Be Different!

My boys and I are working on their people skills.  I watched this video today and I loved it but it got me thinking about a few things I would say to my kids about this topic.

Two Boys:

Be different.  Be okay with not fitting in. I am an introvert in an extroverted world.  I hate pretending things are funny when they aren’t that funny to me.  I hate pretending things aren’t as funny as I think they really are, too.  Sometimes I just get the giggles.  I’m super interested in all sorts of things that other people easily lose interest in.  I hate small talk but “Hi, I’m Emily, tell me about your philosophy on life” is not a socially acceptable thing to say to someone you’re meeting for the first time. I often feel unique in this world.  Sometimes that’s a good thing.  Sometimes that’s a bad thing.

But let me give you a little tip I have learned through the years.  You don’t have to be like everyone else to fit in.  You can be the odd man out and think differently than anyone in the room, but you’ll fit right in if you love others well.

It’s okay to say, “You have an interesting point, but I disagree with you and here’s why…” But listen well and be okay if you are wrong or if they don’t change their opinion.

Think about others, not just yourself.  So you are creating an awesome parkour course in Minecraft with 17 varying levels of difficulty.  Not everyone is as interested in the amazing things that you are. Ask good questions and find out what they are interested in, too. Asking good questions is great way to show someone you care about them.

When I was growing up, the most popular kids in school weren’t the coolest kids on the block.  They were the nicest kids on the block.  They could fit in with the cool kids and the smart kids, the goth and the band geeks because they were just plain friendly people. They didn’t dress like the goth kids.  They didn’t play instruments or even necessarily care about music but they were kind.  They smiled at everyone in the hall and made a point to make others feel welcomed and important, sometimes just by saying “hello.”

I want you to be different from everyone you know!  I want you to stand against the crowd for what you believe in.  I want you to be proud of your God-given gifts and interests.  I love you just the way you are. You are special and unique and that’s the way it should be.  But you know what? So is everyone else.  Love them all well.

10,000 Hours

Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery in a field.

I have been a parent for almost 100,000 hours.  About 98,526 hours as of this moment.  Subtract an average of 8 hours a day for sleep (though new parents know you don’t ever get that much sleep!) and the time that I’ve had both kids in school and that’s still 51,062 hours I have been consciously and physically parenting. So, I guess I’m gonna call that mastered.  Bam. That’s Gold Medal level parenting right there.

 

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Just don’t google the “10,000 hour rule” and read the titles to all of the articles there discounting that it’s even a thing.  And don’t pay any attention to the fact that as your kid changes you have to change your parenting.  Or that the parenting that works for one kid doesn’t for the other.  Or that what used to be a good parenting practice, is now considered inappropriate according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And don’t even think about how I’ve had an amazing partner doing a good portion of the work, or that I’m not even very good at math, so I may be completely wrong about how long I’ve been parenting… You know what, never mind.

I’m Learning.

My boys just started school again, Isaac in 6th IMG_0439

and Asher in 4th grade.

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I can’t believe that Isaac is in middle school! I tried to imagine what he would be like when I used to look at his expressive, three-year-old, chubby face.

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I had no idea he would grow into the beautiful boy he is now. I had no idea that he’d love football so much that he genuinely enjoys wearing pads that weigh more than he does and practicing for hours in the summer heat. I had no idea that he would be so musically intuitive (though I should have guessed with so much of those Littleton genes). I had no idea that those blue eyes would so rarely look me in mine, but when they did, I would melt so completely.

 

I’ll be honest; my sweet Asher hasn’t changed too much in the seven years since I took this photo.

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He still is so full of energy, loves food and animals, and surprisingly at nine and a half years old, he still hides every time he knows I’m looking for him. But that big ball of energy that gave him the nickname of Bash as a baby is growing into a reserved and introspective boy. He has few close friends but will usually choose to stay home rather than go out. He learns from everyone around him and is paying attention when you think he’s just snuggling with the puppy.  And the freckles on his nose make my heart leap every time he is quiet long enough for me to catch a glimpse of them.

 

I’ve been learning a thing or two in the past few years, as well.

I’ve learned that I’m a perfectionist. A lazy perfectionist, but a perfectionist nonetheless.

 

I’ve learned that the world is not as I thought it was. My eyes have been opened to a lot of pain and disparity all around me, and that’s a good thing.

 

I’ve learned that as much as I pride myself in my introversion, I am in desperate need of people.

 

I’d like to use this blog to explore these topics in the days to come.

 

May the things I am learning, open your eyes as well and give you a small glimpse of who I am and who I am still becoming.

 

I used to.

I used to write.  I used to sit with the sun streaming through the trees casting dancing shadows on my legs as the wind rustled the leaves.

That tree is long gone.

I used to start typing and words would stream onto a page and I would learn things about myself, my children, and my God.

I haven’t had any words for far too long.

So much time has passed.  I quit writing regularly when Asher was in kindergarten.  Today he started fourth grade.

Has it really been that long?

I printed out the first 5 years of this blog for my boys 6 years ago.  The boys recently found the book and have been reading it and laughing at themselves quite often.  We’ve started collecting the words I have “Overheard” from them again.  That’s their favorite part.

I’ve been telling my boys how much I love to see them grow.  I’ve been praying for them daily, but I haven’t written it all down in quite some time.

But now I have the time.  As fast as the years go by, thank God, I still have plenty of time.

So these lessons I’m learning and the preserving of these memories in blog form are for them.

 

 

 

 

Two boys, I hope you know how proud I am of you and who you are becoming.  May the Lord bless and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his face toward you, child, and give you peace.

 

One of those days.

I haven’t posted anything in a while.  I’m sorry about that.

I don’t know if anyone is sitting around waiting for my blogs, but there is a direct correlation between my writing and the condition of my heart.  If I can’t find the time to write for myself, then my heart is being preoccupied as well.

My boys will be home from school in two minutes.

I’ve just about had it up to “here” this week.

God, I’m at that point again where I don’t even have words to ask for your help.  Give me clarity of mind, peace of heart, and wisdom as I finish out this week.

And here’s the bus…

Santa Update

Here’s a quick update on how life has been since the Santa Reveal of 2012.

I’ve had some positive feedback from people saying that their kids found out early too.  I’ve had some other feedback where most people are confirming my fears that it’s just way too early for my boys not to believe in Santa anymore.

I’ve tried not to get depressed about it.

Today our neighbor boys walked in the house, saw our Christmas tree and blurted out, “There is no Santa, YOU put the gifts under the tree!”  To which Randall replied, “I don’t come in your house and put gifts under your tree.”

Turns out they don’t have a tree. Their religion doesn’t allow them to celebrate Christmas at all.  That makes sense that his parents would tell him young that there is no Santa.  But I made sure to let them know that SOME people still believe in Santa and they can’t go around telling people he’s not real.

I asked my boys how they were feeling after The Talk the other night.  I made sure that they knew that sometimes adults tell stories about Santa, and not all of them are true, but when we tell you anything about Jesus, it’s always true.  “There are some things in life that you have to just believe in, even if you can’t see it.  Santa’s not one of those things, but God is.  I promise you, I’ve never told you a lie about God.  Every thing I’ve ever said about Jesus is absolutely true. And you can trust that.”

Isaac said quietly, “I still believe in Santa.”  That’s my boy.  Asher said, “I don’t,” loud and clear.  I told them they could believe whatever they wanted about Santa, but I was a firm believer.

And for the record:

This boy is on Santa’s nice list.

This boy is still to be determined.

 

Perspective

Parenting is so hard.

I know I don’t have to tell you that. There are so many roles to play.  I can be a nurse to my kids.  I can be their cook, their chauffeur, their entertainer.  I really don’t mind being their housekeeper.  I love to be their teacher and friend.  It’s the parenting part of parenting that I just am not good at.

I feel like I’ve tried every theory possible to “train up a child in the way he should go.” But I feel totally helpless sometimes.  We have many good days, but I seem to constantly question my parenting strategies.

I read this a while back. And I’ve read it many times since.  It was eye opening for me. And I’m using it now as a point of reference.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

I can choose to think that I have a difficult child who is driving me crazy in constant battles of will, or I can choose to see him as a child of integrity who isn’t easily swayed from his own viewpoints.

I can take each situation as a lesson to show him how to respect his elders (i.e. fight with his elders), or I can give him opportunities to make wise decisions and be responsible on his own.

I can break his will and teach him to be obedient, or I can foster a relationship built on mutual love and respect.

This article was completely revolutionary for me.  I still have no idea how to put much of this into practice.  I say that my boy is completely opposite of me and I don’t understand him.  In truth, though our energy levels and social attitudes are very different, our interests and personalities (read: strong wills) are very similar.

I think what I’ve needed most is just a change of perspective.

 

God, help me to step back and look at the big picture of parenting.  I so often feel like I just need to make it through the day.  When maybe I should be focusing on a brighter side.  Establishing a relationship with my boys, not just disciplining or rewarding each behavior.  Push back my feelings of helplessness and give me hope for our future.  I need clarity and specific ideas how to set my boys up for success.  I need patience and peace to handle the crazy that is two energetic boys.  Thank you for the personality that you gave my boys.  May they grow and perfect their strengths; Isaac standing up for what he believes in, and Asher caring wholeheartedly for the people around him.  May they use their strengths to do good in this world and make it better than they found it.  Help me to be a good mother, a wise mother, and one that my boys want to stick with and run to in good times and bad.

But…

Yes, I’m still tired.  Asher came home from school yesterday shouting a new word he had learned from our neighbor boys.  Ugh.

Yes, my boys wear me out and drive me crazy.

But… Isaac and Asher,

I will never tire of hearing the sound of your laughter.

I will never tire of playing with you.

I will never tire of your honest questions.

I will never tire of your beautiful creations

Or your wonder at life and the world around you.

I will never tire of your voice

Or your smile.

I will never tire of the way your cheek feels in my hand.

I will never tire of your endless imaginations.

I will never tire of holding you close

Or tucking you in every single night.

I will never tire of looking into your bright blue eyes.

I will never tire of watching you succeed.

I love to see the pride it brings you.

I will never tire of seeing how you love each other

And your dog.

I will never tire of reading to you

Or hearing your stories.

I will never tire of holding your hand.

I will never tire of exploring with you.

I’ll love you forever, my two boys.

 

 

Pumpkin Patch Outtakes

Our annual trip to the pumpkin patch last week was great, as always.  We love Rombach’s and it was an exceptionally beautiful, crisp, fall day.

But it was bright.  Not optimal for photos.  We got to the farm around 5pm and the sun was just starting it’s decent in a cloudless sky.

We got a lot of pictures like this one.

The harsh light made for lots of squints and dark shadows.

 

A professional photographer would know how to adjust her camera to compensate.  I, however, have no technical knowledge of my camera, and have very little photo editing skills (or resources).

The other challenge we came across was my subjects.

They are boys.

Need I say more?

They’re hams.

They’re fast.

And there’s two of them.

No.  Yes.

 

Yes. No.

No.  No.

Um… Is this as good as we get?

 

 

Either way, they’re mine.  And I LOVE them!

And (despite the poor lighting) this is an improvement from last year.