Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Just You and Me

A few weeks ago our entire family spent a few days with my in-laws and some of our extended family. The days were spent swimming, boating, eating, talking...I guess you could sum it up by saying that a good time was had by all.

At one point several of us—including my six year-old granddaughter, Mackenzie—were sitting outside on the deck talking. Then for a variety of reasons, everyone but Mackenzie and I went back inside. As soon as we were alone, she jumped up from her chair, climbed up on my lap, gave a big sigh and said, “Finally, Nanna, it’s just you and me.” This of course was followed by some snuggle time and conversation about Two-socks the horse, Bonnie the dog and first-grade learning experiences.
Mackenzie’s ‘relief’ at it being just the two of us wasn’t rude or unkind. She loves her Grandpa, her aunts and uncles, great-grandparents and cousins. She also thoroughly enjoys spending time with older second-cousins who aren’t so old that they think a six year-old is completely annoying. No, Mackenzie just needed some one-on-one time with her nanna—the very same kind of personal time your kids and/or grandkids need from you.
You may be thinking it’s hard enough to get everyone where they’re supposed to be on time while trying to get everyone’s laundry washed and put away, keep the house picked up, meals cooked and all the other necessary things that are required of you to keep everyone’s lives up and running. But think about this…your family won’t be a family if its members aren’t loved and cherished and made to feel special. Instead, you’ll be nothing more than a group of people surviving together under the same roof.
That’s why it is important to spend time with each child; talking just to them, praying just with them, playing a game just with them, doing chores and fun projects just with them, going on a ‘date’ just with them. To do so will give each child the validation they need and deserve and allows you to really know your child as a person.
It’s like a jigsaw puzzle—even when the pieces are in the box or scattered on the table, it’s still a puzzle. But when you take the time to carefully look at each piece enough to know exactly how and where it fits those pieces become part of something everyone can enjoy.
Trust me, it’s soooooooo worth the time you don’t think you have—both for you and your children. I know this to be true, because a few weeks ago my daughter, Olivia, left Matt and Reuben at home overnight to spend the night and help me with a project the next day. As we sat in the restaurant enjoying dinner (just the two of us), she said, “I love it when we’re all together, but I really miss not having it be just you and me like we used to.”
I guess I'm going to have to do something about that, aren't I.
Momma D




Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'm an Inside Girl!

Like most preschoolers, Macy doesn’t have an external volume control. Okay, let’s just tell it like it is…unless she decides to do so, she has no volume control. That was especially true one rainy day we were stuck inside and getting bored.

Macy and Mackenzie were pretending to be horses and cowgirls. That was great, but the noise level just kept getting louder and louder. When I told them to quiet down, Macy didn’t get the message (or couldn’t hear it), so I said, “Macy, use your inside voice.”
“I’m not an inside boy, Nanna, I’m an inside girl,” she shot back with a confused and hurt look on her face. How dare I call her a boy!

Me: “No, honey, I said use your inside voice.”
Macy: (getting perturbed) “Nanna, I am not an inside boy! I’m an inside girl!

Me: (laughing) “Macy, I know you’re a girl. I was telling you to talk in a quiet voice.”
Macy:  (smiling) “Oh, okay.”

And she did…for a little while, at least.
Macy Scout isn’t the only child to misunderstand what was said to her; to hear something completely different than what was actually said or intended. But often times these misunderstandings aren’t nearly as simple to fix…or funny.

When you say “No, not that way”, your child hears “You can’t do anything right”.
When you say “Why can’t you be like…”, your child hears “You aren’t good enough.”

When you say “I don’t have time”, your children hear “You are not a priority”.
When you say…well, hopefully you get the picture.

I know first-hand that sometimes our children don’t get the right message even when we say everything in the right way—as was the case with Macy Scout. But more often than not, as parents, we need to be more mindful of both what we say and how we say it.

Momma D


Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's Back!!!!!!!!!!!

When John and I purchased the farm which had previously been in my family for several generations, the only animals residing there were a few mice and a HUGE black snake. Not a big snake, a HUGE snake, well over five feet long.
My first meeting with this over-sized reptile took place when the kids and I were looking around one of the outbuildings. I was carrying Olivia, who was barely a year old, but Elizabeth (3) and Zach (6) were walking beside me when we saw the snake go underneath the building we were about to enter.

Zach asked why we let the snake go instead of trying to get it to come out so we could kill it. My first thought was to tell him it was because the snake was big enough to swallow children whole, but don’t worry, I didn’t say that. Instead, I said something to the effect that the snake wasn’t really hurting anything, but that he (Zach) needed to stay away from the building.
Fast-forward several weeks. Zach decided he was going to take his tractors and dump truck out to play in the yard. So with his toys in his arms, he opened the door and started to step onto the porch when in a panic he slammed the door shut, dropped his toys, plastered himself against the door and said, “It’s back!”
“It” was the snake—sunning himself on the front stoop (from which he hung over both sides). Apparently this snake thought his territory extended to the house…OUR house! But did I have news for him.
Telling the kids to stay inside, I went outside via another door, got the hoe and made sure that snake never found his way to our porch again (or anywhere else, for that matter).
I can still see Zach plastered against the door; eyes as big as dinner plates from the shock of nearly stepping on the snake as he headed out to play.  But that’s not the only thing I think about when I think about that day.
I think about the fact that, all too often, parents ignore their child’s problems hoping that if they don’t acknowledge them they will stay hidden like a snake underneath a deserted outbuilding. After all, if you don’t talk about it or can’t see it, it’s not there, right? WRONG! Just like the snake left the shed to absorb the warmth of the sun, a problem will always surface to the 'light' sooner or later.
If you don’t acknowledge the problems in your child’s life and help them deal with them appropriately, they will fester and grow and eventually invade your child’s life; robbing them of feeling safe, secure and confident.
 I'm not talking about getting involved in spats between friends, or taking on the system because your child didn't make first string on the team, or blaming someone...anyone for the mistakes your child makes. The problems I’m talking about are genuine difficulties at school, being bullied or even being the bully, physical limitations, difficulties with learning, behavioral problems, emotional anxiety and self-esteem.
In order for Zach and his little sisters to feel (and actually be) safe when going outside to play, the snake had to go. Likewise, threats to your child’s safety, security and well-being need to be dealt with appropriately so that your child doesn’t have to be afraid to step out their front door and live life to the fullest.

Momma D

NOTE: Olivia killed this snake in her front yard a couple of months ago. It was almost as big as 'our' snake.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

T-shirts Don't Look Good on Me

By the time Elizabeth was three she knew quite a bit; how to write and recognize the letters in the alphabet, the words to countless songs, how to count, her colors, shapes and opposites. She also ‘knew’ she didn’t look good in a t-shirt…
It was Halloween night and John took Zach (6), Elizabeth (3) and Olivia (1) to the downtown merchants in our community to go trick-or-treating. Zach was excited when they arrived at the local screen printing shop and discovered they were giving out free t-shirts instead of candy. Elizabeth, on the other hand, smiled politely and said, “No, thank you. T-shirts don’t look good on me.” John also smiled at the now-dumbfounded hander-out-of-t-shirts and accepted the t-shirt on Elizabeth’s behalf.
While most of you probably don’t have a child who happily turns down a free t-shirt, you all have a child who, like Elizabeth, has a mind of his/her own. They have definite likes and dislikes and things that interest them vs. things that bore them to tears. Your job, as their parent is to:
1.      Allow your children to express these thoughts and feelings. So Elizabeth didn’t like t-shirts. No big deal. I don’t like the color blue and no one has a problem with that.

2.      Teach your children to express these thoughts and feelings appropriately. Phrases like, ‘no thank you’, ‘I’d rather have…’ and ‘I don’t want any, thank you’ are appropriate. Phrases like ‘I hate that’, ‘No!’, and ‘Yuk’ or ‘Gross’ are not.

3.      Encourage your children to grow and mature using these thoughts and feelings. Developing a sense of style or personality is not a bad thing. Enjoying books and music instead of soccer or baseball has its merits. Preferring art to math is not the end of the world.

4.      Give your children the freedom to embrace and change these thoughts and feelings. Elizabeth decided to become a nurse before she was 10 and she’s a compassionate, gifted nurse, at that. As for the t-shirt ‘thing’, she outgrew it a few years later. These days you can find her sporting one just about any day of the week. And she looks just fine.
So remember, the opinionated little person sitting across from you at the dinner table isn’t trying to make your life difficult. He or she is just letting you know who they are and what they’re all about.

Happy birthday, Elizabeth,
Momma D