The Moral of the Story

We don’t read the Bible much in our house, but we do tell Bible stories-old testament Noah, Moses, David and Goliath. New testament miracles, parables, the nativity, the crucifixion, the Easter story.

So, when a few weeks ago, Andy picked JR up from his preschool program that replaces mass for the little squirmy ones, was he ever surprised to hear the catechist gushing over JR. She was telling the kids the story of Jesus healing a blind man. JR interrupted her and explained the rest of the story that Jesus spit in the dirt and rubbed mud in the man’s eyes and he could see! She was impressed, and probably made all sorts of assumptions about what devoted Catholics the BLD’s are.

So today, when I overheard Cal and JR having a conversation about the same story, I listened with fascination, as I’m sure eons of good Catholic mothers before me have done.

As the story reached the end, JR said “and then he spit in the mud, rubbed it in his eyes, and then he could SEE!” Cal made some insightful comment, to which JR revealed what I believe is the real reason the miracle stuck with him.

“Yeah, Jesus had magic spit.”

We’ve taught them well.

Goodbye Sweet Summer

Ok, most people think there are 4 equal seasons here in Michigan, but I disagree. For me, there are two main seasons: summer and not summer. Then the minor seasons: almost summer and end of summer. For me, the summer is the progess and the growth, and the unfettered fun. Not-summer is the waiting. I pray for short winters.

Today marks the official end of summer in any regard. Today it snowed. I didn’t know it would. But, just this morning, I couldn’t talk myself into driving back home after dropping Cal off at school.

Instead, I drove up to the old favorite stomping grounds of garage sale Thursday: the rural area just north of town. I made a wrong turn, and ended up stumbling across our favorite playground from behind. I was actually suprised that the gates were open. Knowing November doesn’t generally allow many last chances to play outside, we stopped.

The kids didn’t have gloves, and it was a cold-ish 50, but I found a few hats thrown on the floorboard under baby Hoss’s carseat. It was our first trip to our favorite “secret” playground in weeks. The middles raced to their dangerous beloved lillypads on the impressive playground, and I knew I’d be needed to rescue Lumpy in a moment.

As I approached them a few minutes later, holding the freshly bundled Hoss, I couldn’t believe that she was standing on the isolated platform at the end of the dangling plastic steps. She must have done it on her own, I realized…until I saw JR standing below, stabilizing the wobbly blocks. He’d never helped her before (and I have the memory of my many unfinished sandwiches to prove it).

The kids have done so much this summer, grown so much. I’d like to hold onto them and keep them here. Playing with no corrections or discipline needed. Just being 6 months, 2 and 4. But, I also love to watch them be braver next time than the last time we were here.

I wonder who they’ll be the next time we play here.

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Ten minutes later, the frozen kiddie fingers were back in the car and we turned towards home. The skies were a thick, imposing grey. It looked like tornado weather to me.

I headed into the darkness centered over town. My weather app didn’t even know about the storm eating the whole sky in front of me yet. My very polite car’s dashboard encouraged me to drive with caution as the temperature dropped precipitously under the storm front. But once we were in the grey, it didn’t feel dangerous. Something about the light just seemed, maybe, calm. And then it began to sleet. Familiar grainy raindrops and the light tap of ice crystals ticking off the windshield. The wet ice accumulated beneath the wipers. Then snow. Big, marshmallow chunks falling much faster than proper winter snow. I pulled into the garage and closed the door behind me to keep the cold out.

And that’s how close we were to the end of summer when we said goodbye.

The good thing about not-summer is that it always comes, whether you are ready for it or not. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, it waves from the driveway and honks the horn at the stop sign.

Goodbye sweet summer. We’ll see you soon.

There will be a good time.

Last night I walked away from the most fulfilling thing I do for myself all week. I quit the community performance choir (auditions required, albeit gentle ones at that) I joined at the end of the summer. A dear friend, and mother of three herself, had asked me if I wanted to try it with her, and let me tell you, it was great. I found that not only did I retain some skills from long ago in high school music, I had maintained my modest mezzo range after 4 kids and singing along to the radio exclusively for the interim twelve years.

From 7 to 9 PM on Monday, it was worth it.

But, 4 to 6:45 PM was a different story.

In order to go to rehearsal, starting in October, Andy had to take over teaching catechism for me from 6:15-7:30 at our church, a 30 minute drive. That required two different babysitters. One for the middles, one for baby Hoss. Two generous neighbors helped on both fronts. That meant Hoss would only have to go 75 minutes without one of us (Andy could pick him up by 8 most nights). Hey, who ever said this would be easy?

Well, no one. And it wasn’t. Hoss did miserably all two times we left him with our wonderful neighbor (mother of 5, grandma of 5 jillion). Andy travelled on of the other weeks, and I had to take over his class, all 3 too-little kiddos in tow (Cal was attending her own class).  Mondays are tough.

But, yesterday, despite all my best efforts, crock-pot heroics, schedule manipulations, marathon nursing, and last-minute cleaning, all I could come up with was misery. And yelling. A lot of yelling. And the second frigging out-of-print Scholastic book I have to replace (Really, Amazon Associates, cancelling the order again?! Who cares about Clifford’s flippin’ Stormy Day Rescue is in “very good” condition if what you meant to say was “non-existent” condition!?! Not that I’m angry.)

And that did it. The three oldest were at each other’s throats. I literally roared at my children. Cal and Lumpy started crying. I asked if they liked the yelling house where the only way mommy can get anyone to obey is by screaming at them. They said no. Ihad to hug kids and make them feel better before I could even talk about what went wrong.

I learned, yet one more, horrible, frigging time, that MY children are not goal-oriented or driven by results. They have absolutely no focus or sense of cooperation for our family, BECAUSE THEY ARE 2, 4, AND 6 YEARS OLD. NOT because they have no discipline or I have been lax in gently parenting their little hearts to get them to follow my own desires. WELL FRIGGIN’ POOP ON A STICK.

My husband came home. We ate a rushed dinner. My husband took Cal to catechism. Hoss fell asleep. The babysitter came over and played with Lump and JR in the basement. It was 6:30. And that was it.

I called up my mommy buddy who was going to give watching Hoss a try and cancelled. I loaded Hoss into the car and my uniform and my music book. We drove to the dress rehearsal, walked in together, and turned my stuff in. I told our incredibly understanding and almost magically skilled director sorry, but there will be a good time someday. And I’ll be back when that day comes. I left a voicemail for Andy telling him what I did. Hoss and I went to the grocery store, and he rode in the cart for the first time:

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There will be a good time for singing someday. Really. For Andy and I as parents, there is so much power in the few words that cement our faith in the promise of delayed gratification. (Four years ago I would have been wrestling with the perception of not letting parenting change me, but that’s simply a base discussion this late in the game.)

All this headache? For my stuff? Whew. I’m not worth it. My fleeting two hours of happiness, that is. Not worth subsidizing my experience with the peace of four young children and the $10 for our extremely reasonable teenage babysitter. I won’t be cruel to myself and say I couldn’t handle it. The endless emails and arrangements. Rushing Cal through her homework without my help. Expecting non-destructive behavior and quiet play from the littles during their witching hour.

No. It’s not me.  I did the work, I was diligent, focused, and prepared.

But they weren’t.  They couldn’t be.  Because it’s just not the right time.

Yet.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens

-Ecclesiastes 3:1

Candy, can they?

It was a great Halloween. And now we have a candy situation.

We have lots of it.

But, we are trying to help the kids build a healthy relationship with food-not just eat healthily.  We have been working towards a free and open kitchen since before our first was born.  We are at about 75% compliance, which is probably just about right for our family.

Today I am putting it to the test.  I am assuming one haul of candy will not destroy a 2, 4, and 6 year old.  So, instead of rationing, I am doing this:

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Yes, that’s their open snack bin. The only rules? Wrappers in the garbage can and reject candy cannot end up chewed up in my hand (gag).

Join “Big Little Days Blog” on Facebook for hourly updates on the candy scene.

I’m guessing they’ll keep themselves in check to avoid a belly ache and tire of the candy before the candy runs out.

Can they?