Talking With Kids About Feelings

The feelings aren't always good.

The feelings aren’t always good.

A few weeks ago the kids and I went to see the movie Inside Out. We had been excited to see it for months after watching the preview before our family thanksgiving movie. Then, they hype before the movie was so intense we all went in expecting it to rock our worlds.

It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie is adorable and quite honestly anything with Amy Poeler (even just her voice) gets thumbs up from this crowd. But to say we were underwhelmed by it would be accurate.

I kept quiet about it so as not to ruin it for the kids, but then it came out that they all felt the same way. No one hated it, but no one loved it like we thought we would and no one considered it to be as overwhelmingly groundbreaking as so many others have.

rp_kidsonbeach.JPGI’ve spent a while thinking about why. Then one night before bed The Husband was sharing a story about how at a swim meet he handled a near melt down of our youngest by identifying that the boy was afraid but that Dad had full confidence in him that he could face that fear and do what he came to do-namely, swim. I was so impressed with the way The Husband and the boy handled the whole situation but I wasn’t really surprised. I mean, that’s what we do. As parents, we try to help our kids understand what they’re feeling. We always validate whatever it is and sometimes we force their hand so that they learn how to maneuver within or around our outside of those feelings.

The other night, my baby was scared, but rather than let him berate himself for that fear (which he is apt to do) or give into that fear and miss an opportunity, The Husband just explained that he understood the fear and it was fine, but that he also believed so much in our boy’s ability to overcome it, that he left him on his own to do just that. He didn’t coax, or cajole or drag him out of it. Instead, he just communicated his belief in the boy and then left the rest up to him.

Clearly, we've got JOY down.

Clearly, we’ve got JOY down.

From day one, since I read all those books about what all the different baby cries mean, I have considered it my most important job to figure out what is making my little people tick and then as they’ve grown help them recognize it and work around it. After all, we are nothing more than an outward manifestation of all we are feeling inside. If we don’t teach our kids how to understand and know who they are, then what good are we?

Long before Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith and Bill Hader and Mindy Khaling put voices to our feelings, we’d already done that here in our house and it seems to be working pretty well.

The movie Inside Out is great and for sure it provides an outstanding opportunity to talk to kids about emotions and navigating the world through them. And, yes, perhaps the theme is groundbreaking. We just didn’t realize how groundbreaking we already were right here at home.


Amwell Brought a Doctor to My Kitchen

When you feel like this, who wants to travel to the doctor?

When you feel like this, who wants to travel to the doctor?

 This post was sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer’s Network.  However, all opinions are 100% my own.

I find that the older I get the more nagging ailments I have. The problem is, the older I get the busier I am, which means I tend to ignore the nagging ailments rather than carve out time to go to the doctor. Because, let’s face it, no matter how much I love my doctors (which I do) there is nothing quick about a visit to them. Even a straightforward check up can take hours out of my day and that is when I have the presence of mind to even make the appointment, which is rarely except right when I’m thinking about the kind of pain I’m in.

Enter, Amwell. Amwell is the nation’s largest telehealth company, connecting users with board-certified, licensed doctors for immediate and live, online visits—day or night, on either mobile or desktop. What does that mean? Well, for me it means when I’m sitting at my kitchen table working on my tablet or laptop and I remember I should make a doctor’s appointment because of the nagging on again off again ear ache, instead of reaching for my phone I can type in Amwell to my search bar and be connected almost immediately with any number of primary care and specialist physicians. Or if my kid is having trouble in school and I want to save my self a few thousand dollars up front, I can go to Amwell to talk things out with a licensed behavioral therapists before moving on to any other professionals I might need to see in person.

Only this kid finds doctor's offices fun.

Only this kid finds doctor’s offices fun.

Amwell doctors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are dedicated to keeping you healthy — all from the comfort of your home. Yesterday, right at my kitchen table I saw a doctor about my ear. I filled out the standard medical information forms, read through the doctor information and chose the physician I wanted to see. Then, I gave my phone number for an “alert text” and went back to work. Within a few minutes I got a text that my doctor was ready, so I logged back onto the Amwell site and had a video conference with a doctor who looked in my ear, asked a bunch of questions and gave me suggestions for remedies that I could handle no problem. All of this took about 30 minutes tops. Incredible. I felt like I was on the Jetsons!

I was so pleased with the service, convenience and care, that I intend to use Amwell more in the future for those things that may be bothering me or my children but just don’t require a multi-hour trip to the doctor. Also, Amwell sure is a better solution than Doctor Google. No more late night sessions of me self-diagnosing us all with brain tumours or kidney cancer. Instead I’ll just choose a doctor from Amwell to check us out and diagnose the real issue (likely a sinus infection or UTI).

Pleeeaase can't the doctor just come to us?

Pleeeaase can’t the doctor just come to us?

I’ll be honest, I never thought I would feel safe enough using an online medical service, but my experience with Amwell has proven that it is a safe, private, thorough service that takes the hassle and expense out of doctor’s visits. This time it was for me, but I can see using Amwell for my kids in the future. Gone are the sleepless nights waiting to call the primary care or worse, midnight ER visits because you just want a professional to look, right now. Amwell is a mother’s dream.

Some common reasons people use Amwell are cough, sore throat, vomiting, flu, pinkeye, fever, upset stomach, anxiety, depression, weight concerns and smoking cessation. Amwell is accessible, often cheaper and definitely fast. I wish I had known about it when we were on vacation with a sick one a few years ago or when my babies were little and inevitably spiked a fever at 3:00am or that one time, in college, when I thought I was dying but an excruciating trip to the school health center and then the ER later, I learned I just had a wicked cold.  Amwell seems so much better!

If you’re interested in trying Amwell for yourself, they take most major insurance plans but I also have a code for my readers to get their first appointment free. Just type in ROLEMOMMY when it asks for payment and you will get your first session free. Try it. It has to be better than this!



A Sad Goodbye

11755731_993927753972924_234829844557158361_n (1)I’m funny about grief. Somewhere along the way I learned if it isn’t your close person, you can’t claim the sadness as your own.

I’ve been hesitant than to talk about our family’s recent loss. My husband’s cousin died last week and the old cliche that the world has lost its light has never felt less cliche.

I hesitated to share here because his story, their story, is not mine. We are devastated with sadness here, but as usual I have felt unentitled to it.

Then it hit me; when someone like Brian dies, everyone feels it deeply, because that is how he lived: affecting everyone deeply. So, I thought I should share. Because, if you weren’t one of the lucky ones to know him, you should.

I met Brian when he was a young boy. I’ve been around a while and he was of the younger crew of cousins. The Husband gave me some Intel on Duchenne MD before the family party at Brian’s parents’ house, so that I wouldn’t be caught off guard.

It turns out, I was caught off guard when I met Brian because he was just a typical tween boy, cute, funny and even a little sassy as all kids his age are apt to be. The thing that strikes me most about that meeting though was that he was surrounded by other kids his age and they were acting as if there was nothing at all different about Brian. Just goof-ball eight or nine year olds having fun at a party.

There was no pity or sadness, because Brian didn’t live that way. That’s the thing about him, Brian lived more fully and vibrantly than most anyone I know. He was constantly surrounded by friends and cousins and lately nephews because people just wanted to be in his space. He was smart, and funny and welcoming and warm and when he smiled you could actually feel it in your soul.

He talked to my kids like peers and always knew what we were up to in our little world and would always ask about it. He just made family gatherings better simply by being who he was. I suspect that is true of any gathering that he attended. Brian made the world better.  It’s that simple.

Brian’s loss is not mine, like it is his mom’s or dad’s or brothers’ or sister’s. I tried not to claim the grief so deeply. But when someone touches your life like Brian touched all of ours, it’s impossible not to feel the loss.

We’ll miss you so much, Brian. I hope all the movies in Heaven are King of Film approved.

The Magic Classroom

IMG_4941There has been a lot of talk around here this year of our youngest and our oldest. And yet somehow, in the midst of the chaos swirling around him, The Middle One kicked this year’s butt.

I don’t want to take anything away from this kid. He is quietly determined to be the best version of himself he can be while somehow not sweating the small stuff. For every argument we have or sassy remark he makes to me (and there are many) he has an equal number of polite, intelligent, leader moments with his school peers and teachers. He is a great kid and he may not think his dad and I notice, but boy do we talk about him a lot before bed every night, our conversations usually in the “man, aren’t we the luckiest to be that kid’s parents?” theme. So, let me be clear, he gets most of the credit for his incredible year.

But (and this is a giant but) I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge The Middle One’s teachers. They are, quite simply, magic. We’ve been through the 4th grade twice now and the first time around we quickly learned the power of “Mr. Magic and his teaching partner Miss Magic”. Every single night at dinner our oldest would start with “today Mr. Magic did…”. Every. Single. Night.IMG_4787

As annoying as you’d think that would get, we never minded because she always told the stories with an inner glow that can only come when one is inspired, in this case, from excellent teachers, so we let her go on, and on, and on…

Needless to say, this year we were looking forward to another great experience with Miss and Mr. Magic because we already knew how incredible it would be.

Or so we thought.

Something different happened this year. While The Girl experienced the wonder and joy of a classroom with  enthusiastic and passionate teachers, The Middle One got something even more; he found his spirit.

My boy is a quiet fury. He’s dependable, honest, loyal and beautifully sensitive. I know everyone thinks these things about their kids but I have three of my own and this one’s different.  He’s hardest on himself but also holds the world up to the same impossibly high expectations he tries to meet. As you might imagine, the world disappoints him often. Despite all these great qualities, he’s the quiet middle child sandwiched between a girl who never met a microphone she didn’t like and a sweet-faced, blue-eyed boy with a hugging problem. This sometimes means The Middle One goes unnoticed (by everyone but me, kid).

It would be understandable if Mr. & Miss Magic Teachers treated our boy like he was just the next King in line. The Middle One would have been used to that. But they did not. Instead, in addition to the rock operas and  read alouds, the challenging math theorems and wax museum projects that will undoubtedly be indelibly etched on the kid’s brain, these teachers also took the time, from the first minute, to really SEE our boy and help him to share himself with the world.

MomTrendsDPThey did not treat The Middle One like the next King in line. Instead Mr. & Miss Magic treated him like the remarkable young man that he is, giving him opportunities to shine in his own light, not one he has to share with his siblings. They asked great things of him, proving they thought he could handle the job. They recognized the leader we’ve always seen and they nudged (and sometimes pushed) him into that role. They communicated with him the reasons for their high expectations and they made it very clear they were sure he could grow into the person they were telling him they saw him be.

The result? My boy, who has spent every year of school managing a new nervous tic, spent all year confident and calm. He loved every minute in his fourth grade class, even the uncomfortable challenging ones. He has smiled more than I’ve ever seen (except maybe when he was two and having all the fun). He is unafraid on stage, whether it is reciting or singing, he commands the mic like his sister came out of the womb doing.

He is still loyal and dependable and so, so very kind. He is intelligent and independent and will make a great leader someday. What I am grateful to his teachers for is that now, he knows it too.

There is magic in a classroom with great teachers at the helm. My kids are living proof.