Bedtime prayers can be a fun time or a nervous time for our family–depending on our family’s behavior that day. I think the kids think its some sort of time of reckoning where we have to confess how horrible we’ve all been that day then feel awful and try to get to sleep. Well, part of that is right.
Tonight, obedience and kindness were optional in the minds of the children which resulted in stressful bedtime prep. On these kinds of nights, if I’m leading the prayers I really try not to make the prayer a sermon. “Dear God, forgive us for the awful way we treated each other. We know you want us to love each other and obey our parents…” And then I think how much I suck because I disobey God just like they disobey me. Drat. So its one massive confession for everyone. However on these bad days, I also like to throw in a bit about getting to start over tomorrow and thank God that every morning we start fresh. From the book of Lamentations, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lam 3:22-23. I can almost feel a little relief and attitude adjustment come over the kids(and me too). Their hearts seem lighter on the way to bed than when they came to prayer time, and we get a chance to slow down and restore some broken relationships.
A principle I want to sear into their hearts is that they are not to carry their shame. Sin done. Sin confessed. Sin forgiven. Move on. This is one of the things I get right as a mom. Lots of mess ups elsewhere but I never want them to wallow in their sin. Feel it? Yes. Mourn over it? Yes. But to wallow when Jesus suffered so much for our freedom is just insulting. It only took me about 39 years to get that figured out. I’d like them to use their time more wisely than I did.
I just tied the last super hero cape to the last and smallest super hero of the family and sent said super hero (Captain Light and Fast Girl) to join Batman and Nice Girl in the backyard. I think I’m still in Summer mode because while they have done their homework, we have not yet eaten dinner and its approaching shower time. Nice Girl is currently spying an approaching army of Triceratops through her binoculars and devising a plan. Here’s how we do super heroes around here.
JD asks Maddie to play super heroes. Sure, she says. JD puts on a simple Batman outfit complete with cape and gadget belt. Maddie must change into something monochromatic, tie on a blanket as a cape and attempt to get on her bike. My supermom powers immediately sense danger as I envision a cape entangling the spokes of the bike. I must echo Edna from The Incredibles, “NO CAPES”. So she ditches the bike idea. Maddie collects her superhero gear in her prettiest gift bag and heads out the door. Annaliese, now done with homework and window washing(that’s a whole other post), decides to find a cape. I steer her away from her crocheted “baby” blankets to another and out the door she goes with a, “JD! Maddie! Da Dada DAAAAA! I’m a superhero!” Once a master plan is concocted, the girls skip around the yard singing The Backyardigans theme song, “We’ve got the whole wide world in our yard to explore…” Poor JD. I think he just wanted to capture a bad guy and put him in jail. Waiting for Maddie to write a script for, “Super Heroes, The Musical” when she grows up. Shoot, I just need someone to follow these guys around and record a transcript of childhood. You just can’t make this stuff up.
Time for dinner. I wonder what superheroes like to eat after a hard day of saving the world. Maybe grilled cheese? I suppose whatever Supermom can cook faster than a speeding bullet.
Note: just before posting, our heroes came inside to wash up for dinner; I was advised that tomorrow will bring Part 2 of the Superheroes.
I’m sure I’m nowhere near alone in the “I’m-so-sick-of-my-kids-bickering-with-each-other” parental lament. We’ve talked and prayed with them about showing respect for one another, loving each other like Jesus loves us, showing kindness, letting things go. But, as my 5 11/12 daughter would say, “Nada. Zip. Zilch.” No progress. We have 3 children 9, 7 1/2, 5 11/12 and at any given time an argument will begin over who gets to go first, how we should play our game, who cheated at Rock/Paper/Scissors to determine who gets to go first and most recently, who pressed “A” on the Wii controller before passing it to the next player. Oops. Forgot the favorite: he’s/she’s looking at me!
Had a thought run through my head listening to our pastor talking about families this weekend. We are in a series “People Of The Second Chance“. Giving radical grace. It hit me that my kids give little grace within our family–including to mom and dad. When there is an offense and subsequent apology, they are usually fast to forgive and move on. But in day to day treatment, they use a contemptuous tone of voice with harsh words and are quick to point out faults. I know how to deal with that towards mom and dad. Its a big “oh no you didn’t.” But how can we teach them how to treat each other when all else seems to be failing?
I want them to be siblings of the second chance–giving radical grace to their brother and sister(s). But how to instruct? First thought is a family meeting. Usually when we have one of those sit downs, its because a HUGE shift needs to be made in our home. Perhaps that will get their attention. I want them to hear:
- That everyone makes mistakes.
- Not everyone knows how to play every game or can discern the system you have developed.
- Think the best of your brother or sister.
- You may not testify to a crime you have not personally witnessed.
- Show courtesy.
- Know what is your business and what is mom and dad’s to correct and instruct. Accept that, no, you really aren’t the boss of your siblings.
God gave us to each other as a family. We are a team. This home is to be a safe place. We have each others’ backs. As Michael Corleone would say, “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family. Ever.” Does anyone have a way to communicate these things at home so children will understand? I don’t think a lecture will necessarily cut it but it may have to begin that way.
Well at least OUR children’s minds. They had a lot to say today. Here are a few excerpts:
I asked the kids what was I going to do all day when Annaliese entered 1st grade? Answers: “You could do whatever you want” “You could do something for yourself” “You could do whatever you want and not have to yell at any kids”
Dinner discussion: Maddie thought a solar powered car would be cool so we’d never need gas stations. JD wondered how it would run on rainy days. We challenged them to solve that problem. I believe a robot was involved in one scenario. We were trying to see if they’d get to the idea of a battery so we kept prompting, “well, how do your toys work?” They thought the idea of a battery in a car was the coolest thing ever. Even more if the battery was filled with solar energy(mom & dad’s idea). JD’s eyes about popped out of his head. “That would be awesome!”
I love when their minds get going. During that time, they also devised plans for squirrel traps to keep squirrels away from a bird feeder. Again, a robot was mentioned and several remote control contraptions combined with Nerf guns and a tree branch. The girls wanted the squirrel to fall off the feeder. But not on the hard ground. Annaliese suggested placing a pillow underneath the feeder. Other ideas included a sign “no squirrels allowed” until Maddie asked if squirrels could read. Hearing that they can’t, she thought maybe a picture of a squirrel’s face with a circle and line drawn through would do the trick. Genius. JD even sketched out a few trap designs in his new Spiderman notepad with the 3-D cover and the mechanical pencil that has this cool cap that goes over the eraser.
Ninety minutes before bed: Maddie began developing a color scheme for the bird feeder she and Daddy just built as she applied primer to it. JD swept the kitchen floor and Annaliese helped him dust the living room and whatever she felt like touching–all while singing and dancing to a few “Kidz Bop” CDs in her Snow White dress. JD gave the girls yo-yo lessons(quite peacefully actually), they planned who would play which instrument and who would conduct at their next concert which I think is Sunday, got pjs on, brushed their teeth and said prayers. Not a peep out of them since they hit the pillow.
Now that all three kids are in school, I have a couple private hours in the morning during Annaliese’s 1/2 day Kindergarten. I just started to take walks around the neighborhood where our kids go to school. I’m already out and dressed, I haven’t started any projects yet, and the homes are cool lookin’. I’m enjoying the 25-30 minutes of quiet in my head. However, it gets me thinkin’. Depending on who you are, that’s either a good or a bad thing! 🙂
Today, I had to pass through a group of maybe 10 middle school aged kids. They were grouped in little pockets here and there. Not a smile on their faces. Some looked intimidated. Some looked intimidating. Some looked absolutely bored. So I walked through, smiled and said, “Good morning.” One kid muttered hi. Then I got to thinking. Here are my random thoughts. Enjoy!
What would it take to turn a bus stop situation into a genuine community building environment? Its already a built in small group. They see each other everyday. Couldn’t be a formal outreach church affiliated thing. Shouldn’t be a planned activity. What brings kids(or people) together? Hmm. Something they can make fun of. Something they can talk about. Something that lets their guard down. My dog. If you’ve read anything about my giant dog, you know he is DEFINITELY a conversation starter, the big lummox. Or, what if I did something dumb like tripped and fell or just tripped and looked stupid? That would give them something to laugh over and talk about. Not that that’s a good thing to make fun of someone but come on, its a conversation starter.
Maybe not even something that overt. Brainstorm. Wouldn’t it be cool to have the kids come together as a team than just have them try to survive the bus ride? How do we create an environment for that? I recalled Jeff Shinabarger’s post on the bench project. What simple creative ideas are out there?
JD has developed a passion for battles between good guys and bad guys. This includes light sabers, blasters, nerf guns and hand guns made out of legos. The other night he came out of his room (night 2 in his very own room) and told me he was scared of the noise he just heard. It happened to be a neighbor’s car doors and the car starting. He asked me if people were going to come into our house and start shooting everybody. I told him no. We live in a safe neighborhood, our family isn’t involved in anything that would make someone break in and shoot everyone. Above all, God was watching over us. What I didn’t share with my 6 year old son at 10 pm was that every now and then you can hear gun shots from the neighborhood literally across the tracks behind our neighborhood. That crazy people could need drug money and decide to break in and that sometimes God doesn’t stop bad things from happening.
We spent the next 30 minutes talking about guns, what to do if he sees one at a friend’s house or just laying around somewhere, how not to point even a toy gun at anyone. I also told him that someday we would take him to learn how to handle a real gun safely.
He asked how we know who has guns, are they good guys or bad guys? Do good guys shoot people? Do they shoot bad people? We talked a little about self defense. He asked if policemen shoot a lot of bad guys. I said they do everything they can not to have to use their guns. He decided that good guys can shoot bad guys if they are trying to protect themselves because evil never wins. I swear he said that. Evil never wins.
He mentioned soldiers briefly but we didn’t discuss war at all. And we talked about hunting and target shooting. When he ran out of questions, I took him back to bed. He then told me he was a little scared from all the talking about guns. Can’t win. I prayed over him and let him go to sleep.
It took me by surprise all these questions. I hope I gave him good enough answers and information. I did have to take away a lego built gun because he was pretending to shoot up the grocery store. I told him it might scare the other shoppers. In his world it is a pretend game to save the universe from whatever monsters lurk behind the frozen food section. He has no knowledge that lunatics in the last 10-15 years have been shooting up public places.
How much to tell a 6 year old?
Overhearing Maddie in the next room orchestrating an entire scenario of make believe. She is giving the kids (and the dog) their lines and stage direction.
Actually, it’s completely self serving. Annaliese would not let Maddie read a new book of hers. Annaliese hadn’t had the chance to look through it. Maddie was deeply OFFENDED that Annaliese wouldn’t let Maddie read the book to her. Oh the drama. “I feel like you don’t even care for me anymore Annaliese! It’s not fair!” To which Annaliese calmly replies, “No, Maddie. I just want to look at the pages without reading.” Regardless of the assurance this is not a personal affront, Maddie is still not convinced. I am quite proud of them talking it through.
Maddie devises a plan to play library in which Annaliese is the poor little girl who can’t read the book she just picked out so she must look around and call on the pretty librarian (played by Maddie) to read the book to her. Not kidding. Its genius. Seven year old diabolical. Should I be proud? Should we channel this creativity for good and not evil?
JD’s role forever remains the scary little spy boy who chases them around with his spy gear. He SO needs boys to hang with. Rather, his sisters need him to have boys. He’s just fine sneaking around and scaring them yelling, “fire in the hole!”. The girls are now giggling as the attack turns to “fire on Champ’s butt!” And now Annaliese has joined the fight screaming and shooting right back at JD. Due to the attack on the library, Maddie still has not had a chance to read the book to Annaliese but is still shouting directions to the cast (including the dog).
All this during dinner mac & cheese prep. How lucky can a girl get?