Reflections on an amusement park

lagoon

I spent 11 hours yesterday at the amusement park with my son Clark. He got some money for his birthday, plus saved up some of his allowance and decided he wanted to spend a day at Lagoon. Since he’s too young to go unsupervised, and we already established that it’s too expensive to take the whole family, he invited me to come and he paid my way.

Here are a few observations from a day of rides, walking, and people watching:

1. Unfortunately, I did not get the memo that all females over the age of 13 were supposed to wear tank tops and denim booty shorts.

2. I assumed that if I’ve always loved roller coasters ever since I was young, that would not change now that I’m getting older. I was wrong. I seriously think that a ride called The Spider gave me a mild concussion.

3. I’m not sure if there’s any kind of graduation or licensing program for tattoo artists, but there should be.

4. Young love is SO, SO awkward. Clark said, “There sure are a lot of people here on a date.” I’d venture that about 1.5% of them are destined for long-term happiness.

5. Why would a grown woman with substantial girth wear black stretch pants and a HelloKitty plush backpack? Why?

6. I couldn’t believe how many people were there with babies in strollers. It exhausted me just watching them chase and care for their young, little families. I know I tried to pull it off too, but now that I’m old and tired, I wonder why I forced myself to endure stuff like that.  My little kids would have been just as content to play a few board games at home with me, and I might actually have some money left in my savings account now.

7. Most people had way too little clothes on, but once in a while someone wandered past in jeans and a sweatshirt. It was about 93 degrees. I almost got heat stroke just watching them walk by.

8. No matter how vigilant I am about sunscreen, I never remember to consider where my hair parts on my scalp. I suspect I will have fake dandruff for a week or two.

9. Clark is a pretty fun kid.

10. Because I let him take the lead on what he wanted to do, and because he’s not a controlling order freak (like I’m learning that I am in some ways), we probably traversed the whole park a dozen times. I can’t even guess the miles we walked. I took an Aleve last night when I went to bed and only woke up with leg cramps once.

Despite my cynical comments and my utter exhaustion by the end of the day, it was great to spend a full day with my sweet 9-year-old son. It was also great to be completely unplugged from the rest of the world (I even forgot my phone) and just live in the moment. But I may not need to visit an amusement park again for a couple years.

Payoff.

Actually, I do have a post that’s not about my book.

And two posts in one day? Cue the apocalypse.

The last few weeks have been very, very busy, plus my husband has been out of town. In all this chaos, I have made a marvelous discovery. My children have actually learned some of the things I’ve taught them. I have spent years and years repeating the same things over and over to them.

“Do your chores and homework first.”

“Finish what you started.”

“Clean up after yourself.” or the common, “Don’t leave Clark tracks.” :)

Etc., etc. You’re no stranger to these things, so you know what I’m talking about.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve arrived, but it dawned on me that they are starting to get it. Finally! They are doing their chores and homework and actually earning their privileges, with less and less complaint. Grant is suddenly taking a lot more personal responsibility for his homework. Natalie will sometimes come and report to me that she finished doing a task that I don’t even remember asking her to do. This morning, Clark stuck his face in my room while I was still in bed and told me, “I’m starting on my chores early so I don’t have to do them after school.”  Seriously? There must have been an alien abduction. Or an angelic visitation. Something.

Anyway, I just wanted to offer hope. If you find yourself saying the same things over and over and over again and wonder if they will ever get it…. well, they just might. And won’t you be surprised?

Yesterday, Clark walked into the office while I was on the computer and I could immediately tell he was hiding something in his hand. “What do you have?,” I asked, “Hands up! Drop it.” He did, and it was a napkin, folded up. I opened it and this is what I found:

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(written in yellow highlighter: “I love you.” and a little heart)

“Oh. Thank you,” I said.

I think I like these kids.

Just keep swimming…

I pretty much overbooked myself the last couple days, and I survived, and it’s all good.  I’ve discovered I can handle high-stress days in small increments (like maybe 2-3 days max), but not over a sustained period of time.  It’s nice when it passes and you can sit back and breathe again.

It feels a little indulgent, but several of you have asked about the notes from the fireside I taught last night, so I’ll work on a blog post in the next few days (after I breathe).  I saw one young woman recording the whole thing on her iPhone, so I wish I would have just asked her for a copy of it, but oh well.  Despite the nerves and the self-induced pressure to just get it right, I felt like it went well.  I’m satisfied when I can walk away from a teaching opportunity and say, “Well, that’s the very best I could do.”  You just hope it’s enough.  For those of you who expressed curiosity, this is what I wore.  (I know it was silly of me to post about that, and I really knew the right answer — which you were all so kind to share–, but you have to admit you’d feel the same way if you were going to stand up in front of a group of people as some kind of “beauty” expert.  Ha!  Even typing that made me laugh.)  Anyway, voila:

I know, I know.  “[Insert name of real beauty expert* here.], eat your heart out.”

*I couldn’t think of one since I’m so in touch with the fashion world and all.

In the meantime, if any of you are dying to study some great reference material about beauty, modesty, self-image and virtue, here’s a link to a list of things I studied in preparation for the talk.  There’s a lot of great direction available to us.  It made me realize that our leaders have given us a lot of clear direction, so it’s surprising that there’s still so much confusion.  I guess Satan does a good job of scrambling signals.

In other news, after several failed attempts to communicate to Clark my complete dissatisfaction with finding his recently-washed clothing back in his dirty clothes basket instead of put away, I finally decided to take a more practical approach.  I informed him on Sunday that he is now in charge of the laundry for a while.  I’ve spent the last couple of days teaching him the system.  They’ve always sorted their dirty clothes and put away their clean clothes (in theory), but I decided to let him actually wash them all, switch loads, dry them all, fold them all, etc.  This photo I took tonight shows you how happy he is about the new arrangement:

Well, that’s about it.  I’ll finish up with one of my favorite quotes I found while preparing for the fireside (thank you to my friend Velda for making it look pretty for me):

 

I almost didn’t post this because I don’t want to be on Good Morning America.

Some of you may have (or have had) 6 year olds that you think are pretty cute and clever and all that.  With all due respect to your own wonderful children, my Clark is really something else.  He has this unabashed enthusiasm about things.  He feels stuff all the way.  His happy is bouncy-like, and his sadness is of the weeping and wailing variety.  Today the tears and tragic cries flowed freely when his post-baseball game brownie fell out of the package onto the ground below the bleachers.  Oh, the suffering.  He loves to laugh, giggle, scheme, and grin mischievously about things.  He also likes to sneak food, hide his clean laundry in the back of his closet instead of putting it away, and make way too many jokes about underwear and other bathroom-related topics, but that’s all fodder for another post.  Clark is a boy with heart.

So we made this video a little over a week ago because he kept singing this song over and over again around the house and it occured to me, You know, I really ought to record this for posterity’s sake because it really is kind of priceless.  So I convinced him to come over to the computer camera and sing his song for me.  Unfortunately, the stupid program kept cutting off the recording partway through, so he had to start over many, many times.  By the time we got to the final (and first complete) recording, he had somehow come up with a whole bunch of “actions” to go along with his singing (oh, the actions!).  And maybe it’s just me, his proud and totally amused mom, but I think this is a classic.  It’s definitely classic Clark, and maybe I’m delusional thinking that anyone else will find it as equally endearing and awkwardly hilarious as I do, but I decided to share it anyway.  But then I thought, What if it really is as great as I think it is and it goes viral and then I’ll have to go on those early morning talk shows?  I’m wearing my pajamas and yesterday’s mascara in this video.  I don’t even have anything to wear on TV, and I need a haircut, plus we’d be sitting there on national television and Clark would crack some joke about underwear or something and I’d be mortified.  So enjoy the video, but not too much.

Dear readers, this is my Clark:

Why I might let Clark teach FHE every week

Occasionally I get into a funk where I know exactly what I should be doing in my life, but I feel a little bit too lazy to do it. I try hard to have realistic expectations for myself, so I’m not referring to to-do lists. I’m talking about the basics: Reading my scriptures, praying, serving my family with the right kind of attitude and fulfilling my role as the kind of mother I know the Lord wants me to be. Some days I feel worn down– and just lazy, I guess– and I rationalize that I need a break. I only feel like doing stuff I want to do, not the stuff I should do (which is obviously self-defeating because I’m denying myself the very blessings I need to get back on track).

Clark is 6. Last night he taught our family home evening lesson about service.  He bore his testimony at the end of his lesson:

“So if you know you should do service, but you really don’t want to because you just don’t feel like doing service even if someone tells you to, you still have to do it. Because service equals love.”

And that’s when the Holy Ghost reminded me of a lesson I learned earlier this year: When I struggle, I need to pray to love what the Lord loves. When I see the love, I see the joy.

We discussed the service we do for each other in our family, and Clark said that “if Mom was gone from our family, that would be horrible.  I would starve to death.”  He told us all to draw a picture of service and then we showed them to each other.  This is what my husband drew:

He said (pointing to the right side), “This is mommy putting socks in the washing machine,” and (then pointing to the left) “This is Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.”  The kids all giggled at his artwork, but I understood what he meant, and I love him for it.

“Follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.” (3 Nephi 31:12)

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

So, Clark pretty much got it right, didn’t he?  Service equals love.