On Raising 2 Kids on Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

For what it’s worth, I’m just a mom raising 2 kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and the struggle is real. Every day life poses challenges that only other moms on this rollercoaster can understand!

For what it's worth, I'm just a mom raising 2 kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and the struggle is real. Every day life poses challenges that only other moms on this rollercoaster can understand!

I’m raising two kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and it’s weird, y’all. So weird and challenging. By spectrum, I’m not talking the autistic spectrum that some of my friends (man, those mommas are superheroes in my book!) have to deal with; I’m talking spectrum as it’s defined in Webster, just in general.

Spectrum: 

Used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified, in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points.

Two extreme or opposite points? Yes, that’s my Kylee (Bug) and Zachary (Bubby) to the millionth power. They are at opposite points in everything…eating habits, vocabulary, scholastic skills, social skills, clothing preferences, futuristic goals…you name it, one is red, the other is violet…just like the opposite ends of the rainbow spectrum.

As a mom, the daily struggle is so real, it’s exhausting. How do you address their differences without hurting the other? How do you teach them academically without confusing one or losing the other’s interest? How do you cut up with one’s friends, while realizing the other doesn’t really have any? How do you celebrate one’s grades without making the other feel less? How can you tell one to finish the food on their plate while you tell the the other (the picky one) that you’ll get them something else because you completely understand?

How do you balance it all, knowing you love them both equally, but knowing that, although they share the same DNA, their makeup is so completely, utterly different on so many levels?

HOW?

I know you’re going to tell me that every child/person is different, and you’re completely right. I have six children of my own, and although they are all unique in their own way, no two people/children in my life have ever been more dissimilar than the two I’m raising right now. And yet, thankfully, they love each other, as they should. But they’re so different.

Kylee loves all food except for shrimp, bananas, ribs, and American cheese. Zach eats no food other than peanut butter and honey sandwiches, chicken patties (no nuggets), cereal, pizza (not homemade, and the gooey cheese of good pizza grosses him out), and spaghetti (only mine).

Zach has the vocabulary of an intelligent 40 year old; Kylee struggles to understand what he’s talking about on a daily basis.

Kylee struggles with school, standardized testing (don’t get me started), getting along with teachers and authority figures in general, and homework. Zach is a straight A student who is off the chart on standardized tests (like he brings additional funds into the school with a handful of others), is a teachers’ pet, and comes home and willingly does his homework daily, even before playing his beloved video games…all on his own.

Kylee has a more active social life than I did at the age of 21, while Zach struggles socially because no one his age seems to understand him, nor share his interests (that one really breaks my heart!).

Kylee loves wild, bright clothing while Zach prefers plaids and khakis, or plaid with plaid (even better).

Kylee wants to swim with the dolphins when she grows up (that’s a cool aspiration, I must admit), while Zach aspires to be a game developer (totally cool as well, my kids are pretty bad ass) or an engineer.

The spectrum is covered in my house, but it’s so very rough.

Praising Kylee’s eating habits while not making Zachary feel like he’s less because he’s picky like his mom…is a struggle.

Fostering Zachary’s love of words while not trying to lose Kylee in conversation…is a struggle.

Hanging Zach’s straight A report cards and test scores on the refrigerator while trying to explain to Kylee that she IS enough and she’s raised her grades by 2, 3, 7, 10 points (she tries hard most of the time, y’all!) is the hugest struggle of all (but I do continue to encourage her and her report cards are hung right next to his for the record!).

Allowing Kylee to have her friends spend the night, or accepting another sleepover invite, while I hear from Zach’s teacher that he is struggling socially is both invigorating (that she’s so popular) and heartbreaking (because he’s so funny and it’s not his fault that other “kids” don’t get him) all at the same time.

For what it's worth, I'm just a mom raising 2 kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and the struggle is real. Every day life poses challenges that only other moms on this rollercoaster can understand!

This all might sound superficial to you in light of today’s tumultuous times, unless of course you are the parent (and I know you’re out there) of two kids on opposite ends of the spectrum.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I don’t know if I’m asking for help, or just venting. I just know I’m exhausted and I want them, both of them, to always feel like they’re enough (they are so enough) in this world and it’s an exhausting challenge on a daily basis to raise such opposing personalities in the same space, at the same time.

I love them both, equally, and I hope they always know that. I love how they love each other no matter how much they fight and I hope that they’ll always support and love one another, despite their opposing sides of the universe.

One day, although they’ll always be horrifically different humans, I hope they lean in and help each other to fit in better in the areas they don’t belong. One day, I hope they notice that I was always in their corners and that I struggled to foster their differences, no matter how real that struggle was. I hope that they, some day, read this and know that, no matter what, I tried…I always tried…to raise two kids on two opposite ends of the spectrum as fairly, and as lovingly, as I possibly could! They’re both important in their own right. I love them both, differently and equally, despite their differences.

I hope they know I know they’re amazing, both of them. Their similarities, and their differences, make them the beautiful people that they are now, that they will always be. Only a mom can see this, you know?

Are you raising two (or more) children on opposite ends of the spectrum? If so, please tell me how you deal with it because it’s rough, y’all, and I just want to do the best that I can for the little humans that I’m raising now…on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Middle School, B.L.A.A.R., and Lessons from Bug

I’d like to thank Click Communications for sending us Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life so that I could share with you my feelings on standardized testing, my Bug’s journey as a square peg, and our feelings in general on this movie.

meltdown

“Rafe has an epic imagination…and a slight problem with authority. Both collide when he transfers to a rule-crazy middle school. Drowning in do’s and don’ts, Rafe and his best friend Leo hatch a plan to expose the principal by breaking every rule in the school’s Code of Conduct. As the principal strikes back, Rafe’s world, at home and at school, explodes into hilarious chaos (both real and imagined) in this laugh-filled family comedy based on James Patterson’s best-selling book series.” 

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

When I was first presented with the opportunity to watch Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, I really had no interest. I mean, for real, I still have kids in elementary school, I’ve watched others of mine go through middle school and high school, I’ve LIVED the drama. Why watch it again, from an author’s/script writer’s standpoint?

But then I thought better of my decision.

You see, Bug is about to enter middle school next year (the HECK you say?) and as you know, she’s pretty much a square peg in our round society so these years, indeed, are the worst years of her life (or so it seems). So, of course I rethought my initial scoff and happily agreed to watch the movie with her, and I’m so glad I did.

The books? Apparently my older kids were too old for these (sigh), and my babies were too young. But the movie, well it hit home in many ways. Where to begin…

The B.L.A.A.R. as they call it in the movie, or standardized (forced) testing as we all know it, is by far the centerpiece of this movie and it’s the very bane of my existence. We, as a society, teach our children these days to learn to pass tests rather than just LEARN. I hate it. I’m vocal about it. I truly feel that standardized testing will be the demise of this nation; and I feel that it has caused a nation (sorry millennials, but have you ever watched yourselves function without technology?) of “kids” that can’t function without a cell phone, a laptop, or their favorite apps. Like, if they were stranded on a deserted island, they’d likely be looking for the answers to A) How can I Google how to survive?, B) How can I call my mom on my cell phone to figure out how to survive?, C) Can Instagram show me how to survive?, or D) HOLY SHIT, none of my crap works anymore…now what?

I have many non-family-friendly terms for how I feel about the B.L.A.A.R. testing that goes on in today’s world that I’ll spare you, but I will say, I’m glad that I actually LEARNED before this was a thing. I’m glad this movie called that out! I’m just going to assume the writers weren’t millennials and leave that at that. (GET OFF MY LAWN!)

Next, the imagination, animation, and general family and friends ties in the movie were moving. Mom kind of lost her way through the first part, as most single moms do, but in the end (spoiler alert), she did what all good moms do and chose her family, her kids, above all else, as she should. Good job and very heart warming.

The personal loss portion of the movie (OMG…another spoiler alert, but near the end, Bug said, ‘DON’T mom, I know that look’ because she knew I was about to lose it) was touching, AND REAL. All of our lives are so full of loss these days, and although my children, thankfully, haven’t had to feel personal loss just yet, I know they, Bug in particular, felt the pain and totally got it.

SO…in a nutshell…this movie is basically a must-see from my perspective as the mom of six. It’s a great combination of present-world frustrations from parents, teachers, and kids alike. It’s funny, it’s heart warming at times, and the imaginative nature of the whole thing is quite entertaining. It’s a great way to show all of the conformists that the square pegs, the “remedials”, can actually rule the world again one day…despite their “failure” on stupid standardized testing.

Einstein was dyslexic. Lincoln had very little formal education. I never graduated college (because I kept having KIDS). None of us ever had to deal with B.L.A.A.R., we all did OK (yes, I just put myself in that company…don’t judge). I loved this movie SO hard. Bug loved it more.

Because we should. And so should you.

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Have you seen it yet? If so, what’s your take? If not, WHAT are you waiting for? The DVD and Blu-ray is available in stores January 3, 2017, and if you have a preteen or tween in your house, you totally want this one in your video library!

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Deed

Never underestimate the power of a good deed, especially during the holidays. You never know whose life you’ll change forever. My life was forever changed thanks to a good deed back in Christmastime of 1988.

never underestimate the power of a good deed

It was Christmas time and I was a 21-year-old expectant mother of my first child. It should have been an exciting time. I should have been full of wonderment and joy. I was full of fear, and I was alone. My then (sorry I ever met him except for the fact that he gave me my first two true loves) husband got locked up for a DUI, again. I had just started a new job. I really didn’t know anyone there and I surely didn’t share my insane personal life with them.

My mom had called, after hearing of the news. I was at work, at my new job. I did my best to be quiet. No, mom, I don’t need anything. I’ll be fine. He’ll be out in a few days. I’m fine. I’m totally fine. Yes, I know it’s Christmas, but I’ve got this! No one heard, it was cool; I was fine. But apparently, someone heard and someone heard me cry in the bathroom after that phone call. Someone knew that I didn’t even have a tree. Someone KNEW that my heart needed to enjoy my favorite time of the year, despite my circumstances. Someone, her name was Julie, changed my life that year, in 1988, and I’ve dedicated my life ever since to paying it forward.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Deed

I walked into my office that next morning, sat down at my desk, and there was an envelope just staring at me, with my name on it. I opened it. I read words that warmed me like maybe no other words ever have. I cried.

$50. A cool $50 and a simple note. Doesn’t seem like much, right? Change in your pocket. So wrong.

So, so wrong.

Those words…everyone deserves a Merry Christmas…forever changed my life. And it’s changed the lives of many others since.

You see, that Christmas, that year, I was ready to throw in the towel. I didn’t want to bring a child into a cruel world that didn’t understand how much I loved this season…how much I loved humanity. I thought bad things, alone and pregnant in my little apartment that week. I wasn’t sure if I could go on…or not. I wasn’t sure if that baby girl had a future with a mom like me. That note, that kind and thoughtful note, changed my entire life and the life of my unborn baby girl.

I went out that very night and bought a tree, a fake one that didn’t make me sneeze, and blue ribbon with pink bows because at the time, I didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl. I decorated my tree. I cried, I laughed, I rejoiced in life, and in the season. I was excited for the first time in a long time. Julie, little did she know, changed (possibly saved?) our lives.

still believe in the magic of christmas

With a kind note, $50, and love in her heart, she saved our lives and made me love Christmas again. Thank you, Julie, wherever you are. I still have your note. I still read your note. That note meant so much more than the money you tossed my way, so much more than that blue and pink Christmas tree that year, so much more than you’ll ever know.

NEVER underestimate the power of a good deed. Someone, somewhere, might still be fueling their Christmas spirit, their entire life in fact, off of that one good deed nearly 30 years later.

I often think of Julie. I often hope that her life turned out as good as mine. I’m pretty sure it did. Today, I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about how I’ll afford a tree; how I’ll provide for my children. I’m in a better place. I thank the Julies in my life for putting me here and I’m determined to constantly pay it forward because I learned in 1988 that a simple kind deed can change someone’s life.

My life is better now, Julie, thank you. I hope you’re living the good life too; you earned it many years ago, whether you know it or not!

PS – Julie, I never told a soul back then, but I’m telling everyone now because they really need to know. Everyone needs to know. Your “simple” gesture way back then is too powerful to conceal anymore!