Sunday, June 18, 2017

words can be turds or gems

“Words are powerful forces of nature. they are destruction. they are nourishment. they are flesh. they are water. they are flowers and bone.

they burn. they cleanse. they erase. they etch. 

they can either leave you feeling homeless or brimming with home.” 
― Sanober Khan

on the last day of school, we had a little get together with friends. i just wanted a party-like atmosphere on the last day. i invited two different families and i planned various activities, procured and filled a pinata and we made homemade pizzas. each child was able to pick from an assortment of toppings and build what type of pizza pleased them. i'm not the best or most creative party planner but i was hoping that just getting together would be entertainment enough for the kids. some of our guests were great, really great. they were gracious, they were excited to be there, they were willing to try new things. some of our other guests were not quite as pleasant to have in our home. they complained about the guest list, they complained about the activities, they complained about the food, they were rude to their mom, they were rude to me. i tried my best to make everything go well, but some people just don't know how to do anything but see the negative. the unpleasant guests soon left and our delightful guests remained and we finished the party with the pinata. however, that evening, as i was reflecting upon the day's events, i realized how deeply the negative words from our guests had affected me. i was really sad! despite the good guests, i spent the evening wondering why i even bothered having people over if i couldn't put together a good party. the critical comments and attitude made me feel terrible! i was mad at myself for even trying. we haven't invited anyone over since.

contrast that to last week when we took our daily walk at the local park. normally, we go as early as possible to beat the heat but today's schedule only allowed for us to go around noon. we ran our errands and then packed a lunch for the park. we played a bit and then continued on the loop around the lake. besides the heat, this route was a bit longer than our regular walk. we started off strong but about halfway in, this went downhill. everyone was complaining, i was pushing herschel in the stroller with one arm and dragging athena blythe behind me with the other arm. we were all sweating bullets and i was questioning my sanity. one of my summer goals is healthy eating and daily exercise for the whole family and all of that was sounding pretty stupid and impossible at this moment. we trudged along only because we had to finish the trail in order to get back to our car. as we rounded the lake, an older asian woman and her husband were sitting on a park bench. in very broken english, she stopped me and asked me, "these all you babies?" i'm asked that question quite often because 4 children is the new 8 children and many people are incredulous that i could have so many in this day and age. i replied, "yep, they're all mine!" i was anticipating more incredulity but instead she stood up and threw her arms in the air and shouted, "hurray, hurray, hurray!" it took me so off guard that i could hardly choke out a garbled, "thank you!" as we continued on. i was fighting back tears because of how GOOD her words made me feel. my entire perspective and temper of this walk changed in an instance. her positive cheer enlivened me! i could feel myself smiling! my stride was lengthening! i was able to encourage the children and not nag the children! up until this point i had been saying to unmotivated athena blythe, "hurry up! keep up!" and athena blythe kept dragging along. after, i started saying "come on, you can do it!" and she started saying, "i can do it! i'm AM doing it!" everthing had improved because of kind words. we finished the walk. it was still hard. we still had to walk up a big hill in 90 degree heat. but i was no longer daunted by the process. i knew that we could keep working on our family summer fitness goals and that one hard day wasn't going to be the end for us.

i've reflected on these two experiences a lot in the subsequent weeks. as a result of the first experience, we've talked a lot as a family about how using our manners even if we are in a situation that we don't like. we talked about making sure our hosts feels good about their efforts because it is not easy to be the host. we talked about saying kind things and being everyone's friend, even people we do not know very well. we talked about choking down food that is served to us, even if we know we don't like it. we can always complain at home later. as a result of the second experience, we've also talked about saying nice things when they occur to us and to never suppress a kind thought, that that thought may change the course of someone's day. we've talked about how hard experiences can be changed simply by how we view them and we can improve things for others if we have a good attitude.

in short, i will try and invite people over and continue to plan activities and try hard and while i can't control other people's kids, i can control my own.

the end. 

Sunday, June 04, 2017

a tale of two commencements

beware the ides of may! the ides of may is the chaos surrounding every hour of every day of the entire month of may. i was scrambling to complete any and every task that i didn't want to attempt to do with all the kids around this summer. plus, scarlett class had a party activity every day for the last 3 weeks of school. the class decided the day before what the activity would consist of and then parents were dispatched that night with the task of retrieving items to make said activity happen. i kinda hated hated it. i'm pro party, but anti party every single day and parents make it happen. 

athena blythe had her pre-k commencement first. when i showed up, i had already been 3 different places running errands and hersch was spent. plus, when i walked in the door, athena blythe was crying her heart out about falling off the slide 20 minutes prior. it was very unusual behavior for her as she is my child who doesn't get hurt. i think she was overwhelmed by all the activity and parents coming and hoopla of her class party and all that. 
so before everything even started i was already wrestling a emotionally needy herschel and a horribly distraught athena blythe. during this physical and emotional battle in front of the entirety of athena blythe's class, i knocked over my chair and flashed everyone present. they're all probably wondering where i got such great, long white bike shorts. 

athena blythe was awarded the most likely to become a veterinarian award, because she was always finding bugs and creatures in the classroom and playground to keep as pets. she even got to take home the class pet worms.  
mrs. adams and mrs. williams were an answer to prayers for what athena blythe needed this school year. i had prayed as to whether to keep her at this preschool or to move her to one closer to our new house and i felt strongly that she should remain there to get the attention she needed. she is precocious and often unmanageable and too smart for her own good, but they loved her and handled her well. 

a succession of unpleasant faces:

and one nice one:

 after the pageantry and punctiliousness of the pre-k graduation, hersch and athena blythe decided to fight over their plate of graduation goodies and flung it in the air, showering all of us with potato chips, juice boxes and sundry baked goods. i then swept up the mess and swept out with my delinquent children, slapping another child's parting gift from the teacher our of herschel's hands as we went. i then went and cried in my car. i don't cry often about childhood tomfoolery or onerous shenanigans, but i had reached my extremity that day. 

fortunately, i was better emotionally and physically prepared for reagan's 5th grade commencement, though i would add one critique that it would be nice to not have the trays and trays of cupcakes on display right in front of a toddler. or one of the PTA moms guarding the table could have had mercy on me and just given one to him. how long must i suffer? 

i also got a touch emotional during reagan's graduation. they played that super cheesy, "like an eagle i will race above the clouds" song and i sang along. i then clapped loudly for each and every single kid because so many other adults were just sitting like loser lumps. i do not understand that isolationist behavior. don't all kids need encouragement? yes! can all parents come to day time activities? no! let's help each other out!

appropriate dress is an ongoing conflict between reagan and me. i pleaded with reagan to wear dress clothes but i noticed he had sneaked on a favorite green t-shirt under his tie and button up. haha, no big deal i thought. he think's he's outsmarted me!

it wasn't until we walked to the car and he stripped off his button up and revealed that his t-shirt was just the tip of the undercover outfit iceberg. 

reagan had worn a pair of his favorite adidas three stripe sweatpants underneath his dress pants. it was only 80 degrees that day. i don't know how he survived it. 

by time we got home he was completely disrobed and had divested himself of his undesirable dress clothes.

the final day of school, they do a 5th grade hall walk. thomas was able to come and i gave the stink eye to all the "adults" using terrible language in the school hallway. then i sang at the top of my lungs a made up song that i knew reagan wouldn't like me to sing has he paraded down the hall with his class. maybe i won't be such an awkward and mortifying parent when reagan is in middle school. 

the end