PinkGirl became aware that I said “dammit” in my blog the other day.
I have a 12 year old censor. and she. is. bossy.
meanwhile, she thinks it is hilarious to tell me she “shipped her pants.“
the fact is, I grew up with a mom who used “colorful” language.
rationalizing Julie says, in comparison, “my colorful language is pastel.”
cuz that is so much better.
I sometimes cuss in my head.
sometimes. my head leaks out of my mouth.
and my colorful vocabulary is limited.
mostly to the “d” word and the “h” word.
those are in the Bible, right?
FirstHusband: “maybe so, but do you want your daughter to say them?”
every once in a while, the “sh” word comes out with a “no” in front of it.
I definitely don’t want my daughter to say that.
I think the “a” word and the “b” word are crass.
and I really HATE the “f” word.
In full disclosure – I am sure I’ve said them all.
having grown up with colorful language, I can tell you that it takes intentional effort to find alternative colors.
but back to the brain to mouth leakage.
if we are acquaintances, you will witness no leakage.
if we are friends…
it’s possible. you may witness leakage.
do I think such leakage is acceptable?
oh. look. another failure.
besides. if you know me, you know I hate pastel colors.
so I’m watching Tim Hawkins list 101 curse words Christians can say.
my favorites are:
shut the front door.
fer cryin out loud.
or external silence. with internal cussage.
and there it is.
I’m not going back to the colorful blog post and deleting the color. It would be a cover-up. a lie.
if you want perfect, you shouldn’t read this blog anymore.
there’s no perfect here.
[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series "the search for Joy."]
If you put your kids Christmas gifts in unmarked boxes, you can get them to wrap their own presents.
FavoriteDaddy reading The Hobbit to PinkGirl last night.
Here’s how PinkGirl’s volcano science project turned out yesterday:
If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember FavoriteSon’s volcano project. Here’s an excerpt from that blog post:
We end up at Michael’s craft store with four packages of quick drying clay, a terra cotta pot and . . . a rocket engine. Yes. Michael’s sells rocket engines. FirstHusband is smiling and FavoriteSon is explaining how there really IS a type of volcano that explodes like that . . . The boys spend all morning Saturday wiring and soldering. Then they go into the backyard to test it before they make a terra cotta pot LOOK like a volcano. It works. It explodes. I look at FavoriteSon and say, “When you get sent to the office on Monday, give them your dad’s work number so he can explain how that’s perfectly safe.” . . . Then it’s tested again, this time adding sand to the top of the volcano so it shoots dirt up into the air and looks even more realistic . . . either FavoriteSon will be suspended or he will get an “A” on this project. (postscript: he got an “A”)
So. This time, explosives are NOT an option. PinkGirl has the same science teacher FavoriteSon did. No playing the “I had no idea” card. But PinkGirl wanted “a BIG explosion.” How to do that without ignition? FirstHusband wanted to buy a portable compressor, but his attempt to justify the expense by coming up with other things to do with it after making a volcano explode?
So my father (SuperPappy) suggested the shop vac reversed. The lampshade idea came to me during a severe allergic reaction to crafting after my husband said the words “paper mache” to me. We picked out a dirty, torn lampshade and got a 25% discount. Final Sale. No returns.
No problem. Crafting avoided.
As you can see, the explosion was a HIT. The ash went higher than the fence.
Here’s the written report PinkGirl wrote to accompany the volcano shown in the video:
“Volcanoes are amazing things of nature and only God can create them. Still for my project I tried my best and I also had fun while doing it. From deciding what type of volcano mine is or what type of eruption it will have it was a fun learning experience that I would love to tell you about.
The First thing I did was paint the lampshade (which is my volcano). It was actually a lot harder than I thought it was going to be because I had to mix paint to find the right color. The second thing I did was cut a hole in the box big enough for the pipe. Then I cut the top of the lampshade out with bolt cutter. (It was awesome!) After that I measured and cut the pipe to the right size with a hack saw. (My dad helped a little for this part but I did cut with a hack saw.) Next I glued the pipe to the adapter and cut the small pipe to the right size and glued it to the adapter and the elbow of the other pipe. Then I put another hole in the side of the box and put the side pipe in it. Next is my favorite part. I put coal in a bag and crushed it with a hammer. After that I poured the ash and coal in and covered it with saran wrap. Then I painted the box green and put the “Snow” on the volcano. The last step was decorating it with little touches to make it look better.
During the process of building my volcano I learned all about Composite volcanoes and plinian eruptions. Composite volcanoes are made out of ash, tephra, and lava. Plinian eruptions are violent and have lots of ash and poisonous gasses. Mt. Saint Helens was a composite volcano and had a plinian eruption.
I always thought a volcano just meant lava and smoke but I now understand that volcanoes are much more complicated than that. God must have had fun designing and creating volcanoes. He is a very creative God who has an amazing imagination. Volcanoes are dangerous magnificent things that create new land, give us dazzling treasures, and really open our eyes to show us how marvelous our world really is. I can only imagine what other planets are like.
Me: “PinkGirl, you know what time it is?”
Me: “Time to lay out your clothes for school tomorrow.”
extreme, dramatic faux fainting
Me: “And pack your lunch.”
and just like that. Summer is over.
I’ve described my mother as a “defiant non-compliant diabetic.” She ate what she wanted, when she wanted, blood sugar be damned. After decades of neglect, her body began to deteriorate and finally shut down completely. I found a receipt in her wallet dated just days before her death. She had driven through Burger King on the way home from dialysis and ordered a BK Stacker (22 grams of fat, 700 mg of sodium.). She was suffering from congestive heart failure, taking 14 different medications and on dialysis 3 days a week, but she wanted a BK Stacker, so she got one. There were more fast food receipts in the pockets of her clothing and on her desk.
Time and time and time again she chose immediate personal gratification and a comfort zone, over long term goals, discomfort and inconvenience – and not just with food.
She bought what she wanted when she wanted it, even if she didn’t have the money.
She wanted a warm, inviting home, but she focused on the house and its contents more than the people who lived in it.
She wanted passionate relationships, but was controlling and plagued with pride.
She wanted to travel and experience new things. But instead, she booked the same vacation for years.
She loved to play the piano. But she didn’t make time for it.
She loved to sing. But she only sang in the house. And rarely.
She wanted to write. But she didn’t.
She wanted so much, but she settled for so little.
Her desire for the things she wanted made it challenging and sometimes impossible for her to recognize, much less appreciate, the blessings she had. Her inability to see that she had power to change her circumstances if she stayed true to her long-term goals kept her firmly rooted in mediocrity and the status quo.
I paid attention. And I learned quite a bit about what I want for my life by watching her choices.
I still pay attention. And I look for consequences – good and bad – so I can learn from other people’s choices. I learn a LOT about what I want as a result of my OWN choices and their consequences.
My mother had a stroke and blamed her doctors and her medication. She had a stroke and I got a personal trainer. Before and after her stroke, she relied on medications to make herself feel better and to lengthen her life. Before her stroke, I was following in her footsteps. After her stroke, I began relying on exercise and lifestyle changes to make myself feel better and to lengthen my life.
I had a choice. I could continue to go with the flow and eventually find myself at risk for a stroke or I could intentionally and consistently walk backwards against the current. If you know me, it shouldn’t surprise you that when I’m floating in a lazy river, I will at some point, become bored and walk backward against the current. It’s a metaphor for my life. I intentionally choose to view every experience God has allowed in my life – good AND bad – as a blessing. Together, these blessings fuel me with determination.
I’m a big believer in benchmarking. When I want to learn how to do something, I find people who do it well and I copy them. But I also learn what not to do by watching the things that people, myself included, do poorly. I pay attention to choices and consequences – good and bad. I call it opportunistic learning and it helps me discover what I want in my life.
I want more than immediate gratification and a well worn spot in my comfort zone.
I want MORE than the comfort of air conditioning, dry, pleasant smelling clothing, a good hair day, less laundry and an extra hour every day. I don’t consider a handicapped sticker on my car to be a well deserved ticket to a great parking space and the inability to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded scares me more than a hurricane warning. The inability to walk up a flight of stairs at all scares me more than an actual hurricane.
I want a stronger body, even if it needs two showers in one day, generates smelly, wet laundry, “wastes” 30 minutes or more of my day and requires a longer walk from the parking lot. I want to get stronger as I get older, not weaker. I want to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with. I’ve experienced the limitations of a body that won’t do what I want it to do and I hated it so much I NEVER want to experience it again. I’ll do anything I can to make sure that my body doesn’t deteriorate due to neglect.
I want MORE than a 6 inch high plate of nachos with a phenomenal cheese sauce or the most decadent, melt in your mouth chocolate lava cake in the world. I want MORE than the thousands of milligrams of sodium and double digit grams of fat in the restaurant food that saves me from cooking dinner when I don’t feel like it. I want MORE than a bedtime snack of ice cream or a Grand Slam breakfast from Denny’s. I want MORE than a BK Stacker.
I want unblocked arteries, normal blood pressure and stable blood sugar. I want my 7 day pill case to be filled with vitamins and supplements instead medications. I want to model good nutritional choices for my children, especially my daughter. I want to live a longer, healthier life than my mother did. I’m not swayed by spoonfuls being shoved in my face along with an exasperated voice telling me to “just taste it.” It’s not that I secretly want it and am just denying myself. I really don’t want it. I’ll never be convinced to abandon my long term nutrition goals just because someone belittles me for not eating something they want to eat. I’ll never belittle them while I watch them eat – but I also won’t sanction their choice or cave to middle school level peer pressure by picking up a fork and joining them.
I want MORE than a good marriage. I want MORE than candy and flowers and jewelry on Valentines Day and my birthday. I want MORE than a husband who handles car maintenance, toilet repair, heavy lifting, jar opening and high shelf reaching. I want MORE than a “good” sex life and a husband who does what I want in order to get it. I want MORE than a husband who agrees with me to avoid conflict and who spends time with me because he’s supposed to.
I want a GREAT marriage to a man I can’t go a day without talking to. I want to be the person who respects my husband more than anyone else in the world and I want him to know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I want to come to the end of my day and be confident I didn’t say a bad word about him to ANYone. I want to be the kind of wife he wants to come home to and I want to be genuinely happy that he’s home when he walks in the door. I want a partner – a LIFE LONG partner – who tells me the truth in a gracious tone of voice, motivated by love. I want us to share EVERYthing without holding back: our thoughts, our ideas, our weaknesses, our fears, our passions and our bodies. I want to share household and parenting duties and I’m thankful that I figured out early in our marriage that different isn’t wrong. I want us to be able speak in idioms and always understand each other. I want us to be able to communicate with facial expressions and eye contact. I want to stay married to my best friend for the rest of my life and I’m thankful that we are both willing to run to a marriage counselor the minute our relationship can be described as “fine.”
I want MORE than compliant children who make good grades, keep their room clean and behave appropriately at all times. I want MORE than happy, safe children. I don’t want my children to do what they’re told because I say so.
I want to hear about everything that interests them, because I know that if I don’t listen with interest, they will stop telling me. I want to be challenged by their mind, fascinated by their discoveries, respectful of their ideas, convinced by their reasoning, inspired by their passion and exasperated by our differences. I want to always strive to respect them as individuals instead viewing them as extensions of myself. I want to be comfortable with their potential to embarrass me for the sake of their (and my) learning curve. I want my children to learn life lessons from remorse and disappointment as well as from pride and achievement. I want to equip them, not protect them. I want them to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, even when nobody is looking.
I want to be debt-free. I want to own my home, not hold a mortgage. I want my car to start every time I turn the key, and if it does, I don’t care how many miles are on it. I want to be a good steward of my financial blessings. I want to save and pay cash for the things I want. I don’t want to pay interest. I want to teach my children the value of a wise financial choice. I want to teach them that delayed gratification ultimately makes them happier and more secure than an impulse or convenient purchase. I want to give God MORE than 10% of what he entrusts to me and I want my kids to want to do the same.
I want MORE than to help lead a “good” praise set on Sunday morning. Lukewarm makes me restless. Holding back makes me unsettled. Trying to please everyone is deeply discouraging. Settling for fine wears me down. I don’t want to give God less than my very best. No one is drawn to mediocrity.
I want to work my butt off to prepare and when Sunday morning comes, I want to block out all the logistics and make myself open and available for God to equip me for service. I want to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, not the body language of someone in the congregation who is missing His presence because they are preoccupied with what someone else thinks. I want to allow myself to be saturated with the Holy Spirit, so much so that Satan doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hell of distracting me from my goal of bringing as many people with me as I possibly can while I abandon myself to authentic, consuming praise. I want to go all out and see what God will do with my all.
I want to use everything God has given me – the good and the bad – to serve Him. When I write, I have no idea if the result is a cathartic purge or if someone will identify with something I say and be encouraged or changed by it. It’s just as possible that what I’ve written will alienate or discourage someone. I have no idea if God will use it to reach someone, but I pray He will. I don’t want the words I write to be in a vacuum.
I. want. MORE.
Do I always get it right? Not by a long shot. I do not find all this to be intuitive. These are determined choices I make, over and over and over again. And when I screw up, I start over, even if I have to start over multiple times a day. But I’m not going to stop striving. And I’m willing to wait for whatever God hasn’t entrusted me with yet. I’m willing work for it.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness,knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 5-8
“Never neglect what you’ve seen God do in your life. Take a careful look at these things from God’s perspective, all the way from your birth to where you stand right now. They’re all significant.”
Experiencing the Spirit
Henry and Melvin Blackaby
Last night I was repeating: “God loves my kids more than I do. God loves my kids more than I do. God loves my kids more than I do.”
FavoriteSon went out. On a Friday night. First time driving in heavy traffic IN THE DARK.
“God loves my kids more than I do. God loves my kids more than I do. God loves my kids more than I do.”
In the end, God brought FavoriteSon home safe.
Actually, his friend drove him home because they finished up after 11pm and his dad and I won’t allow him to drive past the State of Florida driving curfew for 16 year olds (11pm). We have to go pick up his car today, but it’s a very small price to pay to reinforce the lesson that we don’t break the law, even if he “probably wouldn’t have gotten caught.”
Sports Illustrated 2012 Swimsuit Edition arrived in the mail today, which we always toss before FavoriteSon even sees it.
PinkGirl spotted it on the counter and opened it up:
“WHOA! WHERE’S HER BATHING SUIT?!!”
PinkGirl: “Hey, here’s one that’s not so bad.”
Me: “Is it the green M&M?”
no. It was just a Nautica ad.
Seriously. Why do they not mail this thing in a plain brown envelope?
(We’re not cancelling our subscription over it, we’ve chosen to throw that one issue away every year.)
Eleven year old PinkGirl auditioned for Beauty and the Beast this month. Of course she wanted the part of Belle. At the four hour cast call backs the week after her first audition, she sang and read for Belle. The only other character she was asked to try was Babbette, the feather duster.
She couldn’t do the walk.
In the end, she got the part of Madam. The Wardrobe.
She hadn’t been asked to sing or read for any other character, and the role of the Wardrobe wasn’t announced until just before the role of Belle, so as she heard the other parts being assigned to her fellow cast members, the process of elimination gave her false hope. When her name was called, she was completely blindsided.
The moment they were dismissed, she bolted out the door, still in her jazz shoes. She held herself together until she was about three feet from the van. Since she had run out so fast, none of her friends heard her break down crying.
I got in the van and quickly drove to an empty spot in the parking lot.
Immediately – and I mean IMMEDIATELY – she leapt to the conclusion that she wasn’t good at the one thing she thought she was really good at. The decision made by this stranger somehow represented the real truth and everyone else who had ever told her she was good was just being nice. This was a sign that she should quit. This was proof that she wasn’t as good at singing and acting as she thought she was. This was God saying no, not only to Belle, but to theater. She was just fooling herself, wasting everyone’s time and her parent’s money.
She said all these things to herself and to me through broken tears. Then she SCREAMED them again at God. At the top of her lungs, she DEMANDED to know why He was breaking her heart. She told Him that He was making her feel WORTHLESS. When she wrapped her arms around my neck sobbing and screamed “I thought you LOVED me!” at God, it wrenched me. Exhausted from the screaming, she broke down again, sobbing, telling God she was sorry. That she loved him. That she would always love him. No matter what.
This had nothing to do with being disappointed about not getting the part of Belle.
Sure, she was sad and disappointed she didn’t get the role she was going for, but that’s happened before. She played an eel in Little Mermaid – and you know she didn’t go into the audition wanting that part. She was heartbroken when she didn’t get the part of Ti Moune in Once Upon this Island – she wanted that part so bad she became the secret, silent understudy because she wanted to be ready in case the lead couldn’t perform for any reason at all. And less than a year ago, she auditioned for Annie – the role every little actress dreams about – and the part went to her best friend.
She wasn’t just sad and disappointed about not getting a part. If only it were that simple. This was a full blown identity crisis. I looked it up:
identity crisis (noun) A period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.
Here it was, two months after her 11th birthday, and she was convinced her dream of a career in theater was being taken from her. And of course, GOD was doing the taking. If she wasn’t an actress or a singer, who was she?
Sitting in the parking lot, I knew she wouldn’t be able to hear me until she had had it out with God. I didn’t stop her from screaming at Him. I didn’t reprimand her for talking to Him like that.
God can take it.
I waited. I held her. I stroked her hair. Kissed her forehead. I prayed that God would give me the words to say and that I would know the right time to say them. Suddenly, she seemed to literally run out of tears and – no surprise – she had a terrible headache. Her eyes were red and puffy and her face was pale. Her blood sugar was bottomed out and she needed to eat something. There was a Chick-Fil-A in the parking lot so I went through the drive-thru and parked again.
As we sat in the van and ate, she was quiet. Still crying, but quiet. I took a chance that she could hear me, and I decided to approach the smaller issue of Belle first, before I even tried to talk to her about her belief that it meant she wasn’t as good as she thought she was. I was hoping that if I could lessen the significance of the trigger event, the resulting blow to her self-confidence would be softened at the same time.
I told her I didn’t understand why God allowed this to happen. I said that when we face a trial, sometimes God shows us why right away, sometimes he shows us why much later and sometimes, we never get to know why.
Me: “Do you know what just happened with Aunt Wendy’s (my sister) teaching job??
Me: “You know she works at a bank 3 days a week, but about a year ago, she got hired as a college instructor to teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But the kind of teaching job she got wasn’t the kind where you just get hired and you keep the job until you leave or get fired. For this job, she got a contract to teach for one semester and then when that was finished, she got another contract to teach for another semester. You know what happened this semester?”
(negative head shake.)
Me: “She didn’t get a contract. They didn’t even call her to tell her they weren’t going to give her another contract. She was confused and hurt and upset and very worried about how they could pay their bills when she found out. Now she only has work 3 days a week. She couldn’t understand why God would allow this to happen. Then you know what happened?
(another negative head shake.)
Me: “CutiePie (my 1 year old nephew) got very, very sick. And Aunt Wendy didn’t have to leave him and go to work. She got to stay with him and take care of him most of the time he was sick. She posted a picture of him on facebook, sleeping after he was feeling better and you know what my comment was?
(another negative head shake.) “So thankful you didn’t have to teach today. God works in mysterious ways.”
(smile and tiny laugh)
I asked her if she was ready to talk about why God might have allowed this to happen in her life. Even though we can’t see the world from God’s point of view, what reasons could we think of from our limited perspective as humans?
PinkGirl: I think it’s a test.
Me: “What kind of test?”
PinkGirl, welling up again: “To see if I would love God no matter what.”
(From the moment she found out she was auditioning for Beauty and the Beast she had been praying and telling God she would love Him no matter what part she got and that whatever part that was, she would do her very best. Her dad and I prayed that prayer again with her the night before call backs and I prayed it again with her in the car on the way to call backs.)
Me: You may be right. Could it be another kind of test?
PinkGirl: “Like what?”
Me: “Could it be that God is helping you figure out if you really love theater as much as you say you do? Because, this will definitely happen again. More than once. You will want some other part and you won’t get it. And in some cases, you won’t even get a smaller role in the show you audition for. In some cases, you won’t get any role. You will probably NOT get the parts you want more often than you WILL get the parts you want.
(silent tears on her waffle fries)
Me: “PinkGirl, I don’t lie. You know I tell you the truth. You are good at this. And as good as you already are, you have the potential to get even better. I’ve told you before that I believe you can make a very good living in theater your entire life if you just don’t quit. I mean it. But you have to figure out if you can handle the disappointments that come with the joy. Do you love doing theater – no matter what?
(silent tears again)
Me: “What about your witness? GreatTheaterCompany isn’t a Christian organization. Some of the people there know you are a Christian. You invite your castmates to pray with you before shows. How can you be part of God’s story? Because HIS story is so much bigger and better than Beauty and the Beast. We need to start praying and asking God how He can use you to work all things for good.
(the tears stopped. I had her attention.)
Me: “Do you remember the story I told you about the Princess Tapestry?
PinkGirl, crying again: “Is this a dark thread?”
Me: “I think it’s pretty safe to say it is. Do you trust that God knows what he’s doing and that this dark thread will help make the tapestry beautiful? Even if you don’t get to see it until you see Him face to face?
(positive head shake with the tears again. I got another hug.)
(to be continued)
(this was written with PinkGirl’s permission)
There’s a certain person in my daughter’s life, who if she allows it, erodes her joy. I’ll call her TheBully. Without getting into detail, I’ll just say that her behavior toward PinkGirl is often passive-aggressive. Every day after school, PinkGirl tells me what TheBully did that day. And every day, PinkGirl and I talk about how she might handle her interactions with TheBully. I’ve encouraged her to include TheBully in her prayers.
I’ve asked PinkGirl to consider that there might be things in TheBully’s life that we aren’t aware of that make her unhappy and her unhappiness might be why she acts the way she does. I’ve explained that some unhappy people try to make themselves feel better by making other people unhappy too. They don’t know they’re doing it and while it really doesn’t make them feel any happier, it does make them feel less alone. I’ve called to her attention that TheBully is also unkind to other people and I’ve tried to help PinkGirl understand that she shouldn’t take it personally.
But I’ve also told PinkGirl that even if all those things are true, it doesn’t give TheBully the right to act the way she does.
It’s not okay.
PinkGirl and I talk about it at length and every day, I conclude by saying that I believe it’s possible for her to stand firm and not let TheBully control her actions. Every day, I tell PinkGirl that it’s possible to tell the truth – even truth that might hurt someone’s feelings – using gracious words. PinkGirl remains steadfastly unconvinced and consistently counters that TheBully will “tell lies” about her to “everybody.” “Everybody” will be mad at her. and she will get into big trouble with the teachers.
Every day, I tell PinkGirl that’s not true. And every day, she tell’s me I don’t understand and that I’m wrong.
The freakish optimist in me gets so exasperated with her. How can my daughter be such a pessimist?
And then I get smacked in the face with a little empathy.
There’s a certain person in my life, who, if I allow her, erodes my joy. I’ll call her Narcissa. Without getting into detail, I’ll just say that her behavior toward me is often passive-aggressive. After a few years of praying about – and relentlessly lamenting to my husband about – these interactions and countless discussions with him about why God is allowing this person in my life and what I’m supposed to do and say to her with the love of Christ, I finally . . . blocked her out. Literally and figuratively.
I’ve spent the last few months flat-lined against the messages in her body language, her wounded facial expressions and the disgruntled and sarcastic mumbling. And flat-line has been working for me.
Recently, the passive aggressive behavior morphed into a face to face, non-ignorable conversation. Skilled communicator that I am, I couldn’t think of one thing to say that fell in line with God’s command to speak in love. The words of the great philosopher, Thumper the bunny, kept echoing in my mind: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
So I stood there, speechless.
A few days later, a colleague/friend, who had witnessed the encounter, brought it up. My first response was to assure her that it was okay and to explain that, by the grace of God, I was in a place that Narcissa’s behavior didn’t bother me and that my focus was on my work.
But then my friend, a fellow Christian, said, “It’s just been weighing heavy on my heart.”
I’m not in a place where I can simply block her out. And I couldn’t ignore the fact that God has used her in other situations in my life to point out things I couldn’t or wouldn’t see. As I listened to her explain how Narcissa’s behavior was affecting her, I silently prayed that God would give me the right words to say. My initial thought was to sooth her soul, to help her accept the behavior of the person who was causing her so much heartache. Not once did I consider the possibility that the issue could be resolved. When my friend mentioned speaking with Narcissa about all this, my immediate reaction was, “ohhhhh, nooooo. That would not be a good idea.”
As she persistently brought up possibilities of addressing the problem, one by one, I shot them down: Can’t do it. Never gonna happen. There’s no situation in which that would turn out well. The fall out would be too far reaching.
The next day, alone, I thought: Who was that? I’m freakishly optimistic. I believe “can’t” is a four letter word. My mantra is “Just because I haven’t thought of an answer doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I just haven’t figured it out yet.”
What kind of power does this person have over me that I would abandon such a core characteristic? What kind of power does she have over other people? What kind of power does she have?
and what kind of example am I setting for my daughter? I had to fess up.
In the car ride home from school,
I said: “So, I had an epiphany. Do you know what that is?”
Me: “It’s a realization. I realized something today. You know how every day you tell me what TheBully did and I tell you that you need to stand firm and not let her control your actions? How you need to talk to her and tell her the truth using gracious words – even if it will hurt her feelings? And how every day, you tell me that you can’t do that because she will tell everyone lies and the teachers will get you in trouble and everyone will be mad at you …
PinkGirl: “Well not my real friends.”
Me: “True. But am I getting all this right? Am I leaving anything out?
PinkGirl: “No. That’s pretty much it.”
Me: “I realized I’m doing the same thing you are. Who’s TheBully in my life?”
PinkGirl, quick as a flash: “Narcissa.”
Me: “yep. I realized that I’m expecting you to do something I’m not willing to do myself. I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for getting so frustrated with you when you refuse to try and work out your problems with TheBully.”
So. Now I either have to start coaching PinkGirl about how to physically and emotionally distance herself from TheBully or I have to refocus my efforts on preventing Narcissa’s passive-aggressive behavior from negatively impacting my thoughts and actions.
If you read my last post, I should probably steer clear of Narcissa for a while. Because right this minute, emotions are not a factor in my decision-making and communication. I could easily, objectively and thoroughly tell Narcissa the truth and be completely unaffected by ANY reaction she has.
Unfortunately, because there are other people involved who would be negatively impacted by the repercussions of an honest conversation with Narcissa, I think my best course of action is to keep praying the prayer I’ve been praying for years: “Lord, if you won’t change my circumstances, please change my attitude.” If I want to shake the Hypocrite Certificate, I think I need to teach PinkGirl that same prayer. And how to physically and emotionally duck and weave to stay out of TheBully’s line of sight.
CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.
Writing about “Don’t Eat The Marshmallow” today. LOVE these kids.
(the premise is that children who are capable of delayed gratification are more “successful” than children who can’t delay gratification. The test? Give a kid a marshmallow and tell them they can eat it – BUT if they can wait 10-15 minutes, they can have TWO marshmallows. Some kids make it. Some kids don’t. Some kids find a way to eat the INSIDE of a marshmallow and make it look like they didn’t eat it. That would be the little girl with the pink headband. The kid vs. marshmallow test video begins around the 3 minute mark.)
PinkGirl spent nearly an HOUR crying last night. About E.V.E.R.Y.thing. She went from one problem to the next, never stopping, sometimes overlapping. When, between tragedies, I suggested that she might be exhausted, she said,
“Mom, sometimes I just need to exhale all my emotions.”
God gave her to me on purpose.
I’m so thankful she’s so self-aware and articulate.
During PinkGirl’s uncontrollable tearfest, one of the many, many things she was crying about:
“and technology is going to replace books!!!! (weepy hiccups) That’s why Borders closed. People are going to stop buying books and everybody’s just gonna have Kindles!!! (each syllable in the word Kindle lasted about 10 full seconds – more weeping).
Me: “Hey, now that’s not true. What did I get in the mail JUST TODAY?”
PinkGirl: “boookssss” (pause for more hiccups) “But, how did you order them?”
I feel the need to spend some time at (a brick and mortar) BAM.
The weather is beautiful! I made FavoriteSon go out into the backyard tonight and do NOTHING.
I told him he could talk to God or just listen, I didn’t care, but for FIVE minutes, I wanted him to sit outside with the wind in his face and look out over the pond behind our backyard and do NOTHING.
He came back in 10 minutes later and said:
“That just made me realize I need to mow the backyard.”
I’d REALLY like to say I don’t know where he gets it.
A few months ago, 10 year old PinkGirl and a friend were talking about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
PinkGirl: “Mom, why does God make bad things happen?”
(Lord, I’m gonna need your help with this one.)
Me: “I don’t necessarily believe God makes bad things happen. I believe God allows bad things to happen. Sometimes we get to know why, sometimes we don’t. You remember the Bible verse about now I see in a mirror, dimly, then I shall see face to face?”
PinkGirl: “uh huh.”
Me: “It means that we don’t always see things clearly or understand why things happen while we are here in this life, but when we get to heaven, we will understand.
I looked up at a tapestry of Disney princesses hanging on her wall. (thank you Lord)
Me: “You see that tapestry? How beautiful it is? That’s because we can see all of it – from the front. This is like what God sees when he looks at the earth.
But look at this.”
I turned the corner of the tapestry and blocked out a small piece in my hand.
Me: “This is what we see. Just this little bit. We can’t see all of the tapestry because each part of our life is just a thread. We’re so small, and our vision is so limited, that all we can see are our own threads and the threads near us. Sometimes, it’s not very pretty. What does this look like to you?”
PinkGirl: “I dunno, it’s too small, it just looks like little blobs.”
Me: “It doesn’t look like little blobs to God. His vision is unlimited, so he can see the whole thing at the same time. And, since he’s the one who’s weaving the design, he knows exactly where each thread is supposed to go. Even if we could see the whole thing, it would still look like a mess.”
I pulled the tapestry back as far as it would go.
Me: “Can you tell what it is now?”
Both PinkGirl and her friend: “no.”
Me: “And see how there are all different colors here? Some are bright colors, some are dark. I think of the dark colors as being the trials in our life. We all want our life to be wonderful – to be light colored threads. But what would the front of this tapestry look like if all the threads were light colored? Would it be as beautiful?”
I turned the tapestry back over, showing the front side again.
PinkGirl: “It’s a flower!”
Me: “Yep. God knew it would be. His job is to weave the tapestry. Our job is to trust that he knows what he’s doing and that in the end, it will be beautiful.”
Thank you Lord, for helping Herb Lockyer write a book (Dark Threads the Weaver Needs) in the middle of his grief and for leading me to read it a few years ago.
“My Life is but a weaving between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors, He worketh steadily.
Ofttimes He weaveth sorrow and I in foolish pride,
forget that He seeth the upper, and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly,
shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver’s skillful hand,
as the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.”
Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
Every night, when my kids were infants, I would slip quietly into their room and lay my hand on their backs to make sure they were still breathing. Sometimes, when they were fussy and I was afraid my touch would wake them, I would silently position my finger in front of their nose to feel their breath.
Infants. Who am I kidding? I did it for years. I just needed the assurance that they were breathing before I could sleep.
Tell me I’m not the only parent who’s done this.
I realize that my actions had nothing to do with whether or not they took their next breath. I was just checking for my own peace of mind. Laying my hand on their back was not what prevented them from dying of SIDS or some other freakish undetected “one minute they’re breathing and another minute they’re not” disease.
The Lord, in His mercy and grace, allowed my children take each tiny breath. By His mercy and grace, he still allows them to take their next breath.
Why am I thinking about this now? My kids aren’t at risk for SIDS anymore. My daughter will be 11 years old this year. My son just turned 16.
16. Two weeks ago, my son got his driver’s license.
And there it is.
Am I ready for this change? Of course not. and YES. YES I AM!
The two weeks before he got his license were particularly challenging chauffeur weeks for me. My daughter had drama camp from 9am to noon every day and my son got a summer job with flexible hours. My husband’s travel and work schedule made me the “go-to” guy with the car keys. I was spending hours and hours each day in FavoriteSon’s car with only 20 to 30 minute breaks in between drop-offs and pick-ups. By Thursday of the 2nd week, I was DREADING the thought of sitting in a vehicle.
Thursday was also the day FavoriteSon got his driver’s license.
Friday morning, I got up and drove PinkGirl to drama camp. I arrived back home about 20 minutes before FavoriteSon had to leave for work.
Decision time. Do I ride shotgun with him, drive home, drive back to pick him up and ride shotgun while he drives home? Or do I let him make the single round trip all by himself?
If I was WITH him he would be safe. If he drove by himself, he might get into an accident.
I know. I KNOW.
What was I going to do? Make him drive to work with my left arm stretched across the driver’s seat to protect him? Because THAT’S effective. Ummm hmmm. A loving mother’s straight-arm. More effective than a seat belt.
Just like a hand on his back.
I let him go. Literally. I didn’t even watch him drive away. Yes, I was ready for the break from driving, but more importantly, I was saturated with the knowledge that my presence in the vehicle with him had nothing to do with his safety. Not anymore. Our instruction and advice over the last year helped to prepare him, as did the two driver education courses he took. He was equipped for the responsibility. The State of Florida confirmed it by giving him legal permission to drive. All. by. himself.
His father and I still have so much more to prepare him for. But this? This we’ve prepared him for. This he’s ready for. Now, just like when he was a baby, his life is in God’s powerful and loving hands.
As hard as it is for me to comprehend, God loves my son more than I do.
Making safety the priority tells our children that we think God is incapable
of doing what He said He would do for His children . . . But when we put our confidence in God’s power
rather than the safety nets we place around our children we find that even children can learn to rely on God’s overwhelming presence to protect them as well as to enable them to flourish in the world system.
I couldn’t believe it, but PinkGirl voluntarily took a nap this afternoon!
Either “I WIN!” the “whoever wears out first, LOSES” game or she’s getting sick.
Either way, THANK YOU GOD, she really needed the rest – and I needed a tiny little bit of solitude.
I let PinkGirl get in a full 90 minute sleep cycle, making me 30 minutes late picking up FavoriteSon from work.
FavoriteSon, entering his time into the calendar: “hmmm. I stopped working at 2:40, but SOMEONE didn’t pick me up until 3pm.”
Me: “I brought you chicken alfredo and a Sport Illustrated, what, do you want me to bring you slippers too?”
FavSon: “now that you mention it…”
That nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I just caught her reading in bed. 10 years old. 10:43pm on a school night. She’s just started reading The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5) and she BEGGED me not to make her stop till she gets past “the good part.”
Oh, I remember that. Except I used to hide under the blanket with a flashlight. She has a reading light clipped to a shelf next to her bed.
I understand. And while part of me is upset with her for still being awake, part of me is over the top THRILLED that she loves to read this much. She’s going to love reading her whole life.
Call me a bad mom. I don’t care. I said: “You may NOT be mean to me in the morning and you WILL get up EXACTLY when I ask you to. Get to a stopping point fast.”
11:02pm. I just heard the reading light being turned off.
FirstHusband to me on the phone: “Your day has changed.”
FirstHusband: “You’re going to buy a book. The abridged ‘Count of Monte Cristo’”
Me: “Smack FavoriteSon on the back of the head for me.”
background noise: “HEY!”
FirstHusband, to FavoriteSon: “Just doing what your mom told me to.”
I HATE paying retail for a book! FavoriteSon’s known he needed this for a week. I could have gotten it used. online. And considering the entire sophomore class is supposed to bring this book to school tomorrow, I have a feeling it wouldn’t be easy finding it in stock in any brick and mortar store nearby.
Later, when I see FavoriteSon face to face at home…
Me, to FavoriteSon: “Do you get points if you bring this book to class tomorrow?”
FavoriteSon: “No. I have to read the first 9 chapters by tomorrow.”
Me: “Com’ere, so I can smack you on the back of the head.”
FavoriteSon: “No thank you.”
Then, PinkGirl said, “What about Kindle?”
FavoriteSon: “oh yeh! we’re allowed to do that!”
Me to FirstHusband, who was in reach of FavoriteSon: “Smack him again.”
FavoriteSon’s signature grin.
SMART GIRL! We all have ipod touch Kindle apps! $5.99 download. Done.
He better read those nine chapters, or…you guessed it. smack.
PinkGirl has a God story – a story of how God weaved together a bunch of things in her life to bring her to a particular place. Here’s how it went:
1. Bye Bye Birdie – and we mean that literally. The performing arts studio that PinkGirl regularly participates in was supposed to be doing Bye Bye Birdie for their spring play. As it turns out, they didn’t get enough boys to audition and had to switch productions at the last minute. Like I said, bye bye Birdie. They’re doing two relatively unknown shows with a heavy emphasis on dancing.
Dancing is PinkGirl’s weakest link.
The rehearsals have been challenging for her but I’ve seen a lot of improvement the last few months. The hardest thing for her? She didn’t get a part she loved. Between the two plays, she’s: “whiny student,” a villager and a pile of snow. You read that right. A pile of snow. One of many. Every day parts were assigned and she didn’t get one, she asked “What is God doing in my life?” She always asks that question when things don’t go the way she hopes they will. I ask myself the same question when I’m faced with disappointment and obstacles. My answer to her is always the same one I tell myself: “I’m not sure, let’s try and figure out what you’re supposed to learn from this experience.” In this case, my strongest theory was that she needed to focus her attention on the dancing – learn as much as she can and strengthen her skills as much as possible. So she threw her energy at the choreography.
She had also signed up to sing special music at church. Singing as herself and not as a character in a play was a very new experience. Another challenge. I suggested that maybe that was another reason she didn’t get a big part in the plays.
2. Theater for kids, by kids. At this same performing arts company, a group of teenagers have started doing their own productions – interactive theater for children. The shows are on Saturdays at 3pm, an hour and a half after PinkGirl’s regular rehearsals which run from 9am to 1:30pm. I took her to see their production of The Princess and the Frog.
She LOVED it. But not just from the audience’s point of view. She wanted to participate. But these were teenagers. She’s only 10. Undaunted, she asked me to ask the owner of the company to ask the teenagers if they would consider allowing her to be in the next production. A few weeks later, we heard the answer. They were sorry, they would be doing The Emporer’s New Clothes and it just wouldn’t work out to use someone so young. Again with the question. “What is God doing in my life?” I don’t know, babe.
She threw herself back into play rehearsals and signed up to sing special music in church again.
3. The cartwheel. Last month, for the first time since I started recording, I needed someone to watch PinkGirl. Both her brother and father were in Jacksonville at a track meet and we weren’t comfortable leaving her at home alone from 4:30pm to 9:30pm while I was gone. She ended up going home with a friend after school and I picked her up at 9:30 after the session was over. Her friend had tumbling class that night from 6pm to 7pm so she got to go and watch.
For the next two days, she was obsessed with learning to do a cartwheel. Surprisingly, I can still do a cartwheel! Not surprisingly, I have no ability to teach someone else how to do a cartwheel. Subsequently, PinkGirl had no confidence in me and was too scared to throw her feet up in the air. Her cartwheels were not pretty to watch.
Long story short, She went to her first tumbling class last Friday night. And LOVED it.
4. The phone call. It’s spring break, FirstHusband is off for the week and we are on staycation. We’re supposed to go mini-golfing on Tuesday night. The phone rings and it’s the owner of the performing arts company. Would PinkGirl be able to play the part of the princess in The Emporer’s New Clothes? They had their first rehearsal the night before and they decided that PinkGirl would be perfect for the part of the princess. Was this an audition or does she actually have the part? This is it. She’s got the part if she wants it and can commit to the rehearsal and performance schedule. And there’s dancing in this show. Which she’s much better at than she was 3 months ago.
We didn’t go mini-golfing last night. PinkGirl was at rehearsal for The Emporer’s New Clothes. And nobody was upset about that. Especially PinkGirl.
5. The question. As PinkGirl was trying on costumes for The Emporer’s New Clothes, the director asked her, “Can you do a cartwheel?”
PinkGirl had an epiphany. THIS is what God was doing in her life! Preparing her for this! With a big grin, she answered: “Not yet, but I just started tumbling classes so I’ll be able to do one VERY SOON!
God can use anything to teach us faith and patience. Even a cartwheel.
And she’s singing “Pray” by Justine Bieber at all three services this Sunday.
Hamster paraphernalia: $42.00
Providing my daughter with the learning experience of being solely responsible for taking care of a living thing smaller than herself: priceless