Taking Turns Being God

“When is it going to be my turn to be God?”

It’s an odd question. I’ll give you that. It’s even more odd when it is asked by your five-year old, with obvious annoyance in his voice.

Let me back this up for you. It was bedtime. Prayer time, to be exact. We were saying our nightly, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” with a few add-ons, when my son interrupted, demanding to know when it was going to be his turn to be God. He seemed pretty annoyed that God’s been God for a while now, essentially saying He should let someone else take the reins for a bit.

I explained to my preschooler that being God was not like playing with a truck on the playground. This is one thing that is not shared – and even if it was – we pretty much all learned it wouldn’t work, thanks to movies like “Bruce Almighty” and the sequel, “Evan Almighty.” There are some things in this world that are better left alone. This is surely one of them.

So, how do you explain to a child that, although we make him share his toys with his friends and dessert with his family, he certainly not get to take his turn being God? Or, maybe the more fun question is, what would life look like if your child was able to play God for a day?

Death, Kissing and Parent Teacher Conferences

My kids say a lot of weird stuff. So much so, I have an entire category dedicated to it on my blog. So, by now, it really shouldn’t surprise me when they come out with something completely off the wall. And yet…

Here are the prize winners from this week alone:

“I don’t want to go to death!”

My 9-year-old son was reading aloud a section of the bible that talked about how kids should be respectful to their parents, or they would be put to death. (Matthew 15:4) It really struck him as important, so he told his brother and sister to listen up, as he repeated the passage. “For instance, God says ‘honor your father and mother’ and ‘anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father and mother must be put to death.'” Upon hearing this, our 4-year-old says, “But, I don’t wanna go to death!” Later that night, he brought it up again after supper, when the other kids had left the table.

“I don’t want to go to death. I’ll hide. I’ll hide in the refrigerator! He can’t get me in the closet, right? When?! When am I going to death?”

“Spin the bottle? I love that game!”

The award for the most alarming statement goes to my 12-year-old daughter who, seemingly out of nowhere announced in the car, “Spin the bottle? I love that game!” Turns out, she was reading her comic book and saw the game being played, which reminded her that she loves it so much. Thinking (and praying and hoping) that maybe she innocently had it confused with another game, where maybe you just spin the bottle and nothing nefarious happens, you know, like kick the can, I asked her, “Honey, what happens in spin the bottle?” “Oh, you spin the bottle and whoever it lands on you have to kiss.” Panic. Slight panic rising up. Yes, yes, I know she’s getting older and she’s going to experiment with things and I should get used to change and she’s growing up and does anyone have a paper bag I can breathe into? “So, sweetie, have you ever played spin the bottle?” “No, but my friend has at a party and she told me about it.” Insert conversation about not doing things we’re not comfortable with and how we can always say no and get out of situations like that…

“What? They’re going to put me to death?!”

After parent teacher conferences tonight, I arrived home armed with notes from my 6th and 3rd grader’s teachers. My son asked if he could see his report card. I said sure, having forgotten about the fact that I put a sticky note on it, with my reminder note to write a post about my preschooler’s thought that he could hide from death. My 3rd grader stared at his report card, without even opening it, and quietly read the words, “‘I don’t want to go to death?’ MOM, what did you and my teacher talk about?!”

Oh yes, raising kids is certainly interesting. I just wish I had a hidden microphone to catch all the other crazy stuff they say. You know, the stuff I forget to write down. What crazy things do your kids come up with?

The Quitter’s Curse

I remember distinctly my senior year in high school.  The stress. The classes. The homework. The internship. The paying job. The homework. The college application essays. The scholarship applications. The little sleep. And with all the stress and the attempts to keep my grades up, I was eager to sign up for the easy elective. The slight glimmer of hope in my otherwise busy and stress-filled senior schedule. It was the equivalent of underwater basket weaving. It should have been cake. It was pottery.

Those first few classes seemed easy enough. We sat around the wheels as they spun. Our wet hands clasped around mounds of clay. Forming the grey mess, pulling it higher, slowly, and digging our fingers into the top, stretching out, carefully some piece of art to take form. A vase. A plate. A bowl. A cup. Something beautiful would emerge. Those first few days, we watched as our instructor so gracefully drew his hands up around the wet clay, a masterpiece emerging. Then, mimicking his moves, we tried this ourselves. Small, nervous giggles turned to outright laughter as several of us lost control of the wet canvas, the clay becoming quickly lopsided and flinging violently off our wheels. It was funny. At first.

Soon, the rest of my class was excelling, surpassing my still limited skills. Pottery did not come easy for me. I needed easy. While others finished project after project, lining up their As in the shelves for the kiln, where after they’d color them with beautiful designs, my projects had yet to leave the wheel. Not one.

As the stresses of my senior year weighed me down, the nagging applications constantly whispering a reminder of their incomplete state, I found myself more and more frustrated with the demands of what should have been my Easy A. Pottery was supposed to be my outlet. Something to take away the stresses of my daily life. And yet, here it was, reminding me of everything I couldn’t be. Everything I was not.

Maybe it was a rash decision. Maybe I’d thought it through the way a 17-year-old does. I walked down to the office and demanded to speak to my counselor. I’d never sought him out before, seeing him only in passing in the halls and on the days he’d sign off on my schedule for the semester. But now, here I was in front of him, asking, pleading, demanding that I be transferred out of pottery. I didn’t care what class he transferred me into, I only knew I didn’t want to be in this one for one second longer.

What he said at first surprised me. Like pottery I thought, this too, would be easy. Getting out of a class, something I’d heard of but never tried for my self, seemed like it should be a simple matter of paperwork and my life would get easier before I’d even left his office. But, it wasn’t going to be that easy. “Why?” he’d asked. Why did I want out of the seemingly easiest class the school offered? My response started with logic and soon let way to tears. I couldn’t take it. He gave me the speech I’m sure he’d given hundreds of students before me, the “don’t be a quitter” speech. He told me how quitting was a slippery slope, a dangerous path to allow myself down. He said if it started with pottery, where would it end? What if I quit every time something got hard? This logic only enraged me. I was not a quitter. I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing and I just needed to make this one really hard thing go away. After a few more canned speeches, he saw the twitch in my eye – the one that was birthed by late nights, little sleep and a pottery wheel that spun out of control in a way that summed up my teenage existence – he finally conceded. I managed an even easier class – late arrival, followed by helping out in the cleanup of a coffee machine. It was bliss.

Years later, at any given hardship in life – be it work related or a chore I really would rather not do, or even a diet, I would recall his words to me. About how becoming a quitter is a curse you set upon yourself. Tonight, I found myself the one handing out the canned speeches, the monologue of “what kind of life will you lead if you quit everything?” This speech is directed at my 6th grade daughter. Her spinning wheel is sports. She thought they’d be easy. She thought they’d be fun. And now, well, now she wants out.

How easily she must forget, it was just two weeks ago, she begged to quit basketball, just as her team was in the final week of the season. Now, she’s berating me with tales of how boring and hard wrestling is. Wrestling, the sport she begged to join. Just a week into practice, she says it’s too hard. Her coach is too stern. She’s not having fun. “But you made a commitment to your teammates,” I tell her. It is to no avail. She doesn’t care. She just wants to quit.

Speech after speech, question after question, she just pulled the covers higher over her shoulder, and rolled in bed away from me. I wasn’t giving her what she wanted. I told her to think about and I left her room.

I see now what my counselor was warning me about – a life filled with the easy way out. The road most traveled. He didn’t want that for me. And I certainly don’t want that for my daughter.

So, now what? What do I do? Let her quit? Let the quitter’s curse take root in her? I tell her about the scripture I have printed out and taped to my desk, “Do everything you do as if you were doing it for the Lord and not the people.” It has no impact on her. She can see no way of honoring God with her wrestling, just as I could find no way of honoring him with pottery, especially given the amount of profanities that typically streamed from my mouth as the unruly clay would fling off my wheel.

Molding another person’s character is a very difficult task. Lots of people quit that, too. But this is a responsibility that I will not falter on. Of this I am sure. What I don’t know, is what to say or do to convince my daughter that quitting is not an option.

My Life as a Taxi Cab Driver

No, I’m not adding a new line to my resume – but I might as well!

My two oldest school aged children have joined sports teams. “Ah, how cute!” you say. “Add that to their college applications,” you suggest. Yeah – it’s great. Until you look at my new schedule on paper.

Next week, for example, my daughter has a game in one town at 3:30 and my son’s game is at 5, in another town, 45 minutes away. Did I mention I don’t get off work until 5 – in yet another town? GAH!

How are you supposed to make it all work?

My girlfriend and I were just discussing scheduling this morning. It seems there’s always something. Every night, an activity. And at some point, you have to fit in homework and other little things like eating and sleeping and actually interacting with your child in a more meaningful way than just barking out the commands, “Get in the car! We’re late!”

Has life always been this stressful for every generation? I swear, as a kid, I went to school, did my homework, did the chores, played Barbies and maybe – just maybe – watched a half hour of TV on one of the five available channels. When did things get so complicated?

What’s your solution to life in overload? How do you get around without changing your title to Taxi Cab Driver?

 

 

Soap, Anyone?

Yesterday, I wrote about my daughter calling her younger brother an, “old bitch.”

And here I was thinking that was the topper to my day. Nope.

After work, I picked my youngest up from preschool. We headed to the store to buy a gift for a birthday party we were headed to. He proceeded to go limp in the entry of the store – angry that I would not let him ride the coin-operated truck in the entrance. (Evil, non-children-having people put those there, by the way. The same people who put candy and small toys at the checkout line.)

As he worked his “Civil Disobedience” tactics, laying prone on the floor like a 40 pound sack of jello, I began receiving the looks. Other customers attempted to walk past me and my writhing child as I scolded him for his inappropriate behavior. I only tell you this detail, so you can fully understand my evening better.

Once we made it to the birthday party (which we nearly did not go to after that ugly display – he did say sorry, though) my three-year old boy sat in my lap, quietly enjoying the birthday party – preparing for pizza and cake and all the birthday fun. Then, while all the other parents and friends had gathered around – he, very clearly, said at the top of his lungs, “BITCH! BITCH, BITCH, BITCH, BITCH.” He said this all with a smile on his face.

If you have any spare bars of soap floating around your house, send them my way. We’ve got a bad-word habit to break.

What’s the worst word your kiddo has said in a public place?

The Chuck E Cheese Phenomenon

Chuck-E-Cheese-Logo1I have learned certain things over the course of my life. Things like dress in layers to cover up my innate ability to spill on myself, or always tell someone where you’re going if you decide to travel in winter in Alaska. Then, there are other things I have learned. Things about motherhood. Things about places like Chuck E Cheese, where we celebrated my son’s third birthday. It’s a venue where we have often celebrated birthdays, both for my children and other young friends and relatives.

As soon as you walk into the doors of Chuck E Cheese (whatever happened to the small door intended only as a child’s entrance? Did they take that out?) you can feel a shift in the universe. I imagine it’s like a kid version of Vegas. What happens at Chuck E’s house stays at Chuck E’s house. That is, until now. Here are my observations about the Chuck E Cheese Phenomenon.

  1. Your children will beg you for pizza every day of the week. But, the moment you place pizza in front of them at Chuck E Cheese and tear them away from the games long enough to consume their meal, they will hate every fiber of your being as if you were trying to force them to eat shards of glass.
  2. Much like prom, your child will likely end up in tears by the end of the night.
  3. No matter how many tokens you buy, it will not be enough.
  4. You will leave with something sticky on you.
  5. Your child will leave sweaty, amped up, tired and cranky – all at the same time.
  6. Energy reverses itself simultaneously providing your child with endless energy while sapping you of every ounce of remaining energy.
  7. A kid will get stuck, sobbing incoherently, in the tubes of play land. You (or another parental volunteer) will climb up, rather ungracefully, to rescue the child.
  8. Once you have rescued an inconsolable child from the tubes of play land, that same child will begin screaming that they want to do it again.
  9. Your bank account will shrink like a contestant on The Biggest Loser.
  10. Your kids will beg you to come back, no matter what.

Bleary-Eyed Christmas Day

christmas-disappointI hope you all had a lovely Christmas! It’s been busy around here, as I’m sure it has been in your house.

Christmas Eve was a lot of running around – with that panicked, “Did we get enough for (insert name of child here)?” We were among the throngs of crazy people at the stores who had not completed their Christmas shopping. However, we made it out of there alive – and headed to church. The service was beautiful. We didn’t have the kids with us – they were with their dad for the night. Sometimes you need to be able to really focus on the message without having to stop down and wipe someone’s butt. Frankly, I think that concept applies to pretty much everything.

We didn’t get the kids until 10 Christmas morning. We’d already done all our wrapping, so we weren’t up late assembling toys or frantically taping paper and ribbons to things. In fact, we stayed up – but out of choice – to watch a movie and share some wine. That all added up to us being able to leisurely wake up, shower and be ready when the madness began at 10. The kids tore into their presents with pure vigor. And for once, the pictures didn’t show a set of bleary-eyed parents, sitting with coffee in hand, disheveled hair and still in pajama pants. By the way, I think that would be an awesome series of photos…

When we were done opening presents, my daughter sat there, with a clearly disappointed look on her face. I asked her what was wrong.

“I don’t think Santa got my letter,” she replied, sadly.

“Why? What did you ask him for?”

“A laptop, iPhone and an iPad. But, he didn’t bring me any of those things!”

 

Is now a good time to repeat the “Realistic Expectations” speech?

What did your kids ask for that they didn’t get? Or… anyone willing to share their awesome bleary-eyed mama pics?

 

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