Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sick Kids and Working Parents

I've been at my new job since mid-October. In mid-November, Loki and I got what I assume was the flu. We were out sick for a week. Since then, Loki has had an ear infection (complete with can't-go-to-preschool fever) at LEAST one day per week. Usually, the fever lasts three days. Oh, and I currently have bronchitis. Honestly, I haven't been totally healed since my bout with the flu. It's not shocking, I guess, since when Loki is sleep, he doesn't sleep (read: we don't sleep). He has to be transported to grandma's for back-up childcare (think an extra 45 minutes on either end of the workday, after no sleep). And he has to go to the doctor (so I have to take at least a half day off). Alan does his share, driving the kids down many mornings while I take afternoon pickup and taking leave for doctor's appointment days in the morning while I take the afternoon, but it's simply not enough.

I'm new at a job, still early in the learning curve, and taking off at least once a week. I do overtime that makes sure the work gets done. My boss has a three year old and a working wife and definitely seems to understand. I still thinks it looks horrible. I can't leave the kids with a retired person, as they might get her sick. I can't leave them with a stay-at-home mom friend, as her kids might get sick. Grandma's house is truly the only option, other than taking the whole entire day off.

How do parents do this without getting fired? In such a tight job climate, I know I need to be there on time, everyday, and stay all day. But it is proving actually impossible. There have been no complaints, but it can't look good.

The tubes on Thursday better go forward (despite the MMR vaccine "reaction" consisting of blazing red polka dots from head to toe). I can handle a sick day maybe once a month (where hubby and I drive to Grandma's or split the day or whatever), but this is ridiculous!!!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Afternoon Routine

So, we've got mornings down. I pack our stuff the night before and leave it in the launchpad. Daddy does dressing, teeth, hair, and snack before I put the boys in the car and go to work. Lately, Loki naps during the ride and Ander and I chat until I get in heavy traffic. Then I put on the radio and we listen to NPR, so I can concentrate on the road.

But afternoons suck. I pick up the boys between one and three hours before Alan gets off of work. That means entertaining the boys, at suppertime, by myself for between an hour and three hours, plus a 45 minute ride home, doing rhyming games with Ander and chatting with Loki. I don't have a plan or routine, so it's pretty stressful. So I've decided to go all Supernanny on the boys and have a routine. They are going to hate it. :)

I've revised Ander's chore chart. The boys will now come home and have a snack (because, frankly, they are starving by 5 p.m. and can't wait for me to make supper). Then homework. Once a week or so his teacher sends a worksheet to color, but we'll do something everyday. This week, we are doing his Raising Cane's card game tomorrow (where he will pick a card and count out as many pennies as the number on the card). Tuesday, it's going to be coloring. Wednesday will be playing with the playdough kitchen. Thursday, we'll practice writing his name. And on Friday, he'll do a puzzle. The point is for it to be REALLY fun, but establish a routine. Loki will sit with his brother at the table, in his booster seat, playing with cars, or blocks, or something similiar. This will give me a chance to change clothes and unload the car.

Then the boys will have clean up chores before they can watch tv. For Loki, this means putting any blocks, etc. into a container (something he loves to do). For Ander, this means cleaning up the living room (putting toys in the rooms where they belong and putting covers in the ottoman)and his bedroom (putting toys away). It sounds overwhelming, but these areas will be pretty clean already and in no instance will I make him spend more than five minutes on each room (meaning I'll help if it takes more than five minutes). While the boys clean, I will pick up the stuff on the island, an area that drives me crazy if it isn't empty.

Finally, IF they cooperate, they will get tv (or computer time) until Daddy gets home or supper is ready, whichever is appropriate. I hate this part, but I need incentive for them to cooperate...and I need time to cook supper and unload/load the dishwasher. I've been trying to make something healthy and that takes a little time.

I hope this works. Maybe this will keep us healthier and keep my house cleaner. Maybe.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Troubled Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Teens

When you work with kids - as a teacher, a lawyer, a counselor, a doctor, or a parent - issues regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity can arise on a regular basis.

I was a 21 year old Catholic school teacher when one of my middle schoolers came out of the closet to me. (The wonderful, sweet, and self-assured girl who gave me a heart attack over how I was handling the situation is my facebook friend. Waves, G.!) I wanted to do the right thing for her - say, by not showing shock, horror, and total lack of understanding, even if I felt shock and total lack of understanding that I desperantly hoped would not translate inaccurately as horror. I was worried about my job. My religious convictions were clear; I would support her and love her and not let the school kick her out for her sexual orientation. My financial situation was precarious. If I lost my job, I would have been in a cardboard box - or worse, living with my mom!

As a lawyer, I often represented gay or transgender kids. Obviously, without their approval, I can't discuss the specifics. But I had cross-dressing clients, quietly lesbian and in the closet clients, and kids who were beat by stepparents for being out of the closet. I had straight clients who experimented with same gender partners while in detention and got in trouble for it. (I say straight because those clients self-identify as straight and likely, in the free world, would only take opposite gender partners.) I saw sympathetic judges who understood that sexual orientation and identity issues often resulted in depression or acting out. I saw judgmental judges who practically added "gay" to the list of charges. I saw it all -and I know it's a problem.

I am bringing attention to this because I suspect that it's not on most people's radars. Lots of people think homosexuality is a sin. I guess, in a way, I'm speaking to those people. First, thoughts and feelings, particularly in juveniles, are not sins. Even if you ascribe to the belief that homosexual acts are sinful, a thought, especially a thought of a hormonal teenager, is NOT a sin. I wonder if those who categorize homosexuality as sinful can still understand that we need to serve children who are dealing with these issues, as these issues can be the catalysts for depression and other mental issues.

But I also want to address those people who are fully supportive of gay and lesbian issues. I want to give a heads' up that we often don't think about what it's like for a teenager or preteen dealing with a type of sexuality that is not considered the "norm" in our society.

I don't have solutions. I just want to raise a bit of awareness that, whether you are conservative or liberal, sexuality issues are real among the juvenile population and we need to stop ignoring them as if they are not there. I welcome suggested solutions.