Aug 4, 2009

Parental Failure

8/04/2009 — cori
It always seems to work out that the week Chuck is out of town, is the same week everything goes wrong at home. I'm not at the peak of my game when Chuck is gone. Today is a good example.

We were actually having a very fun day together. Then on the way home from a movie, Bennett and Chloe get into a little fight in the back seat causing me to silence them and send them immediately to their rooms once we get home. I told them I would call them down once I had dinner ready.

About 30 minutes transpires and I call Chloe and Bennett down for dinner. Chloe comes, but Bennett does not. I figured he was just pouting or fuming in his room to get back at me for what he felt was an unfair punishment (this wouldn't be the first time). So, I send Chloe back up to retrieve her brother. However, she comes back down saying that she looked everywhere and couldn't find him.

First anger set in, How dare he try to get back at me like this...ignoring me and hiding. I thought he was just having a pity party and I was going to have none of that. So I run up stairs and start calling out for him with my excitable voice, shall we say. Still, no Bennett. Then panic sets in. What has he done? How could he be this mad at me? Did he try to run away? Now I'm looking under beds, in closets, everywhere. He is nowhere to be found. I'm hollering at the top of my lungs. How could this silly little tiff end up so blown out of proportion?

I even run back out to the garage to see if he's still sitting in the car. Not there either. I'm not the one with the most reason between my husband and me. He's not here. Bennett's not here and I'm panicking. I'm on my way to find my phone to call the police. I can't believe this. Before I pick it up, I stand at the base of the staircase and give one last holler...and I mean loud!!

Suddenly, Bennett appears at the top of the stairs, "Ya, Mom?"

"Uh, hello!! Did you not hear me yelling for you for the past 10 minutes?"


"You've got to be kidding. Why are you lying to me, Bennett?"

"I'm not. I was on my bed (the top bunk - the one place I didn't look) thinking."

"Good excuse. But I know you're lying. Get back in your room and when you're ready to tell the truth you can come out."

There. I put an end to that! I call Chuck, relay all the details and ask, "What the heck am I supposed to do?!" He talks to Bennett and gets the exact same likely story. Except for now, Bennett's mad cuz I'm mad. Chuck explains this to me and says, "Good luck."

Gavin, Chloe and I sit down to a silent dinner. Nobody wants to say a word cuz nobody knows how mommy will react. Man I hate it when it gets to that point! As I sit there, calming down, avoiding eye contact with the kids, lost in my thoughts, Gavin says, "Mom, did you ask Bennett what happened?"

"Um, I'm not sure if you just witnessed that little charade a moment ago...but yes, I know exactly what happened. Bennett was mad and decided to lay low until the last possible second."

"But Mom, what if he really didn't hear you like he said?"

"Well then...why don't you go talk to him and get his side of the story."

I can't believe Gavin is now being the mediator. I also can't believe his sudden and most uncommon outburst of empathy. This doesn't usually happen.

He's upstairs talking to Bennett for a good 10 minutes. My emotions have finally calmed down enough for my heart to hear that 'still small voice', the one my yelling kind of drowned out earlier. I started thinking about the latest parenting book we read, "Loving Our Kids On Purpose". There was nothing in that book about this situation. If there was, we were missing a few chapters. Then I started feeling a bit convicted. Anger never changed anybody, even if it was justly deserved. How would I want someone to treat me if I felt unjustly blamed? What if Bennett really was telling the truth?

By this point Gavin came out of Bennett's room and said, "I believe him, Mom." Great. Now what? I've already overblown this whole thing...over-reacted, over-yelled, and over-assumed. Maybe it was time I took Gavin's advice and talked to Bennett and listened to his side of the story. So I did.

In my calm voice I asked him if we could talk. He was still sitting on his top bunk, crying. And then I asked him what happened. He said, "Mom, I really didn't hear you. Last thing I remember I was just laying here thinking."

"What were you thinking about, Honey?"

"I was thinking about 2 deers running in the forest."

At this point, I was attacked by a huge laughing spell. I didn't want to laugh, but I couldn't hold it in. I instantly knew he was telling me the truth. He didn't understand why I was laughing, so I told him, "Honey, people don't sit on their beds thinking about 2 deers running in a forest...that's something they might dream about though. Honey, you were asleep and didn't know it." At this, a look of huge relief crossed his tear stained face.

I explained how I became so nervous and was yelling out of fear that I might have lost him. I told him my world would come crashing down if I ever lost him. At this he started crying and we hugged and made up. I apologized for accusing him of lying. He apologized for the earlier incident in the car.

Poor kid...bad timing in taking an unexpected nap caused a huge meltdown in mommy and yet another hard lesson learned - for me. How 'bout I try listening first.

Reminds me of a Bible verse that I failed to remember until it was too late, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger." Thank God His mercies are new every morning and my children's love is unconditional - oh how I wish it didn't take failure to see that so clearly now....

Just Another Day in Paradise

8/04/2009 — cori
These crazy kids!!! There is no activity or space that is safe from their imagination. A pool is not just a pool and a place to swim. To these people, it is a vast world with innumerable options of activities to do. They are not just jumping into the pool - they are in another world, far, far away from here (reality), only I get the pleasure of listening to their narrative form of play since they're talking at the top of their lungs to each other, uninterrupted by all the other onlookers.

Today at the pool, the boys were using those long, skinny pool floaties and walking around the perimeter of the pool singing something about how they were fishing. Of course, this fishing involved hitting the water with the tube in order to make the most obnoxious sound and splash possible. They are singing songs about fishing, talking about fishing and what types of fish they might encounter. Each are talking at the same time, pretending that the other is just as interested in what they're saying. Neither of these silly people have ever held a real fishing pole or fished in real life. However, we did just read a book about a boy who went fishing in a river yesterday....maybe that's where this is all coming from. Hmmmm.

Then, they take it up a notch. Bennett decides that he is now fishing for the government. Oooooooo...nice segway into a new narrative play topic. The options are ripe with possibilities now. Gavin decides that he likes the sound of fishing for the government, so he joins forces with Bennett. Chloe, who was previously sitting outside of the pool with me, doesn't want to be left out of government work and runs over to the boys exclaiming, "Hey boys!! Hey boys!! I am the government!!" at the top of her lungs. If there is a way she can be in charge and lord it over the boys, she will take every and any opportunity. Upon entering the water, she asks Bennett, "How do you be the government anyways?" Oh, those deep life questions that come up, even at the pool. Doesn't she know that the people working in the government now are still asking that question?

She decides she knows what to do. She rips their goggles off their heads and hides them behind her back and yells at them that they didn't see her do that. Then, she suddenly changes personalities and out comes soft talking, nice voice, "Boys, I am now going to give you something for doing such a good job on your fishing. Here you go." And she presents them with the goggles that were already theirs to begin with. I think she knows more about this government work than she's letting on.

The boys are thrilled to have their goggles back and to be given such high praise that it seems the perfect time to segway into yet another fish type category of work....a cook in a fish restaurant. Now I get to hear them describe all the ingredients they are using to create fish masterpieces. Gavin is using the most eclectic combination of spices he's either seen me use or seen in our cupboard. Yet, his idea of going over the top with his ingredients is adding a whole bowl of sugar instead of just 1 cup. Bennett, of course, is adding such lovely delicacies as raccoon feet, stop signs, and shards of glass. Chloe realizes that she (the government) can no longer control such unruly, creative subjects and decides to join in the cooking fun.

Just another day at the pool. Tomorrow will be totally different (thank God!).

Mental note: No more watching the Food Network with the kids.

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