Tag Archive | train up a child

STOP! Jamma time!


Here’s the song reference.

By 7:00 tonight, Baby Guy’s clothes were covered in three meals, one dessert, plenty of spilled milk, and a dog hair topcoat.  Since it was within a half hour of his bedtime anyway, I decided to change him into his pajamas before something decided to eat him.  Our youngest, however, was not at all pleased with the proposed wardrobe change, and babbled his displeasure all the way to the changing table.  Once we arrived at the changing table, the babbling turned to a rather vociferous series of complaints, accompanied by plenty of flailing and kicking.

I rubbed noses with the smallest member of our tribe to distract him long enough to get his pants off, got his diaper changed by distracting him with his toes (I swear, I feel like an octopus sometimes), then played a quick round of peekaboo while wrestling him out of his shirt without getting any of the goo from the shirt on his hair.  Once divested of his cruddy clothes, Baby Guy decided to use this sudden ease of movement to attempt a triple-twisting somersault off the changing table.  This athletic endeavor was met by my thunderous shout of “STOP!

His lower lip started to quiver, and I felt bad for bellowing.  Granted, I had to make the point, quickly and unambiguously, that triple-twisting somersaults off the changing table are a terrible idea, but I didn’t have to be quite as loud as I was.  I whipped his pajamas in a circle around my head and chortled, “Jamma time!”

Baby Guy’s little face erupted into a broad grin, and he started to giggle.  As I wrangled him into his footy pajamas, I sang in my most ludicrous voice, “Doon doon doon doon, doon doon, doon doon CAN’T TOUCH THIS!” and tickled him.  We were both still laughing when we made it back to the living room where the rest of the family was waiting, with somewhat bewildered expressions, for a bedtime story, prayers, and lullabies.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the four little blessings You have entrusted to us.  Help us teach them and protect them gently, so that they have no doubt about what is right and good, but also have no doubt of our love for them.  Your yoke is light; grant us the humility of heart to follow Your example.

Slime, slime, everywhere there’s slime


Here’s the song reference.

One of the great Halloween traditions at our house, and the one perhaps most eagerly anticipated by the tribe, is the presentation of gifts to our wee tribe that are, shall we say, not suitable for polite company.  There are gummy body parts, toy bugs, snakes, and spiders, and other treats that verge on the vile.  The kids, of course, think this is perhaps the coolest set of little surprises they receive all year, and as a result, we rarely have any trouble getting them to eat dinner on Halloween night — the brown paper bags will not appear if so much as a morsel remains on their plates.

This year’s offerings, in addition to ghoulishly blue ring pops and pumpkin-shaped marshmallows, included little canisters of glow-in-the-dark slime.  My husband and I remember the goo fondly from our own childhoods, and giggled madly when we discovered it in the dollar bin at Target.  We rationalized giving this to a kindergartner and two preschoolers by considering the possibility of a science lesson about non-Newtonian fluids.  Homeschooling has its perks, you know.

The slime in question was the surprise hit of Halloween.  As soon as each child finishes breakfast in the morning, she or he sets about clamoring for a tub of slime. Beanie is particularly enamored of her wee vat of green goo, and has merry adventures with it and her little Care Bears toys.  This morning, while Bugaboo was curled up on the couch watching her Saturday morning cartoons, Beanie meandered into the kitchen, where I was attempting to assemble a grocery list, and plumped her rump into her chair.

“Mommy, I want to play with my slime, please.”

“Okay, Beanie.  Please keep it out of my coupons, okay?”

“Can I get a Care Bear to hide in it?”

“Sure, why not?”

As she pelted out of the kitchen to retrieve a toy, she chortled back over her shoulder, “I’m getting Share Bear, because slime is more fun when you share it, and Share Bear knows lots about sharing!”

For the next hour, a curly-haired, shining-eyed little blessing of a girl played contentedly with her pool of slime and a pink plastic bear, narrating the bear’s adventures as she went.   First the slime was a mud puddle, then a sleeping bag to wrap around the bear, then a skating rink, then a green donut, then a meadow, then a frisbee, then a pizza, then a BIG GOOEY MONSTER that would have eaten the poor bear had Beanie not rescued her from its evil clutches.

I could sit and listen to Beanie tell stories for hours.  She is completely unselfconscious about it, and equally oblivious to anything that’s going on around her.  Give her a pile of confetti, and she names the pieces and sends them on quests.  The common thread in all of her adventures is kindness — everyone has to share and use nice words.  I love that about her.

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for this little blessing who cannot abide ugliness. Help me teach her that she must show the same love towards others that she insists upon in her play, the same gentleness of manner and speech that You used.  Cleanse my heart of anger and rancor, that I may be Your face to her and thus teach her with more than words.

Getting kind of hectic


Here’s the song reference.

Days that begin overcast and foggy tend to bring a cranky tribe, and this morning was no exception.  As glorious as fall in Virginia can be, it does tend to bring some rather murky mornings.  Bugaboo stumbled out of her room this morning quite thoroughly out of sorts, to the point that she was invited by Daddy and I to return to her bed, and a seriously grouchy Beanie shambled out a few minutes later to be greeted with the same invitation.

After fifteen minutes of trying to figure out what the distaff half of the bairn brigade and I could agree upon as an acceptable breakfast, I shoved plates of waffles in front of my daughters, feeling more than slightly surly myself.  In all honesty, I would rather have curled up with Butler’s Lives of the Saints and a cup of warm, creamy chai than slog through math and penmanship with distemperate children.  Such is the glamour of every teacher’s life, I suppose, whether in the family kitchen or the institutional classroom.

While the girls were snarking at their breakfast, I made the morning call to Grandma, who was having an equally slow-starting morning, then shooed the girls off to dress and brush their teeth.  Sometimes being able to choose a favorite dress or shirt shakes them out of a morning misery, and Bugaboo was a little cheerier when she came back in her flouncy dress with the scottie dogs on it.  Beanie, usually the household ray of sunshine, was still scowling, to the point that she actually complained at each and every crayon in her 64 count box of Crayolas before she would even consider coloring her picture of the Annunciation.

There are reasons I start every single school day with faith lessons.  One of those reasons is that it reminds me to thank God for my children and that I love these little blessings, for whom we prayed so fervently and so long, on the days when they are not particularly likeable.  It reminds me why my husband and I made this choice for our family, and that every work of our hearts, minds, and hands can become suffused with joy when we offer it to Him.  We read about St. Anthony Mary Claret and St. Helen, whose picture on the cover of the Treasury of Saints caught Bugaboo’s eye (she’s wearing a crown in the picture, and our eldest always enjoys a story about a princess, empress, or queen).  After we had prayed together, cajoled Beanie into coloring her picture, and read the story of the Annunciation from their Bible, I set the girls to practicing their penmanship while I made the morning call to Deedaw.

It was right about then that Mr. Man and Baby Guy woke up in even worse moods than their sisters had managed.  I did managed to duck behind the door before the Mega Bloks Mr. Man had pulled into his crib connected with my cranium; fortunately, he didn’t have very much ammo, so I had a stern word with him after I handed Baby Guy his cup of milk.  Luckily, almost every Baby Guy bad mood can be cured with milk, food, and a few verses of the “Austrian Yodeler Song” (a quick aside – you should hear it when we all break into this at Wegman’s to keep the little fellow calm if the shopping takes too long).

Having wrangled two little boys into clean diapers and decided they could jolly well stay in their pajamas, I headed upstairs, Baby Guy contentedly slurping milk as he rode on my hip, Mr. Man caterwauling at the injustice of having to walk up the stairs as he trailed behind me, and heard the shriek from Beanie just as I hit the top step.  Apparently Bugaboo decided to “help” her little sister with her penmanship by offering “helpful” advice on how to hold the pencil, hold the paper, form the letters, ply the eraser, sit on the chair, breathe through her nose . . . okay, I made that last one up, but you get the idea.  When I entered the kitchen four short steps later, Beanie was hurling invective at Bugaboo through freshets of tears, while Bugaboo, the picture of injured innocence, looked up at me and said, “Mommy, I was just helping her be a better student.”

I counted to ten in five languages, sent them both back to their chairs with instructions to finish their writing assignments, and managed to get both boys tucked into their chairs while I rounded up bowls of cereal for them.  It is a great blessing that a bowl of cereal will occupy Baby Guy for at least half an hour, particularly if the cereal is round, as he must see how many pieces he can convince to roll across the ray of his booster seat before he eats them.  When Bugaboo reminds him he’s not supposed to play with his food, he cheerfully hurls a piece across the table at her.  Many are the times when I “didn’t see him do that.”

After another hour of the howl-elujah chorus, we appeared to have reached the point of diminishing returns.  The girls were defiant, I was waspish, Mr. Man was trying to grab every writing implement in sight, and Baby Guy started crying every time I opened my mouth, which tells me I was yelling.  I gave the order to clean up their workspaces and head for the living room, where I awaited them on the floor.

“Okay.  Bring me some stories.”

I was immediately mobbed by four smiling, snuggling angels, each with a favorite book in hand.  We passed a pleasant half hour curled up on the living room floor together, none of us caring that I hadn’t had time to sweep up the dog hair this morning, sharing stories and a song or two.  Just as the bairn brigade started getting contentious about whose turn it was to select the next story, I spied the big shipping box full of craft supplies that had arrived the day before.  After hastily dumping the contents on our bed, I announced to the tribe it was TIME TO PLAY OUTSIDE, and that they could take the box with them.

By then, the sun had started to break through the clouds, and the mob needed little encouragement to riot.  I carried the box and Baby Guy down the stairs, then started to sweep the kitchen.  Hearing great joyful mounds of bubbly giggles from the back yard, I grabbed the camera and ran back downstairs.  The uninhibited joy of four little kids with a big box rinsed the last of the sour taste from my mouth.  The rest of my day’s work was offered with a much more joyful heart.  I’d rather lift up joy as an offering to Our Lord than surliness.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, Your Scriptures tell us to train up our children in the ways they should go.  Help me guard my tongue as I teach them, that I do not train them up to be shrewish with the errors of others.  I am not perfect, and sometimes need the reminder in my children’s voices of how I prefer to be taught when I am in error. Gentle my words and my voice, and when my tone is sharper than necessary, remind me that You taught lovingly, repeating Your lessons patiently.  Mold me into a teacher after Your example, in all things, Lord, and grant me the grace of a heart that seeks Your counsel before any word is spoken.  You have the power to calm any storm and soften any heart.

All I want is a photograph


Here’s the song reference.

It has been a very long two weeks for all of us, complete with sick tiny people, two grandmothers landing in hospitals, and a promotion at work for Daddy which, while it will be very beneficial to our household budget in the long run, has resulted in the poor guy working a stretch of twelve-hour days trying to manage a mess that was left for him.  The kids have been troopers through Mommy being on the phone for hours and, in the boys’ case, Daddy leaving for work before they awaken and returning home after they are abed.

We’ve been working on changing all of their bedtimes, in large part because Bugaboo and Beanie are at a point where they really don’t need to sleep for twelve straight hours at night, and also because we’ve discovered that the boys sleep better if we put Baby Guy down about half an hour before Mr. Man.  Mr. Man is delighted with this turn of events, as that half-hour tends to be his special big guy storytime with Daddy.  Once he goes to bed, Beanie gets her own story or art time with Mommy and Bugaboo gets her storytime with Daddy.  It means Daddy and I eat dinner at 8:30 some nights, but the relaxation and joy we derive from the extra time with the tiny people makes a late dinner worthwhile.

Last night, Daddy was so late getting home that special storytimes were not possible, particularly since Mr. Man decided to play drums on the wall of the boys’ room instead of taking his nap.  He was a little put out by this, but he was so tired that he couldn’t keep himself from dissolving into fits of temper over things like the corner of his Cheez-It breaking off.  As I snuggled our hysterical older son and tried to kiss him goodnight, he spied a camera perched atop the toaster oven.

Mr. Man loves to push buttons, to the point that his second three-word phrase was, “I push button.”  His first three-word phrase was the classic, “No, that mine.”  Upon seeing the old Panasonic, he immediately set up a cry of, “I push button I push button I push button PEASE PEASE I want picture pease picture picture picture pease push button!”

While we are ordinarily inclined to keep breakable electronics as far away from the big guy’s clutches as possible, Daddy and I exchanged a glance, then a nod, and through a short series of questions managed to deduce that Mr. Man wished to photograph his father, then look at the picture on the viewscreen.  Daddy posed, Mr. Man pushed the button and managed to take a picture, and all was right with his world for thirty seconds or so.  It was still a wrestling match for my husband to get a tired two-year old down the steps and into his bed, where he wailed his objections to the sandman for another ten minutes, but his smile when he was allowed to push the button, succeeded in getting the camera to flash, and saw the picture he had taken of Daddy, was just fantastic to see after an hour’s worth of screaming and tears.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, sometimes the smallest, simplest attentions can bring happiness to Your blessings.  Please help me remember that sometimes, their upset is caused by having been told “no” too many times in a day over things that are really of no consequence, just because their desires are inconvenient at a particular moment.  Please grant me the wisdom to strike the proper balance between attentiveness and overindulgence, and stay me from compensating for having my attention elsewhere by overindulging them in material goods.  I would have them learn that time spent doing and teaching small kindnesses is more valuable, and more precious to You, than all the toys in the world that will keep them in a corner and quiet.  You sent me Your blessings to train up in Your ways; please grant me the wisdom to remember that while I am on the phone getting information about a family member in the hospital, it serves us all better to let them sit near me and color a picture for the afflicted than to shoo them away or hide myself behind a door.