Fat Fridays: Becoming More Like My Kids

I spent this evening being a sports mom. This is a new role for me. Our family has not done sports with our kids. We are not very sports oriented (at all) and the logistics of getting kids to practice and games when there are twelve people in the family made it feel impossible to try. So this year my twelve year old son started at a new school and they have a middle school basketball team, boys and girls. And they don’t do tryouts. You show up, practice, you are on the team. So, my kid who has never played basketball decided he would like to play basketball. Yay! Alright son, we’ll support you! He went to the first practice and I picked him up afterwards. 

How was it?

It was fine. Oh, by the way, I also joined the cheerleading team. I talked to the coaches and they said it was fine. I can cheer for the girls games and play for the boys games. 

Ummm. Ok. 

And that is how I became a sports mom. So this evening I worked the concessions stand and watched through the doorway as my son was allowed to play during the 3rd quarter. He really is a beginner. Very eager, but obviously just learning the game. I always feel grateful when the coach lets him get some time. And then I handed over concessions duty to another parent after the boys game and went and sat in the bleachers and watched my son cheer with the cheerleading squad for the girls game. Go team. 

How does all this relate to diet and exercise? Well, I was sitting here thinking about all this, and thinking about how important it is that I exercise and pursue health in front of my children as a role model to them. But as I sat here and thought about it, I am beginning to think that my kids have had more of an influence on me in this area than I have had on them. My kids take after their dad, they seem to have confidence oozing out of their pores. They are very comfortable in their own skin. They have interests that are different from their peers and it never occurs to them to not pursue those interests just because others might think they are weird. 

I, on the otherhand, tend to be very self-conscious. And I’ve got legitimate reasons for why I became that way, but it’s not something I need to hang onto. I feel really self conscious about exercising. I’m not an athletic person. I’m not particularly skilled. I’m overweight. I feel like, if people see me running, they are automatically going to look and see who’s chasing me, instead of thinking I’m out for exercise. So, it’s been a big stretch for me to go out in my neighborhood and run on a regular basis. But, I’m enjoying it. No, I will never be a marathon runner. No, I will never win any races. But am I having fun doing something I like? Yes. And the big bonus is that it’s also good for me. 

And so I find myself in a place where I can continue to encourage my kids to pursue what interests them and try new things, and they are encouraging me at the same time. It’s a good place to be. 

Get Your Warm Fuzzies When You Can

Last night was one of those idyll moments. All the kids were happy. I made supper and everyone ate their food. (Ok, one kid snuck his carrots into the trash can, but he ate everything else on his plate!) We had devotions and, for the most part, everyone sat and listened. Supper was a bit late, so we only had an hour before bedtime and the kids decided they wanted to listen to the Pandora Radio Disney station. So, we had the Disney music blasting. One kid was standing on the coffee table doing a great lip-syncing job, three girls were choreographing their best dances on the other side of the living room, the three youngest were playing some complex game that involved ninja moves and pushing each other around the dining room in a plastic wagon. I was sitting on the couch with my ten and twelve year old boys on either side of me. My husband was sitting on the other couch. I wanted to be sitting next to him, but my boys had voluntarily sat down next to me and it was kind of like one of those Wildlife Adventures, where you stand real still and try not to spook the wildlife. While my twelve year old is still willing to give me brief side-hugs, the ten year old has decided that all physical contact is “gross” and he will run away if you approach him with arms out-stretched. So, I was sitting real still, just enjoying the fact that he was leaning against me. The teenagers fled the scene and were hiding out in their room, but, hey, who needs teenagers? 

 

I was sitting there thinking, this is so wonderful, all of us just hanging out, the kids all happy. And then, I kid you not, the song from Lion King, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” came on. And I got all teary-eyed. My husband raised his eyebrow, his expression saying, “What on earth is wrong with you?” I decided it was too complex an emotion to try and explain to him from one couch to the other while loud music was playing, so I just gave a watery smile. 

 

Ahhh, the Warm Fuzzies. So nice. 

 

A couple hours later, ten o’clock at night, to be precise, when my daughter ran into my room to tell me that the toilet upstairs had flooded and water was now coming down through the floor and into my downstairs hallway….I was not feeling so warm…Or fuzzy. Also throw in the fact that my husband had left after putting kids to bed to go help a friend with a remodeling project, and I was the only adult on the premises…and then when I texted him about the situation and his only response was “Plunge the toilet”, yeah, all the warm fuzzies were gone.

 

This morning, I sat and read my Bible while I cooked oatmeal. All the kids were still asleep. So nice. Just having a little quiet time in the early morning. Warm. Fuzzy. Then I went to get the bowls down from the cupboard and set them out. Hmm. What’s this? Apparently, whatever child had emptied the dishwasher last, had chosen to do so with really dirty hands. Every single bowl had dirty handprints on them. What on earth. Warm fuzzies gone. 

 

I dropped off my middle schoolers at their school and proudly watched them walk down the sidewalk. My eccentric dresser was looking especially eccentrically elegant. I smiled fondly. Instead of driving off, I had to sit where I was because the car in front of me, a tiny, new-looking, cute little car that had “Cooper” written across the back, was not moving. Instead of just ejecting her passenger, the mom was actually exiting her car so she could go open the cute little trunk of her car and remove her child’s band instrument. The mom was wearing this really cute sweater and snug jeans, her hair was done, and you could tell, even through the pre-dawn light, that she had on all her makeup. Then she hopped back into her cute little car and drove off. I was suddenly very aware that I was wearing my slippers, I hadn’t bothered to even put my hair up in a messy bun, I was wearing my three year old cheap Walmart sweater (cause it’s warm, and cozy) and I was driving a humongous 15-passenger van that will never be called cute. Warm fuzzies gone. 

 

So, I’m sure there is something profound in these observations. Not sure what though. 🙂 Warm fuzzies are great. I love them. They also don’t seem to last long. I guess, if I was needing warm fuzzies to get me through life, I’d be in a pretty bad place. But, if you are just letting those warm fuzzies be kind of like the occasional decadent dessert, it’s not a bad thing. Enjoy them when they come, savor them, and just accept that shortly afterward, you might be plunging a toilet. 

 

How do I Keep Up?

This week I ran into an old homeschooling friend. Though we are often in the same vicinity, we haven’t stopped to have a conversation in a while. I was asking how homeschooling was going and we talked about that for a while, then she asked how public schooling was going for me. I said it was going great. She asked how on earth I keep up with everything. I said something along the lines of, “It’s easy, I just don’t care.” Which, while flippant and funny, probably did not really convey how I feel. It’s kind of been nagging me, and I keep thinking of how I should have clarified that statement…So, my dear friend whom I’m going to tag in this post, I’m going to expand a bit. 

 

Homeschooling is all-consuming, and mentally exhausting. Especially if you are trying to homeschool multiple children. In your mind, at all times, you have a working knowledge of each child’s abilities. You know what they can and can’t do in Math and English and Science. You have a list of things you are worried about for each child, and also a list of things you are proud of. You can’t have a casual interest in your child’s education because YOU are the Educator. It’s a big load to carry. It was too big a load for me. I went through a long depression and in the middle of it, completely fizzled out in my ability to school my children. We put our kids in public school. We’re in our third year with our younger kids. My oldest two kids homeschooled through eighth grade and then went to public high school. My third daughter is in her fourth year of public school. 

 

My view of public school is, my children now have teachers. I no longer have to keep up with all the minutiae. That’s the teacher’s job. Yes, I look at all the papers sent home. I ask my kids what they learned today. I go to Parent/teacher conferences. I look at report cards. But as far as knowing how well they are doing in multiplication or whether they are mastering their fractions or whether they used proper punctuation in their writing assignment, I have no idea. Since their report cards all say that they are getting good grades, I’m presuming that they are learning what they need to learn. 

 

As far as homework is concerned, I don’t believe in homework for elementary school kids. I’ve been upfront about it with the teachers. Sometimes my kids choose to do their weekly “homework” packets because they want whatever award the teacher is offering. And sometimes they choose to not do it. That’s fine. I think that several hours of running around our yard, playing make believe games, and creating things with legos is going to help them a lot more than sitting down and doing a page of math reviews. I do expect my middle-schoolers and high-schoolers to do their homework, but they’re old enough to be in charge of their own work, so I don’t stress about keeping up with it. 

 

Of course, you have to ask the question, What if they aren’t learning what they need to learn? What if they are getting good grades, but are still getting major gaps in their education? 

 

Well, this is where my philosophy on learning helps me out. I am a reader. I have been a bookworm since second grade. While I can remember a handful of odd facts that a teacher taught me in a classroom, most everything that has stayed in my brain, came from an interesting book. I believe that if I can foster a love of reading in my children then I’ve won half the battle for educating them. 

 

We are a reading family. I always have a book on my kindle app that I pull out whenever I have a spare minute. My husband reads a book most evenings to unwind. My older teenagers have long, loud discussions about characters and events in various book series that they have all read. We have eight large bookshelves in our house and books are scattered on every surface. My kids go to the library at school and bring their books home and have fights about whether they have to share their library books with each other or not. 

 

I have one child whose brain is wired differently. In three years of homeschooling I was not able to teach him how to read. In public school they put him in a remedial program and the reading experts got him reading pretty quickly. (YAY!) But, he still struggles. It doesn’t come naturally to him. He’s still getting extra help in this area. But, he read books. Maybe not at grade level, but he still wants to read. This past week I had to take him on a rushed trip to the library because he needed the fourth book of the series and we only had the first three books at home. So, while I know he may struggle all his life to read easily, I’m not worried about him. My kids all have a natural curiosity about life, and they know that reading books is an easy way to learn about whatever they are interested in. 

 

I see public school as an opportunity for my kids to learn about different cultures. It’s a chance to be with the kids from our neighborhood. Learn how to make friends. Learn how to work with all kinds of people. It’s an opportunity to put into practice everything that we’re trying to teach them at home about “Loving your neighbor as yourself”. It’s a chance for them to think about people’s stories. What are some of the reasons why that particular child might have a hard time behaving in class? It’s an opportunity for them to learn how to be problem-solvers: if you see a problem at school, what can you do about it? All of these things naturally come up in our daily conversations, so I get a good gauge on how the kids are doing in these areas. 

 

So, how do I keep up with everything? I don’t. But, it seems to be working well for us.  

 

A Poem by My Daughter

Something a little different today. We just found out that my thirteen year old daughter won a prize in a writing competition held by the Knoxville Writer’s Guild this past May. I’m so proud of her. She finally let me read her poem and I thought it was beautiful. I asked her if the poem proceeded from an in-the-moment emotion or if it was a place that she stayed in. She said it started off as an in-the-moment emotion and then it just morphed into describing other girls she knew and Middle School.

 

She’s a Girl

by Ruth Heneise

 

   This day 

That the lord made,

 She needs first aid

Cause she’s dying 

Of fright

She lives in the dark of night

 she lost the spark of light

And of potentiality 

She no longer wants to be

A doctor, dancer, astronaut

she stopped tryin to dream, stopped tryin to flaunt

Her body and her vocals

      You wonder why the locals

Don’t know she exist

Its cause she didn’t persist

They think she’s thirteen and lean

But she’s lanky and she’s cranky

Her feelins

Are wheelin

Out

And about

She’s beat on the street

Beat down she’s gonna drown

Cause she’s sinking

Cause she’s always thinking

Trapped

But overlapped

By the hope

That she could cope

With humanity

But that future is grim

As dim as

The light (that ain’t bright)

Behind the eyes

Of the girl in disguise as

A person

But the truth is worse than

The fear.

It’s clear

To see

Cause,

She doesn’t

Just 

Have fear of isolation

She isolates herself

Removed from the shelf

Of comfort

 which is dirt

Dirt cheap

She got her clothes from her bros

And her charm from karm

karma(if she believed in stuff like karma)

Would be on the down side

Of good to

AT LEAST I TRIED

But she’ll pause this ramble

Cause you stopped trying to unscramble

The message behind

This waste of your time

So she’ll give the explanation 

To satisfy your expectation

And she is

A poem

A world

    the essence

The presence 

Of words so beautiful

Words so tactful

Words so thesaurical 

The world is a poem

The poem is a world

She’s the world

She’s a poem

She’s a girl