Monday, November 5, 2012

Rewrite: Taking On the Unthinkable

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher. I mostly liked the idea of ordering other people around. Now that I'm grown up, I find my dream of dictatorship exhausting. My job now is to police my children which, I won't lie, comes naturally. And their job apparently is to defy me. I loved sending them to school. Too bad we don't always get what we want. I took them out of their wonderful school this year for many reasons, all of them solid. I think God is playing a joke on me. Despite my aversion to hard work, I knew that I had no choice. Home school was my best option and I have some amazing friends who make it look easy. So, after conversing with the wise and looking into options, I dove in. Many days are a sad struggle. Getting them to stop playing and do their work is like making them eat worms or clean the toilet: lots of whining and looks of disgust. Luckily for me, I have good role models. People who have years of experience with multiple kids and home schooling. They know some tricks. I've only done this for two months and I've already considered quitting or running away (just kidding, Nate). I picture my kids flipping burgers or worse, taking a shift standing beside the highway with a pathetic sign begging for money, all because I failed them as a teacher. Instead of diving into melodrama, I find my wise friends and pick their brains. The outcome never disappoints. I get new ideas and hear great stories. Their persistence and confidence inspires me to keep trying. So, after a day of new methods, I think maybe I can do it tomorrow too. I'll have to remember the look on their faces when they learn stuff. When they look at me and smile happily, proud of what they now know. I honestly can't take much credit for this, I'm totally copying smarter people. But I do like the result and I'm impressed by my kids. Their brains are functional and that's enough for me today.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I tried for a learning moment with Lydia today but failed miserably because I couldn't keep a straight face.

Here's why:
She was coming into the kitchen so I could help her get her shirt off but Raina was sweeping the floor and blocking her way. Lyd's first reaction was to yell at Raina for being there. When she got to me I tried to explain how a kind word goes a long way blah blah blah (which is all she heard, I'm sure). Before I could even finish a sentence she looked at me, smiled a huge smile, and leaned in for a hug, saying, "Oh, thank you, Mommy. Thank you." It was so patronizing and a such a brave attempt to avoid a lecture without adding time to it, that I found myself completely speechless. And then I cracked up and that was the end of that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dreams of Escape

Halfway through the day today when Lydia flipped out in the school parking lot, I texted a friend and suggested we meet and get sh*% faced. Her immediate response was "yes, please." Of course, that's ridiculous. I can barely make it through a drink without passing out halfway through because I relax just enough to forget to keep myself awake. Not a good plan when I have to do school pick up at 3pm. What would my excuse be? I took a sip of wine at lunch and just now woke up, don't judge me.
I bet that's just what people would do.

But the whole idea got me thinking about when I was 21 (I waited until the very day to take my first drink... if you knew me back then, please don't comment). I could drink a whole drink and still stay up all night. Ok, yes, it was probably closer to 6 drinks. Like I said: just keep it to yourself....and the next day, I'd wake up at 7 am and go to work. The problem now is, not only do I have to be available 24/7, I also have to be ready for anything. A few examples: Poop everywhere, minor to serious injury's, asthma attacks and strange rashes, pee on the floor (which is just a given), screaming, thrashing mini-people, non-stop begging (which can be a scary trap to watch out for: "But you said Marek could!" Yikes.), and countless other incidents that cannot wait even one more minute for my attention. Sleeping through the night isn't even worth bringing up, let alone a long afternoon nap after a sip of wine.

So, my friends and I, we dream about when we're old and the roles have changes. Our kids have to be ready for us. Just you wait, you little punks, just you wait....but by then the most exciting its likely gonna get is a call from me saying, "come get your kids, they peed on my floor."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"I want my mommy"

Lydia and I love each other very much, we just don't show it very often. In fact, the other day while we were having a little spat she looked at me and said, "I want my mommy." I took that to mean that she's done with me and ready for a new one. If only it were that easy...

When I tell my mom stories about Lydia her first reaction is pretty much always laughter and, "you're getting what you deserve." The truth is, she's absolutely right. I have gaps in my memory like everybody else, but I remember some things that I did that remind me of Lydia. The problem is, I remember them like I'm watching a movie, not like I'm involved in any way. Since I can't remember what was going through my mind at the time, I'm very short on ideas for my sweetly insane little Lyd.

I am learning, though. I get mad at Nate sometimes because not only does she keep calm for him, she calms down for him if he gets involved. I've found myself telling on her to him and then adding "will you do something about this?!" Half the time he doesn't even look up, he just says "Lydia, be nice to your mom." As infuriating as that can be, it usually works and we end up laughing about it. Later, after I'm calm. It works better if I stay calm from the beginning, which is what I've been learning. It's tough to keep my cool, though. Here's an example of why:
Lydia: "Can I have some milk?"
Me: "no."
Lydia: "but I want some milk!"
Me: "no."
Lydia: (louder, arms flailing) "I want some milk"
Me: (just as loud) "Lydia, stop saying that! You cannot have any milk."
Lydia: (hysterics setting in): "I want some milk!"
Me: (insanity setting in): "NO, Lydia! Stop. Yelling."
Lydia: (on the ground, screaming, kicking) "MIIIIIILLLLLLLKKKKK!"
Me: (sounds calm inside my head, comes of my mouth as a yell): "For God's sake, Lydia, stop it! That's it, you're going in time out...."
This leads to more screaming on her part, and a lots of muttering and eye rolling on my part. Perhaps a dish placed heavily on the counter.
The moral of the story is...if mom says no to Lydia, go play outside.

I have a hard time figuring out why Lydia doesn't do this to Nate. Most likely it's because he almost never loses his temper so she doesn't bother trying. Also, she's a daddy's girl. This works against me from her side and his. Because sometimes he say's "Oh, poor Lydie." This always makes me choke and gag and yes, laugh because its kind-of funny to see Nate as a softy.

Like I told some friends this morning: Lydia and I will be great friends one day. If we survive each other.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sweeping the Floor

Every night at dinner, Perrin throws his food. Whether he's finished or not, there's always a ring of dinner around his seat.  Tonight, Lydia joined in. Of course, with noodles. I should mention that today was a big day for little Lyd. She threw her beloved bottle in the trash. Its a big deal but she did it casually and, honestly, I'm waiting for the break down. I think I got a preview at dinner...

Lydia threw her noodles right along with Perrin. All the kids started yelling for me that noodles were being strewn around, knowing that they are the ones who will clean it up. It sounds a little panicy to me: "MOMMY! Quick, Perrin's throwing his food!" I can't help myself, I hesitate. Not because I'm mean. It's about the future, teaching them to deal with every little disappointing thing that comes along, including cleaning up the noodles that Perrin (and apparently Lydia) threw all over the floor.

When I did make it to the crime scene, Lydia was already pulling out the broom and sweeping all the noodles into the rug right by the door. This became a dreaded teaching moment and I tried to take the broom and show her how to do it. A wrestling match followed. So, I decided to try the "how old are you really?" technique. It backfired. I asked her: "Lyd, are you three years old or are you one?" There was only a slight hesitation before she defiantly says "one". And everyone erupts in exclamations of "ooohhh, Lydie!" and "you are NOT! What the heck?!" and "you don't want to be ONE. Geez, Lydia." We're all laughing too because well, its funny.

In the end, I totally lose. Lydia gets away with being a little punk and I cleaned the floor. What the heck is wrong with me? I think I know, though. Sometimes the kids have to win. If not, they'll gang up on me and hide stuff and all of a sudden they're listening to Beyonce and staying out past curfew. The truth is that right now we can't be friends. There's too much that they have to learn from me. But when they grow up, I want to be able to move our relationship into friendship. And this is where I think I should start, by letting them win every once in a while.

But I'm not sweeping the floor again for a week, at least.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Don't poke me in the eye with the water!"

Some days are clearly gonna be hands on from the very start. As a lazy person I prefer as little of that as possible but, with little kids that's just a pipe dream. For instance, it took me 30 minutes to write the last two lines because I had to get up every 10 seconds and chase a screaming and laughing Perrin through the house. I now have a sore throat and I think I can skip my workout for today.

Hands on doesn't just mean physical work but some mental function, as well. I have to be able to go from one kid to another without even moving to prevent house fires or fist fights. An example: "Rowan, stop jumping on the couch - Lydia, kick him again and you're done for the day, Raina - grab your brother before he dives past me into the oven, Perrin - STOP SCREAMING, Rowan - stop jumping on the damn couch!..." This all while trying to do the dishes, make a bottle, fit in a bathroom break, change a diaper - or three, and possibly make dinner.

Yesterday was no exception. In fact, it was one of the crazier ones. The morning was spent out getting groceries. Usually I plan grocery shopping as the only event of a day because it leaves me with absolutely NO sense of humor. In the afternoon, I gave some kids baths and one a haircut. Both are One Event Day events. Baths always end in screaming and water everywhere. Lydia was upset when I washed her hair because I poked her eyes with the water. I was sternly warned to never do that again. I promised I wouldn't. The rest was chaos, of course and by bed time I think the kids were relieved because they got to get away from me. They all stayed in bed.

Today will be no exception but I do have one advantage: I don't have to go grocery shopping or give baths.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

God is good

I've found myself facing some major personal changes in the last year. Things that I've held onto very tightly for as long as I can remember. I've spent many hours trying to decide if I can actually do these things and if it's worth the struggle that it will be most likely for the rest of my life. Deep down, I've known that its worth it. I have a family that I love, I have many friends that make me laugh and also encourage me to be the best me, and most importantly, I believe in a God who is good. That's enough for me on a big scale, but some days it's easy to forget those things and only see myself. Now, that is a damn shame. I know it because myself without  God, family, and good friends is lacking. You'd think that would be enough to make the right choice each day, but it's just not. Sometimes I just don't care if I'm selfish.

So, I decided that I would wake early every morning, no matter how many times I got up in the night, and pray. Such a simple thing, but not so easy to do. It means dying a little bit to myself and seeking someone other than myself. It also means that I have to put myself and my wants aside and seek the Lord who will most definatly ask me to put aside those very things that I just don't want to let go. Today, I read about Paul. I read that he considered his life dear only so that he could fulfill the ministry he had received from God. I found that so impressive. A true dying to himself for God. Paul knew that he was not his own but that he belonged to Jesus Christ and that was all that mattered to him. It was all he needed to know to lay down himself and give up the things that separated him from God. In 1Corinthans 6:19 it says that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and therefore is not our own. We have been purchased at a price, and therefore we should glorify God with our bodies. That makes sense to me.

I decided to write about this today because I'm learning that these things that I don't want to give up are not worth trading for the love and grace of God. That is all I need, everything else will come together because God is good.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Age, sanity.

I was just talking with someone recently not only about weight and how it re-distributes after 4+ kids, but sanity as well. Both can be associated with age. My goal is to survive the next 10-20 years not with sanity, because well, its just too late to even pretend that's an option in my life. And not with any sort of figure to speak of because I eat ice cream for every meal. What I want to hold onto is enough love and respect from my kids so that they take care of me when my body gives out. Ok, I admit that's pushing it. Guilt will work too.

Here is my game plan: bribery is first and foremost. Nothing says I expect you to change my diaper when I'm old like toys, candy and video games on demand. That and the blind eye. I'm partial to that one because in some ways it benefits me, too. "Oh, you spent 20 minutes reading a boring book to your siblings that no one wanted to listen to even though the room is completely trashed and I just heard laughing, squealing, and loud banging for 20 minutes? Well, no one bothered me and there aren't injuries that I know of so great, go ahead and play downstairs." Of course, I will not ever be the one to clean up the mess. They can do that later.

Now, I'm not saying my kids have free reign. In fact, they're my slaves and its no secret. They do all kinds of chores on Saturday and during the week. I call these "life skills" and remind them continually of the huge favor I'm doing them in teaching these to them now.

As far as weight goes, I'm definatly not fat and likely won't ever be. I do however have areas of my body that would scare a demon on a good day. I thank my 6 kids for this. To compensate for these areas I buy too many clothes that I wear for a week or two before realizing it's still hopeless. This is totally ok with me. I figure Nate's stuck with me anyway and I'm just too damn lazy to do anything about it...and that is a beautiful thing.

Bring on the ice cream.

Monday, January 9, 2012

For God's Sake

I find myself saying these three words often. 
"Just give it back to him, for God's sake, so he quits screaming!"
"Stop acting like a crazy person. For God's sake!"
"For God's sake, don't throw things at the priest!"
I always feel a little bit like I just said a bad word after I say this. Does God really need my two year old to stop acting crazy? And if Fr. Ed is laughing, then I should just relax, right? But, I get a little frustrated from time to time. And all I can do is wonder, is God up there laughing at me or taking notes for when I end up dead? Is he gonna pull out his list and say, "Well, when Perrin threw poop at you, did you really think that I was offened? I mean, he didn't throw poop at me. So why did you yell 'For God's sake!'?" I think that's much more likely.
So, this morning when the first words that I heard out of Lydia were "Bo-ttle!" from her bed at the top of her lungs like a little princess, and then Perrin waving his bottle at me for juice while yelling at me - and when I ask him what he needs to say he says "juuice" proudly like he just said "please" (although I'm starting to wonder if "juice" and "please" are the same words in his world), and then Fela crying from her bed all with diapers spilling over with pee...I just yelled "For God's Sake!" at them and got another cup of coffee. Maybe God'll get a laugh out of us and therefore take it easy on me for the rest of the damn day. Either that or I'm screwed. But I felt better after yelling, so I think either way I win.