Monthly Archives: June 2008

Some Better

Thanks for your prayers.  Today, the tics are not as bad.  The tics are still there, and Silas is still behaving wildly and extremely impulsively, but it’s better than yesterday.  

It’s the impulse-control issues that are so difficult for me to handle.  When a child is behaving erratically and cannot seem to exercise self-control, even when corrected or re-directed or punished or (fill in the blank — I think I’ve tried it all), it is frustrating.  I feel totally out of control and helpless.  Not to mention what everyone around must be thinking about my parenting skills and why my child is acting so unruly!  The Lord sure is working on my obsession about what other people think!  Talk about humbling!

 

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Tics Are “Weird”

As most of you know, our 8-year-old daughter, Rachel, has Tourette Syndrome.  She was diagnosed when she was 5.  Her tics are really quite mild, and she has handled the whole situation wonderfully.  More than a year ago, our now-5-year-old, Silas, also began showing signs of TS.  He started with some mild facial scrunching and has progressed to far more noticeable tics.  

For a while, we weren’t sure if it really was TS with him or if he was imitating Rachel or if we were just hyper-sensitive and noticing everything.  However, soon after we moved here, Silas started doing this squeal that I like to call the “bat-squeal.”  I think the stress of moving and having his entire life turned upside down triggered this particular tic and brought the onslaught of TS symptoms — other more mild tics and some major impulse-control issues.  

Lately, his tics are rapidly-changing, far more noticeable, and quite varied.  

Right now, we’re hosting a group of teenagers from our home-church.  The excitement of seeing old friends and a having an apartment-full of guests is really bringing out the tics in Silas.  Today, he has been completely out of control.  Like spinning in circles with a stuffed animal to knock over all the toy bins and scatter toys all over the floor — out of control.  Like sticking his tongue out and smacking at people.  Like screaming words he’s not supposed to say (“butt” “stupid” “shut up”).  Out. Of. Control.

Earlier, he was opening a bedroom door, squealing, then closing the door, then opening the door, squealing, then closing the door — over and over and over and over.  Then he ran across the room and jumped up onto a bed, bopped his head, then fell to the floor, then jumped onto the bed, bopped his head, then fell to the floor.  He did that about 10 times.  

A few minutes later, I asked him what he thought about his tics.  He shrugged and said, “It’s pretty weird.  I mean the tics are sometimes weird, and I just can’t stop.  And I know they annoy everyone.  And sometimes they even annoy me.  It’s just weird.”  

Of course, I cried.  Most days, I have a sense of humor about the tics.  But today . . . well, today, I know Silas is absolutely out of control.  He knows he’s out of control.  I am annoyed, even though I know he cannot really help it.  And he knows I have been annoyed.  So, today, Tourette Syndrome hasn’t been very funny.  

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“She can have her own room”

You know, when you’ve never had your own bedroom, I guess the thought of one day not having to share a room with someone else becomes a really, really big deal.  Some of my children dream of the day when they can grow up and have their own space and some real privacy.  (In the meantime, of course, they beg to sleep in the same room nearly every night, and we have found four or five of them in the same bunkbed before.  Often.)  

So while I was putting on makeup the other morning, five-year-old Silas was sitting on my bed chatting with me off and on.  After being quiet for a few minutes, he said, “That’s the thing I wouldn’t like about being married.  Sharing a room.  When I grow up and get married, I want my own room and she can have her own room too.”  

 

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Another Great Movie

How did I miss this movie when it was released in September of 2006?  Sunday night our family watched the animated film Everyone’s Hero.  What an appropriate movie for Father’s Day!  

Set in the early 1930’s, this movie is about a ten year old boy named Yankee Irving.  A huge baseball fan, Yankee can’t seem to actually hit the ball when he plays out on the sandlot with the other boys in his neighborhood.  Yankee’s dad works as a janitor at Yankee Stadium.  One night, while Yankee is with his dad at the ballpark, Babe Ruth’s bat is stolen. Mr. Irving is fired as a result, so young Yankee sets out to find Babe’s bat and return it to Babe during the World Series.  A Yankee series win and Mr. Irving’s job are both at stake.

Featuring the voices of a star-studded cast (Whoopi Goldberg, Rob Reiner, William H. Macy, Mandy Patinkin, Richard Kind, Brian Dennehy, Joe Torre, and Robert Wagner), Everyone’s Hero was directed by Christopher Reeve and produced by, among others, Christopher and Dana Reeve.  Christopher Reeve was actually working on this movie at the time of his death.  Dana Reeve also voiced a character in the movie.  She died six months before the movie was released.  

Little Yankee Irving has a mother and a father who love him and each other and are shown on the screen together in a very positive way.  You know, this is really rare in kids’ movies today.  The bad guys in the movie are bad enough, but they’re not too scary.  There is just enough underwear and bodily function humor to make kids laugh, but not enough to be really gross or inappropriate.  The chase scenes are exciting but there is enough humor added in so that children won’t be too frightened.  And the moral of the movie is to keep swingin’ and to never give up.  I’d say that’s a fitting moral to a movie being made by Christopher and Dana Reeve.  

Even better in my mind is that little Yankee really wants to get Babe Ruth’s bat so that his dad can have his job back.  His love for his father is really the driving force behind his cross-country journey.  

I wish you could have seen my children watching this movie.  They loved it!  And because there were no underlying innuendoes, no underlying political statements, no underlying agendas — which is refreshing in a children’s movie today — we love it too.  This is definitely going on our want-to-own list.  

 

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Performance-Based Parenting

Just in case anyone else needs this reminder right now too. . . 

This morning, in his Father’s Day message, our pastor mentioned that our parenting should not be about performance.  We shouldn’t discipline to our children’s performance; we should aim for their hearts.  

Now, I know this.  I really do.  But sometimes I forget.  The past couple weeks I have been so tired and so overwhelmed with my to-do list.  I got way behind on laundry and cleaning a few weeks ago and because of travels and more laundry and some sickness I haven’t caught up yet.  The giant mess in my kids’ room and the overflowing laundry hampers stress me out.  Stress and exhaustion and six children in an apartment are not a great combination.  So I desperately needed that reminder this morning.  

Even when I know better, it’s easy to fall back into the bad habit of performance-based parenting.  It’s especially easy when I’m stressed and tired.  “I want you to obey because I said so.  And I want you to obey perfectly.  And I want you to obey now.  And I don’t want to have to think about your intentions or your motives or showing you grace or how I’m supposed to be building you up and showing you overwhelming, unconditional love.  I just want you to obey so my life will be easier.”  

When I’m tired and stressed, I get angry too easily.  And then I respond from anger and not from love and certainly not from the perspective of forming the character of my children.  I just am irritated that I’m inconvenienced and that I have more work and that I’m dealing with the same exact problem for the sixth time in the past hour.  And I forget that my irritability and horrible example will just result in more work as the same irritability and anger shows up in my children’s attitudes.  

Duh!

So I needed the attitude adjustment this morning.  I’ll probably need it again tomorrow morning.  I’m slow that way.  Fortunately, I know from experience that the Holy Spirit will whisper reminders to me in the days to come.  

Aim for the heart of my children.  Look for their motives and intentions.  Praise them liberally.  Don’t lump them all together and take out my frustration with one’s behavior on everyone else.  Show forgiveness quickly.  Look them in the eye.  Listen to them when they want to talk.  Have fun with them.  Laugh often.  Hug them.  Remember their ages and set my expectations accordingly.  Respond with love.  Expect mistakes and misjudgments and misbehavior; they are still learning.  Spend time remembering the moment each was born and the overwhelming joy I felt.  Keep in mind the Golden Rule.  Keep in mind 1 Corinthians 13.  Love them.  Love them.  Love them.   

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Rent This Movie

We rented the movie Bella and watched it tonight.  What a refreshing film!  

Some film-makers decided they couldn’t make movies that went against everything they believe in.  They didn’t want to contribute more violence, more negative stereotype, more gratuitous sexual scenes, and more demoralizing and degrading movies.  They wanted to create films that uplift and honor and “light a candle in the audience’s heart.”  

Thus came Bella.  A film about life and remorse and pain and family and forgiveness and second chances.  A film about love.

Rent it.  Or buy it.  

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Crazy Things Kids Do

In light of my recent BB and TUMS stories, I’ve been thinking about all the crazy things my children have done. 

First, I defensively feel the need to tell you that I do not leave my children alone and unsupervised for long periods of time.  However, there have been times throughout the years when I have wanted to sleep or bathe or use the bathroom, and these are the times when my children pounce on all that they are not supposed to do.  

Each of my children has eaten food without permission.  Each has come to me with a chocolate mustache or white powdered lips or a bright blue tongue and been shocked when I knew they had sneaked a snack.  For a few weeks, Lauren and Caleb were obsessed with squeezing icing onto their tongues from those little tubes of writing icing.  A can of half-used icing stored in the fridge will disappear one finger-swipe at a time.  Once, my sweet children even convinced a babysitter to allow them to drink blue snow cone syrup as a beverage!  

Caleb once mixed up some odd concoction by cracking eggs and adding those to some sugar and some water and some butter and I’m not sure what all else.  I came out of the shower just as he finished stirring his creation.  And when I, appalled, told him it would make him sick if he ate it, he looked at me as if I were insane and said, “Of course, that’s why I was going to cook it in the microwave.”  He was four or five.  

My children have tossed toys and beads and food and crayons down the vents of our central heat and air system.  They have tossed toys at a speeding ceiling fan just to see what happens. 

They have, at various times, written on walls with pencils, pens, crayons, and permanent markers.  Once, when Lauren was three, she knew she was not allowed to write on the walls with crayons and was absolutely offended when we suggested she had.  No, indeed, she had not broken that rule.  She had taken her alphabet wooden blocks and rubbed them against the wall until the primary colors had rubbed off the wooden blocks and onto her wall.   

Water seems to be a big obsession with my sons.  They love to fill sinks with water and see if toys will float.  They love to pour cups full of water onto each other’s heads, while standing on the carpeted floor.  They love to pour entire bottles of Dawn dish soap into a sink and then dump cups full of water on it.  They have, at various times, enjoyed dunking books and dolls and toothbrushes into toilets full of water.  And, as I have written about before, some of them have even enjoyed a big drink of water from the toilet.  

They’ve eaten dog food.  They’ve dumped massive amounts of dog food out onto the kitchen floor.  They’ve dropped pieces of dog food into the dog’s water just to watch each piece swell up to form Giant. Dog. Food.  

Caleb went through a very impressive Booby-Trap Phase.  He would find string or yarn or thread or dental floss.  He wasn’t choosy, anything like that would do.  And then he would unwind it in intricate paths all around the house, ready to trip the unsuspecting Momma as she put laundry away.  The Booby-Trap Phase lasted an unbelievably long time. 

Just last year, Jackson had the Powdered Food and Drinks Phase.  He enjoyed dumping out anything powdered he could find.  Kool-Aid mix.  An entire container of parmesan cheese.  Sugar.  Instant mashed potato flakes.  Pudding mix.  We lost track of how many times we found piles of powdered substances under our dining room table or in the boys’ closet.  

There was the time all four of the older children decided it would be fun to toss a bag of powdered sugar around the living room while I showered.  I guess it was like Extreme Beanbag Toss.  It took them a while to clean that mess up after the bag popped.  

And, of course, they have colored all over themselves and each other.  Lauren even painted Silas’ face one day, making him look like a cat.  I actually stopped to take a picture before we scrubbed his face.  He was a very cute cat.  

Lauren cut her bangs once.  She didn’t want bangs, and she didn’t understand the concept of growing them out.  So she cut them all off.  She wore headbands for months and months as that grew out.  

Caleb cut his hair too.  He just took the scissors and cut random chunks out.  It was hilarious!  And I didn’t even notice for a while.  It was during our soccer month of spending four evenings a week at the soccer field.  I was trying to get things done at home that day and scrambling to get dinner and go to soccer and then make it to church.  As Caleb was getting into the Suburban after soccer and before church, I looked down and noticed his hair.  Oh well, he had to go to church looking like that.  

And there are more stories like this.  Sadly, many more.  I’d like to think my children are creative and inquisitive, that they’ll grow up to be scientists or inventors or famous authors.  I’d like to think the root of all this is anything other than pure mischievousness or pure orneriness.  If all these shenanigans are because of exceptional creativity and curiosity, then I’m sure it’s because of my DNA contribution.  However, if it does turn out to be pure orneriness, let’s blame my husband’s DNA.  

 

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