Sunday, December 28, 2008
"Yes," he agreed, "I big."
"But soon you are going to be too big to suck your little thumb."
He pondered this. "I not big," he assured me. "I yittle."
Saturday, December 6, 2008
But anyway...here I am trying to describe something more earthly. Last night, for example, the boys were delighted to have Daddy home from Florida, and were of course smothering him. This meant his eating supper with one boy pressed against each elbow, a process that got progressively more annoying, at least for me, with a kid between our two elbows. And a singing one at that. Skyler was filling the room with joy with the newest addition to his song vocabulary. "Gowy to God, highest!" he crowed. (This to the delight of all of our guests, of course.) "Gowy to God, highest!"
"Skyler," I suggested finally, "why don't you go sing and dance in the living room?"
This idea was evidently very appealing. He scrambled down from his perch and skittered into the living room, where he stood with his back to us. He pondered, bracing himself for the great event. (For all the world he reminded me of Pastor Doug preparing to do his back flip on stage on live camera.) Then he lifted his right foot and did a little leap in the air, during which his left foot also briefly left the floor, coming down immediately after the right one. His hands also flew up in the air in an Irish jig sort of fling.
He spun around, flushed with triumph. The cheers and laughter egged him on (I know, we just can't help it), so he responded eagerly to my request for more "dancing." Again he turned his back, paused in concentration, and did his little leap--right foot, left foot, in less time than it takes to read it. Over and over he "danced" for us, which probably was quite an aerobic workout, considering the effort it took to get those fat little legs off the ground!
It was unbearably hilarious.
"Mommy," she announced, "today is Children's Day." She giggled in glee. "You know what that is? That means that you have to get up and make breakfast for Sethie and me, and bring it to us here in your bed."
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"Well, I guess they probably did." I wondered what on earth that had to do with being condemned to the lions' den.
"Good. Then they could throw that law in the trash can."
Monday, November 24, 2008
Take, for example, the other day when the three kids were in the bathtub. I heard Skyler squealing protests and came in to find Seth pouring water over him. "Hey, quit that!" I ordered. "Say, 'Sorry, Skyler!'"
"Sowy, Skyer," cheerfully repeated...Skyler.
One bear was getting close to the end, but not wanting to waste any honey (bees work hard for every drop of this stuff, right?), I was squeezing out all I could. Well, if you've ever squeezed a nearly-empty honey bear, you know that it makes a telltale noise. One that could sound somewhat impolite.
At first I didn't understand what Skyler was saying when he scurried up to me jabbering. Then I picked up that he got more excited every time I squeezed the bear. "'Scu' me! 'Scu' me!"
I laughed. "No, Skyler, you don't need to say 'excuse me' every time you hear that." I kept squeezing the bear, and Skyler became indignant.
"'Scu' me!" he shouted. "MOMMY 'scu' me!"
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday morning I woke up full of energy and plans. With the house already clean, I had visions of banana nut muffins, fresh pesto and maybe some additional jobs checked off the list. I emptied the dishwasher of clean dishes from the night before's work and started the laundry. Ironing. That's what I needed to get done today, for sure.
At 9:30 school started for Anaya, so she, Aile and Lindsey headed for the office/schoolroom while I busied myself with the two two-year-olds, Seth and Brenner. Skyler and Caelum were napping, so I worked with the boys on their ABCs for a while, continuing laundry duty every few minutes and setting up to do the ironing.
The boys soon decided that dancing around the house shouting was more interesting that ABCs, so I left them to their devices. I eyed the wonderful, yummy spotted bananas on the counter and imagined how wonderful the house was going to smell when Alan got home. The boys started throwing toy food around in the playroom, but I decided I would teach them about responsibility instead of stopping them from making a mess. "Boys, remember you're going to have to clean up whatever mess you make," I warned.
I spent a few minutes on the computer and then started making fresh pesto and whole wheat pasta for lunch. The girls came out of school and wandered into the playroom. "Mommy, did you see what the boys are doing in the playroom?" Anaya called to me.
"Yes, I know. They're going to have to clean it up," I responded.
Then I heard new screams. "No! Stop throwing that at me! Mommy!" Anaya howled. "The boys are throwing dirt at Aile and me!"
This didn't sound good. I raced to the playroom to find dirt...everywhere. The boys had started digging into the huge potted plant in there and had thrown dirt all over the entire playroom--toys, treadmill, carpet and everything. You could hardly see the carpet in some places. "Augh!" I shouted. "Stop!"
The boisterous party ground to a sudden halt (pardon the pun) as the boys looked up at me in wary, although certainly not innocent, surprise. I spanked Seth, sent Brenner to Lindsey and started to pick toys out of the filth. "Seth, get back here," I ordered his retreating little back, "and start picking up puzzle pieces and toys. You're cleaning all of this up!"
The boys came back and halfheartedly picked through the mess, stopping whenever possible to giggle and sling dirt at each other. After several reminders and not a few spanks, they had done all they could do, so Lindsey and I banished them to sit in the living room for time out while we finished up with broom and vacuum.
"Mommy," Seth whimpered, "I t'irsty."
I brought both of the boys their cups, complete with lids and straws, and admonished them again to sit until they were told they could get up. Lindsey and I continued working on the playroom for a few more minutes or so, stopping every little while to race to the kitchen and continue the process of making lunch.
Lindsey was the first to notice the merriment going on in the living room. "Oh, no, you guys! Stop it!" The boys were squeezing their cups and squirting juice through their straws at each other. Both cups were nearly empty.
I snatched the boys from the living room and deposited them at the table. "Lunchtime, boys. Sit here." I plopped plates full of pasta with pesto in front of them, then looked around. "Where's Skyler?"
Hmm. Where indeed? I called and looked, then headed down the hallway. Then I heard a telltale giggle. Opening the door to the office, I found Skyler on the floor having a teething tablet party. He was scooping them into his mouth in glee. Augh! Well, no harm, other than to the teething tablet population--they're only sugar tablets with a homeopathic remedy that somehow eases teething pain. I groaned, scooped him up and headed for the dining room. Now we had another floor to clean. Returning to the kitchen, I made a mental note to sweep the laundry room too--apparently Seth and Brenner had carried handfuls of dirt in there during their dirt fight. The boys were now elbow-deep in pesto and covered with mess.
And so it went. By the end of the day, I did have three sweet, clean, pajama-clad children ready when Daddy came home. I even got the laundry folded! (Though it still hasn't been put away.) So much for ironing and banana nut muffins. Maybe tonight...
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
"It's on your bed," I reminded him. "Just go and get it."
"No." He had a better idea. "You go get it."
Now, I'm no rocket scientist, but I can recognize a bad deal. "Sorry, Bud, get it yourself if you want it."
Seth muttered and grumbled, but didn't budge. A few minutes later, Anaya triumphantly marched in with it. "Here's your Sippy, Sethie," she practically curtsied. "Now don't you feel happy? Wasn't I being nice?"
"That was very nice of you," I responded, surprised at such angelic tendencies.
They were not altogether without ulterior motive. "Well, Sethie," she settled into the chair beside him, "now do you want to marry me?"
But in the midst of our sadness at death, our children remind us of the bursting joys of life. Today, they briefly sobered at seeing Mommy and Daddy crying. But they gave "nuggles" and moved on quickly, romping through the day as we dealt with the blur of arrangements. Children are such a blessing! They filled the day with stories and songs.
This evening, after hours of intensity, Alan and I were drained. We decided to take a walk to the nearby playground for the kids to get a little sunshine and fresh air. Anaya was munching on an apple on the way, and complaining about a tooth hurting. "Can I go to the dentist to get it fixed?" she asked in excitement. Then she spotted a smudge of blood on her apple. "Look, Mommy!"
I examined her tooth. "It looks like your tooth is getting loose. Did you know that all of the little teeth in your mouth are going to fall out, and you will get new, big ones that you get to keep forever?" I asked.
I was prepared for an outburst of emotion at this. "Losing baby teeth can be unsettling and painful for young children," my sage Internet doctor had warned. "Suggestions for parents include: Reassure your child that losing baby teeth is a natural process and new adult teeth will come in their place...."
Dr. Internet didn't know my daughter. Anaya nearly leaped out of her skin at the thrill. "You mean I will get NEW teeth?! These teeth are going to fall OUT?" Such news was too good to keep secret. "You know WHAT?" Anaya shouted to a passing jogger. "I'm going to get new, BIG teeth! These little ones are falling out!"
What the poor lady thought, I'll never know. But Anaya was so excited I heard her exclaiming to herself on the way home. I caught a few words here and there. "...And I will get to keep them for-EVER!" etc.
We stopped to chat to our friend Stephanie Holtry on the way. "You know what?" Anaya shouted as soon as she saw her. (No, "Hello, how are you?") "I need to tell you something! I'm getting new TEETH! These little teeth are falling out!"
It was the same with the new neighbors that are moving in next door. "Can I tell you something?" she pleaded, bounding from one foot to the other. "I'm getting NEW teeth! Big, GROWN-up teeth!"
So in the midst of a day that reminds us of our mortality, it's good to have reminders of other things. Life is full of growth and change; little teeth die. But when you have hope, grief is all different.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
But anyway, I was very pleased with the fruits of my training yesterday. Skyler let out a little--ahem--toot--and looked up at me cheerfully. "'Cu' me!" he squealed.
"Yay!" I applauded him, mentally patting myself on the back for doing such a good job of culturing my littlest follower. "You said excuse me!"
Skyler trotted away, his little round face alight. "Rrrrrt," he growled in the lowest voice he could muster. "'Cu' me! Rrrrt! 'Cu' me!"
Monday, October 20, 2008
Which is probably why he's adopted a new name for Daddy. (No, it's not Mommy anymore.) Apparently he has noticed that the biggest people who come around our house (a.k.a. college students) have another name for Daddy: Dr. Parker. And since Skyler wants to be the biggest boy around, it follows naturally that he decided to address Daddy by this new, "big boy" name.
He is not deterred by the howls of laughter that this provokes in his parents, who are still somehow unable to hold back the giggles at his self-importance. Or the gentle corrections, that this is "Daddy."
This morning I put on a worship video for the kids while I was having my own devotional time. Skyler, however, had determined that the only video he wanted to watch was about bugs. "Buds!" he pleaded repeatedly.
"No, Skyler, it's worship time now. It will be bug time later," I kept replying firmly. Eventually he was reaching hysteria, so I warned him he was going to have to go back to bed if he didn't stop crying.
Suddenly he decided to invoke a higher authority. He sobered and looked me in the eye. "I want see Paka."
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Yesterday, in absence of my participation, I overheard Skyler affirming his own abilities, creating his own little marvel-fest.
SCREECH! This was followed by a murmur of self-approval. "Wow, dat wuv youd!" ["Wow, that was loud"--I recognized it instantly as a quotation from me, and nearly howled with laughter myself.]
SCREECH! "Wow, dat wuv youd!"
He entertained himself like this for quite a while.
Sethie thought it sounded like fun too. "Mommy, I go porch to wead too?" he requested.
I poked my head out the door. "Anaya, Sethie wants to come out on the porch and be with you."
"No, Mommy, I want to be by myself. He might disturve me."
"But Anaya, you know what the Bible says," I reminded her, "you should love your brother as you love yourself, and do things to make him happy."
She didn't even pause to ponder. "I didn't read that verse yet!"
Despite my sympathies with her desire for a few moments alone, I did let Seth come out on the porch. (Amid wails of, "He might dis-turve me, Mommy!") Within a couple of minutes I heard shouts of a different sort. "Mommy, look what we found! A roly-poly!" Joy and gladness were restored all around.
At least, for everyone except the poor roly-poly bug.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Then today, out of the blue, Seth made a somber comment. "I don't want my body to be burned."
Sunday, October 12, 2008
"No," he responded cheerfully.
"Are you sure? Skyler, is it you?"
It was not Skyler. "Sethie, you need to tell me the truth. You won't get a spank for poopy, but you will for telling lies. Did you make poopy in your Pull-Up?"
"No..." The assertion was a little softer now.
"Let me see." I started unzipping his little sleeper. "Tell Mommy the truth. Did you make guckies in your Pull-Up?"
The answer was faint this time. "Sowy."
As I hauled him off to the bedroom to change him, he had a change of mind instead. "Mommy," he explained solemnly, "Skyer did it."
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Apparently Seth absorbed more information than I knew. At least, more than I knew until today when he commented to me, with a little question in his voice, "My hair not going to fall out."
Today at naptime I read Sethie a few stories, then told him, "Okay, Buddy, naptime. Hop into bed."
He leaped toward his bed with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. "Hop!" he shouted.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Getting a whiff of him, I made my own exclamations, and set off to remedy the situation. While I was changing his diaper, however, he had another revelation. Grabbing the closest thing that looked like a toy, he slipped it on. "Hat!" he pronounced joyously.
(At least it was the clean diaper.)
In the meantime, Anaya wandered into the room and found the trash can Skyler had abandoned. "Oh, look! A hat!"
(And in case you might be familiar with African pot holders, yes, that is one in her hand, which she had temporarily transformed into a shepherd's rod.)
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
"Dose not cows. Dey horses," he chortled.
Skyler's linguistic skills are taking off too, amusing us in other ways. Tonight, Skyler surprised us all by sashaying up to Saralyn (our lifesaving babysitter, who the kids adore) and calling her by name.
"He knows my name!" Saralyn gasped.
"What's her name, Skyler?" I asked, pointing to Saralyn.
This was greeted with cheers on all sides, from Daddy, me, Saralyn and her sister Karie. (Skyler was more delighted than anyone else, particularly at the unexpected shower of praise.) "Finally!" Saralyn laughed. "I'm not 'Daddy' anymore!"
Sethie rushed over to investigate what all the cheering was about. "Sethie," I prompted, "what's her name?" I pointed to Saralyn.
A naughty grin crept across his little face. "Daddy."
"Ooooh," he breathed. "Dey drowning."
Sunday, October 5, 2008
"I don't believe in pretend friends," Sarah countered. "I used to have them when I was little, but I don't anymore."
"I don't need them when people are around," Anaya replied. "But when there are no people, THEN I need them."
Friday, October 3, 2008
"Are you sure you want to have one now?" I asked. "That's pretty fast."
She was certain. Full of glee, she stuffed Seth's doll up her shirt and strutted around the house for a while. "Mommy, how many days did you have the baby in your tummy before it came out?" she asked.
"Hmm. Okay." Her nine months flew, because a few minutes later I heard some grunting and groaning in the other room, followed by a triumphant cry. Anaya dashed to me, a doll wrapped in a blanket in her arms. "Isn't she BYOO-tiful?"
Thursday, October 2, 2008
"When I get big, I'm going to marry Sethie," Anaya declared.
"You can't," Aile countered, "because I wanted to marry Brenner, but my mommy told me you can't marry anybody in your family."
"I don't care. I'm going to marry Sethie anyway."
"You can't!" Aile was not impressed with Anaya's willingness to defy what Mommy said. "You can't marry anybody in your family!"
At this point I affirmed that Aile's mommy's assessment was accurate. "No, Anaya, you really can't marry anyone in your family."
"You'll see," Anaya assured us. "I WILL marry Sethie."
Last night I heard some murmured conversation in the living room. Words like "wedding" and "marry" were featuring prominently, so I slipped in to listen better.
"Mommy," Anaya greeted me, "when Sethie is this many years old--" she held up all ten of her fingers, splayed enthusiastically, "THEN I will take him to the church and show him where we will marry!"
"We mawwy!" Seth burst in, on board with Anaya's plan, for once.
Hey, who am I to argue? I'm really not thinking this is going to be a problem five years from now. I'll be happy if they just want to stay in the same house when she's ten.
This morning when Anaya was howling about how Sethie wanted to get under her blankie, I figured out that this could even be useful.
"Mommy, make Sethie get out from under my blankie! That's where I want to be!"
"If you are going to marry him," I pointed out brilliantly, "you're going to have to share everything with him. You'd better start practicing."
"I don't want to share everything! Give me that, Sethie!" she yanked on her blankie.
"Be careful," I cautioned. "If you aren't nice to him, he's not going to want to marry you."
"I don't care," grumbled my little lovebird. "I'll marry him anyway."
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Have you ever Googled "Harriet Tubman birthday party"? (I would guess not.) You don't come up with anything useful, I can tell you. (Here's a little trivia: did you know that Harriet Tubman didn't even know when her birthday was?) So I was a little stumped at first as to what to do. I mean, I'm thrilled that Anaya has such a great heroine. I just don't know how to party about slavery.
Then common sense caught up with me. How hard can it be to make slave food? (Cheap, too!) I discovered with very little research that blackeyed peas, collard greens and sweet potatoes featured prominently. So, off we went to the store to get the required foods. I substituted kale for collards, since my kids love kale already (and aren't crazy about sweet potatoes, either). We also had some leftover lentil soup from making lunch for about 15 girls that day. Anaya really wanted a coconut cake (ironic--a white cake for a slave party).
Well, the cake was the first thing to tackle. With a burst of inspiration, I added a handful of chocolate chips and explained to Anaya that this symbolized blacks and whites uniting. Naturally, it all had to be covered with a layer of pink Cool Whip, anyway, but at least I knew what was underneath. A sheet of Diego faces from the cake decorating section of the store (if you don't know who Diego is, he looks like a pretty good slave) and five pink candles completed the cake.
You can see we had a pink tablecloth and pink flowered plates (Sorry, there aren't a lot of slave-themed paper plates out there. Harriet Tubman must have liked flowers, right? She spent so much time sneaking through nature), with pink napkins. We all feasted on sweet potatoes and blackeyed peas (and bread with spreads--not authentic, oh well). Since I had read that slaves sometimes weren't even given salt, I toyed with the idea of not salting the blackeyed peas until after the kids had tasted them. But at this age, the first taste decides everything, so never mind authenticity. We watched Anaya's Harriet Tubman DVD during supper.
Then it was time for the Harriet Tubman game. Never played it? Easy. Blindfold some slave owners (our faithful daddies, Michael Hasel and Alan), put little toys (in our case, plastic game pieces) in several different rooms, and send screaming children to fetch the "slaves" in different rooms and bring them to the safe haven of the dining room table (a.k.a. Pennsylvania). This must be done without being caught by the slave owners, who will summarily dump said children into the "jail" in the living room to await being delivered by other children.
You can imagine it was a success. Actually, you could call it a screaming success.
Friday, September 26, 2008
"Do you know what?" she announced the moment we walked through the doors. (No hi, how are you, my name is Anaya...) "Mommy is giving me CRANberries. That's because, the night before today, I had OWIES in my BOTTOM." She pranced past the line of giggling people. "Do you know, I am still wearing my pa-JA-mas?"
I ushered her pointedly into the bathroom to get dressed for her picture, and suggested a few things that it might be better not to tell everyone out there about. No problem! She dashed back out the door and continued unabated. "Want to see how fast I can run if I'm in a race?" She darted back and forth. "Want to see how fast I can run if someone is chasing me?" (Sethie obliged.) "NOW you can see how fast I can run--"
"Let's put on your shoes," I interrupted, looking for a way to halt the performance.
She flounced toward me. "Mommy," she responded proudly, "wasn't that a good presen-TA-tion?"
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Not so. Today she sat down beside me, looked at the mermaid picture, and asked, "Mommy, how does she go potty?"
Potty training is in full force now. (Seth had only two accidents today!) I guess that is what makes the potty topic so hot. Anaya also found it necessary to ask me today, "Mommy, does everything in the world go potty? Do trains go potty?"
(You may be able to guess my answer to that one. But for those who wonder how to answer the mermaid one, I told her she takes off that ridiculous costume and goes just like the rest of us.)
"Really, Sethie? Where are we?" I was puzzled.
He waited for a few moments until we turned the corner onto our street, then announced joyfully, "We here!"
Thursday, September 11, 2008
"Alas! what should we do?" I gasped appropriately. "Quick, quick! Do something!"
"Don't worry, I'm a firefighter," she assured me. "I'll go spray the fire with water!" She sped to the playroom to make good on her promise, leaving just as Seth flew into the kitchen, shouting, "Fire, fire!"
"Oh dear! Should you run grab your toys?" I asked, wide-eyed in mock terror. "What should we save?"
Seth wrapped his arms around my leg. "I'll save YOU."
Anaya bounded ahead, leaned all of her slight body against the glass door and managed to open it and hold it open while I pushed the boys through.
"Wow, Mommy, it's a good thing you have me, isn't it?" she remarked as the door closed. "You wouldn't have had anyone to be a helper with all of these jobs if you didn't have me."
"Yes, of course," I responded. "Good thing I have you!"
She grinned. "I guess that's why God sent me to you."
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
"Well, that's good. Bread and almond butter will make you healthy and strong," I encouraged, "like Daniel. Do you want to be like Daniel?"
I was surprised at his answer. "No way!"
"What do you mean?" I thought he must have misunderstood. "Why don't you want to be like Daniel?"
"I don't wan' be like Daniel," Seth repeated, stretching his arms up in the air like the picture of Daniel in the bottom of the lions' den in our Daniel storybook. "He couldn't get out!"
One day I caught him with two of them stuck to one another, apparently (from the sounds he was making) fighting. “No, Sethie, this is how you can play with them,” I explained. I zoomed one through the air and crashed it on the floor. “Ow! Owie!” I howled. The other bug came along and kissed the owies. “See, Sethie? Won’t it be fun to play with them that way?”
“No.” He reclaimed his bugs, stuck them back together and cheerfully started the fight again.
“Are you VERY sick?”
“Then you can die! Here is how you die.” Anaya dashed a short distance and laid down on the carpet.
Sethie was not necessarily enchanted with the thought of pretending to die. But now that his sister was on the floor, he thought of something he WOULD enjoy. He grabbed a doll stroller and raced toward Anaya with a gleam in his eye.
“See, Sethie? This is how you die. Sethie! Hey, no!”
Anaya has a favorite song that keeps cropping up lately. “Let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start, when we read we begin with ABC.”
But that’s where it ends. And begins again. At the beginning. “Let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start, when we read we begin with ABC. Let’s start at the very beginning…”
Let’s just say, I can relate to the guy who came pounding down the stairs.
“Well, you’re not quite ready yet. You need to…” I paused to figure out what to cover, “know how to work and clean the house.”
“I know how to work! Please let me be a mother. You go back to bed.”
This was a bit of a laugh for us, but I let her pour cereal and milk for her brothers (and help wipe up the milk that spilled). Then I noticed a familiar smell. “Sethie, do you have a pee-yew diaper?”
A quick assessment showed I was correct. “So, do you still want to be a mother, Anaya?”
A new look crossed the face of our budding mother. “Uh…okay.”
I got everything ready, then handed Anaya a wipe and had another good laugh at the uncertain look on her face. She took one tentative swipe at his backside, then handed me the wipe with a new confidence on her face. “I think we will be two mothers,” she announced.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“YOU will be the mother who changes diapers.”
Sunday, September 7, 2008
"No," I answered over and over. "You have little germs in your mouths, and if you use each other's toothbrushes, you will get the germs from each other."
My budding lawyer found the ultimate good reason for trading toothbrushes. "But Mommy," she pointed out, "if we got each other's germs, that would be sharing."
Friday, September 5, 2008
I decided it was time for another little talk. (As you can tell, this is not the first.) I went in her room and sat down on the floor with her. "Anaya," I began, "When Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden, who gave them work?"
She sighed. "Jesus."
"And why did He give them work to do?"
"So they could have money to buy food to eat."
(That, of course, was followed shortly by, "Mommy, don't laugh at me!")
After a little more discourse on the value of self-discipline, learning to use our time wisely, and how work helps us to learn to be like Jesus (you can tell I'm going to be the lecturing kind of parent), I warned, "Now, I'm still going to have to spank you for your attitude. First, though, let's pray. Are you ready to pray?"
Anaya nodded. "Dear Jesus," she began, "Please help Mommy to understand that when she spanks me, it hurts my feelings. It hurts me even more than when she says things loudly to me! Help her to know how MUCH it hurts my feelings..."
Have I mentioned lately how much fun I get out of parenting?
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Never mind that he knows I'm Mommy, and has called me that for months now. (I guess this is similar to when Anaya, after calling Alan "Daddy" for about a year, suddenly switched to calling him "Gacky.") "Doddy" I am, for the foreseeable future.
There's something else I never saw myself becoming. A stay-at-home dad.
Then I gave him a haircut. At first he succumbed to the process with little protest, but after twenty minutes he wanted to get moving again. "But Sethie, you're such a big boy. You can sit still a little longer," I coaxed.
"I not big boy," he grumbled. "I yittle."
Monday, September 1, 2008
Don't get me wrong--I know this is God's calling for me right now. I am happy as a mom, and honestly, if I weren't at home with my kids, I would be wishing I could be. It's a great life, and I'm not complaining. I know I have it better than almost anybody else in the whole world.
I'm just saying, I wasn't cut out for this. Not like my friends who have spent their lives gushing about how they longed to be mommies, who were already picking their children's names in grade school. I mean, not that I DIDN'T want kids. Cherub-cheeked, laughing-eyed, hope-of-our-future, kids. They're wonderful little creatures, no doubt. And I had nothing against them. I even enjoyed them, sometimes. And I sort of figured that someday, if I ever got around to getting married, kids would probably come along naturally. If they didn't, no biggie. I hadn't really put much thought into it, honestly.
I just had so many things I wanted to do! Like Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life, I knew "What I'm going to do today, and tomorrow, and for the rest of my life..." I was going to live on the edge. Work with the homeless, travel as a missionary to dangerous foreign lands where most people couldn't make it, live with nothing but a pack on my back and a song in my heart--those were the things that were right down my alley! I even slept without a pillow sometimes in college, because I couldn't bear thinking of all the people out there who didn't have all the comforts I did. I figured I probably wouldn't get married because I would likely die young, or at least, I wouldn't want to risk leaving a husband and possibly children alone, if something happened to me. You know, just knowing they were out there would hold me back from the challenges I knew I was called to face.
During my senior year of college, I found my "niche," the challenge that fit me exactly. Juan, Elias, Elisabeth, Gabriel, Moraima, Ruth, Raquel...the terrific kids in my Conquistadores group (I was their Pathfinder chaplain when I worked as a Bible worker for their church in St. Croix) took it all out of me, and filled me up again. Now I knew what I was going to do with my life--work with teenagers and young adults, kids like me. They had problems, but they wanted to follow God and let Him make whatever He could of their lives. Oh, it was a little bit disappointing, not having all the danger and adventure I had expected--but it was so fulfilling I got over it quickly. I knew this was my lifelong calling.
I launched into ministry by becoming a summer colporteur leader. Summers found me helping lead teams of students around neighborhoods selling Christian books. I loved the kids. I loved plunging into the day, pitting myself against whatever challenged me during the day (no sissy cell phones to call my program head in case anything went wrong in those days!). I loved how it was just God and me, full of holy boldness and the Spirit, saying and doing things I never dreamed I could do. I loved the exhilarating, exhausted end-of-the-day crash, feeling totally wrung out for God. Most of all, watching the students be transformed by sharing the Gospel with others was just addictive.
Soon I found myself working in a brand-new, experimental college called George King Institute. It was a college program built around involving students in personal evangelism, learning to think through what they believed, and sharing their faith with others. Right away I knew I was home. I had found the next level of my calling. We went through all kinds of challenges in our school--believe me, that could be a book all by itself!--but I was a woman possessed. I had found my fire, and I couldn't feed it enough. Educating, shaping young minds, drawing hearts close to my own and helping them become who they needed to be. What an awesome life!
For four wonderful years, I deaned in the college and learned with the students. The school became my home, and the students my family. Even on the worst days, I woke up feeling like I couldn't wait to start work. I remember the distinct, exhilarating sense that I was doing what I was born to do. This was life at its richest! I knew I was one of the ten happiest people in the world.
When I met Alan, honestly, I wasn't sure that I wanted to bother with getting involved. As I wrote in my journal, I wasn't sure if I wanted to "dare to disrupt my little paradise." In time, though, I found something that fit me just as surely as my school: my husband. But while on our honeymoon, I received an email shattering my dream world: my school no longer existed. I had grasped one lifelong dream, only to lose the other.
There were times I was pretty weepy that year. (Poor Alan!) Not because of marriage--it was a taste of heaven on earth. But I felt like I had been a foster parent, and suddenly my house burned down and all of my children were taken away and put in other homes. Actually, it was easier when we lived in Africa, and I simply had an alternate world. Once we returned to America, the full force of my loss hit me--I really, truly had no school. What would I do with my life now? I remember our first weekend back in America, when we sat down in a Sabbath School and everyone was going around the room introducing themselves and saying what they did. When it was my turn, I told them my name, and then paused. I was no one. What could I say? "I, um, used to be a teacher," I mumbled, and blinked back sudden, hot tears.
I started teaching at Weimar Academy, but my heart was still in an evangelistic college. Within a few months, we found out what was next. I was pregnant! I finished the year teaching and launched into my new career--motherhood. Hey, I figured, I loved facing whatever flew at me so far in life, and coming out the other side stronger and better. What can be so tough about parenting? I was a little troubled by the fact that I couldn't imagine myself as JUST a parent. Oh, I could imagine myself, baby pack on my back, doing all the things we did already. But how would my life change when the baby wasn't on my back anymore?
We added baby to life and tried to keep going just like we had before. Anaya flew on 40 airplanes her first year of life, 39 her second. And somewhere along there, about the time I had Seth, it struck me. All those people who warned me, "Your life will never be the same"--they were right.
As most of you know, Seth was only a few months old when we found out Skyler was also coming to further bless our house. (This is another mystery of life, how some people spend their lives longing for a baby but can't have one, while others, like me, get pregnant by walking past the diaper aisle in the grocery store. Okay, almost.) Suddenly I realized that this was not getting easier. Now I wasn't just going to have my hands full--I was going to have more kids than hands.
How hard could this be? Hey, I loved challenges! Sleep deprivation? Been there, done that--I used to suck ice during colporteur afternoons to keep myself alert at the wheel, I was so tired! And if I could keep 18 teenagers organized on a Friday cleanup, surely I could handle a couple of little kids whizzing around a house (and they had to nap, anyway, right?). I thought I could handle such simple things. I was the person who loved challenges.
I was wrong.
I was not cut out for this.
I could handle police chasing me out of towns, screaming, sobbing students, culture shock, sleeping on hard floors, being covered with mosquito bites, eating with my hands off of banana leaves. I could handle severe, debilitating pain, and working with controlling, manipulative co-leaders. Sullen teenagers? They intrigued me. I loved challenges.
I was not prepared for planning my life around naptimes.
I was not prepared for facing continual failure--working all day long toward a clean, organized house and obedient children, but at the end of the day, facing a disaster wherever my eyes rest, and disobedient children to boot.
I was not prepared for never being able to sit down and read--ANYTHING--without a continual stream of, "Mommy? Can you...? Mommy? Can I...?"
I was not prepared for wrestling with the hard questions I had never thought about. Like, if you think your kid has lied, but you're not sure, do you punish them, or risk launching them into a pattern of lying that will take you years to purge out of their system? Should I spank, then hug, or hug, then spank? What if my kid wants to hug me the whole time they are in time out--is that rewarding disobedience, or showing that punishment is loving?
I only thought I liked challenges. What I really liked was CONQUERING challenges. I loved reaching the top of the cliff and looking down on what I had climbed. I loved the thrill of pitting myself against a day and coming out victorious. But this continual, grinding facing of myself, my weaknesses, my insecurities? Not so much.
I was not cut out for this.
But the great thing is, God cut this out for me. He ordained that I face myself, find out who I am, and in the process, learn to love like I have never loved before.
This weekend, feeling a little suffocated, I took a little time out to go away for a walk and pray. Alan was playing with the kids in the yard, but they saw me walking away. "Mommy!" went up the unanimous squeal, and everyone dashed to me, to hang on my legs and make me feel like screaming. I hugged them all, disentangled myself and ordered them to go to Daddy. Relief mingled with wistfulness as I watched them bound up the hill toward him. I could hardly tear my eyes away from their sweet little figures! Such stifling responsibility. Such intoxicating love.
Why do I write all of this? (LOL...I'm not sure!) I guess I wonder what people think of me sometimes. I hang around with all of these awesome college students, and I hear about their dreams and goals. They feel so confident of what they want to do, who they want to marry, who they are. And I think, well, that's a good thing. I loved that feeling. "I know what I'm going to do today, and tomorrow, and for the rest of my life..." But life's road has bends that you can never imagine, and here I am, on a totally different page than I ever dreamed I'd be--a boring, stay-at-home, homeschooling mom (school starts tomorrow for Anaya), days plotted out carefully in order to get meals cooked, laundry done, groceries bought, bills paid, children disciplined, floors swept, and manners taught. I sit down in the doctor's office and choose Parenting magazine out of the stack--who could have imagined? It just wasn't me. But I can't say it isn't me now. I'm starting to settle into being a different person than I used to be. I don't want to climb mountains, sleep on the street with the homeless, or raft dangerous rivers, because my kids might think that that's a good idea, and it's not, because they could get hurt, or die...
My paradigm is just so different, sometimes I look in the mirror and can't believe I'm me.
But in some ways, maybe I like the new me better.
And what about the old, adventurous me? The one who has a vision and a passion for a school? The one who felt she would just die if she couldn't make it happen?
Well...let's just say that some things never change. And I'm learning that dreams shatter, but visions bend.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
"Where?" I asked suspiciously. We DID have a mouse not long ago, but he has gone the way of all the earth, and I am hoping none of his cousins have come to inherit his estate. So I asked the obvious question. "What color was it?"
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
"Someday," Anaya responded, "I will be preaching instead of you!"
Monday, August 25, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
"What's wrong with having your brother in your room?"
"I want to talk to myself. Can you please make him go away?"
We talked through the options, what Jesus would do if His little brother wanted to be in the room, how she could make the choice to be happy, and why Skyler wanted to be with her. But she was adamant. "I really don't want him in my room. Would you please take him out?"
"Okay," I sighed. "Skyler, you can come watch a video."
"Wait!" Anaya squealed. "I want to watch a video!"
"If you want to watch a video, you still have to clean the playroom," I pointed out.
Anaya marched in and surveyed the disaster. "I don't wanna clean the playroom..." she began.
"That's complaining," I reminded her. "Let's look at the chart and see what the consequence is for complaining." Since she can't read, I pointed to it. "What is the consequence here?"
"I can't...remember," lied my little trooper.
"Bad idea," I said. "Here's the consequence for lying: a spank and a time out. Now, are you going to tell me that you don't remember? This is your last chance."
Anaya muttered and grumbled through the discipline session, and would never come out and tell the truth. In the end she got a spank and three time outs (12 minutes total). So I took her to her room. "You'll have to stay here for 12 minutes, until the timer goes off," I stated.
The punishment was too great to be borne, apparently. "I want Skyler with me!"
Sunday, August 17, 2008
"I want a Good Samaritan birthday party," she informed us yesterday. "Can you make a cake with a picture of the nice man on it, and then a button, so we can push it and change the picture?"
"No," I answered this child of the digital age, "I don't know how to do that."
"Well," she conceded, "Then you can just make it with the dead man on it."
2. "Please don't step on your brother!"
3. "I'm sorry you made that bad choice. Do you remember what the consequence is for that? Let's go look at the chart."
4. "We don't whine in this family."
5. "Well, Daddy's not here, and you're not going to get him here by howling for him."
6. "It's not time to eat now. Too bad you didn't eat more when it was time to eat."
7. "Mommy needs a kissie. Oh, thank you! That was so sweet!" (wiping slobber from cheek or mouth)
8. "No, you can't watch another video. Too many videos turn your little brain into potato soup."
9. "Rowwwr! I'm gonna get you! I'm gonna tickle your sweet tummy! Run for your little life!"
10. "Wow, you're such a big helper! With so many helpers, I wonder why I don't get more done!"
Friday, August 15, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
"Do you want to marry me?" she asked.
"Yets!" came the gallant declaration.
"Are you in love with me?"
"Yets!...Oh, look! There yi-on! Aaah!" And Seth's boy was off to fight the lion, leaving his plucky fiancee to fend for herself.
However, he dutifully came back to "give her love" later, upon request.
This may not be the end of the story. "Sethie, you want to make them marry?"
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
"Daddy has to work," I explained. "You're fine and not even bleeding anymore now."
"Mommy," Anaya gulped, "go get Grandma."
"Anaya, remember how long it took us to drive to Grandma's house? Let's call her instead."
"No, you go get her and come back. I can stay here and watch Sethie. Please, go get Grandma. I need her!"
Monday, August 11, 2008
"I want a Samantha dolly, like the one I saw in the pictures."
"Those are expensive dollies, Anaya, and I'm not paying that kind of money for a doll. Forget it." (Like I'd let her play with a hundred-dollar doll even if we had one.)
"But I want one!"
"Get a job."
"But Daddy could work harder. And then he could get the money to buy one!"
"Daddy's not working any harder."
"But I want a dolly!"
"Too bad." (You're getting the idea now of what a hard-hearted mother I am.) "Daddy can't work any harder, and if he could, we wouldn't waste the money on a doll."
"Well, I have an idea," my little entrepreneur continued. "YOU can get a job! Then you can work. You can do something that nobody ELSE can do," and more pointedly, "something that I can't do. Then YOU can get the money to buy me a doll."
"Sorry, Anaya. You will have to get a job, work and pay all of your money to buy the doll."
She sighed. "But I don't like to work."
"Skyler's picking flowers in your garden!" (not many, fortunately)
"The boys are playing in the big potty with their hands!"
"Why does the sand have to stay in the sandbox? You can buy more."
"Can I eat more flour?" (This right after I saw the white-bearded little chins)
"I love cutting out pictures!"
"Skyler's picking up the dead fly!" (This while I was on my way to get something with which to play the mortician more graciously.) (And incidentally, he was only trying to help--he threw the little body at the trash can.)
The worms have come out this week for Seth's potty training rewards, and he has been obediently holding each tiny morsel of earthworm segment in his hand until he earned the reward. However, today he was not quite as patient. "Wook, Mommy!" he crowed, licking his worm morsel.
"Don't eat it yet, Sethie," I warned. "Wait until you go pee-pee."
Soon I was summoned by an alarmed wail. "Mommy, 'e wun away!"
"Who ran away?" I surmised the truth quickly. "Did you eat your worm?"
"No, I not eat it," he assured me, pointing down his throat, "but 'e wun away."
"Seth, you weren't supposed to eat it yet," I scolded.
"I not eat it! 'e wun away!"
The false accusation was apparently too much for his tender heart. Hours later after his nap, when I came to get him out of his bed, he greeted me with a fresh declaration of his innocence. "I not eat it!" he asserted again. "He wun away down my froat."
Anaya asked me a puzzling question yesterday. "Mommy, did our worms have a miracle?"
"What worms? What miracle?" (You gotta start somewhere.)
"Well, you know the worms you've been giving Sethie for going pee-pee."
"Yes, I know those worms."
"Well, they used to be froggies!"
"Really? What a tragedy."
"Oh, Mommy! My legs are broken! I need med'cine."
"Hmm. If your legs are broken, how can you run?"
"It's just the way my legs are. They're broken! I need med'cine!" She lowered her voice to a more conspiratorial tone. "Pretend the grapes are med'cine."
I handed her a bowl of sliced grapes Skyler had rejected. "Here, sit down and take this medicine."
"I will take it with me." Anaya scooped the bowl into her doll stroller, then switched into movie director whisper again. "Tell me to take all of it right away."
"Take all of it right away!" I ordered, and she dashed off to her room.
Another emergency arrived promptly. "Mommy! My yeg b'oken! Need med'cin." Not very much, apparently, because he flew off behind his sister to see what was next in the script.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
"Mommy, can I watch a video?" Anaya asked me this afternoon.
"Well, maybe, if the living room and playroom all get cleaned up."
Anaya lugged an armload of toys from the living room to the playroom. "Good start," I encouraged. "Now how about cleaning the playroom? I can help you."
Anaya meditated on the problem briefly, then returned to the living room. "I'm sooooo tired," she breathed, slumping down on the couch. (I swear, this bears no resemblance to me.)
"Too bad for you. You're obviously too tired to watch anything."
Anaya returned shortly, still evidently in fragile health. "I'd better be careful," she warned delicately. "I might lose my VOICE."
Anaya FINALLY cleaned the playroom just now (amid the steady reminders that she wouldn't be able to watch "Joseph" until it was clean). "Mommy, come see! I cleaned the playroom!" Sure enough, the floor was clear.
"It didn't take very long!" she rattled on, amazed at her own productivity. "I thought it would be NIGHT when I finished."
"No!" he answers glibly.
"Are diapers for big boys, or for babies?"
"Are you a big boy?"
"Then do you want to wear diapers?"
Pause, then giggle. "Yets!"
Yesterday we had a long day of, "Sethie, do you want to go potty?" "Sethie, how about sitting on the potty?" All such suggestions were met with varying versions of, "No, don't want go pot-tee now."
Until bedtime. Suddenly as I was carrying him to bed, he wailed, "Mommy, I wan' go pot-tee now!"
Which is what he wailed for the next half an hour. "I wan' go pot-tee!"
And no. No way. I am NOT going to let him get out of bed so I can sit on the floor by the potty for an hour, reading him stories.
Because I already tried that last month. And it didn't work anyway. I may look dumb, but I only fall for something once.
And by the way, aren't those cute pink butterfly wings on his back?
Skyler, on the other hand, is a much more enthusiastic potty patron.
Okay, I'll save you the trouble of counting that up. It was at least 81 hours of long-distance driving (3-12 hours at a time), plus all the in-between airport runs, etc. as well as two full days of flying.
If you have never flown or driven long-distance with three kids under the age of five, there is no conceivable way you can understand what that means. I won't even try to explain--the shrieks, the dirty diapers, the backaches from turning around to hand back toys and snacks, the nausea from going around corners when you're turned around...all that and so much more. Yeah, I won't even try to explain it.
But if you shrug and say, "So what's her big deal?" all I can say is, I hope you get the privilege someday. Take a videocamera, so you can send me a video and I can laugh my head off and say, "I'm so glad it's not me!" Because it never, ever will be me again. No way.
But here we are, home again. The kids are putting their toys away, we are having regular worships again, everyone under 5 is in bed by 8 every night, and when anyone needs a time out, I can put them in their rooms. When the kids have runny noses, I don't have to worry about who they're going to smear with germs, or how many people are frowning at them wearing dirty shirts, or having dirty faces, or messing up clean houses. Or frowning at ME when I give a time out, harrumphing, "You know, when I was a kid, I got spanked for doing things like that!" (Does it do any good to say, "Spanking actually makes this particular kid rebellious, and time out calms him down so he repents more quickly"?) I can do laundry in my own washing machine, whenever I have wet or smelly things, or just want an outfit again. I can feed the kids whole grains, lots of veggies and fresh fruit smoothies instead of chips and Goldfish crackers, and we haven't eaten store-bought bread in a week! We can play in the sprinkler without me wondering how we'll get those clothes dry before we leave. I'm not evaluating everything we eat to try to hide the most road-worthy snacks for later. Best of all, everyone's starting to sleep through the night again (hallelujah!), so I'm not worn out, and I am usually getting in my 8 hours too. This morning Seth got me up at 5:45, but since I'd already had 7 hours of sleep, I just got up and read the Bible for an hour. What a great way to spend a life, after being homeless for so long. I have so much to be thankful for. I even weeded the garden yesterday. What a luxury. And can you believe it, we have a babysitter we can trust (thanks a million, Kristin!), so Alan and I actually went out to lunch yesterday to finally celebrate our 7-year wedding anniversary! (Which, btw, was June 24, but we haven't had a break until now.)
Once again, if you don't have kids, I can't explain. And if you're rolling your eyes, I hope you have triplets someday.
I have to borrow something Anaya told Kristin the other day (Kristin is a wonderful student staying at our house until she leaves to go to Chad as a student missionary). Anaya asked Kristin what her computer case was. "It's a case to protect my computer. That way if it gets dropped, or if I take it somewhere, it will be safe, and it won't get broken," Kristin explained.
"You know that's kind of like people," Anaya answered. "When they drop their love, they get all filled up with sin."
Okay, so I'm not saying she's mastered abstract thinking. But I thought it was pretty sweet.
I have to admit, my kids are amazing. In all kinds of ways. Currently I'm thinking of their ability to stop mid-bloodcurdling-shriek when they're not getting what they want, and change to a watery, "Pweeze?" Even Skyler can do it!
So why can't they stop the shrieking thing altogether?
I guess because it's all a sinister plot to rob me of my sanity...or build my character...and I don't know which one it's doing more thoroughly.
I had warned Anaya about the consequences if she disobeyed, which she had most flagrantly. "Sorry, Anaya," I informed her. "You are going to have to sleep in another room away from your brothers tonight." Despite wailing protests, I banished her, along with a little mattress, to the extra bathroom (the only other room in the house where we were staying).
A little while later, Anaya called me to the bathroom with an important announcement. "Mommy," she began, sidling up to me coyly, "Did you know, SOME mommies and daddies CHANGE the consequences for their children after their children make bad choices? And they are good mommies and daddies, too!" she assured me. "Don't YOU want to be a good mommy?"
Monday, July 14, 2008
"I don't know. Only Jesus knows."
"I want to know!" she howled. "Jesus, what will I look like when I get big?" She waited for a few seconds. "Mommy, He's not telling me!"
"He doesn't want you to know yet. It's a surprise. Remember, sometimes He says yes, sometimes He says no, and sometimes He says wait a while. It doesn't matter, anyway, really. Who cares if you're beautiful on the outside? It's what your heart is like that matters anyway."
She pondered that briefly. "Well, I don't want to be beautiful anyway."
PTL. May she always feel that way.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Probably somewhere soon I won't be far behind her. I can tell you, hearing everything three times (at least) is not always too funny.
Sethie is not going to give up his new role as copycat easily, though. He just loves to imitate everything right now (and I'm sure Skyler is not far behind, no pun intended). A few days ago I was just gazing into his big blue eyes (is there anything more adorable than a freckled pug nose?) and I whispered to him, "I love you!"
"I wuv you!" he whispered back.
It was just too sweet. I had to do it again. So a few minutes later I said again, "I love you, precious boy!"
He grinned, crinkled his little nose and replied, "I wuv you, precious boy!"
Sunday, June 22, 2008
"Did you give Daddy nuggles and kissies?"
"Do you want your clothie and sippy?"
"Yets." He reached for them, then grinned and gave me a slippery kiss. "Nigh-night."
I followed him, unbelieving, figuring I really SHOULD be doing something to put my two-year-old to bed. He marched in his bedroom door, then looked up at me like, "Why are you following me?" and shut the door in my face. And I know him well enough to be sure that he waddled right to his little bed and dropped into it.
I guess my little boy is growing up after all! (People keep promising me they will.) Funny how different kids are. I can't imagine Anaya doing that at 14. Or even 24....
Speaking of Sethie, he is such a sweetie. He is just so cute. The other day he was building towers with some big Lego blocks. "No fall down!" he would instruct the tower of blocks, pointing his little preaching finger at it--then he would nudge it to destruction. "No fall DOWN!" he would repeat gleefully to the fallen mess, finger outstretched. He would pick them up and reassemble them, carefully grouping the Legos according to color. "No fall down!" he would sternly address each color group as he added it to the stack.
Seth was having so much fun eating with Auntie Annette last week. "You funny!" he chortled.
"Me, funny?" she laughed. "You are funny!"
"I not funny." Seth's eyes twinkled. "You funny. He funny (pointing to Uncle Brad). I not funny."
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Such unusual cruelty could not be borne with unflinching fortitude. "But Mommy, I CAN'T chew it without opening my mouth! I won't be able to eat any more!"
"Baloney. You just told me a few weeks ago that you could eat with your mouth closed now."
"No, I can't! I will get so hungry I will DIE!"
Iron-hearted Mommy was unmoved by the howls and begging, so eventually Anaya laid down the ultimatum. "Then I will just go to bed now."
"Alas! Go to bed then." (See what my poor pitiful children have to endure?)
Anaya slouched off to her room, wailing. From her bedroom I could hear loud muttering (probably prayer). At any rate, the depths of despair were overcome in about 40 seconds, and Anaya came bounding back to the table. "All right, I will TRY to eat with my mouth closed." She put a spoonful into her mouth and held it there uncomfortably, then pushed it around and gulped. "See? I can't do it!"
"Try it like this," I suggested, putting a bite in my own mouth, chewing and swallowing. "See? You push it onto your teeth with your tongue."
She deposited a bite in her mouth, chewed thoughtfully, and swallowed. Her face lit up. "I CAN do it, Mommy! I can chew with my mouth closed!"