Where I Cannot Go…


It’s Monday again. Somehow, when my feet hit the floor running, I must have tripped because “the hurry-er I went, the behind-er I got”! By the time I got back from the school, I felt terrible. It’s never a good morning when Little Guy and I argue (he was convinced that his pants looked ok…even though they were 2” too short…I guess he had a growth spurt). It’s never a good morning when our conversation degenerates into single words: “Move!”, “socks”, “shoes”, “door”, “buckle”, “go!”…all spoken with the same bark and decibel as a shotgun blast. It’s never a good morning when we get in the car and the clock says 8:30…and the school bell rings at 8:30.

I pealed out of the driveway like Mario Andretti, talking just as quickly as I was driving, carefully explaining that I was taking Little Guy to the school’s “kiss ‘n ride” and explaining where to go and what to do when he got there. Apparently my driving was the only thing that was effective. We arrived at the “kiss ‘n ride” in 2 minutes but Little Guy just stared at me blankly. I got him out and patted him on the back, wishing him a good day. Then he started to run down the side laneway…I started yelling his name, and running after him, with my car still idling behind me. I managed to get his attention and headed in the front doors of the school, but the last sight I had was my red-faced child, wiping his eyes and trudging down the hall. The 5 supervising teachers were too engrossed in their own conversation to notice our “drama” right beside them.

To be honest, when I saw him running away, I panicked. My head understood that he was confused and was running around the front of the school to his own door on the other side. My head understood that it was 8:33 and he wasn’t going to make it. But it wasn’t about the time. It was about the fact that when he ran around the school, he would be running near the road and someone could take him. I couldn’t leave the car idling in the kiss ‘n ride to follow and see him safely inside. And that is one of my greatest fears…that he would find himself frightened, alone, and hurt, at the mercy of a stranger. I fear losing him in an accident or to a horrible disease less than I fear losing him because someone took him away. If I’m going to lose him, I want to be there to comfort him and to hold him. It’s an irrational fear, maybe even a selfish one. But whoever said fear was rational?

My fear is not unique. It’s an instinctive part of being a parent to safeguard our children. We struggle to find a balance between making our children fearful and preparing them to face a world where monsters really do exist. It’s a fear that never really goes away, even when you’re children are grown and have moved out on their own.

This fear first haunted my dreams when I was pregnant with Big Guy. As a 16 year old single Mom, I was fearful that someone would decide I wasn’t equipped to be a Mom, and they would take my baby away. I even spent a few nights sleeping next to my parents’ bed! After he was born, the fear persisted. He was so beautiful and I felt so unworthy to have such joy in my life that I feared God would take him from me. (It took me a long time to realize that that is not God’s nature or design!)

2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline”*. First, I’m not meant to have a spirit of fear. Second, God has given me power and love as a parent. Third, God has given me the power to practice self-discipline to reject the fear, and to trust Him. One of the ways I have learned to do that over the years, when fear and “what-ifs” create that feeling of panic and helplessness in the pit of my soul, is to ask God to “go where I cannot go”. I can’t go in Little Guy’s classroom or Big Guy’s job site, but God can.

I was relieved to hear that the rest of Little Guy’s day went better, and unbelievably so did mine. Maybe my feet caught up with the rest of me…

  *New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Crying Box


I admire Nursery School teachers. For the first few weeks (or up to Thanksgiving so I’m told by an expert), these stoic educators deal with tears…sad tears, angry tears, and perhaps in private, their own tears. They deal with the “contagious floodgates” – one child cries, which starts another crying, and pretty soon half the class is in the depths of despair. They deal with children with red faces and swollen eyes, and with children who have lost control of their bladders because they are sobbing and they just…can’t quite…hold it…. These teachers deserve giant gold stars!

There’s a Nursery School in the church, which my Little Guy attended for JK. Both teachers are incredibly kind! I have never once witnessed them losing patience with even the unruliest child. They remain loving and steadfast in the face of wide eyes and quivering lips.

A few years ago, one of the teachers came up with an “out of the box” solution to all tears…a crying box. A simple square made of masking tape on the floor of the main room with a box of tissues. The box is separate from main group, but studiously supervised, and while the teachers are always careful to acknowledge a child’s feelings (leaving Mom or Dad is traumatic), they don’t tolerate on-going crying for the sake of crying. They’re experienced enough to understand the difference between kids that are sad and kids that are crying because they are angry. And they recognize that some children just need time…to cry. And it works! The kids learn early on that the crying box is a safe place for them to go and let their feelings out. When they’re feeling better, they can return to the group.

Last week, one of the teachers told me about a child who was trying to “keep it together”. They could see the tension building and tears starting to form, and before long this little girl would sprint to the box for a good cry. Then she’d clean herself up, and return to the group. In a little while, the tension built again and she’d sprint to the crying box again.

It may seem unconventional, however:

  • It gives the children a safe place to express their emotions; it is also a space respected by the teachers and other students;
  • It acknowledges the children’s feelings without allowing the feelings to control their behavior;
  • It teaches them that they are in control of their emotions, not the other way around;
  • It teaches them how to gauge their emotions and to judge when they need some time out to regain control; and,
  • It minimizes the “cascade” effect in the classroom (i.e., when one child cries, the others start crying too).

Within a week or two, as the children adjust to separation from caretakers and adjust to routines in the classroom, the crying box becomes obsolete. I think it’s brilliant!

How much more pleasant life would be if there were “boxes” in the community. You’re a road-raging parent in the school parking lot – please step into the box, have your rant, and then join the rest of civilized society peacefully. You have one nerve left and your co-worker is straining it – step into the box and breathe deeply until you are no longer seeing red and then go about your day with a clearer head. Your husband…oh, let’s not go there!

But do you see my point? Sometimes we need to take a “time out”, have a good cry or a spirited rant separate from everyone else, before we head back into the fray. And as adults, I don’t think we always do a good job of it. We think we “can’t afford the time” and instead end up hurting those we love the most, and teaching our children that it’s Ok to act like a “bull in a china shop”! We let our emotions and our circumstances control our behavior…and it’s just not a good thing for anyone.

I can’t draw actual lines on the floor with masking tape (how weird would that look to guests in your home, for example), but I’m going to try to make a mental “crying box”. That way, when I have that check in my spirit that says it’s time to step in the box for a moment or two, I’ll be prepared. And perhaps, someday, my “crying box” will become obsolete too.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure


This week’s challenge is to share a photo that says “adventure.”

I…am not the adventurous type, although since deciding to have my mid-life crisis, I have certainly done some things that I would never have expected. I ran in Mud Hero with my oldest son. I joined a band. I got a tattoo. And once (but sadly only once), I survived mountain biking with Hubby. I don’t know if I took this picture before or after I fell off my bike…sideways, down a muddy embankment which sucked off my shoe…and a tree broke my fall…in slow motion…

Mountain biker pulling mountain bike

To see more adventures, click here.

10 Reasons Why I Probably Shouldn’t Watch Reality TV Cooking Competitions


I made a vegetarian pizza on a baguette for supper last night…with some added protein – the bacon I fried and the top layer of skin from two knuckles. While I was grating my knuckles carrots last night, I came up with a list of 10 reasons I probably shouldn’t watch reality TV cooking shows:

  1. I feel the creative urge to try new recipes…which are rarely successful. Things explode. Things end up as crime scene photos. I’ve created dishes that probably still walk the earth in the midnight hour, like The Blob. I’m sorry…
  2. It’s true – your work environment affects your productivity: “Studies show that comfortable, well-ventilated and well-lit, safe workplaces increase productivity as much as 16 percent and job satisfaction as much as 24 percent, while reducing absenteeism”. My kitchen is ugly… 1970’s tile with 1960’s cupboards, and a 1980’s countertop…
  3. I lack the space to do it right. My kitchen counter is often covered with dirty dishes, scraps of paper with scribbled blog ideas, and homeless plastic bread ties. There are also enough crumbs to make a loaf of bread, and sticky spots that are most likely strawberry jam (but I am not tasting it to find out) even though I wipe the counter down several times day!
  4. As for tools, when it comes to chopping vegetables, my choices are steak knives, a carving knife, a bread knife or a fileting knife. It’s amazing what I can do with a fileting knife.
  5. I inevitably forget something on the grocery list and only realize it when I am in the middle of preparing the recipe and I can’t possible load Little Guy in the car and zip out to get it.
  6. Having inevitably forgotten something important, I have to make a substitution. When the dish fails (which it almost always inevitable does), Hubby and I can’t definitively say whether the failure was a result of the recipe or the cook (usually it’s the cook)…
  7. It seems the best looking recipes never use ordinary ingredients that I already have in the house, therefore wreaking havoc on my grocery budget. Do I ration toilet paper for a week so I can afford to buy one expensive ingredient (…I could probably substitute)?
  8. I end up storing ingredients that I only use for a recipe that didn’t quite work out, like the bottle of Rice Wine vinegar for Kung Fu Dumplings. Waste not, want not!
  9. Frequently, my family won’t eat what I’ve made, and I hate throwing out food…so I end up eating it. Things like potato soufflé…and I don’t want to eat it either..
  10. I start to gain weight. I eat my way through the show and then I gravitate to dessert recipes first. If I’m going to waste spend time and money on a new recipe, it had better be something worth eating!

The moral of the story is: When I feel creative, I should just eat out in a nice restaurant!

Capture Your 365: August 23 to 31


I was happy yesterday morning but I can’t really say why. Maybe it was because I smiled and waved cheerfully at the jerk (who was tailgating me) when he passed me? It really made him mad when I smiled and waved and that made me happy. I was humming as I opened my email…and then I got suckerpunched in the first email I read…Happy Feeling Gone.

Words have the power to do that sometimes…

This turned into a week of posts with mostly photos and few words. I needed a break from words, to take some time to get organized for the Fall, and to dabble with some ideas without the pressure to produce. Part of ushering in Fall requires saying “farewell” to Summer, which is a hard thing to do. Nevertheless, here’s the finale of August’s Capture Your 365 Project challenges.

Happy Weekend!

References:

www.brainyquote.com

www.quotes.net

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue


Dialogue is an engaging conversational exchange. In photography, it can be the interaction of two images or elements.

In this week’s challenge, we were asked to choose 2 photos that interact with one another. When placed side by side, the photos should expand the intent or the “story” within the photographs. In other words, together the photos tell a story. This challenge required careful consideration of the subject matter and  the visual elements (which is why it took me so long…)

Dialogue #1

Dialogue #2

Join the dialogue – click here to see more dynamic duos!

Our Legacies, in 6 Words


jennsmidlifecrisis:

We survived the first day of school, or rather Little Guy did! Once he was settled, Hubby and I spent some adult time together. We picked up Timmies and came home to play Minecraft. What?!? We never get a turn! :-)

My friend, Coach Daddy, did his famous 6 Words post again, asking a number of bloggers to share their legacy for the next generation. I encourage you to take some adult time and check it out. It’s always better to laugh than cry! Happy Wednesday!

Originally posted on Coach Daddy:

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Do we get to choose our legacy?

Or does our legacy choose us?

Heavy for a late-August midweek though, no?

Our legacy is like that last roll of film in our camera that isn’t developed until well after we’re done on this earth. It’s the ultimate statement that sums up what we’ve done with our lives. Scary that it can be summed up at all.

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