Month: August 2016

Foliage For Supper

“Drake, when was the last time you ate any vegetables?” I asked as he passed the bowl of salad without taking any.

“You know I hate anything green,” he answered.

“You don’t even like it with Ranch on it?” Josiah asked.

“Leaves shouldn’t be eaten,” Drake explained.

“Salad isn’t the same as leaves,” Josiah told him.

“Salad is exactly the same as leaves,” Drake said.

“Here,” Josiah said as he grabbed a piece of lettuce and dipped it in Ranch, “try this.”

A good sport, Drake took a bite. Then he crinkled his nose and said, “Disgusting.”

“Now should I go get you a leaf?” Josiah asked.Drake eats a leaf

“Yes please.”

So Josiah walked out the back door and into the backyard. He quickly climbed the tree and picked a leaf. He returned to the table, dipped the leaf in ranch, and handed it to Drake.

“Woah!” Drake said after taking a bite, “That is horrible! Leaves are much more disgusting than salad.”

So, now we know that.

Family Value #11

“What are we going to do as a family tonight?” Josiah asked as he helped me load dishes into the dishwasher after supper.

“Do we have something planned?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “We just always end up doing something in the evenings.”

Josiah had picked up on an intentional pattern Mike and I had put into place. We wanted our family to be with each other. Be with was one of our most important family values. Because of this value, we decided to have supper at the table with the TV off and phones in another room nearly every day. Because of crazy schedules, we have eaten at some weird times. Sometimes our suppers were delicious homemade recipes and sometimes they were purchased at a drive through or scrounged from the back of the pantry. At supper, we made a point to go around the table and ask everyone their high and low of the day. We’ve learned so much this way.

Then, most evenings, we played a game or watched a show on television together. We decided to only have one TV (It was like the dark ages in our house) so that we would be forced to gather in one spot and share the experience together. Because we had to compromise on picking shows to watch, I have watched more Japanese anime than I ever expected I would!

We had so many fun and unexpected bonding times because of these habits.

Then everything changed. When they were young, I was always able to solve my kid’s problems with a new diaper or a nap or a word of wisdom. Then they turned 12 and made it clear to me that I was their new problem. Just by existing. In those days, I often felt like scratching be with right off the list of values because it clearly wasn’t working. As it tuned out though, it was in those tough years that be with really saved our family.

I read a book called Parenting From the Heart by Jack Pransky, and it melted my mind. It stated that the basic goal of parenting is to build rapport with your child without forsaking the role of parent. And, the way to build rapport is to listen – without forming an opinion – until you hear your child’s intent (not their actual words) and understand the insecurity behind what is being said. Because disturbing behavior is rooted in insecurity. To me, rapport sounded a lot like be with.

It was tricky though. Because in the middle of ordinary, everyday life, my kids sometimes said something ridiculous, and I had a strong opinion about it.

“Mom,” Makenna said, interrupting my pleasant dinner preparations, “I’ve made a decision. I’m dropping out of high school.”

I felt a strong opinion swell in my chest when she said those words. But, I had to build rapport. I wanted to be with. I had feared building rapport with my teenagers because I assumed that meant I would have to agree with their ludicrous statements. However, I wasn’t forsaking my role of parent, so I didn’t have to agree, my goal was to understand the insecurity behind the disturbing statement. So, I decided to listen without judgement until I understood the insecurity she was experiencing. Then we were able to address the real insecurity behind her feelings, and, with only a little guidance, she decided to stay in school.

Those kind of moments are always tough because, if we are honest, we often worry about how it makes us look when our children turn out in a way other than the way we expect them to. And that is the biggest deal of all because at that moment it all becomes about us instead of about them.

I had put my heart and soul into these tiny humans from the day I knew they were arriving, and, for so long, my opinion was the final word. Then, suddenly, my opinion was the wedge keeping our relationship from being all it could be.

After Makenna said those words in my kitchen and my strong opinion threatened tkids in a Hawiian treeo fly out of my mouth and ruin our rapport, a thought struck me like a cast iron skillet to the head: what Makenna decides to do is not a report card on my parenting.

The measuring stick we judge our parenting by has got to stop being how the child turns out. It’s too much pressure for them and for us. Instead, I have decided to ask myself, “How have I handled the messy moments?” My goal is to listen without judgment until I hear and understand the insecurity and then guide gently with wisdom and grace through the tricky twists life takes.

I will fail often. But, I will be with even more often.

Family Value #10

“We were just playing Legos and then Drake punched me in the face!” Josiah said, glaring at his brother.

“I did that because Josiah pushed me,” Drake defend himself.

“Because Drake took the Lego I needed to make my alien!”

The road between best friends and a punch in the face is steep and slippery, and we traveled this treacherous path often when the kids were little. So, know when to stop was a crucial family value. Tofamily at woodlawn help our kids know when to stop we identified some halting points:

*Don’t touch someone when you’re angry

*Don’t say what you’re thinking in the heat of the moment

*Don’t get a laugh at someone else’s expense

Then my kids grew up and started doing things their own way. I soon learned that their ways were so very different than mine. And, sometimes, it felt personal. I had spent years shaping these tiny humans into miniature copies of myself, so it was alarming when they acted in ways I never would. Mike and I found out quickly that we, as parents of adults, needed to know when to stop. We had to stop thinking we could control their actions and, even harder, their thoughts. But, that wasn’t enough. I seem to be gifted with the super power of communicating my opinions without saying a word. So, another halting point was added:

*Don’t have an opinion when it isn’t asked for

Since I don’t care a lot about politics, this one was easy for me when our kids registered as different political parties than Mike and I, but it was much harder when Makenna quit a college program she had started. I was worried about her future and feared she was making a mistake. It was difficult for me to let her find her own path. I’m thankful I had some practice knowing when to stop so Makenna and I can enjoy a strong relationship even through some erratic and shocking twists. As it turns out, Makenna is pretty good at making her own decisions.

If you think this isn’t important, consider how much you enjoy it when your mother has a strong opinion about the decisions you make. And then know when to stop.

 

Dog Name Drama

“Since I really didn’t want a puppy,” I said as our new puppy tried to pull my sock off my foot with his teeth, “can I pick the name? I like Zuko.”

“I don’t like that name,” Emery said.

“I like the name Roku,” Mike suggested.

“How about Kenai?” Emery countered.

“I like Roku,” Drake said.

“Zuko is a fantastic name,” I argued.

So a five month name dilemma began. We officially named him Kenai for almost a week before
deciding that nobody could remember that name. We settled on Riggins for almost a month.

Emery, Mike, and I were leaving on a trip to Ohio and Drake was staying home alone. As we hugged him goodbye, I gave him last minute instructions on food preparation and door locking. Just before getting in the car to drive away, I told him, “Pick a name for the puppy while we are gone. And, remember, Zuko is a great name!”

A week later we were happy to see Drake again, and, as he updatDrake and Zukoed us on his battle with the washing machine, he announced, “The dog’s name is Roku.”

“I won’t call him that,” Emery said. “It’s a TV device.”

“It’s from Avatar, and I’ve been calling him Roku all week!” Drake said.
“I’m going go call him Riggins,” Emery said, stubbornly.

So, the dog had two names for a couple of weeks, but he didn’t answer to either of them. Which I blame mostly on us.

“What is this?” I asked as I pulled the name-challenged puppy closer to look at the leather strap on his neck.roku-riggins

“I ordered a collar with his name on it,” Mike said.

“It says Roku-Riggins,” I said. “His name is Roku-Riggins?”

“I’m hoping people will eventually just call him Roku,” Mike explained.

“Very sneaky Mr. Hintz.”

“I have my ways.”

Then, Mike and the boys left for a trip in the mountains of Colorado, and I was mostly alone taking care of the dogs. Arrow, who is five years old, was wonderful. But, the puppy was so bad. He dug holes under the fence and ran away, he howled and woke up the neighbors at 3 AM, he chewed many shoes, he pooped on my patio, and he threw up. Then he did the same thing the next day. And the next day. Each time he ran away, I found his collar in the back yard. When I looked at it closely, I noticed it was missing the part of the buckle that secures the strap.

“Great,” I yelled at the sky, “now I have to replace this!” Then I turned to the hole under the fence and yelled at the dog who was surely so far away he could not hear me, “I am not going to look for you! If you don’t come back its goodbye forever!”

I stomped into the house and looked up the phone number for the dog collar company.

“The collar we ordered is defective,” I growled at the customer service representative.

“We will send out a replacement right away,” the nice lady said. “Whose collar needs replaced?”

A moment of silence passed as inspiration filled my mind.

“Zuko’s,” I said with a smile. “It should say Zuko on the collar.”

I win.zuko collar