Friday, June 13, 2008

The Jinx of the 'Know-It-All' Parent

You know what I'm talking about, don't you?

The jinx where, when you are young and have no children you are quick to judge a person's parenting ability--"When I have kids, MY child will NEVER behave like that", or "Did you see what they are feeding their kid?? Don't they care at all about health and nutrition?".

And then, suddenly you find yourself married with children. Sitting in a church pew trying to look nonchalant as your out-of-control (or, rambunctious if you prefer...and I think I do) child is climbing over the back, making faces at the congregation behind you and throwing crayons 12 rows back--while you shove the 4th dum-dum sucker into the mouth of the crying baby and vow to never say anything bad about the parenting skills of others ever, ever again.

From that point on, you still judge. It is human nature. You just do it less vocally and hope (pray) that the jinx won't come back to haunt you.

Why? Because now that you are a young mother you focus your attention to parents with teenagers. In your mind you see the boy who refuses to go to scout camps or youth conferences and you wonder why the parent won't insist--because you know that those activities will undoubtedly have experiences that will strengthen the testimony of that boy. Or you see the parent who is thrilled that their fifteen year old daughter has a boyfriend, and you vow--in your head as you look frantically around for wood to knock--that YOUR daughter will not be serious with a boy until she is 25. And if by some jinxed reason she does fall madly in love at 17 and thinks she is old enough to be married, you swear you will be more likely to lock her in her room until said age of 25 instead of welcoming the idea with a genuine smile.

I watch happenings around me...parenting issues of people I know and those of strangers...and I get genuinely frightened of the future.

Not because I don't think my kids will make correct choices--I always give them the benefit of the doubt, and while I know mistakes will be made I am mostly confident that they will prevail--But because I have thought the opposite and am terrified that I have just jinxed them all to a life of horrible mistakes that will come back to haunt me.

And because I will probably end up giving younger mothers a whole truckload of something to jinx their own children with. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Officially Summer Break

Summer vacation. It was my favorite time of year when I was a kid, and not much has changed. It is one of the weird reasons why I am not a fan of year-round don't get a 'normal' summer break. Every kid should get summers off. It must be some sort of rite of passage, right?

I like not having school. Not having to wake kids up and drag them out of bed to get ready. Not having to worry about homework getting done, or signing notes, or getting calls from teachers because my 8 y.o. son is a talker who forgets to raise his hand, and my 10 y.o. daughter has enough of a sarcastic sense of humor and timing that she makes the kids in class laugh and not pay attention to the teacher.

Speaking of which, one would assume that it would be the boy who "innocently" rips out a huge belch in the middle of a math test and then without so much as a smirk says "Oh, sorry." But no. It was the girl. She thought she was hilarious, and apparently so did all other students within three zip codes who heard the sooo unlady-like sound. The teacher? Not so much.

I like kids sleeping in.

I like watching them run through the sprinklers in the yard.

I like them staying out later because the sun is still up at 9 p.m.

I like supplying the neighborhood with flavored ice pops.

I like sitting in the shade after working in the yard..the smell of fresh cut lawn, and lemonade.

I like the sounds of the ice cream truck.

I like water skiing--but not snow skiing, which is weird since I live in Utah near ski resorts.

I'm a fan of camping and fishing. But not the scout snow cave camping, so summer is fine.

(Apparently I'm not a fan of cold weather...)

I like not having carpools to school.

I like not having to feel guilty because I don't go volunteer in the classroom like I wish I could

I like not having to say the phrase "Go ask your Dad" when asked if I can help with math homework

There is a lot to like about summer break. Loved it as a kid, and I love it now.

And two months from now I might be singing a different tune...looking forward to sending them back to school.

But I don't think so. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Are You an Eight Cow Wife?

I've been thinking about this lately.

Most of you know the story of Johnny he paid 8 cows for his bride, when 2-3 was good, 4-5 was for a super wife, and most of the tribe found his bride plain and not worth even the 2 or 3 cows that was more typical. They laughed at him, and thought he was crazy to give that much for her...but ultimately the laugh was on them when he brought her back a few months later to visit the village and she was breathtakingly beautiful. A wife any one of them would have been proud to have, and they all changed their tunes and realized Johnny must really be some kind of genius.

When asked about it later he said that the reason why he paid 8 cows for her was because he loved her. But more than that, he wanted an eight cow wife. How we treat others--how we let them see how much we appreciate or love them--seriously affects their treatment or reaction to us, or to those around them.

Here are some questions I've been knocking around:

Are you an eight cow wife/husband/human? For ease of writing, I'll stick to having this be about married couples...go ahead and adjust it to your own situation since it is relevant to many different relationships.

What does it take to be an eight cow wife? (And don't say a husband who actually HAS 8 cows to begin with me here).

What does it take to become an eight cow wife if you aren't there yet?

Why would you even want to BE an eight cow wife?

Only you can answer that first question, so go ahead and think about it. But in order to assess that, you have to know more about what an eight cow wife is. This is probably personal to each of you too, so in MY opinion, an eight cow wife is someone who is secure in her relationship with her spouse. She knows he loves her and cherishes her. Knows that her opinion matters to him and that he will stand by her through adversity, sickness, health, richer--poorer--you get the idea there.

Do you see that in your relationship? Hold that thought for later...

The 2nd question is personal too. But there are probably some basics that can put all of us on the path to bovine bounty. Think about these questions for this subject:
How are you treating your spouse? Can you expect him to be thrilled to see you when he comes home from work if the minute he walks in you are scowling and complaining? Do you stay positive and supportive? Do you tell him that you appreciate him? Love him? Do you take time for any type of affection? Even if it is holding hands in the car, or sneaking a kiss in the kitchen? Do you really listen to your spouse?

Honestly, how responsive would you be if you came home to Queen-of-the-Porcupines and then were expected to be loving and kind towards her? I'd be avoiding that area of the house until the flames coming out the ears were only steam blasts...but I am not sure I'd want to test it very often to see if the fire was out yet.. Scathing remarks, simply a bad attitude, expecting perfection...those are all things that would make the cow count go down. And that is not what we are looking for here.

The 3rd question ties into that one. What do you do to become an eight cow wife if you aren't there yet?

Well, don't hate me, but you know those silly e-mails you get that tell you how women in the '50's were taught to be wives and mothers? You know the one--the one that says you should freshen up before your husband comes home, have dinner on the table, don't talk about your awful day because he has had a hard day too, clean up the kids so they look nice for him--remember that one? I know people mock that, but there are some truths there. Even if you live in a two-income family.

I'm not saying you have to go June Cleaver on me here. What I am saying is that if we put more effort into looking nice for each other, speaking kindly to one another, trying not to complain about every little thing that has happened to you that day, listening to each other, trying to keep the house picked up a bit so that your atmosphere isn't sucking the life out of any good mood that is trying to exist (and if you know me, you'll know that that last one isn't easy for me even a little...I'm not the world's best housekeeper, but the feeling in our house is calmer when I've taken the time to straighten up a little...granted, I have to do that late at night when the kids are in bed so that I don't completely lose it when the littles destroy my efforts in 5 seconds...), if we try to do all that, then I know our spouses will respond positively. And when they are happy and positive they are more free with their praises and compliments which in turn makes us feel more happy and positive--we begin to feel wanted and loved and that, my friends, increases our cow potential.

4th--again, this can only be answered by you--do you want to BE an 8 cow wife? If you say no, then I sincerely hope it is because you are shooting for a ten cow wife.

Why wouldn't you want to be an eight cow wife? It won't matter how you look, how you talk, how you cook, how you merge onto the freeway during rush hour. Your spouse will love you and cherish you. And all because you have shown love and caring towards him. Funny thing that. You can become an eight--or nine--or ten--cow wife, simply by letting your husband know he is important to you. By showing consideration, love, makes him an eight cow husband and he won't even know it. He will simply return the favor in kind, because it is seriously hard to belittle, dislike, or ignore someone who genuinely cares for you.

So go back to that first question...the part I told you to hold for later...well, it is later and I hope that one makes more sense to you now. I hope you see things in your relationship that lead toward the eight cow scenario instead of the corner butcher shop.

The good news is that if you are in a two cow relationship, you have the ability to turn it into a whole herd of fun by being a good person. By treating your spouse in exactly the same way you hope to be treated.

So here is to all you eight cow people--and you potential eight cow people.

May you bless those around you with good humor, positive attitude, and kitchen kisses.