Welcome to One Busy Momma! The Blog for Busy Moms by one Busy Mom.....

Welcome to my blog. One Busy Momma is my space to rant about my life and the things that happen in it. I have a crazy life - and instead of focusing on the crazy - I like to focus on the funny. Because if I focused on the craziness - well, I'd have been shipped off to an institution long, long ago. And while, I'll admit, there are some days when being institutionalized sounds PRETTY GOOD compared to making ANOTHER diorama at 1am - I'd rather be right where I am - in my messy house with my not so perfect kids making crooked dioramas in the middle of the night.

Monday, January 31, 2011

AND...They're off!

Well - this past weekend marked a milestone for PC and Jack in their Father/Son relationship. This past weekend was PC and Jack's very first Pinewood Derby. And I must admit - it was much more exciting than I thought it would be. What IS the Pinewood Derby, you ask? The Pinewood Derby is only one of the BIGGEST and MOST EXCITING events in all of Boy Scouting! The Pinewood Derby is THE annual event that separates the mice from the men, the wheat from the chaff, the boys from the men AND the pros from the amatuers. It allows the winners bragging rights for the next 364 days and it condemns the losers to 364 nights of dreaming about snatching victory from the cold, hard clutches of defeat.

A bit dramatic? Too much you say? Oh, no dear readers - I am just getting started. Our journey to our first Pinewood Derby was one of great hopes, dreams and visions of ginormous trophies being carried home and displayed for the neighborhood to see. And while it didn't quite turn out the way the boys had hoped - they still experienced the exquisite thrill of victory and the agony of crushing defeat.

This all started when we signed up for Tiger Scouts in the fall. We received all of the scouting ecoutrements - the neckerchef clip, the shirt and all of the required badges and patches. We also recieved a box with a picture of a wooden race car on the front that said "Pinewood Derby Kit". Having no idea what this was - I promptly threw it into the mess that is my closet and never thought about it again. In a very strange twist of fate - Hermione was poking around my room right after the new year and found this box and left it out on my dresser. Good thing too - because I had completeely forgotten about this Pinewood Derby thing and I had just received an email reminding me that the Derby was almost upon us.

Being the Boy Scout virgin that I am - I just figured that the boys would take the car out of the box, decorate it and maybe race it at this derby thing. In another strange and very fortunate twist of fate - a very good friend and Boy Scouting GURU stopped by one night and happened to see the kit - which was still UNOPENED - in the family room. In what can only be described as divine intervention - he opened the kit - and much to my surprise - the kit contained nails, wheels and a WOODEN BLOCK! WTF? Where was the car thingy? Now - for those of you who know me and PC - you know that we are not what you'd call "handy". To be honest - when it comes to any activity that involves actual tools - I think we'd actually be considered "incompetent", "limited" or - in fact "dangerous". So you can only IMAGINE the sheer and utter PANIC I felt when my buddy revealed the contents of the Pinewood Derby kit. And you can only imagine his sheer delight when I said: "Um , where is the car?"

Yes Dear Readers - I had NO IDEA that we had to MAKE this car. As in CARVE this car and craft it out of wood - using tools that I don't have, wouldn't know where to find or what to do with them once I found them. Thank GOD PC was a bit more on the ball, shall we say. Apparently, he knew that the car had to be carved because he had, in fact, MADE a Pinewood Derby car way back when. So he was also quite amused when I told him, arms -a- flapping, eyes wide with terror that we actually had to "MAKE this bleeping-bleeping car - like out of a bleeping wooden bleeping block! OMG - BLEEPING MAKE IT - as in BLEEPING CARVE it with some sort of wood carving mother -bleeping tools - WT BLEEP??? Are we supposed to be bleeping wood workers now? What do these bleeping people WANT from us?" Once he calmed me down - he explained that he had it all under control and that I just needed to relax and take a Zanex (and wash my mouth out with Ivory Soap.). So I did. However - I will fully admit that I had NO faith in PC's abilities as a woodworker and was secretly researching BUYING a Pinewood Derby car on the black market. And I am also admitting - here on the blog - that I was very very wrong. Unbeknowst to me - even though we can barely put IKEA furniture together - PC is a genius with a Pinewood Derby car! Who knew?

The car was a masterpiece - a true masterpiece. PC and Jack came up with a design and a theme right away. It was a no-brainer. Their car was going to be a Ravens car. Once the block of wood looked like a car - and my kitchen table was covered in wood shavings - Jack painted it jet black. Then, over many, many nights and many, many hours, PC painstakingly hand painted the Ravens logo on each side of the car and the Ravens shield on the hood while Jack hovered over him, making sure that he got it "just right".  And then, the most important tweak of all was made to the car: they weighted it down. After much discussion, research and test runs, the boys decided to place the weights and the car was ready. And the morning of the derby was upon us.

Jack's troop raced first - and as that beautiful Ravens car was placed on the track - PC and I stood, knees knocking, with the other first-time derby moms and dads. As much as we wanted our car to place first - what we wanted more than ANYTHING was for our car NOT to place LAST. Because THAT would be terrible. So, as we prayed to God that we would not place last - the bell rang and the cars raced down that track as fast as lightening. And we watched, hearts in our mouths, as our exquisite Ravens car zoomed down that track and finished in a very respectable third place! And then, in a miracle of miracles, it zoomed down the track and placed third AGAIN! and AGAIN! And then - in a moment that made me shout out loud - that gorgeous car of ours zoomed down the track and placed FIRST!!!!!!! FIRST! In one glorious race - our car placed first. And I will never forget the expressions of sheer, unadulterated DELIGHT on PC and Jack's faces.

Unfortunately, we came in 5th in the next race and Jack's car came in 4th place overall. Which, for Jack, was a crushing blow. There were big time tears and knashing of teeth - but once I got PC calmed down I could focus on Jack's disappointment. (Just kidding) What really cracked me up was how the dads handled this. Because as the moms were really riddled with anxiety and glad that their child's heat was over- the dads were all standing around planning for NEXT YEAR! Talking about new designs, how they'd weigh down next year's car and yadda yadda. Jack and PC are STILL taking about it. I must admit - they do have a really cool design idea. And while they plan and sketch, I watch the two of them growing closer and sharing an experience that Jack will never forget. And I'm surprised that I'm really looking forward to next year's derby...and already worrying that we will not place as well as we did this year. Oh well - I guess that is why God invented wine...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Kind of Mom are YOU?????

Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherAhhhhh...nothing like a little parenting controversey to warm up a snowy January morning. You all know what I am talking about - the infamous Tiger Mother firestorm.  A Chinese American Yale professor, Amy Chua, has written a book extolling the virtues of what she calls - The Tiger Mother. In the book, she describes the Chinese parenting philosophy and waxes poetic about why it is superior to what she terms "Western parenting". She also details her own experiences as a Tiger Mother to her 2 daughters - Sophia and LuLu. While much has been said in the media about her strict, unyielding rules and ideas about what makes a superior parent and child, little has been said about these two girls. And this surprises me greatly - because, according to Chua, while both girls are brilliant and immensely talented- they each responded VERY differently to her Tiger mothering.  

Sohia- the oldest daughter - responded beautifully to this extreme parenting philosophy. Now the term "beautifully" is WIDE open to interpretation, of course. If you consider being asked to play the piano at Carnegie Hall when you are in the 8th grade responding "beautifully" - then you are in luck. Because this child, due to her mother's RELENTLESS insistence on practicing the paino for 3, 4 and 5 hours a day, became a piano genius by the tender age of 13. And relentless Ms. Chua was. She would threaten to  BURN Sophia's stuffed animals and donate her favorite toys if she didn't practice, or if her fingers weren't fast enough or if she didn't play with "musicality". YIKES!!!!

LuLu on the other hand didn't respond as well. In fact - LuLu wound up taming the Tiger! Without giving too much away - let's just say that this strong-willed little girl turned Chau's parenting philosophy on its head. The subtitle of the book  does say that Chau was "humbled" by a child - and she truly was.

I LOVED this book - loved it. I think Amy Chau is bat-shit crazy, and based on her story of the childhood she provided for her girls - I truly think she needs to be psychologically evaluated. If her girls emerge from this experience unscathed - it will be a miracle. However - one thing I do have to say is that she is brutally honest about her parental triumphs and failures. And both her successes and failures were spectacular.  The book is NOT a parenting "how-to" guide. I think it is an attempt to redeem herself in her daughters' eyes. There is no doubt that she truly believes that this "extreme" parenting style IS superior to what she calls "Western" parenting. But she also freely admits that it doesn't work with every child.

The evidence that Asian kids academically outperform their American counterparts is overwhelming and cannot be ignored. But what price do these kids pay for their academic superiority? And what price do their parents pay?  Chau argues that this type of parenting is the ULTIMATE expression of love because this type of parenting is NO fun for the parent. These parents are hyper involved - she insists that Chinese mothers spend ten times as much time drilling academics with their kids than American mothers. She claims that she did all of the screaming and yelling and threatening in the best interests of her daughters - not to torture them. I don't know if I buy that. She certainly enjoyed all of the praise lavished upon her when her kids were deemed "prodigies" and were invited to perform at world-class venues.

While I would never identify myself as a Tiger Mom - I'm no fluffy Kitty Cat Mommy either. I was raised by a strict mother. As and Bs were the expectation in my house and if they didn't appear on the report card - you'd better have a VERY good explanation. But - that was because As and Bs WERE representative of my brother and I working to our best ability. I have no doubt that if we were solid C students that a C would have been accepted. While Mom and Dad had high expectations, my Barbies were NEVER in danger of being barbequed. And I'd like to think that MY expectations of my children are pretty high - hopefully appropriately high. I've been known to rip up homework that was a mess. I'm the mom who drills multiplication tables on the weekends and on snow days. My kids have to read for a minimum of an hour every day during the summer and on the weekends. They do workbook pages every day over the summer to prevent the dreaded "summer slide". Does that make me a Tiger mother? No way. My kids also have more sleepovers than I ever had, they have playdates, play sports and have every video game and video game system known to man. (Or at least known to PC!) I HOPE that I'm preparing them to be successful adults. I know that they are happy and having a great childhood. And I know that they don't hate me - which is more than Amy Chau can say about her kids.