Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tattle Tales, Water Trails, and Referee Fails

Friday with Elijah was maddening and hysterical all at the same time. 

Let me take a moment to describe this crazy, precious boy. He is 7 years old but in many ways this hardly seems believable to me. He is naive in all of the right ways, innocent in many ways. He is convinced that deep down all animals are kind and gentle and he could easily be friends with any one of them. He has a beautiful heart. If you cry he WILL join you. He feels everything deeply and is highly emotional. This can be a great thing, causing him to be sympathetic and kind. It can also be exhausting. His feelings are easily hurt, he is easily offended and deeply terrified that anyone and everyone will think he is foolish, always... all of the time. He is my 7 year old baby and I say that with a heart absolutely full of love for him and thankful that he is exactly who he is! 

Here was my evening with him a few days ago. As we were leaving the house to drop the two big kids off at play practice I told the younger two to be sure to feed Bugsy when we get home. 

Arriving back at the house a few minutes later. I reminded them once again. "One of you give Bugsy food, the other give him water." 

Hannah and Elijah, in unison asked, 

Hannah: "Can I do the food?"
Elijah: "Can I do both all by myself?"

I took on the role I play most often as a mother, referee. Thankfully those stripes are a slenderizing vertical. I am confident I have been mentally yelled at by all four of my players on a regular basis.

I made my call, knowing there was no way to please them both.

"Hannah you feed him, Elijah you do the water." 

"I asked if I could do both." Elijah said. Nearly in tears, of course.

I told him I knew that but they had asked at the same time and so this time I want you to do it this way. Telling him if he wanted he could do both tomorrow. 

Then he broke. Through tears he said the words that nearly brought my head to the steering wheel over and over just to make the madness stop! 

"But, sniff, it's too hard, sniff sniff, to do the water by myseeeelfffff!!" 

I didn't say it! I lacked the will power to even ask, in what way giving our doggy both food AND water made it easier than giving him water alone. 

I re spoke my original instructions and stumbled off the playing field into the house. 

Thirty minutes later, Bugsy had been fed (and given water, the floor from the bathroom sink to the deck had been watered, along with a good quarter of the deck) and the little kids were settled in the living room. 

Hannah and Elijah, when it is just the two of them, get along famously. Until they don't. I heard the wail from the living room. I picked up my whistle and penalty flag and braced myself. 

In came Elijah gripping some part of his body and crying. 

"Hannah punched me!" 

My kids are not big hitters but it has happened enough times for me to know there is always more to the story. I have learned to ask questions. 95% of the time he who tattles first threw the first punch, slap, or kick! 

I began my line of questioning and then called in the accused for her side of the story. I admit I was surprised by the results, a twist in the usual plot...

"He told me to punch him!" 
The 7 year old piped up, "not that hard though!"

I was downright impressed by the absolute self restraint Jarrod and I showed, not even a smirk until the kids left the room. 

I am equally impressed by my 4 year old Hannah's critical thinking skills as, a few hours later she punched Elijah in the face insisting, "He told me to!" 

He had not! 



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Business of Being a Grown Up

I was THAT mom today. I try really hard not to be that mom but, I totally went there. My girl wanted something and so I did what I could to get it for her.

Fooey on the system, forget about proper channels and hierarchy... ok, just kidding it wasn't that bad.

But really, I am a rule follower. I am a "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit" kind of person. I am trying to teach my kids to be the same way.

When they are not quite old enough to be involved in something I do not ask somebody to bend the rules and make an exception. I tell my kid to wait another year or two. If they do not get the prize they wanted we don't go back and ask for something different. We try to find a way to enjoy what we have.

That is life in the real world. The real world is what I am preparing my children for.

My husband and I have purposed to do something since before the day our oldest was born more than  9 years ago - to raise our children NOW to be the kind of people they should be when they are grown. To start that process early on.

Yes, they get to be children - dirty, silly, loud, and crazy children. Just ask their grandparents, ask our neighbors, ask the poor gentleman that checks us out at Wal Mart after two hours of being confined to a plastic seat.

But we don't want kids so sheltered that they are not prepared to function in this big messy world that, let's face it isn't always fair!

This morning all of that was set aside. At church no less.

My kids have begun the first in a series of several Vacation Bible Schools this summer. Yesterday was day one. My oldest, sweet 9 year old Elyse, had a blast as always with one big hiccup. She was in a class full of strangers watching all of her friends galavant off together in a separate group. All because I fell in love with Jarrod Brooks instead of John Smith.

Somehow my daughter is attracted to friends who's last name begins with letters in the second half of the alphabet. This happened last year. All of the P's and S's and T's were in one group while Elyse was with the loser B's and D's. Ok, maybe not losers. But strangers. And like always, last year I told her what a great opportunity it was to make new friends. See, what a good mom I am? Using every opportunity as a teaching moment. (I can hear my former foster kids barfing somewhere as I type that).

Yesterday my heart squeezed a little, no a whole lot, as she ran down the list of friends she saw... in the distance at VBS.

It has been a very tough few months for my dear girl. She, like her mommy, does not make friends quickly. She is loyal and faithful like her daddy, almost to a fault. One close friend is all she needs and she had it for one glorious year. That friendship ended several months ago, leaving Elyse shocked, confused, hurt. She has tried making new friends, tried moving on. But she loves to give people the benefit of the doubt and has, over and over again the past few months, set herself up for hurt on top of hurt in this friendship.

Honestly you guys, I could not bare another moment of disappointment for my girl. I told her yesterday that I would see about switching her to the other group. It was out of my mouth and in her cute little ears before I had time to think about it.

I hate, loath, despise, abhor confrontation of any kind. I do not like the idea of hurting somebody's feelings even just a little bit. Or worse, them having even a fleeting bad thought about me!

This, I am embarrassed to say, took prayer and a bit of private inner coaching. I didn't even know who I was supposed to talk to about moving Elyse to another group. I was afraid they would say no. I had visions of being laughed out of the church - because I am neurotic that way. {if you people only knew the things that go through my head most moments of most days...}

But I did it!!!!! (Go me, go me, I'm a rock star, I'm a super mom!) The teacher seemed a little hurt. I am pretty sure she too thought, "Oh goody, you're THAT mom!" And for 1.5 seconds I wanted to hang my head and say, "yes, yes I am" to apologize and tell her she could keep my daughter in her class.
(Yes, all of that in 1.5 seconds. I'm a fast thinker.)

But you know what? This business of being a grown up is hard! There are some upsides. So far the biggest one my kids and I have come up with is, you get to eat candy whenever you want!!! Like WHENEVER you want!!!!

But most of the time it is hard. You do have to be the grown up. You do have to yield to others, do for others...

I want my kids to be amazing grownups. I have no doubt they will be. But grown up time is a very long time and it comes up pretty quick. There is no turning back. So from time to time I will let my kids have a kid moment. To enjoy one of the perks.

I am that grown up now, who can put aside fears. Who can, whenever the need arises, NOT care if somebody else thinks I am doing a poor job, not doing the right thing. Because I know my kids better than anybody else. If three days of fun with friends is going to ruin my daughter for the future... then I have MUCH bigger problems!

I am going to do my job, the very best I can, and sometimes that means, I'll be the grown up, you be the kid and we will take those jobs for ALL THEY ARE WORTH!