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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Kids With Struggles

To put it bluntly, our second son and our second daughter are not playing with a full deck.  Not that anyone needs a full deck, necessarily, to succeed at the game called life.  I have known many cut-throat executives who had a lot of smarts… of the wrong kind, you might say.  So we keep it all in perspective.

“Where’s your chapstick?” I ask Sashenka, whose big, pouty lips could sell Botox injections by the boatload, but are now sporting cracks from lack of moisture.

“I don’t know,” she shrugs.

We are entering an event and she needs to look presentable.  Now I see disheveled hair, as well.

“Where’s your brush?” I ask.

“In my purse,” she says, not moving, waiting for another question.  She’s eleven, going on five.

“Okaaay, and where’s the purse?” I play along.

“At the other house.”

“I see.”

We go through this kind of interaction 100x a day, always ending up that there’s no recourse.  But I will prevail, believe me, I will.

“So what about another purse?” I inquire.

“I only have one purse,” she replies.

Okay, this makes my blood boil. She has multiple purses.  She has multiple everything.  And I am not about to buy anything else that she does not need, or that she will conveniently “lose”.  How will she ever achieve anything in life if she can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

“I’ll share my chapstick with her,” Mashenka suggests.

“That’s very sweet, but it’s just for now,” I tell her older sister.  “I don’t want her to grow up to be 40 years old and still be wearing Pampers….  She’s got to learn to remember for herself.”

I turn my attention to our second son who suddenly claims he has no shorts for sports.  Knowing that he has, once again, multiple shorts, I am unimpressed.

“I bought you a number of shorts last summer that should still fit you,” I inform, “so you’ll need to go through your closet until you find them.”

“They’re at the other house,” he chimes in, copying his sister.  These two are two peas in a pod.  He’s fifteen, going on three.

“You told me that last week and I had you check everywhere at the dacha.  Now it’s time to check here.”

Pasha harumphs, irritated that he needs to make an effort, any effort, in the game called life.  It would be so much easier if Mama would just go out and buy him a new wardrobe every day, or if I would let him wear the same clothes ten days in a row.

Thank you, birthmothers, for drinking yourselves out of your minds, and my children out of theirs.

Within 15 minutes, Pasha finds black shorts and brown shorts that I don’t even remember buying for him.  They appear to be cotton twill, nice enough, but on his long, long legs, they look a little infantile.

“These are your sport shorts?” I question him.  “Where are the other ones?”

“The ones with the holes?” he wonders.

“Yes, the ones with the little holes.  Those help to keep you cool,” I explain.

Ten minutes later, they are located in his underwear drawer.

Once again, we review with the two of them the importance of taking care of their own possessions.  It’s exhausting.  Their idea of planning for the future is wadding up their clothes and throwing them under the bed.  –Sigh.-

So we try to occasionally help them, while not enabling them, nor constantly bailing them out.  We try to be firm, while encouraging them that this is doable.  Generally, no one really believes that they will one day see the light and function normally, but repeating- repeating- repeating has seemed to help.

Do you have a child who struggles?



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12 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Phyllis says:

    We have the same scenarios here, only times 3! It is exhausting! Somedays, I feel like I will be losing my mind, too!! : o)

  2. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    Both of our daughters exhibit these behaviors to some extent. AND WE DO NOT HAVE THE CONFUSION OF CHANGING HOUSES EVERY FEW DAYS!

    Here are some of the things I ‘do’ in addition to all the things you mention…

    1) Limit the number of garments / shoes / brushes. The more there are, the easier it is to figure that you just don’t have to look hard for the item / keep track of it / put it where it belongs.
    2) Color codes. The kids’ clothing is color coded. Occasionally coded with a name or initials in Sharpie, if color is not enough or an item has been handed down. Also color coded at our house: all scissors, staplers, MY PENS and PENCILS, hair brushes, wash cloths, dish cloths, cleaning cloths, towels, telephone handsets, keys to various rooms… I can scan a room and find things out of place and know where they need to be put.
    3) SHARPIE: I mark all bed linens with Sharpie. Size, Person owning (if color is not enough), short side, long side…
    4) I have a hanging shoe pocket thing on the door to our bathroom. Into it go all the hair and grooming items that belong to the kids. Whenever I find one of these items out of place, I simply put it there.
    5) All ‘found’ shoes go into back entry to our house. Lost a shoe: look THERE first, then search the house.

    And yes, I am Sisyphus and NO, I am NOT happy about it, but it works. I am so amused when I see the kids adopting my tactics. If only they would adopt my ‘put it back where it belongs when you are done with it’ AND ‘clean up your workspace BEFORE you begin to work’ life strategies.

    Another strategy that I learned recently (makes my life much simpler): when ‘cleaning’ or ‘cleaning up’ tackle one CATEGORY at a time. I no longer try to clean a space before doing the category thing. Cleaning a space with too much stuff out of place is a recipe for distraction, fatigue, failure and fury. SO
    Pass one might be garbage and recycling. Whole house.
    Pass two: clothing out of place.
    Pass three: shoes.
    Pass four: Gather laundry.
    Pass five: dishes etc. that have traveled whither they should not have gone.

    I also have places that I put stuff that I find in unacceptable locations. V’s book bag, dropped on the kitchen table, goes to the chair at her desk [if she isn’t around to be instructed to move it NOW]… All wandering electronics end up in the drawer next to our bed. Pencils and pens have a home drawer in the kitchen.

    And it still looks like something exploded in here, but not as much as it did a year ago!


  3. avatar Linda says:

    our boy know where every single thing that he owns are. Everything, from empty cereal boxes to postcards to sunglasses to socks with holes… And they are in the most oddest places, but he knows… He also remember things he had, and where they were… So to try to trough out even a single candy wrapper can end up in a nightmare as he will look for it, and have a tantrum if it’s not in it’s place.
    It’s quite scary how he remember everything, it’s not like he doesn’t have a lot of stuff, even if we tend not to buy him so much, as he can’t handle getting new things so well yet.
    He also breaks things, a lot of things, toys, mainly toy-cars.
    And then comes to me, expecting me to glue them back together again, or to buy him new ones. Naturally we don’t buy new things, if he breaks them, it’s his problem, not ours.

    • avatar admin says:

      It’s hard to know what to do sometimes, isn’t it, Linda? I remember when the kids first got home and saved every single tag from clothing, wrapper from candy, EVERYTHING. Then they started the breaking/losing things. The girls even threw out (? – we’ve never found it, yet) the long drain/stopper from their bathtub-?! A big metal piece that they didn’t think they needed. Some days, I live in a nut house….

  4. avatar Gwendolyn says:


    You live in a nut house EVERY day!

    The other night younger DD broke TWO door frames between the time I noticed the noise and when I reached the doors… Tossing out a stopper? Completely pravopodobno…

    BTW a lot of my color coding is done with colored electrical tape. Low residue, quite visible.



  5. I don’t know….I forgot….it’s at school….it’s at Mimis. We have the joy, every morning, of searching the house for at least one must have item, even though the night before, she has chosen the entire outfit. Except she changed her mind in the morning. Then after finding the must have item, or arguing about not having time to find the must have item, and it’s too bad that you have phys ed today and you don’t know where your sneakers are, then on the way out the door she’s grabbing two or three non must have items just because they landed in her line of sight on the way out the door. Then she stands in front of the door waiting for me to tell her to go to the car, even though, presumably, after six years, she might suspect that the next step of the day will be to GET IN THE CAR. I think the neighbors probably set their clocks by my daily GET IN THE CAR intonation, come to think of it.

    • avatar admin says:

      Ha, ha, ha, ha! Oooh, I can “see” this, Wendy! Most days, I get the question from one of our two most major perpetrators: “Do we have to _____ today?” Fill in the blank. Whatever we seem to need to do every single day: brush the teeth, eat lunch sitting up, do school…. Aiiiyyygghhh!!!

  6. avatar Phyllis says:

    This is great reading. I absolutely loved M. Wendy’s comment “GET IN THE CAR” and the neighbors!!! I AM NOT ALONE IN THIS INSANITY!! Thanks Alexandra!

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