My four-year-old hates me, and other parenting tidbits.

She does.  She just told me in a very elevated voice.  She also told me that I’m the worst mom she’s ever had (she has a point) and that she’s not talking to me for the rest of the day (thankyouverymuch).  So that’s that.

About 2 weeks ago I was kind of dreading the end of summer because I think I’ll miss the lazy schedule.  However, in an unexpected case of divine intervention, God turned my children in to little demons this week to restore my hope in and love for the back-to-school season.  He always watches out for me like that. No, really, he does.

Speaking of back to school, this year I will have 3 children in three different schools, none of which will have a bus.  Shoot me now.  Either that, or send me a personal assistant.  Natalie’s just in preschool, but it’s still another pick-up and drop-off to juggle.  Jocelyn wrote a great post asking her readers for advice on sending her oldest to kindergarten.  I thought to myself, Hey, I should do that.  I have smart readers.  And I need back-to-school advice.

So help me out.  Besides from the obvious step of trying to work out some kind of life-saving carpool schedule, what other advice do you have for me as I enter the new world of juggling 3 children, 3 schools, 3 schedules, 3 calendars, 3 sets of homework, 3 lunches, etc. (not to mention extracurriculars which I still have not registered for out of deep fear)?  Even just typing that all out made me feel like I need chocolate.

Oh, and as long as I’m throwing out my troubles for you to fix, does anyone have any suggestions (other than the obvious ones like solitary confinement and waterboarding*) for sass and backtalking?  I swear we’ve had at least a dozen family home evening lessons on this topic, but from where I’m standing (refer back to paragraph #1), I don’t see much progress.  Besides not getting the kind of respect I deserve/demand, it worries me that the quick contrary responses I’ve been getting might trickle over into other relationships with teachers or other adults.  The idea of raising children that are not the epitome of proper respect makes me feel quite unsettled.

So come on you geniuses, make it all better.  🙂

p.s.  If you are ever looking for a fun show for your elementary-aged boys (probably girls, too), mine have been LOVING watching this on Netflix.  I have to admit it’s laugh-out-loud funny.  One disclaimer: in episode #8, the sheep got a glimpse of the farmer’s claymation rear end and were scarred for life.  Even though I probably would not have let them watch that episode if I knew what was coming, boy did my boys laugh hard, and they lay awake in their beds last night laughing about it long after bedtime.

(*For the newer subscribers who are not yet familiar with my blog voice, I am kidding.  I would not under any circumstances use waterboarding, unless it were a matter of family security or I didn’t get enough sleep the night before.  Happy to clarify.)

Negotiating with a terrorist, and other parenting dilemmas.

See this little angel?

She is going to be the death of me.   She was my easiest baby by far.  (Except for nursing.  I’m hoping someday I can forgive her for the multiple cases of mastitis, plus the lack of weight loss that I had so joyfully experienced while nursing my boys.)  She is bright and sassy and social and fun, and has a vocabulary far beyond her four years.  And yet, most days I want to put her on Craig’s List by 10 a.m.   Although “undiagnosed,” I’m pretty sure she has some sensory issues.  Her clothes always “feel funny.”  Her socks and especially her shoes always “bother” her.  Meltdowns ensue.  They involve crying, wailing, shrieking, flopping around on the floor, throwing shoes, and on lucky days like yesterday, a little bit of kicking and pinching.   Not to mention screaming out completely irrational things like, ” I … HATE … MY … NOSE!”  Seriously.  ?!??!

Last summer, I complained about this a little bit and DeNae suggested that I get rid of all her clothes and just buy her some loose summer dresses.  It actually worked pretty well, at least for the summer, and we’ve managed to garner a collection of a few clothing items that she considers to be comfortable and suitable.  This works until they’re all dirty, and then she spends her morning screaming down the stairs at me that “all the clothes in my closet bother me!”.  The shoes and socks situation, however, seems unsolvable.  The meltdown usually “ends” when I just drag her kicking and screaming to the car barefoot with her shoes and socks in tow, ready to begin the battle again at the place of arrival.  At that point, usually the threat of her not being able to go inside (or the threat of being left in the car … a slightly empty threat, I admit) finally convince her to put them on.  This process is a painful 10-minute exercise in on-and-off, on-and-off, open and close the straps, do it again  . . . . whimper, whimper . . . you get the idea.

Shopping for shoes is a nightmare.  Shoes, sandals, flip flops alike are all met with complete disdain and a quick eject button. (I think I’m going to try crocs this summer, but I’m not hopeful.)  Sometimes I just buy the pair that seems the most comfortable to the touch, and then we battle it out for a few months.  The solution is elusive to me.  She has been up to 90 minutes late to preschool before because of it.  I have tried to set up award systems (“If you can be all the way ready and on time to school, then we will go get the stuff to make that necklace you saw in a magazine”),  punishment (“Fine. No gymnastics today because you can’t get ready to go.”), and embarrassment (“Okay, instead of preschool today,  you have to come with me to Clark’s school and sit in the corner of the room barefoot while I do my volunteer work.”).  I have followed through with all of those by the way, except the necklace which she did not earn.  Nothing so far seems to make a difference or even move her toward more success.  By the way, she likes preschool and gymnastics, so I don’t think this is some kind of avoidance feat.

So, wise blog readers, give me your ideas, solutions, sympathy.  I’ll take any of it.

And in addition to all that, I would love to hear your ideas on a related matter:  the balance between “loving instruction” and just forcing them to do what they’re supposed to do.  I give my kids choices all the time: “Do this and get this, or do that and get that.”  I think that’s not forcing them, but helping them understand the relationship between choices and consequences.  However, sometimes I just resort to “You can’t do anything else until this gets done.  Do it!,” and obviously, in Natalie’s case, I sometimes end up literally dragging her to where she needs to be and shoving her shoes on her feet myself.  I’m starting to have concerns about how to fix this now so that I don’t have to deal with the embarrassing mess it would be when my children are big strong teenagers and I’m trying to drag them somewhere or lock them in their rooms until they’re clean … know what I mean?  Real question:  How do you not resort to “forcing” them to do things, and get to the point where they choose it on their own?  I think I mostly get it, but I feel like something’s missing.

My apologies to those of you who come to this blog thinking I’m some kind of parenting expert.  Let’s face it.  I’ve still got a lot to learn.

GCBC Week 17: An Example of the Believers

Well. The next talk on our schedule is one by Sister Mary Cook of the General Young Women’s presidency.

Be an Example of the Believers
Sister Mary N. Cook
First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency

I thought it would be fun to add one more into the mix this week, too, just to get another perspective on this same topic.  Elder Nelson gave the following talk during the general Priesthood session:

Be Thou an Example of the Believers
Elder Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

What are your favorite moments or quotes from these talks?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What stood out to you as you studied it?  And, most importantly, what did they make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

(If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it.)

In which I am not a child psychologist, but I still think I’m right about this.

I’m still going to kind of ignore my blog this month, but I’ve been learning something(s) important, and writing it down helps me to learn it all the way.  And it helps me to remember it.

1.  Children need you to listen to them in a not-freaking-out kind of way.  If this is true with small children, it must be triple true with teenagers.  Grant had his first incident with bullying this week.  I could tell something was wrong,  and I had to ask a few questions before the whole truth came out, and it still took a couple of days before the story was ready to be told.  I also learned that when the “lioness at the gate” finds out one of her cubs is getting knocked around, she doesn’t feel very docile at all.  But since lionesses wandering the halls of elementary schools swiping at naughty children with her claws and growling at unobservant teachers is kind of frowned upon, I had to take a more civil approach.  I will also rely more heavily on child-specific prayers than before.

2. Children today are much more savvy about the world –both the good and the evil– than we give them credit for, but they don’t really know what it all means.  They know stuff is out there; they see it and hear about it, but it’s hard to make sense of it all.  I think this is partially because we live in a mass-media generation and a whole spectrum of news, music, pop culture and images are hurled upon them before they can possibly know how to navigate it all.  (That just reminded me of an awesome Elder Holland quote.  I’ll dig it up at the end of the post.)  This is why point #1 is important.  They need the help of someone older and wiser to help them make sense of all the mixed messages they get from the world.  You’re the best candidate for that if you’re a listener and they know it.  I’ve also learned this week that sometimes they won’t know it unless you just tell them that you’re a listener and then prove it.

3.  This is a weird topic to bring up, and believe you me, I did not expect to have hour-long discussions with my children about it while they are this young, but anyway . . .  Did you know that all the messages out there (both in popular culture and in the teasing words that children say on the playgrounds) can confuse young children about issues like gender-identity and sexual orientation?  Remember how when we were little, it was really normal for children to go through a “cooties” stage– where girls think boys are yucky, and boys think girls are gross?  I’ve realized this week, that in the context of current social culture, it is very easy for children to become confused about what that means.  If a little boy doesn’t like girls and just likes to hang out with boys (which is TOTALLY normal at certain levels of development) he could be teased about being “gay.”   Since children are much more aware of issues like homosexuality and same-gender attraction than we were in generations past, (again I emphasize that awareness does NOT equal understanding), they may not know how to reconcile those issues with their own feelings.  Lest you jump to weird conclusions, all this stemmed from Grant being called a slur at school, not really understanding it, and not knowing if that word was a true label for him or not.  Talking about it openly and honestly helped him to get a much clearer picture of himself and his own feelings.  My point is:  Holy buckets, it’s a hard world to be a child in!  Can you even imagine all the crap (sorry, I couldn’t think of a better word) they have to try to sort through and figure out?  And at such a young age?  To not be misunderstood, this is not a battle cry for homeschooling or any kind of parenting movement other than BEING AWARE and LISTENING and ASKING QUESTIONS, and for goodness sake, PRAYING a LOT!

4.  I realize that points 1, 2 and 3 all kind of ended up being the same thing.  Whatever.

5.  Thank God for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  When I can draw upon the scriptures and the family proclamation and the teachings of living prophets to help my children navigate this crazy world they live in, I feel adequately armed.  (I am still scared, but I’m so glad I can call on divine help.) I can give them a context and framework for all they see and hear and feel.  I can share my testimony and express confidence in them.  I can say, “You can come and talk to me and your dad about anything and we will listen and we (you and us together with God’s help) will find the answers.”  I can stand in the shower and plead with Heavenly Father to help me understand their little hearts and help me to say the right things.  And He hears me and helps me.  I just realized that He’s the one who teaches me how to listen.

“In such times as we are in, whether the threats be global or local or in individual lives, I too pray for the children. Some days it seems that a sea of temptation and transgression inundates them, simply washes over them before they can successfully withstand it, before they should have to face it. And often at least some of the forces at work seem beyond our personal control.

“Well, some of them may be beyond our control, but I testify with faith in the living God that they are not beyond His. He lives, and priesthood power is at work on both sides of the veil. We are not alone, and we do not tremble as if abandoned. In doing our part, we can live the gospel and defend its principles. We can declare to others the sure Way, the saving Truth, the joyful Life. We can personally repent in any way we need to repent, and when we have done all, we can pray. In all these ways we can bless one another and especially those who need our protection the most—the children. As parents we can hold life together the way it is always held together—with love and faith, passed on to the next generation, one child at a time.”  — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

GCBC Week 5: Gospel Learning and Teaching

“Gospel Learning and Teaching

David M. McConkie

First Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency


Today in church, I leaned over to Matt and said, “I miss teaching.  I’m a much better learner as a teacher than I am as a learner.”  I found it interesting to approach this talk simply in my role as a mother, since I don’t currently have the opportunity to teach a class.  I liked his example about directing questions to the handbook, and doing the same in turning our children to the scriptures.  I’d like to do more of that, and it’s obviously easier to do the more familiar I am with the scriptures myself.

The other point that stood out to me the most, because it’s a point I’ve been reminded of in many ways lately because I must need the reminder, was the challenge to ask the Lord’s help to know and meet the needs of my children.

“The promises of the Lord are certain. If you earnestly search the scriptures and treasure up in your minds the words of life, if you keep the commandments with all of your heart and pray for each student, you will enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost and you will receive revelation.”

What stands out to you as you study this talk?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What did the talk make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it, and then join us.

GCBC Week 3: Stay on the Path

“Stay on the Path”
Sister Rosemary M. Wixom
Primary General President
Saturday Morning Session

Sister Wixom’s talk is a great reminder about the sacred responsibility that parents have to anchor themselves and their children on the path of righteousness.  She uses several different phrases that highlight both the urgency and the purpose of spiritual parental guidance.

“If they understand the Plan, and who they are, they will not fear. … We begin to make the plan known to our children when we hold tight to the iron rod ourselves.”

“The world will teach our children if we do not.”

“When we are intentional about holding them and teaching them of Heavenly Father’s plan through prayer and scriptures, they will come to know where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going.”

I was struck by how important it is to be purposeful in our parenting, to take the seemingly meaningless experiences of the day and let them point children toward a better understanding of gospel truths and their own important role in God’s plan.  Her message reminded me of several previous talks about intentional parenting that have inspired me as well.  Perhaps you may want to read some of these this week to enhance your study of Sister Wixom’s talk:

A Prayer for the Children by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

More Diligent and Concerned at Home by Elder David A. Bednar

Watching with All Perseverance by Elder David A. Bednar

Nourishing and Protecting the Family by Sister Julie B. Beck (link to download and print talk)

How about you? What are your favorite moments or quotes from Sister Wixom’s talk?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What stood out to you as you studied it?  And, most importantly, what did it make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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(If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it.)