Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Not-so-big Mistake

Elizabeth has always been my orderly, methodical one-just like her dad. It has served her well and is just one of the many things about her that makes her the wonderful nurse she is. But once upon a time Elizabeth had to put aside her design for what she thought the order of things should be...

Elizabeth was more than ready to start kindergarten-so much so that she was only four when she climbed onto that school bus to enter the world of education. She was bright, articulate and loved to learn. Thankfully, we still had half-day kindergarten because her younger sister and I were more than ready to have her return home to eat lunch with us and tell us all about her first day of school.

She stepped off the bus and immediately started telling me the names of her new friends, how her brother had walked her to her class and that they had a snack-but that she didn't drink her milk (no surprise there). All seemed right in her world. But when we sat down to eat lunch, she looked at me with all the seriousness in the world and said, "Mom, I think I made a big mistake."

"Really? What mistake do you think you made, sweetie,"" I asked.

"I think going to school is a mistake," Elizabeth said sadly.

My heart sank. This was something that couldn't be changed. Did I not know my daughter as well as I thought I did? I knew I had to fix this quickly, so I hesitated for only a second before I asked Elizabeth why she thought going to school was a mistake.

"Mom," she said with a mix of sadness and disappointment, "They didn't teach me to read."

Talk about relief! I almost laughed out loud I was so relieved. But I didn't. This was serious stuff to Elizabeth so it was serious stuff to me, too.

As parents we sometimes have a been-there-done-that kind of attitude. We know that many of the things our children worry about (like not learning to read on the very first day of kindergarten) aren't nearly as 'bad as all that'. But they don't. And to make them feel small or to insinuate their feelings are unimportant or insignificant is NOT a good thing.

Instead of dismissing their feelings as silly or unnecessary, take the time to explain why they don't need to worry and/or how they can (with your help and encouragement) overcome and work through their feelings and concerns.

In Elizabeth's case it took little more than an explanation of how school 'works' and the assurance that she would learn to read when everyone in the class was ready to learn. Well, that and the promise to start teaching her a few more sight words at home.

The world is a great big and somewhat scary place to children. They need to know that their own little piece of  it (aka, home) is safe, nurturing, encouraging and a place where they will never be made to feel insignificant and will always be listened to.


Momma D

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Ugly House

One of the high school home-ec classes my kids took was called International Foods. It's pretty much just what it sounds like. And it's lots of fun. So fun, in fact, that the first semester final is comprised of one construct a gingerbread house complete with cut-out doors and windows and whatever edible decorations the student wishes to use. Sounds like tons of fun, right? That's not what my youngest daughter, Emma would say...

Emma is articulate, knows every muscle and bone in the body and writes beautiful poetry. She's a wonderful military wife and soon-to-be momma. But she is not a gingerbread house maker. Even the teacher (who has known Emma since the day she was born) had to admit it just wasn't her 'thing'.

Emma didn't even want to bring the thing home. But school policy (I think it was at the janitors' insistence) stated students could not dispose of them at school. So when I picked her up at school the day she was to bring it home, Emma walked out of the school carrying a trash bag holding her gingerbread creation.

My four year-old granddaughter, Mackenzie, and I both asked to see it. "No", Emma said. It's really bad. REALLY bad. "It's going in the trash dumpster as soon as we get home", Emma insisted.

Mackenzie didn't understand the problem, so persisted in wanting to see what was in the bag until Aunt Emma finally relented. When we got home we all headed for the trash dumpster to view what Emma considered to be a train wreck of a project. When she lifted the bag off the house, all I could say was, "Emma, you're right. That's bad. REALLY bad. Just toss it." And then we both started laughing so hard we got tears in our eyes.

Now before you pronounce me the world's worst mom, you need to hear me out...

If I would have proclaimed the house to be a work of art, I would have been lying and she would have known it. I would have been giving her a false sense of self-esteem.

If I would have told Emma she deserved a better grade than what she got, I would have been lying and she would have known it. I would have been sending her the message that she was being treated unfairly when she wasn't; giving her a false sense of accomplishment.

Parents, we aren't doing our kids any favors when we tell them they are good at something they clearly aren't. And let's face one is good at everything. So instead of lying to your kids and encouraging them to go after something that makes them feel badly about themselves and doesn't give them a sense of satisfaction, help them find those things they DO excel and shine in and then encourage them with everything you've got.

Don't be afraid to tell them their gingerbread house is long as you show them each and every day how beautiful you know they are on the inside and help them to know the same.


Momma D

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bubba, Thanks for Asking...

With four children you can be sure things could get pretty loud and chaotic in our house at times. Believe me, I've heard my share of 'he did...' and 'she did it first...' and 'she took my...' and 'tell him to stop' and...well, you get the picture.

But there were plenty of good times, too; times when it was obvious they would rather be together than anywhere else and times when their love for one another was bigger and louder than any argument they ever had. Thankfully the good times were more plentiful than the not-so-good ones, but one such moment I know I will never forget happened one night when Zach took Emma on a 'date'...

We had spent most of the week showing livestock at the fair. The fair ended on Saturday night. We had taken the animals home and had gotten everything put away when Zach, who was sixteen, asked if he could go back to the demolition derby and if he could take four year-old Emma with him. We agreed, but said they couldn't stay too late. And off they went.

They came home a little after ten. Emma was obviously sleepy and immediately started toward her bedroom. But then she stopped, turned around, came back to Zach and said, "Bubba, thanks for asking me to go with you tonight." And without a moment's hesitation, Zach said, "You're welcome, Emma and thanks for going with me."

My heart just melted. They really did love each other. They still do.

If you have more than one child there are times when everyone in your house isn't getting along. That's just the way it is. Siblings argue. They fight (sometimes physically). Again...that's just the way it is. parents we need to teach our children to love one another and to watch out for one another. We have the responsibility to teach our children that siblings are their forever-friends and that no one will ever be able to fill that spot in their heart.


Momma D

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Once a Mom...Always a Mom

While I was speaking to my daughter, Olivia, on the phone yesterday, my oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was trying to call me, as well. Does that make me a top contender for mom of the year? No. What it makes me is a mom.

After I finished my conversation, I redialed Elizabeth's number to hear the words-
  • Mom, can you help me?
  • I need you-can you come?
  • Laney is running a fever and needs medicine. I don't want to get her out in the cold.
Of course I said 'yes'-that I would be there as soon as I could. Of course I set aside what I was doing to go help my daughter. That's what moms do. But as I was driving across town, my thoughts were not for Elizabeth and Laney. My thoughts were much older than that...

I was thinking of all the times my Granny hurried to my side to be my extra set of hands. I was thinking of the times she snuggled Elizabeth and her siblings when they were sick the same way I would be snuggling with Laney in a few minutes. I thought about all the ways Granny taught me once-a-mom-always-a-mom just by being herself. She couldn't have stopped it if she had wanted to.

I realize that driving across town isn't always an option. Not all of my children live close enough for me to be able to do that. But there are countless ways to be that kind of mom; the kind that is always there when you are needed. Making yourself physically and emotionally accessible doesn't always require a car, but it always requires a heart filled to overflowing with the desire to be your best and do your best for your children.

I hope and pray I am that kind of once-a-mom-always-a-mom. I hope and pray that my daughters see Granny in me and that I can bless their lives the way she blessed mine.

What will you do today to let your children know the job of  MOM is one you have no intention of retiring from?


Momma D