Seeing Flowers

Parenting is overwhelming.

Not necessarily on a daily basis. On a daily basis you are required to keep the children safe and feed them. That’s not bad.  I mean they keep requesting to be fed three times a day this summer, but if they are all still alive at the end of the day you’re winning. It’s when you start to think about the tiny humans you are raising and what they might become that the weight of the parenting responsibility comes crashing down like a summer’s worth freeze pops and pool floaties.

Are you raising them to be kind but also to stand up for themselves? Will they be generous but not taken advantage of? Are they polite? Do they wash their hands when they are supposed to? Do they know how to fold a paper bag and collapse a cardboard box? Can they cook a meal? Have you taught them not to talk to strangers but also to be friendly? Can they swim? Can they ride a bike? Do they have decent morals? Have they learned not to lie but also to tell white lies when opening gifts in front of people? Do they eat the food they’re given? Did you remember to teach them how to behave with strange dogs? What do they do with a bully? Are they the bully? …

Parenting is overwhelming.

Today I took my kids to the beach (either I was trying to teach them that if you hurry up and do chores then you can play or I was just tired of being hot and sweaty myself, I forget which). While we cooled off in the lake we noticed catalpa flowers floating by, the girls started to swim them down collecting as many as they could.  As we gathered a small pile on our floatie and tried to tuck them into swimming suits and behind ears as decorations, we heard a group of girls squealing about the toilet paper that was floating by them again.  Aghast I looked up to avoid this floating health hazard only to realize that they had misidentified the beautiful catalpa flowers as toilet paper and were swimming in the other direction. I was still aghast, but for a different reason.

A dramatic re-enactment of the situation staged in our rain barrel.

Parenting is overwhelming.

Are you raising them to be curious enough to look, really look, at the world around them? Are you remembering to teach them to use their brains? (One of mine is in middle school, she forgot how to use her’s but I’m hoping it comes back to her in a few years). Do they run from something different or lean towards it? Can they tell the difference between a nasty piece of trash and flower dropped by a tree?

I left the beach thinking that maybe the only parenting goal should just be to teach children to recognize a flower when they are faced with one.  Even if it’s out of place, even if it’s different, even if they have to stretch their brains to figure out how it came to be there, even if it’s something they’ve never been faced with before.

And if they can do that maybe they can do anything.

Except fold a paper grocery bag.

That one is apparently much trickier than I thought.

Parenting is overwhelming.

But I fed mine more than once today and they got to bed alive, if hours past bedtime, so I’m totally winning and I bet you are too.

 

 

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Grey Hairs

Why do I have grey hairs?

It could be my age.

It could be my genetics.

Or it could be that some certain little girl, after being dragged to school every morning for nine months, on the second day of summer break, which mind you was a Sunday so it’s basically still just like a weekend, said to me, “Some days it would be nice if it was a school day.”

Perhaps the real question is, why don’t I have more grey hairs?

Flowery

I was in town Sunday night when I got a call that Jane’s alarm clock had broken and that she would like to talk to me.

Jane then very politely requested that I go to the Dollar Store in town and buy her a new alarm clock, “But not one of those plain black ones with all the buttons like yours. A unicorn one.”

When I explain that the Dollar Store was unlikely to be open, (think small town Sunday night, the grocery store was closing in ten minutes and the gas station only had another hour) and that even if it was, it was highly unlikely that I would find a unicorn alarm clock at the Dollar Store (that being a weirdly specific request that I’ve never even seen before, much less at our, nice but relatively small local Dollar Store).

Jane heaved a sigh out of her little seven year old body that rivaled that of the most put-upon mother and said. “Can you just make sure it’s girly then.”

Up a creek I would have been, except that I was at a friend’s house who happened to have an old unused alarm clock as well as a resourceful high schooler. Her daughter kindly went to work printing out pictures and created the most flowery, girly unicorn alarm clock that has ever come out of our little town after dark on a Sunday.

While I was sure it wasn’t quite what Jane had envisioned, it was pretty impressive, except for one thing, it only beeped.

And so, despite the fact that Jane has only used radios as alarms in the past ,when I arrived home, well past her bedtime, (girly, unicorn alarms take a bit of time to create) I set it up anyway.  This morning when my own radio alarm sounded I headed upstairs to see how Jane’s “surprise” alarm clock worked out for her.

“Mom, it looks really pretty but it makes a bad noise. When I woke up this morning I was screaming.”

I feel it needs to be explained here that Jane wakes up earlier than her sisters or me because it takes her 57 times longer than us to get ready. I give her an extra 30 minutes.  Sometimes it helps. And sometimes, like this morning, John is up getting himself ready.

Thankfully he was able to turn off her alarm clock, show her the girly pictures and calm her down.  Now despite the fact that she disparaged her wonderful creation as being “an alarm clock that Granny would use” (for reference Granny is her Great Grandma, so I think she got that spot on) she happily set it tonight before bed and double checked that she knew how to turn it OFF when it makes that bad noise again in the morning.

I can only conclude from this alarm clock fiasco that unicorns are indeed magical beings. How else would Jane have accepted a machine that makes a noise so irrefutably terrible that it woke her up screaming as her new alarm clock?

 

 

 

Adventure

It had been years too long since our last car camping trip.

But, finally, children had been deemed old enough, jobs and school vacations aligned, gear was procured, animal care was found and we loaded up the girls in our giant truck, that seems a lot less giant filled with car camping gear for five, and headed out on a spring break adventure to…

… Illinois!

And it turns out Illinois isn’t the kind of place most people spring break to. But when you are from Wisconsin southern Illinois looks like spring..…and feels like spring. (Admittedly mostly in a – drizzly, wear all your layers plus a rain jacket, good thing we brought the long underwear – sort of way. But that is basically spring so I stand by my statement.) And when the rest of the world has traveled to warm sunny places you have campgrounds and hiking trails virtually to yourselves.

There were rocks to climb on…

…fires to light…

… tasty food to eat…

… and general shenanigans.

At the end it was deemed a most excellent adventure by all.

Then I got home and discovered that John’s theory that Poison Ivy loves me so much it jumps on me from the side of the trail must be correct because that’s the only explanation for the amount of spots I’m breaking out in after spending the trip wearing long underwear and a rain jacket!

But you know, every time a new blister pops up, I remember the trip with fondness. It was an excellent adventure before the itching began!

I Don’t Believe in Fiction

“Mom, I just, I just don’t believe in fiction.”

That’s a Jane quote that when placed in context with the picture above invokes all the cliche wonderfulness of a child’s imagination.

In reality that’s a Jane quote delivered at bed time. As I’m sure you are aware bedtime is an excellent time to practice fictionalizing your monsters.

Context and timing. I swear the ups and downs of parenting all boil down to context and timing.