Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Shot Gun! Response: Parenting for Dummies

My friend, who shall remain nameless, sent me a wonderful email in response to my Shotgun question. (scroll down. the original post isn't archived yet.) I just had to share it with you. If I ever get around to writing a book, Mom’s Tool Box - All the Stuff You Need to Fix What’s Wrong With Your Kids, THIS friend will be my co-author....and then you’ll know who she is. Incidentally, I changed all the names to protect the innocent babes in her care and who may not want to be the subject of internet publicity.

She said:

Many times I loudly bemoaned my lack of Solomon's wisdom and preached the need for serving one another in love, only to finally resort to threats of throwing kids out of the car window. (I would slow down first, and besides, that's not nearly as violent as cutting a baby in half). For a while, of course, I tried remembering who chose last time, but that, my friend, is a one-way ticket to the looney bin.

Here's what solved our dilemma: Junior was born on an even day, so on even days he gets to choose first. Pollyanna’s b-day is the 17th, so odd days are her domain. If both your kids have odd or even birthdays, you could just assign odd/even. This is a sure-fire way to teach the math concept of odd/even, by the way. They are waaaay motivated to learn quickly when it means added privileges.

I've even thought about what I would do if I had three kids! First, each one has a week of the month. Firstborn is always the first week, and on down the line. The fourth week's privilege goes to whomever has secretly asked the following question the most consecutive days in a row without the others knowing about it..."Mom, what can I do to help you?"

Whether you go with odd/even or week-of-the-month, it's simple enough that if you know the date, you know whose turn it is. No schedule-writing or other complicated systems needed. Don't ever let them divert you from the safety of saying, "So sorry - not my decision - calendar says it's his day!" This takes you happily off the hook, and works for sooooo many petty arguments.

Other conflicts this calendar system works for...

Who chooses the fast food place for lunch (evenings are Mom's and Dad's choice)
Who gets to push the elevator button
Who gets to push the shopping cart
Who gets to pick from the list of chores first
Who gets to use the toothbrushing timer first
Who walks the dog today (might be the opposite person, because whoever's day it is gets to pick the fact that they want to do it later)
Who gets to talk to grandma on the phone first
Who gets the last M&M (although I think this should always go to dear Mother)

You get the idea!

Ever since we started this system, I have finally escaped the bicker monster more days than not, although he always finds ways of sneaking in, as you know.

Hope this helps!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My Pot of Gold

The Potter's Hand (song).
Jars of Clay (Christian band).
God Loves Cracked Pots (book title).

Heard those terms? Lots of different things come to mind, but nothing so striking to me as watching my son, Zachary, painstakingly glue a little 30 cent clay pot back together. Why did he do this? I don’t know.

Everything has been breaking around here lately. We buried our computer. Our camera died. A boom box went AWOL. The DVD player crossed over. The printer is on its last leg. Joe was really hoping one of our children would be the naturally tinkering sort, but has been disappointed. Here we have all these dead electronics hanging about the house, and no one wants to open them up and go exploring. Oh well.

However, in recent days we have discovered that Zach (who we expected might be the one to dismantle everything) is a fixer. He doesn’t want to understand the inner workings of electronics but he visualizes whole things. He longs to pick up the pieces and mend.

This little pot had been sitting on a ledge of the deck and had fallen quite a ways. Yet, he had vision and purpose. He would make it as whole as possible. I can’t tell you the excitement when he went digging under the deck area and found the remaining pieces. Jubilation! It wouldn’t just be partly fixed. It would be complete.

For days he had his little project on the counter. He found good old Aleene’s Tacky Glue (which, if you don’t know it, is the best glue in the world!) and used up a bunch of tape. He planned out his project figuring what had to be put together first before the whole might come together. It was so broken that just taping and gluing wouldn’t have worked. A few pieces at a time bore him much fruit. Joe and I stood in awe of his determination and patience. He gently and carefully assembled his pot. Watching him was beautiful.

I guess Zach’s experience with the pot begs the question. Wasn’t he a lot like GOD? I can’t help but to think that there are all these pieces scattered in my life. I want to put them all together, but God stands back and lays out His plans. He gently and carefully mends things, a few complimentary things at a time. He comes back day after day while my parts are all laid on the counter, ready to see if the old parts are stable and if I am ready for the next step. I’m eager to just throw it away. Or just shove things together leaving holes. Not God. He goes digging for the missing parts so that I will be as whole as possible. God is so patient. I don’t deserve that kind of attention. Kinda like our little 30 cent pot. It’s pretty worthless, but Zach made it so beautiful. I love it. I love that pot. And I am so glad that God loves me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Shot Gun!

Joe’s truck was born in Texas. It’s an old Ford 5150 (no, that’s a crazy person in cop-speak). Ummm.... I think it’s an old Ford 1150..( no that’s when I make lunch each day) Does Ford F150 sound right? ANYWAY... it’s an old black truck. When he bought it he enjoyed making me guess about it’s very unique feature... It has a gun rack in the ceiling! Must come in handy when you are in Texas, I guess. I know it would come in handy around here because there have been more than a few times we have had to pause to let some large animal cross the road. Last time it was a donkey. Kid you not. And all y’all thought I moved back to the city. Well, we didn’t!

Anyway, Evan has recently wormed his way into the shot gun seat of our vehicle. Our oldest dear sweet child repeatedly asked me about when he could sit in the front seat. However, in our family, I’m not the seating official. That’s dad’s job. I passed the buck, skirted the issue, avoided the question. Unlike most law abiding law enforcement officials, Joe isn’t a zealot about the proper use of seatbelts. Oh, we use them. Don’t get me wrong about that. But I kept putting off asking Joe about whether Evan could sit in the front seat. I really didn't want to open this can of parenting worms. Fortunately for me, Evan kept forgetting to ask his dad whether it was okay to sit in the front seat. Then finally, one day, the stars aligned themselves, and Evan was given permission by his law enforcing father to sit in the front seat.

Then, a few months later, Zachary, who is now bragging about double digits, asked if he could sit in the shot gun position. I was hoping his question would “go away”. Ever have those questions with your kids that you’d hope would just “go away”? Well, this is one of those times for me because I knew what it meant. Zachary, is far more astute, organized, and thoughtful than his distracted older brother. When he asks a question, he goes about getting an answer. Silly dad! He said, “Yes, my dear sweet boy, you may also sit in the front seat of the vehicle enjoying the seat warmers on cold days, taking responsibility for the passing of the altoids while leaving your darling mother to negotiate the terms of when, how and why you and your older brother can sit in and share the shot gun seat. Let the quarreling begin!"

Now, some psychology. I am, by developmental terms, an only child. I have a sister who is five and half years younger, so apparently, according to shrinks, she doesn’t count in my psyche and I am more an only child than an older child. But more importantly, if you think about it, when I was given the right to sit shot gun, my sister was little enough to care more about having room in the backseat to play with toys than looking grown-up and acting grown-up sitting in the front seat of the car! So, we never had shot gun issues in my family and I am totally ill equipped to deal with them!

Help! If someone doesn’t help me with my shot gun problems I don’t know what I’ll do! Shoot myself!