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Archive for March, 2010

and my kids are grown and gone, I’m going to apply for a job with diplomatic corps. When I write my resume, I’ll highlight the years of training  I have had in diplomacy as a mother. They will be riveted, trust me. But maybe they won’t. Like all diplomats I’ve had my share of failures that rival the success. I’m still trying to decide if today’s incident qualifies as a win or loss.

Here’s a diplomatic highlight from my day:

I’m in my bedroom brushing my teeth and getting ready for the day. All the children are in the living room. My oldest is holding the baby. Suddenly I hear the oldest scream and the baby starts crying. I run to the living room to help.

Me: What happened?

Son #1: Son #2 bit me and I dropped the baby.

I take the baby to console him.

Me: Where did you drop the baby? Was it on the carpet or wood? Were you standing or sitting?

Son #1: I was sitting and he fell on the carpet.

Son #2: hiding under a blanket shouts, “I did not bite him! It was an accident.”

Me: It’s kind of hard to believe that it was an accident. After all you don’t just fall on someone and accidently bite them.

Son #2: wailing and gnashing of teeth. . .

Son #1: wailing and gnashing of teeth as he rubs his back.

Baby: wailing and gnashing of gums

Me: Thinking to myself, “I’m going to loose my mind if everyone starts crying.” “Okay, I’m taking the baby to my room. Son #2, until you are ready to accept responsibility for your actions, you have to go to your room.”

Son #2: It was an accident! Storms up to his room.

I calm the baby down and start thinking of what I need to do to facilitate peace talks.

Me: Son #3 please go get your brother.

Son 2#: What, Mom?

Me: We need to talk about accepting responsibility for your actions. You are responsible for your choices and you need to make it right. (This is an abbreviated form what I said.)

Son #2: Fine. I’m sorry that I bit my brother. It was an accident.

Me: I’m still skeptical that you bit him on accident. Anyhow, what happened when you bit him?

Son #2: Well, the baby fell and got hurt.

Me: That’s right. What do you need to do to make it right?

Son #2: Say sorry. Pray. Never do it again.

Me: Right. Now please go do it. And go get your brother so I can talk to him.

Son #1: Did you need me, Mom?

Me: Yes. Are you okay from the bite?

Son #1: Well, it wasn’t really a bite. He just knicked me and it startled me.

Me: So you exaggerated your wounds and you dropped your brother?????

Son #1: Yes.

Me: Great. . .

More screaming comes from the direction of my daughter.

Daughter: sobbing . . . My hand!

Son #3: I didn’t do it!

Daughter: The door hit it.

Me: You are not in trouble son #3. Let me check out your hand daughter. Son #1, please apologize to your brother for exaggerating and misrepresenting the incident to me. And please be more careful with your baby brother. Oh, and please get son #2 for me.

While I am tending to my daughter’s wounded hand, son #2 comes in.

Me: Did you really only graze your brother?

Son #2: Yes.

Me: Did you mean to hurt him?

Son #2: Yes.

Me: Okay, boys you need to make up and stop fighting!

Boys: Okay. The apologize to each other and run off playing.

Sometimes I feel like all I do these days is negotiate hourly peace treaties between small dictators of even smaller countries. Clearly I need to hone my skills as a diplomat. Are there books I can read like, Diplomacy for Dummies or Negotiating Peace Between Dictators or Someone Help Me Please?

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On Wednesday I will be celebrating my birthday. I love birthdays. This past year of my life has been eventful, beginning with a bang last year, when on my birthday, I discovered that I was 10 weeks pregnant. While I certainly hope a similar revelation isn’t forthcoming on my birthday this year, I know it will be a good day.

I’ve been reflecting on the past year and it is fair to say that it has been a challenging year full of trials and many lessons learned. Fortunately, I have gained much this past year. I feel simultaneously wiser and less wise. I suppose that sounds foolish. But as I have learned so many things, I can see how weak and foolish I am and how much I have yet to learn and understand.

Some lessons have come in hard ways. While I would never ask to experience those same trials again, I would not trade the knowledge gained for anything. Part of me continues to feel weak as I realize that my trials have been so minute to those I witnessed others experience. I strive to be more faithful as I’ve watched friends experience trials of faith and have emerged from those experiences shattered and lost and then choosing to abandon their shreds of faith and hope for worthless tatters of worldly philosophies. In short, I am resolving to endure with more patience, good humor and gratitude.

The three most valuable lessons and gifts I have received this year, in no particular order, are:

1. The gift and lesson that God’s comfort is real and tangible–that He does love me personally.

2. The gift of my gorgeous baby. I wasn’t sure I was ready for another baby, but he has been the source of tremendous joy in my life. His sapphire eyes reflect the jewel that he is in my life.

3. The gift of truly comprehending the depth of my husband’s love for me. The knowledge has really carried me through a lot this year.

I have lovely visions and hopes for this year. I am grateful for my wonderful friends who continue to delight me with their friendship, loving letters, delightful blog posts, insightful comments and genuine affection.

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While my full-time job is mothering, I teach piano and voice lessons a few hours a week at a music school. I love teaching. I love working with little kids, helping them discover the joy of playing and singing. During the course of each lesson, I often get a little picture into the lives of my students. Last night was one such night. Several of my little students were tired, yawning their way through the lessons.

Here are two of the exchanges I had with my students:

Conversation 1:

Me: “You seem tired. Have you had a long day?”

Student: “I am tired. I had Tae  Kwan Do, then ballet, then horseback riding.”

Me: “All in one day? You go to all of those activities?” (I was surprised she was even awake if she did all those things in one day.)

Student: Well, I only do Tae Kwan Do and piano. My sister does ballet and horseback riding. But I have to come with her.

No wonder the poor kid is tired.

Conversation 2:

Me: “I see your mom wrote in your notebook that you don’t have time to practice. What do you do after school?”

Student: ” Well, I have sports, aviation, piano, Hebrew school, etc.”

If you don’t have time for your kids to practice piano, why sign them up?

I absolutely understand why parents want their kids to be involved in afterschool activities. They want their children’s hours to be filled with productive activities, avoid excessive t.v. watching, and to lead enriched lives. I get that, I really do. But I see a lot of tired, stressed kids with tired, stressed parents. I wonder if the kids are really benefiting from all the activities?

Because of my health and personality, I really can’t handle too many activities. My boys are taking piano lessons from me in the mornings before school. They go to scouts on Tuesday. They are taking a soccer class one day a week. That’s it. For the rest of the week, the kids do homework and play outside. One of my children would probably enjoy many activities. My oldest would be overwhelmed and have a breakdown if he had more activities.

How do you handle outside activities with your children? If you have many activities, how do you manage your schedule? Do you feel overwhelmed or rejuvenated? What’s your philosophy about after school activities?

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The passing of a storm

The storm crashed through New York, dumping snow that completely overwhelmed the trees. Trees sliced through power lines cutting off electricity, heat and water. What a welcome back to New York after a blissful 10 days in Wyoming.

It’s taken a couple of weeks to recuperate from the mess the storm left behind. I find myself staring at the newly revealed landscape and feeling like I’m seeing new beginnings. My many blessings and a fair share of miracles have been shown to me with crystal clarity that uplifts me. Spring is poking forth its head in tiny spikes of color. The sun shines warmly toward life, growth and beauty.  My perspective has received a much needed facelift. It’s not purely cosmetic, but deep inside. I feel optimism, peace and gratitude.

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