Saturday, July 01, 2006

a diva in the house

True Confessions:
I shop at garage sales. And I love it. If I don't get a garage sale fix, say in the middle of winter, I NEED to go to Goodwill (Value Village is too pricey :). If I'm feeling really extravagant, I'll go to the outlet mall, but only if there are deep discounts on the already reduced prices.

Sometimes my clothes reflect this post-post-Depression era mentality (my mother grew up in the Depression). I have lots of clothes -- some very nice -- but there's a, shall we say, disconnect in my attempts at ensembles.

I also shop at garage sales for my kids, though boys' stuff is harder to locate -- knees are worn through long before they are outgrown. But girls clothes are easy -- one nearby yearly sale puts out Talbot's For Kids, Gap, Frannie Flowers, and Next, all of them really nice "outfits."

A, at almost 7, is starting to take an interest in clothes. In the morning, she asks me to get her an outfit, which inevitably gets nixed, and I send her upstairs to put something together for herself. Sometimes, she is really inventive and puts things together I'd never think of, though there's usually something eccentrically "cool" about the get-ups. One morning, though, she must have experienced creative block, because I found her in her room, in front of the "altar" -- the open drawer of her dresser -- flopping around on the hardwoord floor like a dead fish, and weeping: I have nothing to wear. I have nothing to wear.

This familiar refrain -- at least to most females -- can be countered by that Bible verse about His clothing of the sparrows.

But it wasn't something to remind her of that morning -- when sorrow is her goal, words such as those are fuel for a literal but imaginative mind, turning "nothing to wear" into "wear nothing" and proceed out of doors clothed in, well, what the birds wear.

So, instead, I left her to sob and figure it out on her own.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Musical Beds

This post ought to put a whole new meaning to the phrase "sleeping around." Although any parent will know what I'm talking about immediately.

Our first child was a dream sleeper -- after I put the Ferber boots to him, that is. After six months, he slept all night and in his own bed. Baby #2, who's now 6 and three-quarters if you please, was a different matter altogether. I remember many nights on the floor beside her bed, shoulder bone to hardwood floor. The other night, the older one, at 13, decided to get into the act. I woke at 4, unable to sleep -- like so many other women of my age around the world -- and about 15 minutes later, Anna came into our bedroom. So Tom went to her bed, but the dog was in it. So he took his comforter and pillow and slept on the floor of that room. Ten minutes later, Aidan came into our room, and said he couldn't sleep. So I suggested he sleep with Anna and I would take his bed. (Confused yet?) Apparently, Anna kept moving and Aidan couldn't sleep, so he went into to his dad in Anna's bedroom, on the floor, and woke him up to tell him. Tom told him to go back to bed. By then, the dog was roused and had to go out to the bathroom. The bed was now free, so Aidan grabbed it. Tom gave up and got up. It was 5 am.

I have since started a new method with Anna. She gets my watch, and is told she cannot bother us until it's five minutes, six minutes (one minute more each night), and this seems to work.

At least it has the past two nights. And they say, I'm told, that three nights makes a trend.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What's wrong with Christian Kids?

I've had an ongoing discussion with some of the parents at my church about our children's dis-ease and seeming inability to fit in at school. These kids aren't nerdy, geeky, weird, or bizarre, either. When I was pregnant with my 13-year-old son I was looking for a warm, nurturing, spirit-filled church in which to bring him up, because my husband isn't a church-goer. So when I came to Little Trinity I found what I needed. Aidan's been with these kids -- about six boys in total, and a couple of girls (those poor girls throughout Sunday school, but more on that another time) -- since he was a baby.

I've also had most of these boys over at one time or another, plus I taught them for several years in Sunday school. They're all intelligent, fun, active kids, some more high energy than others.

When the other moms tell me that their boys sometimes have trouble fitting in at school, I have to wonder.

Is this because we've created a Christian ghetto, with a language and lexicon only Christian kids understand? Do all kids suffer from social problems in their early teen years? Are we Christian parents so worn out toeing the line between faith and culture, that we've become anxious and hovering and created kids who are likewise? Are we becoming schizophrenics, living one way on Sunday and another during the week so that our kids can never really fit in? Is this just the tension that Christianity always finds itself in with current culture, and the more antagonistic toward faith, the greater the tension?

I'm going to look into this a little further. But if anyone out there is reading this and has any answers, I'm all ears!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Family as God

If I call attention to the fact that I haven't posted on my blog for two months, then perhaps I shall set a trend, and it'll be three months til I post next. So I won't make reference to that, officially at least.

While busy the last few months, researching and working on a book project about family, I've come across a lot of information related to families that makes me think, in spite of our good intentions to make healthier families, we're practicing that long-held human habit for distortion. In other words, we've made families into gods. Much is sacrificed on the altar of family -- from women's hard-won educational/career backgrounds (left behind in favour of making organic cookies and home schooling) to hobknobbing with those wholly at odds with the notion of family. A lot of stay at home moms have channeled their previous work-related energy into make-work projects with their kids -- and it's been well documented in Judith Warner's book, Perfect Madness: Motherhood in an Age of Anxiety. On the other end of the scale, there's the bubble-boy behaviour of some Christian parents to keep their kids from all that's bad in the world. Like meeting a real life gay or lesbian person, which might lead to an understanding about sexuality/homosexuality and might allow them to really get in touch with what it means, concretely, to separate sin from sinner. Or to look at the thrice married pastor of their church and wonder if, perhaps, there's something wrong there too.

We parents tend to fluctuate wildly between Hyper Parenting (or helicopter parenting as some are now calling it) to outright neglect. Mea culpa -- too worn from working all day to actively engage with my kids, I let them cruise the nintendo (my 13-year-old) while my 6 year old plays her imaginary school game, while I do "just one more email." My spectrum (which can be navigated several times a day) ranges from neglect to the lecturing, in your face, kind -- how did you play today, did your teacher say anything about your history project, if you commit yourself to soccer you have to go to every practice, dropping towels on the bathroom floor is the sign of a weak spirit, and then there's my ubiquitous work-first, play-later mantra.

It's like sculpting something from a kit, sort of like paint-by-number art, you poke and prod and chip away until it takes on some sort of shape. I've found, sadly, that the shape ends up a little like the circle I tried cutting out of construction paper when I was in kindergarten. Intent on perfection, I kept cutting round and round until there was nothing left of it.

And so it is with these false gods we set up -- when there's nothing concrete, real, and incarnate within what you're setting up to worship, it ends up on the floor in a flurry of little paper bits. Pity the poor family that's being molded into this kind of stultified and studied perfection -- high marks, professional sports development programs, extra tutoring (Kumon sources say that most kids are taking classes fully two grade levels above what they're in at school), and scheduled play.

I am desperately trying to break out of that rut and have decided that prayer, really and truly, is the only way out.