Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So Long Limb

As I’m sitting here trying to work, I can hear the big city truck in front of my house loading up huge parts of our trees that we had trimmed yesterday. It needed to be done. These trees were overgrown and out of control and needed a bit of a makeover.

But as relieved as I should be and glad for the update to our house, I am sad. I am sad and I realize something about myself that I have prided myself on being just the opposite all these years.

I’m not good with change.

Why just this morning Randy and I went to vote, but figured out that our city has changed from assigning us a place to vote to being able to vote wherever we wanted to. Not good. We had to drive 15 minutes from our house and (gasp) wait in line. I missed our normal place where they have doughnuts and we knew right where to go and where to sign.

But a tree…

I know what you’re thinking. She’s crazy. They didn’t even chop the thing down, they just trimmed it. But they trimmed the best part.

You see, there was a limb that jutted out horizontally over our yard, across the sidewalk, and almost to the street. It was a great limb! The best limb! Kids from all over the neighborhood would end up in our yard because of that limb! In that tree, under and sometimes straddled across that limb, treaties were made. Conspiracies were planned. Grand schemes of world domination were designed. Songs were written and all the secrets of the universe were wondered on.

Over the years, 10 to be exact, I’ve had to keep my mouth shut. As a mom, it’s my job to worry about people dropping out of trees. It was all I could do to march out in my front yard and declare, “Everybody out of the tree and off the limb. You’ll break your neck!”

I would even have the phone in my hand and ready to dial 911. I had a Google page ready to go of how to splint a broken arm or leg. I just knew someone was going down and it would be in my yard and a lawsuit would be pending.

But none of the sort ever happened. Just pure summer fun- rope or Nerf gun in one hand and a Popsicle in the other.

The four of us stood in the front yard yesterday and mourned the limb. We delivered our eulogies and lamented that the tree would never be the same. I half expect there to be flowers on my front porch and a peach cobbler or two as the now teenage kids in the neighborhood pay their respects.

The kids haven’t been in that tree for quite some time now. It’s not that the limb provided us with anything useful. It covered up our yard and caused us to get a warning from the city if we didn’t trim it back so people wouldn’t run into it on our sidewalk.

But time moves on and the limb outlived its usefulness. I think Shel Silverstein was on to something there.

So long limb. Maybe you’ll be some ground cover in one of our city parks or mulch in a flower bed. Wherever you go, thanks for all the fun.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Kid Can Beat Up Your Honor Roll Kid

There is an instinct in parents to brag on our kids. We are “one-uppers” when it comes to sons and daughters (i.e. “Your kid is lead scorer of his soccer team? Well my kid is being recruited by colleges already”).

I’m sure it’s nothing new and it will probably never be old. Parents probably bragged on their kids even back in Bible times. There’s Joseph standing next to the other dads watching their sons play soccer in a field, or whatever game they played. Jesus has just scored again, but still manages to encourage the other team at the same time. One dad starts in about how his son is already catching twice as many fish as he is. Boy, won’t he make a great fisherman when he grows up. And another dad brags about how his son can plow a field like nobody’s business and he’s only 9! And then Joseph pipes up and the other dads just roll their eyes because his kid is sooo perfect.

As parents, we always want our children to have better than we did, to be better than we were. It must be the survival instinct to better the human race.

When my kids were little and I put Rachel in ballet for the first time, I had these very grand ideas of her becoming a prima ballerina. I envisioned trips to New York where she would audition for Julliard, or whatever famous school, and they would beg her to be in their school. I foresaw Graham, large-baby Graham, being a line-backer and first string on the high school football team and then going on to college with a scholarship. He’s still shorter than most boys his age and skinny as a whip, but I digress.

I remember a very sobering conversation with my husband not too long ago. We often sit around and talk about how great and talented the kids are and pat ourselves on the back for doing such a wonderful job and “isn’t Rachel the most beautiful girl ever! And that Graham, boy he’s going to make a lot of money when he grows up. Do you think other people think this about our kids or are we just biased?”

Then one day, while we were gushing about our super-talented, beautiful children, I asked Randy, “What do you think Rachel will be when she grows up?” His reply was, “She’ll more than likely be a wife and mom.”

Nuh-uh! Hold up! Kill the motor dude!

She’s going to MIT to study robot engineering and discover the cure for cancer! Or she’ll be a famous singer and songwriter and I’m going to sit on the front row with thousands of screaming fans and beam because that’s my daughter. Or Graham is going to be a famous soccer player or skateboarder and go on the Mountain Dew tour and I’m going to sit on the front row with thousands of screaming fans and beam because that’s my son!

When in reality, Rachel will probably be a wife and mom and lead a Bible study at her church and teach Sunday School in the Jr. High ministry. Graham will probably fall madly in love with some girl whom I am already praying for and work on computers like his dad. They will most likely live quiet lives like their folks do and in some way work hard to contribute to the gross national product and most importantly the Kingdom of God.

That’s really all I can ask for. I’ve not given up on the grand dreams and will be right there thinking “I knew it!” when a record producer discovers Rachel. Or when Graham takes time off from being CEO of his very successful computer gaming company to represent the US in track and field at the Olympics. But I believe success as a parent is how I’ve raised my child to be a blessing to others. I know how great they are and if God chooses to share their greatness with the rest of the world, that’s cool. But I often have to back myself up during these bragging sessions with other parents, and stop worrying so much that my children aren’t “advanced” enough or a prodigy in something.

I realize that if they turn out like their folks, living quiet lives, that’s really great. After all, their mom is not just a mom. She’s also an actress and a writer…that gets paid for acting and writing even. Their dad is a video game producer for crying out loud.

So if I’m on my death bed and surrounded by my children, and their children, and their children’s children, much like my grandmother was not too long ago, I will count my life successful. And theirs too.

Did I mention Rachel’s written two books already and starting on a third? Just saying.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Last Airbender

We are a movie-going family. It's one of our all-time favorite things to do. So when summer movie season comes around we get out our Entertainment Weekly and consult our favorite review websites like Rotten Tomatoes and Common Sense Media. We watch trailers and check out the actors on Internet Movie Database. It is not unlike making our predictions and filling out spreadsheets for the NFL draft.

This year we are particularly excited about The Last Airbender. It was supposed to be called Avatar: The Last Airbender, but I think we all know where that title wound up.

The Last Airbender (Avatar) is a cartoon from Nickelodeon that the kids and I got into a few years ago while we were eating breakfast and getting ready for school. We made sure we got up a few minutes early so we'd have time to watch the full episode.

It is a story about young boy and his companions who live in an Asian inspired world where there are four different tribes- air, water, earth, and fire. Each tribe has members who have the ability to summon that element. Firebenders can shoot fire, waterbenders can manipulate water, etc. Aang, our hero, is the last of his airbending tribe, but is also a chosen one- a reincarnation of a special being that has the power to use all four elements. The Avatar.

I am particularly excited that M. Night Shyamalan is directing, though it is admittedly on his part, a "Buddhist movie". We have never felt like Buddhism has been shoved down our throats from the animated series and I'm hoping that M. Night won't either. I've enjoyed most of the movies that he's written and directed and I really love his style. This movie was not filmed in 3D, but has been converted to 3D and we are sort of purists when it comes to that. If I'm going to pay $4 extra for a 3D movie, I want to know that my money is paying for those cameras and the extra effort.

The Last Airbender will have some amazing martial arts and some really fun characters. From what we've seen of the previews they've followed right along with the animated series and that makes us really hopeful for one of our favorite series. The Last Airbender opens July 2nd.

For more information on this and other kid-appropriate movies check out http://www.commonsensemedia.org/summer-movies.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Zippers and Egos

It's a rite of passage that all children must go through, the "embarrassing parent" moments. You know, the comments meant to expose you and embarrass you in front of God and everyone, such as “I’ll miss you!” or “Mommy loves you!” and the ever popular “Make good choices!” I lived through it and now laugh about it and sometimes it winds up in a skit…or a blog post.

But as my sweet, southern mother would say after I whined about my Dad sending my boyfriend a tape of me singing, "God is building character in your life". And I fell for it.

Well, now it's my turn. The torch has been passed. The student becomes the master. But in order to fly the flag of Embarrassing Parent one must acquire a child who will succumb to the humiliation of being in such a family. A child who will cower in fear and submit to a higher power that has the ability to take you out of this world and make another one just like you.

We have two children in which to inflict such pain and humiliation upon. But only one can be swayed by threats of hugging in front of his friends or blowing kisses while he's on the soccer field.

No...the other, the older, the wiser, the unaffected...will not be moved. In fact, she welcomes it. "Bring it on!" is her motto. "Do your worst!" She is unafraid. She will gladly wave and blow kisses to "mommy" and respond with "you're the coolest" to my "make good choices" battle cry when dropping her off at school. She proudly exits the car at school when my hair is unkempt and I’m still in the t-shirt I wore to bed. Don’t dare her to do stuff. She will wind up in jail. She is a rock. Non-embarrassable. Non-self-conscious.

Until today.

After dropping off my beautiful, talented, well-liked daughter at school I noticed something a little off about the jeans she was wearing. Now, Rachel has had a problem with this since...well...birth. For Graham, it's keeping his shoes tied. For Rachel, it's been this particular oversight that she's never been mindful of or cared about until someone pointed it out, and with a shrug of her shoulders and an "oh thanks" she would fix the problem and carry on with her life. No big deal.

I have searched far and wide for the chink in Rachel's armor. Her Achilles heel. And today I found it. And now that she's in middle school and all of 12-years-old this particular thing holds new meaning, unbeknownst to me. So with love in my heart and nothing but the best of intentions, as Rachel waved goodbye and we exchanged "I love you's", I rolled the window down and declared:
"Honey, zip your pants!"

The next few seconds happened in slow motion. The freezing in mid-stride. The slowly turning around in utter mortification. The eyes as wide as saucers. I had done it. I had finally embarrassed my daughter

She took it all in stride and with good humor. I honestly didn’t mean to embarrass her. It was just a bonus to my Monday. She checked her zipper to make sure that they were, in fact, zipped and gave me a “Mooommm!!”

As parents, we don’t mean our children harm. But somewhere in the parent manual it says that you’re supposed to remind your children of their place in the world. It’s the same reason I read her emails and text messages. I want to know who she’s talking to and about what. She understands that she’s not entitled. There are things we must endure in life, and well-intentioned but oftentimes ego-busting parents are one of them.

I know that for myself, God laughs and says to the saints and angels around him “Hey, you wanna see something funny?” and then proceeds to put me in my place. Whether it be tripping while walking down the sidewalk, waving at a stranger I thought I knew, or asking that lady in Wal-Mart when she’s due…you get the rest of that story. It’s the natural order of things. It happens to all of us and will continue to happen for the rest of our lives. It’s just that the older you get, the less you care.

But I have to laugh, because it reminds me that I am not perfect. There will always be things out of my control. I am human and God is God. And that is such a good thing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In Which I Am Humbled

As a parent, I often wonder if I'm doing it right. You know, when there's an issue with your child's morality or ethics or reasoning? And usually it's not one of those cut and dry cases, such as "don't fight", "don't steal", or "don't create policy that alienates half the country"...you know...the obvious stuff.

We happen to have a debater in our house. And it wouldn't be such a bad thing if he wasn't so good at it. We punish, he comes back with a well thought out speech that, more times than not, we find ourselves saying "you make a good point". But we stick to punishments and stay on guard for the smooth-talk and honey-ed words that only our 11-yr-old can conjure up. He's good. He's very good.

So we have to stay sharp. We have to stay in the Word. A good friend once told me when my kids were just babies that "you are the governor of their souls". Yipes. Parenting is like walking down a dark path while holding up a lantern to show them the way. I really hope we're going the right way. Good thing we've got Google Maps on our smartphone. (Google Maps= Scripture...you get the analogy...)

So the other day I walked into my child's room who's mission in life is to be a hostage negotiator. (He doesn't' know it yet, but that's what he's going to be.) There, written on his whiteboard next to his desk, was this:

"Have I spent time with the Lord today? Have I been a servant today?"

I was humbled. I wondered why he keeps asking if he could get us anything. I just thought it was because he wanted more computer time. He was just trying to be a servant.

Parenting is hard work. You have to stay on top of things 24/7. But I know that despite my best efforts they're going to stumble. They're going to make bad decisions.

But God takes these little moments in my life to say, "I got this. You're doin' okay, but I've got my hand on him so chill out."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Skitzy Chicks Video Blog #21

To check out the rest of our Skitzy Chicks video blogs, visit our FB page at www.facebook.com/skitzychicks or on Tangle at www.tangle.com/skitzychicks.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

If I Knew Then...

If I knew then what I know now...

...I'd have looked more into that 15 year mortgage instead of the 30 year.

...I would never have wished for my kids to be out of diapers...or car seats...or whatever was the next stage of their life.

...I would never have spent so much time worrying about what other people thought.

...I would never have gotten a credit card...or the one after that...or the one after that.

...I wouldn't have dated...certain guys.

...I would have spoken out more.

...I would have stood up for myself more.

...I would have figured out what I believe a lot sooner.

...I would have auditioned for more musicals.

...I wouldn't have said that, or made that stupid remark, or yelled.

...I would have worked it out then and there instead of letting it simmer.

...I would have had better eating habits.

...I would have used sunscreen when I was a kid instead of slathering on baby oil and laying out in the sun for hours on end.

...I definitely wouldn't have had pouffey bangs and had my picture taken.

...I would have paid more attention in class.

...I would have asked more questions.

...I wouldn't have been in such a hurry to grow up.

...I wouldn't have needed a "then" that made me who I am and got me to where I am now.

Thursday, January 14, 2010