Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Notes #14, Particularly on Parenting


First-day-of-school failure: I didn't take pictures of the girls holding signs saying "First Day of Preschool" "First Day of 3rd Grade" and "First Day of 6th Grade." Apparently, my back-to-school mothering skills are lacking.  Did you even know that signs were a thing?  Well, you must've--because every other mom on FB had the pictures with the kids and the signs and the cute new back-to-school cowgirl boots. Mark and I had to divide and conquer this morning, meaning he waited with Middle in the 3rd grade line and I took Tiny to preschool. She got her picture taken--next to some overgrown shrubs and the preschool building's siding in the background. There is no sign or identifying characteristic to the picture. She was wearing a green skirt I bought from a re-sale store in town. In five years, I'll wonder if this was taken in front of the dentist's office or the library.

It's the small wonders I celebrate today, like the fact that lunch making was easy and well-planned out; I had the food on hand to make everyone happy. And: They. Ate. It. All of it. Or mostly, except for three jellybean tomatoes. Day 1 down! Oh, and here's my advice for Day 1 lunch packers: Set the bar low for Pete's sake. That way you're sure never to disappoint on Days 2-180. Today, the girls didn't get dessert. But tomorrow, they get brownies.  Already, they are soooo thankful.

And looky there, you've killed the second bird of cultivating gratitude in your offspring.

You're welcome.  That was for free.


I tried very hard to make this morning flow smoothly, but one of my offspring had a series of temper tantrums that won her half an hour of "room-time" in the evening. While I coached her on respect and speaking in a calm voice, she yelled at me about how disrespectful it was to ground her, and didn't I know she has feelings too and that I'm "damaging our relationship and connection" by giving her consequences? This is where all those big feely, relational words I use come back to bite me.


You probably guessed I wasn't writing about Tiny just now, but please don't try to narrow it down from there. These girls desperately need privacy even if their mother does a slap-bang job at providing it 100% of the time. They don't need the weight of everyone else's opinion about their short-lived sins. God knows we all want less of that! Anyhoo, I know you're not the sort of person who would ever go up to an 8- or 11-year-old with a sing-songy You got in tro-uble. I read it on your mom's blo-og. And if you are that kind of person, Oprah says that when you know better, you do better. Do better. I'm holding you to it.

So no real worries, but to be on the safe side, maybe just pretend I'm writing about my godchildren who live in Bali and have come to stay with me for the decade. 'K?

Btw, I'm not allowed to sing anywhere that is remotely public (i.e. a parking lot or the sidewalk). These children have sing-dar. The second I open my mouth in under-my-breath song, they panic. MOM! Mo-om, STOP! they implore in these hushed stage whispers while looking frantically around. You'd think the Titanic was sinking and there weren't any lifeboats left. You really would.

Have you all heard those mom-lines that go something like this, "But Honey, it's my job to embarrass you" (*wink wink nudge nudge smile elbow poke*)?

These godchildren of mine will take none of it.

All said, I see the light at the end of their tunnels (on some days more than others, true), but I was thankful today when I noticed good choices in the midst of the bad and was able to say how sweetly one was setting boundaries with her sister, taking charge of herself, using self-control.  And when I named what I saw, there was that little head-nod of acknowledgement, the moment of eye contact where despite the rocky morning and rocky afternoon, she knew I saw her and, I daresay, was again convinced I love her.

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