Monday, April 23, 2012

It All Becomes So Clear

Do you remember all that stuff your mom and dad told you, warned you about, and made you do that even as you grew up, you A. had NO idea why and B. even when you tried to rationalize it, it really made very little sense?

You know, things like having to walk your bike across the street. Didn't that seem somewhat dumb? I mean really, if you stop and look both ways then ride your bike across, you get to safety sooner. And even if it was explained to you that by walking it you lower your risk of falling and getting tangled up in the bike and thus run over by some car who most likely is being driven by a blind man ... you probably thought that was silly too.

Or what about, we have bones to protect our inner organs? Okay great, but really? Why are we protecting them? How often do you get jabbed so far into your tummy you have to worry about puncturing your spleen? (BTW, does anyone really even know where your spleen is and what it does?)

I know I've talked a bit about this bike riding thing, but it occurs to me over the past few weeks that there are many of these little tid bits of info that we were told about as kids, rationalized as stupid as teens, and now as parents ... well, they are now precious nuggets of pure brilliance!

For example: that afore mentioned bike-walking thing. That is GENIUS. Thank you to the person who came up with that safety tip. I mean as I watch Saylah ride (like a rock star by the way) down the street and take the all too often tumble, I am reminded that it IS important to make her get off her bike and WALK it across the street. Sure, slower to get to the other side, but as I've seen her fall, and not quite be able to get herself untangled, I'm struck with awe for the super-smart human who came up with the walking rule. And trust me, she's already tried to rationalize to me that she should be able to ride her bike across the street ... ahh, the circle continues. ;)

Then there are the ribs. God really did know what He was doing when he created those. I mean, I assumed He did, but I can't say I ever gave them much thought, beyond thinking it was gross that people ate them when they come from a pig ... ew. But the other day, during one of those frequent tumbles that are inevitable when learning to ride a bike, Saylah took a tumble and landed smack dab on her handle bar handle. Ouch! She screamed something fierce and proclaimed that it "poked her all the way through her tummy."

I'm sure it did, because she now has a near-perfectly round red mark where it poked her. The mark ... located right where her ribs are near the bottom of the cage. And I think ... thank you God for creating ribs. Those little gadgets sure did come in handy!

Reflecting on these little gems, I am now pondering, what other pieces of knowledge have I simply shirked off ... until I became a parent? What about you? Got any fun ones to share? I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

She Rides!

Check this out. All credit goes to Saylah and Ben for sure! WA HOO!
And JP, you know who you are, you were SO right! ;)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Looking Bad

A very very dear friend of mine writes a great blog called Girls with Confidence. I truly admire her for taking on this challenge as today's girls DO deal with a lot of non-needed junk.

I'll jump out here and take the risk of sounding egotistical and state that although I've had my moments of uncertainty and not liking this part about my body or that, overall I deem myself a pretty confident person in the arena of looks and body image. It's not that I'm vane, nor do I boast the world's best anything. I simply attribute it to my parents and my next-generation-up relatives who took a lot of time and effort to help me build a positive self image. And for that I am not only blessed, but I am grateful.

Tonite the cliche' "it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you" rings in my head strongly as I mull over the conversation I had with Saylah. Since I had such amazing role models in the good-self-image category, I know I have done a thorough job, heck I've done a darn great job, of promoting my daughters and their inner and outer beauty to them. But to my surprise that negative self image issue crept into my daughter's heart and saddened her eyes.

I learned a new perspective on that phrase about what others thinking not mattering. See, since she was young, Saylah has been stopped by strangers remarking on how pretty she is. She is constantly complimented on her inner and outer beauty (as is Audrey). One of my terms on endearment for the girls is "Hi Beautiful" and for Isaac, "Hello Handsome" so it goes to the obvious that this child has had a life being built up on the surface-level stuff and on the stuff that really matters. And to be clear, she is not a melancholy child by any means. Her beautiful spirit illuminates from her body, accentuating her physical beauty just as much as her soul nearly every day.

But this evening at bedtime, I held my crying child in my arms as she told me that she thought she was not beautiful and that she didn't like her eyes, her smile, and that she just looked bad. I have no idea what brought this on. After questioning, it seems there was no outside instigator in the issue. She simply decided she looked "bad." And no amount of mommy-isms or reassurance would convince her otherwise.

It simply breaks my heart. Of course I will continue on with the positive image building and soul edifying. But I will also begin praying that her heart and mind grows to learn and know that SHE has to believe she is beautiful ... it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks on the matter. These are the things that I think make parenting truly tough. And I agree with my friend ... even at the tender age of 6, being a girl can be hard.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What I'm Not

I am a lot of things. I’m a great mom, a fun friend, and a hard worker. I like to climb and run and hike and do cartwheels. I love to chat with friends over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and I love to shop! But there is one thing I learned tonight that I simply am NOT.

I am not, nor do I ever think I will be … that parent who teaches her kid to ride a bike. See this is why kids have two parents. When there’s a weakness, one can compensate for the other. And boy did I need it tonight.

Here’s how my epiphany unfolded. Ben suggested that we go on a family walk / bike ride. I jumped all over it, thinking it’s beautiful out, it will be this picturesque family event and Saylah (who is undoubtedly behind on her bike-riding abilities) can get some practice in.

So, we strap bike helmets to the kids and harness Isaac into the world’s COOLEST bike seat.

If you are looking for an awesome bike seat, you have to get an iBert! It's a toddler bike seat with legs that straddle the front tire of the bike; just behind the handlebars and just in front of you. I absolutely love it! We've had it since Saylah was a tot. Little ones ride right in front of you and you feel like you have a better chance of protecting or catching them should you topple. And when they are of talking age it is the MOST fun! I’ve had the best little conversations with my girls when they were young enough to ride in the iBert. It’s like perfect bonding time meets getting a lil' bit of workout at the same time. You've got to get one!
Okay, back to the story. So … sweet, picturesque family bike ride in the beautiful Orlando evening.

Ben takes on the job of walking behind and holding on to Saylah’s handlebars as she tries to ride through the neighborhood giving her instruction on balance and steering. I take on role of watching Audrey and cheering on Say. So far, so good.

Saylah starts getting a little whiney about how tough this is so I decide to incentivize her by suggesting we ride to the end of our neighborhood to go see her BFF Laura. Which works well.

So we make it to Laura’s house. I won’t even go in to the story of how we almost had to chop down the Roberts’ magnolia tree in their front yard because Audrey got her knee stuck in the trunk. We’ll save that gem for the next blog. ;) But after we save Audrey’s knee … and the tree … we decide it’s time to head back home.

Feeling bad that Ben had to hunch down the entire way there, I offer to take round two for the way home. This is where I learned that new little nugget about me. Pretty much instead of encouraging mom, soft-spoken guider, perpetual cheerleader, when I instruct a child on riding a bike this little monster comes out of me and I turn into a drill sergeant. For five blocks I barked orders, “Stay straight! Stay off the grass. No whining. Don’t be a quitter! Stop falling.” It wasn’t pretty folks. We made it home and thankfully Saylah is more of an easygoing kid. I DID sprinkle my boot camp M.O. with the occasional compliment so I don’t think I did any permanent damage. But, I’m pretty sure that if I were solely responsible for teaching my children to ride their bikes, they’d probably develop a deep sense of hatred for the sport and end up walking everywhere the rest of their lives.

So that folks, is why kids need two parents; One to teach them how to ride a bike and the other one to watch the remaining kids so as not to put the bike-learner into therapy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Best and Worst Parent: Zero to Sixty Seconds

You hopefully know this already, but we shouldn’t judge our parenting skills by the opinions of outsiders. We like to say we don’t … but in some capacity or another, most of us probably do to at least a minor extent.

I’ve got exhibit A for you to remind you just WHY you should not do that.

Yesterday we took the kids to the Polynesian Resort for lunch before heading over to EPCOT (or as the girls call it “Apricot”) for the Flower and Garden Festival.

The Festival was amazing btw and if you’re in Orlando before May 20, you need to go!

Okay, back to the story. So, as many of you know, we are coming off a 10-day excursion from St. Louis for my little brother, Adam’s wedding. So of course, my kids are tired and out of whack, but we decided it would be a great idea to keep them out of school just one more day and go to Apricot … I mean EPCOT. This is not the bad parenting part btw. ;)

While at lunch, Isaac, the “angel” decides he has had it. He’s done. I mean over it, with a capital O.

Being the fun parents that we are, we decided to buy the girls smoothies. Then thought it would be a good idea to give Isaac a taste. It was all down hill from there. He wanted those smoothies and apparently no amount of putting them in his bottle, sippy cup or feeding him from the straw would do it. He wanted them from the girl’s cups! Which of course, neither girl was willing to give up their coveted smoothie. That’s just crazy talk.

So, alas, we had a situation. Isaac was screaming, hopping mad. M-A-D. That sweet little baby would take anything else we put in his hand and throw it on the floor or chuck it across the table. After we realized we should stop putting things in his hands, he started looking for anything he could reach on the table to chuck. At one point his reach was just long enough to get his glass plate, which he promptly threw on the restaurant floor.

At this point, I take him out of the restaurant to have a little 14-month-old conversation. Where he proceeded to slap me and I proceeded to slap his little toosh. He calms down, we return to lunch.

Problem: Smoothie cups are still on the table and Isaac remembers that he really likes those. Dangit.

So he begins to scream and throw things again. At this point the girls decide its time to up the ante a bit and Audrey decides she doesn’t really like the food we picked for her. Saylah either. People are staring. I mean really we’ve attracted some attention. So, Isaac, still p.o’ed grabs another thing and throws it on the ground. At which point I take his little hand and slap it. This does not work. Go figure.

Ben removes child. I deal with other two.

Finally he comes back, I’ve made the girls chug their smoothies and the server remove the evidence. I’ve replaced it with a bottle of milk for him. Hand him his bink, beep and a bottle and little monster becomes little man again and settles into our arms, calm and content.

This gives me a minute to look up and notice that the grandma a few tables away is glaring at me. Unsure if I see this correctly I do a double take and for certain this woman is giving me the evilest evil eye. No doubt upset that I slapped the baby’s hand. Fabulous.

I return the look, and move on to my lunch. Not thrilled by this woman’s judgment. If she only knew, probably the number one reason this little boy throws his food is because he gets away with far more than I would have let his sisters get away with at his age. Whatever.

Fast-forward ten minutes. This lovely grandparent couple sits down at the table next to us. My first thought; they have no idea how lucky they are that they arrived when they did. 10 minutes earlier and we would have ruined their meal. But as we eat I notice how they are looking adoringly at our lovely, well-behaved family of five. Everyone happily eating their dessert and baby resting in his daddy’s arms. Ahh, sweet picture right? At one point the woman chimes in, “you have such good kids,” and gives me that all-knowing smile of approval. Hooray, mother of year award, right here!

So, as you can see, mother of the year or meanest mom ever – same person, just a span of ten minutes; if I would allow my perception of parenthood to be defined by the judgments of others.

So, I try not to. But the silver lining of the lunch from hell, is that I had a good reminder that I need to fix my goals on raising my kids on my beliefs of what God says and just hit and hope! But … If I were going to side with one of those stranger-women, I’m thinking, I’m going to go with the one who thought we were perfect.