Behavior & Discipline, Motherhood

Some more about raising boys…

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With a newborn in one hand and most of my kids home, I’m keeping my summer bucket list pretty simple.

Organize the kids’ closets.

Organize my cabinet.

By “my cabinet” I mean my personal arsenal where I keep all the most valuable items in the house and all my weapons, including those that can easily turn into weapons of mass destruction.

Sharpies.

Elmer’s liquid glue.

Glitter.

Glue sticks.

Stickers.

Sticky tack.

Washable paint.

Bucket of 10,000 fuse beads.

In the wrong hands, all of these can wreak havoc. But used correctly, they can save lives.

As soon as I put the baby down, I make a beeline to my cabinet and make yet another attempt to tackle it.

I start emptying it out, finding all different things I’ve taken away from my kids over the past few months. A growing stash of bouncy balls of every size and color  that were being used in the wrong place and other things like that.

My 3 & 5 year old little boys are watching me wide eyed. I need to find something to keep them busy with so I can knock this off my list at last.

Frisbees! I came across two frisbees stuffed in the back of the top shelf; I don’t remember why I put them there to begin with, but I’m thrilled to find them. And so are they. They proudly march off with their frisbees, and I continue my work.

I come across two cardboard mailing tubes that had once contained enlarged photos.

Ah, that’ll make a great toy too!

I call my little boys and offer them the super cool cardboard tubes. I give them some creative ideas what they can use it for-it’ll be a great tunnel for their cars or they can roll balls through it.

I’m pretty pleased with my ideas and go back to my organizing.

The frisbee and cardboard tube seemed to be doing the trick.

They’re playing together and I’m organizing.

Eventually I pop in to check on them.

“What are you guys doing?” I can’t help but ask.

“We’re having a sword fight!” They excitedly tell me.

“Sword fight?”

“Yeah look, we each have a sword and a shield!”

The frisbee. A shield.

The cardboard tube. A sword.

I’m watch them, stunned. Unbeknownst do me, I had given them a sword and a shield.

I pride myself in my adapting to how little boys work. With a houseful of them, I’ve learned to play life by their rules. And I do admit, their version of life, despite the mess, is quite exciting! This is not something that came natural to me, but I’ve learned to love it.

And just when I thought I had it all figured out, they did a number on me. I had forgotten one of the golden rules about boys; anything and everything can and will be turned into a war weapon, regardless of how many rules you make against it.

I watch them gleefully running and playing and I know that really and truly, I will never be one of them. I’m doubting if it’s possible to really see the world through their magical eyes.

And that’s life with boys; you gotta just love them. Otherwise you’ll go crazy. And even worse, you’ll never, ever finish organizing your cabinets.

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Behavior & Discipline, Motherhood

Kitchen grout and kids

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What happened to the grout?”

Huh??

What grout?

“The grout on the kitchen floor, between the tiles;  why is it that color?”

I stood there staring at my landlord, baffled.

There are pros to renting a house and not being a homeowner; namely, when something breaks, it actually gets fixed! A downside, though, is when the owner wants to do an annual inspection and see how the house is doing.

I know he’s not coming to judge my housekeeping abilities per se, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that my capabilities are being scrutinized. As many times as I tell myself he wants to make sure we didn’t knock down any walls or paint the kitchen  without permission, I still can’t help but feel it’s the dreaded housekeeping police, the type every mom has nightmares about, that walk in unannounced when the house is an absolute war zone.

But I was ready and  I was pretty pleased last week when the landlord arrived; the floors were clean and the toys were put away. Even the sinks were empty of dishes!

And the kids – they were all dressed. In matching clothes. No, not matching to each other, that stopped when baby #3 was born. But they were wearing pants and shirts that matched each other, respectively! And some even had socks on. They had all brushed their teeth the night before, their faces were clean. I was proud.

All the more reason why I was standing there speechless when he started asking about the grout.

At first, he gave a quick scan of the living room. All was in its proper place, we hadn’t taken down any walls, or build any new ones either. But it was during his quick look at the kitchen that he stopped to frown.

My first thought was -there are no dishes in the sink! Not a trace of last night’s dinner! Why are you frowning??

And then came the grout question.

You’ve got to be kidding! This house is still in one piece, the place is clean, the beds are made, kids are dressed, and you are worried about the grout?!

But of course, I didn’t say that.

I smiled sweetly and shrugged, “The floor is washed a couple times a week. I guess it’s the sign of life.”

He nodded slightly, not totally convinced.

And I silently counted my blessings. The many blessings that consume my life so that things like tile grout isn’t something that made it to my stress list. To me, that was the sign of a full life.

And later that evening, during bedtime, when I was doing a quick scan of each bedroom before checking off the kids’ charts; to see if clothes were in the hamper and things were put away, I caught sight of some little toy/thingie hiding in the corner of one of the rooms.  I caught myself as I was about to point it out to the kids.

I thought of the grout. Of how I felt when all my hard work on maintaining this house, (ok, with the help of my housecleaner!) was unnoticed, and all that was mentioned was the measly kitchen grout that refused to stay its original color.

The kids had cleaned their room. Their clothing was in the hamper. Their things were properly stowed. And one measly toy, cast aside, was forgotten and unnoticed…well I wouldn’t notice it either. I wanted to motivate them; and mentioning the one didn’t-do instead of the many did-dos would not help them want to do it all again tomorrow.

And later that night, when all was quiet, I did a quick google search just to clear my conscience. And guess what. There is no long term solution for keeping grout clean! Unless you get on your hands and knees and scrub it each night. I’d rather keep it the color it is. As a constant reminder that my life is full of more important things.

Behavior & Discipline

I can’t control my kids. (And I won’t.)

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Whose kids are they anyway?

I catch my husband’s eye and sigh in annoyance; can’t someone control these guys?

My husband gives me a knowing look and nods, sharing my frustration. Where are the parents?

But I look around at the crowd and see that it’s pretty obvious; the secret is out, and I can’t pretend much longer. After all, they kinda do look like their father.

It’s our monthly community dinner and it’s apparent that everyone, my  kids included, are enjoying themselves. One is lounging under the table, one is eating chummus with his fingers, oblivious to the guy sitting near him. Hmm, I notice his seatmate leaning as far away from him as possible…I don’t blame him, looks like his suit is dry clean only. Brothers 3&4 are in middle of a game of who-can-finish-all-the-soda-in-this-room-first. Thankfully the two little ones are home with the babysitter!

Yes, they’re mine, and I’ll take care of it.

Can I control them?

Actually, no, I can’t control them. More accurately, I don’t want to control them.

I want to teach them.
Guide them.
Discipline them.
Love them.
Reprimand them.
Praise them.
Kiss them.
Hug them.
Influence them.
Motivate them.

Be a good role model for them.
Listen to them.
Talk to them.

But I won’t control them. I won’t control my kids.

There are many things in my life I do control; like my laptop. When it’s acting impudent or pushing my patience, I control it. With a click of
the lid, I snap it shut and I win. I control it.

When my oven starts overdoing my food, I just hit cancel and ta da, its off. I’m in full control.

When my phone rings and I’m not talkable, I swipe the decline icon and just like that, I control my phone.

I have higher expectations for my kids; I want them to be successful, passionate adults. I don’t want them to grow up and be little gadgets or robots; ones you can control by switching them on and off.

I want them to thrive. I want them to be people.

And so I won’t control them.

But I will continue to teach them to eat chummus with a spoon.