Living with a Child Like Q

My third son, let’s call him Q, is a different kind of child. We have known this since he was very young. He is super creative, he is always making up elaborate stories (sometimes called lies). He is extremely artistic and showed lots of talent at a very young age. He is hilarious and generally lives in his own world. Much of the time he plays on his own creating elaborate worlds with legos or art. He sounds like a great kid, right? And he is!! But with all that super creativity comes a slight downside: he isn’t always super present in the NOW. He also has a SLIGHT (think GREAT) tendency to get easily distracted. Now I LOVE Q with all my heart and enjoy him immensely, but he can frustrate the devil right out of me! Like make me want to lose my mind, have a high speed come apart, completely lose my sh….stuff.

This past Sunday is one particular example. We were all getting ready to leave for church. The kids are dressed. I am dressed. All I have to do is dry my hair. I pull out my hairdryer and see that my diffuser is missing. I have curly hair. I CANNOT dry it without my diffuser!! I look for it. My husband looks for it. I am now yelling at my kids trying to figure out who knows where it is. I KNOW that chances are GREAT that Q has taken it. I mean, it looks cool. It has little spikes on it and will roll….who knows what it could be in the world he lives in. Everyone is running around looking for it. Q says that he remembers seeing it….BUT….he can’t remember where…. I have now given up on going to church. I will just stay home because we are going to be super late at this point and I still have to find my diffuser and dry my hair. Frustrated beyond belief and a little hacked off, I go to take off my shoes and place them under my bed, when WHAT DO I FIND????? My diffuser! “Oh yeah…..I tossed it in your room when I was done playing with it. It’s really neat!!” Oh, Q, I am so glad that I love you! (We did make church even though we were very late.)

I do love him, but Q’s unique abilities and the way he looks at life, much of the time frustrate the rest of us “normal” people. I will never forget when Q was five and we were leaving on vacation. My husband and I had packed the car. I had given the four boys the final, “everyone use the potty and get your shoes on and get in the car instructions.” Not sure if you’ve traveled with kids, but we NEVER leave on time!! We all load in the car and start our journey!! Finally!! About a mile down the road, I turn around and notice that Q has no shoes on. “Q, where are your shoes?” “I don’t have any.” ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?! Me, trying not to flip my lid, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE ANY?” Q: “Well, I couldn’t find them and you said to get in the car.” Me: “Don’t you THINK you will NEED them in GEORGIA?!?!?!?!” No. He didn’t. He didn’t see anything wrong with heading off on a vacation 7 hours from our home with no shoes! Needless to say, we turned around, headed back to the house, and found his shoes which were no where near where they were supposed to be. Life is NEVER boring with Q!!

I am not sure anything hurts quite as much as someone not wanting to be around your kid and not appreciating their uniqueness.

We LOVE Q and we have adjusted our expectations to know that he is sometimes going to be in left field. It is the artist in him. The wonderfully, talented, creative artist soul in him. However, some people do NOT appreciate this about him. I have found that with Q you either adore him or you don’t want to be around him. I am not sure anything hurts quite as much as someone not wanting to be around your kid and not appreciating their uniqueness. But it happens! And it hurts! We know that God has created Q the way he is. God doesn’t make mistakes! He, in His ultimate wisdom has created Q for a special purpose.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

I just have to remind myself that those who can’t see this are really missing out because his amazing qualities FAR outweigh his frustrating qualities.

Someday, I may write a book of all the funny things that have happened with Q. Lord knows that I have enough for more than one volume!! I am grateful that God gave Q to us!! He helps to increase my patience and makes life truly interesting!!

We are all, each and every one, unique in the Universe. And that uniqueness is what makes us valuable.

–James A. Owen

The Deconstruction of Ten Minutes

The dirty truth is that you can prepare as much as you want. You can make sure that everyone has what they need. You can make sure that everyone has something to do. You can make sure that everyone is peaceable….but the minute you step into the shower, EVERYONE will need you!!! I do not understand this phenomenon!!! I JUST DON’T!! Truly, I am only in the shower for a max of 10 minutes. HOW can the world completely implode in TEN minutes?!?!

Today, I hadn’t even stepped into the shower when there was pounding on the door. Of course, if you have ever had to decipher the screams from a child while the shower is running, you know that it is IMPOSSIBLE!! Finally, I understood that the two littles wanted to put up a tent in the family room….a TENT. I hadn’t been out of the room for two minutes!!!! They were playing nicely with the magnet tiles and now, suddenly they want to camp with a TENT in the family room. You probably don’t even have to guess that the answer was no!

Before getting in the shower, I had given both big boys their lessons and gone over the instructions. I have told them numerous (think thousands) of times that if they need help and I am unavailable they need to go on to the next problem or subject. During the first half of my shower BOTH of them knocked on the door to ask for help. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!

HOW can the world completely implode in TEN minutes?!?!

How exactly can I help you with your math when I can’t see the problem, not because there is shampoo in my eyes, mind you, but because there is a DOOR between us!!! Finally, I can see the light at the end of the shower tunnel and I am rinsing off, when my middle child (God love him!) comes to knock on the door to tell me that one of the littles called him a butt head and that the dog wants in the bathroom with me. Seriously, all FIVE kids and the DOG interrupted my 10 minute shower!

This same phenomenon occurs when I try to go to the bathroom and when I have to go to the laundry room in the basement. Everyone can be completely calm, but the minute I get downstairs, it sounds like we have been invaded by a storming army. Why is this?? Why can children not give us just a few minutes to ourselves? I don’t have the answers, but I know that moms across the land struggle with the same issue.

Kids are needy and they seem to really like us. I guess that’s why they want to share all of our time! I suppose when they are teenagers they won’t do this anymore and then we will miss it….or so I am told. For now, I am going to continue to deal with interruptions and dream of a long, relaxing shower where no one bothers me!

The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable. –Lane Olinghouse

(or get in the shower!)

I LOVE watching you play!!

Recently, our two oldest boys started a bowling league. Of the two, one of them is incredibly athletic. He can do almost any sport and it comes naturally to him. The other isn’t very athletic, but he loves to play. They’ve played soccer, done running, and now they are trying bowling.

Back when we signed the boys up to play soccer, I was amazed to find that parents were incredibly invested in their kid’s performance. Some of them were even talking about scholarships. These kids are in the SECOND GRADE!!! They should be learning fundamentals and having fun!! I know that winning is fun, but it isn’t the most important aspect of sports. I have seen parents scream and berate their kid for missing a goal, not being aggressive enough, and not blocking a shot. I have seen the joy and fun leave a kid as fast as his or her shoulders can sag.

As I sat in the bowling alley, I listened to the parents sitting next to me “instruct” their daughter on how to bowl better after each frame. They told her over and over to get her head in the game. I could tell she was frustrated. I wanted to pull her aside and just say, “Hey, just have fun! No worries!” But that’s hard to say when the parents are obviously NOT concerned with fun. Some of the kids in the league have been bowling competitively for years. My kids have bowled like five times. Of course, they threw some gutter balls and they didn’t break 100. The first thing I said to them when they were finished was, “Did you have fun?” Not what was your score, how did you do, or what could you improve on. The next thing I said was: “I really enjoyed watching you bowl!”

A few years ago, I read an article written by a coach. I don’t remember the article or the author, but I do remember what struck me as so important. The author said that the first words you should say to your child when they walk off from the field, court, or lane is: I LOVE to watch you play! Those words have nothing to do with a kids performance. They could have the best or worst game, those words don’t indicate that. That phrase expresses the joy that your child brings to you by doing something that they enjoy. Time for correction, tips, and teaching can come later. These words put no additional pressure on a kid to succeed.

The world is a hard enough place and kids will be there on their own all too soon! Right now, they should be doing activities for the joy it brings. They are learning valuable lessons while having fun: cooperation, teamwork, encouragement, winning with grace, losing with grace, practice, endurance, perseverance, and many others. If activities become miserable and high pressure for kids, they won’t learn these lessons.

Let’s start a revolution! When your kids finish their activity, commit to saying, “I LOVE watching you _____________!” being the first phrase that you say to them!!

I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I LOVE to play.” –Boris Becker

The Angel of Vomit

Two nights ago, it happened. We have avoided it all winter. I have diffused thieve’s essential oil (which has natural germ killing power), washed hands, avoided places that were boasting of it, forced hand sanitizer on everyone, but it happened anyway! Two nights ago, my middle child came running into our room shouting those four words that every parent hears in their darkest nightmares: I’M GONNA THROW UP!!! I know. Just the mere mention of these words makes me break out in a cold sweat! The funny thing is that these words haven’t always struck fear into my heart.

I can remember when I only had one child or even just two. The idea of a stomach bug didn’t instill the same terror that it does now. Now we are a family of 7! That means that if everyone gets sick and the vomiting takes place every other day, we could be sick for 14 days!!! If, as it does sometimes, it happens every three days, we could be sick for 21 days….which is basically a MONTH!!! THAT. IS. A. NIGHTMARE.

Luckily, my children are past the throw up in their own bed or our bed and puke on the floor stage. At least I thought they were! My middle child who is 7, ran into our room shouting he was going to throw up. His daddy yelled, “Go to the toilet!’ Now I am going to assume that he wasn’t really awake, but with him you never really know. He, indeed, went to the toilet, sat down, and proceeded to puke in his lap. My husband helped him change and get new clothes, only for him to puke in his lap AGAIN!!! My husband is a saint and my hero because he allowed me to sleep through this whole mess. I love him dearly and married up….have I mentioned that?

Of course, a puker in the house changes EVERYTHING. For example, we were going to have chili last night for dinner, but I changed it to hamburgers because no one wants to clean chili barf off of the carpet. Now some people try to isolate the puker, but my kids share rooms and wrestle, so I figure that they’ve all been properly exposed. The biggest effect that it has is the cloud of dread hanging over our home. Go ahead make those plans…someone will puke. Go ahead let the kid drink milk because it is over….he’ll barf again. Go ahead let your guard down in anyway because you think the plague has passed…someone new will begin tossing their cookies.

I frequently feel like the captive Israelites in Egypt as the Angel of vomit begins to bear down upon us. I paint the door frames in the blood of thieve’s and pray that it passes over our home. Unfortunately, this time it didn’t. Sigh. Here’s hoping tonight is vomit free!!

Having children is like living in a frat house–nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up. –Ray Romano