On Protecting Our Children

During one of my pregnancies, my grandma said she wished she could wrap me up in cotton and leave me in bed until the baby was born. I wish the same thing for my kids sometimes.

There are so many scenes of childhood that force parents to tip-toe along the fragile wire between loving pride and griping terror. “Look at the way he can dive! Oh, my gosh, he almost broke his neck on that board!”

We know these darker truths exist, but we resist them because the alternative would be to wrap them in cotton and leave them in bed all day. Doing that wouldn’t produce strong, healthy children. It would produce something unnatural and weak.

But does this only apply to the wild park of summertime fun?

What about the other ways we protect (or over-protect) our children? When are we being wise and when are we just being scared? When are we parenting in our strength and when are we parenting from weakness?

There are a thousand and one choices to be made as a parent, some of them clearly more life-changing than others. Educational choices may be one of the most controversial. That’s not even my point here and definitely not a topic I’d like to argue today, although I’m always interested in others’ experiences, but I think the deeper issue is about our sense of control.

I came across a great quote a few months ago when I read a book called Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School by David and Kelli Pritchard (with Dean Merrill). I don’t read many parenting books, but I found this one interesting, challenging, and valuable. I’ve thought about this phrase a lot since then (especially the sentence I’ve marked in bold):

We do not expect every Christian family to live like the Pritchards, or do what the Pritchards do. But however God has called you, press ahead. Anchor your family in the living Word of God on a regular basis. Even if you remain in a Christian school or homeschool setting, don’t be afraid of the public-school scene. If you are, Satan wins twice. He keeps you and your children in a state of uncertainty about God’s power in this world. And he prevents those who need God’s love from getting close to the very people who could bring it to them.

I’m wondering if by the way we parent we send the message that we think we can control our external environments (or even ourselves) when really we live in a world that is decidedly out of our control. The real issue is how we respond to that idea. How do we parent in a world that is simultaneously free-willed and yet still under God’s dominion?

As you can see, it must be Big Question Friday on the blog. Feel free to comment with your brilliance or just move along quietly to Pinterest. That’s probably what I’m going to do. Because I’m definitely NOT taking the kids swimming today! : )

 

 

From Where I Sit

I’m not sure I can even explain why I love football so much. I mean, I get that it’s not exactly the most peaceful sport. But spending warm afternoons or cool evenings in the stands of a football stadium watching Jesse run routes or hit practice dummies is decidedly peace-making for me.

Possible reasons:

1. Football makes me feel “at home” and I’m still sort of looking for that here in Omaha still.

2. Football reminds me that people can work together toward a common goal. Linemen are as important as wide receivers. They all need each other.

3. Football teaches discipline. Our world could use a lot more young men (and women) with this quality.

4. Football is about both the execution of well-laid plans and the ability to respond to unexpected challenges. Yeah, like life.

There’s probably a million reasons (some noble and some less so) why I love football, but I’m not really interested in analyzing them today. I’m just interested in savoring these moments on aluminum bleachers where I watch my little boy enjoy a great game. And even though I don’t think this enjoy-without-thinking attitude is the best approach for everything in life, in this case, I think it’s enough.

 

Ode to the Cupcake

Why do we love you, little pillows of batter and frosting?

Is it the way you sit so neatly on our napkins, crimped skirt and billowing blouse?

Or the way you require of us only three – maybe four – bites of commitment?

Perhaps it is your panache for neon sprinkles and foil linings. So brave!

We dream of being so brave, so bold, so bombshell perfect.

But probably we know the truth. You are your best self at the birthday party

of a six year-old girl named Macy. You look sugar sweet but surprise with the tang

of pink lemonade. You represent the girl who discovers she can kick up both

heels behind her at the same time and announces, “I know how to Mexican

dance now.” Like a professional. And she is.

Cupcake, we love you most because you are Macy. And we want to be her, too.

Reasons to Love Wedding Season

1. An opportunity to renew your own vows. Just say them along with the happy couple!

2. Pretty dresses. In lollipop colors.

3. Decorating ideas. Pinterest in real life!

4. Receptions! The one we attended this weekend had chips and salsa waiting on the tables and a tub stocked with flavored sodas. Fun and delicious and really helpful during that downtime between ceremony and party.

5. An image to remind Christians how Jesus feels about his Church. The groom I watched this weekend was shaking with joy and nearly sobbing at the sight of his bride. For some reason, I don’t think we always picture it this way. But maybe we should.

 

The Slowdown

I’ve had an unexpected break between my spring semester classes and my teaching job in the summer quarter at the community college. Although it hasn’t been great for my bank account, it has been great for me.

Mornings have been slow. I drink my coffee in a soft chair, which is far superior to my mini-van in rush hour traffic.

I’ve set up appointments for the kids and started Claire in physical therapy again. These are big issues that nag at my peace all the time. Getting them crossed of the list has been a relief.

I’ve gone to the library. And checked out books for myself! And I’ve had time to read them! Biographies, novels, essays, and poetry. What a treat.

I’ve watched a BBC series on Netflix. In my bed. Alone.

This week I start teaching again, but since I’m not taking classes myself (and my teaching job doesn’t include any grading or planning) I’ll still have open evenings and weekends.

I call this season the slowdown.

The Other Butterfly Effect

The Other Butterfly Effect

A few weeks ago I visited the zoo with the kids’ school. (Please, if you love me at all, remind me how terrible it is to visit the zoo in a gang. Doorways are impossible, corners cannot be made, and there is a constant state of counting heads. Seriously stressful.) Once we broke up into smaller groups, our mid-sized gang of elementary aged girls decided to spend our precious few free minutes visiting the Butterfly House.

A Butterfly House has to be best of all things girly, right? Bright colors, winged fairy-like creatures, warm temperatures, and sweet smells. Perfect.

And for about two minutes – approximately one-third of the time it takes to walk through the greenhouse-style room – it was perfect. And then it was not.

Then it was hot, sticky, and sickeningly sweet. I looked over at Macy, who was somewhat green, and asked if she was okay. “My tummy feels a little sick.”

“Me, too,” I said.

Once we made it out of the passage room where you have to check yourself in mirrors to make sure no winged hitchhikers are attached to your clothing, we were relieved to feel the cooler air of a Nebraska spring outside. We suddenly felt better. Macy pinked up in the sunshine and wind, even the wind carrying the questionable smells of zoo life.

We love our butterflies, tropical flowers, and mild temperatures, but there was just something wrong about all that good being crammed into a 20×20 greenhouse dome.

In fact, I think we would have appreciated the vibrant blue and purple butterflies we saw in the exhibit even more if they’d flown past us outside the cat complex or the bear canyon. In the Butterfly House we expected them and grew bored by their presence, even as beautiful as they were. In the open air of the otherwise brownish zoo, I think they would have been more useful.

 

 

Irises After a Rain Storm

My great-grandmother used to grow irises in white and purple, just one of her many gardening triumphs. Since we live in a rental, I have contented myself with maintaining the flowers and plants that already grow here instead of planting my own favorites. What a gift when I discovered old-fashioned irises in our back yard this spring!

The girls begged me to cut them and bring them in so we could enjoy their ruffled organdy up close, but I told them they would last longer in the garden. Then last night a storm blew through our neighborhood, and this morning the top-heavy irises were face down in the mulch, their thick stems bent to near breakage.

I snipped them free with kitchen scissors and loaded their bounty into a wide vase from my storage room. We placed the tall debutantes on the piano.

From the storm, beauty.