Donald Trumps says things that I discipline my children for!

My eldest son was at it again, torturing his younger brothers. You know the drill, he’d fake throwing a football at them. They’d scream. My ears would ring. We were running late. I was tired and stressed. I did the calm “please” technique to alter his behavior. I tried the old “counting to three” technique without any change in his aim. So I got up and removed the hard ball from his hands to which he replied, “You b**ch.” Yes, my son has learned words that I didn’t know until I was an adult. But, contrary to his desires that morning, such disrespect for his mother earned him a serious consequence of being grounded from outside play and the worst punishment of all (in current scale) – “no trampoline today.”

Reflecting later, I realized that one of the front runners in the political field this year is a man saying the very things to which I dole out serious consequences. I am working hard to shape my young boys into caring, considerate, compassionate men and I have before me the very antithesis of this behavior seeking applause from his supporters.

“I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed punch back anymore…. I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.” –Donald Trump on how he would handle a protester in Nevada, sparking roaring applause from the audience, February 22, 2016

Here, one of America’s most “powerful” men (only because people seem to want to equate power with money) is expressing his desire to punch another human being in the face in response to an action. What do I tell my boys over and over? “We use our words. We do not hurt other people.”  “Hands are for helping, not hurting.” It is in their very nature to respond physically. My boys are always wrestling. They are always walloping each other. It is with time and with love and with constant correction that I shape them to respond to each other with kindness, to see another’s point of view, to control their temper and their bodies, to seek peace and reconciliation. It is an exhausting process and yet I persist because it matters.

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.” –Donald Trump, speaking at a rally in Sioux Center, Iowa as the audience laughed, January 23, 2016

There were 23 mass shootings over the course of 20 days starting February 19th, from California to our neighbors here in Wilkinsburg. Across 17 states, 128 people were shot and 42 died (from Esquire). There is unspeakable grief for at least 42 families. And, this is just “mass shootings” and doesn’t count the shooting deaths of just 1 or 2 people (like the remarkable physician in Texas who was killed by her husband last week, leaving two young children behind). Should one of our most visible “leaders” be promoting violence, the kind of violence that kills people? The kind of violence that takes kids from their parents, parents from their kids, brothers and sisters from each other, best friends split forever? Violence that leaves emptiness and pain in the hearts of so many.  Violence the type that I talk to my sons about and ban them from video games that make it seem realistic and that disassociate it from the pain and consequences it produces.

“Women: You have to treat them like s–t.” –Donald Trump (italicized quotes from a recent compilation)

I don’t even know where to begin on this one. I am a single woman raising three incredible sons whom I adopted from the foster care system because there are kids in this country who need a family and need love. And I am trying my hardest to raise my sons to respect people – all people, men, women, children, people of different backgrounds, people of different faiths, people of different skin tones (because our household is a blended tone one), people of all walks of life. In fact, I am teaching my boys not to treat anyone like s—t!

I am a lucky, lucky mother. My children are young. They do not watch the “real” TV, they watch episodes of Pound Puppies and Octonauts. They are not exposed to the news. They probably don’t even know that Donald Trump exists. I am lucky. I do not have to explain (yet) how a grown man who is displaying so many things that every parent works to correct in their children is getting so much attention. I do not have to explain why people are afraid and how their fear is driving their praise of this behavior rather than disgust. I have time to prepare.

But, one day we will talk about this complicated mess. And I only hope that on that day, I will have a much better role model that I will be pointing my sons to and saying, “My boy, that is the kind of man you need to be. Strong and courageous. Kind and compassionate. Empathetic and understanding. Humble and willing to serve. Be the man God has created you to be.”

 

 

 

Advertisements

What? You’re not listening?

I love books. Absolutely. No questions asked. Give me a good book that I can sink into and I’ll mourn the loss of my new friends at the end of it. I laugh. I cry. And I’m just talking about kids’ books here.

More than anything, I want to instill this love into my children. I’ve done everything I can. My house is cluttered with books – look around and you’ll see bookcases and bookcases booksof books. At any given moment you’re likely to stub your toe on a book on the floor (after you gingerly step over the recently fired Nerf gun bullet and landed on the sharp edge of a Lego, that is!). I treasure the “favorite” books (list below). I gift the boys a new book for their birthday and for Christmas with sweet love messages written on the inside cover. I read to them every single (almost) night. I even recorded every book I read to Super Tall Guy throughout a whole year once. (Mr. Ornery – I started, but I definitely read less to him. And Poor Little Guy….well, they read a lot at the day care center!)

But I am waging a battle against the lure of a flat screen and the opinion that the “movie” version is the way it’s “supposed to be.” I can’t seem to get across the concept that an author actually sat down and WROTE the book first with the complete intent that the reader should create in their own heads what the characters actually looked like and what really happened.

I know that Super Tall Guy could care less about “reading the book first” before watching a movie. I thought it endearing when we would get to below 50 or so pages of a Harry Potter book and he would bring it to me in bright daylight and ask me to read so we could finish the book! And of course, his motivation was to get to see the movie on the weekend, knowing that I’d put it off until the following “movie night” time if we didn’t get that book done in time. I thought we at least had something great going.

Until tonight when he completely deflated me. We are reading “Fish in a Tree” (even though there’s no movie to dangle at the end) and every once in a while I like to stop and ask a question, partly to check on his level of alertness (ie, “is he asleep yet?” though the snoring should tell me!) and partly to bring home a good point that may have been made. Tonight when I stopped and turned to ask a question, he said, “Mom, I never actually listen to what you’re reading. I just like to hear you talk.”

“What?!?” I said, “You’re not listening?!? Since when?”

He replied, “Since you started reading Harry Potter” (like over a year ago!) “I just wanted to get to the end to watch the movie. That’s why I play while you’re reading. I’m not really paying attention.”

I laughed and playfully punched him. But also felt a bit sad. I thought in my head, well, I could just read my own books aloud if all he wants is the drone of my voice as white noise to fall asleep by. I might just try reading my Internal Medicine Board Review book aloud tomorrow night!

But I shall persist. Because somehow and in some way, I’m determined to make a reader out of these boys. To bury within them the love of pages. To develop a deep yearning for learning through stories of others’ lives and the printed word. To help them know the comfort of snuggling under covers with a good book in hand. To set them on adventures in new worlds and with different people. To live. To learn. To grow.

Well, we certainly aren’t getting in the recommended “20 minutes” of reading every night and Mr. Ornery struggles to read fluently, and Super Tall Guy clearly isn’t listening, but I shall battle on!

Here are some of the books we’ve loved:

Preschool:

  • Goodnight Gorilla
  • Goodnight Moon
  • Where’s Spot
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Five Little Monkeys

5-7:

  • Library Lion – absolutely love – almost cry every time
  • I Need My Monster – have read too many times!
  • Tony Baloney Buddy Trouble
  • Fly Guy – any of them
  • Robert Munsch – any of his!

8-9 (that’s as far as we are):

  • Harry Potter
  • Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Super Tall Guy probably stopped listening to me when we started this as our first “longer” chapter books)
  • Holes
  • I Survived …. Series
  • Magic Tree House…. – read many of these

 

 

 

 

The worries of a mom when work changes up….

Parenting is tenuous. Every single moment, there are worries. Are the kids okay? Are they healthy? Are they safe? Are they well-rested? Are they fed?

And above that level is the bigger picture. Are they in the right school? Am I parenting them well? Am I doing everything that I need to be doing for them? And for a single parent, there’s always the “big” worry of providing for the kids. Because you can love them and you can kiss their “boo-boos”….but if you can’t keep a roof over their head and food in the fridge, then there’s a lot more stress in this life.

We all know that life is fragile. At least we say that we know that life is fragile. But when you’re texting with a friend and mother of four who has been sick in bed for over two weeks and not able to work or get up and really care for her kids, you know that life is fragile. You can’t imagine how stressful that must be.

And when you’re sitting in a board meeting and talking about cutting your work hours and eventually closing the non-profit that you work for because the state in which you live has not passed a budget and therefore no money is flowing to the non-profit sector, then you know that life is fragile. You realize how much you take for granted that you’re going to go into an office every day and you’re going to have money magically appear in your checking account every two weeks and you tend not to stress about it.

But then one day, you’re really stressed. And you spend the weekend trying not to snap at the boys about every little thing they do because you know it’s just your stress within that makes you so cranky. And you wonder how much to share with your kids and how much you protect them from the fragility and the stresses of the world.

And you try not to worry. You know that you have umpteen degrees behind your name and are capable of doing so much. Yet you mourn the loss of your current job and the way that you have been able to have flexibility with your hours to be there for the kids and help with the parties at school. How life was going smoothly for a moment and now the next bump is hitting you in the journey. You know that you will bounce and come through it, but as the kids yell and scream and cheer and jeer in their football game on the road out front, you still sit inside worried. Worried about the next step. Worried about making it through the valley.

Working hard to be Superman in the dark world of Batman….

batman

Mr. Ornery’s new T-shirt front

Oh to be a kid playing football without a care in the world except to the fairness of the game. But the game of life is not really “fair.” It’s fragile and tenuous. It’s stressful and scary sometimes. Yet we still play and give it our best, knowing that the Lord knows what’s on the other side of this valley.

I sure do wish that I did.

Onward, SuperWoman!