Do not read this post….

….If you’re looking for parenting advice. Because if you’re anything like me – trying hard to be a good parent – making it sometimes and beating yourself up more than you should, you’re probably getting pretty exhausted.

The thing is, it feels like every time I’m on the internet – email, Facebook, Twitter – there’s another way to “be a great parent”….another advice column….another thing I didn’t do right with Super Tall Guy. Another opinion on co-sleeping, potty training, kid sports, handling emotions, time outs, time aways, time together, quality time, quantity time, quiet time (my favorite!)

And my problem? I actually don’t have time to read all this advice. And I don’t have the emotional energy most days to adequately decide that most of it doesn’t actually apply to my kids and therefore I don’t need to worry about it.

Now – there was that one post I read (wish I could remember it) that said that this current generation of parents is really struggling with parenting and reflecting on parenting and looking for advice. It’s one bit of a post that I actually agree with.  I spend a whole lot of time wondering about my wondering about my parenting!

But for the most part, I wonder….

  • Where the scissors are because we keep putting them up so the boys don’t get them….and then they disappear anyway.
  • Who used the silver Sharpie on the dining room table (but does it really matter “who” did it? Or the fact that it was a Sharpie?!?)
  • If the spiraling football is going to hit the fish tank and knock Lightning McQueen to the floor this time or not (because when else will this beta fish belly up? Or should I just clean the tank again?)
  • If that’s a small turd on the living room floor that I almost stepped on on the way up to bed, or? Nah, just a small rubber brown Ewok.  That, however, on the side of the bathroom wall really is what it looks like it is….
  • If Super Tall Guy will ever forgive me for tossing his Flash Gordon superhero toy in the trash can when he was two even after I told him 5 times that I would if he kept throwing it at the mall play area….and he did keep throwing it? Why did he just bring this up again?
  • If the washing machine can handle 5 pairs of muddy kid sneakers or was that too much? (Oh wait, seems I forget the left shoe for The Little Guy….oh well, it’ll clean off eventually!)
  • Why tremendously full Roxy glassespull-ups explode into a million tiny round gel pellets when you strip off pajamas in the morning….with no hope of really being able to clean them all up?
  • If the life expectancy of a dog is inversely correlated with the number of boys under the age of 6 in one’s household?

It’s probably better for my sanity to ponder this kind of stuff than to wonder if I will really mess these boys up for life, or if there is enough plasticity left in their brains to make it through my trial and error parenting stage? So if you were looking for some advice, I certainly hope you didn’t read all the way through. Maybe next week. Maybe next week.

 

 

 

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Little boys do and will grow up

Once upon a time, there was a little boy. He was a mighty cute little boy. He had wispy blond hair and striking blue eyes. His face danced when he smiled. His lips curled into a perfect little “o” and he giggled the most delightful giggle. Oh, how he was loved by everyone who walked by and tickled his belly or stroked his hair.

But none could love him more than his mother. Yet with the fiercest of love, she also was the most generous with love – for she shared her little precious boy with me. He was four days old when we met and it’s been twenty-eight years of non-stop love. I babysat as often as I could. I used to wait at the entrance of the church for the family to arrive and I would snatch up that little bundle and carry him around on my hip as if he were my own. We were so attached, he and I. When he fell down and scraped up his knee, he’d walk past his mom and come to me kiss away the “boo-boo.” He’d cry when I left and quiet when I approached. We were so bonded, he and I.

When I left for college, I returned for his birthday parties. I spent the summers with him. I went to Disney with the family as his friend. As he entered high school, his mom would call me and say “He’s having a hard day, can you call him?” and I did. As he moved on to college and to his time in the service, we continued to talk and share and connect. When he took classes in the city, he would spend the night each week in our “toy room” and wrestle the boys in the morning before we all left on our separate ways for the day.

Any “normal” mother would have been threatened by this relationship, worried that her son had no love for her. But R.S. was no “normal” woman – she was amazing. She loved with abandon and taught her children to love as eagerly. I once asked her if she was concerned or “didn’t like” how close her son and I were in his early years. Her response was simple and profound – “the more people who love my son, and the more people he knows love him, the better he will be.”

And she was right. He did turn out to be fantastic. Oh, it was not easy. He had an abundance of stubbornness and strong-will. He did not care to sleep through the night for years. He had enough curiosity to rack up hundreds of dollars in damage. He had enough passion to punch a hole in the wall.  He had enough courage to serve his country. He had enough self-confidence to ask the girl of his dreams to marry him.RS Wedding

And yesterday he walked down the aisle with his beautiful wife and his face smiled and his eyes danced. In our firm embrace at the end of the pew, I told him how happy I was for him and how proud I was of him. I turned to walk out of the church with tears in my eyes – thinking, “there goes my little boy all grown up,” at the same moment that I turned to look behind me and …. “and there are my own little boys.”

There come along three stubborn, strong-willed, curious, active, and loving boys. There come three bundles of joy who have more energy in a millisecond than I have all day. There come three determined souls pushing against all the limits placed upon them, eager to engage the world, conquer the world, master their universe. There come three eager, yet anxious, boys calling out for reminders that they are loved – hugs and cuddles, kisses and “lovings.”

And I am reminded that it is my job to continue to seek out and build relationships with others who will be able to come alongside my sons. Who will love them. Who will model all of life redeemed for them. Who will cheer at their games and pick them up when they cry. Who will tell them that they are AWESOME and will correct them when they stray. For children need to know that there are at least five adults outside their family who love them so much, such that as life tosses them around, they can keep finding their feet again. I want that for my boys. There may not be too many “Nonni’s” in the world like I was, but there will be lots of love.

For one day, I will watch them take the hand of a beautiful lady and beam with joy as they walk through a gentle cloud of bubbles. And I will thank all who helped me shape the man. For little boys will grow up.

 

 

And then a little more chaos!

It quite likely could be said that some people seem to thrive on chaos. Given the way things seem to be going, it is highly likely that my sister and I are that type of person. We seem to invite it in to our house. Let’s see – there was Super Tall Guy, The Flipper, Mr. Ornery, along came Trouble followed less than a year later by The Little Guy. If five boys in a five year range weren’t chaotic enough….we added a sweet (yet apparently fragile) Bichon Terrier to the mix.

Now we add again.

Let’s just say that we spent almost the entire weekend rearranging two rooms of the house. The small third-floor room used for storage (since my “family” essentially lives in what might have been an attic) has pretty much been moved into my bedroom. This tiny space has now become the new “toy room” (and Super Tall’s dressing room).

Spending so much attention on this process sometimes leads to

  • A bit too much screen-time distraction for most of the boys,
  • A little bit of creativity for one of the boys,

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  • Not the healthiest of meals (ahem) for some of the kids,

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  • Finding some “great” clothes in the backs of closets,IMG_5316
  • And apparently misplacing the dog, as noted by a very unhappy neighbor.

But we managed to convert the former unrecognizable heap of a mess of toys into a beautiful guest room….(we sat in an exhausted heap in front of the TV this evening arguing over who had to get up to get the remotes…sigh…!)

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….for Wimon ….a woman from Thailand….a friend of a friend of my parents (you see what being Missionary kids does?!)….who is arriving late Wednesday evening to begin an English as a Second Language program in preparation for a doctorate in physical therapy. She’ll be staying with us for a “bit.”

I use Lego play as a way to coax a few words out of strong, silent Super Tall Guy. We talk about a new person arriving in the house. Someone who probably won’t speak English very well. He pauses and says quite quietly “I might laugh when she speaks.” “You just might,” I reply, “because it will sound different to your ears. She’s going to be so happy to learn from you” (and please, please….don’t you boys start chanting your usual body parts chants!!! Or run downstairs all “carefree” after your baths. Or burp and “putter” as if she’s family!). “Oh, she’ll be here for Halloween,” he exclaims excitedly. Yes, that should pretty much blow her mind in her first two weeks of culture shock. “And Christmas,” he continues eagerly. So far, it seems like this might go pretty well….

…though I’m thinking that we might have to quiet down the household a little…actually, I’m hoping that she might quiet it down a bit 🙂 !!

Sometimes I wonder “what am I going to write about this week?” And then, there always seems to be something….always another adventure!

 

 

On the lighter side….

I decided the last couple posts were a bit on the “heavy” side, so I thought I’d lighten myself up a bit this week. This past Saturday, I stumbled downstairs in that I-wish-I-was-still-sleeping haze and pulled out my phone to connect with a friend and ask a question. I quickly put it away realizing that at 7:12 on a Saturday morning, few people really wanted to hear from me. It left me pondering a simple question – when it is “appropriate” to call or text a parent? (And really, to be honest, as a very strong introvert, texting is always preferred for me!)

To answer that simple question, I spent a bit of time learning Word functions that I often don’t use. Here’s my advice (click on it to enlarge):

calling parents

 

And then after inviting three additional young boys over for a “Steelers Party” on Sunday, I pondered my complete lack of energy as the evening waned.

boys energyThis imperfect correlation is, of course, based on scientific and rigorous study and I solely hope to warn other parents of the dangers of this imbalance. I’m hoping someone wants to take my three boys for next Sunday’s afternoon game! Let me know.