Monday, August 30, 2010

But her backpack is twice as big as she is!

This was my thought this morning as I watched Abi walk from my van toward her building at school. Everyone was getting there, happy to see each other from the weekend apart. Kids shuffling in, sleepy eyed and wild-haired, tucking in their shirts and eating their leftover mini-van breakfasts. In the sea of children, my little girl looked like a Tic-Tac with legs, her backpack covering her entire torso and past her bottom, lunch box in one hand, warm-vanilla milk in the other. She looked longingly at me half way down the sidewalk, and then she saw Reagan (the love of her life...her words, not mine), and she never turned back around to me again.

On the way to work, I called Rod and sniffled at how grown up she is and how she needs us less and less in so many ways. Rod told me that the other day, when he was there to pick her up from school, he heard two little girls (who appeared to be in third-ish grade) say something along the lines of "That don't matter... She's ugly" about some girl in their class. Rod said, "I can't even stand to THINK that one day someone will talk about Abi that way."

Fact is, they will.

My feathers ruffle, my hair stands on end, my talons come out, and I start lookin' for a Mama to chew out.

Then I come back to real life.

I can't be there every day, shielding her heart from the hurtful words and judging stares of snotty girls. I can't cover her with a blanket when her heart gets broken because a boy makes a joke about her butt and she's humiliated. I wish I could. But even if I could, I shouldn't.

See, we live in a bailout driven society. Settle down... this isn't about politics. We bail our kids out of hard work, out of taking responsibility, out of chores, out of saving money, and out of pain. Know the kids whose parents call and gather support for them, or sell their box of candy bars at their workplace so their kids don't have to do it because they're "shy"? Yeeeeeah. My parents didn't play like that. But New School parents have chosen to make life as utterly easy as they can for their kids. We rush to their aid with every bump and bruise, and we basically wrap them in bubble wrap to keep them from hurting themselves along the way, both physically and emotionally, hovering over their every move. Fact is, pain is a part of humanity. And as much as I grieve when THOSE tears fall, and as much as I'd like to protect her from their sources, I cannot do so. If I did, I would be handicapping her abilities to deal with real life when I can't be there to save her.


Years ago, I read about Beth Moore when her daughter moved off to college. As any mom would, Beth struggled with worry of how her little one would take care of herself 24/7 for the first time in her life. When she got home from dropping off her little bird at her new dorm room, Beth was cleaning her daughter's empty bedroom. As she cleaned out from under the bed, she found a pile of tissues underneath the head of the bed, wrinkled and smeared with mascara. It was very clear that Beth's precious girl had cried herself to sleep more than one night, alone in her bed, while Beth was unaware. Beth said she cried out, "God, I was right down the hall and I didn't know she was in silent pain!" As her heart was breaking, the Lord spoke softly to her, "If you didn't know she was hurting while she was down the hall, how can you possibly comfort her when she's across the country? I took care of her then, and I've got this too."

We can't do it all, moms and dads. We can't be the shield all the time... can't guard their hearts from all they'll see. Oh, don't get me wrong. We can do alot. But there comes a time when we step back and see if we are actually equipping them for success or setting them up for failure by micro-managing their pain. Ouch.

I'm telling you. That backpack is twice as big as she is. How can she carry it all?

She'll grow. And I'll know when to step in.

And when to back off. ;-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

School Again, School Again. Do I Homeschool?

*Insert sad sigh*

I'm not one of those people who enjoys sending my child off to school. Just sayin. Now, don't get me wrong. I understand the value of school... of the obvious academic beneifts and social venues that it brings. I am in NO WAY advocating schooling in one certain way, as I have friends whom I love and respect that are schooling their children successfully in many ways. That's one of the many beauties of our nation. We are free to school as we deem necessary.

Here I am, less than three weeks until the big day... school starts back. And I, like every other mom, wonder where the heck the summer went. Did I spend enough time playing with her? Did I read enough books to her? Did we swim enough? Did she get enough summer fun to create good memories? Will she be sad when school starts back, or glad to get a reprieve from Mom? Is she counting the days because she's excited, or dreading it like I am?

We fully intended to homeschool. I'm not interested in starting a debate as to the whys we chose not to for our child(ren). Let's just suffice it to say that Abigail would have been miserable, and it would have been near to impossible because of our lives and work. That's the short version.

But it recently hit me. We all homeschool to a certain extent, don't we? Maybe not in academics, even though I had read "Go Dog Go" fifty million times before Abi was three. We school everyday in the things that last much longer than any book knowledge will.
Everytime we show our children how to keep a house clean and efficient by cleaning instead of lying on the couch like we'd like to. (Home Economics)

Every day that we pray over meals, we are teaching them thankfulness and an awareness that our very lives depend on the power of a loving God's provision. (Bible Class)

Every "I'm sorry, thank you, and yes ma'am" that we give to people in our community, adult to adult, is teaching and modeling good manners. (Ethics Class)

Every time we answer questions like, "How do bees make honey?" (thanks, Google)... "Did I come out of your belly button?" and "Is it lying if you just don't tell the truth?" we are answering the questions of future leaders and inventors. (Science)

Every time we bathe them, make them eat a healthy meal, or take them on walk, we are showing them the importance of taking care of our bodies (Health Class).

Every time they ask for a toy in Wal-Mart and we remind them to start saving their allowance, we are teaching them to manage their finances. (Business Math)

Every time we celebrate a holiday, cook a new ethnic food, or befriend someone who is not from our race, we are teaching them to broaden their horizons and get out of their comfort zone. (Social Studies)

When we teach them how to argue with their siblings without engaging in manual war, we are teaching them how to communicate. (Debate Class)

When we correct their language, teach them that "turd" is not a name and therefore cannot be what they call their sister, or help them pronounce words they've never read, we are teaching them the power of their speech. (English 101)

So, I guess we all homeschool after all, don't we? Reminds me of the verse found in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 Always remember these commands I give you today. Teach them to your children, and talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

I'm a homeschooling-public school Mom. There's forty weeks of school ahead of us. That means 40 chances for me to volunteer and be involved in Abi's school life. But even more than that, I get 365 chances every year at home.

Here's to a great school year for ALL of us, whether we public, private, or homeschool.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Somebody Should Invent...

Every once in a while, my inventive side comes out. Granted, it's usually in a moment of frustration and overwhelmingness (is that a word?), but occasionally, the juices just flow.

Like, for instance, when I'm struggling to get the front door open because I am weighted down with a backpack, three random shoes I found in the van, a stack of books I brought home from work, two Barbies, a grocery bag with eggs and bread, and my gigantic purse, and I look over and see Abi frolicking into the house, empty handed and oblivious, and I suddenly wish I could invent an extendable arm that would rise out of the mess in my arms and smack her into reality so she can see my arms are full and I need her to open the door! (Gosh, that's the longest sentence I've ever written).

Here's a list of things I've invented in my mind. Feel free to add yours. Who knows. Maybe we will win a Nobel Prize or something.

The Vanishing Post Its-I don't want to have to worry about whether or not I've done what I wrote the note to remind myself to do. It would be nice if Post-Its would disappear once the job is done. Like, it would know by osmosis that its job here is complete and just go on its merry way.

The Spray That Cleans All-I want to walk in a room and set off a fume can that magically fixes all messes. Period. I have no problem vacating the premises for 24 hours if I need to, just in case the fumes are too strong to breathe.

Juice That Actually Works Like Benadryl- For naptimes. Much less guilt involved in juice than medications. Just sayin.

Self Cleaning Diapers-Hey, we put a man on the moon. So, anything's possible, right?

Instant Freeze For Special Moments- Like when you're tucking your child in for the night, and she has that special angelicness on her face. Or when you see him walk into his kindergarten classroom for the first time with that backpack on that's twice as big as he is. Or when they see what's under the tree on Christmas morning. You can journal all you want. But there are little moments that happen every day we are bound to forget.

One Meal That Tastes Differently To Everyone-You make one dish, and to each person, it tastes like their favorite meal. Brilliant.

The Gift Card That Magically Pays Your Parents Back For All the Heck You Put Them Through- Enough said.

Invisible Germ Forcefield- Because school kids are germy and gross, but yours obviously isn't.

Portable Coffee IV Drip-Because some days, you just need the caff and can't take time to carry a mug around.

The Magic Eraser For Colossal Mommy Mistakes- Like when your child walks in when your door should have been locked. Or when you call the dog a name you shouldn't have while you're cleaning up pee off the carpet, and your little one hears. Or when you say something terrible in traffic outloud.

A Built In Real-Time Pediatric Nurse App In Your Brain-So first time moms can know what's worthy of an antibiotic and what's viral. Or so you know the difference in a break and a sprain at the drop of a hat. 'Cause emergency rooms are not fun, especially when you leave with no answers, or the realization you overreacted.

A Magic Cape That Enables You To Read Minds- Number one, a cape just immediately qualifies you as a creepy superhero. And number two, no matter how well you know your child, you are NEVER, and I repeat NEVER prepared for fishing overalls out of a running toilet, a missing in action reptile, or finger paint on your brand new recliner. Ever. EVER.

I'm sure there's more, and I might even concoct enough inventions to blog something similar again in the near future. Life is challenging, at best. And every day is a winding road. But I wouldn't trade one single minute of chaos for the pre-mom quiet I used to possess.

Even without my inventions. :-)