Maybe It’s Just Me

Brad Paisley got it right. When he described his girl as “sunshine mixed with a little hurricane”, I’m pretty sure he was describing Sweetgirl. That kid is a whirlwind of toothless eight-going-on-eighteen.  Ahab and The Nana would surely describe me similarly… plus a few teeth. And pounds. And years.

IMG_1477

The times I have to watch my Sunshine hide behind clouds of doubt or insecurity, though, because of the way others treat her, it’s my own inner hurricane that starts brewing.

I can’t be the only one who identifies with the inner hurricanes I see within these tender-hearted girls. Self-doubt is a powerful ingredient in an emotional storm and it surely does seem like there are far too many of us huffing harsh words out onto others in hopes that we will feel smarter, prettier, more popular, and even seen. We whip our attitudes around and lash out at others in an effort to boost our own meager confidence. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought in hopes that we matter more than the next girl.

And none of it does a single thing to advance love, joy, peace, kindness or goodness.

No. In fact,  witnessing how hurtful and mean girls can be toward one another is distressing. Watching the devastation left in the hearts of the hurt is heartbreaking. Too often this meanness starts a vicious circle of behavior: Be hurt. Hurt another. Feel better. Be hurt again. Hurt another again. Feel better again. And on and on it goes.

And, I’m tired of hearing that this is just how girls are with one another. Responsibility gets to fly off on the shoulders of Blame, that way. And, assuming that girls will determine social hierarchy with little emotional fallout makes about as much sense to me as throwing a non-swimmer into a pool and saying, “Good luck with that swimming thing.”

Comments sharing how there will always be mean girls fall hard on my heart, too, because I’m a firm believer in doing what you can. Don’t we all remember the Starfish Story? We can throw one starfish starving for it’s watery habitat back, and it will make a difference for that one single starfish, won’t it?

Aren’t the hearts of girls worth just as much effort and attention?

With their increasingly younger noses perpetually pressed to their smart phones or tablets, and seeking social acceptance there, it seems obvious that guidance is needed. We adults need to be checking in often enough to know who and what these girls of ours are trying to get their self-worth from.

And, while we’re at it, where are we trying to get our own self-worth from?

As I’ve mentioned here and here, I do believe our worth is something a few of us adults need to be reminded of, too.

Or, maybe it’s just me.

What do you say we work on battening down those hurricane hatches together?

God knows Grace gushes in my general direction because I desperately need it.

Often.

Can we agree to work on showing, not telling, our girls how to treat themselves, first. Can we remind them again and again that they are created in the image of One who loves them more than any Facebook or Insta “like” ever will. And can we do that together, by caring more about the eyes watching us refresh our screens than those on our screens.

Sweetgirl needs some help learning how to combat The Mean with the truth that we are each a special God-designed mix of sunshine and hurricane. Especially as we boot up for a new school year.

And, quite frankly, her mama can always use some more work in that area, too.

Always.

Yes indeedy.

Who’s with me?

Ask First

Her blonde curls unfurled behind her as she chased her little neighbor friend across the field. All eight years of her pumped those legs to catch up with all three years of her little friend.

And, when she did catch up?

Giggles.

Galore.

“I’m gonna get you! I’m gonna tickle you silly,” she kept saying, to the delighted cries of the neighbor.

My Sweetgirl gently tickled and chased, causing the newly three-year old fits of laughter. There was more glee to behold in the scene than my heart could take in.

But, I did.

Then, I waited…

For the right moment to have that uncomfortable conversation with my precious child, who meant only good. I’m talking about the reality that tickles can also be bad. And that, to be appropriate, you must always ask first.

“But, it ruins the moment, mama,” she insisted!

This is where #parentingishard. It’s in these joyful moments that you are loath to interrupt, that you realize you must.

I didn’t want to. And I most certainly wish I didn’t have to.

But, touching varies radically from family to family. Respecting that fact means asking first. I had to convey this to my sweet one without dulling the beauty of a precious interaction. An interaction that happens not only amongst her and her friends, but also within family.

And it hit me – this is where the lines get crossed. Or not.

These are the conversations that can allow fear to skyrocket if not handled delicately. But, at the same time, I want her to know that if anyone tickles her, and it makes her uncomfortable, we are a family who talks together. All the time. About everything.

Even uncomfortable tickling.

So, if you find yourself in a situation that requires some gentle conversation about appropriate touching, here are a few things that I found helpful. Hopefully, you will too:

  • Watch for cues. As we were talking, she mentioned that when I tickle her, it sometimes hurts because I tickled “too hard under my armpits”. WOW! I had no idea. Just talking about this opened up the opportunity for me to apologize and acknowledge that she didn’t like that. It also helped me use language she was using as I forged on with my harder points.
  • Keep it simple. I chose to wait until this age to have this conversation. You, or families you know, may choose to do it at an earlier age. Or, a later one. My goal was to make sure my child understood that asking first also meant respecting any form of “no thank you”. And, again, I used the language my daughter used. “Friends”, “family”, “appropriate” “tickling”, “hurt”, “uncomfortable”, “like”, and “secrets” were all worked into our conversation.
  • Allow for questions. This one was hard. Because, when you open up this can of worms, sometimes they stay in their nice round can, and sometimes they come out in every direction. Our conversation? There were no shoving those worms back in the can! So, I just let the questions roll in. And, some of my more brilliant answers included the words, “Maybe” and “Sometimes” and even “I’m not sure”. I hope it’s obvious that I didn’t have all the answers. And I thought it was important for my Sweetgirl to know that while I will always accept any question, I might not always have an immediate answer.

Is this a hard topic to tackle? Yes. Yes it is.

But worth it.

Yes indeed.

 

 

 

Why I’ll Never Ask Her to Clean Out Her Room Again

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they take a peek into their youngest child’s room and decide they’ve had enough.

Enough of the teeny tiny toys that pierce the tender undersides of feet.

Enough of the stuffed animals covering the floor like carpet.

Enough of the doll clothes strewn like confetti.

Enough of the two crayons and 4 markers randomly located in the four corners of the room. Along with the 15 pieces of tape strategically placed on blankets, dresser, floor, and animals. (What is that all about, anyway? Do I even want to know??)

Enough!

Last weekend, the time had come for this parent.

“Alright Sweetgirl, mama’s all done with this toys-on-the-floor business. Let’s get this room cleaned out.”

This little announcement, as you can imagine, was not met with joy and excitement.

I began gathering all of the things we would need to clean up this mini-human explosion in the purple room down the hall. Baskets of varying sizes (I had delusions of organizational grandeur), laundry basket, big black trash bag that you could fit a human into.

“Why do we need a trash bag, mama? NOT THE TRASH BAG!?!” (The way you just read that last sentence? Not one ounce of exaggeration in how she presented her case against the dreaded trash bag.)

There are some parents for whom a messy room is their child’s problem, not theirs. It doesn’t bother them one eensy bit. They can roll with it.

Unfortunately for Sweetgirl, I am not one of them. You can only close the door on disaster so many times.

We set to work picking up the stuffed animals, first. As I lifted each one, I’d hold it up for her and ask, “Are we still in love with this one?”

I’m happy to report that she made a fairly large pile of stuffies to donate. Her mantra, each time she opted to let one go was, “It’s someone else’s turn to love them.”

Bless. (Her)

Happy Dance. (Me)

We talked through each meticulously curated pile of toys. She informed me, for example, that the lined paper cut into the shape of a haphazard oval was vital to the comfort of her mermaid Squinkie toy. But, that the pink glitter crayon lying beside them both was magical and couldn’t be moved.

Story after explanation after rationalization was doled out, in the hopes that some piles could remain.

Nope.

We finally got to our last corner of the room, when Sweetgirl put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I love you Mama. You listen to my stories.”

And that? That earned her a smooch and a hug. And a nice long break to admire what we had accomplished, so far.

I told her we could quit for the day. But, she opted to finish what we had started. So, we did.

As we finally, blessedly, wrapped up, I started dragging the trash bag of to-be-donated stuffed animals down the stairs. But, I had to pause on the second step. She had made her way into Sweetboy’s room to tell him something “important”.

“I’m a big kid now, brother,” she informed him.

He asked her why.

“Because, mama and I cleaned out all of my little girl toys today. So now, I’ve got a big girl room.”

A tear rolled down this cheek of mine. It was never my intention to clear out her little girl toys. I never anticipated a need to make her room a “big girl” room. But, she saw it as a rite of passage somehow. It meant something completely different, and, well… big, to her.

I don’t think I’ll ever ask her to clean her room out again.

Well played, little one. Yes indeedy… well played.

For Time to Stand Still

Forget time-travel…I want to stall it!

Sweetgirl has developed quite a sense of humor. And lately, she beats me to every punch line. I have a funny come back for Sweetboy and she spouts it off before I get out the first syllable. We watch a funny scene in a movie and she’s chortling before I get the first snort out.

And then, she knows things that are beyond me. This kid, she has a sense of time and space that I do not even aspire to. This simply must come from Sweetman. I assure you, these skills of modulating an area, sequencing tasks in order of efficiency, enjoying math… alllllll Sweetman. Thank you God for letting me be yoked to my Sweetman!

Yet, she is still small enough to sit in my lap and let me cup her cheeks in my hands and murmur how much we adore her. She fits. Right there in my lap. Secure. Cherished. Mine.

I am clinging to these hours, days, weeks-months-years. As graduation looms around me for so many other parents, I want to linger in these fleeting moments.

Can we parents come together and agree that it would be a fantastic idea to create a sort of “time-stopping machine”?

Can we?

Sweetkids

Because, imagining the ability to soak in a moment of the sun glinting off of her pale yellow hair as she dances amongst the wildflowers swells my heart. I want to press pause as I watch her tiptoe with gentle and cautious optimism toward the bird nervously perched five feet away.

And Sweetboy… oh child! How I love that my heart is beginning to beat more in tandem with his. The thumping is erratic at times, but as he discovers more of his gifts and talents and loves, I see that we are not that different, he and I. We both laugh hysterically over bathroom humor. His laugh… I could listen to that beautiful sound play over and over and over.

What a gentle way he has with others! I like to eavesdrop on his conversations sometimes. I wish I could halt the flow of them and take notes on how he waits attentively, taking feelings into account in ways that others his age often don’t. He is expert at feeling empathy in situations others would flat-out miss.

And the child has caught my love of reading. I don’t care that it’s Big Nate that makes him read voraciously. Seeing his love for what the written word can do for a person, grow is a joy. I sneak in sometimes, long after “bedtime”, and just stand watching his eyes dance across the pages.

I want… no, I need time to stand still for all of these precious moments that I know are fading from our daily interactions.

Indeed.

We danced in the living room, the other day. Homework was done, we were all feeling worn down from the day, and there was an energy zinging amongst us that desperately needed release. As I pressed play, my children, these precious people who God knit inside of me and allowed me to birth out into the world, they danced around me in circles of love.

I just want it to go on forever.

But it can’t.

So, for now, I just need time to stand still.

The Back-up Hairbrush

Sweetgirl sat still (SHE SAT STILL!) while I brushed her hair the other night.

She had come to me, moments before, clutching her beloved purple hairbrush. The one with the gigantic, princess-sized, colorful gems glued to the back. The one I bought her on a whim. No wrapping paper adorned it. She didn’t request it. It was one of those “Sweetgirl would love this!” purchases.

And, oh, how she did!

This sweet child of mine, so girly in her ways, so foreign to my own, adores this brush with every strand of her fine golden hair. Each time she asks me to “Brush, please, mama!” I stop mid-whatever and sink down to do it. Each brush stroke another fleeting moment spent with this cherished girl child that hardly ever holds still long enough to allow me this gift of time.

As she walked over to me, this particular night, the brush slipped out of her hand. I dove, volleyball style, to get my hand underneath and break the impact.

I’ve still got it, because I surely did save that brush from destruction.

Immediately, I thought, “I need to buy a back-up brush!”

And, why?

What if she drops it and breaks it and we can’t fix it and she’s inconsolable.

Yeah. That.

I resolved to head back to the store where I bought it as soon as possible and pick up another one. The next morning, I had a quick hour of freedom and made a break for it!

But, a funny thing happened on the way to the store.

God got a hold of my human capacity for worst-case scenario planning. He whispered into the midst of it, “There is no plan for death. Save, mine.”

And I heard it.

But, I didn’t understand it. Not really.

So, I kept driving.

Broken_Hairbrushes_Missindeedy

Pulling into the parking space in front of the store, I felt this check in my heart. A nudge to just sit still, like my Sweetgirl did, and soak in some valuable moments of listening.

You already know where this is going, don’t you?

“You can’t save her from heartbreak. I couldn’t save my Son from the very same.”

I was listening. God’s Holiest whisper finally penetrated my human understanding. “I gave you this little one not so that you could save her, but so that I could. Show her that I can save her. Show her that broken hairbrushes will not break her.

Oh, y’all. I’m crying as I’m typing because… I needed to hear that so very badly.

Do you, too?

I want to take each circumstance in her life and Sweetboy’s life and control it and maneuver it and make it right and straight and copacetic and pain-free.

But, I can’t, can I.

And, that’s not even my job.

I’ve been trying to do Someone else’s job.

Clarity can be startling. It surely was, for me, in that moment.

I may have put the car in park, but it was my mind that God needed to pull over. I’m so thankful that He did.

I’m never more aware of my continual need for His grace than when He’s whispering a lesson into my heart that He’s only had to teach me eleventy times over.

Indeed.

I didn’t end up going in to buy the back-up hairbrush.

She doesn’t need it.

I don’t need it.

Gemstones may crack. We may crack.

But, He’ll put us back together in exactly the way only He can.

I’ll just keep showing her.

And He’ll keep showing me.

What I Learned in 2014

2014 was a year full of new challenges, grand adventures, goals met, lessons learned, and a whole host of moments where dark chocolate was desperately needed! I’m including my favorite posts from each month. But, I have to tell you – it was not easy to choose which posts to include. In fact, reading through each month sent me running for the tissue box more than a time or four (not to mention the stash of dark chocolate chips I realized I was going to need to keep on hand just to get through the month of June!)

So, grab your favorite cup of something warm (or cold) and join me as I reflect back on 2014.

Lessons_Learned_2014_Missindeedy

In January, I learned that I was one in a million. I also realized how very deeply I love my Dermatologist.

February reminded me that Sweetman is wicked smaht, and that I need to pay better attention during our conversations.

March was the month where I finally pursued a long-held goal of mine to enter the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. And, although the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped, it felt good to give it a go.

And, of course, in April, Dentists became dead to me, as we learned of sweetgirl’s boo-boos on her teeth.

May was where I reflected on the BOOM created by the very different Myers-Briggs personalities in my marriage.

June brought a painful lesson in turning the other cheek, from Sweetboy, and reminded us how Autism can have painful ripple effects for a parent – but that it doesn’t win!

July reminded me that Sweetgirl is always watching, and that Autism can sweeten the interaction between siblings – especially when a yoga ball (or two) is involved.

August is when I finally realized where my mission field is. And, OH, how I yearn to work it well!

September was the month where I learned that I can both set a goal and reach it and set a goal and fail! The women’s triathlon was successful. The goal I set afterwards was not. (There is always 2015!)

In October, I proved that I can indeed get along with Commitment, after all. I accepted the Write 31 Days challenge. Because, Grace, I know Him well.

November was full of masks, casts, and WINS! (P.S. If you need me on January 1st or, LORD WILLING, January 12th, I’ll be parked in front of the television, yelling encouraging my beloved BAMA’s football players to RUN THAT BALL!)

And, December, of 2014, taught me to shop a little earlier for the “classics”, as I reflected on the beauty of the lesson in the The Little Drummer Boy.

Such grace laces my days. I was reminded of that on more than a hundred occasions over this past year. I’m encouraged to keep moving toward new goals, maybe even toward an old one, or two, that got dropped along the way.

Hope sparkles on the horizon for 2015.

I’m praying that it does for you, too.

Yes indeedy!

What were some of your favorite lessons learned in 2014? Please, share them! I’m linking up with the lovely Emily Freeman, over at Chatting At the Sky, for her “What We Learned” link up.

 

Why The Little Drummer Boy Still Rocks

Sweetman came home, the other day, with a boxed set of “Christmas Classics” DVDs. We only wanted Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeeryou see; but, we missed the buying boat for just that one. Everyone else had already been there and bought that.

Because Sweetman is brilliant (and really, because he knew coming home without the movie in-hand would cause a mutiny), he bought the boxed set. All for the low-but-actually-not-so-low price of 2 Many Dollars. It includes Rudolph, of course, and Frosty the Snowman, and The Little Drummer Boy, and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and a couple of other “original” classic Christmas movies.

Except, I don’t remember some of these movies as being classics.

In fact, two of the movies included are Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol and Cricket on the Hearth. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure I would have remembered a “classic” about a young woman going blind from shock, and a crow sent out to murder a sweet little talking cricket, and Brandon Thomas’ toothy grin as he narrates it all. Oh, I especially would have remembered that. That’s the stuff of nightmares, folks. Oh, yes it is! No matter how delightfully Mr. Thomas croons about the birth of The Savior.

Anyhoo, one of the movies that I had plumb forgotten about, was The Little Drummer Boy. We snuggled in and began watching. Five minutes into it, though, I considered the choice a mistake.

WHY did they kill his parents, Mama?” Followed by, “But WHY does the little boy not have people who love him?”

And then, the tears!

I’ll be honest, I wanted to have a stern word with the folks who thought this kind of story line was a good one for children. Until, of course, I realized I’d likely be yelling at a bunch of dear elderly persons in a nursing home.

Sweetboy interrupted my imaginings by innocently asking why the little drummer boy wanted to be alone with the animals and why he hated people?

And, I realized with a start that I had one of those rare golden parenting opportunities. We, parents, only get this kind of opportunity every-so-often. I wasn’t about to let this one go by with a shoulder-shrug.

We pressed pause.

As two expectant pairs of eyes stared at me, I realized how many directions I could go with this conversation. Anger is an emotion all humans experience. Death is an experience all humans will eventually meet with. And, hatred is something none of us ever wish to encounter, but far too often do.

Where to start? How far to go? What words are appropriate for a six and eleven-year-old?

The words I chose were the ones that were the simplest. And the most truthful. I asked them if anyone had ever hurt their feelings. When each said yes, I asked them how it made them feel. One said sad, the other said angry.

Ah, yes. Emotions that we all feel.

We talked through some of the ways people respond to others when they are angry. Or hurt. Or sad. Because, really, sometimes they’re all bumping up against each other. Right?

I asked them why they thought Jesus came to earth as a baby. That was a tricky one for Sweetgirl. But Sweetboy? He nailed it. “So we could be in God’s family.”

Oh, child… YES!

Little_Drummer_Boy_Missindeedy

The Truth. It’s the best place to start and the best place to end.

Always.

They both got antsy, after that, and asked me to press play. We watched on as, in the end, that little drummer boy was able to give away his most prized possession out of love. Love that was placed in his heart, and is placed in ours, for the purpose of overcoming the anger and the hurt and the sadness.

Thank you Jesus!

What grace!

It turns out, The Little Drummer Boy still rocks! He may be stilted in his movements, but the heart behind his story beats strong among us all.

Oh, how it does!

Yes indeedy.