Friday, July 31, 2015

| Parent Tip | Traditions

Our entire family retreats when attention is brought to them on their birthdays, so much so that I cannot remember the last time we have hosted a birthday party with invited friends and neighbors. My husband once made the grave mistake of planning for me a surprise birthday party. I almost cried in embarrassment.

Gifts and cake, on the other hand, are a must. Forget to honor me with gifts and cake on my birthday and dangerous things happen, ask anyone. Someone once forgot to pick up my birthday cake from the bakery before it closed and I had to retreat to a corner of the room and be consoled by scooping frosting straight from the store bought tub while flipping through a glossy tabloid magazine. It was ugly.

For birthday celebrations, we line the dining room walls with balloons and a cheesy, dollar store birthday sign. Our table is covered in snacks and beverages most loved by the one celebrating, and the gifts are wrapped and spread among the munchies.

On the morning of the birthday, we play “Birthday” from the Beatles White Album while the evening is spent enjoying the birthday person’s favorite meal and dessert. Whether we eat sushi or sliced pizza, pancakes, or pecan pie, no one is allowed to complain about the food choice.

During financial fluctuation the contents on the table have decreased and meal choices have had to be priced under budget, but the tradition continued. On a few occasions, we have been out of town and have had to get creative, but the tradition continued.

While our children might say, “We don’t do anything for birthdays,” I know better. I know that we do. And while our kids may go off to college, a career out of state, or their own families, and have to celebrate their birthday outside our home, there is no doubt that they will remember what we have done, and the tradition that we have set in place.

Whether they are cultural, simple, passed on from family, or made up on your own, build traditions. Whether your tradition is Friday family night, mashed potato and movie Mondays, big birthday party blow out, every evening walk, or Christmas Eve soup and sandwiches, build traditions. And, if you happen to ask your child about their favorite family tradition and they reply, “We don’t have any,” ignore them and grab yourself a tub of frosting from the grocery store and a glossy tabloid magazine because, you know better.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

| Parent Tip | Purpose

Super smart dogs will bring the mail to you, wake you when it is time to get out of bed, or, those with colossal smarts can make a pot of coffee, vacuum the bedroom, or change a baby’s diaper. Our dog is not that smart. She does however; make a point to keep us protected from most airplanes that fly near our home and the many birds that think they have the right to our trees and rooftops.

I feel no threat but allow her to bark a threat since this purpose of hers is clearly determined. “Good girl” I say, “Get that airplane.” Although useless, she appreciates the fact that she has a purpose in life. I know, I can read her mind. While most dogs sleep, eat, and go for walks, Cali barks at planes. I’m pretty certain that if we failed to recognize her unmatched skill, her self-assurance and value would dip considerably. She may have resorted to prescription drugs by this time.

People need purpose; something to do that is of value. Children need purpose too. Instead of assuming my innate role of doing everything for every member of my family, at all times, I need to allow our kids to have purpose in our family. Zac helps with cooking. We depend on him and he enjoys his role, Maddi always makes sure that the kitchen is clean since she is often the last to leave, Carson loves to help with the dogs and has been know to bathe them without our asking, and Ty is our researcher and finds information on the internet that we need.

Find what your children enjoy doing in order to determine their purpose in the family. When they are younger they can help with getting the mail, wiping counters, or sucking up kitchen crumbs with the hand held vacuum. As they get older ask them what they like to do. They can help with food preparation, wash the inside of the cars with wet wipes, or water the indoor plants. They can stock toilet paper rolls in the bathrooms, organize your junk drawer, or brush the dog. Not everything needs to be chore related, but some enjoy tasks. If they are more relational, have them place the order at the drive through window, or have Face Time conversations with friends and relatives.

Cali may not be super smart, but she knows her purpose. Thanks to her, our yard only gets an occasional airplane flying overhead. Now, if we could get her to scare away the flies, our backyard would be perfect. Perhaps one of our children could take on that task.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

| Parent Tip | Warnings

The methodical beeping of the garbage truck backing up on the street outside my window pierces the quiet of my morning. “No one cares if you are backing up, garbage truck. It is 7:30 on a summer morning and most people are still asleep. Your chances of running someone over while you are backing up are slim unless your annoying warning is for the lizard near your tire!” I consider screaming this out my front door, but refrain.

Soon after, the shrill of an ambulance siren drowns out the beeping and my silent meditation is wrecked with more offensive warning signals. The sweet songs of waking wildlife and the rustle of tree leaves are masked with dogmatic warnings.

Warnings and alerts—although these are unpleasant and harsh, they serve a distinct purpose; I just prefer to hear them in the afternoon.

My vocal warnings serve a distinct purpose as well. However when I feel like shouting “Stop talking or you will all get out and walk!” to a car full of boys whose conversations ping pong between Minecraft strategies, singing songs out of key, and shouting “hello!” to harmless pedestrians, I consider a bull horn outfitted with a warning siren instead.

As parents, we have an innate desire to protect our children. We serve warnings, proceed with caution, layer on the armor, and guide and direct because of our unconditional love for them. Unfortunately our children still disregard our warnings and endure pain and heartache. God’s Word, the Bible is filled with warnings for believers. While some are offended by what seems like rules and regulations purposely placed to remove all fun from our lives, God intended these warnings as a form of protection because He loves us unconditionally. And just like children, we often ignore the warnings, and endure the heartache and pain, which ensues.

Keep cautioning, keep guarding, and love them when they fail. Heed the warnings, follow God’s Word, and choose obedience. And if you choose otherwise, consider yourself warned.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

| Parent Tip | Unique

While most girls in the 1st grade had their bedroom strewn with princesses, all things pink and soft, and closets bulging with tutus, and dresses that twirl, our girl was visiting nature stores. Her jeans pocket was home to a stuffed bat with long brown wings and tiny ears, and she had high hopes for purchasing another poster indicating the variety of bats found in our world. Her bookshelf was stacked with non-fiction books about Vampire bats, fruit bats, and all collections in between and if they were available, her comforter, sheets and pillowcase would have been donned in flying creatures. There is a good reason why bat sheets are not available. Bats. Flying, blood sucking, creepy, fly-in-your-hair-and-get-stuck, bats. My only girl. Bats.

While we secretly hoped that her bat fixation would pass, we always welcomed a new bat photo, key chain, or book into our home. We celebrated national bat week, recorded bat documentaries on television, purchased bat paraphernalia, and made bat cookies for her birthday. We embraced bats.

She also went through a stage of pulling her hair into a ponytail for 6 years straight and insisted on wearing boy’s basketball shorts and t-shirts as her primary wardrobe. At some point we were only allowed to call her Mrs. Jumbo, and during one summer I painted her face every day for two weeks with a rainbow and clouds. Her clothes rarely matched, she has never owned a doll, Barbie, or Hello Kitty pillow, and was more interested in painting dolphins than toes and fingernails.

Every child in unique, and God purposely created people with different interests and skills. Celebrate the individuality of your kids. Find the common thread no matter how different they are from you. Stages pass, interests shift, and maturity happens.

Sameness is dull and being just like everyone else is boring. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Hebrews 2:10 NLT

God has a great plan for your child as they develop their own, distinctive, personality. But be warned, you may have to learn how to discern between a Little Brown and Bumblebee Bat. My condolences.