I put them in your bag.

BOY: They weren't in there, Mom.

JCK: Well, check again. Here's a bathing suit to wear, just in case.

BOY: OK, Mom.....From deep inside the bowels of the Boys locker room....They are NOT HERE, Mom. MY PANTS ARE NOT HERE!

JCK: OK, BOY, just change into the dry bathing suit. What kind of a MOTHER forgets her son's pants.

JCK then joined Another Mommy in the hallway outside the Boys room.

JCK: Thank you SO much for your help!

Another Mommy: It's hard at this age, isn't it?

JCK: Yes! They want to be old enough, and do things themselves, but they always need a bit more help, and we can't go in there to help them. It gets a little...crazy.

Both mommies nodded, acknowledging the mutual understanding of "having a child angst."

Another Mommy: BOY was SO cute earlier. He opened the locker room door and yelled, I DON'T HAVE ANY PANTS! Then he asked if I could find his mommy. What is her name? JCK. What does she look like? She has gray hair.

It was then, at that moment of gray revelation, that Another Mommy put her hand on JCK's arm. As if...she was telling JCK something that would be difficult to hear. As if...she felt empathy for JCK.

Was she feeling sorry for JCK? Is gray hair a blemish on JCK's person? On females at large?!!&*^%$@&*+!!!

Jesus H. Christ, can Another Mommy not SEE? Isn't it obvious that JCK is making a Bold Stand for Womenkind?! Giving other women Friggin' PERMISSION to toss the hair dye and embrace their inner SILVER? What the hell?! OK...JCK can see you nodding grimly and having your AHA! moment. BOY gets the foul language from JCK. Well...perhaps on occasion this is true. However....

JCK then had one of those moments. One of those bad moments when she questioned the hair on her head. When she felt less than, inadequate. Even old and ordinary. Quel HORROR? JCK? Alas, yes...ordinary.

JCK smiled (because she always smiles through the pain) and Another Mommy smiled.

Another Mommy: It's lovely you know, your hair.

And JCK was VINDICATED!! Another Mommy had recognized JCK's bravery. Her Bold, Breathless Risk Taking for Women EVERYWHERE. Her utter disregard for the bottle. Of. Dye.

Later in the car, JCK talked to BOY.

JCK: Remember BOY, if someone asks what your mommy looks like, tell them she has BEAUTIFUL gray hair.

BOY: But, I did. I told her you had gray hair.

For JCK, it's all about the nuances. For BOY? Not so much...


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Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh, GOD, NOOO...not the "F" Word

A month ago JCK's cozy little world was turned upside down. Her sweet 7 year old boy came home and uttered the completely unexpected, yet dreaded phrase... Mommy, I know what the "F" Word is. Henceforth known in the Motherscribe household as the day the world was tossed asunder or Oh, GOD, NOOO...not the "F" Word.

JCK would like to say that she behaved like a grown-up parent. Calm, cool, collected, and unruffled when her son spoke those words. Mommy, I know what the "F" Word is. Indeed, not.

JCK did everything wrong. First she feigned ignorance.

The "F" word, BOY? What do you mean?


BOY! That is a BAD, BAD word. BOY, I NEVER, never, NEVER want to hear you say that word again.

JCK panicked. JCK overreacted. Because...Oh, GOD NOOOO...her son had uttered the "F" word.

That word. Yes. The "F" Word.

BOY, where in the WORLD did you learn that word? This is NOT a word that you can say, BOY. This is a BAD word, BOY. A bad, bad, baaaaad word.

As JCK volleyed this out of her overworking mouth, she realized that she was inciting what every parent in the trenches knows...that once you give weight and issue to the word the child is not supposed to say...they will do the very thing you wish them not to do. They. Will. Say. It. Again and again.

But, what do you do when the "F word" is brought to you by a child. Your child. And he is 7. Seven years old!

JCK's heart plunged to the very depths when this happened. Somehow she felt that her little boy was forever changed by uttering these words. JCK was wont to tears and over dramatics.

JCK's husband was kind enough to point out that BOY may be uttering the word, but he did not have any idea what he was actually saying. Unlike JCK who by now was a wild echo of FUCK within her own mind. This reassured her for about 5 minutes, and then she started wildly texting her friend.

Urgent. Must talk. Call me. Need advice.

Then JCK desperately dialed her friend and left a voicemail:

Please call me. I need your advice. Something has come up. Very important.

JCK's friend was reassuring. It will be O.K. It really WILL.

But, but...what if he teaches it to another boy. And that parent finds out...and never wants BOY to come over to their house AGAIN. Ever.

I don't think that is going to happen, JCK.

JCK is grateful for her friends. Even if they fib.

BOY revealed who had taught him the "F" word. JCK wanted to call the other boy's parents. JCK wanted to strangle that other little boy. Except for the fact that the other boy was little. Six years old. And, in Kindergarten. How can a KINDERGARTNER know the "F" Word!!!? JCK, herself, didn't learn the "F" Word until she was about 20. O.K. 22.

So, JCK didn't do either of those things. Instead she took a deep breath and hoped for the best. JCK became calmer. She tried not to put any more weight upon it than she already had.

But then...there was Christmas. And they were journeying to JCK's mother's home to spend it with family. JCK fretted. She gnashed her teeth. She could just imagine BOY blurting out the "F word" at a most inappropriate time. Like during the blessing at dinner.

God, I love my whole family. And, I'd like to thank you for the "F word." Amen.

JCK's luck held. No mention of the "F word" came up during the stay at her mother's. BOY was so distracted by Christmas itself, and with a houseful of cousins and fun activities with his grandparents, that the word burning a fiery hell hole in JCK's stomach didn't come up.

The "F word" continues to appear every day or so...Since it has been introduced to the Motherscribe household by a 7 year old boy, the 6 year old sister has learned it as well. Luckily, she does not appear to be biting at the bait laid out by her mother. She is disinterested, except for the reactions that it gets from her parents when her brother utters it. Now that she is intrigued by.

JCK, herself, is trying various parenting tactics. Among them: sticking her fingers in her ears and singing loudly LA, LA ,LA...I DON'T HEAR YOU...I DON'T HEAR YOU....

JCK would like to point out that the amount of excess verbiage her children are exposed to these days is in the extreme. One can be watching "How it's Made" , and during a commercial break get advice on how "to make it." Yes, you no longer have to suffer if you just take this pill. You, too, will once again be enjoying life in an upperwardly mobile ...direction.

JCK is waiting. She knows it is going to happen. And when it does, she will be ready for him. It is just a matter of time. Her son will read the TV screen and say...

Mommy, what is Erectile Dysfunction?

And JCK will say: Go ask your Daddy!

JCK would like to dedicate this post to her friend H.

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

A blow dryer gone bad

Yesterday, JCK started her day with the usual jolt - a quick FLASH and BOOM with a lingering tingle up her arm. A blow dryer gone bad. Smokin' bad. Time to shop for a new one.

So it was that JCK found herself in a beauty supply store. Let's call it...Franz's Booty Supply. As JCK entered the store with her two children in tow, she spotted the lady behind the counter.

JCK: Hello, can you please tell me where your blow dryers are?

Smiling Sales lady: Let me show you.

The sales lady led JCK and her children over to a wall where several blow dryers were on display.

Friendly, bouncy Sales lady: Here we have the top of the line model with the latest technology.

JCK checked the price. And proceeded to be flummoxed, bamboozled and downright flabbergasted. The latest technology being...$130.

There was a DEEP pause. Then the sales lady out-of-her mind moved on.

Sales lady who is clearly hallucinating: Then we have this one, also an excellent model.

JCK noted....a mere $79.99.

Sales lady off her ROCKER: Of course, the first one I showed you will last much longer. Mine lasted 12 years. You get what you pay for.

JCK: Sure, lady. I'll just plunk down $130 for a BLOW DRYER. An appliance that I will use to blow dry my locks of pure gold. This blow dryer better give me a BIG OL' full-body thrill along with the blow for $130. Are you friggin' kidding me!? What kind of GANJA ya smokin' babe? I want some. Now.

It is to be noted that JCK wished she had uttered those words. But, in person JCK is a bit of a woos, and said nothing. To be fair, you may remember that JCK was flummoxed, bamboozled and downright flabbergasted.

JCK couldn't get out of there fast enough. Except that her children were test driving all the blow dryers, and preventing JCK from making a speedy exit.

JCK, the big fat liar: I'll come back later...

Self-inflated with the importance of blow dryers, off her rocker, clearly a lunatic Sales lady: Without your children?

JCK weakly: Yes...

JCK: Come on CHILDREN! We must get moving.

JCK told the sales lady that she would be back...when hell freezes over.

This morning JCK dropped into her local pharmacy establishment and found an excellent blow drying appliance. For $24.99.

JCK is taking her $24.99 blow dryer, whippin' up a do, and then splurging on $100 worth of whiskey and chocolate...

You get what you pay for.

Damn tootin'.

Photo courtesy of Super Stock.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sing it Sistahs!, JCK is done

JCK wishes to declare here and NOW that the longest day of the year is not December 21st. Oh, no! The longest, most interminable day of the year is the day before children return to school. JCK swears that she saw the hands on her clock actually move backwards. Yes, she did. 1 day short of 3 weeks of winter break = JCK is done.

She is ready, her children are ready, and her blessed neighbors who have put up with various shrieks, screams and whines are ready, quite ready, for JCK's children to be school side. Amen, JCK is done.

JCK cannot take another Mommy, BOY punched me! or Mommy, GIRL hit me. JCK cannot handle any more WHINING when she asks her children to pick up after themselves. Yes, JCK is done.

JCK is desperately hanging on to the good images...BOY gently leading GIRL by the hand as she balances on her new roller skates. GIRL chanting I LOVE BOY just for the heck of it. These moments melt JCK's nearly frozen heart. But, JCK is done.

Even now as JCK closets herself in her office, her son has interrupted her 8 billion times - for paper, and more paper, how to spell "WANTED" or "BULLETS", to find a rubber band to cinch his SWAT team costume... And, how can JCK say NO to a blond SWAT man at her door who shouts "YOU ARE UNDER ARREST!" It is just NOT fair. Oh, JCK is done.

JCK's daughter knows to steer clear of JCK when JCK is in her current state. She, also one of the female sex, realizes the danger of WOMAN/MOMMY GONE MAD#%@*! GIRL remains in the living room creating food out of napkin cut-outs and taping them in her little pots and pans. Because, JCK is done.

Soon...There will be no WANTED GIRL posters written by BOY. Or, YOU BIG MEANIE! shrieked by GIRL. That's IT!, JCK is done.

So, tomorrow JCK will arise around 4am. Smiling. Ever smiling, a smile not unlike Jack Nicholson's in the SHINING. Her children will awake 3 hours later to a warm breakfast. The lunches will be packed and lined up at the door. Perhaps they will hear her singing. She will wrap them in their jackets and deliver them to school. Toodle-oo!, JCK is done.

JCK is a strong woman. Yes, she is! However, her children have tested her mettle unmercilessly today. JCK feels that Jack O'clock may be called in early. She will do a silent toast to the neighbors, and to mothers everywhere...who anxiously watch the clock countdown to....the return of school. Sing it Sistahs!, JCK is done.

Yes, JCK is done. Except... that mucus runneth like a lava flow out of her son's nose. Which could mean...horror of HORRORS that the return to school tomorrow could be postponed.

Oh, GOD! ...........JCK! JCK?!!

Alas, JCK is...DONE.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

JCK is content

JCK was going to get all jiggy with it and post something witty at exactly 1-1-1:11-11...but, alas it did. not. happen. JCK hopes you had a riotous and pleasurable New Year's. She is coming down from a wonderful high of having a houseful of good friends in her home yesterday. JCK is currently sitting on her tuffet after eating many servings of her husband's kick ass collards and black-eyed peas -with a large dollop of her own cheese grits. JCK is content. But, too full to make any brave declarations or bon mots at the present time. JCK, unfortunately, is sporting a butt crack wedgie from the aforementioned. It's a little distracting. So, she'll just move on...

In other news, JCK was struck AGOG this morning when her six year old daughter showed her a math equation on her new easel's white board.

Mommy, if A = 5 and B = 10 hundred...
then A + B = 10 hundred five

And, then JCK fainted and had to be revived by an early Jack O'Clock.

The End

Graphic from

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