Category Archives: Krystal-isms

The best, most understanding mother ever (that’s me)

The other day it was Krystal’s “Sharing Day” at school, and she wanted to take something of mine. She walked around my bedroom holding up things we had picked up on our vacation last week asking “Can I bring this?” and “How about this?” Finally I said yes to a tall-ish, thin ceramic glass, kind of like a tall shot glass that a friend had given us. It seemed small enough to fit in her backpack and yet because of the picture on it would allow her to talk about our trip.

When I picked her up at her after school program that afternoon she had a funny look on her face. I asked if she had something to tell me and she said yes, but she didn’t want to tell me till we got to the car.

We got to the car and she got all flustered because the note she had JUST had in her hand was suddenly missing. This note was obviously extremely important to her. She got a little crazy tearing the car apart looking for it, when I pointed out that it was under her book bag she had placed on her seat. Then she said it had to go with a package so she rummaged around in her bag till she found it.

She handed me the note first. I opened up the folded paper and read:
To: The best understanding mother ever  I <heart> you

And then inside it read:
Dear Mom
I’m very very 1000x sorry that I broke something speicle to you. Hope you understand. Hope you still love.

Of course I knew what had happened, and I said “Oh” almost involuntarily. She handed me the package, which was the tall shot glass, in pieces, wrapped in brown school paper towel in a zipock bag, and then she burst into tears.

I consoled her immediately telling her it was OK, that it was not a big deal. And really, it wasn’t. The glass had a joke story behind it between my friend and me, but honestly it was just going to collect dust wherever it landed, and I knew my friend had picked it up on the clearance rack for a dollar. This was not a big loss.

But really, I like being known as the best, most understanding mother ever.

Little Girl?

Krystal, at 9, is a raging ball of hormones. I have no idea how I will survive the teen years. She is sweet and loving one minute, and a whining lunatic the next. Trying to get her to do ordinary tasks (get dressed, brush her teeth, gather her things for school, etc) is an exercise in futility, mostly. I find myself nagging her constantly, which we both hate. She takes a parental tone with her sister which drives me nuts and seems to delight in purposely annoying both of us. Give me strength.

I have been going out at night on average about once or twice a week. The girls both love the sitter. When they hear she is coming they quite literally cheer, and it is never a problem trying to leave because they are all over her. When I get home they have been asleep for 1-2 hours.

Last night in a quiet moment Krystal said to me, “When you go out I miss you. That’s why I always want to sleep with your pajamas. I feel safer knowing you’re here and that’s why I like it when you talk on the phone after I’m in bed. I like to hear your voice.”

I guess she’s still a little girl after all. Thank goodness.


My kids are at the age where everytime they hear a word for the first time they ask what it means. This is both charming and exhausting, and has spurred some discussions about the nuance of language.

Occasionally Krystal will ask out of the blue what a word means, and I always first ask her where she heard it. She’s come home asking what gay means, and it distresses me to hear that she’s overheard a child at school say “That’s so gay” or “You’re so gay”. Twenty-first century my ass. Who are these kids’ parents?

The other night she asked, “What does whore mean?” And then quickly added, “It’s a bad word, isn’t it?”

I first asked where and how she heard it, since sometimes the context can give me some clues on how to answer. Unfortunately, all she said she heard was another kid asking what it meant. Given it was a new word to her, she had to ask me.

How would you answer that for your child?

I said, “It is not a nice word. Usually it’s used to describe a woman who has sex with lots of different men. Sometimes for money. Which is against the law in most places.”  (Too much? I know – it’s a tough call.)

She said, “Oh. She must really love her job.” Deadpan. Sincere. Innocent.

“No, honey – she doesn’t do it because she likes it.”

“Oh, she doesn’t really love all those men?”


Innocence fading. But at least she knew you’re supposed to love someone you have sex with. Can I cling to that?

Speech: A History Lesson

When I adopted Krystal at 14 months of age, I had a full evaluation done by our state’s Early Intervention office to gauge her development in a host of areas: gross motor, fine motor, receptive speech, expressive speech, etc. She was at or above age level physically, but as might be expected from a child with an abrupt language shift, her receptive speech was way below age level (she was too young to worry much about expressive speech).

So she started seeing a speech therapist weekly. It only took a short time before her receptive language was completely normal, but by that time it became evident that her expressive speech was lagging. When she spoke it sounded like she was underwater, although she was saying lots of words by then.

A few months later we moved to a different state, which necessitated a new evaluation. By then she was 20 months old, and I was surprised when I checked off about 50 words that she was saying. Even though our old speech therapist had written a letter detailing what she believed were her continued speech needs, the new evaluation said she was on track.

Since then I have asked every teacher and her doctor about her speech, and the answer has always been some version of, “She’s doing fine, just give her some time to catch up.”

When she started public school in first grade I requested a meeting with the speech therapist at the school. She agreed Krystal had some areas of concern, but she didn’t qualify for any in-school services. She gave us some exercises to do at home to work on the “sh” sound, and by the end of the school year that was no longer a concern.

In second grade the “r” sound started being an issue. We again met with the school speech therapist and she again said it wasn’t bad enough to get in-school services, but she gave us more exercises. You know how the parents are the only ones who understand what a two year old is saying? Well, not only did I sometimes have to translate my then 7 year old’s speech for others, but there were (too) many times when even I wasn’t sure what she was saying. Her classroom teacher commented that she thought she just had an accent (!). Not bad enough for services? How bad does it have to be??

This year, in third grade, I brought it up at the parent-teacher conference in November. While the actual evaluation wasn’t done til just before the Christmas break, she now qualifies for in school services. I just got an email from her classroom teacher saying her therapy would start on Tuesday. Nearly two months after I raised it as an issue, but I’m happy to finally be getting some traction on this!

So that’s Krystal’s speech history. Seeing as how she is starting to get teased by her peers, I’d say it’s about freaking time.

Bye Bye Hair

Yesterday, December 20th, was the day Krystal had written “Bye Bye Hair” on the calendar. She’s been growing her hair out for a good year now, always with the end goal of donating her hair. Several of her friends have done it over the last few years, and for a long time she was excited about it. As her hair got longer though, she started to cling to the idea of long hair.

We woke up to snow yesterday, and rather than deal with it, we decided to postpone the donation by a day. Today after school we washed it, and headed off for the big event.

The “before” photo:

Sectioning the hair into ponytails for easier cutting:

She is really not so sure this is a good idea:

Showing off the goods!

She sulked in the car all the way home about how ugly her new hair was. I aboslutely love it and think she looks completely adorable. It wasn’t till we got home and she was able to really look at herself in the mirror that she changed her tune. She asked for this photo to be taken and the smile is genuine:

I’m so proud of her. She can always grow it out again and donate it again (and again, and again), but for now I’m really looking forward to not fighting with her over keeping her hair brushed and out of her face!

Bacon and Choices

When I was growing up I had a mostly adversarial relationship with my younger sister. Looking back, the responsibility for the tone of our relationship falls firmly in my court. When I was angry, she felt my wrath. When I was in a good mood, she didn’t. I can’t really say what drove my feelings, but the closest emotion I can pinpoint now, decades later, is jealousy. As teens we became friends, and I came to realize how much more alike we were than different. And of course when she died of cancer when she was 17 and I was 20, it felt all the more awful because we’d just started to enjoy our relationship. I know we would have been extremely close as adults.

Last weekend the girls and I were out for the day and stopped in to a Dunkin Donuts for a quick lunch. The girls each got a breakfast sandwich: croissant with egg and sausage for Krystal and bagel with egg and bacon for Belle. I had one of their “lighter’ options. I watched them make these sandwiches, and may be turned off to sandwiches there forever. They grabbed a pre-made sandwich from a cooler, popped it into a microwave, wrapped it in paper and stuffed it in a bag. We grabbed one of the small tables inside and ate.

We all like really crispy bacon. Like, practically burnt crispy. And the bacon in Belle’s sandwich was decidedly not cooked to our liking. Big surprise, huh, considering how it was cooked.  And all at once, Belle started choking, was unable to catch her breath. Three women standing in line near us, who must be mothers, leaned in with offers to help. I banged her on the back once, and swiped her mouth, taking out a piece of bacon. The choking continued, so I reached in again with my finger to swipe again, and pulled out a super long piece of bacon fat, which was halfway down her throat. Choking stopped, breathing returned to normal. It wasn’t really scary to me until it was over. But of course she was never really in any danger and we went on with our day.

Tonight Krystal and I were in the car on the way to pick up Belle and she said, “I’m afraid to eat at Dunkin Donuts because Belle choked.” I reassured her that it was not Dunkin Donuts that made her choke, but undercooked bacon, and she really didn’t have anything to worry about. Then she said, “I know sometimes I say I wish Belle wasn’t around, but I keep thinking, what if she really choked and died? I’d really miss her.”

I am pretty sure I didn’t have that kind of self-awareness at eight years old. Sometimes the wisdom this kid comes out with stops me in my tracks.

I told her a little bit about how I felt about my sister when I was her age, and how now that she is really gone, it is the one thing I’d change in my past if I had the power to go back. And this got her thinking about all the ways different choices or events in our life can color what comes next. She said that sometimes she wishes she hadn’t been adopted, but then she thinks about not having me for a mom, or Belle for a sister, and she can’t imagine it. She said she wishes she could have it both ways – to have me for a mom, and to know her birth mother and know why.

The Highs and Lows of Meeting the Teacher and New Math

I look forward to meeting the teacher each year at the Open House. Last night I got to meet Krystal’s 3rd grade teacher.

Now, for most of the past year, Krystal has been saying “I hope I get Mrs. C. for 3rd grade!” I heard it so many times, and I kept telling her that I was sure all the teachers would be great and that she shouldn’t get her hopes up for one particular teacher. Class lists were posted at the school the week we were away on vacation, so the day we came home we didn’t even go home first – we went straight to the school to check whose class she was in.

Of course, she didn’t get Mrs. C. She got Mrs. M. Tears ensued. It was not a great homecoming. (Plus, it was cold and raining! Insult to injury I tell you!)

On the first day of school (last week), Krystal came home saying it was a horrible day because none of her friends were in her class, and oh yeah, her teacher yelled at her. Yelled at her? She says it was for putting a chair up on the desk the wrong way.

Two days later she was forgiving Mrs. M. for the chair incident, chalking it up to stress on the first day of school. By day 5 she was declaring her love for Mrs. M. Phew.

My first impressions: Wow, Krystal’s school grows some tall teachers. Her 2nd grade teacher was quite tall, and so is this one – 5’10” I want to say. I loved her attitude, her apparent sense of humor and her honesty. She described the curriculum and said it is heavily weighted to reading, writing and math (the ole 3 R’s haven’t gone out of style!). She said any social studies or science they do is usually tied into reading and math. She even said, quoting here as best I can – “Our social studies program is a little weak. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say that.” I appreciate hearing that from her – I know she has to follow the guidelines she’s given, but it also gives me the chance to supplement it at home, especially since Krystal is interested in history and current events.

When talking about the math program, she said, “We use Everyday Math (which Krystal has been using since 1st grade) and a lot of parents hate it. The math is totally different from the way we all learned it.” The kids are thick into multiplication this year, which Krystal got a good head start on last year, but 3rd grade is the Year of Multiplication (or so I have deemed it). She said they use the lattice method to teach it. Hanging around the room were various things the kids had done in the first week of school, including a sheet on their expectations, hopes and dreams for the year. Krystal’s said she was excited about learning lattice math. So I asked her about it. Turns out she had no idea what it was, but thought it sounded cool.

So I looked it up. Let me see if I can give you a picture (you’re welcome to read more about it by following the link). Try this problem: 14 x 56.


Oh. My. God. What a mess! I get it…..but I don’t get why you would want to teach a child to use this method. It takes up a lot of scratch paper, way too much pencil lead and is confusing as heck! What’s wrong with the way I learned??

I suppose I’ll have to help Krystal work on her problems this way, but I think I’ll teach her my way too.

Crazy new math.

Wearing Summer

See what Krystal made me?


Here is another view:


She got the thread/yarn (I’m really not sure what it’s called) in a kit for her birthday on making Friendship bracelets. She and her friends have been making them at camp and she is sporting 3 anklets on her own left ankle. One day last week she was home sick and decided to make me one. She had me pick four colors (from about 20 or so in the kit), and started right in. The colors in the photo appear a bit washed out (must be that super expensive camera with all the fancy settings, yeah, that’s it) but I chose pink, purple, green and white.

I think she did an excellent job, and it feels very “summer” to wear it. Which is good, since it’s about the only thing summery about this summer yet.

Survival Parenting

I try to be a good parent. I think we all do. I want what’s best for my kids, and that means taking care of them physically – making sure they have clean clothes and healthy food, and emotionally – encouraging them to do their best and comforting them when things don’t quite go their way.

Then there are the times when it all goes out the window, and you go into survival parenting mode. When the only parenting goal you really have is to make sure your kids stay alive. That happens when Mom gets sick. This is when I wish there was someone else to lean on.

Since Saturday afternoon when I first started feeling symptoms, I’ve been really only able to take care of myself. I spent most of Sunday in bed. It was raining and there was nothing for the kids to do. They watched TV all day. They asked for popcorn while they watched a movie, and that was their lunch. For dinner I did manage to drag myself up to make some tortellini before crashing again. Anything they wanted for a snack I said yes to.

Krystal has assigned herself as my nurse. She has been urging me to call the doctor since Sunday (I finally did on Tuesday). She made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Belle and herself for Monday night’s dinner as I just couldn’t do it. Tuesday morning she got up and went downstairs before coming to see me and brought me a glass of cold water and the thermometer. She said, “Which medicine do you take? I only saw the Tylenol PM, I didn’t see Tylenol AM.” And I laughed and she didn’t know why.

Krystal also made lunches for she and Belle to take to camp on Tuesday. She said she liked playing mom, but she could see how much work it was.  I whimpered during the whole 10 minute drive to camp. Everything hurt and it wasn’t getting any better.

The doctor said it’s H1N1, as I’ve already relayed, and that I should expect to be out of commission for 7-10 days. Today is Day 5, and I’m happy to say that I’m seeing light. As I told the girls this morning, I feel better, but not better. Right now my goal is to make sure the kids don’t get it. The doctor suggested wiping down all doorknobs in the house, encouraging frequent hand washing, and keeping food preparation to a minimum. When I told the girls all this Krystal groaned, “I’m tired of playing the mom! It’s too much work!” Of course, Krystal is in survival parenting mode too, since that’s pretty much all an 8 year old has up her sleeve in that department.

I think I’ll take us all out to dinner when this thing finally blows over. We’ll all be ready for it by then.

What does juvenile mean?

Tonight in the car, Krystal asked, “Mom, what’s juvenile mean? Is it jail?”

“Where did you hear it?” I asked. I’ve learned this is the best response to any question like this, as often what she means is far less benign than my first impulse to answer.

“I don’t know,” she answered. Damn, this might be a little more difficult then.

“Well, it basically means kid,” I explained. “Juvenile means for kids, not adults. Sometimes people will say something is juvenile as a way to say it is childish, in a not-nice way, but it doesn’t have to be.”

Then, because of her earlier “jail” reference, I went on to explain what “Juvy” meant, and I’ll spare you that explanation.

Krystal then offered, “Well Mary says princesses are juvenile, which is silly because one, she’s a kid, and two, they’re not, and three, what difference does it make?” all said in a rush.


One not-nice thing about myself I have learned in my parenting journey is that there is often a lot I don’t like in other people’s children. Girls in particular can be so mean!

For the record, it would not surpirse me in the least if one of Krystal’s friend’s parents was blogging about my mean daughter. I’m not saying my kid is an angel, but she’s mine and I hate to see how she gets hurt by both careless actions and purposeful words said by her peers. The teen years frighten me.