But I don’t wanna.

“May I have a snack?”

“Remember me feeding your breakfast to the dog because you insisted you weren’t hungry?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Then you can wait till lunch.”

“But I’m starrrrrrving.”

I’m pretty sure this is a universal scenario in every country where food is plentiful. In this moment, every mom has a choice: cave to the whining & satisfy the self-imposed hunger, or teach a greater lesson.

I’m a softy. Always have been, probably always will be. I avoid squishing ants, I feed stray kittens, & as my dad used to say, I apologize for stepping on my shadow. When I’m faced with situations like above, it’s hard—HARD—for me to steel my spine & hold my line firm.

My husband, on the other hand, is typically more discerning about the heart of the matter (though he’s a softy in his own ways). I put great weight in the kids’ feelings; he steps back & assesses the character we’re building. He would inevitably say, “Too bad, you should’ve thought of that when you turned up your nose at your muffins. Whine about it again & you’ll be waiting till suppertime.” I cringe to even write that, but it’s funny how much less they whine & talk back to him.

The longer we work together at this roller coaster ride we call parenting & I watch his wisdom in action, the more it seems that almost every parenting decision boils down to is one fundamental character trait: self-control.

“I don’t feel like going to sleep.”

“That’s MY toy!” *slap!*

“This is too much work. Can I just do half?”

“I don’t like peas.”

“I’m tooooo tired.”

I hear these kinds of excuses all day every day. As a loving parent, I’m responsible to make sure my kids have their basic needs met, but I believe too many parents today (including myself all too often) coddle the whims & whining of children rather than push them at every opportunity to exercise self-control.

Children in some cultures spend hours a day practicing piano/gymnastics/algebra. Native American children were taught to withstand days of hunger without complaint. In days gone by, children were expected to sit at the table & eat without speaking—and *gasp* they were capable of it! Amish furniture is highly sought & unsurpassably crafted, & they start learning their trades when our kids are sitting around playing Angry Birds, sipping watered-down juice.

Can demands be unreasonable? Sure. Should children be allowed to be children? Absolutely. But adults shouldn’t be allowed to be children, & that’s what many college kids & young adults are. They were never asked to sit still & be quiet for any length of time. They were never expected to work for or budget their allowance—credit is easy to obtain, after all. They never had to scrub a floor till every last spot was gone or weed a garden till not an errant root remained.  On and on the list goes.

I’m grateful that I had parents who drew straight lines in the sand & dared me to cross them. I cleaned my room till every toy was off the floor. I did my math problems till they were right. I didn’t dare interrupt my father when he spoke with a friend. I sat once for hours till I finished eating the mashed potatoes that I stubbornly refused. And it never occurred to me to resent that.

But in my softness & excessive sensitivity, I have sometimes failed to expect the same age-appropriate self-control out of my children, something my husband regularly points out. It’s no longer the cultural norm for children to control themselves anyway. Melt-downs are excusable, whining is as expected as the common cold, & quality, sweaty work has gone the way of the typewriter.  It’s not the nature of children that has changed, but rather the fortitude of parents.

I write this to remind myself & maybe another mommy out there who struggles in this area: my children are more capable than I realize. I allowed my 5 year-old son to regularly toss his quilt over his bed sideways—it was STILL “made”. My husband saw it one day, demonstrated the right way to neatly spread it lengthwise, & it’s been done right every day since. I give snacks for children who refused breakfast, then gasp in surprise when they aren’t hungry for lunch an hour later.

But I’m learning. My kindergartener is working to save for his first car. My 10 month-old is learning to stay on a blanket with a few toys, rather than rampage the entire house & shred every paper within arm’s reach. My 3 year-old is learning to set the table correctly rather than just randomly toss napkins & forks around. My children will clean messes, sit quietly through “boring” concerts, sand a rough board, plant seeds, feed animals, tend smaller children, mow grass, help the elderly, and they will not quit when the job is half-done. Every tantrum must be proven ineffective & self-defeating.

They’re tough. They’re strong. They’re smart. If I fail to push them to be tougher, stronger, & smarter, then I’m robbing them of inner satisfaction, & I’m robbing my grandchildren of a working definition for quality. I can also fail to hold myself to the same standard—if I preach self-control but check Facebook for the 173rd time & sit watching shows while there are clothes to be folded, they notice & inwardly mock my hypocrisy. Two hundred times today, I will be given the choice between letting them do what a child naturally leans towards, the easy path, or I can hold them to a higher standard & train adults that will be selfless leaders. I can take the gentler road myself & respond on auto-pilot with whatever makes my life easier & theirs more comfortable, or I can get in the habit of asking myself the question: What will make him a better adult?

Hilarious & Sundry, Vol. 11

  • Christmas has been infinitely more pleasurable experienced through the eyes of small children. One of the ongoing amusements for me has been watching the rather sacrilegious use of the play nativity set. Joseph & Mary have twirled to The Nutcracker. The wise men have arrived on boats, helicopters, & airplanes. The shepherds puttered up in an Army jeep. The bale of hay served as fodder not for lambs but for a teething baby, & baby Jesus nearly got swallowed. The cow was beheaded more times than I could count. The lead shepherd escaped & disappeared for a few days, only to be found romping with the dollhouse characters. I never cease to marvel at the imagination of small children.
  • It’s well known that going-on-5 year-olds ask scads of questions. But I’m thinking the local PD could save a lot of tax dollars by just paying kindergarteners with bubble gum when they need someone to doggedly persist with every angle possible in an interview. Case in point: I fed the dog some leftover peanut butter while Q watched. “Did you know that if a dog won’t stop barking, you can give him peanut butter & he’ll quit?” I asked as our lab greedily licked it up.
    Q’s eyes grew large. “But she wasn’t barking!”
    “Well, no, but if there was a dog barking that you wanted to stop, you could try it.”
    “But I like her barking!”
    “She wasn’t barking right now anyway,” I retorted.
    He looked distressed. “Will Daddy be upset that Taylor can’t bark anymore?”
    “No, no, no, it’s only for a few minutes, because it makes her tongue sticky.”
    “Her tongue will be sticky now?”
    Know what? Forget we ever started this conversation. That same afternoon, I read to him that otters sleeping in water hold hands so they won’t get separated. Open & closed fun fact, in my mind. Not his.
    “How do they hold hands?”
    I quickly Googled a picture to show him. (Awwwww! Now I want a pet otter like Pocahontas! I will name him Ralph, & he can play in the bathtub with the kids.)
    “But what if they get stuck in ice?”
    “Wellllll, maybe they don’t sleep in the water when it’s cold.”
    “Where do they sleep then?”
    “Let’s look it up after dinner.” (Mom code for ‘I haven’t a clue.’)
    He continued peppering me with intelligent questions about otter habits that hadn’t occurred to me to wonder. I can’t wait till he can read fluently so he can unleash that curious mind in the library. In the meantime, I’m going to offer to loan him to the local detectives.
  • When I got locked out of the house at dinnertime recently (I have locked myself out of cars & buildings often enough that I really ought to just attend locksmith school.), I took the kids to Chick-Fil-A. Kezia, fondly remembering the stuffed animals she was given another time we went there, marched boldly up to the counter & told the manager, “I’d like two cows please!”
    The elderly man at the next register shot up his eyebrows & gaped. “Wow, she thinks big, doesn’t she!”
    “Yeah,” nodded the grinning manager. “Forget a side of beef, she wants the entire animal!”

    ***We now interrupt this pleasant writing session to dutifully fold a wintery week’s worth of laundry. I’m thinking about implementing Skivvy Saturdays so I can catch up on putting away clothes for once.***

  • Kezia stomped into the kitchen where I was working, & she looked offended. “Quentin is not Kezia!” she declared. Um, right-o. I went on dicing veggies. But she continued, not to be mistaken. “I am Kezia. He is Quentin!” I held her gaze for a bit, trying to figure out where this was going. Finally she elaborated. “He took my spot on the couch!” Move your feet, lose your seat, baby.
  • We were enjoying a family wallow in our bed the other morning when Kezia discovered how to make very believable bodily function noises by blowing on James’s bicep. She howled & snorted, & Quentin laughed so hard he nearly fell off the bed. Finally James decided to return the favor, so he yanked up her pajama shirt to blow on her little belly. She gasped indignantly & yanked her top back down. “Daddy! Let me be a lady!” About 24 flatulence-imitations too late for that.
  • Clearly we need to dine in style more often as a family. When I set a fancy table for Christmas, Q meandered by & glanced at the lace tablecloth. “I like your sheet, Mommy.”
  • We visited our friends’ house for dessert the other day, & it occurred to me that Quentin & Kez were playing alone in their basement, so I called for him to verify it.
    “I’m not alone, Mommy. Jesus is with me!” he insisted, wanting badly to get back to the Legos. Not buying that, I told him to fetch his sister. He obeyed, but when he returned, he tried one more time. “Mommy, I want to stay with Jesus.”
    Anything you say in parenting can & WILL be used against you.

Ewe Need a Break?

The other night, my husband treated me to an evening at the Nashville Symphony’s performance of Handel’s Messiah. It still astounds me that Handel wrote the entire oratorio in 24 days. (As my dad used to say, “And then he slept.”)

I sang it in a community chorale as a teenager, I studied, conducted, & sang parts of it in college, I’ve put on the CD often & cranked it up while I do housework, & it was pure torture the other night to bask in the tunes that my heart regards as old friends & not be allowed to sing along. The ushers in our section were especially straight-laced, & I’m pretty sure that humming along with the tenor on “Comfort Ye” would’ve been grounds to be bounced. I am always left in awe of everything my Messiah has done for me: He arrived in a barn though the Prince of Peace; He bore my sorrow & healed me with His stripes; He lives & I’ll see Him one day; He sought me when I went astray like a wayward sheep. What an amazing Savior I have!

This time, though, one verse in particular struck me as the talented soloist rendered it in a fresh, expressive manner: “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

He shall gently lead those that are with young.

I don’t know about you, but I could use some gentle leading these days. Never in my life have I begged for divine wisdom so often. Never have I opened my mouth to answer & so frequently had no idea what to say. Never have I been so tired & cranky & yet so desperately needed to be a godly example. Never have I been so taxed to spend time alone with God, yet never have I needed it more. It’s easy to constantly beat myself up mentally for the hundred ways a day that I fall short. That’s why those words sank into my weary soul like a soothing lotion on wintered skin. Gently lead. The same God who vows to dash the wicked in pieces like a potter’s vessel offers no condemnation to the expectant & new mothers wearily tracing His footsteps like so many woolly ewes.

The song lyrics skip to a different passage next: “Come unto Him, all ye that labour, come unto Him that are heavy laden, and He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He
is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

That tune will likely be floating through my mind often today as I teach phonics, scrub floors, rock a fussy baby, wash dishes, & settle youthful arguments. Gentle Shepherd, carry my sweet young through the rocky places. Lead me gently today down the unknown paths.

If you aren’t the music geek that I am & aren’t familiar with Handel’s setting of these words, take a few minutes to listen. Rest easy in Him, sweet mama friends.

Here’s a version you might like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-bAXm-A3Ls.

The Compass that Saved a Life

With Thanksgiving approaching, I’ve been reading my preschoolers the true story of Pocahontas. Everyone knows that she dramatically lay her head atop John Smith’s to spare him from being brain-bashed. But this account tells how the Algonquins who captured him spared him immediate death because of a floating golden arrow hanging around his neck. This was strong magic, thought they.

Later on, John Smith tried to give the compass to Pocahontas when she saved his life yet again by warning her of her father’s attack plans, but she could not take it, for it would reveal that she’d betrayed her father & would likely mean death for her, too.

As I read the news lately, this snippet of the tale keeps returning to me. John Smith would have been foolish to enter unknown woods without a compass, & it arguably saved his life. And I would be foolish to attempt to navigate the turns & tides of life without a deeper source of wisdom & direction. Hear me out before you tune me out.

When I go to the grocery store, I make choices based off my menu, my budget, & my best current understanding of nutrition (three cheers for Trim Healthy Mama, a book which has brought health enlightenment to thousands). I’m swayed by advertisements, commercials, coupons, & free samples–aren’t you?

That’s how it appears that many people today make ALL their choices. What’s the current trend? What do my friends think about this? What will make me the most comfortable & accepted?

I’m completely okay with following trends & changing judgments based off new research, to a point. But there’s a level of life decisions that must be based on something deeper than the statistics in a pop-culture magazine.

I’ve chosen to base my life on the Bible because I believe it is completely true & the message of God to the men He created. That’s a lofty statement, since I am & always will be imperfect, but He’s made me a new person by forgiving my sin, & every day I work hard to be more like His example. And His Book is where I find the philosophies that rule my life:
Speak softly & mean what you say.
Don’t form an opinion before hearing all the facts.
Teach your children to work hard & respect authority.
Respect your husband.
Tell the truth.
Be kind to your neighbors & tend to the poor.

On & on the list could go, for there are many practical applications of Scripture. But there is a concerning trend in pop culture that whatever society has deemed acceptable is the prevailing truth–majority rule. I’m glad that I live in a society where children are protected & valued (e.g. sexual offender registrations & restraints, Amber alerts, etc.). I’m glad I live in a country where ‘paying it forward’ and ‘doing unto others’ are popular. But when you base your life philosophies solely on what’s currently accepted, you find yourself standing in mushy sinking sand! For example, the same culture where it’s acceptable to call 911 if you see a three month-old locked in a car outside the grocery store is the same culture that screams “Her body, her choice!” and looks the other way when the child is killed at 3 months gestation. There’s no solid basis for the meaning of life.

The society that passes around sappy social media memes about a sweet old couple that’s been married for 70 years & died within 3 days of each other ridicules those who adhere to the only definition of marriage their grandparents knew–“How outdated!” is the cry. Says who??

Who is setting the trends? Who is deciding what is morally acceptable? Who or what forms your opinions on finances, politics, laws, welfare, criminal punishments, & other debatable issues?

I can’t respect people who only believe something because nearly everyone around them believes the same thing. My worldview is steadfastly based on what the Bible says. The most at-peace people I know live by it. When I ignore one of its principles & make a contrary decision based on my own fallible logic & limited knowledge base, I regret it. Every single time. I’ve seen its principles validated for my entire life & nothing anyone says can dissuade me of its truth. I’ll live by it & I’ll die for it before I will deny its Author.

Over history, some people have given the Bible a bad reputation by manipulating its words to justify cruelty to their fellow man, such as racial inequality or abusing women. Let me be clear that they were clearly violating its message & I would heartily reject their reasoning.

When a moral or social decision faces me down, the first thing I do is turn to Scripture to see what guidelines apply. I have far more confidence in those words than I do my own. When my children ask me increasingly hard questions about death, suffering, other people’s unfairness, etc., I often simply use the Bible as a response. “Turn the other cheek.” “Be kind one to another.” “Love your enemies.” “A man who can’t control his spirit is like a city without walls.” How else can a young couple have the wisdom to raise trustworthy, capable members of society? How else do you answer your children’s hard queries with any confidence?

Go ahead & disagree with me–we won’t all share the same views. But if your basis is “25,000 people signed a petition saying otherwise,” or “Half the population thinks it’s okay,” or “Celebrity/Professor _______ sees it this way,” then don’t expect for me to gasp with slackened jaw, “Oh, I guess you’re right!” I can understand varying aspects to the gluten or vaccine wars. I can recognize different investment strategies for their respective strengths. But when it comes to the weightier, deep issues of life, I have an authority, & it’s not going to change because the statistics put it in the minority. You can elbow it out of the mainstream. You can dismiss me because I’m young–people younger than me have chosen death rather than renounce it. You can stare at it curiously & declare it strange fairy tale magic, and you can refuse to embrace it because it would mean facing persecution or ridicule, but I can’t find my way without my compass.

Hilarious & Sundry, Vol. 10

  1. For those don’t follow my drama closely, the automatic transmission aileth on our Suburban, whom I fondly call Sulley. Technically, it till works in 1st & 2nd gear, so I did drive it once, pretending it was a manual & annoying everybody in the four-lane 55 zone where I puttered along at 40. A cop followed closely behind me till I pushed it to 45, then he must’ve found more important fish to fry & zipped around me too. Anyway, my V-8 personality Grandma teases me about is revving & roaring, but with the cold & lack of reliable wheels, I’m sitting in neutral for a bit till my mechanic hubby gets quality time in his garage with Sulley. Time to pick up some old hobbies! I sorted through the intimidating stack of T-shirts in James’s wardrobe, figuring that since I can’t get rid of any of them, perhaps he’ll let me immortalize a few of his favorites in a quilt. I finally settled on 9 old-but-not-too-holey ones & set them aside for his approval, knowing that to surprise him by slicing his threadbare favorites would be like surprising a kid with a root canal.
    When he looked them over, he snatched up 4 of the 9 I’d selected & hesitantly said I could keep the remaining 5, but he still looked concerned. “How big will the squares be?” I showed him the throw quilt I’d made with my old college T-shirts, with 3×3 large squares from 9 shirts. He deliberated. “I suppose that’ll be okay, but can you make it more like 5×3 squares so it’s long enough to cover my toes? Otherwise it’s worthless.” Sure, but…you realize that even Mary Poppins couldn’t make a large 15 square quilt out of 5 T-shirts. (Okay, so maybe she could, but I’m not as practically perfect as she.) Anybody wanna come over to scrapbook with me?
  2. Yesterday while I was feeding the baby, Kezia screamed from her room, “Mommmy!!!” & burst into tears.
    Nothing unusual there, so I blandly called back, “What’s wrong?”
    “There’s a SPIDER in my room!!!” she wailed, hysterical.
    Okay, that merits disrupting the poor third child who never gets to eat or sleep in peace. I dashed to the rescue, prepared to save my darling from the monster. There it is.
    Kezia's spider
    See it? Right there between the balcony railings. This is the child-eating arachnid that is Kezia’s nightmare come true. Today we had a repeat episode, complete with tears & theatrics, except this time I planned to ignore the drama & let Q run to save her. That is, until he screeched, “It’s a big yellow bug, & it’s scary!!” (Why does this always happen during the baby’s mealtime?) I put poor Pike down & dashed in again, stared at the offender for a bit, & proclaimed it a piece of masking tape that was stuck to the carpet. The real culprit turned out to be an ant I never found. I’m thinking a trip to the Amazon is in order to show Kezia what a real bug is.
  3. Quentin figured out why we say ‘amen’ at the end of prayers. “Cuz God is a man, so we say ‘A man’ when we finish praying.” That’s certainly easier than explaining what “so be it” means to a 4 year-old.
  4. Yesterday I had an unexpected knock on my door from a lady who sounded like she just arrived from the Bahamas. She was driving past & saw the toys in my yard & wondered if I do daycare & could keep her 18 month-old girl. Does that strike anybody else as odd? First, I live on a cul-de-sac, so she wouldn’t have just been driving past. Second, who asks to leave their kids with complete strangers?? She must be desperate. I did send Q out immediately to clean up the yard, which wasn’t even that messy. Things that make you say hmmm.
  5. When a child is beginning to grasp English, it’s amusing to listen to them flounder around to express themselves with a limited vocabulary. From the other room, I overheard Kezia trying to express outrage at Quentin’s misbehavior: “You are sooo…foolish!! Your attitude is a nasty…stinky…PULL-UP!!”
  6. I discovered a two-step method to drive any young mother crazy. Ready? First, wait till a developer is building multiple houses right behind your backyard & gets to the roofing stage. Second, hang a sign on your front door during naptime that says, “Babies sleeping. Please knock.”
  7. Do you know what this is?
    Rotten dog
    This is a dawg who has figured out how to work the system. At her ripe old age, she hates the cold. She found a solution: she’s started to dig out of the backyard. She’ll run around just long enough to turn over a neighbor’s trash can then return to stand on the front porch till I let her in. I scold her & fix her newest hole, covering it with dirt & something heavy, then I put her back out in the sunshine to get some fresh air, & she immediately digs a new hole. We’ve been caught in this cycle for weeks now. I had to make cookies for a neighbor today who showed up on our doorstep last night, irritated about having to pick up all the garbage Taylor had scattered before crawling back through her hole into the backyard. I piled boards, an overturned red wagon, an old tire, & a water bucket on her holes. Our kindly old neighbor even bought stakes & drove them through the chain link after bringing her home a few times. She just digs a new hole 6″ beside the old one. Okay, okay, Taylor. You win. The couch is yours for the winter. This spring, though, it’s on.
  8. We were driving in the car not long ago when Q figure out how to whistle. Delighted with himself, he called out, “Mama, listen to this!”
    “Good job! You’re whistling!”
    “No ma’am, see, I put my lips together & blow through them, & it makes this cool noise!”
    “Yes, that’s…whistling.”
    “No, it’s different!” he insisted, given that all he knows about whistling is Kezia’s imitating screeches. “I’m making a noise with the air I’m blowing out!”
    “Yes, I know. That’s what you call whistling.”
  9. I drilled Q on the letters he still struggles with yesterday. He knows all of their phonetic sounds, but he still struggles to identify a handful by their names. He got stuck on G & stared blankly upwards. I asked again, snapping him out of his daydream, “What is this letter?”
    He grinned sheepishly. “I was looking up to see if God would help me.”
    Nice try, but even if if there is handwriting on the wall, it doesn’t help unless you can read it.

Parenting Readiness Test

I’m learning more every day how much I don’t know, thanks to two inquisitive preschoolers. The incessant role of dictionary & encyclopedia taxes my sleep-deprived brain; therefore, as a help to all you prospective parents out there, prepare yourself in advance to answer questions that haven’t occurred to you in 23 years! Take this test now, save yourself the mental energy later!

Instructions: Set an alarm every 2 hours the night before the test. Drink only 16 ounces of cold coffee for breakfast. Use a nubby pencil with a worn-out eraser because that’s all you could find after digging around in your purse, the couch, & the pencil cup, which contains several pipe-cleaners & broken toys, but, oddly, no pencils. Take this test while driving in heavy traffic with three people talking (yelling?) at once in the background, while trying to hear the headlines on the radio. Use no words longer than two syllables & be prepared to define every single one of them. Ready, set, go!

1. What is alcohol? What does it do to someone? What does ‘drunk’ mean?

2. What do giraffes say? Hippos? Zebras? Kangaroos? Why would a sea turtle make a poor pet?

3. What is a calorie?… Why?… Why?… Why?… Why?…

4. What are brains? How do we think?

5. Your children’s friend believes the tooth fairy is real & will be crushed to learn otherwise, having just traumatically wiggled out an incisor & whistled the bloody tale to your kids, brandishing the prize money. You don’t intend to sprinkle fairy dust & sneak under pillows. How do you explain this to your children?

6. We live in the country of America. We live in the city; we decide to visit our farming friends out in the country. Explain the difference in the useage of ‘country’. Without yelling.

7. What does ‘virgin birth’ mean?

8. How do glasses help you see better?

9. Why can’t children drink coffee? What is caffeine? Why do they need sleep anyway?

10. What’s a hurricane & how does it differ from a tornado & a monsoon?

11. What’s so bad about swallowing gum?

12. How come hair grows?

13. How do you control your fingers?

14. What is a star? After you slyly check NASA’s FAQ’s on your smartphone & stammer a sensible answer, realize that your pre-reader sounded it out on a trashy tabloid cover in the grocery store & the night sky hadn’t even entered his mind. Regroup & try again.

15. What is a dragon?

16. How many colors are there?

17. How do light switches work?…What is electricity? (Don’t forget: two syllables!)

18. How do you tell the difference in a girl dog & a boy dog? Do they get married? How do they have babies?

19. How do chickens put the shell on eggs?

20. What is light made of?

While this list could go on indefinitely, it’s at least a good starting point. When you’re finished, your exam will be evaluated by critically-minded, peanut butter-smudged youngsters who skipped their naps & regard themselves as intellectually unsurpassed. If you can succinctly answer each question with a calm, reasonable tone, you will still find yourself completely perplexed by your children’s queries every single day. But comfort yourself: by the time they are grown, you will possess a working knowledge of just about everything! That is, if you can remember it amidst the lack of sleep.

Hilarious & Sundry, Vol. 9

  1. I’m not Kezia’s mother. I know, that might come as a shock to you, as it did to me. But I’ve realized over time that when she affects a sweet, high-pitched voice & repeats tales her mother told her, or simply addresses the invisible matron in the room, it’s not I. So if she tells you about something her mother did, don’t believe a word of it. I am, however, her fairy godmother. James said to take that as a compliment, since I benevolently bestow on her everything she needs for a happy life.
  2. Quentin handed Kezia a toy from the floor of the car, so I prompted, “Say ‘thank you, Quentin.'” She grinned impetuously & turned to him. “Thank you, chicken!” He glared while she tittered. Then…
  3. A day or so after that, Kezia sat in the car singing, “Old McDonald,” except she kept changing the lyrics to whatever floated through her noggin (taking a page from her Daddy’s book. He likes to rewrite songs when he’s feeling silly. Such sacrilege drives me, & apparently Quentin, nuts.). Around verse 117, Quentin began to lose his cool. As she belted out “EIEIO” over his hollering, I ordered a 2-minute noise ban for everyone to scrounge around their brains for happy thoughts. When the dashboard clock signaled permission, she immediately launched into verse 118: “Old McDonald had a farm…”
    Q smacked his forehead. “Are you kidding me??”
    I’m quickly learning that when she comes running to me for protection because Quentin’s out to sit on her, there are two sides to the story. Her villain role is every bit as well-played as her damsel in distress.
  4. Another of their recent disagreements began spiraling out of control while James & I were attempting to hide in our room & make out (Yes, we still do that after 3 kids. No, I don’t talk about it much. *Blush*), except this time the argument seemed to involve Pike, who was supposed to be blissfully cooing alone in his playpen. I pulled away. “Someone’s gonna die if we don’t step in, Honey.”
    He tugged me back. “At least our lives will be 33% easier.”
  5. James headed out to work in his garage, & Q ran to his room to gather toys before tagging along. I hollered after him, “Take your hat! It’s cold out.”
    Later I wandered out to the garage to check on them & found Q toting around about 20 Matchbox cars in his hat, his bare ears ruddy. After I scolded him, I turned to head back into the house & overheard James telling him quietly, “Son, you might as well learn now that sometimes a woman means more than just what she says.”
  6. We drove past the local state university, & even though we’ve passed it many times, this time it piqued Q’s interest. “What’s that?”
    “A college. It’s where grown-ups go to school. Mommy went to a college to study piano.”
    “Oh,” he said thoughtfully. “So how do you play piano?”
    Well, I could give you a brief explanation, or I could force years of lessons & hundreds of hours of practice upon you. I choose the latter. Composing fugues is a traditional high school subject, right?
    “I’ll show you when you’re a bit older.” Mwuaahaha.
  7. Since a good work ethic is essential to good character, I often assign them age-appropriate jobs around the house. Yesterday while I listened to Q read phonics blends, I scrubbed down the kitchen table & chair legs with baby wipes (which, I might add, can generally clean ANYthing). Kezia wasn’t much help with the scrubbing, so every time I wore out a wipe, I called her over to take it to the trash can. After she made about 5 trips, I heard a noise & looked up to see her dragging the big can towards me. She tugged it next to me & brushed off her hands. “There. That’s better.” Atta girl. I’m all for working smarter not harder.
  8. Living with little kids, you’ll quickly learn that excuses don’t have to be logical for kids to use them. During her nap the other day, Kezia halfway woke up, bawling. I couldn’t calm her hysteria, so I asked James to figure out what was wrong. Finally, she whimpered the cause: “My h-h-h-hair is s-s-sad.” Well, indeed, her bedhead would make anyone’s hair sad.
    He managed to coax her back to sleep, & when she emerged rosy-cheeked & smiling from her room an hour later, he hid his smile & asked if her hair felt better. “Yes sir! It’s allll happy now!”
    Often, she’s “too little,” “too strong,” has “too much food in my tummyache,” or whatever she thinks might get her out of the situation (hasn’t worked yet). Last night, eating broccoli hurt her arm. Sure, baby, I’ll fashion you a sling while you take your next bite. Gracious, I sound like a mom.
    Honestly, though, I’d just love to sound as nice as Kezia’s mother.