Saturday, March 13, 2004

Parenting 101

OK, I need whoever borrowed my “327 Easy Steps to Successful Parenting” book to return it to me as soon as possible, since I appear to have forgotten steps #1 through #326. Step #327….”Just show up for the job on a daily basis”, which I am doing, doesn’t appear to be enough.

I can’t decide what is worse. To be annoyed at a kid who has cancer. To be annoyed at her siblings. To feel guilty for feeling annoyed. To feel annoyed for feeling guilty because they’re acting like brats and they deserve to have me annoyed at them.

Logically, in my head, I don’t think parenting a child with cancer should be done any differently than it was done before the diagnosis. And I was pretty comfortable with my parenting style before, so why am I crazy with indecision now? Why, suddenly, am I a Flying Wallenda of Parenting, walking precariously on a tightrope that stretches across two years of chemotherapy??

Kendrie’s doctor told me, just a few days after we met him for the first time in the hospital, that the worst side effect from leukemia is the spoiling done by the parents, who feel guilty for the cancer ….. and who then wind up raising cancer survivors; albeit bratty, spoiled, whiny cancer survivors. I’m not so much worried my kids will be bratty, spoiled whiners as much as I am worried I might put them on the curb with a “For Sale Cheap” sign around their necks at the rate things are going.

What happened to the promises I made to myself when she was in the hospital those awful first two weeks--- that from now on I would be more patient, and make more time for my kids, and enjoy them more? That if she just came home soon then I would be the kind of parent I know I should be, fun-loving and kind and never frustrated by the daily grind of it all? That I wouldn’t stress about the little things and I would be like the parents I see pictured in Family Fun magazine who are wearing goofy hats and Superman capes and chasing their kids around the house, laughing and waving magic wands. Don’t those little magazine kids ever get on their nerves so bad they just want to pinch their little heads off????

Apparently another side effect from chemo they don’t warn you about is that your child will emotionally regress, at least on occasion, by about half. ‘Cause I’d say Kendrie is definitely acting like a two-year old some days. Granted, when she was first diagnosed and in so much pain …. and then in the following weeks when she was suffering from the steroids, weight gain and initial meds, it was practically impossible for her to walk. So, we carried her everywhere, and willingly. Now she still wants to be carried and it makes me crazy. But I don’t know how bad her legs might really hurt from the chemo, so I carry her, all 35 pounds of her, and then gripe about my recently diagnosed tennis-elbow. In the beginning, we also catered to her steroid-induced, nonstop food cravings. Remember, I had Pizza Hut on speed dial. This morning, I told her she couldn’t have a spoonful of butter for breakfast and she wailed for fifteen minutes. I wanted to throw the tub of Shedd’s Spread at her just to shut her up but thought it was more important that I stand my ground. We wound up compromising on toast with LOTS of butter. Sure, when they're on steroids you give them pretty much what they want. But what about the *rest* of the time???

The poor kid is putting up with so much shit on a daily basis that I do feel the urge to cater to her and make parts of her life --at least the parts that I have control over-- a little easier. But then the voice in the back of my head (one of them; there are several) reminds me that I’m not doing it for Brayden or Kellen, and I’m probably not doing Kendrie any favors. The more you do for them, the more the little rugrats expect it, nay, demand it!

She has begun to point to things and grunt and whine …. My God it is making me insane. We never could stand the pointing and grunting and whining, which is why we taught our kids rudimentary sign-language when they were little. If I didn’t want to hear it from a one-year old, why should I have to listen to it from a four-year old? And tonight she wanted me to come into her bedroom and cover her up with a blanket. So what method did she choose to try and accomplish that? Laying in bed, whining a single solitary syllable louder and louder and louder until I simply could not ignore it any longer. I went to the door of her room and asked her what she wanted.

Kendrie: “whine whine grumble grumble”

Mom: “I’m sorry, I can’t understand you when you whine”

Kendrie: “I’m cold”

Mom: “Well, I’m certainly sorry to hear that. Is there something I can do to help?”

Kendrie “cover me up”

Mom: “you know, there’s a right way and a wrong way to ask for things. Maybe you should try again”

Kendrie: “I want you to cover me up”

Mom: “I want you to cover me up ----- what?” (I was going for “please” here)

Kendrie: “I want you to cover me up now.”

The following are all actual comments, spoken by our family members, in the last 24 hours. See how many comments you can match with the right family member:

1. “Since when do you not like crust on bread?”
“Since I got cancer.”

2. “I’m not making you a waffle until you eat the toast.”
“But the toast is too brown and crunchy”

3. “Kellen is snoring and I can’t sleep with the noise.”
“Kellen is not snoring, he’s simply breathing.”
“Well make him stop”

4. “Uuuuggghh! Why do I have to do EVERYTHING around here?!?!?!?!”(stomp stomp stomp)

5. “Move out of my way, I can’t see the tv!”
“He’s a tattle-teller!”
“He won’t let me have a turn!”
“It’s not fair!”
“They completely messed up my room!”
“She’s looking at me!”

6. “I’m bored. We haven’t done anything fun today.” (this was after being taken to two city parks, a Burger King with a play-land and a soccer game.)

7. “I WANT MY DADDY!!” (who happens to be in Charleston this weekend.)

8. “Well you can tell her that despite what she thinks the world doesn’t revolve around her and if she wants me to get that for her she needs to quit throwing that little fit and come ask me properly.”


1. Kristie and Kendrie
2. Kristie and Kendrie
3. Kristie and Kendrie (no big surprises here)
4. Despite what you might think, it wasn't Kristie! Correct answer is Brayden, after being asked to pick up her room.
5. Insert the names of all three children, in any random order.
6. Kellen, ungrateful brat
7. Kendrie (this one doesn't upset me too much because Blaine assures me that when she is with him and he does something to make her angry she yells that she wants me.)
8. ME!

Please, I’m begging you. Return my parenting book to me before DFACS shows up on my doorstep! And if you don’t have my parenting book, any large, hardcover book that I can use to hit myself over the head will do.

Thanks for checking the website, and special thanks to all of you that take the time to sign the guestbook. We really enjoy the messages. :)
love, Kristie



WORST THING ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Well, spring is coming and it's getting a little too hot for my Spiderman cap. My head got REALLY sweaty at Brayden's soccer game today. I am not looking forward to packing away my favorite hat until next winter (when hopefully I will have hair again and maybe not even need a hat!) You can see how much I love this cap in the new pictures mom put up on this page.

BEST THING ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: I finished my sticker chart for all the leg shots my mom gave me this week ... which were not fun at ALL ... no wonder she's not a nurse .... but that means I will get to pick a prize out of the treasure chest at my clinic visit on Monday! And Brayden and Kellen are going with us since they are on Spring Break, yippee!

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