Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Storytellers

If you looked back and read our family's Christmas newsletters, you'd soon see a pattern. When giving a brief (one sentence) description of each kid, I always, ALWAYS, say that Chad is our storyteller. Or, Chad continues to be our storyteller. Or, Chad continues to enjoy telling stories. You get the idea. I'm glad I finally realized how repetitive I was being a few years ago. But how many different ways can you say the same thing? (There's a blog right there.)

This year, however, I may have to give that same description to my other children as well. It seems they have discovered just how fun being a storyteller can be. Fun, right? Of course, it's fun but sometimes it can get out of hand. It's terrific when all is going well and everyone is happy with the status quo. Sometimes, it's just one child and other times, it's two or three, taking turns. TAKING TURNS is key, here. Until someone tries to take over or finish someone else's story - that's when the trouble starts. Rude remarks, yelling, Carmen running into the kitchen (where else would I be?) crying, saying "Alec is trying to finish my story!", etc. Of course, the worst thing I can say is, "It's just a story." JUST A STORY! How dare I make such a statement! These kids place great value on what they say and take great offense at being told how they should say it. At least, for the moment. In the next minute, they are off on another tangent and all is forgotten. If I can just remember how brief these squabbles are, I'd be a lot happier. Just let them work it out, as long as they don't get violent and nothing is thrown.

Though the noise level can rise quite high, I actually love all this story telling. Lots of learning is taking place here and I really can't take credit for it. Just be the referee.

The other day, I printed out something I had saved, explaining a writing exercise for kids. I try to add writing lessons every so often and while I was contemplating this one, my daughter started asking me how to spell different words. When I finally realized what she was doing, I had to laugh. She was writing a story. In chapters. Without me even asking. She asked, "Mommy, what's that in your hand?" "Nothing, sweetheart," I said, putting the paper away for later. It seems that Alec had started writing a story in chapters and Carmen, who copies nearly everything Alec does, started to write her own. She asked me to check her papers for mistakes and then asked if I could type up her story on the computer. We printed the pages and she is very pleased with her work. All without a single curriculum idea from me. Amazing.

Like I've read before (and I truly believe in) - sometimes you just have to get out of the way and let your kids learn.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why Can't They Be More Like Me?

I just finished a post full of complaints and rants about my kids. But I didn't want to save it. My kids have been unusually cranky these past few days (during my husband 12 hr shift work week). It's been frustrating for me but I didn't feel like posting all the negative words. Sometimes when I complain on paper, it's not helpful to re-read it. It just makes me feel lousy. Like, "poor me", or something.

It's simply been a time when I fail to understand why my kids can't be more like me! I find myself repeating, over and over, "Be nice", "Don't do that", "Enough!", "Knock that off", etc. But, they ARE kids. It will be years before they understand the things I have already learned. To my daughter, most slights or inconveniences are the end of the world. To my oldest, annoying his siblings is an art form. To my "poor, neglected" middle son, it's an Alec-centered world. I spend an enormous amount of time trying to explain things to my kids to make them understand sooner than I did as a kid. But their minds just aren't there yet. When my oldest is embarrassed, he's not able to brush it off - he's half way to 15, that is the time of his life when being embarrassed is normal. I try to give my kids words to their feelings to help them understand their emotions. I try to give them nice words to say instead of insulting each other. I try to help them think through situations so they can see the bigger picture. All this is exhausting to me and I know I won't see any fruit of this effort for some time. Perhaps I work too hard on this but it is my hope that it will be worth it and they'll turn out better people for it.

I wonder if I frustrate God when I fail to understand what He's trying to teach me. Well, maybe not frustrate but, perhaps, He sighs when, yet again, Kate is floundering. Oh, how I flounder! I hope I can remember this paragraph the next time I go head to head with a child. Dear Lord, please give me what I need to be the best Mom I can to my kids. I don't need perfection - just less floundering!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Tonight, my kids and I had a great Bible study about Good Friday. I read to them from John and then some from Luke. We discussed everything. Chad added quite a bit to the conversation, which makes me happy. It means he's understanding what he reads and (hopefully) this is helping him grow in his faith. I had to work hard to keep them on track sometimes but it's worth the effort. I love, love having these kinds of conversations with my kids. Especially now that they are getting older and contributing their own opinions. We can get wildly silly at times but, in the end, I can usually rein them in and make sure everything is explained as well as possible. If no one gets rude or mad (including me!) we have fun.

As an adult, it's interesting to see how important it is to not get lost in debates or trivia (there are exceptions, of course). To stay on course and stick with the important issue of the conversation is vital. If we get off on a tangent, then that's all they remember. That's not always bad but it's not what I want out of the situation.

I guess the bottom line is to pray beforehand, do my best and let the conversation take its course. I can't force learning - no one can. God knows my kids' hearts and knows what they can handle and when. I am just the go-between - from the Bible in my hands to my kids' hearts and minds. It's a scary place to be until I remember that God is in control, not me. What a relief!