Sunday, August 13, 2017

Have I Ever Told You About Calvin?

Several years ago we discovered a nest of baby mice in the feed shed. As we proceeded in ridding the building of the little critters, eight year-old Olivia insisted on making one of them a pet. After all, it was only fair since Elizabeth had a hamster. We had plenty of suitable cages to put it in, so in her mind it was a win-win situation. She even picked out a name for her new pet in the few minutes she spent trying to win me over. His name would be Calvin.

How could I argue with such a solid plan? And Calvin was actually a pretty cute name for a pet…even a pet mouse. So being the great mom sucker that I was, Olivia joyfully picked up one of the babies and hurried to the house to get him settled in his new home.
A week or so later, however, Calvin decided to venture out of his home. He was on the loose in the house! We set traps (not the life-ending kind) and watched for signs of where he was or had been. Nothing. Calvin was nowhere to be found. I kept up my vigil for two or three weeks, but when there were no signs of him, I gave up; assuming he had made his way back to the feed shed or barn. Wrong!
After the last day of school prior to Christmas break, I was cleaning out Olivia’s backpack and guess what I found? No, not Calvin ‘in the flesh’, but evidence Calvin had been there—shredded tissues, hard candy from the art teacher Calvin had obviously found to be rather tasty, and a few other ‘things’. In other words, Calvin had gone to school with Olivia and for all I knew, was still there! Maybe ignoring his disappearance hadn’t been such a good idea after all.
A day or two after Christmas Calvin found his way into one of the traps we’d set for him in the girls’ closet. Apparently he wasn’t too crazy about school. But that didn’t matter. Calvin didn’t get a second chance at being a pet.
The adventures of Calvin taught Olivia a valuable lesson in why not to take a mouse in as a pet. But the adventures of Calvin taught me something even more important. Calvin’s adventures taught me that problems aren’t solved by ignoring them or pretending they aren’t there. Ignoring or denying a problem exists only makes it worse and increases its radius of potential harm.
So if your child is having trouble in school, address the issue and get them the help they need. If your child is consistently misbehaving, showing disrespect, or acting out, don’t brush it off as ‘just a stage’. Let your child know their behavior is unacceptable, teach them the appropriate optional behavior, and let them experience the consequences of not making the switch. If your child shows signs of being bullied, having anxiety, eating disorders, using drugs or alcohol, or any other harmful behavior, don’t deny it could be happening to your child, because it can. Don’t settle for anything less than getting them the help they need. It might possibly save their life.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but thanks, Calvin.

Love,
Momma D

                        Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

                                                                          

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sometimes They Did...Sometimes They Didn't...But They ALWAYS Survived

Can you smell it? You know…the smell of new crayons, glue sticks, new tennis shoes, and unsharpened pencils. Oh, the days of shopping for school supplies.

With four kids it was quite an undertaking and let’s just say Wal-Mart was glad to see me coming. But I didn’t mind. In fact, I had as much fun watching and helping them pick out what they needed and wanted (within reason) as they did. There’s just something about starting something new that gives you energy and hope.

The kids hoped they got certain teachers. Sometimes they did…and sometimes they didn’t.

The kids hoped they were in the same homeroom as their best friends. Sometimes they were…and sometimes they weren’t.

They kids hoped they got the same lunch period as most of their friends. Sometimes they did…and sometimes they didn’t.

The kids hoped their school ID pictures would look halfway decent instead of like a mug shot. Sometimes they did…and sometimes, well, you know the drill.

With each new school year came both excitement and disappointments. But then life is like that, isn’t it?

After all, it’s really not the end of the world if they don't always get the teacher they wanted. They’re still going to learn what they are supposed to learn. And the world really won't stop turning if your child isn’t in the same homeroom or lunch period as their best friend—I promise. The ID pictures? Sorry, no guarantee on that one, either. I mean is there anyone who can take a good picture when you have all of ten seconds to step into place and say ‘cheese’ before the weird guy behind the camera takes one shot and hollers “Next!”?

As parents we know these things aren’t worth stressing over, but our kids don’t—not yet anyway. That’s where you come in. It’s your job to teach them to take things as they come and make the best of them—to instill in your children a sense of resiliency.

Children who are resilient have better social skills, have a stronger sense of self-confidence, are less likely to be bullied or to be a bully, and have must stronger coping skills when it comes to things that really should be considered as a struggle or disappointment. What’s more, studies show that resilient children turn into resilient adults.

So…as the new school year approaches, don’t feel bad about telling your child they have to choose a $15 dollar back pack instead of a $50 one. And don’t let them whine and moan because they have first lunch period instead of third like ‘everyone’ else does. They’ll get over it…and be better people for it.

Love,
Momma D
                                  Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

                                                                                                                                       

Monday, July 24, 2017

"I Just Need To Hear Her Voice"

I’ve been ‘silent’ on here for a few weeks because I've been doing my annual ‘gig’ at church camp as the camp mom and teaching middle schoolers and junior high students. And yes, I love it—every single second of it. Investing in their lives is a huge blessing.

For some of the kids the time they spend at camp is time away from a not-so-great home life. These kids don’t want to see it end. Others, however, get a bit homesick. They want to be at camp and they have a great time, but late in the evening (the closer we get to bedtime) there are always a few that come to me saying they want to go home.

This was what I thought eleven year-old “Carly” was going to do one Tuesday night. She came to me and asked if she could call her mom. Thinking she was going to want her mom to come and get her at that late hour I told her I thought we should wait until morning—that we didn’t want to wake her up and cause her to think something was wrong. “Carly” quickly replied that her mom got off work (from a hospital) at eleven, so she would be on her way home.

I didn’t really have any logical comeback for that, but she could see I was still hesitating. That’s when she said, “Miss Darla, I don’t want to go home. I’m having a great time. But I really love my mom and I just want to hear her voice.”
Talk about melting my heart! I couldn’t get the phone in her hand fast enough. J She spent less than five minutes talking to her mom; telling her what she’d done so far and asking how her dad and little brother were doing. Then she told her mom she loved her, that she would see her on Friday, and then she handed me the phone, gave me a hug, and ran off to get ready for bed with the other girls.
Besides just being a really sweet story, I decided to share this with you this because I want you as parents to make it your goal in life—every single day of your life—to make yours a voice your children ‘just need to hear’.
Make yours a voice that calms, encourages, reassures, affirms, disciplines in love, teaches, protects, and directs.

Love,
Momma D
                              Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                            

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Don't Be Afraid To Be Afraid

Happy 4th of July!!!!!!!! I hope everyone is having a great time celebrating the birth of our nation and that you remember the principles and reasons this country was founded on and the price that has been paid for each of us to enjoy this very special time of year.

That being said, I want to share with you something else of importance—something I learned from my eight year-old granddaughter, Mackenzie, earlier today…
She was waiting her turn to go ‘tubing’ behind the boat, but was a bit apprehensive about doing so. She’d already gone earlier in the day with her daddy, but since Daddy wasn’t in the boat, she wasn’t so sure. When my daughter in-law (Mack’s mom) and I asked her if she was going, she said, “No, I’m too scared. I’m scared to death to go.”
We told her it was okay to be scared AND that it was okay if she didn’t want to do it again. She thought about it a little while, decided to give it another try, and enjoyed it.
At this point you probably think I’m going to tie this in to overcoming your fears or helping your children overcome theirs, don’t you? Well I’m not. Instead I’m going to say, “Thank you” to Mack for reminding me that sometimes it is okay to be afraid and that we should never feel like we have to make up excuses for why we don’t want to do something. That’s right! It’s okay to just say, “I don’t want to because I am afraid.”
When I was her age I wouldn’t have been brave enough to just admit I was afraid. And yes, it takes a lot of guts to do that. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m still brave enough to do that. So thanks, Mackenzie, for teaching Nanna an important lesson today.
I also want it to be a lesson to you, as well—a lesson that reminds you to make it comfortable and acceptable for your kids to admit their fears without having even an inkling of doubt about the fact that they won’t be made fun of or belittled for being…afraid.
Everyone’s afraid of something…or several something’s. So who are we to judge whether a person’s fears are justifiable or not? And when it comes to your children, most of the time, time is all that is necessary for these things to take care of themselves. But even if they don’t, is it really that big of a deal? Do you love them any less? I didn’t think so.

Love,
Momma D
                      Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                       

                                                                              

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Kids, Paper, Sharpies, and You

My daughter Emma was doing her morning Bible reading the other day when three year-old Essie came over, thumbed through a few of the pages and asked, “How do you read that, Momma? There’s no pictures.”


A few days later Essie approached Emma with a baby wipe, gently swiped it against Emma’s arm and hand and said, “By the way, thank you for saving my life.”

Now if you know much about Disney movies you probably realize that both the remark about the book having no pictures and the one about saving her life are near-direct quotes from the animated version of “Beauty and the Beast”.

Essie loves that movie as well as Cinderella and a few others. So you probably think it only makes sense that she would be able to quote from them. But here’s the deal—she isn’t allowed to watch a lot of television or movies. Her ability to quote them doesn’t stem from watching them over and over and over again. No, it comes from the fact that she, like every other child, reacts to what they hear and see in the same way paper, fabric, or your walls react to sharpies.

In other words, words, images, and situations make indelible imprints on our children. You know, indelible, as in they don’t come off or go away. So here’s my question to you: If these things were so permanently imprinted on her little mind with such a limited amount of exposure, how deep and indelible are the ‘marks’ made by the things she is exposed to every day?

Essie is definitely exceptional and special in my book (as are all my perfectly wonderful grandchildren). But in reality she is no different than your children in the fact that they all have a heart and mind full of indelible marks that were made by what we said, what we did, how we responded, and what we exposed them to. 

So I’ll ask again, if your children are permanently marked by the things they have limited exposure to, how deep and indelible are the ‘marks’ made by the things they are exposed to every day? And are they the things you really want them to be exposed to?



Love,

Momma D
                       Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                        





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Show-n-Tell Parenting


Have you ever said something that was perceived the wrong way? You meant it one way, but the person you were speaking to took it another? I know I sure have—more times than I can count. I also remember an occasion or two when my kids did the same…

Olivia was always singing and dancing her way everywhere when she was little. And one day when she was three or four, as we were making our way through the parking lot of the grocery store, she was belting out the words, “She’s got the red on, and I’ve got the blue” (her version of  Alan Jackson’s “She’s Got The Rhythm And I’ve Got The Blues”).

I also remember the time Elizabeth was explaining why she needed some extra school supplies for a class she was taking. Initially I didn’t get everything she needed because I didn’t understand the reasoning behind what she’d said. In my mind there was no reason for her to need….

Oh, and then there was the time I needed help with something ASAP, to which Emma responded, “I’ll be there in a minute.” In my mind ‘in a minute’ wasn’t good enough. But what I didn’t know (and couldn’t see) was that she was changing Mack’s dirty diaper when I called her. So yes, she really did need a minute or two to respond.

The point I want to make is that as parents (and even grandparents and spouses) we are often guilty of assuming we know what our kids are thinking, feeling, or saying when in fact, we aren’t. Just because we think we know what they mean, doesn’t make it so. And just because we don’t get the response when we want it and the way we want it, doesn’t mean we’ve gotten the wrong response.

It’s not our job or right to tell our kids what they are thinking. And it’s not our right to expect or demand that they respond the way we want them to every single time. Our job is to teach them how to think for themselves, how to discern right from wrong, and how to express themselves appropriately. As parents we need to give our kids the freedom and grace to share their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly with respect—and FYI, respect doesn’t mean always seeing things your way. Respect means acknowledging one another lovingly and graciously.

So parents, let’s not reserve ‘show and tell’ just for school (do they even do that anymore?). Let’s show and tell our kids how much we love them by letting them show and tell us what they think, how they feel, and who they really are.



Love,

Momma D
                        Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                       



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Don't Worry, Your Kids Aren't Nearly As Breakable As You Think They Are

In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I would share with you some of the most important lessons I have learned in the 34 years I’ve been a mom.
#1: No matter how many children you have, you love each one with your entire being.

#2: No two children are alike and that’s just fine. You wouldn't want them to be.
#3: Your older children will torment the baby of the family when left in charge of her, but then turn around and protect her fiercely if anyone else tries to do the same.
#4: Pretending wadded-up pieces of tissue are popcorn is not a life-threatening occurrence.
#5: Receiving hand-picked wildflowers from your teenage son is worth more than a million roses from a florist.
#6: Fingers really do get stuck in VCR players.
#7: It’s better for your almost-two year-old to suck on a pacifier than a Happy Meal toy.
#8: Ponies can climb stairs with your children on their back without breaking them (your children, that is).
#9: Your daughter can be a ballerina AND a farm girl at the same time.
#10: Seeing your son cross the finish line in a Cross Country meet makes you very proud and very humble.
#11: Pet turtles have feelings, too.
#12: Watching The Sound of Music with your pre-teens can have embarrassing after-effects.
#13: It’s a big sister’s responsibility to start her baby sister’s milk shake up the straw—no really, it is.
#14: The best memories made with your kids are made doing the most ordinary things.
#15: It is important to say you are sorry to your kids--especially when it's your fault they get covered in chiggers.
#16: It's okay to tell your daughter she doesn't have much of a future in making candy houses. In fact, it's okay to tell her she has no future in the 'business'.
#17: Don't be afraid to tell your kids no or to make them do something over again...and again if necessary.
#18: It's okay if your kids don't have the latest and greatest.
#19: You can't say "I love you" too often.
#21: One of the greatest joys of being a parent is looking at your kids and thinking/saying, "I made that.", "You are amazing.", "I'm so proud of you.", and "Wow...just wow!"
#20: You should never, ever, ever give up on your kids and always be their biggest fan.
#22: Being a parent is the most important job on earth and one you'll never not have because your kids never stop needing and wanting you and you never stop needing and wanting them, either.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Momma D
                           Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                     

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sometimes You're Just Gonna Have To Get Wet

Several years ago—before we were a family of six—John, Zach, Elizabeth, Olivia, and I went to feed the fish in the pond and let Zach throw a line in while the girls looked for tadpoles. John and I were on the four-wheeler and the kids rode in small wooden trailer hitched to back of it.

Afterwards, while we were riding back up to the house we saw the rain coming toward us. We literally saw a huge wall of heavy rain moving across the field in our direction. It was actually really cool seeing nature at work like that, but it also left us feeling completely powerless. There was nothing we could do to escape the fact that we were going to get wet. Very wet.

I can still hear the kids giggling and squealing as we rode through the pouring down rain and as we ran into the house sloshing and dripping. And I also remember that in the short amount of time it took to get out of our wet clothes and into dry ones, the rain stopped. It was over almost as quickly as it had begun.

There was no getting around that wall of rain, and staying where we were wouldn’t have kept us from getting wet, either. It was coming and there was nothing we could do to stop it or avoid it. Just like life.

As a parent there are going to be times in our lives and in the lives of our children when we see the storms coming—the consequences of poor choices, rebellion, broken hearts, disappointments, failures, accidents, and even circumstances beyond our (or their) control. We see them coming so we look for any possible way out—ignoring the problem, denial, pride, or running away. 

But the voice of experience tells me (loud and clear without stuttering or stammering) that the only way to deal with the storms of parenting is to face them head-on. See them for what they are, acknowledge them, go through them, learn from them, and then ‘dry yourself off’ and enjoy the renewal and refreshing that comes afterwards—maturity, humility, wisdom, stronger relationships, confidence, compassion, and just plain ole common sense.

Being a parent is rewarding, fulfilling, and the absolute most important job on earth. It is also the most difficult and most heart and gut-wrenching job on earth—one with its share of pop-up storms. But just like a rain storm brings growth and refreshment, the storms you weather as a parent can do the same.

Love,

Momma D
                      Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                                                                                                              

Thursday, April 13, 2017

There's A Little Bit Of Merida In Us All

No matter how many children you have, what ages they are, where you live, what they like to play with, or even whether they are boys or girls, you are undoubtedly familiar with some girls who are sweet, kind, cute as can be, and who like to sing their hearts out…and do it quite well.

You know who I’m talking about—girls collectively referred to as “Disney princesses”. There are several and each has their own distinct quality that makes them so endearing. But when it comes to being realistic and true to life in her personality and her relationship with her mom, no one fits the bill quite like Merida from the movie, “Brave”.

Merida is confident, intelligent, loving, kind, and has a mind of her own that doesn’t always agree with her parents—particularly her mother. Sound familiar?

Merida isn’t about to give up who she is and what she loves to conform to the mold her mom expects her to fit into. No way! And to make sure that doesn’t happen, Merida tries to cast a spell on her mom but in the process ends up turning her into a bear. A bossy, grouchy, demanding bear that refuses to back down from anything…until her ‘bear-ness’ almost costs Merida her life.

From that point on, mother and daughter work together with respect and appreciation for each other’s abilities and personalities. In doing so they break the spell so that Queen Elinor (Merida’s mom) is no longer a bear. She is herself again, but less demanding and more approachable. And yes, they all live happily ever after.

As a mom I know there have been times when my kids have looked at me and seen a bear—a grouchy, bossy, demanding bear. My intentions may have been good, but I was still a bear. Or maybe my ‘bear-ness’ was the result of my being in a bad mood, not feeling well, or because of something my kids had done to make me irritable or angry. But I was still a bear. And when I was a bear, I wasn’t doing anyone any good. I was only making things worse.

It was only when I took a deep breath and put things into their proper perspective, OR realized my ‘bear-ness’ wasn’t something they should have to deal with, OR swallowed my pride and admitted I was wrong and they were right, that my kids saw the real me again. And when that happened, life was better and everyone was much happier.

As a parent there are going to be times when you turn into a bear. We’re not perfect and it happens. But those times need to be few and far between. And those times certainly shouldn’t be because we are trying to make our children fit into molds they don’t belong in. Instead, we need to be parents who work with your children’s strengths and passions rather than against them; allowing and encouraging them to become the unique individual they are meant to be. For when that happens, so does happiness.

Love,

Momma D
                      Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                                                                                                     

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Grass Is Great for Horses--Not Preschoolers

My granddaughter Mackenzie loves horses. It would be safe to say she is passionate on the subject. At eight years old she knows the different breeds, more horse terminology than I ever will (or want to), the different kinds of saddles, bridles, and all the other things horse-related. Mackenzie’s love for horses has been part of who she is for as long as she has been able to say the word. As a toddler and preschooler she spent an endless amount of time on her hands and knees galloping, bucking, trotting, cantering, and grazing like any horse worth their weight in hay would do.

It was the grazing, however, that brings me to today’s parenting reminder…

We were outside enjoying a warm spring day and as usual, three year-old Mackenzie was bucking and galloping through the grass. At one point she stopped and started pretending to munch on the grass. She was getting pretty close to the ground so I warned her against actually taking a bite.

Mackenzie ‘argued’ that she was a real horse so she needed to take a real bite—and with that, she did. She bit off a mouthful of grass and for a split-second she started chewing. But her chewing was immediately followed by a considerable amount of time spent spitting and sputtering, coughing and wiping her mouth and tongue as fast as her little hands could move.

And me?  I have to admit I laughed. Yes, I helped her get the grass out of her mouth and I got her a drink of water to wash the taste away so she could go right back to being a horse—a horse that now knew how not to let her imagination go too far…and why.  But I laughed. What can I say? It was funny. Thinking back on that little event now, however, reminds me of two things:

1: There are some things your kids are going to have to learn for themselves. Some mistakes are going to have to be made in spite of your direst warnings and advisements. And as parents we need to be ready to love our kids in spite of their stubbornness and let them know that only when they learn from their mistakes will they be able to move beyond their mistakes.

2: There are going to be times when your kids are going to do exactly what you tell them not to do. Once the deed is done, however, your children need to know you will be there to give them that drink of water to get the taste out of their mouth. No, not bail them out or protect them from the consequences of their actions, but to let them know that you love them no matter what and won’t hold their actions against them.

We’ve all eaten our fair share of grass, so to speak, so why should you think your kids will be any different? They won’t be. I promise. But how you handle the situation can make all the difference in the world to both you and them.


Love,

Momma D
                       Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.