Tag Archives: parenting

a handful

Mom, you’re talking too fast. You’re moving like you’re in a hurry.”

Guilty as charged.

I was in my son’s bedroom, navigating through piles of balled-up socks, damp clothes and boy gadgets he had dumped onto his floor after a scout campout. I knew that we had limited time before we would be leaving for a youth group activity. My mind was a whirlwind of details in order to have him “ready” for his first full school week. My goal was for my new sixth grader to come home from youth group and transition smoothly into his bedtime “routine” (not that we’re back to that yet, but I’m hopeful). An inner voice from past experience prodded me to push him through all this prep work, knowing that he would be exhausted and we would both be cranky if we faced all of this in the bedtime prelude.

growing boyI was acutely aware of the various tasks my son needed to accomplish in the time available. I was also keenly attuned to his need for a chunk of downtime. I had even asked him what his preference would be: rest before or after the tasks at hand? He said after. We both heard it. We moved forward with this “plan.” I followed his little body as he dragged himself lethargically up the stairs. Quietly I reminded myself to only give him one-step directions. We crossed the threshold of his room and targeted the campfire-smoked clothes pile first.

Within minutes I could tell that his sleep-deprived, camped-out body disagreed with his verbal agreement to this plan. His sluggish synapses had apparently voted “no,” too. Staying on task was not happening. Patience was squirmy to hold onto for both of us.boy in afghan

That would have been a REALLY good moment to recognize the realities at hand and revert to the “take a break first” option. I didn’t. I pressed on, trying to engage him in chatting about his first float trip — a flimsy attempt to boost the we’re-in-this-together morale. It’s possible that I quickened my pace and was doing more for him that he would typically do for himself. Our momentum ground to a halt when I heard,

Mom, you’re talking too fast! You’re moving like you’re in a hurry.”

 

Yep. I was. I looked down at my hands heaped high with boy stuff and glanced over at his slumped posture. Busted. I dropped the pile on his bed and we talked it through. We reconnected and evened out our pace. He did get a recharge break and had a delightful time later that evening, exuding energy and laughter.

boy swinging

This brief interaction was a poignant reminder of how easily we impact our children in those hurried moments of life. I’m grateful my son  was able to speak up and that I was finally able to hear him. I’m thankful for God’s grace which allows us to keep practicing at this parenting stuff.

My devotional the very next morning reinforced this lesson:


“Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6

handful of quietBoy, did that hit home! I’ll be pondering this one a while. Quieting our multi-tasking momma brains is so hard and our busy hands tend to come with the territory of motherhood, right?

May each of us discover a little quietness in ourselves so we can reflect a bit more calmness to those around us. Amen?

Nerf wars

When you hear the phrase “Nerf war” do you envision hoardes of kids running through your house and yard shooting orange darts all over creation?

Or…do you imagine all the times you’ve been frustrated by the growing piles of dart guns scattered all over your house and have the urge to declare war on all things Nerf?

(I once found a dart in my ice maker…Whaaaat? “Somebody” had to have the freezer door hanging wide open while another “somebody” blasted him with darts?!?)

pile of dart guns

boy with nerf dartsWe have a little bit of both going on over here. With some inspiration from an old Pinterest post, we put our heads together to create some neutral territory.

Step 1: Claim some unused pegboard and attach it to the back of closet door in the garage (thanks to my hubby for some carpentry assist)

Step 2: Gather all the Nerf dart paraphernalia, relish in all their glory (btw: one of us partook of this step more robustly than the other)

Step 3: Scavenger hunt all over the garage for pegboard hooks of various sizes (sorry, broom: your resting place is now on the floor)

Step 4: Puzzle through all the different dart gun shapes and hang them within easy reach of active boysboy with dart pegboardStep 5  – Kids: Call your buddies over to launch a Nerf war! Parents: bask in the fact that all the Nerf stuff is OUT of your house. Woohoo!

*Optional steps if you want to up your game:

  • Visit your local hardware store and get some dart-orange paint (Valspar 2010-2 “Island Orange” was our choice. We got a sample can for $3.)

  • Use painter’s tape to mark off a pattern

  • Let your kiddo paint away! Let paint dry and then do a second coat.

    boy painting pegboard

  • After paint is thoroughly dry, carefully pull off painter’s tape to reveal your kid’s design.

    Orange pegboard for nerf guns

  • Load up the pegboard with Nerf guns (and maybe a light saber or two)

Gear up:

Nerf gun pegboard

Get READY…

boys talking dart strategy

+++++ AIM +++++

geared up

boys and Nerf guns

Fire away! —————–>>>

boys geared up with Nerf guns

…and, good luck finding all the darts before the lawnmower gets them first! 🙂

 

 

Helping hands

Summer is in full swing and kids are all over the place, exploring and having a chance to wander a bit more than during the school year. Hands that have been crunching time on keyboards and lifting heavy backpacks are reaching out for some new things to do.

When mom-guilt pings about how much those hands can be on electronic devices, I pause to reflect on what their hands are grasping during those non-device hours.

Growing hands around here have been capturing frogs and releasing them into a neighborhood pond. frog visitorSweaty hands are helping with weekly yard chores of mowing and weeding…even the too-gross-for-mom removal of icky things from the yard (mice, moles, and doggie-doo). “Thank you, son.”baby turtlesCaring hands are feeding pets, brushing the dog, and transferring wriggly worms from the driveway to the backyard turtle habitat.



Embracing boyhood one summer day at a time.



Helpful hands are assisting me with meal prep and endless dishes. The noise level crescendos as cabinet doors bang and utensils clatter, dropping nearly into place as they are tossed casually on the table. Fingers swipe phones to change tunes or ask Syri random questions. Hands tap out rhythms and fingers poke playfully as we pass each other in the kitchen.

boy cleaning poolThroughout our parenting we’ve weaved “helping” into our family tapestry in daily routines and weekly chores. Each phase is a bit different and we’ve revamped schedules to better fit personality types. This summer they made their own chore schedule while I supplied encouraging parameters and crunchy snacks.

boy helping weed playgroundAs they’ve gotten bigger, we’ve expanded “helping” into community projects. It’s amazing how kids persevere on mundane tasks when they are alongside new friends in youth group and have ultimate frisbee at the end of their toil.

boy doing service projectI’m trying to catch them being natural helpers and offer a simple “thank you for ____.” My mom-brain keeps prompting them in ways big and small to see ways they can help others. I want to expand their hearts for serving. Eyes redirected to faces rather than tiny screens. Hands reaching out to open a door instead of clutched to a phone. It’s a process.


“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us.” Psalm 90:17


Today it may be picking up a piece of trash on a walk. Tomorrow may be helping a grandparent with a project. Someday it will be caring for their own family. I want their hands capable and their hearts ready, so we’re going to keep rocking the helper chores over here and maybe in the process catch a frog or two.

 

 

“Inventors Station”

 

inventors hat

My son had turned his room into a recyclable center in the course of a week. Between the door and his bed was a thin path with looming boxes, egg cartons, milk jugs, t.p.rolls galore (!), and misc. rocks, sticks, feathers, beads, etc.

I surveyed the situation “arising” and began a plan. This is how our “Inventors Station” came to be.

inventors station                        inventors box

 

Rather then stifle his creative juices; I adapted to his way of thinking and set up a small desk that now houses all his “supplies”. It’s sort of like a tool bench, only better! There are nooks and crannies to stockpile bottle caps, rubber bands, clothespins, popsicle sticks and duct tape. (You must have lots of duct tape!!)

Many Robots, Crazy Hats, Boats and oddities have been created by my budding inventor.

robot 2   robot 3  robot

If you’re not thrilled about giving this idea prime real estate in your home, or space does not allow it, then a box is a great compromise and is portable! Once the space allotted is full of exciting aspects, no more can be stored until the ones on hand are used for a masterpiece. (This was learned the hard way when I discovered cardboard and styrofoam popcorn being hoarded in various places!)

Giving space for creative freedoms in youth will pay big dividends down the road in the life of a child! (He says he will build me a house someday!)

Yay for Inventors!!!

 

Saying Yes

As parents, we set limits and boundaries for our children every day and throughout the day. Saying “no” can be tough on both sides. Redirecting and reframing takes more effort, especially on sticky summer days.purple flowersToday I said “yes” to boys asking for a donut stop in between morning activities. I observed how each of them made their unique choice of  glazed gooeyness. Amidst their boy chatter I heard about a high school teacher who likes maple bacon donuts. I learned that two of my sons pass this particular shop every day on their way to school, casting a yearning peek out the schoolbus window yet never mentioning it. As crumbs fell during a flurry of eating, they also dropped little tidbits of experiences they’ve had at their new schools this past year. They showed me a new videogame as they teased each other about milk mustaches and amateur frisbee skills. I soaked up these bonus glimpses into boyworld as they gobbled up their donuts.donuts

Later in the day I got to say “yes” to a request for a movie night. I wasn’t thrilled about the specific movie, so I dabbled in new territory…the kids going to their movie while my hubby and I went to another. [Win-win, people. If you still have preschoolers, hang on. Your time will come!] Since our movie finished early, we slipped into their show to catch its flavor. I watched the boys’ faces as they reacted to the movie, their expressions more animated than the movie itself. Slumped down in their seats and leaning in toward each other unaware, they were mesmerized by the colorful characters on the big screen while we were captivated by their shared brotherhood.

twinkle lightsMy last “yes” of the day was to rootbeer floats when we got home from the movie. I propelled my tired momself out on the dark patio and sat with them under the twinkly lights, listening to their happy slurping. A contented sigh escaped from my blue-eyed boy as he cradled his sticky cup, savoring the last drop of this hot summer day.

All these little moments crept into my heart, softening the grumpy interactions about delayed chores earlier in the day and pushing the agenda of tomorrow a little further out of mind, all because I took the chance to say “yes.”
sun peeking through tree

What can YOUR “yes” be tomorrow?


“However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all.” –Ecclesiastes 11:8

 


only girl

Recently we had some friends over for an impromptu pizza dinner after soccer games were finished for the day. Our combo of kids resulted in an 8 boys:1 girl ratio. The solo girl told her mother on the way home, “the mom is the only girl in their house.” Oh, so very true! During her visit I enjoyed digging out some “girl stuff” from my play therapy toy stash. I invited her to play with my collection of Lego Friends I’ve received from my boys during their Legos-for-every-occasion phase that lasted persistently for years. I listened to her little girl chatter, noting the lack of crash-bang-argh sound effects that typically accompany boy play at our house. I watched as she fidgeted with her long, tousled hair as she told me stories with vibrant animation. She was enamored with our baby turtle, Pipsqueak. She had so many words and was so willing to share.Salsa

Just as our young visitor had the realization that I was the only girl in my house, I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve become accustomed to how my sons dole out their words at a slowly measured rate as if they need to conserve their syllables to last the remainder of the day. I’ve noticed how they interact playfully with me and show affection in boyish ways that don’t require stringing all those nouns and verbs together. Much of their communication is through touch and sound.

I’ve got one boy who is my Leaner. As he’s grown taller than me, he’s developed a lean-in stance when he drapes over me for a hug. He stands very still but is so fully present that it seeps into my heart like a soft rain soaks deeply into the ground. Often he will hum softly as his breathing slows and I feel the man-child weight of him pressing onto my shoulders. He releases with a big sigh and we’re both a little more centered somehow.

morning hugAnother son has developed his technique of the hold-and-squeeze. He comes in for a “typical” hug then holds me tight, waiting for an off-beat amount of precious seconds to do a double-squeeze that sometimes takes my breath away. Occasionally I’ll get a few mini-squeezes in before he loosens his hold on me. I can sense the melody of his mood in how he prolongs the hug or stays only for a brief skirmish. Sometimes we’ll finalize with a rhythmic tap-tap of our fingers, drumming onto each other’s backs without saying a word–yet also saying so much. This seems like a foreshadowing of the letting-go process we face when he leaves for college in a heartbeat.

contented boy

My last one I can still tuck under my chin when he dives all-in, often leading with his head and wrapping around me with all of his limbs. I often wonder how many limbs he has because they are EVERYwhere! A lot of swaying and giggles accompany this hugfest, especially if he gets a firm headrub or backscratch out of the deal. He lingers longer if a variety of wiggly movement is sustained in this light-hearted encounter, reminding me that his primary Love Language is Physical Touch. Squirmy love is his forte; I have adapted my reflexes accordingly.

mandevilla bloomSo, yes, I am the only girl in this house, but I’ve learned to communicate “boyspeak” as I’ve grown along with them. They can out-talk me about sports, outrun me in 5k races, and definitely out-eat me at any given meal…yet they can’t outgrow the mommy-son bonds weaved ever so tightly during all these leaning, squeezing, squirmy moments.


“Behold, children are a gift from the Lord… His reward.” Psalm 127:3


“Mother’s day” has passed yet each of us mommas can harvest these little snatches of our child’s affection however they may come. It may be braiding your daughter’s hair for the umpteenth time or gritting your teeth through those first driving lessons. A wink, a nudge, a crayon drawing, a morning grunt or an after-school story…cherish these tokens of your child’s unique interaction with you. We’ve got 50 weeks until the next round of “direct” appreciation the card-makers will remind everyone about. In the meantime, soak up the ordinary love today, my friends.