21 July 2007

The Monster I've Created

Hmmmm....parenting dilemma #125: Equal treatment of all children.

This morning, Brent took Spencer and Kirby to the Y for basketball camp. This was from 8:30-Noon. That left Elliot and I to run errands.

Now...we've been trying to potty-train Elliot. So, everytime he uses the toilet by himself, he gets a sticker on his chart. When the chart is full, he gets a treat. The chart has about twenty spots on it, and if he pees in his underwear, I cross out a sticker and he needs to make up for it. Anyway, it's been a big deal, and he's had his eye on a Go, Diego, Go backpack at Walmart.

Which we finally got to get for him today! Yay Elliot! Potty Prince!

Back to the story. When I picked the kids up, Spencer told me how he had trouble keeping his shoes on during play. They're the zip-up kind, and they actually functioned as his gym shoes during the last year. Needless to say, between gym class and regular wear this summer, they're pretty shot. So, we went to the shoe store to buy new shoes for him.

Guess who's upset because she gets nothing special??? Kirby. Elliot got the backpack and Spencer gets new shoes. She didn't talk to me all through lunch and had tears in her eyes whenever she'd look at me.

My first reaction was to tell her: Look, sometimes you get things and the boys don't. That's how it goes sometimes. What I snippily wanted to add, but didn't was: Sometimes you're more special on some days than others. Get over it. But then, I started to feel bad for her - WTF??

After I said my above piece, I went ahead and ignored the silent tantrum, and eventually she did get over it, but it got me thinking. Have I been so worried about making sure my kids all get the same stuff, that now they expect things when they don't need or deserve it? Christmas is a good example. In the past, we've always tried to spend the same amount of $$$ on the kids. Well, the older they've gotten, the trickier that's become. But, they're still young enough to raise a fuss when one child has more presents than the other...so we buy a couple of "filler" presents for the child who's got the least to alleviate the problem. Soon, the belief prevailed that if "she got something at Walmart, I should get something too." Yuck. I'm raising greedy little yard gnomes!

06 July 2007

Europeans Got Some Things Right

In my recent European wanderings, I've discovered there are a lot of things I like about Greek people and their way. Some things are European in general, and some are specifically Greek.

First of all, I really dig their tiled bathrooms. I know we have those in America too, but I liked them better in Europe. I want to redo my shower now.

Brent and I both really liked their money. Euros are cool. It's nice having a 1 and a 2 Euro coin. And they're pretty.

Finally, and this was a biggie. Several people in our tour group were concerned with all the doings at JFK, Glasgow, and Heathrow airports and asked the tour director if she foresaw any trouble on our flights home. The TD looked blank for a moment, and then she replied that Greeks don't worry much about those kind of things. There's no point in it, and if something is going to happen, there's not much she can do to stop it. Basically, her point was that Greeks, in general, don't work themselves up about things that are beyond their control.

And I thought - now there's what our country missing!

It's not that Europe is lazy or hands-off or don't think about the big picture. They aren't. But, in America, we always seem to be worried about something. We do have a tendency to sweat the small stuff.

Also, I liked how Greeks are towards their parents. Our TD told us they don't ship their parents off to nursing homes or assisted living apartments. They bring them home or find them a place really close to their house (like next door). I just found that refreshing. And, they don't celebrate birthdays so much as celebrate their "Name Day." In Greece, anyway, most children are named after a saint, and that's the day they celebrate more. It's not so much about parties and presents, but about reflecting on how you've lived your life, and just celebrating life in general.

I don't know if this is all a Europe thing, or a Greek thing, but some of their attitudes struck a chord with me. I was doing an internal "Right On!" many times during this trip. We'll see if I can work these European attitudes into my own daily living.

04 July 2007

Greece Trip Highlights

Yes, we are back in the motherland. The kids came back this morning, and we are all happy household again.

I apologize for telling you about the trip for the first couple days, then leaving off abruptly, but we were on the cruise ship, and the ship's two (slow) computers were monopolized by teenagers.

So, instead of trying to backlog ten days' worth of adventure, I'll pack it into a concise list of highlights (and lowlights, as the case may be).

1. The sheer joy of finding out we were bumped to the first-class section for the Philly-Athens leg of the plane trip.

2. Looking like uncouth cretins when we asked the flight attendant how much we had to pay for mimosas in the first-class section.

3. Walking through the Propylaia (entrance) and catching my first glimpse of the Parthenon.

4. Not knowing how to turn lights on in European hotel rooms for the first few hours of the trip.

5. Brent running in the ancient stadium at Delphi in 119 degree weather.

6. Doing all of our walking trips in the hottest weather Greece has seen in 100 years.

7. Standing at the northern end of the ancient Olympic ruins, feeling the utmost awe of the "ancientness" of it all, and hating Theodosius whoever for destroying it all because the ceremonies and rituals of the ancient Olympics didn't jive with Christianity.

8. Watching and filming Brent and three other people from our tour group running a race in the ancient Olympic stadium. (No, he did not win, and yes, it was still insanely, dangerously hot.)

9. Feeling extremely tuned into Homer's world of "The Iliad" as I stepped through the Lion's Gate at the ruins of Mycenae.

10. Delivering the first few lines from Homer's "The Odyssey" in the acoustically amazing ancient theater at Epidaurus. ("Sing in me, O Muse...)

11. The amazing dark blue color of the Aegean Sea sailing aboard the Ruby.

12. Unlimited buffet on the Lido deck.

13. Full Moon Saturday on the Aegean Sea. Freakin' gorgeous.

14. Mykonos's whitewashed houses, cozy streetways, and hanging-out-to-dry octopus.

15. Eating fried squid in a cafe on the beach, watching the sunset on Mykonos.

16. Doing the beach thing on Rhodes. Water is clear, beach is rocky. Sun is hot, breeze is cool. Wish you were here.

17. Many boobs on beach in #16 (not mine).

18. Taking a scenic bus tour of Rhodes, and seeing the absolutely breathtaking view of a beach that was two different shades of blue. Light turquoise at the shallow end, dark sapphire as it got deeper.

19. Visiting the place where St. John received a vision from God and wrote the Book of Revelation...on a Sunday...in the middle of a service going on in the chapel right next to the grotto. Yes, uncomfortable, but inspirational.

20. Sitting with other tour members on the outdoor latrines in the city of ancient Ephesus in Turkey.

21. The ancient city of Ephesus itselt.

22. Bargaining with a leather seller in Kusadasi, Turkey...and walking out with two sweet name-brand leather purses and a wallet for Brent for 75 Euro ($90-100).

23. Watching crazy Athenian drivers and motorbike riders with a death wish from the safety of the tour bus.

24. Being there amid hundreds, thousands of years of history. Feeling that sublime feeling of being a microscopic little speck in the universe, realizing I am just a drop in the ocean of this planet as I stand among rocks that have been standing for thousands of years, and will probably be there a thousand more.

25. Knowing I'll be back to the Greek Islands, most definitely. Someday, anyway. I've got to get a boob lift first so I can fit in with the beachgoers on Rhodes.

Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts on the European ways.