Saturday, September 19, 2015

| Parent Tip | Homework Rules

My arch nemesis is homework. Why on earth can’t elementary age children complete everything necessary while they are seated in a desk for most of their 6 + hours at school? I am considering the purchase a few cows and goats and a smattering of chickens and dogs so that our kids can use the 1920’s excuse that free labor for the family chores is a necessity for our survival and, therefore, all school work must be completed in six hours, at school. I could use some goats and cows. Our lawn is unruly.
Since my bovine purchases probably are not likely to come to fruition, I have devised a plan to get the most out of our easily distracted children.
Choose their favorite atmosphere. While I need complete silence and zero disruption while I am working, my husband desires a drone of noise projecting from his computer tuned to a talk radio program. Kids are similarly different. While one of ours goes to the desk in his room and prefers background music, the other likes to be near me, in the kitchen, amidst the bustle of clanging dinner making dishes, television news playing in the background, dogs barking at the UPS truck, and a glass of iced water within reach. Another prefers coffee store ambiance and black coffee.
Choose the worst first. The statement that always follows, “Do you have any homework?” is typically, “Do the hardest thing first.” Evidently most of our children were graced with my non-math gene. Doing math is like solving a puzzle. I hate puzzles, and our children don’t exactly have a love affair with math either. When kids begin homework with the hardest subject, and finish, they attack the subject when they are most alert and focused. For the easier subjects a cell phone alert disruption or a sudden urge to pet the dog has little negative impact.
Have the backpack locked and loaded. One of my biggest frustrations is going through all the work of completing homework only to leave everything at home. Putting all completed work, signed papers, and supplies in their backpack the night before, next to the door, assures me that all things school related will arrive safely. If needed, I will leave sticky note reminders on the stairs, bathroom mirror, and front door. “Lunch?” stuck to the doorknob is a simple reminder for our biggest boy and “water” written on a bright note goes on the front of their lunch bags. If that isn’t enough, I don’t pull out of the driveway until they convince that they have everything necessary; however, I don’t always drive to school.
Homework is here to stay. Thankfully there is black coffee, background music, a pad of sticky notes, and ice water. And when dinner is done and homework is completed, a stuffed backpack waits, near the door, stuck in repeat mode for the next 180 school days.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

| Strictly Temporary |

By the time I reached the end of my teen years, I had fragmented my front tooth. Having chipped it via a bullet’s graze or saving my sibling from a ravenous raccoon would have been a terrific story, however, I cannot remember how it was chipped. According my dentist, I either used my tooth as a tool (highly likely), or bit into a bagel incorrectly (again, highly likely), which are equally unimpressive.
Deciding to get the tooth fixed meant sitting in the dentist chair and going through the process required for a replacement veneer. In the throes of tooth sheering and shaping and Novocain ejections in places where soft food feels like an irritant, I would have terminated the entire process, but for the desire to escape being used as a cover model for People of Hillbilly Land magazine. The prepared tooth was small, slender and ugly.

After the grueling procedure of getting fitted for a veneer, I had to suffer through several temporary replacements until the ceramic tooth hue, shape, and fit was perfected.

Right from the beginning I knew that Mr. Temporary Tooth and I would scuffle. He was disobedient, unkempt, and foul. I grew to hate him as each new day began and nearly every day he tried to run from me but I shoved him back in place with a vengeance, bitter and frustrated with his inconsistency and ill-fit. I may have complained to the point of seriously frustrating my husband, but it is not legally documented.

Temporary things are not faultless, neither are they meant to fit well and last long. They fall apart, have flaws, fall off, look big, look small, feel uncomfortable, hurt, annoy us, cause complaining, and disappoint. Temporary things break, need attention, aren’t a responsible solution, fail, and frustrate. Their main job is to work for a very short period of time. They cannot to be trusted to work correctly.

Hebrews 13:14 says, “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Our earthly lives are temporary. As believers in Christ we should not feel comfortable living in the world knowing that we have a Heavenly Father who is preparing a permanent home for us in heaven. Feeling uncomfortable and disappointed with an ill –fitting world is normal. The essence of temporary living is turmoil. Although we make the best of what the world offers, God’s design is for us to feel uncomfortable here on earth and to yearn for our encounter with Him and living with him forever, right by His side.

After a month my permanent veneer arrived. Mr. Temporary and I have parted ways. I love my tooth and it loves me. I have given up eating bagels and using my teeth instead of scissors, and, if I take care of the rest of my teeth, I can abstain from another affair with Mr. Temporary. He was awful.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

| Parent Tip | Debilitating Diseases

Until recently I was imperiled with Fomo disease. As genes would have it, our youngest has also contracted the disease as well as our not-so-friendly dog Kramer (non-genetic of course).

If you have never read up on this non-life threatening aliment, let me fill you in on the most obvious symptoms. Fomo is an acronym for “fear of missing out.” Knowing that there were conversations around me for which I couldn’t engage and situations within a 3-mile radius to which I was not privy, was debilitating. I could break out in hives just thinking about it.

Thankfully after many conversations with God and some counsel from my wise husband, I was able to overcome the disease. I can now let conversations around me continue without my interrupting and asking a packing list of questions, and sleep in spite of Face Book, Twitter, and Instagram entries clicking around the world wide web waiting to burst from my computer. Growing out of that stage in my life has been great.

We all go through stages of maturity, although some faster than others. As parents we have the ability to make ourselves sick by worrying about the things that could go wrong in the tiny little lives of our children. Will they have friends? Will they learn to do math? Do they fit in with the other kids? Will others appreciate their talent for flipping their eyelids inside out? What if they hate sports? What if no one plays with them? What if the other kids think their lunch is gross? When will they be motivated, passionate about something, sold out for Jesus, compassionate, kind to their siblings, less argumentative?

The answer is simple, only God knows, but, maturity happens, people change, God works miracles, changes hearts, softens behaviors, directs, guides, speaks wisdom, encourages, protects, nudges, and a whole host of other great things. Pray for them, counsel, lead by example, trust God, surrender, and relax. Part of being a great parent means helping our kids to react correctly, let go of fears, mature, conform, adjust, overcome failure, and celebrate successes.

Unfortunately I have recently discovered another disease that I have.  It’s called BNS, which is an acronym for “biting nail syndrome.” I’m sure there is a cure out there somewhere, but for now I will seek council from my husband, who never bites his nails.