Youth These Days

Being 10 is the most confusing of things.

For the parent, that is, it appears confusing. And I am confused. Everyone is confused up in here.

Hush Amanda Creek Pic

I look at him and I see both my sweet child (err.. he can be sweet), and then I see an entirely different human evolving in there.

I'm often taken aback by his requests for mother-son bonding things: a head scratch, a back scratch, a hug, a kiss, to just sit with me and hold my hand, merely because he is male and A Certain Age and I expect and have expected these things to fade away. I suppose that's part of his upbringing, but it's no less shocking as I sometimes don't view him as a baby any longer. He is, for the love, not a baby. 

Can we talk about children in 2016? What it's truly like to be a 10.5 year old male in the U.S. in this great year of ....

2016.

I feel our parents and grandparents have sufficiently reacted to "youth these days". Every fifth news story (not-politically related) concentrates on the failures of our youth "always on their phones" and "never outside roaming the neighborhood". I know it exists. I don't deny it. But I also don't see it in this home.

In our home, a nearly 11-year-old boy lives in what I'm trying to understand and chose to define as a "Cocoon phase". He's this child-shelled pre-teen, cloaked in mystery and raw tenacity who loves being home, his brother, his stepsister and occasionally running away to his top bunk. He is a helper, and I count on him for various pet chores as well as laundry. Oh y'all, when they learn to launder...
 
His favorite hobbies include, in no order: Space Engineers (engineering & space game), Minecraft (you know what that is), Kerbal Space Program (again, engineering game / space), his XBOX, his iPod Touch (Youtube), Youtube (for understanding the games mentioned beforehand), and literally every other activity is outside-based (chasing the dog, playing in the fort, getting dirty in the creek, soccer, football, basketball, scooter, bike....), and last (but not least) - Reading.

At his age, I led this "difficult" life in which I internalized anxiety and spent a majority of my time exactly as I am now - in my head. I would get lost outside, find friends and find trouble, and discover a new trail on my bike. I loved Polly Pockets and Disney movies. I obsessed over tv and my N64. I didn't care anywhere near enough about washing my face, wearing a bra or fashion in general (bless). 
I broke a wrist around 3rd grade (while under the care of a babysitter, so not even outside), I spent every single summer at Camp Winnataska for at least a week, and I have a laundry list of extra-curriculars actively participated in.

I had, what amounts to, the quintessential childhood of the early 1990s.

I don't deny the value in every single one of those activities, but I don't deny they are different from the things my mother did as a 10-year-old.

Her activities at that age are not entirely similar to her mother's, but the differences are less subtle. I don't expect these days for my children to look like 1994.

Youth, these days, do spend a significant amount of time online. Their connectivity is high, alarmingly high, I entirely agree. 
Behind the physical facade of a child just sitting there is more though - a gigaton more.

Behind the screens of my young men, let's focus on my eldest who turns 11 this Summer, is immense intelligence. His complex understanding of technology and the applied sciences behind his favorite "games" are numbing. I can't imagine there is anything that a now 30-something's parents could have compared this to when "we were young". He can swallow thick books whole without digesting. His adaptability to all new things is remarkable, yet his compassion towards others is still perfectly sensitized. He, and his peers, are wholly capable of connecting face-to-face. They are chameleons, and their childhood is nothing short of alluring.

I'll admit I'm reporting to you ahead of the Parenting Curve. I'm 31 and had my children early (hello, Alabama). Many of my peers waited like the rest of the country to have their children after 30 and so forth. So here I am to tell you guys, don't be scared. 

You can do this.

You can raise these sentient yet connected, intelligent and immersed, spongy and curious children to be the generation they were intended to be - the one that digitizes everything. Getting them there is our job. One we can only do if we don't freak out, check their devices regularly, ask a ton of questions, never stop looking when they ask you to look OR when they ask you to stop, and arm them with everything our parents gave us - and then some.

Writers Gonna Write

It’s gotten to the point where I write in my head, which isn’t really writing at all. The problem with mentally blogging is that it stays there – in your brain – stuck on eternal spin dry.
And it’s a lot like garbage.

All of your trash goes into receptacles within your home. You aren’t walking over empty food containers nor brushing your teeth next to used tissues. That apple core? Tossed. Packaging from your Whole Foods orange? Recycled.
But what happens if you don’t empty those trash bins? If they stay in your home?
It stinks.

The trash builds and builds and everyone – even the neighbors – can smell it.

At some point, it’s imperative that you take out the trash.

Every little bit gets married together and out to the curb it goes. Off to become someone else’s issue. To rot away and cease to exist (if you’ve sorted your recyclables properly).

Writing is taking out the garbage. It’s moving from room to room, collecting each “I’m the worst mom ever for not getting lunch money into the account in time” to “Jesus! Another email? Why don’t you just join the other 2,400 I haven’t read yet?” and “Didn’t I just wash this? Why is it dirty again?” to the “OK FINE. I totally suck at being a nice human today”, pushing them all into one collective dump and pressing the magical “erase all permanently” option.

Writing is cathartic. It’s a breath of fresh air. The kind of air you can only get once every piece of trash is out on the curb.

It doesn’t make your problems go away, but it does clear enough room for you to think without all the clutter.


When everything is "ok", but it's not...

When everything is "ok", but it's not...

Writing can also be embarrassing. It’s raw and advertorial in some regard (especially THIS regard).

Here I am with my life, these minutes and hours that all humans are afforded… until we aren’t… at maximum exposure.

Why do I do this? Why do I have the need to share? I will honestly never be able to answer that question thoroughly nor as accurately as I feel it needs to be. Transparency is my biggest flaw and my greatest achievement.

I have missed so much, and I’m just as embarrassed about what has happened that I haven’t shared as I am about what has happened that needed to be shared. I am afforded the opportunity of looking back at this journey as Mom, see both of my children’s earliest of days through the eyes of me as a young mother. It’s astonishing. It’s amazing. It’s all mine. I am forever thankful for what I managed to accomplish in the first 3 years of motherhood and as a writer.

Yet, it’s not enough. There are chunks of the lives of Conner and Chase and of myself that now don’t exist online. They cannot exists online, for now I’m not who I was when that life happened.

I can’t retell and rehash the past for the mere point of being wholly descriptive of this life I lead.

Although, I do want to, I won’t. I will go forward.

The Little Red Vomit Comet

Long gone seem the days of maple syrup covered homes, aquaphor smothered bedheads, and various other toddler/young child messes.

Seemed.

In truly original “The Mom Job” fashion, let me take you all on a journey, and let’s start at 1am CST the early morning of December 9th.

Mom… I threw up,” and with that, I’m awake and looking bleary-eyed into the face of my obviously unwell eldest son.

I ask if he’s ok, he says no, and we start our trek to the back of the house. I can smell the smelly smell of human mouth discard 15 feet from his door.

I threw up on in the bed first…” he begins.

First. That’s where he threw up first.

Conner occupies the top bunk of a bunk bed. He’s roughly 3 feet from the ceiling when flat. Apparently, when Conner first woke throwing up, it wasn’t just a little hiccup. It went onto the white popcorn 1970s ceiling in brilliant fashion.

Second, he threw up the length of his bed as he attempted to escape his own hell.

Third is when he blew chunks all over the ladder getting off of said bunk bed.

My hypothesis is that Fourth happened on Chase’s bed, the bottom bunk, barely missing the sleeping sibling.

Fifth was clearly and obviously in the threshold of the bathroom, bless this child for even attempting to get to a proper receptacle.

Sixth and subsequent heaves were conducted sorta over the sink in an effort of good faith, but mostly on the grout of a recently tiled bathroom floor.

Now, I know we are almost to the end of our story and this piece of information is important as you picture the nastiness of this situation, but I’m choosing to drop it here:

Before bed, Conner downed an entire glass of red drink. The white ceiling he projectile vomited on? Literally dripping in red throw up. The sheets, the CURTAINS, the ladder, the carpet, the bottom sheets and comforter, and the grout are not only soaked in human waste, but red and very staining red waste.

So at 1am, I helped Conner change into less disgusting pajamas, wiped his face, got him some water and Tylenol, and put him to sleep next to his brother (who had also been stripped of the majority of his clothing and bedding, but was still fast asleep).

A bucket was placed beside his bed in hopes that any future vomit would land there and not everywhere else.

This morning I was able to evaluate the carnage left behind with natural sunlight pouring in. As I sit here typing nearly 10 hours later, I can’t help but occasionally shake the wafting smell of vomit away from my face.

Someone send peppermint oil, vodka and a hazmat team. It’s all preschool up in this house, but at least I am a seasoned vet.