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Monday, April 25, 2011

Sleeping Elle

This is what I came home to the other night. I went to the pottery studio late one evening and got home around 10pm. It was quiet when I came in the door and I expected to find Michael asleep in our bed and the kids in theirs. Michael wasn't in ours. He was asleep in Elle's bed next to Christian asleep in his bed... and Elle.... She fell asleep in the living room in this little chair (which I actually found in the trash shoot room and cleaned up and now it looks brand new!). Michael was so exhausted he fell asleep when putting Christian down for bed, which was probably about an hour and a half before Elle fell asleep in this chair...the adventures she must have had... =)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Soldering Relationships

Living here in the city, in a condo, doesn't warrent the same types of projects that were a steady stream back home. It is a total disadvantage to the kids to not have wood to haul, stack and gather. To not be able to help build things, to not have REAL chores to help with... I feel so sorry for kids rasied in apartments and condos.... anyway... we have tried to make the most of it, and here is a little project Michael brought home from work as "home work" and asked Elle for her help.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is a 4 year old with a soldering gun... And look at how careful she uses it and is so safe, because her mom and dad teach her to do dangerous things SAFELY. =)

This project meant the world to Elle. (As does any project where she gets to do that is new and a little "outside the box".)  
Her and Michael worked at this for about an hour. It started with stripping the wires. I was in the shower and Elle came running in screaching that "dada taught me to strip a wire all by myself! And I did it!" She was so excited, she just couldn't wait for me to get out to tell me. They measured the wires, stripped them, wrapped them and soldered them, sealed them and taped them. Elle was so attentative the whole time- soaking up this valuable time with her daddy.

How boreing this would have been for Michael to do all by himself... and how fun it was to see through Elle's eyes as she learned about it all and gained confidence in doing something a little "scarey" that required great care.

Tantrums, Tears and Growth

Okay... So I am not sure if I am going to be able to articulate all of this the way I hope to, but I am going to give it a shot because if it can help any other parent or person in anyway, it'll be worth stumbling over to try and explain my latest revelation (which surely many have already had...).

(Thank you for the ADORABLE outfits Grammie!)

The last 2 weeks have been extremely difficult as a mom. Christian has been a complete wreck. We had our fair number of struggles with our stubborn little Elle, but we only briefly touched down on the tantrum phase- we rid her of that quickly and swiftly. She spoke like an adult from before she was even 1 year old. Christian however is a whole new ball game. He still only can say a hand full of words clearly. He can non-verbally communicate quite a bit, but it is still extremely frustrating for him a lot of the time when he has so much more to say or ask for that he can't get across accurately. This is what sets off screaming, flailing, kicking, back arching hysterics.... OFTEN.
All of this to say that since I have to be the one with him all day long, every day, this is extremely exhausting for me and I want to make every effort to help him and the rest of us from the insanity. To keep this post to the point, I just want to explain that I began trying everything to figure this out. We have made leaps and bounds in his attitude and self control in just a couple weeks of trying everything from no TV, no juice or other sugars, calm down exercises, etc...
Seeing him smile, watching him start to "lose it" and then be able to real in his emotions and get control of himself now is so over-joying. It makes me so happy for him that he doesn't have to feel so helpless in his frustrations now. I got to thinking about all of this and thought about how parents who go to work and leave their kids with someone else-whether daycare, school or grandma/grandpa- for part of the day get a "break" from being hung on, being at becon call every moment, hearing constant noise all day, let's get real- you don't ever even get to pee or shower by yourself. (I am not for a moment saying that being a working parent is easier, just different struggles. Please don't take this post the wrong way or be offended if you are a working parent. Please read it for what I am saying, not as an argument against anyone's choices of how to provide for their families.) My point is that if I were not so utterly exhausted and at my wits end, I may not put in the same efforts to "fix" my kids. Maybe I would be able to bare them being little brats if I only had to "deal with them" a few hours a day. Maybe I could bare them whining and fussing and begging for things I already told them they couldn't have. Maybe I could over look them back talking to me, or being rude to each other. Maybe I could be okay to prevent their bad attitudes a little longer by giving them toys and candies or taking them somewhere fun where I don't really have to interact with them. But I can't. I am faced with them ALL day long (and often all night long too)- so it is imperative to my own sanity that they not be allowed to ask me 3 times for something I already gave an answer to, that they listen and do what I asked them to the first time, that they not fuss and whine when I tell them no, that they enjoy playing with one another, that they enjoy helping me, and that the enjoy life in general!
On top of all that, I get to thinking about how much I learn as I try and teach them. It is truly humbling to always have a mirror in front of my face as I try and teach them about self control, being happy with what they have, no fussing and whining when things don't go the way you wanted/hoped... The lessons are so clear. The truth is so clear when I see the transformation of their little hearts and spirits when they choose to be happy doing what mama told them to do, or when they discover that they CAN stop fussing about something, or they CAN do that thing they thought was too hard and frustrating to do by themselves. The confidence that grows in their little character and the joy they experience better prepares them for the next thing that will be even tougher to handle with joy- but seeing them know they are equipped is worth every moment of the agony it took to be by their side helping them figure out what to do with their emotions and their frustrations. I think it would do A LOT of adults some real good to re-visit the "basics" of life... what better way than to teach it. It is hard to have the maturity of a 5 year old when you're trying to teach your 5 year old not to.
5-6 years ago I worked briefly at the same elementary school I went to as a child. This was known as the elementary school with the least behavior issues in the county. When I went there as a child there were a hand full of kids in the whole school (K-5) that were "problem kids". They were the constant trouble makers, the ones that were more than just talking in class, or being rude and disrespectful every once in a while- they were real troubled and obviously had rough home lives. When I worked there- just 10 or so years later- it was a complete different story. Each CLASS had a handful of kids like that. Even as young as 2nd grade, there were kids with an incredible ability to be defiant and seemingly proud of their capabilities to spread horrid things through the school- everything from sexual comments to 1st graders, to strangling kids who annoyed them, to cussing and making threatening remarks to the "un-cool" kids, to throwing fits when things didn't go their way, to lieing and cheating and more. It was shocking to say the least. And sad. Terribly sad. These kids were practicing what they were taught...or never taught... And how disabled they are for a future of joy...
I begin to wonder if a large part of what is happening with America right now, is due to both parents working and there being a lack of genuine fighting for the very best for children. I realize all situations are different, and I would never begin to think I could know what is best for anyone, let alone everyone. I am of course speaking in general terms and simply ask that you just THINK, think for a moment about the real heart of what I am saying. What is it costing for both parents to be working away from home? Are you missing your opportunity to really discover your kids and what they individually need to succeed in themselves? Are you missing the opportunity to grow and mature yourself into realizing what you really wish you were like. (I often see what is important to me by what I find so important to teach the kids.)
Ashamedly-I have spent many hours in tears, in agony and defeat over my kids not acting in a way that will enable them to experience true joy. It is my deepest desire for them to be happy and joyful loving people. THAT is a contribution to society. Joyful love. Having realized what all my tears and days of wanting to pull all my hair out really amount to... how deeply I care about the attitudes of my kids... I will not face them the same. I am so happy to be able to be with them and teach them how to take things head on and stronger than I ever did.  I am sure I will still shed tears and have moments of throwing my hands up in defeat, but hopefully fewer, and less and less dwelling each time... Because again... that is what I am trying to teach them right? Get over it! Life is hard, quit crying- figure out how to enjoy it just as it is.  THAT is freedom.