Saturday, February 27, 2010

Complementary Colors

"This is another reason why we're a perfect match -

he grounds me,

I can make him laugh.

I can see us at our
fiftieth wedding anniversary,

still a couple of complementary colors on opposite sides of the wheel,

and yet relying on each other,

the way that each child on a seesaw requires the answering weight of the other to make the whole device work."

~ s. kallos, Sing Them Home

Thursday, February 25, 2010

All on the Way to Preschool

Me: Boys, why was Mommy angry this morning?

Tuck: Because we weren't kind to our house.

Me: That's right. You dumped out all your toys, you moved Daddy's chair, and you were standing on the shelf ready to jump into my chair. And that made me angry.

Tyler: Look, Mommy. I see sunshine. I think it belongs to you.

Tuck: Tyler, it's Mommy's turn. Mommy, go ahead and talk. I'm listening.

(Nice, Tuck.)

Me: I would like for you to be kind to me, to each other, to your toys, and to our house. Will you do that?

Tuck: I sure will, Mommy.

Tyler: I'll give you a kiss. So you won't be angry.

Me: I would like that, when we're finished in the car. Thank you for being kind. Let's have a good day today.

Tyler: Look. I'm Mary. (He has a sweatshirt hoodie dangling from his head, which reminds him of the Virgin Mary's head covering, apparently.)

Tucker: I'm going to be kind.

Tyler: Mommy, I don't like that story about the ChickaWiseMints.


Me: What story?

Tyler: You know. The mean king, and he ChickaWiseMints.


Tyler: They go to find baby Jesus, and the mean king tricks them.

(Aha! King Herod!)

Me: The mean king who tried to trick the wise men?

Tyler: Yes. I don't like him. And also, turtles don't like carrots. Only bunnies do.

Me: Okay. Good to know.

Tucker: Mommy, do dogs like beans?

Me: I don't think so.

Tucker: Yes, they do.

Me: Okay, then. They do.

Tyler: I think it's a good day. I really think it is. A good day.

Well, it was a rough start. But I think we're getting somewhere.

These conversations can turn my world around.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Species in Question

I came downstairs this morning to find:
  • The blinds pulled (which is not a child-friendly task).
  • The throw pillows strewn all about.
  • One pillow unzipped.
  • Tyler eating the cotton stuffing.

Am I raising boys, or house training puppies?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Brutal Honesty

It's been a while since I have posted a tell-all blog confessional, but today is a day for one. The last couple of days have been adding up, things have fallen to pieces around me, and I am confident you won't judge me by the following paragraphs.

(If you are not so confident, then feel free to stop reading.)

We just returned from a week in Chicago, which was a beautiful blend of extended family, friends from every circle and decade, memories old and new, and a feast of as much Chicago pizza as one can squeeze into eight days. It was so much fun, so jam-packed, and so what we wanted it to be.

As I have said before, a vacation for the boys is a vacation for me, so I relax a bit on the rules when we're away from home. It's a TV frenzy, routines are abandoned, and boundaries are relaxed. Add in grandparents, uncles, and aunts who think our children hang the moon, and you'll eventually find two little boys who spend a good bit of time eating lots of cookies and candy and not often hearing 'no.'

Now we are home, and we have entered the character re-structuring phase of re-entry. As a result, the boys and I are not even remotely fond of each other. We love each other out of commitment, but we are not often smiling over our deligh in each other.

In our not-so-shining moments of the last few days:

... Tucker has made up a new song that he sings only when he is intentionally tormenting his brother.

... Tyler has learned and practiced the phrases: "I don't want to talk to you," "You are not my favorite," and "I don't like you." Sweet. I'll tuck those away to play again and again in my mind.

... We cannot get far enough away from each other. And never for quite enough time.

... Tyler and I were out-screaming each other over one battle or another. Or perhaps, one battle, and then another. Out-screaming. That's a nice mental picture for you. (I finally had to ask myself: who is the adult here? I think it's supposed to be you, SuperMom.)

... I asked to hug my children, in an act of reconciliation, and Tucker said, "Are you still mean?" And Tyler said, "Are you finished being angry?" Well, that launched us right into a dialogue of defining mean and angry, offering humility, and accepting forgiveness. Those are not my favorite, however important they are. (Especially when I seem to be the only one asking forgiveness around here.)

It hasn't been great. And really, what I really want is to be apart from them. For just a while. Okay, for just a good long while.

That sentence produces some intense guilt, from even the most realistic of mothers, I daresay.

But, then.


A dear friend (who also lost her mind a few times as a mother, and I know, because I'm her daughter) told me what she had just read in the Bible. She said, "Oh, Tricia, this should encourage you. Listen to this."

I was ready for her to open her Bible and tell me something about sparing the rod and spoiling the child, or love is patient and love is kind, or I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Which I know and believe and can definitely find encouragement in, but my heart was not especially soft or penetrable.

I'm just sayin'.

But instead, she read to me from Exodus, when Moses was leading the Israelites. Those stubborn, strong-willed, near-sighted Israelites. God and Moses were both pretty frustrated with this crew, and The Message says God finally got to his boiling point.

God said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites, 'You're one hard-headed people. I couldn't stand being with you for even a moment—I'd destroy you. So take off all your jewelry until I figure out what to do with you.'" ~ Exodus 33: 5-6

By golly, yes. I do find encouragement in that. Even God reached his capacity for closeness with these people. "I couldn't stand being with you for even a moment . . . Go away, until I figure out what to do with you."

He loves them, he forgives them, and he continues to lead them, but for heaven's sake. He needed a minute.

This is a God who knows me.

Grace for today, please, God. You know the kind I need.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Look Alike

Tonight, Tucker saw our wedding portrait hanging in my husband's parents' home. He looked at the picture, at me, at the picture, at me: same girl.

He pointed and said, "Look, Mommy, that's the day you looked like a princess."

Indeed. I felt like one, too.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Geez, Mom.

Today marked another first for us: Tucker's first Valentine party. We made plans for Tyler (to hang with Daddy) so I could be Tuck's date to a party of cupcakes, sherbet punch, and careful cards in decorated paper bags.

(And might I say, Valentines have stepped it up a bit in the last two decades since I was signing my name on the back of them. Sheesh. Our little pencils woven through the perforated holes of Lightning McQueen and Buzz Lightyear didn't hold a candle to the pipe cleaner sculptures. I'll plan more next year.)

Just before we left for the party, I decided to feign asking Tucker's permission, even though the plan was firmly established.

"Tuck, is it okay if I come with you to your party?"

He thought. "Hmmmm. Sure, Mommy. I trust you."

You trust me? Well, that's good. I guess that won't always be true, so I'll take the affirmation today.

I tried to keep his trust throughout the entire party, sitting where he asked me to, helping him when he needed it, and keeping appropriate conversation with his classmates.

But then I almost blew it.

He has a little fascination with Courtney, and she was dressed in a darling fluffy, pink dress. She could hardly keep her hands off her own flounces. So cute.

(Precisely how Tucker's sister would be dressed for such a party, if he had one.)

I said, "Courtney, you look so pretty today. Tucker, doesn't Courtney look lovely? You can tell her. Say, 'Courtney, you look lovely today.'"

And with that, I stepped over the line. He shot me a sideways glance that said, Watch it. We talked about this. My trust is wavering.

He whispered out of the side of his mouth, "I'll tell her, later."

Yikes. Sorry, kiddo. I'll shape up. Enough with the scripted compliments. I'll go ahead and stop feeding you lines.

We ate our cupcakes, delivered the valentines, and drank our punch. And I tried to remain trustworthy.

That was a close one.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Well Said.

Being a stay-at-home mom
means you're the CEO,
Director of Operations,
and Head of Finance of your own company.
A company that has *pooped* on you,
but still it's a company.
~ Hallmark

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Mommy, Can We Sing For You?"

Now that's a reason to delay the dinner process,
if I ever saw one.

Good heavens.

By 8:47 this morning, Tyler had performed two award-winning meltdowns:

1. He wanted to wear his construction boots, then his snow boots, then his brown sneakers. But he changed his mind too late in the game, and the construction boots won out in the battle for time in the morning routine, since they were already on his blessed little feet. Cry, cry, cry.

2. Then he wanted to hold my car keys. But I couldn't give in, since they were in the ignition of the car driving us to preschool. Sorry, dude. Cry, cry, cry.

Good heavens. E-mo-tion-al.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Writing on the Wall

Every significant achievement starts with a dream.
Every dream requires a step of faith.
Every step of faith has a moment of testing.
Every test requires a word of encouragement to succeed.
~b. strait
I have a writing nook: the place where words land, sometimes with a safe, easy landing; sometimes with a crash that leaves me staggering; sometimes with an elusive whisper that makes me wonder if I heard them at all. In a matter of time, these words will be posted on the wall in my office, because at any given point, I'm anywhere on this spectrum. And I think I need these words close by for the journey.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fast Talker

I invited the boys to sit down at the table, just before I was ready to join them. I scurried about, gathering napkins, drinks, and all the other things that I probably should have remembered before their hands were washed and they were poised for action.

Ever reminding me of the routine, they chanted:

"Hey. We need to pray."

"Mommy, we didn't pray yet."

"Are we going to pray?"

Tyler folded his hands. "Thank you. Amen. There. I prayed." And he bit into his apple.

The thing is, I'm pretty sure that counts.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fractions of a Whole

Part One: Half.

Me: Tucker, please put on your shoes.

Tuck: I can't.

Me: Yes, you can. You are almost four and a half, and boys who are four and a half can put on their own shoes. Please, go put them on. Go.

Part Two: Pieces
Me: Tucker, please sit up in your carseat. I know you want the toy on the floor, but you have to sit up. When you lean over, you're not safe. A car could crash into us, and you would break in half. You would smash into pieces, and we would have to take you to the hospital. And if something awful happened to you, I would be sad forever. So, please, sit up.
Tuck: Okay. Because I don't want a car to crash into us and I break into piece and go to the hossible and you be sad forever. Okay.
Part Three: Synonyms
Stranger: Hi, kiddo. How old are you?
Tucker: I'm four. Four and a piece.
(Because 'half' is synonymous with 'piece.' If he could break in half, then he must be four and a piece. Must be.)
I love the linear pattern of a sweet little mind.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Disney Channel or Valium?

I have been gone, gone, gone for the last many days, and part of the gift of my departure was the joy of Traveling Alone. I packed books, snacks, and music, and not a single one of them involved board books, graham crackers, or the Songs of Bob and Larry. It was a weekend of total renewal, and I'll talk more about that later.

Rest assured.

But I have to say this now.

On my last flight home, I became fast friends with the passenger sitting next to me. Susan is a shrink in downtown Denver, and we struck up a conversation that lasted nearly three hours. (My husband does not love when I do this, but he was not there to roll his eyes. So I proceeded with learning all about my new friend.)

We began with a comparison of books we were reading, then we discussed the lives of our small children, the joys and headaches therein, the similarities in our world views, the differences in our career paths, and the joys of our womanhood. I'm really not kidding. We talked through the plane's takeoff and touchdown, and even into the airport bathroom after the flight. And we did not stop short of exchanging emails and plans for coffee.

She was the final course in a feast that lasted many days.

Among our conversations, I said that a friend had recently asked me how much TV is too much for small children, and what are my personal rules in my home of two boys.

To this, Susan said jovially, "Well, I would say, how much TV will keep you off medication? Because if it makes you a better mom and helps you keep your sanity, and if it keeps you off stabilizing medications, then by all means. Turn it on."

Well. This is a whole new filter for measuring. How much is okay? And how much will keep me off medication to make it through a really long, hard day of battles and busyness?

She granted me a freeing mentality, I confess. Never once has a stay-at-home day resulted in self medicating, and that's a victory in itself.

And I may have the Disney Channel to thank.