Posted on March 11, 2013
The Enchanted Land of Little Girls. It’s the world my little girls live in. It’s pink and purple, full of tutus and tea times, dress up and make up, magic wands and fairy dust. There are new adventures around every corner, limited only by the amount of string you allow your imaginary kite to fly. Laugh if you will, but I learn a lot from my time in this pretty and fluffy little land.
Yesterday, being sunny and 60 after a winter full of ‘below zero,’ the kingdom of little girls decided to venture out of the castle and over to Grammy and Papa’s to fly kites. It was there, I witnessed a literal example of what happens when The Enchanted Land of Little Girls and the actual world, full of things like wind, rocks and gravity, come colliding together.
Now, as a side note, I hope teaching my older daughter to tie her shoes and drive a car will be easier than teaching her how to fly a kite. There’s a little bit of patience involved in all of that. I may be doomed.
As for kite-flying….first, came the independent streak. “Mom, I can do it myself.”
Thump. Kite on the ground. Thump. Kite on the ground. Thump-
“Mom! It won’t fly!!”
Eager to rush her into stage two, where I rescue her from her frustration by teaching her the correct way to fly the kite, I pick up the kite and launch it into the air. After quite a few failed attempts sent the kite crashing into the rocks, I needed backup.
On to stage three…call in Grandpa because I can’t remember how to fly a kite. Together we whip up a strategy, and I offered to hold Brianne’s kite up for her until the wind kicked it up a bit, and then signal her to take off running.
“Just for a little bit, then you have to stop and let it fly.” I explained to her.
The wind picked up, I gave her the go…and off she went. It flew, alright! Success!
Still running. And letting more, and more string out.
“It needs more string to go higher and higher up into the sky.” she yelled from a distance.
She finally stopped, and shortly after she turned around to glance at her kite flying high up in the sky (Mary Poppins ‘Go Fly a Kite’ blaring in her ears-this I’m sure), a tree ate her kite. In her mind, the scene was about to be glorious. Her kite way up in the sky, her letting more and more string out…
The look on her face as she saw the tree munching on her kite was not that of total bliss. Nor was the one she sported while yanking and tugging on the string to get it down from the tree. One last tug and it was out…and started to fly again…right into Grandpa’s head! The dance he did to try and get out of that kite’s way was the funniest thing I’ve seen in months. I hit the ground laughing harder than my kids do when they’re tickled. It may not have been the seen from the movie where the whole family is laughing and smiling at the kite flying through the sky…but the whole family sure was laughing and smiling!
That kite made it through three more rounds with that tree branch, before the light-post sent it into early retirement. It’s a tricky thing, trying to explain to a four year old how much string is the appropriate amount. And a test of my patience to keep reeling it back in over and over again….helping Brianne re-launch the kite over and over and then watching and waiting to see if it would fly.
Children are like that, aren’t they? As parents, we do our best to put together a sound and sturdy kite, with just the right amount of string. We try to create a clear path, void of trees that the kite can be caught in, forgetting that some of the most valuable moments are getting caught up in the branches. Forgetting what its like to use our imagination. To dream big. To just lift the string up to the heavens, and just let go…
In Brianne’s mind, she was imagining that kite flying up so high she could barely see it. She’s wasn’t concerned with the rules of kite flying or with gravity pulling it down. The thought never even crossed her mind. She’s focused on making that kite soar. Even my two-year-old Lo took off running with her little kite…not doubting for a second if it could fly.
After all, she lives in The Enchanted Land of Little Girls. Her imagination is used to soaring. She hears Cinderella’s voice ringing in her ears telling her never to give up on her dreams. This kite flying experience will be the talk of the tea party, tomorrow, I can guarantee that.
I hope my daughters always have the courage to let the string out to the sky and just let go.
Happy Kite Flying 🙂
Posted on February 19, 2013
It started with lying on the ground on her back in protest. It then escalated into shrill screams directed at me with no purpose other than to rattle my eardrums. Next up, the foot stomping…often paired with the screaming. When that got old, my two year old began to experiment with words. Telling me “NO!” soon became boring. So she took it up another notch. Through this she discovered that there were three words in particular that I didn’t like her to say, at all…ever. After a stern “No!” she would sit there and grind her teeth (that’s how I know she’s thinking of her next move). Several days into this, she finally came up with her next big protest.
“Lauren, sit down in your seat at the table, please,” I directed her, one morning at breakfast.
Well, at least she’s efficient…get’s them all out at once. Pack as much ammunition into it as possible to get your point across. Crazy little peep. The funniest part of it all is the look on her face when she’s doing it. She just looks at me with pure disdain. As if I’ve truly offended her for the last time, and she will no longer tolerate my silly demands. What’s funnier still, is that she fell off her chair ten seconds later. As she ran into my arms for comfort, I gave her the old “I told you so,” in response to which she gave me huge hug and said she was sorry.
No, that didn’t happen. There would be no story here. She didn’t appreciate my comforting at all. Instead, she hauled off and smacked me upside the head.
It seriously hurt so bad I had to put her down and walk away to evaluate what had just happened. When I came back into the room to discipline her for it, she had dug her heals in even harder. At the first sight of me and sound of my voice she launched into a fit of “POO-POO! SHUT UP, MOM! SHUT UP! TEE TEE! ”
OK, so we’re here now. As I reached down to pick her up, she took off running. When I caught up to her and picked her up, she started smacking me upside the head again.
Up the stairs and into her room, I set her on her bed and gave her one last chance to calm down and be realistic. Please. That’s as funny as her smacking me upside the head when I wasn’t expecting it.
“Lauren, you cannot hit. You cannot say tee tee, shut up, or poo poo,” I reiterate. It’s time for you take a nap, now.
She kicked me and told me to shut up.
I slapped her hand.
Now, at no point in this whole madness did I yell. I gave it up for Lent. That, alone, tells you where I’m at with this, right? Yet, one little slap on the hand, and her world ended.
Finally, she looked at me with apologetic eyes, as if she’d finally realized what she’d done to the Mommy that she loves so much. It’s as if she just snapped right out of it. I opened my arms and she climbed in for a snuggle. Then, I tucked her in, told her I loved her and shut the door for nap-time.
By 11:30 am, I had already accomplished so much. I had handled a tantrum without yelling! Yay for Mommy! If only that could just last until my husband gets home at 7pm…he’d believe that it really does exist!
I start out every day with the greatest intentions in disciplining my children. My mind is a constant fury of research and prayer to figure out how to ensure my daughters know that they are unconditionally loved, but not allowed to rule my house. Sometimes, I make it through the entire day without losing patience one single time. Ha ha ha ha . Did you believe that? I’m sorry…that was a mean joke. It’s more likely that by 8 am I’ve already lost my patience multiple times.
Learning how to deal with my own actions when my patience is lost is the most difficult kind of endurance training I’ve ever put myself through. But, after taking my husbands complaints about me yelling at them every night when he gets home from work…you know…the dinner-bath-bed- routine…to heart, and decided to make a change. Or, at least try. Because no matter how I justify why I’ve earned the right to lose my patience after an entire day of being smacked upside the head (figuratively, and literally!!!), I don’t.
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.” It’s the point I’m driving home with my older daughter right now. I am in her face about it, the way only I can be. It’s kind of hard to teach her that lesson unless I model it myself. So, when she told me that she doesn’t like the way I treat her when I yell, I accepted the challenge.
“Ok, Brianne. I won’t yell at you if you listen to me. We listen to each other, because we want others to listen to what we have to say, too.” No, it didn’t work immediately. But when I yelled, or she didn’t listen, we talked about it…and I just kind of stuck with it. Maybe, if she sees me trying to handle situations in a calm manner, than she will follow suit. And it helps me be less rattled with the younger one…who is the complete opposite of her sister and requires an entirely different set of rules. I just calmly take her out of the situation, and if it takes a little smack on the hand to snap her out of it, so be it.
There’s a lot to be said for removing yourself from the situation. I need to check myself in that category quite often. In my scramble to figure out how to be a good parent, I needed to remind myself that my children are a blessing…and that the best parent of all is looking out for their best interest, and mine. After all, He never lost patience with me….never gave up and made me feel like I wasn’t loved. No, every time I yelled, stomped my feet, and ran away…he calmly slapped me on the wrist…and sat there with open arms until I snapped out of it. Always open arms. Always an ‘I love you.” Unconditionally. So, I think it’s only right that my children deserve the same kind of love, patience and understanding. It’s a lofty goal to aim to be that way all the time…but if you don’t aim high, you’ll never get off the ground.
Here’s praying my patience lasts until noon tomorrow. 🙂
Happy patience exercising…
Posted on February 4, 2013
My oldest daughter, Brianne, has carried around “Fuzzy Wuzzy” for four, going on five, years. Her entire life has been accompanied by the beautiful pink blanket given to me by an amazing family friend at my baby shower. Named “Flower Blankie” for the pretty flowers on the silky part of the blanket, “Fuzzy Wuzzy” emerged sometime later as the worn parts became snagged…or…’fuzzy.’ It’s comforted her through all toddler-life’s tragic happenings and joyful discoveries. It’s the thing most precious to her.
Unfortunately, it’s not the only method of comfort she’s addicted to. It’s accompanied by her thumb jammed into her mouth. I loved it when she was a baby. I never had to worry about breaking her from a pacifier. She spit that binky out for her thumb at 3 months old and never looked back. I loved the blanket, too…and encouraged it. It was cute to watch her get excited to snuggle up with her favorite pink blankie at nap time and bed time. Or, when the ouchies occurred. As time went on and she grew into her tall, lanky legs, those ouchies happened more and more…and she needed that pink blanket more and more each time a new scrape or bruise or bump turned up.
Soon, it became necessary to carry blankie everywhere, because she was just coming fresh off a boo-boo, or as anticipating the next one. The farther she got into toddler-hood, the more complicated the boo-boo’s got. As I struggled with methods of discipline, she struggled with the little toddler hurts of the word “no.” When baby sister came along, blankie was there as she learned to share her Mommy and Daddy and Kitty. As baby sister got older, blankie was there to dry tears of hurt feelings over sibling squabbles. And now, I can’t help but smile as she tells me all about the boy she’s going to marry someday while holding that pink blanket and her her thumb stuck in her mouth.
When Brianne get’s home from school everyday, it’s the first thing she looks for. Pink Blankie. Fuzzy Wuzzy. It’s really fine with me, even though she’s getting ready to turn five in a couple of months. As far as I’m concerned, she can carry that beat up blanket around as long as her little heart desires. But, the thumb has to go.
Thumb-sucking, though a blessing in her infancy, has become unsanitary. To the point that it makes me gag watching her stick her thumb in her mouth. Why, gag? Am I being to dramatic? No, I’m not. Not when I’m there to witness everything she does right before her thumb hits her mouth…and no, it’s not washing her hands diligently. She just picked a booger out of her nose, or her wedgie out of her butt, or itched her but, or ran her hand alongside the dirty car, played on the playground, took off and inspected her shoes and socks, picked toe lint out, took a worm back to his family in the dirt, built a castle in the sand which is surrounded by sea-gull poop, got done swimming in the lake, just fell on the driveway, used a public bathroom, rode a roller coaster at Cedar Point…there’s a magnitude of really nasty stuff that kids begin to touch with their hands as they grow. No amount of hand washing and sanitizing can cover it all. It just becomes really nasty, and warrants the end of thumb sucking.
The first time I approached Brianne with the issue, she understood. With a grossed out look on her face, she said in response, “But I have to suck my thumb with Fuzzy Wuzzy.”
Strategy number two seemed logical. Temporarily remove the blanket. It worked, somewhat. She doesn’t always suck her thumb without Flower Blankie..unless she get’s hurt or is scared or mad or sad…then the thumb goes in with or without it’s companion. And what mother can let her baby girls go through the night without the blanket she’s clutched to every night since birth? Not this one. I have to come clean, even when Dad takes it away for disciplinary reasons…and rightly so!…I sneak one to her to sleep with. Spare blankets…replacements. I cannot let her go to bed heartbroken over anything. I just can’t.
Sensing my frustration on what to do about the issue of thumb-sucking during one of our bedtime talks, Brianne said to me,
“Mom, how ’bout I just stop sucking my thumb when I turn 5. Like, on my Birthday, when I wake up, I’ll just stop sucking my thumb.”
“Okay,” I replied, remembering all the struggle it took to potty train her until one day she just looked at me plainly and said, ‘I want to wear big girl pants now,’ and never looked back.
So, we’ll see. Will she drop the habit on the morning of April 3rd? I believe that she will. I have faith in this little girl, who has so plainly and openly told me what’s going on in that sweet little head of hers since she could talk. Hours of bedtime chatting between the two of us, starting very young…before she was 2. My early talker has been giving the gift of verbosity, that’s certainly clear. It’s forced me to be a better listener.
Almost 5 years old, I clutch onto every conversation we have as if it’s the last glass of drinkable water on the planet. Hoping it never ends. That I don’t make mistakes in parenting that shut off those lines of communication that have always flowed so freely between us. Though she has to stop sucking her thumb, she can have her blankie forever. I will be one of those moms that drags it out to show her husband one day, proudly telling the story of how she carried it everywhere with her.
I will hold onto Pink Blankie longer than she will. That’s my job. I’m her Mom. It’s my job to keep reminding her of what a beautiful baby she was when she was born. How I wrapped her in that beautiful blanket and passed her to her Grandpa, who’s eyes welled up with tears at the sight of his first grandchild. It will be me that reminds her of our bedtime talks…and my job to keep telling her how continually amazed at what a beautiful, wonderful, human being God entrusted me with.
Five years old doesn’t just symbolize the end of thumb sucking. It’s the beginning of Kindergarten, and she doesn’t want to go to. “I will miss you, Mommy,” she says with tears in her eyes, clutching onto Fuzzy Wuzzy. “I will miss you, too,” I respond, with tears in mine. “But I will be there to pick you up, and write you notes in your lunch box…”
It will be a whole new world of adventures for us, my daughter and I. I can’t stop time. I can’t even pause it for long enough to take a breath sometimes. All I can do is continue to be there, always. Ready to listen, praying for more patience than I knew I could posses, putting lady-like manners in place and enforcing the “no boys allowed in your room” rule. Hopefully, as time progresses, she’ll be able to clutch onto me, and to her faith, as freely and easily as she does to Fuzzy Wuzzy. That’s the ultimate goal, right? To lead them there. I was always told…’be a leader.’
Happy ‘Leading,” Mom’s.
Posted on January 14, 2013
There’s a lot of jokes out there about getting bumped in the head, and I think they all must have been written by folks who really have had ‘their bell rung.’ Two days after I opened the car door into my head with enough force to warrant three stitches, I still feel a little like those cartoon characters that sit there with Tweety Birds flying in circles over their head after they’ve missed a doorway and smacked the wall again.
You that know me aren’t shocked at all. I’ve had run in’s with bikes, jog-strollers, Jeeps, cracks in the sidewalk, borrowed rugby cleats, even my own shoe laces… amazing, really, that I’ve made it this far into adult-hood without ever requiring stitches. Being a parent adds a whole new element to injury. There’s no loyal friend around to carry your tray for you at lunch and dinner every day (thank you, still, Renee…), and even if there was life’s way to complicated as a mother of two toddler girls for anyone to just swoop in and take over so that the injury can heal. Mom is Mom. That’s why women grow to respect their mothers so much when they have kids of their own. I call it the “OMG how did you do this?” awakening.
So, after I gashed my head so hard that it rattled my left front tooth, I headed in to grab the only thing I could think of to minimize the damage. I swiped a bad of frozen peas out of the freezer and slapped them onto my head. “Here’s your i pad, Grandma…I just hit my head really hard on the door of your new Cadillac,” I stated, to the family I so gratefully had over the house that afternoon. You know God’s got your back when you suffer the worst head injury of your life twenty minutes after your parents and Grandma arrive. Pretty much best case scenario, there.
One, because my two little girls had no knowledge of it happening. Two, because I didn’t have to access the damage myself. Needle-phobic to the max, I go into flip mode when I think their presence might be required. Pulling the peas away for my Dad to look, he told me to put them right back on and called my mom. Uh, oh. Starting to flip. Mom inspects the carnage…”oh, get a towel it’s bleeding…”
I was back with three stitches before my girls even knew I was hurt. Good thing, too. My oldest is all heart, and so sensitive to stuff like that. One look and her eyes welled up with tears. The little one, taking a minute to take in ‘side-show-mom,’ finally puts her hand on my arm and says,
“Ohhhhhhhhhhh, NOOoooooooooo….you need a band-aide, Mommy.”
“Now, Brianne, you have to be extra good while Mommy’s head get’s better. Help her out, ok?” Grandpa instructs. And she did, right? And pulled her younger sister into help-mommy-mode, too, right? Bah. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha-ha-ha.
That’s not how toddlers work. They don’t see past the band-aide. It fixes everything. Put a band-aide on it and get rolling, Mom. And that’s the reality of it. Parenthood isn’t for everyone. Some days, it’s not even for the ones who are whole-hardheartedly up to the challenge. It’s like the lesson of God’s love smacking me in the face. The times when I’m sick or hurt, and all I want is for my family to rally around me and cooperate for a few hours. Those are the times the house explodes in chaos.
Thankful to have my family there to handle dinner on this particular occasion, all I had to do was console my older daughter to sleep as she cried in worry of my hurt head, and walk my youngest back up to bed three separate times.
Drifting over into the next morning…as challenging days often turn into a challenging string of days…or a week…or a month…as all parents know. This particular morning was no different. Frustrated to point that I was 5 minutes late to every Monday morning commitment today. Bent over putting kids shoes on who have done the action themselves countless times, but pick the day when my head throbs every time I bend over to be stubborn about it.
Needless to say, my before 9am this morning, my four year old was grounded from TV for the week and went to school without socks on. My two year old ‘tee-tee’ed’ all over the bathroom floor right next to the toilet holding a clean diaper in her hand. And I left for the morning without my coffee. That NEVER happens. EVER.
Ah, bumps. I can’t expect to get through life without them. But, why is it, that no matter how much perspective I reason myself with, they still hurt. No matter how far into adult-hood I get, or how comfortable life that surrounds me becomes, they are still hard to recover from.
My silver lining from this nasty craziness on my head is that I’ll be able to relate to my kids if they need them some day. Know how they feel. And, most importantly, by pointing to my stitched up forehead, can give them a good visual on what is inevitably going to happen if they insist on running full speed on the unfinished concrete floor in the basement. Ha ha…looks of terror.
Posted on January 10, 2013
That’s been home. Crammed in and close-knit, but beach access. In such a rush to get the keys to our new house down the road, I never thought about the sentimental Christmas morning we’d have if we didn’t move before then. Turned out, we didn’t get the keys until two days after Christmas. My crazy self had been ready to move the Christmas tree at a moment’s notice for weeks, so my first rush of emotion was disappointment. Then, a good friend pointed out it’d be our last Christmas morning in our little lake house.
“DAD! HE WAS HERE!! QUICK! YOU GO GET MOM! I’LL GET LO!”
Jim got to watch the whole thing unfold. Though him getting up to go to the bathroom woke her up, he swears she ran right by him without even seeing him. Right for the tree. So excited to see if Santa came.
After a morning full of present madness, I took off for my Christmas morning run. As I went down to the beach to stretch afterwards, it hit me. After weeks of wondering when the last time I’d be standing there after a run would be, that was it. Watching the sunrise over Lake Erie every morning has kept me as grounded as my daily run. It makes it easy to remember to thank God for my blessings every morning when I’m standing on a beach watching the sun come up over the lake. It’s beautiful. How can you have a bad day after that?
My daughters both learned how to walk on that beach. Lo tried to eat a fish, Brianne drew faces on rocks with Grandpa. I pulled my kids down the street on their little red sled so many times to play in the snow on the beach. Family rock skipping contestes. My sister-in-law’s Christmas card picture almost every year. The girls collected so many rocks, that I’m still moving them over to the new house in buckets. I can’t let them go. They’re too much a piece of this family.
Sure enough, as a blizzard moved in, that did end up being the last time I ran to the end of Canton Ave to stretch after my run. 2 days later, we got the keys to the new house, and an hour later, my shoes were displayed neatly on my new shoe rack in my new closet. (First time ever I could see all my shoes at once.) My kids watched two whole movies in the truckster while I frantically loaded and unloaded boxes…ending with a pizza party with my 2 girlies on the floor of our new house.
With every cherished memory from the old house, there’s a new one forming here. Like, Lo, so confused about which potty to run to when she has to go that she refuses to wear pants. Brianne, being so excited to see her new room put together for the first time…and Lo immdiately hating hers.
“Do you like your new room, Lo?” I asked her….”NO.” Nice.
It’s not just my kids who run around in circles through all the open space, but my husband, too. And my girls, not used to having stairs in thier house, rolled down the second day we were here. A bunch of little thumps and two big ones…then…
“Mom!” I rolled down the stairs, bumped into Lo Lo, and we both rolled down to the very bottom!” I guess it takes 101 “use the railing’s” before they actually do…
It’s been an adjustment. Now that I realize how crammed in we were in our cute little house, I don’t know how we pulled it off for so long. We didn’t buy one single piece of furniture when we moved …yet we went from one floor to two and a basement. Totally insane. I took my Christmas tree down yesterday and had to replace it with…nothing. No piece of furniture that was stashed in the attic or the shed for the season. No pack and play, bouncy toy or baby swing…just empty space. There’s a few of those that will never see a piece of furniture. Just because.
Even the cat has an improved life. Instead of having to weave her way through the furnace, the hot water heater, the mop bucket and the trash can to find her litter box, she has a cat door into the laundry room. Right. A laundry room. It’s not in my kichen. That’s a–freaking–mazing.
We started off 2013 falling asleep on the couch, my 4 year old making sure we stayed awake for midnight. I guess, in the grand scheme of new memories, that’s the direction mine are going. My kids are growing up. Brianne will be in Kindergarden next year. She’s talking back and refusing to wear any outfit I pick out for her to school. It’s the beginning of a new era. As my girls fight with each other over who’s door stays shut and who’s stays open…at two and four…I know I’m going to be grateful for all this new space.
Today, as I pulled the van into the garage, I heard my daughter, Brianne, say from the back seat…
“Ahhh…There’s no place like home.”
Granted, my girls are infatuated with The Wizard of Oz right now…right down to my oldest having a pair of her own ruby slippers…because we can’t ‘half-do’ anything in this family. Over the top…always… Which could be why it struck an overly sentimental chord in me today. A little much that it brought a tear to my eye? Not in our house. Not right now. Not when the top two sentences out of my husband and I’s mouths are,
“I can’t believe this is our house. I can’t believe we live here.”
I miss the pile of sand under my running shoes at the front door. My fingers are crossed that my neighbors across the street with the lake view don’t mind a visitor every morning at sunrise….but feel so blessed. With more in this life than anything I could have thought to pray for. So…very…blessed.
Happy New Year.