Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I'm hopelessly in love with my kids

Fall break is an amazing time for me to sit back, relax and refocus on my real priorities in life. 

We're halfway through this amazing time of year and it hasn't all gone great but I'm kind of happy about that.

Our house looks like it was hit by a tornado inside and out. I explained to my boys that we would have all the fun you could fit in to a week long break as soon as we got the house cleaned up. They immediately balked, protested, whined, moaned, cried, ignored, yelled and otherwise declared their disdain for my plan.

Through yelling, talking, playing, forcing, bribing and of course teamwork, we managed to get it to a point where I wasn't disgusted by the sight or smell of the inside of the house.

So, yeah! Success!

Once we got past that we've had time to have friends come play, work on school projects, go to the dentist, see a movie, play board games, snuggle, go for walks and just be together. It is awesome!

My kids may drive me nuts but they sure are amazing. When I have time off like this I find that I have about 2 million percent more patience and even their worst habits can be smiled through.

For instance:

Beautiful baby and I have finally gotten tummy time, regular bath schedules full of bubbles and giggles and lots and lots of baby talk conversations where she stares deeply into my eyes. So when she has a night where she wakes up 6 times or an afternoon where she just won't take her nap and hates the world for making her try I can smile and sing my way through it instead of tearing my hair out and pacing the halls bouncing her too aggressively because I can't take the noise anymore. It's been pleasant.

Moe is my special soul who rarely ever pushes my buttons. This break we've read stories together and he's built amazing worlds out of Legos and knex and on minecraft and we've sat together as he shares them with me in minute detail. When he cries and blames his brothers for everything I've been able to keep a straight face as I listen to life's injustices through the eyes of a 7 year old and have a quiet teaching moment with him about personal responsibility. As he's gotten brave with our outside toys and taken tumbles, spills and all out crashes I've sat back and let him learn and bleed awhile instead of giving yelling sermons on safety. It's very pleasant.

Curly (fun fact, he is currently bald) is busy finding his voice this year which means his sassy, whiny and arguing levels have been a little off the chart. We've played games together, discussed his stresses and joys, baked together and danced our little hearts out. As he's had his moments where everything I say is wrong and something his brothers have done is now leading to the end of the world as we know it I've laughed and reminded him of his tools to get in control and make a plan to make things better next time. I've hugged him through the stress and had absolutely zero teeth grinding as he explained to me my obvious deficiencies in general rightness. I could grin and bear it and give him plenty of nap time to sleep it off. The pleasantries we can than exchange have been outstanding.

Larry is my combative one. Something about our personalities can make life hard. He's in a particularily "down" period right now which makes things extra difficult. We've been able to work on school projects and he actually acts like he likes me the whole time. We started a fitness challenge together that gives us one on one time. He's read at least 3 books this week already and we sit and discuss them like the worlds best book clubbers. As he melts down throughout the week and explains that he hates all of my efforts to make anything fun I can let it go instead of getting my feelings hurt. I can smile through his struggles and remind him to look for the positive even in the worst moments. Mostly I can try a little harder to walk a mile in his amazingly cool shoe collection instead of forcing him to conform to my socially acceptable orthopedics. Holy pleasantness batman!

I am thankful for this week and the opportunities I've been given. It reminds me of the 3 million ways I fall short on a daily basis but also gives me goals and hope for the future.

Now, I've done a lot of bragging about my awesomeness in this blog so I'll end with a little something to make you feel better. My kids ate pumpkin pie for breakfast at least twice this week, we're almost out of band aids thanks to a combination of sibling battles, thoughtless actions and poorly executed 360s in the driveway this week, and I stayed up late twice just to level up my kids video games without their permission after I had told them they couldn't play is week.

Hope your break into fall moments have been as outstanding and refreshing and pleasant as mine!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

You don't have to be the best but...

...It would also be great if you did more than just stare at your shoes.

I feel like this powerful message isn't getting out there enough. Or if it is, my kids are missing it because they're too enthralled with their shoes.

I'm not just talking about sports. It's life people! As humans I think it should be a requirement that we put forth effort. I'm pretty sure I need a shirt that says "it's not okay to just exist."

I'm also pretty sure my kids are on a mission to prove me wrong. They are often all to content to merely exist. 

Take running for instance. Cross country has been nothing short of a miracle for my 3 sons. In the short 6 week period that they participated they built up their stamina and endurance. It sounds impressive, but you should have seen their starting point. While many friends were training hard and setting goals to finish in the top 10 we were offering to pay each boy $1 if they didn't walk at all during the race. 

Some of them never accomplished this goal.

The first time they ran all out and actually pushed themselves they each were convinced they were dying. You know that tight chest burning sensation you can get from a really tough workout? The one that goes away as your heartbeat slows down and you cool off? Apparently none of my sons had ever felt that feeling. How could they get to the ripe old ages of 7 and 9 and never have pushed themselves physically? I'm sure this speaks to my lack of parenting skills in some way or other....

How about with schoolwork? We live in the land of get it done as fast as you can, even if it's something you enjoy or are excited about. They are all about minimal possible efforts. Some parents and I were discussing a class project today and one parent was wishing we had seen the rubric outlining the expectations so our kids could get the possible grade. Another parent thought that as long as the kids saw the rubric they would try their best and whatever grade they got would be fine. I gave her the deer in the headlights shocked face that she assumed all the kids tried their best. In my sons case, he saw the expectations and put in the most minimal effort and time that he could get away with. And this was a project he was excited about! I shudder to think what will happen when he has a project he's not excited about. He in no way understands the definition of above and beyond and I swear that's practically my life motto.

In all things we are beginning to have discussions of expectations to conquer this problem of merely existing rather than mastering existence. As we drive to school we begin the conversation with "you don't have to be the best but..." Then we discuss that they do have to try their best and discuss examples of trying hard. As we go to sports and other activities it's the same thing. I'm thinking of adding these discussions in at home as well but still working out the kinks. What do you think?

You don't have to be the best at bowel movements but... could you try to wipe, flush and spray some air freshener?

You don't have to be the best eater but... could you try a bite of everything and make sure you say it don't spray it?

You don't have to be the best at getting ready in the morning but... could you try to make it out of the house in clean clothes (no commando allowed!)

Too much? I know, I know, I set crazy high expectations!

Or maybe I'm not tough enough?

Feel free to drop me a line. I love stories of commiseration, welcome your ruminations and, in this instance, welcome your suggestions on how to get kids to put forth effort in their lives.