Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Do You Have Your Own Too?

It had been one of those days. You know, one of THOSE days. The light fixtures were barely intact from the kids bouncing off the walls. Every request/plea/beg fell on deaf ears. I headed numbly downstairs to check on the laundry, but flopped down on the steps almost to the bottom. And just sat. And stared. Very blankly. After a time I realized no one had followed me and no one was looking for me, so I kept sitting, enjoying the alone-ness of it.

I looked down and saw a book in my hand that for whatever reason I had grabbed on my way downstairs, called "You Can Childproof Your Home, but They'll Still Get In" (see it
). My mother had given it to me for Christmas several months before but I had yet to crack it open. So I did. In the introduction I found:

Child development professionals categorize children into two main groups:

(A) Naturally compliant, obedient, well-mannered children
(B) Yours

"How did he know?" I thought sarcastically. "Maybe he sat behind us at church sometime. Or followed us through the grocery store." I read on.

The implication is rather obvious. If you are blessed with naturally compliant, obedient, well-mannered children, they were accidentally switched at the hospital. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. In a sense, you could look at it as though you won the lottery, and someone else even bought your ticket for you.

Most parents, however, end up with their own children. But don't panic quite yet. Bringing your own children home from the hospital doesn't mean they are destined to be incompliant, disobedient, and ill-mannered, but it does mean that you have to devote massive amounts of time and energy to avoid that outcome. Left to themselves, your children have a natural propensity to be self-centered, pugnacious, and ill-tempered and, if they are boys, wear oversized trousers with enough denim to fashion a Coleman tent.

This book is for all the parents who ended up with their own kids. It is not a professional parenting manual, as I am not a professional. I am just a dad. But I hope that you will find some insight and some helpful tips in my observations, reflections, ruminations, grousings, mutterings, stunned exclamations, incredulous questions, inane outbursts, bulging neck arteries, apologies, failures, and occasional successes.

By the time I finished I felt far less alone, yet the kids still hadn't found me.

I realized I KNOW families who have some of those switched kids. They are almost eerily well-behaved. "Stay here with me, sweetheart." And they DO! I've had glimpses of that, but never the real thing. If they have to be switched to get it, do I want it? Hmmm....

The rest of the book is also worthwhile reading, but this introduction stuck with me longer than anything else. It taught another lesson I didn't expect - that a good laugh certainly goes a long way to keep mom sane.

And for the record, I'm very glad I have my own. My own insanity-inducing, mother-torturing children, but MY children.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ahhhh, the Memories

Jamie's sister's husband Bobby told Adam that if he takes and passes a hunter's safety course he will take him hunting with him. Of course Adam has become even more hunting obsessed than he already was. We're not sure where he got this hunting gene, but it arrived somehow. Maybe something extra in the prenatal vitamins the doc preferred back that time around?

He loves to read about elk and deer, plays this Cabela's Big Game Hunter game, checks out hunting videos from the library, and can make the most amazing elk calls.

Since the invitation to go hunting, he and his friend have started a 'hunting club.' They pack all kinds of odd gear into their backpacks and either head to the backyard or the park to practice their stalking and hunting skills. Today it was the backyard. It was nice and quiet inside, so of course my trouble alarm went crazy. Sammy, Melanie, and Carolyn were all off playing at neighbor's houses. I glance in the front yard - bikes and scooters, no Adam or friends. I glance in the backyard - hmmmm... backpacks by the trees. All the signs point to them being here. I step out onto the deck and still don't see anything. Then, out pops a head from some sparse bushes and lilac greens in the far corner of the yard. "What do you want?" (I heckle the friends, they heckle me.)

"Oh! Just checking to see if you guys were out here."

Knowing that the friend was out hiding, I knew then where Adam was - doing the same in the raspberry patch. I step back inside and watch for a minute. Yep, saw him move a bit.

A bit later I hear elk calls coming from the backyard.

"Dang he's good," I thought.

They were having so much fun it made me want to play too. From inside the house I started doing my horrible version of an elk bugle back. I wasn't close enough to hear, but I'm sure they were significantly amused at my attempt. It worked though - the elk called back to me! Okay, so it was just the boys, but still. We called back and forth for a while, then I had more fun up my sleeve. I grabbed a walking stick one of the kids left hanging out in the kitchen and started knocking it around on a kitchen chair and the table, attempting to sound like knocking antlers around. (See? I've learned a few tricks from Adam's hunting videos.) Success again! The elk responded.

This went on for a while before I decided that Jamie probably would appreciate a clean up attempt before he gets home. Without the calling from inside the house, the calling outside escalated then died off.

On days like this I just have to wonder what kind of odd memories I'm giving my children. I'm sure the neighbors wonder too.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

To Impress You All Even More

It's funny to hear that people actually read this. Not too many, but still, just funny. I've received a few, "Don't you need to settle down?" comments after the last post. Well, keep watching and see how many of those actually end up on the 'finished' list. So little time, so many things that use up that time.

Last night I started reading another, called The Book of Mormon: A Pattern for Parenting. I'm enjoying it so far.

And two more soon to be added to the 'now reading' list:

Long Way to Chicago - This month's book group book.

One I put on hold just tonight that I learned about from a neighbor, Parenting the Ephraim's Child. Here's a brief excerpt from the description. "Like those of the tribe of Ephraim, an Ephraim’s Child has great determination, energy, and a headstrong will. Ephraim’s Children are also often high maintenance, emotional, controlling, and aggravating. What other sources don’t tell you is that these children are a special and covenant people." It talks about different characteristics of these children, and shows how "each is actually a strength in need of refinement" and "demonstrate[s] how these qualities can be valuable tools in the Lord’s hands." I'm excited to read it.