She is almost 6 and I have failed . . . . .

to teach this child NOT to pick up food thrown down in a Goodwill parking lot and eat it!!!   (I just felt my stomach heave as I typed that.)

She said it looked like a doughnut.  (another heave)

That was several hours ago. She is not acting sick . . . . . .yet.

I am not a super-clean freak. I don’t particularly care if the kids pick up food off the floor in our house and eat it, and I can guarantee that the feet of all 4 of my offspring are dirty at this very moment . . . . . . . . . . . .but strange food in parking lots is beneath even MY standards.

Sid will think this is funny and sleep peacefully tonight.  I, on the other hand, will probably have a nightmare or two.

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.

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.

As I was climbing

the steps to bed the other night, I was enjoying the quiet of the house.  The girls go to bed at 8:00 pm, and the boys are supposed to be in their room by 8:30 pm reading quietly until 9:30 pm. 

That reading hour for the boys has not been a hard and fast rule, sometimes they read, sometimes they draw designs for a building project or make signs for a new business venture.  As long as they are quiet and engaged in useful activity, I generally leave them alone.

But on this particular night, I was pretty sure I heard . . . . . . . . . . . .sawing.  I listened more intently.  Yep, it sounded like someone was using a handsaw, and I didn’t have to wonder who.  I knew who.

I debated peeking into the boys’ room to see what was going on, but I was tired and wanted to spend time with Sid so I elected to discuss this with him.  I closed our bedroom door to further muffle the sawing.

“Is that sawing I hear coming from the boys’ room?”  I ask, hoping I was wrong.

Sid laughed, “Yeah, Sidney is sawing apart an old t.v.”

I sigh, dreading the sight of television parts that would be strewn across his bedroom tomorrow.  My creative, inventive son loves nothing better than to be given other people’s junk that he can take apart and rebuild into other things.  I am still learning to balance my intense need for order and no clutter with his need to experiment and explore, which often creates . . . . .well, disorder and clutter.  And it is true that my own creative spot often looks like a whirlwind swept through it.

The next morning I come downstairs to this . . . . . . .

“I thought maybe Fletcher wouldn’t be afraid of me in this since he can see my face,” Sidney said.

Fletcher, who is about 19 months old, visited our home with his parents last week.

“He was kind of afraid of me when I wore my robot costume, I think because he couldn’t see my face.  But when I took the costume off, he loved playing with the light switch.”

This is what poor little Fletcher had to face when he visited . . . . .

And no, those wires and light switch are not mere robot decoration. 

They light up Mr. Robot’s nose, of course.

The lightbulbs currently are just decoration, though out of curiosity, I asked Sidney, “Could make the bulbs come on if you wanted to?”

“Well, yeah,” he said, “but I would have to plug them into the wall.  I can’t do it off these batteries.”

I quietly nod my head, as if I understand his train of thought and wonder at how his interests and talents are so very different from my own.

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?