I vividly recall a conversation Tim and I had before we had children. It was during a road trip where we had time to conjure up names for our list. We talked about issues we might face (we had no clue!). The inevitable question arose, “What if our kids is the last to get picked in gym class?”
It’s weird…but isn’t easy to remember what that feeling was like in when you were a kid? I hated picking teams in gym class. It was like the most obvious sign of being popular or NOT. I most certainly had that feeling of being a ‘LOSER!’
I was in fifth grade. My parents had just gotten divorced. My mother moved across town which required my brother and I to transfer to a new school. I spent more time in the nurse’s office that year than I probably did in class. I was not welcomed into the student body with a great deal of warmth.
Polo (aka Ralph Lauren) shirts were the rage. Preppy was in. And, money was tight! Luckily, Marshall’s, a discount store, had just opened up nearby which stocked out-of-season or slightly irregular Polo attire. I was thrilled…well, at least until I went to school.
I walked into my fifth grade class feeling very cool with my bright pink shirtdress with citrus green Polo. I figured I might just fit in. I put down my folder when from behind came a classmate (she will remain unnamed) pulled the back of the collar down to see that horrid and obvious sign that this Polo dress was, in fact, from Marshall’s. For some reason, all of the Ralph Lauren attire sold had a cut down the center of the tag. She knew instantly that it wasn’t a ‘real’ Polo shirt, and exclaimed such absurdity quite loudly. My hope of fitting in instantly diminished. Off to the nurse’s office…I was starting to feel sick again. Fifth grade was a retched year.
Fast forward to Tuesday night. Briggs and I were at the kitchen table studying for a math test. I gave him some sample problems to complete. <Sidenote: My level of math is coming to a quick close. It is shocking what he is already learning. He is about to figure out that his mother is numerically-challenged!>
He instantly became agitated. Pushed the paper away and proceeded to his room in a fury that I was giving him ‘extra work.’ But as he was ascending the stairs he blurted out, “AND I DIDN’T EVEN GET PICKED TO BE ON A DODGEBALL TEAM!”
Clearly math was not the underlying cause for his anger and frustration.
I let him stay in his room for about twenty minutes without addressing the issue. I do have three other obnoxious kids and a traveling husband. Besides that, I suddenly had flashbacks to the aforementioned road trip and fifth grade horror.
It probably isn’t a big secret that I am not the most soft-hearted or sympathetic mother.
Once I played twenty-questions with Briggs, I got out this much. There is a dodgeball tournament coming up at the middle school. He did NOT get picked for a team. All of his friends were already on teams. NO ONE else was left in the ENTIRE student body that was not already on a team. In fact, he was the ONLY one not playing in the tournament. And, NO WAY was he going to be playing on a team with ALL GIRLS!
I told him in two years he will probably wished he picked the team with all girls. He didn’t think I was very funny.
My heart hurt for him though. My brain was certainly trying to figure out a way I could fix it for him but…my fifth grade loser experience contributed significantly to me being who I am today. I hate to say it…but I think everyone needs to feel like a loser in their life.
Being faced with this dodgeball challenge can only enhance his resiliency, independence and confidence knowing that Briggs has a cheerleader behind him that loves him unconditionally. And, to be honest, my kids lead a life of luxury. We live in a beautiful area. They have clean beds and clean clothes. They have plenty to eat. They are enriched with activities and sports. I often worry what it is that is going to build their characters.
So my hard and pointed advice to Briggs was this…
“Well you can certainly lie in your bed and feel sorry for yourself that you don’t have a dodgeball team. That is pretty easy. Or you can take some initiative, walk into school tomorrow, find some other kids that haven’t found a team, and build your own. Be a leader. Build a team with girls and boys. You know…girls can be pretty good at dodgeball. Or how about this…you can talk to your friends currently on a team and tell them you want to play. Explain to them that you are willing to be a substitute. Make something happen for yourself because no one else is going to. I want to know what you did about it after school tomorrow. I love you. Good night!”
He came home with the parental consent to be in the dodgeball tournament. Just like they say in the Dodgeball movie (which is hilarious, by the way), IF YOU CAN DODGE A WRENCH YOU CAN DODGE A BALL. I think Briggs dodged a wrench. He should be ready to dodge a ball with ease.
I love the feeling of slipping into a clean, well-made bed at night. I love multiple pillows, if only for decoration. I love thick mattress pads. I like duvet covers and soft blankets.
However spoiling it might seem, every child has a very comfortable bed, in my opinion. Their sheets are soft. They have thick duvet covers. And, I typically make their beds every day. I guess beds are just kind of my thing. I think if you cuddle up safely and peacefully each night, it is a wonderful way to end a day. Sometimes it is hard to pry the kids out of bed for school in the morning. But who likes to leave a warm cocoon?
So, it was an enormous compliment to me a few nights ago when Briggs turned to me and said, “Mom, I really like my bed. It feels good to get into it at night.”
It made me feel good, as if I had done something right. As a mom, I grab on to hold the few acknowledgements I get!
While Tim and I recognize that the boys having their own rooms is a privilege, I have always wanted the space to be a private refuge for them. A place where they can slip away, play, and relax.
As strange as it may seem, I imagined Briggs visiting home from college excited to sleep in his bed.
Some things remain constant in this house. Mainly, the constant activity…its never quiet. If it is, something is fishy…as in wrong.
+ It may seem completely ironic but our CAT got caught in one of our MOUSE traps yesterday. I figure it is either one dumb cat or one smart mouse. Thankfully Emerson heard Izzy shuffling around with her two hind legs and tail bound to the Gorilla Glue trap we had set in the basement. After a terror of tears (by our oldest son), we carefully removed her from the confines of entrapment.
+ I am not a hairy woman. Well, honestly, my chin has some coarse, dark hairs that seem to grow overnight randomly. But all in all, hair isn’t the main issue. However, as I was bathing yesterday my dear daughter, Emerson, said, “Mom, do you have fur in your pits?” Calgon…take me away!
+ While Nate and I were meeting with a potential bride, Campbell came into our closed meeting space SCREAMING. I naturally figured she had been pushed, hit or shoved. But no…she had put a staple through her finger. Let’s just say…we didn’t wind up booking that wedding!
+ After forgetting something repeatedly, Briggs said, “Mom, maybe you should just put a post it on your forehead!” to which all of the kids laughed hysterically.
+ Does nail polish mean it is for your nails? Really? The twins thought it would look pretty on their faces. Ugh!
+ Briggs downloaded a ‘Spin the Bottle’ app (child-friendly) and we played on the kitchen floor. It was funny…but I don’t recall it being so innocent when I played. Nonetheless, we had a lot of laughs.
+ The arguing and name calling has reached a maximum limit this winter as we are in hibernation within the confines of our home. It finally prompted a Saturday morning Family Meeting. I heard in Bible Study, that our words should be like gifts we give to one another in a silver box. I am trying desperately to remind my children to speak kindly.
+ It is hard to believe that this little gun that is less than an inch long could cause me to separate the boys. It goes to show you that we all can fight over the littlest things.
I love the holidays. I love getting out the Christmas decorations. And, I treasure listening to Christmas carols the entire month of December. I just keep the iPod on shuffle.
Sure enough though, when January 1st rolls around, I am ready to get everything back to normal. The sound of peace in the house today was a welcome relief with the children back in school.
So here is a recap and some highlights from the past few weeks:
+ Briggs is officially a TWEEN in every sense of the word. He has lost four teeth in December alone. His attitude runs from high to low within seconds. He irritates his siblings and they irritate him. He spent nearly the entire Christmas vacation in his pajamas…seriously! He says things to me such as, “Mom, you better get used to it. You have three other children behind me.”
+ My beloved brother, Nate, gave a gift to Briggs from AMBER for Christmas. I should have known from the label what was included in the package with the name Amber. But sure enough, Briggs opened up the 2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar. Ah…I would hardly call what the models wear swimsuits. In fact, some of them are painted on. The calendar is hiding beside my dryer. I fully expect that it will be found at some point. Warning to all of my neighbors: Your son might come home with an extra wide smile.
+ Bedtime…what bedtime? A regular routine is absolutely forgotten during the holidays.
+ Polar Bear Express on surround sound. The glasses is the dining room were shaking as if the train was really coming through the house.
+ Great food…I now have an official muffin top. UGH!
+ Ice skating. It was more of a workout for Tim and me tying skates, holding up kids, picking them up from the ice, cheering them on, and untying skates. Our outing ended. We returned home and they all decided to get into their pajamas by late afternoon. At least we got out of the house.
+ Tangled. Worth the admission for boys and girls. A great addition to Disney’s collection.
+ X-Box 360 Kinect. We can now all compete against each other while dancing to Lady Gaga! Love it. Maybe my muffin top will disappear.
+ Makeup and more makeup. The twins’ Christmas dreams were thoroughly fulfilled with a vanity table and the ‘HOLY-MOLY MAKEUP KIT!” They are four going on fourteen. They also got a microphone!!! Campbell says that she wants a stage next. I have a feeling she will be on stage someday she is so darn dramatic.
+ Sibling rivalry…will it ever end?
+ Visits from family. Suzy and Drew (love them)! Papa John (wow…he even stayed overnight). Mark and Terry (always a late arrival but we love to hang out with them). Debbie and Ray (super sweet).
+ Traditions. For the second year, we have gone Christmas caroling around the neighborhood. It started with just us last year. This year, we had at least 30 in tow with a bonfire afterwards. Suzy and I are especially excited about this growing tradition. Seems like we are doing it for Caroline as much as ourselves.
+ We will never forget the year that our new kittens were found napping at the top of the tree.
+ Four believers. It may be the last year I am able to write that we still have four believers in Santa Claus. Wish this would never end.
Well, I am definitely NOT going to win MOM OF THE YEAR for this one.
I was working late the other night (go figure!). It is that time of the year when my hands start to shrink from the cold and my rings twist around uncomfortably. So, I slipped the off and tucked them in my desk.
LESSON LEARNED: Either don’t take off rings or keep one place in the house where they go and don’t deviate from it.
Two days later after I sent the girls off to Bible Study, I remembered I needed to put my rings back on. I proceeded to my desk and found them GONE! I screamed! I immediately called the Bible Study teacher to have her check each purse the girls brought with them. Because at four years old, they must carry a purse with their makeup and special things!
Nothing was found. I screamed!
At this point, Gage had to be dropped off at school. I heard him from the back of the van say as I was crying, “Mom, I didn’t even know you had diamonds. And your cry sounds like a pig laughing.” He must have thought I had a small bag of loose diamonds as if from Pirates of the Caribbean.
I arrive swiftly back at Bible Study. Openly blame the girls for taking my jewelry, and proceed to take them back home.
LESSON LEARNED: Don’t place blame in public. You may have to eat your words.
Once we walk through the door, the girls are staying noticeably close to each other. I ask them to take me to the place where they moved my jewelry. They haphazardly state the rings must be in my closet or maybe Gage’s room or maybe in the bathroom…
My frustration reaches its peak. I am crying explaining that these are my special things and they shouldn’t touch my special things.
I spank them. Ugh…I even made them pull down their pants. Ugh!!!
I call Tim.
LESSON LEARNED: Call your husband first.
He is busy in a meeting but hears my frantic voice. All he could say is, “I took them and put them in a safer place!”
So, I walk into the twins’ room with my tail between my legs. Profusely apologize for blaming them.
I am emotionally drained for the remainder of the day while I try to make it up to them by baking muffins and getting out the holiday decorations.
LESSON LEARNED: Even though they look guilty 99% of the time and even though they typically are guilty 99% of the time, sometimes they aren’t guilty.