Thursday, December 19, 2013

Child Qualities We Should Take Advantage Of #4

They are easily excitable.

True story. We can't buy presents this year. Now, before you start feeling sorry for my children, don't worry. They will get presents, but not from me. I've done my best to make this a memorable time for them. I simply cannot spend a whole lot of money. So something came up today and I needed them occupied. They wanted a movie. A new movie. I start to sweat. I wanted to give it to them, but I started thinking about my bank account and adding up the bills that were still due. I tried to entice them with cheap online rentals, but nothing seemed worthy of $2.99 or less.

So finally, I gave in. I said, "What the heck. You guys know I can't give you presents this year, but I will buy the movie you really want. Will you accept this as your Christmas present?"

You would have thought we were going to Disneyland.
"This is the best day of my life!" one exclaimed.

Do you know how many best days of their lives we've had? In Savannah's exaggerative spirit, about a million. At least a whole lot.

And we've never been to Disneyland.

Take joy in small things. Value things by what gives them joy, not by price. Know that above all, they want experiences- with you. Follow through with promises- don't discourage the excitement. Movies are great when used in moderation. Avoid excess. Learn things together. Get excited about nature. Celebrate personal victories. Visit local attractions. Get to know interesting people along with your kids. Read together. Read some more. Scroll through Pinterest together. Dream together. Pray together. Never, ever feel guilty for not giving them more stuff. Give when you can, but have peace when you can't. Children are cool like that.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Child Qualities We Should Take Advantage Of #3


I am terribly guilty of looking at circumstances and forecasting doom. I speak hope, but my heart faints. This past year, every day has been a battle for me to get to the place that I can smile with ease- for my children's sake. If they start to lose their optimism, woe is me. Countless times their innocence has saved me.

They ask if we can go out to eat, we say we can't afford it.
They ask if we can buy such and such,  we say there is not enough money.
They ask if we can go stay in a hotel, we say when Daddy gets a better job.
They ask when we can go to Hawaii, or Iceland, or Australia, or Laos, we say... uh, someday, I'm sure.

Oh, but their optimism is priceless.

Brooke offered to contribute her collection of pennies.
Savannah and Summer are on the search to find something they could sell.
Max told me he could buy more money for us. He also said that when he is big like Daddy he would go to work and buy me Pepsi.

Last week was bad. Really bad. I was pretty low when Brooke said, "My sisters and I think this has been the week of funniness." in the middle of her cartwheel. I thought, "humor might do me some good too."

Savannah told me that God told her that her and her sisters would be cartoon artists someday. I am certain that this is possible, for they are creative and determined. It is not my position to question that. They spend their days scripting and playing with their stuffed animals, developing characters, and decorating their room according to the appropriate scenes, all because they don't doubt their dream. Even if it doesn't turn out as they imagine, the skills they are developing are more than I could teach them with any book.

Go for it. Shoot for the moon. Renew your hope. Trust in God. Be careful in what you discourage. Find the beauty in what they do, there is always something praiseworthy. Find ways for them to develop their dreams. If something doesn't work out right away, encourage practice and perseverance. Join them. Let them see you step out of the box. No matter what, fight discouragement and depression with all of your strength. It has no place in the presence of children.

If you want to see my other posts in this series, click on the links below:
Quality #1
Quality #2

And a special treat: The internet premiere of "Porkupine" from "Porkupine's Lessons"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Child Qualities We Should Take Advantage Of #2

Truth: Having children has done so much for me. Mostly it has made me more human. No child should ever be disregarded as insignificant. They are significant because they are children, and children possess qualities that make each and every individual one greatly significant. If you want to read my Quality #1: They love us, you can find it here.

#2: Children are great at failing.

The younger, the better. They fail all the time. When they learn to eat, walk, talk, write, you name it. They are constantly failing, and unless someone convinces them that they should be ashamed, they aren't.

A few months ago, Brooke came to me and explained that when she draws something, its okay to mess up because she can always make it into something else. So when it was time to make a poster for Trunks of Treats, the theme being scary scene with spider webs and such, she ended up with a submarine in the middle of it.

This caused instant outrage from her sisters. They were convinced she deliberately ruined their artwork. In tears, she came to me and said, "I was trying to paint a spider, but it didn't work so I made it into a submarine!"

Seriously. Who can't love that rationale? Well, at least this mother does. Not so much her sisters. Anyway, we got over it and she has not stopped drawing and painting.

And I hope she doesn't. I am scared to think of what my fear of failure has discouraged.

Cheerlead. Encourage. Defend if needed. For goodness sakes, don't be perfect. Fail with them. Teach them about the great people who failed. Praise them for learning something when they've failed. Give them grace, be patient, not critical. Teach them to laugh at themselves but don't push it to humiliation. Correct them without insult. Problem solve with them. Celebrate successes, no matter how small. Let them be good failures.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Child Qualities We Should Take Advantage Of #1

So simple, yet so overlooked. Probably because I'm too tired for twenty hugs a night and too frazzled for one more "helper" to make bread and so ready for them to learn to be independent. I've realized there are such qualities in young children that we wish we would have never unlearned, so it may be a benefit for them if I encourage it as long as possible.

I have not written a lot lately, partly because I don't have time, partly because I lost some desire. This, however, I think may be worthy of writing if for no other reason than for my own contemplation. I think I'll just take one at a time.

#1 They love us.

Even the ones that have not been treated so well, they love their parents in a way that will baffle those looking from the outside. Kids love their parents when they are young. That is a good thing. Lets let them love us.

Enjoy their gifts. Take their nagging for you to play a game with them as a compliment. Give them words of wisdom, they may listen better now than later. Make time with them a priority, they will be happier people. Tell them jokes. When everyone falls apart at once, fix it with hugs- or couch cuddles- maybe with a movie and popcorn.

Let loose. They think your jokes are funny, they think our nuances are necessary. They expect their daddy to come home and jump out from behind the door every night. They await my comic relief in the middle of an intense lesson. They anticipate a twirl hug after a time out.

Teach them what it looks like to love... to obey, to help out, to talk to them with respect. Teach them that we still get irritated with each other, but our love doesn't fade. They will get disciplined right along with unconditional love.

And take comfort, because they do love us. But beware, because they won't be children forever.