Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

The Lost Chapter of Genesis

07 Nov

Lego Adam and EveTo the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; and in sorrow you shall forfeit sleep from the child’s 4th month of age until a time seeming befitting to the Lord, for whom a day is a thousand years. Your desire shall be for your bed, but your child shall rule over your night.”

And the woman besought the Lord, saying, “Oh Lord, my punishment is greater than I can bear. Wilt thou not have mercy on me?”

And the Lord relented and said, “It will come to pass that the season of the sleep regression shall end.”

And the woman thanked the Lord, but then the Lord continued, “And then there shall be puke. And the puke shall come without warning, like a thief in the night. And the child shall bring forth puke abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, and into your bedchamber, and upon your bed, and upon your people, and upon your clothes, and into your hair, and onto your floors. And there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth whilst you clean the puke from the child’s ear canals.”

And the woman asked, “Where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?”

And the Lord laughed heartily, for his sense of humor is great. But the woman was not amused.

And so the Lord God took pity upon her and provided a leafy plant and made it grow. And the woman asked the Lord God what was the purpose of this plant? And the Lord God presented the woman with a good and perfect gift taken from the plant, which renewed her strength.

And she called the gift Coffee, which means “The Lord Has Preserved My Sanity.”

So the woman was very grateful for the plant. But as the day drew on, the effects of the coffee faded. And it happened, when the sun set, that the child let loose a vehement east wind in the form of a tantrum; and the tension overcame the woman, so that she grew faint. Then she wished death for herself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

Then God said to Eve, “Is it right for you to be overwhelmed?”

And she said, “It is right for me to be overwhelmed, even to death!”

And so the Lord God created a second plant, one which bore fruit. And again when the woman asked the purpose of the plant, God bestowed upon her a gift taken from the fruit of the plant. She looked upon the gift and declared, “It is good.”

And she called the gift “Wine” because she said, “Again, the Lord God has restored my soul.”

 
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Posted in Parenting, Writing

 

Bad Mom

21 May

New York Mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray, has publicly stated to New York Magazine that she had a hard time transitioning from full-time worker to full-time parent when her daughter was born.

Subsequently, the New York Post has taken it upon themselves to label her a “Bad Mom.”

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I am particularly struck by the assertion that “the disclosure — bound to horrify most moms — shatters the carefully crafted image of de Blasio’s close-knit family.”

Well I’m pretty horrified.  Mostly by the fact that journalist Bruce Golding apparently doesn’t spend much time around moms, or close-knit families.

Because let’s be honest.  Anyone who has ever done it knows that PARENTING IS HARD, Y’ALL.  And taking care of little kids IS OFTEN VERY BORING.  Doing it 24/7 is just not for everybody, at every stage in their lives.  And it doesn’t have to be.

In a couple of days (or less?), I will officially be on maternity leave with my third infant.  I am looking forward to it for all sorts of reasons.  I’m excited about meeting my little girl and spending time with her during these precious first weeks. I can’t wait to see her grow and develop.  And frankly, it will be a relief to not be pregnant anymore, even if that means being ripped apart and hooked up to a catheter for a day or two.

The weeks at home that I will have with my infant will be a blessing, and a very precious and important time of bonding, in which I will have the privilege of getting to know this amazing new person.  It will be a very special time – a very special time that I will also kind of hate sometimes.  I have done this before, so I know. I’ll be sleep deprived, recuperating from a pretty significant injury (I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to mesh underwear and ice packs!), and suddenly bound to someone who needs me around the clock for the most mundane and bizarre things (I’ll be honest – the whole idea of breastfeeding has always kind of weirded me out).  Anything I WANT to do, for ME, is probably off the table for a while, or at least made too complicated to still be worth doing once I work around nursing, nap schedules, etc.

I have an advantage this time, because I know what to expect and have ideas on how to keep myself from going insane.  But the first time, it came as a bit of a shock (as does everything about first-time parenting).

I suddenly went from a full-time job in which I learned and implemented complex processes to solve analytical and creative challenges, to a full-time “job” in which the most intellectually stimulating decision I made every day was which stain treatment to use for a load of laundry.

I went from something I was good at, to something I knew nothing about.  I went from feeling valuable and rewarded, to feeling uncertain and obligated.  I went from the top of my game to being physically and mentally impaired, and having my body go through changes that were entirely unfamiliar (and  uncomfortable).

I genuinely looked forward to returning to the world in which I felt somewhat in control – conversing with adults, solving problems that didn’t involve spit-up.

I was 40 years old. I had a life. Especially with Chiara—will we feel guilt forever more? Of course, yes. But the truth is, I could not spend every day with her. I didn’t want to do that. I looked for all kinds of reason not to do it.

-Chirlane McCray

Once I did return to the office, days that I worked were stress- and guilt-ridden.  I SHOULD be with my child.  She cried when I dropped her off with the nanny this morning.  I’m so tired.  I can’t focus on this project.  What am I going to do about childcare if it falls through (again)?

But days that I spent with my daughter were endless, mundane, and void of breaks, even during nap time – there was always something that I SHOULD have been doing while the baby was resting, but motivation was pretty hard to drum up.  The challenges that came with the territory didn’t always have solutions (Why won’t she nap???  If I have to spend another minute playing “stack the blocks” I’m going to implode), and even if they did, I was too sleep-deprived to figure them out.

I love her. I have thousands of photos of her—every 1-month birthday, 2-month birthday. But I’ve been working since I was 14, and that part of me is me. It took a long time for me to get into ‘I’m taking care of kids,’ and what that means.

-Chirlane McCray

It means the work is constant and mundane, but the stakes are higher – you’re suddenly solely responsible for the well-being of another person!  A tiny helpless person with constant needs and no self-sufficiency.  I couldn’t even take a complete shower without being called away by her cries.  (And that was my easy, happy infant.  My second child, due to physical ailments, was neither – and didn’t sleep through the night until he was 4.)

My first was an early walker (runner), at which time my role morphed into 24-hour caretaker AND suicide watch, because toddlers have the executive function and impulse control of a drunk monkey, and are nothing if not determined to end their lives at every opportunity.

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I also struggled with a form of postpartum anxiety (which I did not know was actually a thing until years later) that I seemed unable to control.  So even when the baby was sleeping, I was not.  I would lay awake for hours indulging and silently weeping from night terrors.  Replaying imagined scenarios in my mind, in which horrible things happened to my baby under my watch; things that I would be either too stupid or powerless to do anything about.

So am/was I a Bad Mom?  Bruce Golding and the New York Post might say yes.  After all, there are moments and choices I have guilt about.  And I will readily admit that there are times I did not WANT to spend another minute with my children, and looked for ways to get a break.  I have a full-time job, and expect to again after my maternity leave is over – because I CHOOSE to.

Yet I don’t feel like a Bad Mom.  I am pretty secure in the relationship I have with my kids.  My friends and family tell me I’m a good mom.  My kids tell me I’m a great mom.  My family is what I would consider “close-knit.”  I adore my little hooligans, and one of the most rewarding pieces of my multifaceted life is being intimately involved in their development.  Yet, there is more to me than motherhood, and my devotion to my children is not entirely bound to the number of minutes I spend in the same room with them every day.

Personally, I think I am a Real Mom – a term that has enough room for the good AND the bad.  And I suspect that Chirlane McCray was/is also.

Because in the Real world, parenting is too big a role to be reduced to “Good Mom/Bad Mom,” based solely on the desire to spend every waking minute with one’s children.  It has to allow for both the joy and wonder of raising little people, and also the admission that sometimes it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.  The best way to handle that balance looks different for everyone, and that should be allowed.

 
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Posted in Current Events, Parenting

 

Stuff My Kids Have Said in the Past 48 Hours

21 Apr
This is what I get when I ask them to stand up straight, like a soldier.

This is what I get when I ask them to stand up straight for a picture (like a soldier).  Hooligans.

 

This weekend we took our kids to dinner at a nice sushi restaurant.  As we were leaving, one of the restaurant staff members stopped us to comment how cute, well-behaved, and well-mannered our children were – that clearly we had “the whole package.”  We thanked him, and left the restaurant thinking, “If only you knew…”

Sometimes I think it’s a wonder that we’re even ALLOWED to have more kids.

*  *  *

“Mama, I’m not saying you’re fat… but I can totally tell you’re pregnant from the back.”
“Thanks, Koren.”
“What?  I’m not saying you look fat.”
“That’s exactly what you’re saying.”
“No, because you’re not fat, you’re pregnant.  I can just tell from the back because you’re … bigger.”
“Koren, it would be a good idea for you to stop talking now.”
“WOW, CAN I MEASURE YOUR THIGHS?”
“No you can not.  Please go somewhere else now.”
“But… can I show Kaelin???  KAELIN COME HERE AND LOOK AT MAMA’S THIGHS.”

*  *  *

Pastor: “We have died to sin…”
Kaelin: “You don’t look dead.”

*  *  *

“Mama, we learned in school that Forgiveness is ‘deciding that a person who has wronged you doesn’t have to pay.’  So you can’t give me a consequence for disobeying, because that means you haven’t forgiven me.”

(I may need to suggest that the school examine the differences between “forgiveness” and “grace”…)

*  *  *

“Mama, look!  We mixed our paint colors together and made a new color!  We call it ‘Alchemy.'”

*  *  *

Koren was following Kaelin around, nit-picking everything she was doing (or not doing).  She was ignoring him, and headed out to the sun room.
“Kaelin, you need to pick up your shoes.  Kaelin, you’re supposed to be-”  (The door closed in his face.)
He let out a big sigh and shook his head.
“Oh, Kaelin…  Sometimes life with her is so hard.”

*  *  *

“Koren are you sure your slippers need to be washed?”
“Yes, they’re dirty.”
“They’re brand new.  How are they dirty?”
“I stuck them in my underwear to see how big it would make my penis look.  It looked really big!”

*  *  *

During the church service, Kaelin entertained herself for a few minutes by listing members of her family and one word to describe each of them:
Cousin: Active
Aunt: Busy
Uncle: Willing
Kaelin: Funny
Mama: Firm
Daddo: Ridiculous
Koren: Weird
Grandmommy: Kind
Grandpa: Patient

Koren asked her what “firm” meant.  She spent a few moments in consternation, trying to come up with a definition, and eventually said she couldn’t tell him because “Mama won’t like it.”

“It means I make you follow the rules,” I suggested.  She readily agreed to that as a suitable way to put it.  I kind of wish I could have been in her head when she was filtering her OWN definitions though.

*  *  *

“Kaelin, you’re getting tall. Are you growing AGAIN? Who gave you permission to grow?”
“Daddo, YOU gave me permission to grow when you sexed Mama and made me.”
Realizing that he had just completely lost control of this conversation, J stood there blinking in shock – which she apparently interpreted as his failure to comprehend what she was talking about.
So she punctuated the announcement with, “You know, …” (insert pelvic thrust).

DISCLAIMER: While the fact that we are having a baby soon has opened the door to many … delicate … conversations about where babies come from, at no time did any of them involve any form of pelvic thrusting.  I HAVE NO IDEA where she learned (or came up with) that.

 
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Posted in Kaelin, Kid Quotes, Koren, Parenting, Pregnancy, School

 

A Letter to My Future Son-in-Law

14 Mar

woman_writingSo, this is apparently making the rounds.  I decided to write a response, in case my future son-in-law is out there writing letters (and in need of a good dose of reality).

I don’t know who you are yet. I don’t really care about the color of your eyes or skin. Maybe my daughter does, I don’t know. Maybe she’s like Marie Miller and has a specific set of physical characteristics already picked out for her future spouse. If she does, don’t be surprised or concerned if you don’t fit any of them.

There are a lot of things I don’t know about you, but there are a couple of things that I want you to know about her.

I quite agree with you that my daughter is beautiful. I have no doubt that you will notice it when you meet her. But she is so much more than that; a pretty face is the tip of the iceberg. She is also sharp, creative, gifted, and competent. She is determined, knows what she wants, and has more critical reasoning skills than a lot of adults I know. She will challenge your opinions and assumptions, and if you give her the choice between two options, she will immediately come up with a third. She will not be content to hang passively on your arm like a decoration; she will take her life by the horns, and at times you may feel like you’re along for the ride.

I sincerely hope that by the time we meet, you have developed enough maturity to talk about the female body without using words like “goodies.” Consider it a personal request from your future mother-in-law. Because, seriously…. Her body is not a package of Hostess cupcakes that she carries around in a basket, waiting to hand out to that one special guy.

As her mother, my hope is that she retains an appreciation for modesty. However, I want her to do so from within – out of the confidence that comes from being comfortable in herself and knowing that she doesn’t NEED to show off for attention or approval of someone else. Modesty born out of some quest to make her beau feel like a “lucky ducky” doesn’t seem all that different to me than immodesty born out of desire for attention.

Just like her mind, heart and soul cannot be acquired, neither can her body. You will not understand intimacy until you can fully come to terms with this. Since your instructions to her seem only to revolve around what she does with her body, I suspect you’re not there yet.

It’s not a dowry that you get for making a marriage vow, so don’t start worrying about her spending your money before you get it. It is part of her. And when she shares herself with you, she is not giving you an object to possess and feel ownership over, as though it can be separated from any other part of her. She is sharing her SELF, just as you are sharing your SELF, and together you will create something more than either of you can strive to be on your own. This is a holistic relationship, and the physical part of it cannot be carved out  and treated differently. (As a side note… the inherent value of a Lamborghini has very little to do with how often you see them. It has to do with where it comes from, how it’s built, and what’s running on the inside.)

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but my daughter is not a princess. This is a lesson she learns daily, because I will not do her the disservice of letting her believe otherwise. She has to work for what she gets and take responsibility for her own actions, just like everybody else. In fact, if you call her “princess,” she will probably just stare at you.

So, I guess we can throw out the “act like a princess” bit – which is good, because if you’re expecting her to wait around in some imaginary tower for you to come whisk her away, I think you’ve got another thing coming. She’s too smart and too headstrong for that kind of crap. I have no doubt that she will have a world of possibilities open to her when she leaves this house. If you would like to take her hand and join her on this journey, by all means do so – but know that it will be as a partner, not a savior. I don’t know who you imagine that you’ll be fighting in all these grandiose displays of valor, but know this:

She doesn’t need Prince Charming. She doesn’t need to be rescued, taken care of, or sheltered.

She needs love. She needs loyalty. She needs someone who keeps her mind and curiosity stimulated. She needs someone to make her laugh, and who isn’t afraid to laugh at himself. She needs someone who’s attentive enough to know when she needs a little extra help – and is willing to give it without expecting anything in return. She needs someone who can put his own ego away and apologize, or even admit defeat during a “discussion” from time to time. She needs someone who she can trust with her insecurities in a way she has never been able to trust another human being. She needs someone who will (lovingly) call her out when she’s being absurd. She needs someone who understands that true leadership doesn’t require being the boss. She needs someone she can admire. And she needs someone who brings her closer to God, as the secure and unbreakable relationship she shares with her spouse cultivates her desire for holiness.

As for your last point, I agree – she is beautifully and wonderfully made by the hands of a perfect Creator. He gave her attributes that she will be learning to develop (and in some cases, tame) over the next many years. Being her parent is not for the faint of heart, and I have no doubt that the same can be said about being her spouse.

I sincerely hope that you’re up for the challenge though, because I can tell you that she is so, so worth it.

~Your Future Mother-in-Law~

 
 

Xander Day

09 Aug

One year ago today, my son lost his best friend.  Xander‘s last act upon this earth was holding a 3-year-old girl above the water so that she could breathe, while he drowned.

Xander’s parents have been such an inspiration to us over the past year.  They have found the strength not only to move forward in the midst of a heart-wrenching tragedy, but also to use their son’s memory to make the world a better place.  They strive each day to emulate Xander’s compassionate nature, and have continually worked toward saving lives and making a difference in the lives of others.

In a similar vein, we wished to honor Xander’s memory today, and decided to implement what we have started calling “Xander Day.”  Jens and I both took off work today, so we had a full day at our disposal.  Every member of our family brainstormed to come up with acts of kindness we could carry out throughout the day.

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We made and delivered teacher gifts.

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We purchased school supplies for underprivileged kids.

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The kids helped me bake cookies, which we put in these cans as gifts.

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We delivered the cookies to neighbors.

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The kids helped Jens make a donation to The Water Project

We also made donations to Goodwill.  We took a big box of shoes and clothes, Kaelin donated some books, and Koren picked out some toys to give. The kids even managed to do kind things for each other.  Koren took the initiative to go ask the hostess for a coloring page for Kaelin while we were at lunch, and Kaelin later volunteered to help Koren clean a mess he had made in the pantry.

It’s been a busy day, but one full of blessings.  Many of our neighbors weren’t home, so we branched out and met some people on our street that we don’t know.  We even discovered that one of our neighbors knew Xander as well.  And it warmed my heart so much to see the kids doing things for each other, and also making other people smile.  Today was an example to us that sometimes God can make blessings bloom in the midst of tragedy, and I hope that we are able to continue this tradition as we honor Xander’s memory in the future.  As always, we’re keeping Xander’s family in our thoughts and prayers, and look forward to spending some time with them soon.

And now I need to go put up the leftover cookies to keep my kids from raiding them.

 
 

Dino-Mite Party

16 Jun

We started the event off with come-and-go crafts and activities, so kids could kind of pick what they were interested in.  I somehow managed to wrangle a very brave friend to come help supervise the activities (thanks Aubree!!!) and kind of turned the kids loose in the sunroom.  Activities included assembling pterodactyl gliders (which I apparently don’t have any pictures of), as well as:

Dinosaur puzzles:

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Sticker scenes:

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Painting sun catchers:

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And this funny little dinosaur stand-up that I got on a last-minute whim, but that the kids seemed to really enjoy more than I thought they would:

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Naturally, with all this to offer, the thing the kids found most fascinating was the playhouse that resides in our sunroom.  But hey, I had 19 kids in my sunroom and they were entertained.  I still call that a win.

Next was the highlight of the party: the Dino Dig.  We buried the bones of a T-Rex skeleton model in a sandbox in the back yard, and set the kids loose, equipped with shovels and brushes.

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Our Junior Paleontologists found all 30 or so bones in a few minutes, and had a great time up to their elbows in the sand.

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Koren even found the skull, which was very exciting.

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After we hosed everybody down (literally), it was time for some food.

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Other than the traffic problem, this worked remarkably well.  We didn’t even have any spilled punch, which was nothing short of a miracle, IMHO.  Koren took it upon himself to serve all his friends punch, and did an excellent job.

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They even liked the party hats.

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This was probably the quietest part of the party, and all the adults were able to visit because they could finally  hear each other for the first time.  The chaos was well-managed throughout the party and the kids were well-behaved… but frankly, when you put 19 kids in an enclosed metal sunroom, the noise is going reach some really ungodly decibel levels.

Pretty soon, it was time for the piñata.  I had a terrible time finding a dinosaur piñata this year, and of couse as SOON as I purchased this monstrosity,

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I walked into Target the next day to find the PERFECT dinosaur piñata that even matched our colors.  But by that point, Koren had already fallen in love with the Red Giant (which was nearly as tall as he is), so we used it anyway, and Perfect Piñata got relegated to Table Decor Piñata.

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Every kid got a turn to smack the piñata  and Kaelin finally busted it open.  The kids swarmed in on the downfall of candy and it was all collected in about .3 seconds

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And last but not least, it was time for CAKE!

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Koren loved his Volcano/Fossil cake… and by the looks of it, some other people liked it too.

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By the time everyone finished their dessert, the party was basically over.  It was a whirlwind hour-and-a-half, but the kids seemed to really have a great time.  And my son has a really cute group of friends.

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_DSC9768After everyone left, we assembled Koren’s souvenir from his birthday: the T-Rex skeleton that was unearthed during the dino-dig.  He says it was his favorite part.

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And with that, this Dinosaur party was history.  A special thanks to Jens for helping me decorate and clean, and a HUGE Thankyouicouldneverhavepulleditoffwithoutyou to Aubree for dedicating her time to supervising kids, cleaning up, protecting my camera and carpet from mayhem, making things transition smoothly, and generally keeping my sanity in tact during this crazy adventure!

Happy 5th Birthday, Koren!  I love you!  And Mama needs a nap now.

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Lessons from the Trenches of Parenthood: Anger

03 Apr

angerIt’s funny how raising kids forces you to take intangible concepts and solidify them for the sake of teaching them to others.  Because it’s one thing to understand something, and quite another to PUT IT INTO WORDS so someone else can understand it.

So here’s something I was forced to put into words the other day, while leading my children through the resolution of a confrontation.

Anger: a Secondary Emotion

The biggest myth about anger is that it’s a direct response to something that has happened to us.  But that oversimplification leaves out one very important link in the chain.  Anger is only a secondary emotion.

Most of the time, anger is a defense tactic employed to mask the vulnerability we feel from other emotions – often pain or fear, but there are a variety of emotions that expose this vulnerability we would rather keep hidden.  In Kaelin’s case, Koren was making her feel inferior.  Threatened by this emotion, she lashed out at him in anger, one of the two methods we humans have for defending ourselves when we feel vulnerable (the other being withdrawal).

While withdrawal is more like a shield, anger is a knife: a defense-via-offense tactic, and used much like a cornered cat uses its claws, or a frightened snake its bite.  Emotion has a tendency to block cognitive function, so we flail our knife about in an effort to restore our own security, slashing whatever (or whoever) happens to be in our way.

But anger doesn’t solve anything.  It typically makes our insecurity worse instead of better, because then we have regret to deal with, and usually end up causing in others the very wound we perceive to have incurred.

It isn’t really fair to bring anger unless you’re willing to own and admit to the underlying emotion.  In Kaelin’s case, we worked on saying, “Koren, when you boss me around, it makes me feel like you think you’re better than me, and that hurts my feelings.”

Elementary, but it was so much more effective than her previous reaction, which sent Koren running to me in tears.  Koren apologized for hurting her and said he would not do it again.

Dealing with Anger

The flip side to this is communicating with someone who is displaying anger.  This concept is a little mature for Koren, so we didn’t go into it deeply at the time, but I’m going to put it here anyway.

There are basically three ways to react to someone who is flailing their knife around in response to something you have said or done.

  1. Engage them in the knife fight.  This is basically allowing yourself to be caught in the same trap of mistaking your anger for the true emotion and refusing to admit the underlying vulnerability.  We’ve all done this.  Both parties get injured and nothing gets solved.
  2. Run away.  This option is so very tempting.  When you start to lose control of the conversation because you’ve set somebody off, it’s easy just to withdraw from the range of the knife, or put up your own impenetrable shield.  Even though this may protect you from a few nicks, it still doesn’t solve the problem.  Rather than restoring the relationship, it establishes distance.  Distance demonstrates rejection and abandonment, which are damaging to the person who is already trying so hard to mask and protect his/her own vulnerability.
  3. Compel the other person to drop the knife by responding to the underlying emotion instead of the anger.  In addition to patience and self control, it requires some insight to detect the underlying emotion.  Generally it can be picked up by the cues of the conversation and the timing of the anger response.  Had Koren been a little older, he could have analyzed Kaelin’s reaction instead of just responding to it.  He probably would have realized that her anger was the result of being threatened by his attitude and dictation of the items on her chore list.  It would then have been appropriate to say, “I’m sorry that I’m treating you unfairly.  I don’t want you to feel that way, so I will stop.  Also, it will help me in the future if you can tell me how you’re feeling instead of yelling at me, because yelling at me only hurts my feelings and makes me confused.”

The most important thing to remember when dealing with someone who is angry at you is that the anger is only a facade.  What’s underneath is vulnerable and likely linked to a deep fear or pain, that the angry person themselves may not even recognize or understand.  Handle with care.

 

Waves

25 Feb

My son’s personality is an intriguing dichotomy.  He is frequently a total, off-the-wall goofball who loves to make jokes and crack others (and himself) up with his silly antics and humor.  His laugh is infectious and when something really tickles him he wants to share it (again and again) with everyone around him. He is constantly coming up with ways to make me laugh.

But he can also be a serious scholar, who grasps intangible concepts far beyond his age level.  He can spend lengthy periods of time pouring over a puzzle or a book, and sometimes retreats from the social atmosphere because he just needs some “alone time.”

He misses Xander.  He has been remarkably resilient in the wake of losing his best friend in a drowning accident last summer, but Xander is frequently on his mind and he occasionally has days when he seems to struggle with the weight of permanent (at least, for the length of this lifetime) loss.  I think true grief is like that, coming in waves where sometimes the seas are calm and you can manage through life as usual, and other times it comes out of nowhere and knocks your boat over.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in my craft room when I started to hear a small, whimpering voice.  At first I thought maybe the kids were playing (they frequently role-play, where one is the parent and the other is the kid… and the kid role involves a LOT of whining).  But I soon realized that Kaelin was downstairs, so I followed the sound and found Koren sitting by himself in the media room.  The Apple TV’s slideshow was running and he was watching our family pictures scroll up the screen.

“You ok, bud?”
“Mama… I miss Xander.  I want things to be like they were in that picture.  With me and Xander at Chuck E Cheese.”
“Were you talking to Xander just now?”
“Yeah.”

I want so badly to make this better for him.  That’s my right after all, isn’t it?  The Sacred Superpower granted to all parents:  kisses and words to offer that make all the boo-boos feel better and all the monsters disappear.

But – surprise –  there are some wounds that can’t be healed with hugs and kisses.  These wounds continue to hurt the ones you try so hard to shield.

He had another wave yesterday.  We were at a restaurant with my family and Koren suddenly retreated.  I noticed him sitting in a corner instead of in his chair and asked him to come sit with me.  He climbed up in my lap and we chatted for a bit, and then I took him to the bathroom.  Once we were in there, between his goofy attempts to make himself invisible so he could jump out and surprise me, we had the following conversation:

“Mama, can I tell you something?”
“Of course.”
“Do you know why I was sitting in the corner?”
“No.  Why?”
“Because I was thinking of Xander.  And I wish we were playing together.”

His mood picked up after lunch and he seemed to really enjoy the rest of the day (especially T-Ball practice), but his friend remained on his mind.  He brought it up again at bedtime and told me that every time he sees a helicopter it makes him think of Xander (who was flown to the hospital in one).  He wanted to know if, whenever they are reunited in Heaven some day, Xander would still be four, or if they will be the same age.  He still prays for Xander’s family nearly every night.

Today, he’s in good spirits.  He bounded down the stairs this morning full of life and hoping for a boiled egg with breakfast.  While eating, he ruminated on whether he wants to be a teacher or a doctor when he grows up.  It appears yesterday’s funk has passed.

Even though his instinct is to retreat when he’s feeling down or needing to process, talking about it does seem to help him.  Despite my wishes (and futile attempts), I can’t calm the ocean for him.  I can only ride the waves with him, and hold him tight when swells get high.

Perhaps that’s all he needs from me.