Friday, August 2, 2013

Roller Skating into Absurdity

When I entered the roller rink last night it was like stepping back to 1985.  The disco ball, lights, DJ and truly gaudy decor brought back all the great times where I was dropped off by my parents with $5 dollars and met friends to have a great time. 

Last night, my 7 year old and I strapped on our skates and headed out to the floor and into the reality that skating can be difficult your first time out.  Now I have a stubborn child who at times gives up easily, but she still has the tenacity to make IT happen when she wants.  I knew what was coming.  I instructed her using all my skating skill which actually is very limited, but I taught myself during my afternoons free from mom and dad and I figured she could do the same.  She fell down, we laughed.  She fell again and we laughed again.  It went on and on, but then after a particularly forceful belly flop, she hit her proverbial wall.  She wasn't going anywhere!  I conjoled, bribed, appealed to her pride and vanity, but to no avail.  We were stuck on the far side of the rink with tears and angst and we were not going anywhere!

So I tried the "I going to leave you behind bit" and skated off.  I turned around a bit later to what I was sure would be her following me slowly, but instead I saw something that made me quite angry.

Another child had given my girl a crutch, literally!  There she was holding on to this v-shaped design made with pvc pipe and wheels.  She was skating now, technically.  I was incensed.  No one can learn to skate with a crutch, after all it takes balance and perseverance. A person can't lean on something and gain balance. And so like the harsh unfeeling mommy I can be, I went and took it away from her.

There was more crying and frustration, but we didn't pay for her to use a crutch while skating and she wouldn't learn that way.  Other children had them and to Sarah it looked like they were having so much fun and not struggling. Sarah was adamant she needed the help.  I was adamant she didin't and so I left her again to struggle through the learning curve.

Not more than two minutes later another one of the vile crutches was handed to her by another well intentioned child!  This time I called a rink staff member.  I asked him straight out if those wheeled helping contraptions actually helped anyone learn to skate.  The answer was what I expected - NO.  They only hinder the skating process but over half the children out on that rink were using them.  I expressed my frustration to him and to his credit he told me I could walk on the rink with my shoes on to help my little girl.  The mom beside me, though, piped up that she thought these crutch contraptions were just fine because her child hadn't had proper lessons yet.  Proper lessons for roller skating!  Who takes skating lessons? How absurd to think that pain can be saved by a crutch and that taking the easy way will make a person learn anything.  I had watched the other children skating around with these things and they were still falling, but at much fast speeds than my girl fell.  In addition, when they fell they got tangled in the contraption itself making their pain even worse.

Then it hit me!  This was a reflection of what is wrong with our society.  We are so hypersensitive about saving our children from the pains of childhood that we hinder their growth and development.  I learned to skate by skating and falling.  I wanted to skate because others were doing it and leaving me behind. I wanted to conform and be with the gang.  Unfortunately, Sarah didn't feel the pressure to skate because those her age out on the floor were using a crutch.  The crutch looked normal and as a child she couldn't see the real harm that could come from using it.  The fight for independence from her crutch seemed unnecessary and cruel.  She no longer wanted her freedom and independence.  She wanted the crutch!

Isn't this so much the way parents today are approaching education, ball teams, etc.  Our kids are living in bubbles that are ever expanding as a new dangers arise.  Kids are living longer at home, expecting employers to meet their demands, and waiting for the "right job" instead of just getting a job.  The pain of falling is being mitigated by the crutch and it is time for us as parents to step away and give our children the chance to experience the common pains of growing up in the hopes that when they are 18 they can act grown.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Living With Boys

There has been a constant battle for years in my house regarding towels.  I probably just have too many and for a decade have been dutifully washing towels after only one usage.  Completely Wasteful. 

But for the last several months, I have been harping about not wasting money (as I am sure most middle class Americans have - despite that we are told the worst of our financial hardships are behind us). 

At any rate, I was fairly surprised this week when my dirty clothes hamper did not fill with towels by Tuesday.  When I checked again on this Saturday morning, I was excited to find very few towels waiting to be washed. 

Then I went to the linen closet and found no towels there.  My mind slowly started working as I realized that there are no towels in the hamper and none in the closet....where did they go. I checked both boys rooms ( the usual culprits to missing  household items) and yet their floors were also towel free. 

With Foreboding, I turned heel down the hall and went to the kids' bathroom.  There, hanging on four pegs was every towel in the house.  Piled, not on the floor, but on the wall  - four and five towels deep.

Evidently half of my message had gotten through.  Upon questioning my middle boy, I discovered  he understood I wanted the towels hung.  However, the message to conserve and reuse was completely lost.  

Once again, I learn a lesson about living with boys - take nothing for granted!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

And She will do it Herself

For many parents, the first independent thing their child does is full of a mixture of joy and sadness.  But this last Saturday, as Sarah showed a great aptitude of independence, all I felt was shock. 

Sarah turned 7 about three weeks ago.Shortly after that I realized, in a moment of fleeting clarity, that she was 7 and I still had training wheels on her bike!  This was a shocking revelation as my boys' training wheels came off  when they were 5.  So at that exact moment, I turned to my daughter and declared, "Now, that you are 7 we need to get those training wheels off your bike!"  She smiled her sweet little smile at me and we went about our day.  I quickly forgot the exchange.

When my mom stopped by on Saturday, Sarah was outside in the driveway with a screwdriver, a wrench and her bike.  She had already managed to get one training wheel off.  My mom walked up to her and calmly asked what she was doing.

Her reply- "I'm 7 and I don't need these anymore!"

Instead of waiting for an adult to help, she gathered her own tools and made quick work of the mechanics of her training wheels.  I was flabbergasted!  And then I remembered the short conversation we had before Christmas about her training wheels. 

I have learned my lesson.  Sarah remembers everything and will take her destiny in her own hands if she needs to. 

And in case you are wondering.  Yes,  she can ride her bike without training wheels.  Unfortunately, she did fall down after about 15 minutes of riding and then decided that she needed to wait until she was 9 to get back on her bike. - sigh -

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cat and Bird

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day in my community and it found my family outside in the front yard chatting with other neighbors.  I somehow talked the neighbor boys into cleaning out the back of my van because it would be "fun" and while I supervised their work, Max the Cat came into view.

 He was sauntering up the sidewalk toward the house.  He held his head  high with his tail lifted and curled dramatically behind him.  "Awe, isn't that cute", I thought.  And then the neighbor said it.  "Look, who's bringing you a present."  I looked around for the UPS truck and then realized the neighbor meant Max.

In Max's mouth was something black.  A bird - "Yuck!", I thought and then I quickly realized Max had veered toward the open garage with a dead bird.  I ran to the garage and quickly closed the door thwarting Max and sending him to the bushes with his kill.  Max moved out of sight while the children surrounding me talked about the what was in Max's mouth.  Suddenly a ruckus erupted from the bushes.  A loud chirp sounded followed by the bushes shaking and then a small black and brown bird burst through the foliage and up into the sky. It wobbled a little getting its bearings and then zoomed off far from Max's greedy claws.

 Immediately the meowing started.  The most disgruntled cat I have ever seen emerged haughtily from the bushes meowing the entire time.  Max sat in the middle of the driveway grumping about the bird for nearly 5 minutes straight.  Then he harrumphed off to repair his bruised ego and to hold on to whatever cat dignity was left for poor Max to cling to.

Kudos to the bird for doing a masterful job at faking its own death.  And to Max - You win some and you lose some. 

The Cat Introduction

Last January we bought Aaron a cat for his birthday.  This shows the great love I have for my middle child because I do not love cats.  Yes,  those of you from my childhood past might remember the obsessive cat loving I did before middle school.  What can I say... I was a child but as an adult I put away childish things and that included cat love. 

So when we brought this new cat, now affectionately named Max, Maximillian, Maxipus, or just Cat, home I had rules.  No cat in the house, litter box cleaned each week and I was to have nothing to do with Max cuz I didn't like him. (period!)

Max has been with us for almost a year now and I can honestly say I have never met a cat like Max.  He purrs with gusto  immediately upon being picked up.  In eight months, he has never scratched one of my children.  In fact, as soon as a any child grabs him up he goes limp as if it is his duty to allow the squeezing and rumpled fur that is sure to come.

Max also wheedled his way into the house with his constant purring.  First the official reason was so Aaron could hold him during homework and then we realized we were buying cat food for every stray cat in a mile radius.  During the school year, Max got used to us leaving the house everyday.  It became routine to give him a goodbye pat on the way to school each morning as he sat on the porch purring his goodbye right back at us.  Summer brought a new routine and suddenly each morning Max began meowing at the front door until it opened.   He then saunters in, checks on the family, perhaps eats a little (since we moved the food indoors)  then goes to the garage door, meows again and is let into the garage to do what ever a cat needs to do in a garage.

In fact, that last paragraph I was writing  just got  interrupted by meowing at the front door and yes I obediently got up and let the cat into the house.

Now the cat routinely plays with the dogs and catches birds and mice leaving them in the front yard for us to find.  We call for Maxipus every time we go outside and I actually miss seeing Cat if he isn't around for awhile.

Today, I find myself using endearments to talk to Max and cuddling him just to hear his loud purr.  If he isn't around in the morning I worry about him.

Shockingly and with much torture to actually write this sentence...I have discovered.... I love Max.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Everyone likes to fish.  Everyone but me that is.  I pretty much hate everything that goes along with fishing.  Hooks are sharp, fish are slimy, and worms are wiggly.  In fact, worms are the worst part of fishing.  But I attend fishing trips to be with the family.  With familial togetherness in mind, I attended an evening of fishing one night last summer.  I brought our camp chairs and a picnic blanket to keep my feet safely away from bugs since I knew I would be nowhere near the dock and therefore surrounded by grass- which of course is where all the bugs live.  I invisioned a quiet sunset, laughing children  and my husband baiting every hook and throwing every little fish that was caught back.  When we got there I set myself up several feet off from the dock and made myself comfortable by taking  off my sandals.   I stretched my legs and settled my back into the chair.  Let the relaxation begin.

As the fishing got into full swing my 6 year old, Sarah, decided it would be much better to fish near me.  So with pole, worm and hook, she came to sit beside me  My relaxing evening quickly turned into a fearful one as I wondered how the local emergency room would treat a person with a hook in their eye. 

My girl is not patient when it comes to fishing.  Throw the line in and reel it back immediately.  Over and over again this happened and increased with intensity as she saw that her more patient brothers and cousins were catching fish left and right. To add insult to injury, her worm was suddenly gone off its hook, so she just knew that a fish was in that water taunting her.  Frustration and whining ensued and finally I got her to move back to the dock where her father was baiting hooks.  

My peace was short lived, however, because soon it was too dark to fish and everyone packed it in.  In the semidarkness, I stood and slipped my foot into my sandal where I felt a decided slimy squish of something under my big toe.  My body and mind froze as I tried to work out what in the world could have created that icky feeling.  And then I knew as certainly as I have ever known anything that my big toe had just smooshed the worm that Sarah had lost from her hook just a half hour before.

My stomach rolled and I jumped from the blanket to wipe my toe on the grass.  Chills moved up and down my arms and legs and I knew that my toe would never be clean again. 

These events happened last July, but now in Oct.  as I finally get a chance to sit down and write about it my stomach is again feeling like I might not make it through the last paragraph of this post. 

Needless to say,  I will still go on fishing trips but never again will I take my sandals off!


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Daniel, The Lion's Den and Me - A Spiritual Birth at VBS

Vacation Bible school starts this coming Monday and I am very excited.  I love the energy, the fun and the learning that goes on during VBS.  Not to mention that my church uses a really great curriculum provided by LifeWay Christian Resources that is very easy to do. 

But probably the biggest reason that VBS is in my heart is that many years ago when I was about 8 and living in Columbia, MO.  I went to VBS and trusted Christ as my personal savior for the very first time and because God saves by His Grace - the only time that was necessary. 

We had just learned about Daniel and the Lion's Den.  I remember listening to the story and being amazed that God could protect Daniel from such danger and literally close the lions mouths all night.  How trusting Daniel must have been in his heavenly protector.  My 8 year old brain was mulling these things over when we went to worship at the end of the morning.  The pastor spoke to us and questioned us on where we stood on believing that Jesus was the Son of God and came to save us from our human nature of sin.  Did we believe that he could protect us and care for us.  Daniel and the Lion's Den broke into my thoughts.  Did I have the faith of Daniel?

It was at that moment that I felt the tug.  The almost physical pull in my chest that I needed to walk up to the front and tell the pastor that I wanted Jesus as my savior.  But I didn't go.  Walking up to the front of a church with so many people looking at me and wondering about me was more than I could bear.  So I stayed stuck in my seat and I squelched the pull that I should be moving deep down inside of me.  I decidedly ignored what I knew I should be doing and I stayed in my seat until worship was over and my mom picked me up.

But God doesn't quit and the Holy Spirit will not give up on a good work.  So, the tug came back at a red light on the way home from VBS.  It became restlessness and physical uncomfortableness.  I could not ignore God.  In the back seat of my parents beat up chevy chevelle (brown interior) I bowed my head and submitted.  I prayed that God would forgive me of all the things I had done and I thanked him for sending Jesus as the way to Him. 

Peace, Elation, Freedom immediately followed.  It was like nothing I have ever felt before and I am sure I will never feel again. My grin spread across my face and stayed plastered there for several days.  I was joyous.  I felt God's presence so clearly.  When I doubt my faith, as occasionally happens to all who believe I remember this time of  great even elation.  I remember my thoughts changing and my conscience changing. 

This didn't make ME a great person and I am still not a great person.  But it made me a forgiven person.  A person who began to see through eyes like Jesus's.  Am I perfect, Ha!  I will never be and I am ashamed of some things I have done and probably will do, but I am always forgiven and taken care of.  I believe one only has to read other entries in this blog to see how God has taken care of me and my family.