Friday, August 26, 2011

This hurts me more than this hurts you...

I recall my mom having this feeling, saying this type of thing to me as a kid. I also recall me thinking she was insane. I am now a parent. I am now officially in her shoes. I am now aware that she was not insane.

I got the call as I was pulling into the parking lot of church for all school mass. "Mom, I forgot my binder with all my homework in it, can you bring it to me." There is one beat, then another...I recall telling him at the end of last year that 7th grade was going to be different. That in 7th grade I would not be bringing him his homework or lunch or class snack up to school anymore. I realize that my kids may have more responsibilities than many others. They are part of a big family and so they may not get the special treatment and extra reminders all the time that their friends get, but this forgetful, unorganized sweet sweet child needs to learn this lesson before high school. He is the biggest culprit in our home. I only have 2 years to train into him what I have let slide for the last 12 years of his life. I have been the enabler. I have been at fault. So, yesterday when I got that call, after those two beats, I said the hardest thing I think I have ever said to one of my children, "I'm sorry honey, I can't, I am on my way in church. And I am sure you recall the discussion we had before this year began about you being responsible for your own items." He begins to plead, "But mom, please, please! All my homework is in there." I fight back tears and say, "honey, I can't. I love you. I know you are concerned with your gpa but this is just 2 assignments and it is the 2nd week of school. I bet it won't be THAT horrible." Silence on the other end of the line. I begin to worry that he is also getting upset. I begin to worry that now I have sent my son into his day with a terrible beginning. What if I have just left him in the hallway tearing up in front of other 7th and 8th graders! We hang up the phone and I head in church. I get a text, "please bring it after church" I return the text, "I'm sorry, I can't. I love you." And in my text I hope he really listens, that he hears me saying I love him and that he hears me saying that I want him to better himself in this way. Mass begins and I think about this the entire mass.

At the homily our pastor often has parishioners help him portray the message. He grabs kids from the pews and they stand in front of the congregation answering questions, looking a little nervous and engaging the crowd. I have Charlie with me and he is crawling under the pew. I vaguely hear someone with the same name as me being called. I hear it a few times more, and the next thing you know the priest is standing a few feet from me pointing at me and nodding as I am pointing to myself asking, "Me???" "Yes, Julie, you and your little son there, bring him up here with me." We make the long walk to the altar after I gather Charlie from underneath the pew. I am quite red, and trying to remember facts about the gospel....sheesh what was it about? who wrote it? Father says, "Julie, you birthed Charlie, he is 3 years old now, are you ready to send him out into the world on his own?" I say no. He asks me why not and I say because he needs me. He depends on me. Father asks me if Charlie has to worry that he may not have food or a place to sleep. Of course I answer that no he does not. Father says that is because Charlie trusts me. I am his mother and I will always take care of him, Charlie is beaming. Father goes on to tell the congregation that we need to be more like Charlie, when we depend on our most important Father, God. We can not expect to make it through life without Him.

Oh the guilt! My poor baby! My poor seventh grader counted on me, depended on me, TRUSTED me to bring him his work! I failed him.

No, not true. And I know that the truth is that I was being exactly what he needed that morning. He needed me to help him learn his own responsibility. He needed me to stop him from becoming an unorganized, messy student. He needed me to get him ready for the years to come. And just as he trusts that his mom will make sure he has a place to sleep at night, his mom will also make sure he is ready for high school even if the answers aren't always what he wants to hear. And just as he can trust these about his mother, he can also trust that his God will always provide him with answers. Not always the answers he wants to hear either, but answers that if he really listens, will help him become an amazing person.

And I am now sure that it hurts Him more than it hurts us when He has to give the tough answers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Piano school dropout

It is breaking my heart a little bit. Today, Jack officially quit piano lessons. I swore I was not going to ever let him quit. I love that I can play piano and I wanted him to love that he could play piano too. And when I began my Tiger mothering practice regime last year after Christmas break he excelled so quickly. He was proud when he was able to play more difficult songs. We had this thing we could do together. But the guitar has been steadily creeping in for some time now. First it was just some added on guitar lessons from the piano teacher. Then it was real guitar lessons every other week. Now he plays lead guitar in his rock band every week, and soon we will up his guitar lessons to every week. And as the guitar creeped in, I saw the piano creeping out. He began to hate practicing piano and love playing guitar. I suppose in a way the piano helped him realize how much he likes guitar. I argued that he needed the piano background along with the guitar. But I began to worry that soon he would just see music as another chore, and turn against it all together. I really don't want that. And I really do love hearing him sing and play guitar. I am hoping to now watch him excel in guitar far beyond his piano studies. Soon I feel he will be breaking many more hearts as he belts out his love ballads with that guitar on his hip. And since I am his band manager, we still have this thing we do together. I guess I can handle that.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Charlie's Run

I run a lot of mornings. I get back from my runs and Charlie is always interested. He comes to give me a hug and asks about my sweat. He touches my skin to feel how hot it is. Sometimes he says I "gross him out" and other times he says, "i like gross."  He cracks me up. So when he asked me yesterday if he could run with me with eyes filled with enthusiasm, I had to say yes. Today I came home from my run to find Charlie dressed in sleeveless t shirt and shorts, and a wristband. He was ready to run.

We start running down the sidewalk. He is at a full sprint - walking pace for me (but of course I am pretending that I can not keep up)- and his arms are swinging wildly. Suddenly he stops short. There is a robin. "I am going to catch that robin." He tears off into the neighbor's yard. He gets surprisingly close. The bird flies up into a tree. He gets a defeated look on his face (Charlie, not the bird) and Charlie says, "Awww, I can't reach it." He fully thinks he can catch a bird. We continue the run and he stops short again. He is very excited at the next neighbor's newspaper lying on the sidewalk. "Hey! There's some mail! It is for their house!" Back to running. Until, "I can't make it" and he begins to slow motion run, and eventually walk and then stop. However, he insists we go all the way to the Farmers Market. This makes no sense, but he is 3 yrs old, so I ask him to explain, I say, "Charlie I thought you were too tired?" "No. I'm not!" and he begins running again. We finally get to the Farmers Market. He wants to purchase some fruit but the Farmer's Market is closed. I say, "honey it is closed and I have no money." He reaches down toward his own shorts trying to get his own money that he says he has, however he is in sport shorts and not only does not have any money, but doesn't even have pockets. Such an imagination this kid has. I end up half carrying him the whole way home until we are 3 houses away. I tell him we must race and that daddy will be watching from the window when we get there - He is up for it. He starts running again, and holds my hand running the rest of the way. Stopping short one more time however because he thinks he may be able to catch the squirrel he saw run under another neighbor's car. Of course when he heads into the house he looks for daddy for his praise. I wink to his dad to get the right reaction. And Charlie is sooooooo proud.

I have a feeling I will be going on two runs most mornings from now on.

Also I don't want to forget:
-Charlie comes up to me numerous times a day asking for a "Huggie."
-Scotty and I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes. There was a horribly scary preview for Paranormal Activity 3. I was covering my eyes during it and I looked over to find Scotty doing the same thing : )
-Had  conversation with Scotty in the car the other day involving liberalism, conservatism, Democrat and Republican, all sorts of things. He converses very maturely. The conversation is getting a little serious and he looks at me and says, "Mom, you don't have to go into ALL the details, I AM only 12."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Its Coming.....

Early mornings
quick breakfasts
lost shoes
missing socks
unmade beds
sack lunches 
"brush your teeth"
"brush your teeth"
"brush your teeth"
forgotten lunches
forgotten homework
teacher conferences
sport practices
"do your homework"
"do your homework"
"do your homework"
squeezing in music practice
dinners on the run
crock pot dinners
MIA dinners
MIA diners
quick showers
business baths
early bedtimes

The school year begins. Pray for my sanity.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Proud Moment

What a fun night! I hope it was as fun for the boys as it was for me. The Ghost Monkeys performed their first concert tonight. 63 in the audience! From the moment the drum beat began I started to tear up a bit. I couldn't help but get all emotional as the months of hard work with the rock band paid off in listening enjoyment for all who had sweetly come out for the first show! Just four songs: Closer to Free, Every Rose, I Fought the Law and Hound Dog. Scotty was quite impressive on the piano. He has taken every song and made it his own by doing some improv on each song. He looks like he is having fun on the piano the whole time, but I know from practices that his hands are hurting by the end. It is a lot of work. Jack really impressed me tonight also. Jack drives me a bit CRAZY INSANE at practices because he has a bit of a need to perform continually, be on stage continually and be the center of attention continually. That is why this rock band is perfect for him however. If you are the lead singer of a band, you better like to be on stage! So glad Jack has this outlet to let his creative art flow! I am really looking forward to the band learning some more songs and playing a longer show next time!
Thank you God for the gift of music ability, the parents to help foster it in me, the chance to have time to take this band on with the boys and pass it on, and the 6 boys who are so very passionate about their band : )

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Mother's Nightmare

Yesterday, we took our kids to Elephant Rock State Park - Pink Rocks as referred to by a friend of mine who grew up as a local - and then on to Johnsons Shut-Inns. Pink Rocks is fun. The kids LOVE to climb around on the huge rocks and I try my very best to keep from sounding like a psycho protective mom as I watch them leap from rock to rock very high off the ground and climb higher and higher faster than me as I am assisting the 3 yr old who wants to do everything his older siblings are doing. Jack and Ben are like spiderman as they climb with extreme agility and bravery. This is scary for me because they think they are invincible. However it is almost as scary watching Scotty climb who is quite tentative and isn't sure of any leap or jump, so it worries me that he really wont make it "over that valley" or "across that crack." Elaina who is actually quite good with the gross motor feels the need to cry now and then. I am not sure if she is actually scared at times or just thinks she should act like she is. Either way, my husband and I don't give in to it and sort of push her along and eventually she is all, "thanks for taking us" and "this was fun." I don't really get her sometimes. During the climbing Charlie yells things like, "Its SHOWTIME!" and then he leaps from a small boulder. Ben climbs super high, stands atop a huge boulder, raises his arms above his head and says, "I'M THE KING OF THE WORLD!" It is moments like these that make me happy we have decided to take on this somewhat scary adventure. Other moments where Charlie chases down a very colorful lizard and grabs it and won't put it down, or where Elaina begins to cry and swear her legs are never going to make it, make me wonder a little if perhaps this was not the best idea. But as we find our way back to the parking lot and get snow cones to cool off, and all the kids are talking about the best climb or leap or animal they saw or experienced, I am glad that we decided to go on this adventure.

To cool off, we head then to Johnsons Shut-inns. We had never been. It is like a natural water park as there are all these mossy rocks as slippery as a water slide and all these swimming holes that people are jumping from rocks down into. There are shallow play areas and deeper swimming areas, and little waterfall spot. Lots of rocks, lots of people, lots of chaos. We were not prepared. Suffice it to say that the only reason we made it safely through this day was because of my continual praying on the drive down that our family stay safe on this adventurous outing. At one point as I am helping Elaina get to where she can stand, I turn around to see my husband already in water up to his chest slip into a deep sinkhole while carrying Ben and Charlie. As he jumps off the rock bottom to get back above water I am diving over to help them. See why this is titled A Mother's Nightmare? Eventually we settle in shallow water in a great play spot for us all and relax the rest of our time there. My husband and two older boys go off exploring while I pray no one jumps from high rocks down onto their heads and kills them, and I sit in shallow water with the 3 littles hoping that the guy carrying the bucket and snake grabber already caught the snake.

On the way home I pray again - thanking God we made it out alive. However the kids and my husband are giddy with what fun we have had and are planning the next trip. This was fun, but I have to say...there is a reason my last blog post was titled "My perfect day" We were safely tucked into an art museum, sitting.

Also I do not want to forget:
We have given all of our children nicknames recently:
*Scotty - Circus Freak (don't judge me, he sort of came up with this on his own - we recently discovered at a doctor's office that he has one leg longer than the other)
*Jack - Change Machine (He swallowed a quarter at age 4 and we saw the xrays to prove it. Big quarter in his belly.)
*Elaina - Toothless (Missing her front tooth)
*Ben - Shark Bait (Was bit by a hammerhead shark at the St. Louis Zoo)
Charlie - Billy Goat (Because of his surefootedness on the rocks at Elephant Rock)

Some things Charlie has said to me lately:
Charlie: (on our way to the vet) Why does Bear need a shot?
Me: It will keep him healthy
Charlie: Why?
Me: Because it is medicine that will keep him healthy.
Charlie: WHY???? Why???? WHY???

Charlie: They should put the shot in his paw.

Charlie: See my foot up here? This is really easy for me. It is like I am "YOGA MAN!"
Yoga man is like a teacher to learn us about Yoga.

Charlie: I am going to teach Bear some tricks. I can teach him to jump through hoops.
Me: Oooo, that's a little tricky.
Charlie: No, I just can throw him through.

Charlie: I can jump really high and touch the moon. I did that and the moon feels like chips. And I ate it.

Charlie: Wow! Bear has powerful jaws! That's powerful jaws!

Friday, August 5, 2011

My perfect day

Some would say it is a dangerous game to plan a perfect day in your head as a mother, for fear that it would not go as planned. Some would say it is overly ambitious, setting oneself up for a fall and just begging for disappointment. But some....would be wrong.

At least yesterday they would have been. The kids and I set out on a field trip to the St. Louis Art Museum. At the ingenious suggestion from my husband, I brought along a sketchbook and pencil for each child. 6 children total as we brought a friend along. I brought a stroller, since chasing my 3 yr old throughout the museum was one way for my perfect day to be ruined. I hid the sketchbooks and pencils in the trunk until we arrived at the museum, since the kids would have fought over the pads and pencils the whole way there if I had handed them out earlier, which would have begun to upset my perfect day plan. I mentioned to the kids that a successful, polite and fun trip to the art museum where they used their best efforts at drawing may get them a treat on the way home - not at the museum, since I knew having not said this would have meant much begging as we passed the snack stand at the museum, which would have put a nick in my perfect day. I insisted that Elaina and Ben keep one hand on the stroller while walking through the museum, since losing a child during our visit would have put a crimp in my perfect day. I listened to their suggestions of what pieces they wanted to draw but told them I would be making the final decisions, since a big fight about what to draw would have ruined my perfect day. I decided that it was time to leave before anyone was showing signs of crabbiness, because crabbiness could have ruined my perfect day.

The kids did wonderful sketches of paintings, sculptures, tribal figures and masks, and furniture. They had fun and were proud of what they were able to do.We spent some time rolling down Art Hill (well, I watched) after we were finished in the museum. And we got mini ice cream cones on our way home. It was the perfect day to an art loving mom. Was this by chance? Heck no! Did you not read the paragraph above??? I am learning. I am learning how to  head off disaster before it starts, and I am learning that in the perfect day, everything does not have to be perfect: Two of the boys began to argue on the way to the car. One kid began to scoff at the mini cones and beg for something more, and Elaina and Jack hit heads hard while rolling down art hill. None were deal-breakers for my perfect day. Yesterday, in this dangerous game - I won.

And today we had our Art Show! I surprised the kids by matting their work on black boards and displaying it in the art room on huge white boards on a black curtained background for a little art show for some friends and daddy. They practiced talking about their art to their small audience. The highlight was when Charlie (3) pointed to his scribbles matted on black boards and yelled "Abstract!" We then had some snacks and drinks, for at most gallery showings I have been to their is a little reception afterward.

I hope that what the kids gain from this is a little bit of artistic confidence, a little bit of public speaking confidence, but most of all, a memory of mom having fun with them. I really had a lot of fun, and I am pretty sure that they did too.