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Monday, May 21, 2012

Idle Hands or Give Me Five

May 20, 2012

This has been a tough week for our little boy (and his sisters for that matter) – not to mention Mom and Dad. There seem to be periods in our son’s life where he just can’t seem to control himself. His behavior covers the gambit from the mere annoying to the border-line dangerous. And the attitude ranges from mildly sassy to down-right disobedient. This week it was the worst in both behavior and attitude. We can normally handle it with a period of separation and a talk about acceptable behavior and/or attitude. Not this week. No sooner was had he rejoined the family then he was at it again. Separation was not working. Talking to him was not working. And giving him a dose of his own medicine was not working either. (By the way, I do not recommend this approach at all. Somehow it always comes back to bite you in the butt so to speak.)

We have been reading a lot about how boys were created to work hard, play hard….well let’s face it – do anything and everything hard. They wrestle, talk loudly, run, stomp, hit, climb trees (even ones that are only five feet tall), kick, conquer bad guys (even if the bad guy is his sister), vanquish monsters, and well you get the idea. Boys are a never tiring ball of energy and that energy needs to go somewhere. If we lived on a farm I would have sent him to the barn to muck stalls. If we lived anywhere else I would have sent him outside to run it off. But we don’t. We live in-town. Our yard is a nice 10x10 square patch of nothingness. We have a small pallet garden and I would send him out to work it but we didn’t plant anything this year and he usually pulls the good stuff up anyway.

That is when I remembered something I read in one of our raising boys how to books. I think it was Hal and Melanie Young’s Raising Real Men but don’t quote me, we have been reading so many. They had their sons do calisthenics when the mere act of being a boy was more than they could handle. So I thought ‘Why not?’ I pulled my son off his sister (who was screaming her head off) again and told him to give me five. We have a flight of 12 stairs and I wanted him to go up and down five times.

By the third ascension he was slowing down. By the fifth he was walking. When he rejoined his sisters he played with them well and everyone was having fun. It worked. For 15 minutes. Oh well, back to the stairs. I’d like to say it only took two times to calm the savage beast but when Dad got home from work we were still at it. I’d like to say we only had to do it that day, but I can’t. For the rest of the week we were sending our boy to the stairs. By Friday he must have climbed enough steps to get him to the top of the Empire State Building. Okay, maybe just a really tall office building, but definitely more stairs than I can climb.

The moral of my story is a simple one. Boys are not girls! Sounds obvious but how often do we forget this one simple truth. They were created by God to be boys who will grow up to be men who will conquer the world. My job as Mom is not to make them like me but to make them like Christ. I must embrace all that is boy (even if I have to grit my teeth to do it) and let him be a boy. I must find avenues for him to exercise that boyness. And I must protect his sisters from becoming casualties. 

Pray for me!

By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. - Ecclesiastes 10:18

I'DLENESS, n. Abstinence from labor or employment; the state of a person who is unemployed in labor, or unoccupied in business; the state of doing nothing. Idleness is the parent of vice.
Through the idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. Eccles.10.
1. Aversion to labor; reluctance to be employed, or to exertion either of body or mind; laziness; sloth; sluggishness. This is properly laziness; but idleness is often the effect of laziness, and sometimes this word may be used for it.
2. Unimportance; trivialness.
Apes of idleness.
3. Inefficacy; uselessness. [Little used.]
4. Barrenness; worthlessness. [Little used.]
5. Emptiness; foolishness; infatuation; as idleness of brain. [Little used.]

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Choose Your Words Carefully

May 9, 2012

“No, hold on” was a phrase repeated many times this morning. A simple phrase, easily understood right? Not really. Those three little words had two meanings this morning and which one you chose to listen to depended on which end of the dental floss you happened to be holding.

Dental floss holds a strange attraction for our children. If they can get their hands on it you can rest assured 25 feet of minty, waxed thread will be laying all over the house. Today they were using it as rope to lead each other around. The problem? My son wanted his eldest sister to wait until he had all the floss out of the container before she grabbed a hold. She wanted to take the available end right then and there. So ‘hold on’ for him meant wait a minute; ‘hold on’ for her meant hold on.

That simple miscommunication led to a mini-conflict. I say mini-conflict because my son soon realized the mistake he had made and quickly corrected it. “No, not hold on like that, hold on like wait a minute.” His sister then understood what he wanted her to do and released the floss until he finished unraveling it. They each grabbed an end and were off to the races so to speak.

This is not the first time a poor choice of words has led to frustration, fighting and hurt feelings. I am often plagued with open mouth – insert foot. I’m a straight shooter, I know what I mean (and it is certainly not to hurt someone’s feelings) but my words confuse my intent. I used to think ‘Well that’s just who I am, take it or leave it’. Shockingly, people choose to leave it more often than not. I have damaged more than one budding friendship, and have caused others to stay at arm’s length, by my poor choice in phraseology.

My husband however, is a man of very little words and you know exactly what he means when he speaks. You see, he chooses his words very carefully; often thinking about what he wants to say for days before addressing a matter. This too has its problems.

“A praying mantis won’t eat other praying mantises because they are the same size,” is not the same thing as “A praying mantis won’t each other praying mantises if they are the same size.” Yet another example that caused a complete breakdown in productivity this week. One word caused an otherwise good moment to be filled with frustration (as my son tried over and over to  get me to understand what he meant), fighting (as mom continually tried to “correct” his wrong assertion) and hurt feelings (as my son increasingly felt like I just wasn’t listening to him). It took almost five minutes to clear up the confusion and make things right.

James tells us that a man who cannot control his tongue makes his religion worthless. We are warned that the tongue is a fire that destroys and that no man can tame it. Again, we are told to be quick to listen and slow to speak. There are many more admonishes in scripture about our speech and they are worthy of consideration as we try to teach our children to choose their words carefully.

Foundational to this is to instruct our children in what God has to say about our speech obviously. But, we also need to teach our children proper meaning of words, sentence structure and grammar. It really does matter.

1. The faculty of uttering articulate sounds or words, as in human beings; the faculty of expressing thoughts by words or articulate sounds. Speech was given to man by his Creator for the noblest purposes.
2. Language; words as expressing ideas. The acts of God to human ears cannot without process of speech be told.
3. A particular language, as distinct form others. Ps. 19.
4. That which is spoken; words uttered in connection and expressing thoughts. You smile at my speech.
5. Talk; mention; common saying. The duke did of me demand, what was the speech among the londoners concerning the French journey.
6. Formal discourse in public; oration; harangue. The member has made his first speech in the legislature.
7. Any declaration of thoughts. I, with leave of speech implor'd, repli'd.
SPEECH, v.i. To make a speech; to harangue. [Little used.]

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” – Proverbs 21:23

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Daddy Likes Polka-Dots

April 22, 2012

“Which dress would you like to wear to church today?” I asked as I held up two choices. One was pink with flowers and the other was white with pastel polka-dots. I thought for sure she would choose the pink dress since it is her favorite color and her sister was already dressed in a pink dress. She contemplated her choices for what seemed like five minutes. Finally, she pointed to the polka-dot dress.

“Are you sure?” I asked. I found it very useful to confirm her choice since in the past there has been miscommunication and last minute changing of the mind. Her answer to my simple question was surprising.

“Daddy likes polka-dots.”

Now this response was unsettling for me. The feminist in me wanted to lecture her about being a strong, independent woman who didn’t care about what a man thought of her. I wanted to tell her to dress to please herself and no one else. Thankfully God restrained me. I simply said “Yes he does.”

Later, I had to examine my reaction in light of what we have been trying to teach our children. So what are we trying to teach them?

1.   God created one woman for one man.
2.   Woman was created to be a suitable helper for man.
3.   Your body belongs to your spouse and should not be shared with anyone else in any way.

So how did dressing to please her father fit into these basic principles? The answer can be found in Genesis 3:16; “…and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

My little girl desired to please the man in her life. She was cursed to do this. But this curse is not a bad thing. Without it we as women cannot fulfill our created purpose to be a suitable helpmeet.

I was about to begin the long and not so subtle teaching journey of telling my daughter that the opinion of their father (and one day their husband) does not matter. That she should do what pleases her. What a horrible road for a mother to set her daughter on, and I was prepared to do so. Thank my Father in Heaven He stopped my mouth before I could set even one of her little toes on that path.

MEET, a. [L. convenio.] Fit; suitable; proper; qualified; convenient; adapted, as to a use or purpose.
HELP, v.t. A regular verb; the old past tense and participle holp and holpen being obsolete.
1. To aid; to assist; to lend strength or means towards effecting a purpose; as, to help a man in his work; to help another in raising a building; to help one to pay his debts; to help the memory or the understanding.
2. To assist; to succor; to lend means of deliverance; as, to help one in distress; to help one out of prison.
3. To relieve; to cure, or to mitigate pain or disease.
4. To remedy; to change for the better.
5. To prevent; to hinder.
6. To forbear; to avoid.
HELP, v.i. To lend aid; to contribute strength or means.
HELP, n. Aid; assistance; strength or means furnished towards promoting an object, or deliverance from difficulty or distress.