Sunday, June 23, 2013

06.23.2013 -- Mother Mother

Today in church, there was a discussion about developing talents.  You know...  pursuing your interests and putting time into talents so that they "multiply."  Way better than burying talents. (Matthew 25:14-30)  This all made me think about mothering.

There are many days when I feel like my full time job is encouraging, persuading, cajoling, manipulating, sometimes even threatening our kids into using their time well.  Playing, by the way, definitely qualifies as an excellent use of time in my book.  (I'm not perfect about using all of my time wisely...sometimes I wish I lived with my own mother so I could be mothered that way...  MOM?)

Lucy has been interested in gymnastics and violin for years.  She has a real desire to progress in both areas.  They're not her only interests (swimming, cooking, drawing, and science also interest her a lot), but they're the ones she's focusing on for now.  AND YET,  it's rare that she doesn't need encouragement from me in one form or another to work on these "talents." 

I know from experience that all parents don't do this.  Many don't have the time or energy.  By the time I rolled around, my parents would allow me to sign up for classes, but they didn't press the issue if I didn't feel like practicing.  If I stopped practicing, the lessons stopped too.  I think both approaches teach valuable lessons.  Sometimes I find myself thinking about being able to play the piano, lamenting my mother's unwillingness to force me to practice.  But that's just ridiculous.  I had plenty of interests which developed without hand-holding from my parents:  reading, art, soccer, languages, karate, yoga, backyard volleyball, basement dancing expositions with friends, etc.

On one hand, Lucy is learning right now that perseverance (mine and hers, I guess) pays off.  We are both learning that dreams are attainable through hard work and consistency--not necessarily perfect consistency, but through dedication.  Now is probably a good time to explain that if it were left up to me completely, I would probably have Lucy enrolled in just tumbling and maybe dance.  She loves gymnastics, though--bars and beam more than floor.  And the violin is something that she came up with 100% by herself.
Gabe is a little different.  He's still 4.  He was in gymnastics because he wanted to be, but I pulled him out because he refused to go about 50% of the time.  This gives us a concrete example of what happens when you don't do those hard things that don't sound fun.  Here's the gist of my spiel:  "When you don't do the hard things, you miss out on chances to practice.  Without practice, as awkward and as painful as it may be, progression is not going to happen."

Gabe has been asserting his independence lately by sometimes deciding not to participate in swim lessons.  I haven't made him get in the pool, but he does have to come with us, of course.  Last week, he was going on his second day of non-participation, but after a little lecture along these lines, Gabe decided that he would go to swim lessons.  Actually, he suggested that he would commit to going to every lesson so he could start gymnastics again.  That kid can understand me pretty well sometimes.

With Charlie, we're still focused on helping him not hurt himself or other people too much.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

06.01.2013 -- Pace Myself

One of my strongest character traits is enthusiasm.  There are pros and cons to being naturally enthusiastic.  If you haven't heard or read my thoughts on all of that, just ask me and I'll go on as long as you keep listening to me.

One of the issues that arises, though, from a natural and almost irrepressible enthusiasm is that I get a lot of new stuff coming into my life.  I also see a lot going out.  Not many of my passions/obsessions/hobbies make the cut.

My newest hobby is snail keeping.  It turns out that snail keeping is a pretty great way for me to chill out.

It started by accident.

I was weeding one day with a friend and my boys were with me.  Whenever I'm working in the dirt and come across something living, it is the subject of great excitement and the kids immediately want to make it a pet.  Roly polies, worms, and snails all qualify as cute and keepable in their eyes.

When Gabe asked me if he could keep the snails he found, I remembered a little specialized ventilated glass box that I got on clearance from the pet store for Christmas.  It was really too small for most animals, so it was being used to hold down a corner of a shelf in a closet.  Snails, though... snails could make do in a little glass box with a top screen and a back wall made of painted foam rock.

That first round with snails was short lived.  I let the kids take them out and handle them whenever they wanted, and the poor snails got left in the sun without adequate water.  I learned a lot, though.  I learned a lot more about snails than you probably want to read here.... and I learned how relaxing it is for me to watch them.

If you can get past the ick factor, snails are amazing little animals.  When they slide over a pane of glass, you can see the symmetrical ripples of their foot which propel them along.  When they eat with their disappearing mouths, you can hear the crunching of your compost scraps. And you can watch that food moving up through their heads into their bodies.  The way their feelers and eyes retract and extend is fascinating.  Yes, friends:  I have found that a snail's pace is ideal for stress relief. They're free, and when we're done with them, we plan to feed them to our neighbors' chickens.

I would post my own picture here today, but I need to clean their cage again.  Keeping nine snails in a 10"x10" box does not let the walls stay clear of snail poop and slime for long.