ADHD: I LOVE Him, But His Poor Impulse Control is Killing Me.

I’m sitting at my desk at work, knee deep in charting.  I hear the phone inside my desk drawer ring, and I ignore it, too busy to deal with whatever it is.  Moments later it rings again.  I hear the impatience in the tune it spits out and I can’t disregard it anymore.  I close my chart and open the drawer, glancing down at the screen I see it’s the babysitter.  I have three missed calls from her.

My heart pounds.  It’s an emergency!

I call her back, and she assures me immediately that the kids are fine… HOWEVER, it seems that Man has stuck some metal into a socket and blown a fuse, the kitchen has no power. 

This is the third time that he has done this in the last year, so I know exactly how to walk her through fixing it.

I push the fear from my mind and the aggravation sets in- will he ever learn that that is dangerous?  Will he hurt himself, or someone else the next time he does it?  For there is ALWAYS a next time.

We’ve all seen THAT kid and THAT mom.  You KNOW the dynamic duo, you’ve met them before. 

The kid who is standing in the shopping cart, arms out, pretending to fly, as his sibling runs him down supermarket aisles.  His mother running after them, yelling angrily, embarrassed, and worried about concussions and broken bones.

The kid who is hiding in the clothing racks at Target, playing hide and seek.  His mother, frantically searching for him, frustrated, impatient, worried about a possible kidnapping.

The kid who just picked up that huge rock on the playground and tossed it across the field, oblivious to the 10 kids it almost hit in the head as it arcs nicely and lands on the ground with a loud thud.  His mother, shamed, desperately apologizing to other parents, worried that the other children will not want to play with him anymore.

For this child, knows not what he does, and this mother understands that… and it worries the SHIT out of her. 

Impulse control. 

It’s something that develops over time as the brain grows and classic conditioning does its job.  When we stick metal in a socket it shocks us. Therefore, the next time the thought occurs to us try it again, we are quickly reminded of the searing pain that coursed through our hand and the screams it elicited from our mom the last time tried that.  We decide not to do it again.  Simple.

This does not happen for the child with ADHD.

These are not magical children who don’t get shocked.  They do- and that shock hurt them just as much a their neurotypical pal who tried it also. No, it’s that they don’t stop long enough to think of the consequences of the last time they performed such an action. 

In other words, conditioning does not work as well with this population.  They have an idea and immediately act upon it.  The mechanism of the brain that says, “Dude, the last time you did that you got hurt, blew a fuse, AND your mom got pissed!!!” is completely absent.

In our house, this is the most challenging aspect of the ADHD diagnosis.

It’s easy to see how a lack of impulse control affects one’s behaviors.  If your child never stops to think of the consequences of their actions, that can lead to some pretty out-of-control situations.

But subtler, and more challenging to understand, are the ways it permeates EVERY. ASPECT. Of functioning for this child and their family.

Without impulse control, independent functioning becomes almost impossible.  At three years of age, this is expected, but by seven, eight, thirteen years of age, it’s unconscionable and exhausting for parents.

It affects activities of daily living:

Yes, we have all had to remind our kids a few times to put on their shoes or brush their teeth in the morning.  However, eventually they get it.  Sure, they might need an extra, gentle, reminder or two (or several) on days when they are not completely on their game.  But, all in all, by a certain age, your child can dress and bathe themselves somewhat to completely independently.

This does not happen for a child who lacks impulse control.  The verbal reminder is given, but suddenly, a bird is flying by the window and it’s cool and it’s red!!!  The sweat shirt is dropped, the child gleefully runs to the window and enjoys his birdwatching for like 20 seconds.  But then, something else of interest catches his eye!!!  The sweatshirt remains crumpled on the floor- a complete afterthought- until mom notices that her kid is wandering around the house naked, hyper focused on peeling the wrapper off of a crayon he found under the couch yesterday.  She calls out, “Go get dressed!” However, he has dropped the crayon and become engrossed in tapping the spoon for his morning cereal on the counter- he’s jamming!  He is deaf to her words. 

This happens every morning.  EVERY. MORNING. Until mom just gives up and sits next to her child, a child who is waaaaay too old for this, and dresses him herself.

It affects school:

Oh, how it affects school.  Do I even need to elaborate on this one?

It affects learning in such a substantial and significant way that it’s almost too much for me to wrap my head around.  I think people often think that ADHD just means a kid “can’t sit still.”  Yea, you know why? Lack of impulse control.

Paying attention in class, completing assignments, participating appropriately, prioritizing and organizing work, homework (oh the homework!), simply walking down the hall to gym class- it’s ALL affected.

It affects relationships:

God, does it affect relationships with both family and friends. 

This post is borne from the shame I have felt lately because I have been extra short with Man. 

As his mom, I am tired.  Tired of having to help him with everything. 

I’m anxious.  Anxious that he will never improve.

I’m fearful.  Fearful that I don’t have it within me to be the understanding and calm parent he needs all the time.  Fearful that I am just losing my patience.  Fearful of how much more I’m yelling lately.

I’m reminded.  Reminded constantly that it is all out of his control, he never, EVER, does this on purpose.  (Sometimes I think it would be easier to handle if he were, at least then my anger would be justified.)

It affects friendships, relationships with siblings and other family members, teachers, random strangers on the street, even the checkout guy at the drugstore counter.  Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who constantly interrupts you with their own stream of consciousness?  Eventually you just…

It affects one’s ability to truly master something, even something they love:

Mastery comes from the ability to practice and dedicate yourself to a specific task.  However, without impulse control, your ability to commit the time needed to achieve mastery is impossible.  It means that no matter how gifted you are, or how interested you are in something, you might never truly achieve excellence.  It’s as though you are trying your best, but your best just got up and walked away to do something else.  

This saddens me deeply for Man, as he is so brilliant and curious, yet, so far, he can only produce middle-of-the road success with everything he tries.

The hardest part, the most challenging and maddening part, is watching the one you love suffer because of something that is completely out of their control.  They, more than anyone else, are the most impacted by the lack of control they have over their own brain.  It often masks the kind, wonderful, interesting, and incredible children they are. They simply cannot make it function in the desired way and this leads to daily exasperation and regular disappointments.  They often work three times as hard and get half the results of their aged matched peers.

It’s this reason that forces me to push my own irritation aside, gather my strength, wrap my arms around Man, and be his scaffolding until he doesn’t need it anymore.

Bring it on, Bullies: Fighting Back With Empathy

We sit in a large semi-circle as the professor walks the room and tosses out discussion-questions to the class: “What is one belief you hold true about human nature?”

The previous questions had made me ponder and consider for a length of time before I was able to answer constructively, as they are designed to do.  However, this one, for me, was simple.  My hand shot up, “I have always been a believer in the innate goodness of people.” I said.   And it’s true.  I have always thought that people are largely caring and compassionate.  They most often strive to be their best and do right by others.  I think that unless you are a sociopath- which is rare- we all have a sense of decency and consideration for our fellow humans. Unforeseen challenges arise in everyone’s life that have the ability to derail us from this path and bring out the very worst in us.  However, if given the opportunity to heal and move forward, we strive to jump back on that better path again. 

While yes, I believe we are all essentially good and endeavor to be kind, we don’t often understand how.  I don’t mean that you don’t know how to click on the “donate” button to an important charity or let the mom with the screaming kid cut in front of you in line so she can just get that kid out of there.  I mean, we don’t know how to be emotionally kind.

“Emotional kindness” is the ability to use empathy and perspective-taking to understand another’s feelings and behaviors in a certain situation.

What is misunderstood by many is the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

I have a thought- “My husband just left allllll the dishes in the sink for ME to wash!!! What am I, his maid?!?!?”

I have an emotion associated with that thought- My anger is at a 10!!!

I then, consequently, have a behavior associated with that emotion- I make snide, passive-aggressive remarks to make sure he understands how truly pissed off I am.

Now, I’ve created a situation where we are both upset.  I’ve gotten myself super pissed off and ready to fight and my less than stellar behavior has pissed him off too.  

What if I had tried to take his perspective and attempted to empathize with him in that moment?  What if I had used emotional kindness?

If I had really stopped and reflected on the situation, I would have noticed that he did seem extra tired when he came home that day.  I would have reminded myself that he almost ALWAYS washes the dishes, so something was probably on his mind or else he would have done them.  I would have understood that leaving the dishes in the sink had nothing to do with me personally and that I knew in my heart of hearts that he did not think of me as his maid.

When I rearranged my thoughts, my emotions calmed down, and instead of being passive-aggressive, I gave him a hug, walked to the sink and did the dishes without another word.

Bullying hasn’t been a huge issue in our home yet, but we haven’t escaped its grip entirely either.  It is one of my biggest parenting fears for both of my children, especially Man.  When you are raising a child with differences, whether subtle and somewhat undetectable or glaring and overt- Man probably falls somewhere in the middle- it puts him or her at greater risk.  However, if we are being totally honest, unfortunately, every child is at risk nowadays.  Whether the parent of a child with special needs or the parent of your average Joe, I am definitely not the only parent who worries about their child being bullied.

 But what if we tackled bullying with emotional kindness? This is what I have been trying to instill in both of my children lately.

When one of them comes home saddened and deflated by a challenging altercation with another student, my initial instinct is to go nuclear on that kid.  My mama bear instinct in full effect, I want to speak harsh words to this young child and tell them to leave my kid alone!!

Buuuuut, then I calm down and try and use it as a learning opportunity.  I let them be hurt by it, because, of course, being teased, or “burned” as the kids like to call it, isn’t fun and it’s very upsetting.  However, I then try to teach them to think of what the “bully” might have been feeling at that time.  As a believer in innate goodness, most likely, that kid is having a rough time of his own and bullying is the only way he knows to make himself feel better.  I show them what empathy feels like and together we work on finding peace with the situation through increasing our emotional kindness.

Bullying at this young age is often a result of not having the skills to express your true feelings and emotions.  Often, children cannot even identify their emotions, let alone talk about them rationally.  Starting to teach our children at a young age to understand that there is always an emotion behind a behavior is a vital skill with lifelong benefit.  It certainly doesn’t eliminate the hurt of being bullied, but it allows them to minimize its overall lasting effect.  It allows them to depersonalize the negative behaviors of others, a skill which will forever be of benefit to them.

Please note, this post relates to general bullying as defined by, “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.”  It does not pertain to harassment, which is a prosecutable offence.  0000000

The Motherload

I walk into the house after eight hours of internship.  I brush sweaty, freckled child cheeks with a quick kiss hello and I’m off.  I begin emptying back packs and carrying soggy, musty towels to the washing machine to begin a load—how can they smell so bad after only one use?  I empty lunch bags, mine included, and load the dishwasher with seemingly endless containers sticky with residue.  I make sure to get the AM dishes in there too, you know, the ones that were left haphazardly in the sink from the chaos that is morning.  If I leave them any longer, the dried food glued to their sides might become permanently affixed.  With empty lunch containers in front of me, I immediately begin to repack them for tomorrow. Some random child calls from across the room; she doesn’t want that sandwich, she wants a different one—the kids have barely looked up from their post-camp television haze to acknowledge my presence, yet they sense that I am doing lunch wrong and promptly put a stop to it.  I usher one child into the bath and as I turn on the water I’m acutely aware of the fact that I haven’t gone to the bathroom since lunch.  I try to go but absentmindedly sit down on naked child who has beaten me to it and now the opportunity has passed.  I head across the hall and gather the requisite uniforms for campers attending two different camps. I’m lucky, it’s picture day at both of their camps so I only have to remember this fact once—two different picture days and it’s a guarantee that at least one of them would not be wearing the required camp t-shirt.  A blood-curdling scream comes from the tub; I think maybe she’s gotten shampoo in her eye.  I run, dropping the clothes on floor of the hallway.  When I get there, I realize it was just her rallying cry. She’s very proud that she has shampooed, conditioned, and gotten out of the tub to dry off all by herself.  Upon closer inspection I realize she actually hasn’t, that half of her head is still covered in shampoo—I let it slide. I continue on my way, there are still so many things to do…

 

The Motherload…

Run to the supermarket, we’re out of… everything.

Drop off the dry cleaning.

Pack Man’s lunch.

Pack Lady’s lunch.

Pack my own lunch.

Get to class on time.

Is it early drop off for camp today?

Don’t forget to call the auto body shop to order new tires before you have a massive blowout on the highway.

Pack camp bags—does she swim twice tomorrow?  Better toss in two suits just in case…

Wait, go back upstairs, you forgot it’s stuffed animal day and you need to pack Carrotty Bun Buns for her.

overwhelmed_woman

Get your own school assignment finished, it’s due soon.

Sign the kids up for Fall dance classes.

What day of the week is it?

“MOMMMMMMM, can I have some water?”

Get back on that school assignment, it’s still due soon.

Sunblock the kids.

Prepare to run group tomorrow at my internship.

Speaking of internship, am I doing a decent job, because it kind of feels like I suck at this.

When was the last time I walked the dog?  Was it today?

Return library books.

Pick up ant traps, it’s getting ridiculous in here.

Go back to the hardware store, you forgot the Draino.

When was the last time I ate a meal sitting down?

“MOMMMMMM, there’s no more toilet paper!”

Is the air conditioning working? Better call for an appointment before the next heat wave.

“Man, eat your dinner!”

Double check that Lady’s play date is still on—am I dropping her off or is she getting picked up?

Shit- unpack Lady’s camp bag so you can put labels on all her clothes.

Go to internship.

“MOMMMMMMMM, can you help me tie my shoes?”

Do it all.

Do it all with perfectly flawless skin.

Do it all without cellulite, while looking hot in those jeans.

Do it with manicured fingernails.

With a stylish outfit on.

While getting a nutritious dinner on the table every night by 6:30.

With a smile on your face, a skip in your step, and without missing a beat.

 

What any mother can tell you is that this is just a fraction of what runs through our minds daily.  It’s called The Motherload.  It’s intense and it’s a bitch.  It’s the never-ending mental list that streams on a loop in our heads, always.  It’s our theme song- our anthem- the beat to which we march.  It’s with us in the shower, at the dinner table, at work, on line at the CVS, when we are driving, even when we are sleeping…or not sleeping because The Motherload is keeping us awake.  It’s a million tiny balls all up in the air at once; if one falls, they all fall, raining down heavily upon us leaving us battered and bruised.

I have been crushed by The Motherload lately.  With the recent loss of our babysitter coinciding with the start of my graduate internship and summer school—a time when my satanic professors feel It’s important to cram 15 weeks of work into just six short weeks.  And as much as it pains me to say this, I have brought part of it on myself.  I told my husband that I didn’t need a new babysitter until the Fall, that I would be just fine for the summer with work, school, and the kids all by myself.

What the fuck was I thinking?

I was thinking I could handle it.

No, I was thinking I should handle it.

There is a significant difference.

As mothers today, we are made to feel we should do it all.  We can have that fantastic career, thriving social life, happy, seamlessly operating home, and lovely, well-raised, children along with our sanity completely intact, all tied up neatly with a bright red ribbon.  Somewhere, some little voice in a remotely accessed corner of my brain screamed, “You don’t need any help, you should be able to do it all!!!”

This, my friends, was where I was wrong, because I can’t do it all on my own, not without being leveled by The Motherload.

Mothers unconsciously carry so much of the load and I fear it’s because we feel we have no other choice.  However, I’m beginning to see that the harder I work, the less I should be doing.  I need to unload, to give up on the idea that it all must get done, done well, and done by me.

Parkland: What Am I Allowed To Feel?

Man hold up his hands like a gun and takes fake shots.  He laughs maniacally at the video he’s watching.  It’s one of those silly kid’s videos where guys are using Nerf guns to shoot each other in idiotic places.  He thinks it’s hysterical.

“Turn that off right now!” I say curtly. 

“What’s the big deal?” He asks innocently.

“You know daddy and I don’t like guns or shooting or when you watch videos of shooting!”

“It’s just a Nerf gun mom, it’s funny.”

“Well, one day it could be a real gun!” I say as I rip the iPad away from him.

He looks at me, his already giant doe eyes even larger.  “Mom, I was watching that!!”

“Well, now you’re not.” I spit back. 

I take a deep breath; my emotions are running high.  I have just read another article about the Parkland shooting and I’m sad, scared, angry, defeated…

“I have to talk to you about something, buddy.”

“Ok.”

“One of the reasons daddy and I don’t like you playing with guns or thinking they are just fun toys is because one day, it might be hard for you to tell if someone has a toy gun or a real gun.  One day, someone might start shooting and it won’t just be pretend.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Well, you know all of those lockdown drills you guys have?  It’s because someone with a real gun might come into your school and start shooting and they want to make sure you know what to do.  That happened today at a school in Florida.  Some people even got killed.”

“Stop saying that mommy, you’re scaring me.  I don’t want to hear that!!”

“I know little buddy, and I don’t want to have to tell you this, but I do.  It’s important that you know that guns are dangerous and that they are not toys and they can hurt people.”

I’m crying now, and he looks at me a little lost.  He continues to back away from the conversation, scanning the room for his iPad so he can remove himself from this discussion altogether.  He can’t handle what I am saying and, quite frankly, I can’t either. 

A million thoughts are racing through my head: “He needs to hear this stuff, it’s a matter of life and death.” “He’s only seven, I shouldn’t be scaring him like this.” “Am I doing this right, because I’m not sure how to have a conversation like this with my seven-year-old?”  “I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION WITH MY SEVEN-YEAR-OLD!!!”

This morning they read the names and descriptions of the 17 killed on NPR.  I began to cry again.

Then, just now, I read some of the text exchanges between parent’s and their children.  I began to cry again.

Then I began to feel guilty, am I allowed to cry?  Am I even allowed to feel this way?  It wasn’t my school, or my children, or even anyone I know.  My sadness cannot take away from the sadness and distraught felt by the friends and family of whose lives were taken.

My emotions are so confused and disconnected.

I don’t know what I am allowed to feel; but I do know that I am heartbroken.

I don’t know what I am allowed to feel; but I do know that I am angry.

I don’t know what I am allowed to feel; but I do know that I am helpless.

There is so much I’m feeling, but mostly, I don’t feel it is my right to have any feelings on this matter at all, not until it happens to someone I know.

And there it is… “Not until it happens to someone I know.” 

The likelihood of it happening to someone I know is significant, it’s only a matter of time. 

That fact alone gives me the right to feel!

To feel angry!

To feel that nothing, NOTHING is being done!

To feel scared because we are all just sitting around waiting for it to happen again!!!

This didn’t happen to me, it happened to every single parent and child in this country and somewhere along the way we’ve been told to accept the fact that there is nothing we can do. 

In the end, why feel at all if those feelings aren’t going to amount to anything.

If These Walls Could Talk

It’s impossible not to feel overwhelmed with sentiment and emotion as I pack up my family and ready us to move out of the first home we ever owned.  A decade ago, a young, excited engaged couple made the traditional migration from a thrilling life in the big city to settling down into quiet suburban living.  In the years that followed, we filled this home with a marriage, two children, pets, ups, downs, and in betweens- moments of love and laughter have bounced joyfully off these walls, while times of sadness and regret have seeped deeply into its cracks and crevices.  I can see the memories in every corner of every room- from smalls scuffs left on the baseboards from tiny kicking feet to art projects depicting our happy family taped lovingly to bedroom walls.

I go through the house daily, methodically emptying drawers and clearing shelves.  In this endless quest, items that were once thought to be gone forever begin to resurface.  I come across a bag containing the clothes Man wore home from the hospital- I had put it away for “safe keeping” in his closet over seven years ago and then, naturally, forgot it existed.  I inhale deeply, it has since lost its newborn baby smell, but the memories of that day come flooding back as though it were yesterday.  He was so small, a mere 5 pounds and 13 ounces, that he didn’t fit into the newborn sized onsie we had purchased for him and we had to fashion an outfit out of clothes the hospital provided.  A smile breaks out on my face and a tear streams down my cheek as I am swept up in the joy of the memory.

I move on to my bedroom closet with a broom stick in hand to help knock down items stored long ago on it’s very top shelf.  A white, pleather bowling bag falls and almost hits me in the head.  I rifle through its contents and find Madonna style 80’s lace gloves, handcuffs, edible underwear, and other kinky goodies.  Holy shit, the gag bag from my bachelorette party!  I am inundated with more memories; a bonfire on the beach, lobster dinner al fresco, and penis shaped shot glasses filled with too much tequila.  Suddenly, I feel old and tired; I’m so far removed from that young and carefree bachelorette.

All this mess, all this purging and packing, it has been an emotional roller coaster.  I am tense and exhausted.

I have spent months endlessly scavenging furniture stores and websites for new and fabulous items, vowing to fill our home with beautiful and CLEAN couches and rugs that have not been stained by children and gnawed on by pets.  Countless hours have been devoted to choosing the perfect wall colors to compliment the new and attractive “big-girl home” I am determined to have.  Walls filled with color that have not been marked up by crafting projects or dirt stained little fingers.

All this time, all this effort to create a new, improved, beautiful home, a home that is nothing like the dirty piece meal house I live in now.  I am anxious and feel undue pressure.

There has been so much time and effort dedicated to salvaging what we can still use, tossing the old and searching for the new, that the meaning of the move has been lost on me entirely.  This house, no, this home, wasn’t born out of “stuff” it was created by the people who dwell in it.  I have completely overlooked, or quite possibly just ignored, the fact these walls have seen the growth of family.  To avoid the overwhelming emotion that accompanies leaving my home, I have placed more value on the items inside of it than on the feelings, sentiment, and memories that it holds.

I became a wife in this house.  My husband and I were just three months shy of our wedding day when we moved in.  I can see us as newlyweds, glowing with love and enthusiasm, unmarred by the life that was to unfold before us.  I can feel the love that we had for each other, new and eager to please, carefree and wildly passionate.  I learned how to be a wife in this house, how to be a partner.  I learned about communication and compromise and how to come to resolutions together as a team.  I hear the fain echo of words spoken in times where we both thought we would never make it, where we were ready to give up on our marriage and go our separate ways.  I sit now in our bedroom and see the spot where he stood when we decided that we loved each other and our family far too much to give up and decided that we were worth fighting for.  I feel surrounded by the love we share now, as we have come out on the other side stronger and even better than before.

me and jord 2

Wedding day!

I became a mother in this house.  I can see the spot where I peed on the stick for the first, and second time.  I still have the same garbage can that I tossed those pregnancy tests into after they gave me the answers that I was hoping for.  I sit, right now, in the very bed that I napped together with my babies, desperate for some shut eye.  I can see the chair I sat in as I pumped my milk, praying that just one more ounce would come out.  I can feel the relief in the room where I decided to stop pumping and just feed my child formula, because I wasn’t a failure, I was just doing what I had to do.  I can picture the messes made and the floors littered with clothes that my then undiagnosed ADHD Man created in his tornado phase.  He moved swiftly and with purpose destroying much of our house.  I can sit at the table where he used to feed his little sister and speak the words, “Millie’s talkin to me!!!” I can relax on the couch where he first held her the day we brought her home.  I can return to the spot in my closet where I would hide and cry because motherhood was not what I expected and it stunned me to think that I was not as happy as I “should be.”  I can feel the warmth and the love of all the moments of laughter, triumph, fun, enjoyment, first times, and continued successes that this house has brought us.

I became a sober woman in this house, deciding once and for all that I could no longer successfully drink.  I see the spot where I crumbled in fear and desperation as the realization took hold that I needed more help that I had been willing to admit.

I became a student in this house.  After picking myself up and dusting off the remains of my unhappiness, I sit at the very computer where I filled out the applications and the wrote essays that would take me on this next journey in my life.

fam school

 

I grew up in this house, becoming a woman that I am proud to be- a happy woman, the woman I always knew I could be.

every-mom

 

We became a family in this house.

family 6

If my walls could talk, they would tell me of failures and triumphs, of sadness and successes. They would share with me the pride with which they have surrounded me and my family.  There is no new couch or new rug that matters more than the growth and the memories of the home that I have built with my family.  I will cry when we leave all these memories behind, having safely stowed them in my heart.  I will open the door to my new home with excitement and eagerness for the new memories we shall continue to forge together.

 

 

The Perfect Holiday Gifts for Your Kids… That are Really for You!

Tis the season of gift giving – that incredible time of year when you can force your children into good behavior by threatening to cancel Christmas or Hanukkah. Nothing beats a snow-covered morning at home, sipping coffee quietly while your delightful children beam like angels…because they’re scared half to death that you’re going to give all their toys away. 😉

But it’s also a challenging time of year.  All. That. Holiday. Pressure!!!!!  All that work to create the perfect holiday ambiance inside your home and spread the happ-happ-happiest holiday cheer outside the home.

I scroll through my newsfeed every evening thanking God that I was born a Jew – I would crumble into dust under the pressure that is Elf on a Shelf.  The hours of time and creativity that people put into this tiny little stuffed elf… I’m in awe, truly I am.  Someone recently told me I should purchase the Mensch on a Bench for my kids (because it’s not really a holiday until there is a socially acceptable Jewish Hallmark spinoff item) and I literally turned and ran away from the conversation as fast as my feet could carry me.  In my house, if the dog didn’t manage to grab it first and claim it as her own, that Mensch would just sit and wait patiently on his bench while his furry little brown beard turned Santa Claus white.  Eventually he would be covered by all the mounds of crap that I let pile up all over my house…until the following year, when I would find him the day after Hanukkah ended, and silently curse at myself for buying a new one after my yearlong search had failed. Stupid Mensch.  If he were smart, he would run off with the elf and they would live out the rest of their days sipping Pina Coladas on the beach.

As I was heading for my room this evening, my daughter’s latest Hanukkah gift caught my eye, a Light Bright wrapped in the same classic 70’s packaging as mine was when I was a little girl.  A little thrill filled me, “I can’t wait to play with that with her tomorrow!”  (Full disclosure, I strongly considered opening it up and playing with it right then.)  But it really got me thinking, when was the last time I was excited to play with one of my kids’ toys?  Um… never!  I’ll be honest, I find dressing and putting baby dolls to sleep mind numbingly boring.  And no matter how many times Man attempts to engage me in lively conversation about Minecraft, I really just “yes” and “uh-huh” him to the point where he could be asking me to buy him a horse and I wouldn’t even realize that I had agreed to do so. My big question is, why don’t we get our kids presents that we want to play with- that we would enjoy partaking in ourselves?  Wouldn’t that be so much better for everyone!?

I say, down with gifts that are torture to parents!!  No longer do we have to stand for painfully stepping on that random tiny LEGO piece stranded in the hallway from the Millennium Falcon that is taking your child forever to finish!  No longer do we have to follow our daughters around with the vacuum cleaning up tiny beads and glitter from our daughter’s art boxes.  I’m here to say, I will no longer pretend that Barbie is strutting the fashion runway!!!!!

Here are the perfect gifts for your child… that are really for you!!

The Easy Bake Oven:  Not only is this a classic from your childhood, but you get to enjoy the tasty treats of your efforts.  Even if baking isn’t your thing, who wouldn’t want an excuse to snack on a bite size, full fat, full gluten, full sugar, full flavor brownie?

easy bake oven

 

Nintendo DS or Atari: Yes, I say bring back Mario and Luigi in a big way!!!  Go to town with your kid while you try and save the princess and battle the Kublai Khan!  Have a blast while you achieve your lifelong dream of finally getting Frogger across the street safely!

SONY DSC

 

Tickets… to anything: Whether it’s tickets to the movies, or, if you can swing it, a show, this is the gift that keeps on giving.  I don’t know about you, but I spend most kid’s movie outings taking a quick snooze, or catching up on e mails.  If you can make it to a show, double bonus!  Now you get the pleasure of being entertained while, simultaneously watching your kids be dazzled!

 

DVD’s: Need I say more…?

 

“Spa Day”: This is a great one for the little ladies in your life.  They can get their nails polished up like a rainbow while you enjoy a pedi and a quick 10-minute back rub!

 

Mail Order Mystery: Once I convinced Man that there wouldn’t be a pirate curse descending upon us if we didn’t figure out the clues in time, this proved to be fantastically fun!  I was just as eager as he was- and my husband would likely tell you that I was even more eager- to break that code and figure out the next clue.  I go to the mailbox every day hoping to find another envelope from International Office with my, er, Man’s name on it.   https://www.mailordermystery.com/

 

A Deep Space Planetarium: Just picture it, you snuggled in bed with your kids at night while they are entertained by simply gazing at the ceiling.  That sounds like a little slice of heaven… literally.

Deep space

 

Books from your childhood: Even if your kids can read on their own, how nice would it be to sit and read Harry Potter with them?  I eagerly await the day that I can read Anne of Green Gables to Lady.  To be able to share the love of your favorite series with you kids while enjoying it again yourself, there is really no better gift!

Anne of Green Gables

In this season of giving, I say it’s ok to be a little selfish.  Go forth, and gift the gifts that YOU will enjoy as well!!