“You are a terrible mother”

my 15 yo son told me last night.

Both boys were in bed, settled in for the night.  I had just discovered that Sidney had done something he has been told repeatedly NOT to do — a very small thing, that has become an unconscious habit for him and my sweet verbal reminders (for I never nag . . . AHEM) were not fixing the problem.

“What did I tell you would happen the next time I discovered that you had done . . . . .?”  I asked with a devious smile.

“Oh noooooo” he lamented while his brother giggled.

“And Lincoln,” I said, “Lucy has escaped the goat pen.  Did you lock her up in the barn like I asked?”

“Welllll . . . . . .” he hesitated.  “I did lock her in the barn.”

Immediately, I knew the problem.  “Did you also  lay cinder blocks at the gate so she couldn’t dig out?  You know, like I asked you to do?”

“Ummmm . . . no, . . . it was dark and I didn’t feel like . . . .” his voice trailed off.  He knew nothing good would come from trying to talk his way through it.

“Well,”  I said, “you get to join your brother in taking  5 laps around the house.”

Sidney laughed, glad he wasn’t going to suffer alone.

But  I haven’t finished deriving as much pleasure as I can from the situation.  “Since it rained, it is muddy outside.  And since Lincoln did not lock up the dog the way he was told to do, Lucy is out.  She DUG her way out,” I emphasized gleefully.

The boys groaned.  Now, they were getting a clear picture of what it will be like to leave their comfy beds, pull on clothes to run around the house in the dark and wet with an overly exuberant  and large 5- month old muddy puppy running between their legs.

“You are a terrible mother,” Sidney declared.

Lincoln giggled.  Then Sidney’s face cracked and he started to laugh.

Oh, I just love hearing that.  Say it again, please,” I mock-pleaded.

“You are a terrible mother.”

Triumphant, I started to leave their room.  But . . . .   “By the way, every time you run past my windows, yell the number lap you are on.”

“You are a TERR-ible mother.”  Sidney laughed.

“I must be.  Because every time I hand out punishments, you boys don’t really seem to be suffering consequences.  You rather seem to enjoy it.  I must give terrible punishments.”

Moments later, I smiled contentedly as I hear the boys outside running, talking to each other and the pup, yelling their numbers as they run by.

I am truly blessed.

The work of June

Lincoln carries water to the garden.

My little red-haired garden fairies pull weeds.

She even got the root.

A wee little zucchini.

Sidney takes apart pallets to make . . . . . . .

well, I can’t tell you what he is going to make, dear Reader.

It is a secret for everyone except Lincoln, Rachel, Prairie and me.  That leaves Sid out of the loop.  It is kind of a surprise for Sid.

Something I thought I would never do

It is funny how we plan our lives, how we think we know ourselves and are arrogantly confident of the decisions we make today and the decisions we *think* we will make tomorrow.

I didn’t have all the details mapped out for our parenting and homeschooling, but I made the decision early on that organized team sports would not play a role in our lives.  Organized team sports are not inherently wrong, of course.  Time with my children just felt precious.  And short.  And there are so many, many things we want to experience with them before they grow to adulthood and leave our home.  Regular team practice seemed like an interruption and a vacuum of our family time.

However, on this Saturday morning, when I am usually baking bread and catching up my To Do List,  I went to soccer practice.

I sat in the morning sun and watched my 3 guys on the field  —– Sid, Sidney, and Lincoln.  Sid has discovered that coaching soccer is fun and relaxing to him.  Sidney and Lincoln are slowly learning their power.  These untrained-in-sports boys are figuring out that they actually matter on the field, that what they do and don’t do influences outcomes.  I, the completely sports-disinterested woman, am discovering the joy of watching the metamorphosis of my boys on the soccer field.

While I watched Sidney learn that he is a force to be reckoned with, my Prairie runs up to me, “I have been on an adventure!” she says.  “And I brought you presents.”  I hold out my hand and receive the gifts of a rock, moss and a tiny pear.

She runs off again to “climb mountains” with her sister, Rachel.  I watch the girls run up and down the steep hill, wishing I had my camera to capture the image of  these fleet-footed fairies.  One graceful, red-haired fairy girl ran down the hill and across the field, leaping and jumping, chasing a dragonfly.

I turn my head and see Lincoln block the ball, sending it down the field in the opposite direction —- and I remember that his scoliosis has dramatically improved since starting soccer.  The chiropractor said the best thing Lincoln could do is exercise, exercise, exercise.

The sky is blue.  The grass is green.  The air is warm.  My boys are playing hard with their coach Dad, while my girls have their own “adventures” on the sidelines.  And I sit here doing absolutely nothing except breathing, watching  . . . . . . .and delighting in my children.   The manly coach is delightful in a different way.

This is the best Saturday morning I have had in a long time. 

I never thought I would become a soccer mom.  It isn’t at all what I thought it would be.

The Hummingbird and the Yellow Jacket

My 12 yo son and I had a misunderstanding today.

It was a misunderstanding in communication.  A misunderstanding of expectations.  A misunderstanding of motivations.

I did not yell.  My voice was calm and controlled.  But Sidney can read between the lines.  And he can detect tone, even subtle tones and undercurrents.

Thankfully, he is also wise.  Wise enough to show his hurt and frustration.  In a respectful way, of course.  But in a way that made the whole misunderstanding crystal clear.

I apologized.  With excuses, I am sorry to say.  And we worked things out.  On the surface.

The incident weighed on my heart and would not release me.  Fifteen minutes later, I came up behind him and put my arms around him.  “I am sorry that I misunderstood you.  It seems like your personality and mine . . . . . . . . .clash a lot.  I think you are an awesome kid, but I sure don’t do a good job of showing that much.”

Sidney is looking over my shoulder, watching a fragile hummingbird and an angry yellow jacket duel over the nourishment in the feeder.   The yellow jacket circles the feeder on his insect legs, around and around, guarding the gold.  The hummingbird darts here and there, trying to take a sip, but always interrupted by the threatening wasp.

Sidney responds, “Speaking of clashing, I am sitting here watching that hummingbird try to drink from the feeder and that yellow jacket trying to chase him off.”

“I guess I would be the one with the stinger,” I say, trying to redeem myself with humor.

With his trademark dry humor, he says, “And there I am just trying to eat my lunch.”

We laugh and both feel better. 

Now, I just need to work on removing my stinger.

They think we live in a musical

I planted a seed and did  little to encourage it to grow.

First, we showed the children this clip from Annie Get Your Gun.

Parents, please review before showing to children.  The pictures in the sidebar are not always appropriate.****

Then, we watched the whole movie later.  In recent weeks, we have also watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and The Sound of Music again.  Then I kind of jokingly suggested that there should be no arguments in our house that are not sung. 

There were a few laughing reminders “Children, you are not singing.”  And Sid and I sang a few silly arguments.  But all was done in a joking manner.  No hard rules were laid down.

Then last week I overheard the boys talking.  It sounded like they were slipping into an argument.  Note that my definition of an argument is about any contradiction of another person that has little purpose or value.  I think most contradictions, even gentle ones, stem from the contradictor’s pride and desire to be “right.”  I’m kind of picky about it, but I like for the kids to recognize their motivations BEFORE it ever gets to the point of a heated, raised voice.

Just as I was about to draw the boys’ attention to the direction their conversation was going, they broke into song . . . . . .  . .

“YES, you arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”

“Nooooooooooo, I’m noooooooooooot.”

And this week the girls have sung arguments over whether Rachel is allowed to remove knives from the dishwasher and who was going to use the dustpan to sweep up their chocolate zucchini muffin crumbs from the floor.

I think they get it.

Although, I think there will be more arguments in the house now.  They are finding it too much fun to argue in song, and with such sweet, charming voices raised, I can hardly complain about that.

Apparently, I give lousy punishments

but my house is cleaner than it was before.

One of my boys, whom I shall call The Perpetrator, was having issues with distraction Friday morning.  He found a multitude of excuses as to why he couldn’t do this school assignment or another.

I decided to make him suffer.

And I wanted to benefit from the situation somehow. 

So I made a list of chores that needed done and I was behind on:

Take Christmas decoration boxes to basement.  (Yeah, I know, it’s February).

Take down Christmas lights, card and tape over the family room windows.  Put in a Christmas box.  (I’ve been busy, okay?)

Thoroughly sweep the kitchen and dining room, taking care to get all corners and under furniture.  (It is a BIG room.)

Mop with old rags, on hands and knees, the entire kitchen and dining room.  (This last part was thrown in after reading a discussion among homeschool moms on a message board about how often they clean their floors.  I got paranoid.  Transferred paranoia to my wayward child.  By now, Sid is shaking his head in amusement over ” the ladies.”)

A half hour later, I was schooling the girls in the schoolroom, when I hear the sounds of relaxed conversation and laughter.  I assumed my other son, whom I shall call TenderHeart in this story, was distracting The Perpetrator.  Marching into the kitchen, I planned to pull TenderHeart into the schoolroom with the girls and me.  

What I found instead were two boys, on their knees, happily scrubbing away at the floor.

And appearing to enjoy themselves.

“Ahem,” I say.  “TenderHeart, WHAT are you doing?”

“I am helping The Perpetrator clean the floor.”

“I don’t think you understand,” I say.  “This is supposed to be a PUNISHMENT.  Punishments are not enjoyable, but is SOUNDS like you guys are having fun.”

“Actually,” says The Perpetrator, ” this is kind of fun.”

Hmmmmm, I think to myself, I wonder if he realizes that he still has do his morning school AFTER he finishes the chores.  I’m betting he won’t think the punishment is fun then.

Walking away, I heard The Perpetrator happily whistling.

An amazingly short time later, The Perp reports to me that his chore list is done.  I inspected to find superior work.  “I swept the whole room a second time after we mopped, because it stirred up more dirt from the cracks in the wood floor,” he tells me.  Is this a sign of the diligence I have longed to see in him?

Then The Perp heads off to the schoolroom, without any reminders from me, and pleasantly finishes up his schoolwork.

And I am left with a much cleaner house and a confused brain.  Do I just not understand punishment or perhaps it is the workings of the male brain that befuddles me?  And if he really is becoming diligent, how else will I get my house clean?

Our New House Rule

If you want to argue, you must SING your argument.

According to Lincoln, I come up with a lot of “weird” rules.

Talking aloud this week, I mentioned that we should have a whole day of singing everything we say, that it would force us to pay attention to HOW we say something and whether we are saying it sweetly or not.

Today, both boys have come to me separately and very seriously asked me WHEN our singing day was going to be.  It appears they want to “prepare” themselves with dread.

I would suggest that a singing day might not be necessary if I see great improvements in their tones, but the truth is that “I” need a singing day to improve MY tone.