Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bedtime Woes

Bedtime should be a peaceful time.  A time of winding down and relaxation.  A time of looking forward to the rejuvenation of sleep in preparation of another full day or in the case of afternoon naps, evening.

But around here, that has not been the case.

Gabriel, our 2 year old, refuses to stay in his bed.  I will put him down for his nap, he is tired and has eaten lunch, gone potty, drank water and I have rocked him for a few minutes, but then he pops right back out of bed.  So, I have to stop what I am doing, go back upstairs and rock him so more.  This usually goes on until I just give in and rock him to sleep and then put him sleeping in his bed.  Nighttime is even worse.  Someone has to stay in the room with him until he goes to sleep or he will never stay in his bed, which can take over an hour!  

He is in a toddler bed now because he was consistently climbing out of his crib, so we figured what's the point of keeping him in it since he can get out of it as easily as a bed and there is more likelihood that he will fall.

But this is getting ridiculous.  Let's say I have Jesse sleeping, then it takes me an hour or 45 minutes to get Gabriel to sleep.  By the time I am done with Gabriel, Jesse has awoken and Jo's quiet time is over.  Or, even worse, Jesse is crying and needs my attention and I have to still worry about and deal with Gabriel. 

It is getting out of control. 

I have tried rewards, threats, cajoling...nothing works. 

So now, since I have realized that I am feeding into his issue by giving in and rocking him to sleep, I have turned to punishment. 

I do believe in spanking.  I do not like doing it, but I do believe that there comes a time when it just must be done.  And, unfortunately, the time has come.  I can no longer allow my 2 year old son to run the house at bedtime and steal time away from his siblings and my husband and I who desperately need our time at the end of the day. 

So this afternoon, the pattern was followed.  I fun morning at the park, picnic lunch with daddy and 3 tired kids.  So, we get home, wash up and I put Gabe in bed, Jo in her room for quiet time and am feeding Jesse so he can sleep, too.  But, of course, Gabriel gets back up. 

I told him he needed to get back in bed.  I counted off the 1,2,3, which he is familiar with, but he still didn't listen, so he got a swat on the bottom.  It's horrible.  I hate it.  It hurts!  I am purposefully hurting me child!  But this is in the name of helping him get control on himself, be able to manage himself better and not have such a hard time getting to sleep. 

I think that it is one of the hardest things to spank your child.  You make them hurt, they feel it, and they know it's from you.  They cry and all you want is to pick them up and rock them and hold them, but in this case, that's the wost thing I could do.  If I have come this far, I can't send mixed messages!  I must be firm in this. 

It took a few times of him getting out of bed and getting swatted for him to finally get the point and to lie down to sleep, but listening to him cry and call to me totally broke my heart.

But I love my son, and I want the very best for him, and for right now, the best is to not continue to spare the rod and spoil the child. 

But I can assure you that the moment he wakes up, there will be plenty of hugs, love and praise for finally staying in his bed and sleeping. 

And then, night will come.  I hope we don't have to start all over, but I'm not counting on it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Why do I always feel like I have to defend the choices that our family has made in what we believe is the best interest of our children?  Why do I really care what other people think?  Any why do I think of the best comebacks hours or days later?

The other day I was talking to someone and they brought up the decision that we have made to homeschool Elizabeth.  The comment that was made was that this person didn't think that Elizabeth was really doing much studying.

My response?  Yes, she is.  She's doing great and is working on this and this and this and is on track in these areas and blah blah blah...and I'm not worried about it.  She's doing fine and up to date with her class in school.

The response to that?  Well, I'm worried about it.

Now that my feathers have smoothed, and I have thought a little more about it, this is what I wish that I had said:

With all due respect, if you are worried about her education, you can feel free to volunteer to contribute to her learning at any time.  I have expressed my interest in your contributions to her education more than once, and the invitation remains open.  I understand your concern for her, and I appreciate your thoughts.  However, your doubting her learning merely because she is not in a school setting indicates that you feel that she was learning more important things at a quicker pace than she is at home.  Based on what I know from multiple visits to her previous school and chats with her teachers, the principal and peers, and comparing that with the activities that she is participating in and the studies she is involved in now, I do not believe that this supposition is true. But your opinion is important to me.  Thank you for sharing.

Or, the conversation could go like this:

Other person:  I don't think that Elizabeth is doing much studying.

Me:  Hm.  You don't?  Well, that's interesting.  I do, but then I'm the one who sees her everyday, so I guess I have more first-hand information.

Either way, I just have to remember that the choices that we make for our family are just that:  choices that WE prayerfully made for OUR family. 

And that's the bottom line.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rites of Passage

There are many rites of passage in childhood, especially in the early years:  first smile, first tooth, first step...the list goes on.  But for me, one of the most poignant rites is the rite of the first haircut.

For me, the thing that makes the first haircut different from other rites is that it is one that is initiated by you, not the child.  First smiles, steps, words...they are all in due time with the development of the child, but with a first haircut, it is you, the parent, who decides when it is done, unless, of course, your child gets ahold of the scissors...but that's for another time.

Part of the allure of a baby is its wispy soft hair; little ringlets that frame the face or curl around the ears, hair that your child was born with, and little boys who can have long hair because they are just that...little.

And when you cut that hair, it seems that these babies who were just snuggled in their cribs the night before, are no longer 'babies', no, not even toddlers, but kids.  Never again will their hair be so wispy, and never again will they have that long hair little boy look.

 For any of you who know Gabriel, you are well acquainted with his luscious locks of beautiful, dark blonde hair:

But I was given an ultimatum:  either I cut his hair by the end of May, or Jimmy will cut his hair.

Now, I do not profess myself to be a professional stylist in anyway.  I do brush my hair, usually, and put it in a ponytail.  I can braid, and even do a french braid, and I am the one who keeps Jimmy's hair in line, but that is where my expertise ends.

How do I go from this:
to a little boy hair cut?  But I was much more confident in my abilities than in Jimmy's!  So I knew that I had no choice.

I have been putting it off all month so far.  There's no time, I said.  He's too tired, I claimed.  It's still chilly, I argued.

Today, though, I had no more excuses, no more reasons.  The weather in warming up, so Gabriel is getting hot in his long hair, and he woke up happy from his nap.  I was cornered.  Fresh out of reasons to not do it, I reluctantly gathered my hair cutting tools and we headed out to the backyard.

I was nervous at first.  I mean, I have never gone from long to short like this before, especially on a little guy who is much more interested in playing and looking at things than holding his head still!

After I made the first few cuts, though, I really got into a rhythm, and started enjoying myself and the emerging product.  My grandmother used to cut hair, and my dad always cut our hair, so using the minimal knowledge that I got from watching them, I snipped and trimmed, and this is what we got:

And I made it through with no tears...for either one of us!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Matched Set

Now that Jimmy has hit the big 3-0, one would think that he may be old enough now.  No one's asked yet since his birthday, so we'll see.

But this is what we always get:

A stranger sees Jesse:
Oh, what a cute baby!  Is he your first?

No, he's our fourth. 

Really?  You look too young to have 4 kids!

I mean, I guess it's a compliment, but how do you respond to that?  Say thanks?  Thanks for what?  For saying that I look like someone who had kids while still in highschool?  Is that a good thing? 

Or we get:

Oh, how nice!  Two boys, two girls!  A matching set! 

Ummm....they're not sweaters....


Wow!  You started young!

Really?  Did you really just say that?

So my question is:
Who's business is it how many children a couple has and when they decide to have them?  I mean, really.  Especially strangers!  When Gabriel was born, after two girls, we heard so many times: 

Great!  Now you've got your boy!  Now you can be done!

As if getting the token boy is what we were after all this time. 

Or, someone would tell Jimmy:
Well, I bet NOW you're happy!  You've got your boy!

Yeah, you got us there!  Those girls just weren't quite doing it for us.  Sure are glad we got us a boy!

After Gabriel was born, I was even asked by someone when I was going to 'take myself in and get fixed'. 

I was a little bit at a loss for words after that one. 

I know that large families are not the norm in the US anymore, especially here in the metropolitan area where we live.  In fact, sometimes I feel like some people try to make us feel guilty about having 'so many' kids, and everyone is always shocked when I say that we very well may have another kid to add to the pile.

Anyway, since apparently it's deemed socially acceptable for people to get into others people's business all in the name of 'curiosity' or 'giving good advice', I think that I'm going to head down to the local Krispy Kreme and sit there and ask people,

Wow!  You're really going to eat that donut?  Yeah, it looks like you've been eating donuts for a while now.  You must have started young.  When are you going to take yourself to the gym and get that little 'issue' you have there fixed?

Oh, but I'd better not.

That'd be rude.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Jo found a baby bird a few days ago in the back yard.  It was a tiny tiny bird, a nestling, with almost no feathers.  Jimmy and Elizabeth looked for the nest to put it back in, but they couldn't find it, so they carefully tucked him into a little box with a warm rag and put him near a heat lamp. 

And then they waited for me to get home to deal with it.

It was Sunday, and I had been out all afternoon, so by the time I got home, the animal shelter was closed and I had no idea what to do with this baby bird.  All I knew was that I had to do something, and do something fast. 

I actually felt ill looking at it. 

Whenever it heard someone come by, it thrust its little head out of its little blanket and the beak opened up wide.  It was fascinating to see.  You could almost see all the way down to the little guy's stomach!  He was honestly the cutest little thing!

This should have been a great learning experience for the kids.

I should have showed them how he looked and what he did.

We should have had a lesson on birds, babies, spring, eggs, feathers, nests...SOMETHING!

But I couldn't.

His neediness was too close to home.  He needed his mom.  She was the only one who could provide for him what he so desperately wanted and needed.

I was so afraid that he would die.

His frailness scared me.

He looked like a little Jesse.  Jesse needs me.  He is totally dependent on me.  I am the only one who can take care of his most basic needs.  (Yes, there is formula to be had if necessary, but the satisfaction of his true needs lies solely with me.)   Jesse cries for me and opens his little mouth and then is satisfied with snuggles, love, and milk. 

I was terrified that this little bird would die.  So, I called the emergency animal hospital, and I was infinitely relieved that they would take him.  I could not get the little thing in my car fast enough, and I could not get down the road soon enough. 

Elizabeth wanted to talk to them at the hospital.  She wanted to know what they eat, if she could come back and visit.  I just wanted to drop him, wash my hands of the responsibility of him and get home.

We were told that we could not come back and visit, thank goodness, and were told that he will eat a special food that is made for baby birds. 

Then we were out the door, scooting home, and wrapping Jesse up in my arms. 

And then I thought: Is that the way that God feels about us when He lends s our children?  How much more careful, then, must we be knowing that we are caring for a most sacred gift!