If you’re having a little trouble with your menu planning, it’s obviously because you don’t have a 6-year-old who’s the boss of everything. Sorry about that.
Since I heard Sister Beck’s talk in May about intentional parenting, I felt really strongly that I needed to establish some routines in our home that would help me to achieve the goals I have for my children. Matt and I sat down and thought about what kinds of things we wanted our kids to know and do and be. And then I built them into a weekly schedule. (Just a loose schedule, to make sure that every goal-related thing happens at least once in a week.) Wednesday mornings are for service. I just really want my kids to grow up thinking about others and trying to show love. I taught high school, so I’m particularly annoyed by the arrogant, self-centered entitlement that seems to be the norm among many teenagers (and now adults). Anyway, on Wednesdays, after they finish their chore, we try to think of something nice we can do for someone else that day.
Today, we had to go to the grocery store for milk, so we decided to buy some flowers and take them to someone. I dropped off the flowers where the person worked and Grant and Natalie came with me. Clark stayed home with his great grandmother who is visiting from Utah. The receptionist took our flowers and card, and then offered my children a balloon. They both accepted it and then Grant said, “Can I have one more balloon please? I have another brother, but he stayed home with my grandma.” So with three balloons in hand, we walked back to the car.
Grant was happy, and he asked, “Mom, are you glad I got a balloon for Clark, too?”
I said, “Yes, that was very thoughtful of you. And kind.”
“And service?” he asked.
“Yep, Grant, you did service.”
And I felt like our little efforts meant something, and were making something happen inside my children. It’s just another testimony to me that when you feel prompted to do something, and you do it, the blessings come. In many, many cases the results are not visible for a long time. Motherhood, after all, is “creation in slow motion,” but it’s sure nice to get those little glimpses of success every once in a while.
So far I have counted three legal infractions today.
We went Wal-Mart (that in itself should be a misdemeanor). Clark wailed in the parking lot and said he did NOT want to go in. His heart was set on Sam’s Club and free sample handouts, but my membership expired, so we went to Wal-Mart instead. He wasn’t happy. He refused to get out of the van. I explained to him that if I left him in the van, someone would call the police, and they would come get him and take mommy to jail and he would have to live with another family. He thought about that for a minute with a scowl on his face. I’m not sure what his real preference is, but perhaps for the sake of not hurting my feelings, he hopped out of the van and surrendered to our shopping trip.
While I was checking out, he and Natalie somehow managed to get about 5 toy cell phones in their possession and run with them over to the blasted arcade section in front of the check-out area. I finally wrangled them back and returned all the merchandise to its appropriately unpurchased position.
When I got home, I unloaded the van. As I was putting the groceries in the kitchen, Natalie kept digging in her pocket. “I have lipstick,” she grinned. “What lipstick?” I was trying to think what she might have dug out of my backpack or van. She proudly showed me her treasure.
She smiled again, “At the store.”
“Natalie….(remember that grumpy sighing I told you about yesterday?)… that’s STEALING.” I went on to explain to her in terms that she understood that she was a robber. (She always asks me, “what if there’s a robber?,” and I say, “He’ll go to jail,” and she says, “I’ll punch him in the nose.”) I’m not sure whether she was more afraid of jail or a punch in the nose, but she got a little remorseful and said, “I’m sorry mommy.” I asked her what we should do and she said, “take it back to the store.” To be honest it feels like torture to return to Wal-mart again with my children, but it must be done.
All that criminal behavior for this little gem:
Grant is my smoochie kid. He is super cuddly and lovey-dovey. Not being much of the affectionate type myself, I’m often annoyed with his abundant loving. (I know, that’s not very nice of me, but I am.) So today, Clark and Grant were playing tag and I hear Clark say the classic line of obnoxious childhood, “You missed me. You missed me. Now you have to kiss me,” which of course Grant takes literally and chases Clark around the house for 30 minutes trying to smooch his face off. I reminded him of my tramautic childhood experience of being chased by a kissy boy around the playground in kindergarten. I also repeated my sage warning that boys who kiss people who don’t want to be kissed can go to jail.
So, I’m sure you’re all proud of me for raising a band of 3 pint-sized hoodlums. Maybe our family can just become a small gang of toddler thugs. Yesterday I cut off the bottom of sweatpants to make shorts for the boys and I used the discarded pieces as hats. How do Clark and I look?
(Final plea to go vote for my blog at MMB by tomorrow…. look on my sidebar for the link.)
You know how some kids pick their nose and eat their boogers? (I’m afraid Natalie might be one of those kids.) Not Grant! No way. Never in a million years would he do that because it’s disgusting. Instead, Grant likes to wipe his boogers on furniture, car windows, carpet… whatever’s handy.
I recently discovered that the side of his bed looks like this:
And if that isn’t bad enough, there have been other totally unacceptable infractions of the no-booger-wiping rule. The lastest was so dire that I did what any good mother would do and forced my child to make a public, internet-based confession.
Did you see all that heartfelt remorse? The sorrow? The wailing? Um, yeah. Well, Clark and Natalie were jealous about Grant’s debut on the big screen, so the climbing, whining and button-pushing resulted in this:
I know, I know, you are SO impressed. Feel free to send an Academy Award, or Xanax, whichever seems more appropriate.
This weekend we had a death in the family. Clark threw Grant’s beloved St. Bernard Webkin, affectionately called “Giblets” on top of the fireplace. His paws and half his face melted off. May he rest in peace in the office trash can. This was a tragedy beyond Grant’s capacity to endure. He cried and cried. He’d settle down for a little while and then the memory of his loss would bring another round of tears and sorrow. When he came into the office and saw Giblets languishing in his garbage grave, he flung himself upon my lap and sobbed. (That lovely lap is clothed in Frosty the Snowman pajamas. Don’t judge. It was snowing.) Finally we determined that Clark will do chores to earn money and buy Grant a new Webkin. Grant, who is anxious, and also aware that Clark’s not the most industrious kid in the world, volunteered to help out with the chores to expedite the savings.
In the van on the way home from preschool yesterday, the boys discussed their money-making plans and were trying to guess how long it would take them to earn the money and how many Webkinz they would be able to purchase with their jackpot. Clark declared, “Mom, I’m going to work and work and work all day.”
“That’ll be great, Clark.”
So I wrote up a handful of chores on the living room window with these fancy new Crayola Window markers I purchased as a late-conference distraction. While Natalie happily scribbled on the window (and surrounding window frame and wall), the boys wrote their names next to the chore they wanted to undertake first. Clark chose “clean off table.”
Well, it only took about 5 minutes before he changed his mind and declared that it was the most boring job in the world and he didn’t want to do it. He moaned and wailed and insisted that he should be able to choose another chore because he didn’t like that one. (This has been a pattern lately. I refer you back to the Angry Mom sign.) I said, “Sorry buddy, you need to finish that one before you can start another one.” He wanted me to do it. I told him that if I finished the job then I would earn the money. He whined some more about how he really wanted the money, and finally declared his true intent: “I want you to do the work and I get the money.”
Wasn’t it Elder Oaks who talked about entitlement? How we somehow think we deserve things, but aren’t willing to labor for them? I’m probably stretching his context, but I was not giving in. I taught high school and I know what entitlement looks like when it grows up.
After much wailing, and a broken record stuck on phrases beginning with the words, “But I don’t waaaaaaaant to…,” Clark decided it would be easier to do his chore. (Incidentally, I decided it would be easier to move to a desert island.) Then for a short while, they both worked quite peacefully and even Natalie got in on the action with some Lysol wipes.
In other news, before 7:30 this morning, sweet little Clark who is FOUR AND A HALF years old pooped in his nighttime diaper (nothing brings on more morning rage for me) and Natalie removed her diaper and peed on the living room floor. There may be another death in the family by the end of the day.