Thursday, August 27, 2015

Do You Have A Salamander? Well, You Should!

Among the MANY pets our kids had over the years, one of my favorites was Sally the Salamander and the salamanders that came after her. Why? Oh, let me count the ways…

Sally and friends were low-maintenance and easy to care for. Sally and friends were friendly and non-aggressive. Sally and friends were hardy and didn’t go to ‘pet heaven’ at the drop of a hat.
Sally and friends were cute. Yes, cute. Something shiny black with bright yellow spots is cute no matter how you look at it.

But most of all, Sally and friends served as excellent reminders of what home and family are really all about. How? Glad you asked….

Salamanders live and thrive only where the eco-system is perfectly balanced. This served to remind me that my children needed a balance of fun, laughter, freedom, rules, discipline, and times to be serious.

No two salamanders have the exact same spot pattern; reminding me that all four of my kids are different and need to be respected, loved, and appreciated for those differences. This fact also served to help me instill in my children that they are beautiful and uniquely created by God…and God don’t make no junk.

Salamanders have the ability to grow new tails and even limbs. What a relief this has been to me at times when I’ve been a less-than-stellar parent when it comes to disciplining my kids or letting them know how precious they are to me. It reminds me that in spite of my imperfections, as long as my kids know my love for them is unconditional and unwavering, they are resilient and recover from my screw-ups.

Salamanders aren’t aggressive and they don’t bully other animals, but they do have the subtle ability to protect themselves from predators by emitting a slimy coating over their bodies that is obnoxious to animals that try to attack them. While I never wanted or encouraged my kids to pick a fight or be a bully or mean girl, we gave them the skills and permission to stand up for themselves and to protect themselves from the emotional and physical assaults that came their way.

Salamanders lead a simple, quiet life. They live in humble settings and eat only what they need. Oh, and they return to the same pond to breed and lay/hatch their eggs year after year after year. I hope and pray I gave my children hearts that desire to live simply and without a sense of entitlement or hunger for money and things, and to be committed to family like Sally and friends did.

Who would have thought the lowly, silent salamander had so much to say? 

I guess that leaves me with just one question for you:

Do you have a salamander? If not, you should.

Momma D

                            Copyright 2015 Darla Noble.  No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 


Thursday, August 20, 2015

So Who Decides What Different Is, Anyway?

A few weeks ago I took Mackenzie and Macy to the children’s pool to spend some time splashing around, swimming, and forgetting the 100 degree days we were having. We arrived at the pool just as they were opening, along with another nanna and her four year-old granddaughter who had Downs.

It took all of about two minutes for Mack and Macy to start playing with “Mandy”. They played with pool toys and splashed around in the water like they’d been friends their entire lives. And not once did my girls look at "Mandy" like she was different. Not once did they ask why she didn’t talk very much or why she wore a swim diaper—not while we were at the pool or even later. To be honest, I don’t think they even noticed these things, but if they did, none of it mattered to them. What mattered was that they’d made a new friend.

“Mandy’s” nanna complimented me on how accepting the girls were and thanked me for ‘letting’ them play with her.  And when “Mandy” and her nanna left before we did, “Mandy” ran over to the girls, telling her nanna she needed to “Say bye to friends”.

I was so proud of the girls for being so friendly and engaging and thankful for their innocence. I was equally proud of Zach and Becca for being parents who are raising their girls to see past someone’s outward appearance to who they really are and I encourage every parent to do the same.

Don’t encourage your children toward friendships with the kids who dress the nicest, wear the most expensive shoes, live in the biggest houses, or have the parents with the highest paying jobs in an attempt to make sure your child is one of the popular kids or to make them look good. 

Don’t encourage your children toward friendships with the most athletic kids hoping it will ‘rub off’ on your child and turn into future scholarships or with any other group of kids because it will make your child look good.

Don’t discourage your children from forming friendships with children who aren’t as clean or well-kept, economically privileged, or physically or mentally capable as your child is because you don't think 'those kids' are good enough for your child. 

Instead, teach your children to be kind to everyone and choose their friends based on who the person is on the inside—kind, compassionate, honest, trustworthy, and fun to be with. Teach your children to look past the different. Or better yet, teach them to not see those things at all, but instead, to look at the heart of a person. 

Besides, who decides what different is, anyway?

Momma D

                              Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 



Friday, August 14, 2015

The Day X Really Did Mark The Spot

When Emma was four, her favorite book was “Look Out For Pirates”. It’s a story about a group of sailors who outwit some pirates; keeping them away from their treasure. And like all good pirate/buried treasure stories, X marks the spot. And let me tell you, Emma spent a bit of time hunting around the fields on our farm for an X.

It just so happens that on the far end of the lake where we spend a good deal of time, there is a small island. The outer edges are sand and gravel—perfect for a picnic, sunbathing, and resting after swimming. The inner part of the island, however, is filled with trees and underbrush. So…John and I decided to take the kids up there one day to swim and have lunch…and to finally give Emma the opportunity to find buried treasure.

Once we’d tied the boat off and were on the shore, John sneaked off to bury a little bag containing candy, gum, some money, and a few other little things. It wasn’t buried very deep, and on top of it he placed a great big X made from sticks.

He was back in no time and suggested that we cut through the trees to go to the other side of the island. The kids were all game for that, so off we went with John leading the way; making sure Emma was closest to him. As we came to the place where X marked the buried treasure, John stopped; pretending he needed to blow his nose or something like that. It didn’t take but a second for Emma to spy the X and in no time, she had unearthed the buried treasure. She was overjoyed, to say the least, and thankfully her siblings, who quickly caught on, didn’t blow our cover. In fact, they went right along with us; making the ‘event’ even more special.

Now I know there may be some pragmatics out there thinking it was wrong to ‘lie’ to Emma.  But I don’t agree. What we did for Emma that day was to allow her to take an adventure she wanted to take. But we also did something else—something even more important. We showed Emma that even the seemingly impossible is possible—if you keep trying and don’t give up.

It was a few years before Emma realized how the treasure came to be there that day, but that didn’t matter to her. What mattered was that 1) it had been there, and 2) we valued her feelings enough to give her the experience.

The reminder I want to leave with you is this: don’t squelch your child’s imagination and dreams. If you can help make your young child’s dreams come true and allow them to live out some of their imagination (to an extent), you will find that as they grow older, your child won’t be afraid to be their own individual rather than merely going with the flow. They will be more creative and confident.

So ask yourself: how can you help your child find their buried treasure?

Momma D

                             Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 


                                               Emma and her sweet one year-old, Essie

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Great Expectations...No, Not The Book

My youngest granddaughter, Essie, will be fifteen months old tomorrow. But even at such a young age she already knows, no, she expects her daddy to be on the other end of the phone whenever she picks up a play phone or her momma’s cell phone. She picks it up, says, “Hi, Dada” and then proceeds to kiss the phone before saying ‘Bye”. Essie also expects to see Nanna (that’s meJ) whenever she passes by the computer and calls my name—thanks to SKYPE.

Essie’s expectations stem from what she’s seen and done in the past. It happened before so, in her mind, it should happen again and again.

Your children are no different. They have expectations for things to be the same…to be consistent. Consistency equals safety and security in their world. This is especially true when it comes to you. So ask yourself: how consistent are you? Do you:

  • Expect your children to comply with the same guidelines, rules, and expectations at home and in public?
  • Expect your child’s guests to comply with house rules rather than letting them get by with things you won’t let your own children get by with?
  • Parent consistently; giving your children the confidence that they can expect you to be the same no matter what day of the week it is?

On more than a few occasions I’ve seen a parent reach for their child to put on a hat, zip a coat, wipe a face, or something similar, only to have the child flinch and recoil. There’s only one reason for that: their expectation was that they were going to be hit.

Now while I am not at all opposed to a swat on the behind or on little hands reaching for things they shouldn’t have, being slapped or hit by their parent should never be the normal expectation of any child.

I hope and pray Essie and my other sweet grandchildren never have these kinds of expectations. I hope and pray your children don’t either.

Momma D

                              Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.