The Things You Do For Your Kids

Several years ago, our family (along with my lil sis) ventured down to Southern California to visit my relatives. Since they live about an hour away from Anaheim, we decided to stop by Disneyland. When I say “stop by”, that was about as much as we could do with a clingy toddler and a waddling pregnant woman (moi!) in tow. E had also brought along his beloved Winnie the Pooh plush toy that he loved with all the heartfelt affection of a two year old (translation: it never left his side).

Isn't he cute? He's even carrying a backpack.

Isn’t he cute? He’s even carrying a backpack.

We hit up a couple of the calm rides (ie. It’s a Small World) and then got in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean. Hubby had reservations about how our highly sensitive munchkin would react to the one-eyed buccaneers, but I was determined (aka. stubborn) to go on my favorite ride, which I hadn’t been on since high school. When we finally made it to the front of the line, we hopped aboard our little boat and set off for the great unknown.

Great unknown was right.

Thirty seconds into the ride, I started regretting my stubbornness. Poor E was huddled next to hubby, his little body cringing at all the strange sights and scary sounds around him. Those fun plunges down the waterfalls that I’d been looking forward to didn’t seem so fun anymore, especially when 7 months pregnant (hm, maybe that’s why C is so feisty?)! We were all more than relieved when the ride ended, and we quickly got off, with not even a backward glance.

It wasn’t until we were a good thirty feet away did E realize we’d forgotten something back in the Caribbean. Yup, we’d left Pooh with the pirates!

Poor E was distraught, his big brown eyes filling up with tears. Hubby ran back to the ride as we waddled after him, but before we made it, he met us with a sad, weary look on his face. We spent the rest of the evening at the Lost and Found, hoping someone would find E’s toy and turn it in. Suffice it to say, Disneyland was not the happiest place on earth for us that day.

After E went to sleep that night, hubby and I racked our brains for some way to console our dear son. If we could have, we’d have rushed out to buy him another Pooh Bear (maybe 2!). But as life would have it, his Pooh Bear had been a gift from a friend who lives in Europe and didn’t exist on our continent. So, I did what any desperate parent would do, I turned to eBay.

Thank you, eBay!

Amazingly, we found the ONLY listing with the EXACT SAME Pooh Bear being sold by someone in the UK. The catch? They would only ship to UK buyers. So, I did what any stubborn parent would do at one o’clock in the morning, I sent the seller a message of our epic, tragic tale. I even offered to pay extra for them to ship it to the US. They replied with a gracious message agreeing to the transaction and voila—we were the proud owners of E’s Pooh Bear (again).

A week later when we were back at home, a package arrived in the mail from the UK. I promptly brought it to E and opened it with him. When he took Pooh Bear out of the brown paper bag, he eyed it carefully, then eyed me, waiting for a reasonable explanation as to how we managed to find his toy.

“Mickey Mouse found him and mailed him to us!” I declared with what I hoped was enough conviction and enthusiasm.

E seemed to buy my story, but to be honest, he didn’t treat that Pooh Bear the same way he treated the first one. 🙁

Just last week I was cleaning out C’s room and stumbled upon Pooh Bear (the second) whom she had inherited from E and couldn’t bear (pun intended, heehee) to give it away. I turned to E and asked him, “Remember this? You used to love him.”

In his no-nonsense way, he replied, “Didn’t you say someone found it, but you bought it?”

Yes, dear son, that is the simple explanation of the story. But it leaves out all the emotions we as your parents experienced that night. Guilt for dragging you on a ride you weren’t ready for. Angst at the sight of your sweet, sad face when you realized your prized possession was gone. Determination to make things right again in your world. And finally, joy when we found the elusive pirate’s booty (obtained in our case by legal means) and presented it to you.

Even if neither you nor C treasure Pooh Bear anymore, I think I’ll hold onto it. It helps remind me of all the crazy, roll-your-eyes things that parents do for their kids. Why? Because we love them.

Hm. Maybe it is a simple explanation after all. 🙂

I couldn’t find a song to go with this post, but I did find a funny, very stereotypical video by Wong Fu Productions about the things Asian parents say to show they love their kids. 😉

What are some crazy or cool things you’ve done to show your love to your kids (or your parents did for you)?

Dear Son (A letter about puppy love)

Dear Firstborn Munchkin,

When I dropped you off at school today, I got a glimpse of some budding puppy love. I recognized that delighted, somewhat mischievous smile on your face, the one you have when you purposefully do something to bug your little sister—except this time, it wasn’t C that you annoyed, but a cute girl in your class.

Right away, I realized what was going on and my heart cringed in my chest. I knew this day would come, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. But now that it’s here, let’s have a little chat … about love.

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/freedigitalphotos.net

If you’re sensitive like me, you probably feel a lot of emotions and will end up being a hopeless romantic. You’ll notice things about the opposite sex and will discover a little quirk about someone—a certain laugh or look—that will catch your eye. You’ll experience butterflies in your stomach whenever you hear her voice, and if she looks your way, it will be like one of those Matrix moments when time slows down … waaaay down.

If you’re a ladies man like your Baba was, you won’t have trouble catching a girl’s eye. You’ll know how to strike up a conversation by asking good questions and making just the right amount of eye contact so you come across as interested, but not creepy. You’ll do all the gentlemanly things, like opening doors or giving her your jacket when she’s cold, that will have her falling faster for you than the bullets that drop to the ground when those Matrix slo-mo moments are over.

Okay, enough with the stalling (and movie references). 😉 I guess what I’m trying to say is that love is a tricky thing. All the emotions you’re feeling are normal and a part of life. But don’t give your heart away just yet. The feelings you have now are sweet and special, but they will likely change. Someone new may catch your eye next year or the year after that. Like I always tell you and C, hold your horses! Be patient. You’ve got a long ways to go.

It will probably take another decade or two to find the girl of your dreams. In the meantime, keep growing and improving yourself. Make friends and develop those friendships. Guard your heart from liking the wrong girls, the ones who don’t appreciate you for exactly who you are. Pick yourself up when you do fall for the wrong ones, and learn from your mistakes. Save up your dreams and hopes for the woman who’ll be worth waiting for.

And come talk to me and Baba anytime. As hard as it is to believe, we were young once, too. We’ve got a lot of life experiences to share from (most of which we will not tell you about in specifics). 😉 We do remember what it feels like to fall in love, but more importantly, we know what it’s like to work hard to stay in love. We’ll do our best to help you navigate through the crazy, but wonderful, journey, too.

Love,

Your Mama

P.S. Baba says your tactic is one he would’ve used when he was your age, but he didn’t care about the opposite sex that early. Hm. Seems like you got a bit of both of our genes. 😉

Take a listen to JR Aquino’s song, “By Chance (You & I)”, a super cute and catchy song about falling in love. 🙂

Do you remember your first experience with puppy love?

Dear Struggling Mama

Dear Struggling Mama,

I see you. Yes, you, the one hiding in the bathroom with her head in her hands. I know you just endured 40 minutes in mama hell as your little one had (yet another) homework meltdown. I heard her screaming and crying and saw her face turn tomato red as she released her frustration with clenched fists and kicking feet. I felt your frustration as you tried to explain the assignment to her (in between her gulps for air) and give examples of how to answer the questions. I sensed the effort you made to stay calm—count to 10, take deep breaths, and pray—and be sympathetic because you remembered losing your patience last time and how much you regretted it. I know how with each passing minute, your ears began hurting and you just wanted to run away and hide because the situation seemed hopeless. You felt hopeless. Beaten up. Exhausted. Just. Plain. Defeated.

No one ever told you it’d be this hard. How there would be moments, days even, when you didn’t like being a mama. Days when you couldn’t see past the endless crying, the long nights, the sore arms and back from the non-stop carrying, the power struggles with someone half your size, the feeling of having lost yourself. Days when you couldn’t see past your own tears.

I get why your kids say you go to the bathroom a lot ’cause that’s one of the few places you can hide. Even for just a minute to sob and breathe and splash cool water on your red-rimmed eyes. To let yourself fall apart before you need to pull yourself together again. To remove yourself from the situation because it is just that—a situation. An experience to struggle through and to learn from. Because this mamahood journey has a lot of !@#$% hard situations, and there’s still so much to learn about being a good parent.

You didn’t think it’d be so hard to love your kids. But it is. Not because they aren’t lovable (they are so lovable when they’re sleeping!), but because you’re human. You only have so much energy, attention, and patience to give. That’s why you struggle. But remember this: your child is struggling, too.

She is struggling to grow into her own skin. He is struggling to manage his emotions, his fears and frustrations at feeling helpless in this great big world. They are struggling to learn words, facts, and theories. They are struggling to feel accepted, valued, and loved—especially when they are not acting lovable.

And they are looking to you to help them.

Okay, so that’s not what you wanted to hear. But it’s the truth. You play one of the most important roles in your kid’s life. You’re their mama. The one who gets to witness their tantrums and meltdowns. The one who has more gray hair and wrinkles (and a secret stash of chocolate) than the other parent in the house. You are the one whom they trust enough to bare the darkest, scariest and craziest parts of themselves to.

You’re also the one who got a letter slipped through the crack of the bathroom door the day of the 40 minute meltdown. A letter written from the heart of your little one that made you cry and almost made the craziness you endured worth it.

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There are not enough words to describe how hard parenting is. But there are also not enough words to express how humbling, amazing, and fulfilling it is, too.

So don’t give up. Hang in there, mama. You’re doing all right. Someone even thinks you’re the best. 🙂

Yours truly,

A Struggling Mama (on a good day)

P.S. Do yourself a favor, frame this letter and hang it up in the bathroom for the next time (oh, yep, there will be a next time) you find yourself hiding there. And some chocolate, too. 😉

Here’s Adele’s song, “Remedy”, covered by Sara Marathas. These lyrics remind me of being a mom: “When the world seems so cruel and your heart makes you feel like a fool, I promise you will see that I will be, I will be your remedy.”

Who do you trust to bare the darkest, scariest, and craziest parts of yourself to?

Conversations with My 6 Year Old About Growing Up

There are so many children’s books out there in the world; some are strange, many are funny, but only one has had the power to move me to tears. That book is called “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch.

To be honest though, the first time I read it, I thought the author was a little nuts. Let me tell you why. In a nutshell (pun intended, haha), the book follows the journey of a mother and her baby from the time he is born until he is a father himself. Every evening the mother rocks her son to sleep and sings a sweet song that goes:

“I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always.

As long as I’m living

my baby you’ll be.”

And when I say she does this every evening, I mean every evening. Even when her son is a 6 foot tall, hairy man living across town, she drives over to his house in the middle of the night. She takes the super long ladder she strapped to the roof of her car and climbs up to his bedroom on the second floor, makes sure he is fully asleep, and takes him in her (very strong) arms and rocks him to this song.

LoveYouForever2

Yup. The counselor part of me totally had a field day psychoanalyzing this scene. 😉 My initial thoughts were: This mom is so codependent, overly attached and unable to let go of her kid. Where are her boundaries?!

It was about nine years ago when I first saw this book at the library. Since then, every time I see it on a shelf, I bypass it because of its “dysfunctional” message. But recently, I finally understood what the author was saying (and now know that he was not nuts when he wrote the book). 🙂

The other day C and I were talking about her upcoming trip to the dentist to have 2 (stubborn) baby teeth pulled. I attempted to allay her fears by going over the procedure and answering her questions. The conversation was going well, and she was staying calm and looking thoughtful when she said something that made my heart drop.

C: “You can stay outside.”

Me: “What?”

C: “You can stay outside. You don’t have to come with me.”

It took a minute for me to register that C was saying she didn’t want me to go into the dentist’s office with her during the procedure. I was supposed to stay outside in the waiting room.

Me: “Are you sure?”

C: “Yes. Stay outside.”

Me: “Aw, my baby’s growing up!”

C: “Mo-om!”

Me: “NOOOOOOO! Okay, I’ll wait outside.”

And that’s when the story of “Love You Forever” came to mind. Because with every ounce of blood pumping in me, as long as I’m living, my babies will always be my babies. I may not be as crazy (or brave) as the mom in the book to break into my kids’ homes when they’re adults and rock them to sleep, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to. (Actually, hubby would probably beat me to it!) But in my heart of hearts, I will always remember E and C as the cute, chunky babies who challenged and inspired me, and ultimately, grew me into the mom I am today.

So, yes, sweet daughter, I know you (and your brother) are growing up and don’t need me as much as before. I just need a little while to catch up to this new reality, so be patient with me. But I (and your Baba) would really appreciate it if you could do us a favor and choose a one story house when you grow up. 😉

Here’s a link to where you can hear “Love You Forever” read to you and view the illustrations as well. (Get the tissues out!)

And we’ll end with Mariah Carey’s song, “Always Be My Baby”. 🙂

When did you realize you (or your kids) were growing up?

Lessons on Letting My Kids Face Challenges

When I met C outside school a few weeks ago, I noticed she wasn’t her usual peppy self. She dragged her feet along the sidewalk like she was trudging through mud, and plopped down on the concrete bench next to me with the weight of the world on her small shoulders. I tried to ask what was wrong, but she only answered me with a pout. It wasn’t until half an hour after we got home that she handed me a note detailing her woes:

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In case you aren’t familiar with first-gradernese, it reads: “I want to change schools before Thursday or skip Friday please. The jacket, it is bad because K said me and L are twins. Thanks, Mei (little sister).”

We proceeded to have a very long (according to E who was patiently waiting for me to help with homework) discussion about the two issues she wrote about. First, she didn’t want to go to school Friday because her class was having a Thanksgiving/Heritage Day potluck, and her teacher said the kids would need to introduce their dishes using the language of their cultural heritage. Keep in mind, C’s first language was Mandarin and she was speaking 11 word sentences by the time she was 18 months old. And I was only planning on making fried rice, which is only 2 words long. But, it’s been a while (sigh!) since either one of the munchkins have spoken Mandarin fluently, so she was pretty anxious about speaking it in front of her teacher, her classmates and their parents.

Now, the second issue involved a new fuzzy purple jacket I bought for her … which happened to be the same fuzzy purple jacket as another girl, L, in her class. As a result, one of her friends, K, started teasing her that she and L were twins, and refused to sit with C at lunch.

Aiya, right?

I thanked C for telling me what was on her mind, and we started troubleshooting the problems one by one. The first one was fairly simple; we practiced saying the words …

Chao Fan (aka. Fried Rice)

Chao Fan (aka. Fried Rice)

throughout the week until she was comfortable with them. It turned out, she didn’t even need to say the dish in Chinese, but it was a good mini lesson anyway. 😉

The latter issue, however, was much more troublesome and worrisome (or rather, trouble-most and worri-most because honestly, it troubled and worried me a lot!). When C told me about K (and also T) not wanting to sit with her, my heart fell. I could only think about the times I was bullied or felt left out as a kid. I absolutely did NOT want C to go through that. My initial reaction (and also hubby’s when I told him about this) was to say, “We’ll get you a new jacket!” Getting a new non-fuzzy non-purple jacket was sure to solve the problem, right? Actually, not right. It might make things better temporarily, but rescuing C from this conflict wouldn’t help her in the long run … especially when she faced another situation like this again.

Sigh. Double SIGH. (This was one of those times I wished some over-protective parent out there would invent a kid-sized bubble cause I’d be the first one to buy it.)

Even though I desperately wanted to take the easy way out to protect my little girl, I took a deep breath and put on my big girl pants. I told C to sit with her other friends for now, and that K would likely stop teasing her after a while. I tried going the logical route and said, “She’s being silly. Doesn’t she know you all wear the same clothes (uniforms) already?” She replied with an even more logical answer, “Yeah, how can we be twins? We don’t even look the same.” (No kidding, L is blonde!)

LOL. You go, girl! 🙂

This was when I knew she would be okay. Fuzzy purple jacket aside, C is learning how to think for herself and to stand strong in the face of  challenges. It’s definitely not pleasant for me to watch her experience these growing pains, but I’m thankful I can walk alongside her and help her through them. ‘Cause that’s what my job as her mom is about. I can’t put her in a bubble or prevent her from getting scraped and bruised. But I can be there to sit with her, tend to her wounds, and nudge her back into the world … loved and lifted up and stronger than before.

I love the passion in this song by Demi Lovato, “Skyscraper”. It’s all about rising above our circumstances and standing strong in the face of challenges.

Who or what has helped you stand strong in the face of challenges?

Leaving the Porch Light On (for Your Tween)

Hubby and I have an unspoken contest going on. There’s no monetary gain involved or prize to be won, just bragging rights. Every so often one of us will turn to the other with an “I did it!” smile on our face, while the other will respond with wide eyes. We trade our stories with a great sense of accomplishment and pride. So, what is this “skill” that we like to boast about to each other? You’ll probably never guess …

It’s getting to hold E’s hand.

Yup. Our high need son who always clung to us, sat on our laps whenever possible and never left our side for years is (finally) growing up. And with his growing confidence and independence comes a desire to do things on his own. Gasp! Without us.

Let’s pause for a moment to observe the passing of childhood and the commencement of the tweenage years. :O

The reality is, E is now less than a year away from the double digits. He is sounding more and more like a big kid, especially when he rolls his eyes at my jokes and says, “Mo-om” in the most unimpressed way possible. He never wants me to come help out at school or even to chaperone field trips (sorry Mrs. V!). And worst of all, he doesn’t like to hold our hand. When I try to, his hand just slips out of my grip like one of those water wiggler toys you can never hold onto (kids of the ’90s know what I’m talking about!). Which is why it’s such a HUGE deal whenever hubby or I get to hold his hand.

I was sharing this with his former kindergarten teacher the other day at parent-teacher conferences (she’s currently C’s teacher). She affirmed his growth over the past few years and encouraged us with this line, “Just keep the porch light on for him.” In other words, even though he may not need us as much, it’s our job to let him know we will always be here for him.

Image courtesy of dreyboblue/flickr.com

Image courtesy of dreyboblue/flickr.com

Even now as I type this post, I can feel my eyes welling up at the thought of E not needing us. How can someone who was once so dependent on us for his every need not need us?! :O

Well, his independence definitely didn’t happen overnight. And thankfully, I have a feeling it’ll be some time before he packs up and moves out of the house. Right now, he wavers between the little boy we once knew and the teenager he is becoming. He may not want to hold my hand, but every now and then he’ll let his knee touch mine under the dining room table. He still pauses and waits for me to kiss the top of his head when I drop him off at school. And if I’m lucky, he lets me hold his hand for a few seconds while we cross the street.

He may not be my baby anymore, but I’ll always keep the porch light on for him. Even if I can’t hold his hand, I will always hold his heart.

My firstborn. :)

My firstborn. 🙂

Take a listen to this sweet song by Rascal Flatts, “My Wish”. It captures my wish for both my munchkins as they grow up.

Who do you leave the porch light on for? Who has left it on for you?

6 Reasons Why Parents are Like Superheroes

Superheroes are awesome, don’t you think? They can do things that normal, regular, everyday people can’t do. That’s why they also only exist on the big screen … or do they?

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I was thinking about all the normal, regular, everyday things that parents do and started considering how we are pretty awesome, too. As awesome as Spiderman, Wonder Woman or the Flash?

Definitely. Maybe even more.

Here are 6 reasons I came up with for why parents are like superheroes:

1. We have superpowers. We just know when our kids are up to no good … even especially when they’re down the hall in a room with the door closed. We have the superhuman power to do multiple things at once, such as talk on the phone and wipe someone’s nose or behind without flinching. We have the ability to move faster than the speed of light the nanosecond our kid is about to stick something in her mouth or up his nose, and stop it from happening just in time.

2. We face perilous situations. On the rare occasions when we can’t stop our kid before he sticks something where the sun don’t shine, we go after said object to extract it. We engage in tense negotiations when our cell phone/laptop/cat/dog is put in a precarious position at the hands of a pint-sized captor. We encounter danger from every side (front and back sides, if you get my drift) and when we least expect it.

*A word of caution: Skip reason #3 if you have a weak stomach.

3. We are brave. We tackle danger head-on, often times without any proper protection (ie. mask, gloves, shield or powered exoskeleton). We get peed on … often. We catch vomit with our hands. We scoop up poo from the bathwater. And we do all these things and still live to brag about it (here’s one of my survival stories)!

4. We look cool. If superheroes can face the world wearing tights and underwear on the outside of their clothing, we can wear our yoga pants/sweats/pajamas with pride. Throw in some unrecognizable stains and spots on our white T-shirts and we’ve got a one-of-a-kind outfit that could rival any abstract painting.

By F Anderssen (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By F Anderssen (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

5. We have enemies. We know the bugs we’re up against and we’re not scared. That’s because we’re armed with boatloads of hand sanitizer. But even when our kids (or we) get temporarily beaten down, we have boxes of tissue, warm chicken noodle soup and Netflix videos on hand to speed up the recovery.

 

6. We save the day. Our kisses can make boo-boos feel better. Our hugs can scare monsters away. Our words of affirmation can help turn tears into a smile. Our love can even empower and protect our kids when we are apart from them. In other words, we make the world a better and safer place.

Whew! And all this is in a day’s work. Now if only we could get added to Marvel Comics’ payroll, too. 😉

Here’s a song by The Script called “Superheroes”. As you can see from the lyrics and video, superheroes are everywhere. 🙂

How can you (as a parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, teacher, counselor or friend) be a superhero to the kids in your life?

Out of the Mouths of Babes: #$@&!

I learned two important parenting lessons this week. The first was this: Always expect the unexpected. Especially around 3:07pm when you are picking up your kid from school.

Case in point …

The other day I had just kissed E’s soft cheek as he sat down in the car when he announced, “I learned a new bad word at school.”

I immediately thought, Oo-kay. Well, it can’t be that bad. 

After all, the bad word the munchkins discovered last year was stupid (yes, we are a sheltered family), and the bad word they heard last week was dummy (which I found out wasn’t so bad because they were actually referring to a wooden puppet).

So I really wasn’t feeling one bit worried when I asked, “What is it?”

“#$@&!” E answered in his oh-so-sweet-and-innocent 8 year old voice.

Image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

O.M.G. As soon as I heard the word, my eyebrows shot up and a whole chorus of bells, whistles and alarms went off in my body. This was NOT the word I had been expecting. Far, far, FAR from it. Like a billion, KAZILLION miles away from it.

Since this word does not bear repeating, I will give you a hint as to what came out of my dear son’s mouth. It sounds like duck (which was exactly what I wanted to do at that point – duck and cover!) and rhymes with luck (which I had certainly run out of in that moment).

AIYA.

As I relayed the whole conversation to hubby later that night, I demanded (in a whisper so as not to let the kids hear us), “Why do I always get stuck with these crazy questions?!”

Hubby replied with a hint of a smile, “Because God knows you’re better at answering them than me.”

Grrr. Um, thanks?

The good thing though about having experience dealing with deep theology questions, sweat-inducing birds-and-the-bees questions and now, wild profanity-laced questions is that I’ve become quite good at putting on a poker face. And keeping an even tone of voice. You’d almost think I was talking about the weather instead of a four-letter swear word with my second grader.

Sigh.

So how did my conversation with E turn out? Something like this (from what my traumatized brain can remember):

Me: Which friend said that? Does your friend know what it means?

E: N said it when we were eating lunch. P heard it before. K didn’t know it. They spelled the word out. Someone wanted to tell the teacher but he didn’t. The teacher almost heard it cause she was standing really close. Do you say it to someone? N said, “I am not a #$@&!.” (Thank you dear son for saying the word AGAIN.)

Me: Oh, I don’t think he knows what it means. But yeah, it’s something you say to someone when you are upset, but we don’t ever want to say it. It’s okay to know about the word, but both kids and adults should not say it.

C (who was listening to our conversation the whole time!): But then why did someone make up the word if it’s bad?

Good question, my dear baby of the family (whom at age 5 has heard the #$@&! word TWICE now). I actually didn’t have an answer for that. Cause in all honesty, words are words, but it’s their meanings which lead people to smile or faint. And thank God my munchkins know more words of the former kind than the latter.

Phew. AIYA. (As you can imagine, I’m still recovering from this incident.)

As I mentioned earlier, I learned two parenting lessons this week. So, what was the second lesson? It’s this: Relationship over comfort. As much as I dislike having to address these “interesting” topics with my munchkins, I value every cringeworthy moment. Why? Because I’m glad I’m available to listen to their questions, even if I don’t have all of the answers. But, most of all, I am thankful they feel comfortable and safe enough to have these crazy conversations with their mama.

Sigh. Let’s just hope my poker face holds up during their teenage years. 😉

What better song to go with this post than Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”? LOL. Here’s a nice instrumental (piano) version of it.

What crazy conversations do you remember having with your parents or have you had with your kids?

Parenting Lessons: Words vs. Actions

Whoever said, “Actions speak louder than words” obviously had children. How do I know this? Because the two little people who showed up on our doorstep one day and call me “MO-OM!” have made me painfully aware of every little thing I do.

I see my own actions in the way they talk to each other, in the words they use and more importantly, in the tone of voice they speak with. If they are more whiny or harsh than usual, it’s a good sign that I’m being more whiny and harsh than usual. Also, if they are being extra considerate and kind, it’s likely because hubby is home and treating them with consideration and kindness (and I am out doing some retail therapy, haha).

But something C said to me the other day really stopped me in my tracks. E and hubby were playing Mario downstairs and she had asked me to go upstairs with her to get a toy. As we were walking up the steps, I heard her sweet, innocent voice ask, “Do you want to do some work, Mom? I won’t bother you.”

I turned to her and immediately replied, “You don’t bother me! No, I don’t want to do work. We can snuggle!”

Her whole face lit up as if someone had turned on a fountain inside her body. Joy bubbled up and brightened her big brown eyes and her voice climbed up an octave. “Snuggle?! Okay!”

She grabbed my hand and soon after we sat on the couch with our arms wrapped around each other. No words, just a sweet time of being together.

That conversation with C made me think of just how much of what I say and do gets ingrained into her thoughts and beliefs. I cringe right now as I wonder how she got the notion in her head that she could be a bother to me. I don’t want my kids to ever think they burden, annoy or inconvenience me. But if you were to peek inside my heart during any given day, you would see the impatience and resentment I harbor there. And how those emotions spill out sometimes when I’m tired or frustrated. Which explains why C assumed I would rather spend time with a computer screen than with her.

Yikes. What a good wake up call.

There’s a verse from Proverbs that says:

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It occurred to me that training up a child involves as much what we say as what we do. Do we emphasize the importance of listening, but pay more attention to our phones than our kids? Do we want our kids to understand grace and forgiveness, but criticize them when they do wrong? Do we tell kids to love each other, but neglect to spend time with them?

I am so guilty of all this and more! But I am also thankful for the chances I have to be made aware of my shortcomings. And to keep trying and growing into a better, more loving and gracious parent. A parent that E and C need and deserve.

This song by Steven Curtis Chapman, “One Little Heartbeat at a Time” is just what a tired mom needs to hear. 🙂

How do you use your words and actions to influence the kids in your life?

Not Giving Up

I used to think it was funny whenever people would compliment our kids and hubby would proudly say, “Thank you!”  That’s because I feel like complimenting someone’s child is indirectly giving the parent(s) a compliment as well.  That’s because kids are the “creation” of their parents; they did get all their genetic make up from them.  So, if someone wants to hear endless compliments about themselves, the best thing to do is to have a child.  (I’m so kidding.)

Sure, I enjoy hearing people say positive things about my kids.  But on the flip side, there are times when I cringe when my kids do/say things that are not so great and I have to pause and ask myself, where did they get that from?  Cause we as parents can’t just take credit for the good and not the bad.  For example, it’s a good reminder to myself to work on the tone of my voice when I hear C yelling at her big brother, “Say sorry NOW!”  Sigh…

But there are some things that kids don’t learn by observing their parents; you could say these are the traits that were inherited and are ingrained in their DNA.  When I see E being cautious and wary of speaking in public, I unfortunately know where he got that from….and it wasn’t from hubby (both he and C love attention, haha).

From www.freedigitalphotos.net

It broke my heart when I saw E on stage at his preschool graduation, turned halfway around in his seat so he wouldn’t have to face the audience.  He sat and stood like that for about 45 minutes even when the teacher asked him to turn around and face forward.  I knew exactly how he was feeling – overwhelmed and uncomfortable, like every single eye in the audience was fixed on him.  But he did make it through and even happily skipped off the stage when it was all over!

Just last week, we faced another hurdle with him about public speaking, but this time the public part only involved us.  He needed to practice a memory verse for school and he refused to say it out loud to us.  It was the day before this assignment was due and we were at our wits end trying to figure out how to get him to cooperate.  (Yes, I can be a perfectionist when it comes to homework.)  Finally, we decided to reward him with a $5 toy if he would say the verse out loud.  He eventually agreed and mumbled his way through it, but he did it!  We were thrilled!  And he told us the next day that he was the only kid in his class to get the verse right on the first try!  Cue the happy and proud parent dance!

I am so happy to say that this week he has been so much more cooperative about the memory verse and practiced it with me 3 days ahead of schedule.  And he even said he did it this time without having to get a prize.  LOL.  Good thing, cause I didn’t know if I wanted to fork over $5 every week to get him to do it.

Sigh… It’s a strange thing seeing yourself in your child.  It’s both a blessing and a curse in some ways because there’s no denying what you see in the “mirror” in front of you.  But it’s also a lesson for me that our kids are worth our patience and encouragement, especially when they face the same challenges that we find ourselves facing.  It’s a reminder that yes, I have plenty of weaknesses and struggles, but I can get through them, just like E gets through his.  And I should be patient with myself, just as we try to be patient with him.

I really like the message of this song, “I Won’t Give Up”, by Jason Mraz, especially the part that says, “We got a lot to learn and God knows we’re worth it.”  Cause we all are worth it.  So don’t give up whatever you’re going through!

In what area(s) are you trying not to give up in?

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