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. 
                                                                                                                                         

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Don't Be Afraid to Look Under the Rock...Just be Careful

Several years ago my daughter Olivia and I spent a great deal of time gathering and hauling large rocks for a landscaping project at our (then) house. These weren't just any rocks, though. They were rocks from the foundation and fireplace of my great-great grandparents home. They were part of our story.

As we climbed around on what remained of the 'old home place' deciding which rocks to take (that's code for which ones we wouldn't kill ourselves lifting into the back of the truck), we laughed about how crazy we were to be 'risking our lives' for a bunch of old rocks, but we wouldn't have stopped for all the money in the world.

Each time we started to pick up a rock, though, I also did something else. I warned Olivia to be careful...very, very careful because of the possible dangers hiding under the rocks (that's code for snake).

FYI: I'm very thankful to say that in all the rocks we picked up (more than I can count), we never saw one snake. Nada. Zilch. Zero. None.

If we had, however, I can say with complete certainty that after we had quit screaming and doing that little "I just saw a snake" dance, we would have been right back at it. Why? Because our my desire to get the rocks and Olivia's desire to be able to say she had survived the day was greater than our fear of what might be underneath them.

As parents we need raise our children to be careful, but not afraid to look under a few rocks in their lifetime.

We need to raise our children to be confident enough in who they are to look under the rocks called trying something newspeaking up for what is right, and being confident enough in their abilities and personality to follow their dreams.

But at the same time we need to tech them to be ready to recognize the snake (poor choices, dangerous situations, and peer pressure) when they see it and to get as far away from it as possible.

Looking under a few rocks is something we all have to do, so do your job and teach your children how to do it right.

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


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

That Mr. Magorium...He Sure Knows What He's Talking About

In the movie, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Dustin Hoffman plays Mr. Magorium; the owner of a somewhat magical toy store. Mr. Magorium, who is 243 year old, is preparing to die. As part of his preparation, he makes arrangements to leave the toy store to Molly Mahoney, the young woman who has been his friend and assistant since she was a child.

But Molly doesn't want to accept that Mr. Magorium is going to die. Nor does she think she is capable of taking over the toy store. In fact, she doesn't think she is capable of doing much of anything. Feeling insecure about who she is and what the future holds for her, Mr. Magorium has these final words of encouragement and wisdom for Molly...Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.

As a parent, there are few things we could say to our children that have as much potential to encourage and embolden them to aspire to be who they were created to be as those two sentences: Your life is an occasion. Rise to it. As parents we have been given the privilege and responsibility to help our children discover who they are, what they are passionate about, what they excel at and most of all, how to grow to be the best 'them' they can be. It is also our privilege and responsibility as parents to provide our children the opportunities and resources to do these things.

The occasion of your children's lives may not look like you think it should, or be a life you would choose for them...or even yourself. But if your children are happy, self-sufficient, and people of integrity, then I think it is safe to say they are rising to the occasion of their life. And that means as a parent, you have risen to the occasion of your life, too.

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

May I Have Your Attention, Please....


A few years ago (almost three, to be exact) I was visiting Emma, Dwight, and Essie, who were living on Camp Pendleton. It was during the time of the wildfires—some of which were burning on base.
You could see the fires from the front yard of their house and each day we wondered if they would get close enough for us to have to be evacuated. At around 1 a.m. one morning we stopped wondering because over the loud speakers positioned throughout the base, a voice came on telling us we needed to evacuate immediately.
Waking up to the voice over the loudspeaker was coupled with the dense smoke that was starting to overtake the area, so as quickly as possible, we gathered a few things for ourselves, a few more things for week-old Essie, called some good great friends who lived out of range of the fires, and left.
We didn’t complain about being wakened from a sound sleep. We didn’t debate the wisdom of the choice being made for us. In fact, we were thankful—very thankful—for the diligence of those watching the fires 24/7 in an effort to keep us all safe. We were thankful they didn’t hesitate to ‘disturb’ us—that they did what they knew was in our best interest regardless of the time of day (or night) and without worrying about how we might react.
As parents there are times we need to be that voice coming over the loud speaker for our children. We need to step in and say or do whatever is necessary to keep our kids safe. Even if it makes us unpopular. Even if it makes them mad. Even if it isn’t easy or convenient. Even if it’s downright hard.
As a parent it is your job to keep your kids from ignoring the warnings to get away from the fires of bad choices that can ruin or even claim their lives. As a parent it is your job to expect certain behaviors from your children no matter what. As a parent it is your job to be vigilant in watching for dangers and warning signs of things that can adversely affect your child and keep them from growing into the amazing and wonderful people they are.
Parents don’t be afraid to be the voice that comes over the loud speaker. Trust me, even if it doesn’t make you the coolest mom or dad of the month, or your kids insist you’ve ruined their life, it’s worth it. And guess what else? Someday they will actually thank you for it.

Love,

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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I Just Lub You So Much

Have you ever been at a loss for words? You knew you should say something but you weren't sure what that something should be. Or maybe you've done just the opposite. You know-the old open-mouth-insert-foot routine? You might also remember your grandma or mom telling you that 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all'.

While I definitely agree with teaching our children to not say things that are hurtful, rude, or unkind, I also think we need to take it a step farther. And I can't think of a better example of what that 'looks like' than what my granddaughter, Macy, used to do when she was just learning how to talk on the phone.

She loved talking to me on the phone, but let's face it-when she was two, she didn't have a whole lot to talk about. The dogs, the sheep and cows, what she and her sister had been doing, whether or not she'd been in time-out that day, where Grandpa was (and wanting to talk to him).... You know, the normal stuff. But that wasn't enough for Macy-she wanted all the 'air time' she could get. So when she couldn't think of anything else to say, she would say, "I just lub you so, so much, Nanna."

I instantly responded with the same and then she would say it again and again..."I just lub you so, so much, Nanna."

Doesn't that just melt your heart? It sure did mine!

Now here's the point I want to make...

Instead of teaching our children to be silent rather than not say things that are rude or unkind, teach them to fill that silence with words that encourage, mend relationships, melt hearts and share God's love. If we teach our children to go that extra mile and fill the silence with friendship and love there won't be nearly as much room for bullying, gossip and all those other hurtful things.

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