When you’re down and troubled

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This morning I was reading Simcha Fisher at NCRegister. And I responded with this comment:

I hug my kids when they are hurt. But I also wait to see if they are actually hurt. They know my m.o. since often their response even through tears is “I’m okay.” They know I’m there for them, but want to be strong for me. I’ve parented with the hope that they can assess the situation themselves first. If they can. That said, I’m pretty keen on recognizing within a few seconds what kind of response from me is needed. And sometimes, coddling little boo-boos is the cure even if the bruise is one of embarrassment, hurt pride or being frightened instead of physically injured. But true loving occurs not as I rush to their aid or to their (at times over-) reaction to injury, but the solid loving that I give them all the rest of the time. Caring for the needs they don’t even know they have. Offering love and affection when they ask for it, when then don’t, and even when they tell you they don’t really want it at all. That’s the kind of undeserved, unearned love we get from God.

It got me thinking, I hope and pray that’s the kind of loving we can do our best to give everyone. In very simple terms, I’m pretty sure that’s the crux of the “love one another, as I have loved you” bit. And I know how I feel when I am called to love people who very specifically don’t want my love. But that’s when your loving is about Christ and them. And not about you. At all. I’m pretty sure that’s an element of the “emptying ourselves” bit.

Once again. God knows what’s going on. Happy All Saints Day. Prayers of thanksgiving for those saints known and unknown. Truly inspiring.

A nice story

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I wanted to share this story. No matter the number of children, we all have our shortcomings and our failings. I know I certainly do.

I choose joy. And sometimes joy is my mind’s second choice, because there are moments I’d rather choose misery (which is occasionally a comfortable place to wallow).  Also, since this website is actually named for the five eternal souls that I don’t have the privilege to raise here on earth, I never cease to count my blessings for those five who walk this planet and call me mom.

Down for the count

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Find me a parent who hasn’t counted as a motivator.

“You will come here now, 1, 2, 3.”

You know the method. And you know how your kids respond. When you’re at one, you get the are-you-serious look. At two, they know you’re serious. And by three, usually in high gear. Up until now, it’s been a staple in my parenting arsenal.

I need a new technique. Especially while driving.

“Lillian, you must share some of those Skittles with Clifford,”

“No. I won’t.”

“I told you when I bought them, they were for sharing.”

“I’m not sharing.”

“You will share. 1 ,2 …”

And she interrupted, “I will share. When YOU stop counting.” Shocked. I stopped. And she shared. But I was at a loss.

Out-of-box parenting needed.

If she pulled that at home, she’d be sent to her room. But driving in the car, I was stuck. And punishing her for it later would go right past her.

She tried something similar last week, demanding to wear plastic, three-sizes-too-small  princess shoes to the zoo. “I’m wearing these, or I’m not going.”I knew she wanted to go to the zoo, so it wasn’t a terribly hard negotiation. I called her bluff with an:. “Okay, you can stay home.” She responded with a “hmph,” marched into her room and returned with appropriate shoes.

But what happens when she pulls that on me when we’re going somewhere I want her to go, but she doesn’t?

Help. Suggestions welcomed and appreciated.

Fly me to the moon

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Cliffy may not talk much. But if our exchanges are any indication of what’s to come, I can humbly concede: Me thinks I see trouble.

No. It's the moon.

“Look at the sun,” says I.

“No. It’s the moon.,” says he.

“No, honey, it’s the sun,” corrects I.

“No. It’s the moon,” insists he.

This goes on and on. And the sun is always the moon. Thankfully the moon is also the moon. So, the glass is half full.

And, as I have often expressed here, this non-speaking two-year-old boy has some wicked hand-eye skills. His most recent exhibition is in his ability to catch flies. Yes. In flight. Don’t rush and call Mr. Miyagi. He’s not doing it with chopsticks. Yet.

He presents me with the dead Diptera, and I say, “Oh, you caught a fly.”

“No, it’s a bee.”

“It’s a fly.”

“No. It’s a bee.”

“A fly.”

“No. A bee.”

Yesterday, when he came upon a hornets’ nest, he eagerly approached to catch that bee, but the “bee” caught him. Twice. In the face.

And boy was he was howling. At the noon day … moon.

(And yes, I refrained from saying, “Now THAT’s a bee!”)

An extra dry martini

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Lillian wasn’t thrilled about swim lessons. She spent the two days prior to the first lesson not-so-subtly lobbying for a stay in the sentence. It went something like this:

“I’m not going to swimming lessons.”

“Yes you are.”

“No. I. am. not.”

“Yes. you. are.”

“Well. I won’t put my face in the water.” Repeat. Repeat, again. And again.

Monday came. Coaxing got her there. Upon arrival, we discovered her teacher was my niece’s boyfriend, Billy. That got her to stay.

I watched through the fence. She laughed. She cried. She laughed again. She cried again. She climbed on him. She climbed out of the pool. True to her word, she did not put her face in the water. Day one. Down.

Later in the afternoon, while picking up her room, I mentioned that her blue bathing suit was clean, so she could wear it tomorrow.

“What’s tomorrow?” She inquired, with a suspicious head tilt.

“Swimming lessons.” I cautiously responded.

“What? I have to do that AGAIN?”

Apparently, I failed to mention that it was a two-week commitment.

“Yes. You do.”

She spent the entire day declaring that she was not going. She had gone. She was done. Time served. And that was that.

The next day, she was up and fully clothed at 6 a.m. I think in an effort to distract me from the lessons. At 9 o’clock, I started the cajoling. Which quickly moved to bribery. Hey. I’m not above it. There are certain things that require a little nudge. I wanted her to go willingly. And she needs to learn how to swim.

“We can stop at Johnny B’s and get a cookie.” I said. “One of those pretty flower cookies. Or a sunburst. What do you think?” The idea of one of those fancy frosted cookies was apparently just enticing enough to get the suit on and get her to van.

When we walked into the shop, she pointed to a tray of star cookies and said, “I want two stars.” Now, not to be manipulated by a four-year-old, I reminded her that I said she could have one cookie. Sticking to my guns. After all, I’m not a complete sucker.

She carefully examined the treasures behind the sparkling clean glass. Then pointed to her choice.

“I want the cookie shaped like a wine glass.” And there it was. A very large cookie in the shape of a martini glass. It was frosted to every edge in smooth and shiny lavender sugary goodness. Yikes. With the hopes of diverting her attention from the giant cookie, I showed her the flower cookies. The sunbursts. The graduation caps, even.

“No. You said I could have one cookie. That’s the cookie I want. The wine glass.”

The lady behind the counter looked at me, “Smart kid.” Mmm Hmm. Don’t I know. And stupid mommy. (I kept that part to myself.)

Needless to say, I got her the martini. She consumed the whole thing on the way to swim class. Between bites, she repeatedly reminded me that I needed to tell Billy that she wasn’t putting her face in the water. And that she wasn’t staying, unless I spoke with him.

Make mine extra dry

We arrived. I spread out her Little Mermaid towel. Kissed her on the head and started to move toward the parental quarantine zone. She quickly grabbed a two-armed hold of my leg, stopping me in my tracks. She looked up at me with those sweet yet demanding blue eyes, smiled while she said behind slighted clenched teeth. “You are NOT going until you have that CONVERSATION with Billy.” And I knew she had me. Again.

I dragged her clinging body the two steps to Billy, told him that she wasn’t going to put her face in the water. He said okay. Then he smiled at her at told her that she was going to need to put her face in when she was ready to learn to swim. But he wouldn’t make her do it. And that was enough. I was released from the death grip. She happily went to lessons, and eventually the feeling returned to my left leg.

She ended up having a great lesson that day and willingly went the next morning. (Not without unsuccessfully trying to swindle a cookie out of me.) She enjoyed the remaining lessons, and eagerly went every day. And the thing about not getting her face wet seemed short-lived. After all, you can’t jump off a diving board without getting your face wet.

The lessons? If you’re afraid to get your face wet, it’s not so bad starting the day with an extra dry martini. That, and every single parenting technique you use will someday (much sooner than you think) be used on you.

An eye for an eye

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Or a lizard for a Guy.

Guy is Lillian’s most prized lovely. He’s a soft blanket square with a giraffe head that makes a little rattle noise. I’ll admit, for three years, I thought it was a cow head. Anyway. We have two. We used to have three. I’m just thankful we still have two. No guy? No sleep. You get the picture.

The lizard is a newly acquired Target clearance special. A $1.49 of stretchy, rubbery bliss for Cliffy. I bought it, along with a few dinosaurs, so he could take some fun toys to our park’s baby pool. I am hoping they’ll keep his interest so he’ll refrain from snatching, then hoarding, every other child’s play things.

For whatever reason, Lillian has taken a shine to the lizard. So much so, that I catch her hiding it in her bed. Holding it under her dress. Keeping it tucked safely around her bowl of cereal. All while carefully trying to keep it from Cliff’s view. When he does see it … mayhem.

Today, I watched my two-year-old son, who doesn’t communicate with words, send a very clear message to his five-year-old sister.

With Guy in his hands, he ran to where Lil was secretly playing with his lizard. He dangled Guy right in front of her face, did an about-face, and took off. He clutched Guy in a football hold to his chest. Needless to say, Miss Lil screamed in absolute horror. Stashed the lizard, sprang up, and gave chase.

After screaming and negotiations, she eventually gave up the lizard. But not without dramatically demonstrating her pain of separation from Guy.

“Cliffy will NEVER give me Guy! I’ll NEVER forgive him!” There was a’ weepin’ a’ wailin’ for sure.

When the kids made the swap, they both gave a “hmph” of relief.

Who knew holding someone hostage was a natural human instinct?

No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
And if you try sometime you find
You get what you need –Rolling Stones

Stretchy bliss

Life and limb

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Okay, it’s true. When my daughter went off to college in the fall, it was challenging. As a mother, I felt as if I were losing a limb. Having it ripped right off my body.

Oh and did I rejoice when she came back this spring? You bet. It was almost as if–through the miracle of modern medicine–I had that beautiful limb sewn right back on. But as time has gone by, I’ve realized it doesn’t work as well as it used to. I can’t as easily get it to do what I want, and it seems to fall asleep a lot.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still just pleased as punch just to have it back.

She's not the only one who needs a little more sleep.