Sunday, May 21, 2017

training wheels and grit

Derek is learning to ride his bike without training wheels. He can push off, go straight, turn, and even stop on his own. Most of the time. He's still learning. He's still figuring out how to consistently put together all the steps and stay balanced. 

The frustration of falling instead of turning, of putting his feet on the pedals and tipping instead of moving forward, of not being perfect every time is hard to deal with. 

It's hard for him and it's hard for me.

I'm trying to be patient, to be the calming influence that will help him keep going.

I want to teach him grit.

A few years ago I read something about grit being one of the strongest determining factors for success later in life. I don't think I have a lot of grit myself, but I want Derek to be better than me - so I'm trying. How do you tell a little guy, sobbing in the middle of the road and begging for his training wheels because he's just fallen for the fourth or fifth time, that it's worth it? 

I remember, as a kid myself, crying under the teacher's desk at school (my mom was the teacher so it might not be as weird as it sounds) because I wasn't perfect. Now I see the same behavior in Derek. I don't want him to give up and cry. I want him to try again. How do you teach that? Is it enough to try to pick him up and say let's go, and to just keep going yourself? Can I teach by encouragement and example? Or is there something more I should do?

Monday, May 15, 2017

I hate Mother's Day sometimes

I'm bored lately.

Bored. Bored. Bored.

Mother's Day was painful ... a day that celebrates a stilted ideal of soft voices and loving arms and blah, blah, blah ... and all I could do was count the flowers I wouldn't get. 

I remember passing out Mother's Day flowers in sacrament meeting in Ticaboo. My dad assigned me to hand one to Sister Ina Hanks. I was so nervous. She was gray and old and she was married to the math teacher! I was afraid of her. I was afraid I might have to hug her. I was afraid I would somehow screw up. But when it came time to hand her the flower, it just felt sweet and normal and I kissed her cheek without thinking about it. 

I remember at later sacrament meetings, when I was a teenager, happily laughing with embarrassment and absurdity when I was invited to take a flower too -- because all women are potential mothers, right? 

I don't know if they handed out flowers in sacrament meeting yesterday. Derek didn't want to sing with the primary children in the Mother's Day program and I didn't want to create a scene ... so we didn't sit in the chapel, but I didn't see people streaming out with flowers. In sharing time, though, some of the primary kids were randomly chosen to hand flowers to some of the moms (female teachers) and Derek grew progressively more and more desperate as the meeting slowly dragged by. He begged them to call him, over and over again he raised his hand and struggled to stay in his seat, bouncing up and down for the chance to choose a flower. I watched as he intensely tried to make eye contact with every kid that got a flower and quietly tried to direct them my way ... but we were both left disappointed. 

I put too much stock in flowers yesterday. I didn't want to leave my five-year-old feeling left out and alone too, but I didn't hide my feelings very well. I normally don't care. If I want flowers, I'll buy them myself--but  Mother's Day flowers have always been a thing at church. Even when I wasn't a mom, they were a thing - and I am a mom now. I knew Bobby wouldn't buy me any, which means Derek wouldn't give me any. but I thought I'd still get something ... and I didn't and I left church feeling grumpy and out of sorts.

Is that normal church-leaving feeling or am I alone in that?


One of our neighbors asked Derek if he gave me flowers. Why? I know he was just making friendly conversation, but he knows I'm not married--I'm as single as single can be, and it's not like five-year-olds can buy flowers on their own ... so why ask a question like that? Why? Poor Derek looked deflated, like he'd just been called out, he muttered something about being a bad son and I just smiled and babbled about the beautiful card he drew. 

I felt dumb and alone. I think we both did.

Derek tried to draw me a picture of flowers when we got home and I finally just ordered pizza and turned on Word Girl and we both curled up on the couch. For once, I actually wanted the weekend to hurry by a little faster. How crazy is that?


Sunday, January 29, 2017

refugees and politics

This is a beautiful video from the Mormon Channel and it's a great reminder of how absolutely important it is for us to help one another - but, for me, it's also a source of great frustration. I watch this, I listen to Elder Kearon's words from a conference talk just last year, and I marvel that so many Mormons voted for Trump. This is the Church I grew up in. This video shares the sort of expectations I've had for the Church and its members for most of my life. The Church is supposed to help people. As members, as Christians, we're supposed to reach out to those in need - to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and heal the sick.  

And, yet ... most Mormons I know voted for Trump.

Trump's actions this week are completely in line with his campaign promises.

Trump's actions go against Church teachings.

And, yet ... most Mormons I know voted for Trump.

Why? The Mormons and other Christians I know said it was "for the babies" ... because Trump claimed to be pro-life and chose Mike Pence, a famously pro-life Republican governor, as his running mate ... they believed Trump would stop abortions and save the babies.

But let's consider this - abortion rates, according to the CDC have been decreasing for years. A quick google search will tell you that abortion rates per 1000 live births in the United States was 430.2 in 1980, but that number had dropped to 200 by 2013 (the most recent year listed on the CDC website) and had been steadily declining for ten years. In other words, if we want to stop abortions, we were on the right track already. Abortion rates are already dropping. Why, then, is abortion more important than the very real, immediate, and growing plight of refugees and immigrants around the world? Why is abortion a reason to vote for a candidate who wants to repeal healthcare laws and create a Muslim registry and cut off entry to the United States for refugees?

I don't understand it. I don't even know how to talk to people about it anymore so I've come back here instead, to this lost and forgotten blog, to vent a little of my frustration into the ether.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Saturday night in Mesa

I took this picture last night at the neighborhood "spring fling" at a nearby park. You can see the smoke from a five-alarm fire in Gilbert in the background. 

While we were at the party, there was a shootout in the parking lot in front of our house. Thank goodness we stayed late at the park! When we got home, there were police everywhere. We parked several houses down and had to be escorted past two lines of police tape to get to our house. What a crazy weird fun and scary night all in one. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

brownies and boo-boos

I found a box of brownie mix in the cupboard yesterday afternoon. I held it up and asked Derek if he wanted to make brownies with me. I was in the mood for snacking. Apparently, he wasn't. He studied the picture on the box, crinkled up his nose and said no. So I put it aside ... not away, just aside, still within view ... and, later, when Derek was in the bath, I set the oven to preheat and pulled out a mixing bowl.

He was sitting on the couch in pajamas when the smell reached his nose. 

"What is that?" he asked. 

"What is what?" I asked, feigning ignorance.

"That amazing smell," he said pulling me toward him. "Here, put your head right here. Do you smell it now?"

I told him about the brownies and he rushed over to peer into the open but still-hot oven, to stare at the brownies cooling on the rack.

I warned him not to touch anything.

"I know," he answered and clasped his hands behind his back -- and that's when his pajama-clad hip bumped against the oven door. 

It wasn't a bad burn. It wasn't really a burn at all, just a brush with something hot through two layers of clothes, but it was enough to send my four-year-old running for an ice pack. Is it normal for four-year-olds to go through ice-pack phases? Because I feel like Derek is in the middle of a serious ice-pack-loving phase. Forget bandaids. They're so passé. Any bump, bruise or scrape now calls for the immediate application of ice. 

Last night, he chose a hard Blue Ice cooler from the freezer. He grabbed it and ran into the living room to show me his "burn." As soon as he stopped to pull down his waistband to show me his burn, he dropped the heavy, hard plastic ice pack on his toe.

He screamed.

The burn and the brownies were forgotten. He couldn't believe I wasn't dropping everything to take him to the hospital immediately. He sat on the couch, wrapped in blankets with his bare foot propped on a cushion and pressed against the ice pack, predicting that he wouldn't be able to go to school the next day and arguing that it was definitely broken ... very swollen (what is swollen, anyway?) ... we need to buy an x-ray machine ... and why aren't doctors open when kids are going to hurt themselves at night? I sat next to him, trying to distract him with brownies (no luck!) until my poor boy begged to be carried to bed.

And then I dove into the brownies by myself.

And they were delicious...and Derek was okay, of course!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I'm sitting in the foyer at church. It's quiet except for the excited shouts of babies and a general sound of shuffling while white-shirted young men pass the sacrament. I remember when those boys were my age or just a little older. I remember looking at them and thinking they were cute and hoping that one or another would get my row. I remember getting older and thinking they were babies, surprised at how young they looked. And now, with Derek as my mind's measurement, they look so big again.

Derek is with Bobby at the state fair today--which is why I'm in the foyer. 

Most of the time, I think, I almost convince myself that I'm only coming to church for Derek...but I listen to the scriptures when I'm alone in my car. Do I do that for him? And here I am without him today. I'm just not quite brave enough to walk into the chapel alone. 

Why am I so afraid to admit, even just to myself, that I might be coming back to church for myself too?

Share your faith, not your doubts. 

I heard that once and it seemed to make sense--but I'm not sure if that leaves me with anything to share. Do I have faith? Do I have a testimony? I know I have hope. I hope the gospel is true. I hope I'm not chasing a work of fiction. I hope I'll see my dad again someday. I hope someone is listening to my prayers. But maybe that's not quite right--I hope someone is listening, it's true, but I do absolutely believe in prayer. So I guess I have two things. Prayer and hope. I just hope that's enough for now. 

I've accepted a calling as a primary teacher. What will I do on the Sundays when Derek is not with me? Will I be able to face the three-year-olds without my own little boy?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

how not why

When you have a child, you're probably prepared to hear "why" a lot. Everyone warns you; it's the stuff of jokes and cartoons--a little kid asking why and following up with "why" again and again until the parent is ready to scream. 

But Derek doesn't ask why, he asks how.

When we told him we were going to Disneyland, he wanted to know how we would get there, which car we would take and who would drive. Bobby told him we were taking daddy's car, but mommy would drive. Derek followed up by asking where Bobby was planning to sit. He wanted to know which road we were going to take to get to Disneyland--a funny question for a kid who doesn't know what a map is, but I tried to answer and describe the long-long drive down I-10 anyway. By the time we finally left, Derek already knew the seating arrangement in the car and he knew that we were going to drive past Charlie's house and past Mommy and Daddy's work and then we would keep driving and driving for longer than he could imagine....

Knowing how doesn't make everything okay all the time, but it makes him feel a little secure. It didn't stop him from asking if we were there yet or from whining halfway through Riverside county that we were driving too much and he just wanted to go home--but when I reminded him that I had already told him we were going to drive too much, that we were going to drive and drive until he couldn't stand it, he said, "oh, yeah" and stopped complaining for a few minutes. And when I told him that he if closed his eyes and slept for a little bit it might feel like we got there faster, he decided to try it.

He's a planner.

I have to go into work for a few hours this morning. Last night, just before he fell asleep, Derek asked how he would get to Daddy's house in the morning. I told him I would drive him. He smiled and said "good." Usually he wants to know more about the route, but that was enough last night.

It's his favorite question.

"How," for him, isn't about "how does it work" so much as a "have you thought of everything?" When Bobby donated Derek's old stroller to Goodwill yesterday, Derek got very upset and demanded to know what his dad was planning to do when Derek got tired. Bobby tried to assure him that I still have my jogging stroller, but he said Derek remained suspicious. I wasn't there, but I think their little conversation/argument ended with Derek reminding Bobby that he gets tired sometimes and Bobby doesn't like to carry him. How was he going to handle that?

It's funny to me. These are things I never worried about as a kid, things I should probably try to think about a little more often as an adult.

But it's time for me to go to work ... how will I get there on time now!? Hahaha